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Meet Europe’s top VCs at Disrupt Berlin

Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms, from Sequoia to Benchmark to Accel, are investing more and more dollars overseas, as more globally-minded unicorns crop up across Europe.

As Forbes recently noted, U.S. VCS are “bonkers for European startups,” with “more money … flowing into European tech than ever.” Seems like a great time to sit down with U.S. and European investors to get a better sense of what’s happening here. Conveniently, we’re gathering top venture capitalists at our annual European conference, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, next week.

For starters, we’ll have Forward Partners managing partner Nic Brisbourne, Target Global partner Malin Holmberg and DocSend founder Russ Heddleston together to provide exclusive fundraising advice to entrepreneurs. They’ll sit down with me for 45 minutes to shed light on the biggest challenges founders face while raising VC, how to perfectly crap your pitch and how to know if an investor is interested in your upstart.

Sequoia’s Andrew Reed, who’s worked on the firm’s investments in Bird, Figma, Front, Loom, Rappi, UiPath and more, will join us, too. From Index Ventures, a noted U.S. and U.K. investor, we’ll welcome principal Hannah Seal. From Atomico, a European venture capital firm, partner Sophia Bendz, partner Siraj Khaliq, partner Hiro Tamura and partner Niall Wass will all be in attendance. And from SoftBank, we’ll hear from SoftBank Vision Fund investment director Carolina Brochado and SoftBank Investment Advisors partner David Thevenon.

Roxanne Varza will give an update on Station F, the world’s biggest startup campus based in Paris. Varza first unveiled Station F at TechCrunch Disrupt back in December 2016; naturally, we’re excited to see what she has to stay this time.

As for others making the trip to Berlin from the U.S., we’ve got Joyance Partners investment partner Holly Jacobus and Accomplice partner Ash Egan on deck. The rest of the line-up includes some of Europe’s top VCs, including Accel partner Andrei Brasoveanu, Blossom Capital partner Louise Dahlborn Samet, Balderon Capital partner Suranga Chandratillake and principal Colin Hanna, Luminous Ventures founding partner Isabel Fox, Amadeus Capital Partners partner Volker Hirsch, Point Nine Capital partner Christoph Janz, dynamics.vs partner Tanja Kufner, Northzone partner Paul Murphy, Ada Ventures founding partner Matt Penneycard and Dawn Capital partner Evgenia Plotnikova.

Read the entire Disrupt Berlin agenda here. Tickets to the show are still available!

Meet Europe’s top VCs at Disrupt Berlin

Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms, from Sequoia to Benchmark to Accel, are investing more and more dollars overseas, as more globally-minded unicorns crop up across Europe.

As Forbes recently noted, U.S. VCS are “bonkers for European startups,” with “more money … flowing into European tech than ever.” Seems like a great time to sit down with U.S. and European investors to get a better sense of what’s happening here. Conveniently, we’re gathering top venture capitalists at our annual European conference, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, next week.

For starters, we’ll have Forward Partners managing partner Nic Brisbourne, Target Global partner Malin Holmberg and DocSend founder Russ Heddleston together to provide exclusive fundraising advice to entrepreneurs. They’ll sit down with me for 45 minutes to shed light on the biggest challenges founders face while raising VC, how to perfectly crap your pitch and how to know if an investor is interested in your upstart.

Sequoia’s Andrew Reed, who’s worked on the firm’s investments in Bird, Figma, Front, Loom, Rappi, UiPath and more, will join us, too. From Index Ventures, a noted U.S. and U.K. investor, we’ll welcome principal Hannah Seal. From Atomico, a European venture capital firm, partner Sophia Bendz, partner Siraj Khaliq, partner Hiro Tamura and partner Niall Wass will all be in attendance. And from SoftBank, we’ll hear from SoftBank Vision Fund investment director Carolina Brochado and SoftBank Investment Advisors partner David Thevenon.

Roxanne Varza will give an update on Station F, the world’s biggest startup campus based in Paris. Varza first unveiled Station F at TechCrunch Disrupt back in December 2016; naturally, we’re excited to see what she has to stay this time.

As for others making the trip to Berlin from the U.S., we’ve got Joyance Partners investment partner Holly Jacobus and Accomplice partner Ash Egan on deck. The rest of the line-up includes some of Europe’s top VCs, including Accel partner Andrei Brasoveanu, Blossom Capital partner Louise Dahlborn Samet, Balderon Capital partner Suranga Chandratillake and principal Colin Hanna, Luminous Ventures founding partner Isabel Fox, Amadeus Capital Partners partner Volker Hirsch, Point Nine Capital partner Christoph Janz, dynamics.vs partner Tanja Kufner, Northzone partner Paul Murphy, Ada Ventures founding partner Matt Penneycard and Dawn Capital partner Evgenia Plotnikova.

Read the entire Disrupt Berlin agenda here. Tickets to the show are still available!

Meet Europe’s top VCs at Disrupt Berlin

Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms, from Sequoia to Benchmark to Accel, are investing more and more dollars overseas, as more globally-minded unicorns crop up across Europe.

As Forbes recently noted, U.S. VCS are “bonkers for European startups,” with “more money … flowing into European tech than ever.” Seems like a great time to sit down with U.S. and European investors to get a better sense of what’s happening here. Conveniently, we’re gathering top venture capitalists at our annual European conference, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, next week.

For starters, we’ll have Forward Partners managing partner Nic Brisbourne, Target Global partner Malin Holmberg and DocSend founder Russ Heddleston together to provide exclusive fundraising advice to entrepreneurs. They’ll sit down with me for 45 minutes to shed light on the biggest challenges founders face while raising VC, how to perfectly crap your pitch and how to know if an investor is interested in your upstart.

Sequoia’s Andrew Reed, who’s worked on the firm’s investments in Bird, Figma, Front, Loom, Rappi, UiPath and more, will join us, too. From Index Ventures, a noted U.S. and U.K. investor, we’ll welcome principal Hannah Seal. From Atomico, a European venture capital firm, partner Sophia Bendz, partner Siraj Khaliq, partner Hiro Tamura and partner Niall Wass will all be in attendance. And from SoftBank, we’ll hear from SoftBank Vision Fund investment director Carolina Brochado and SoftBank Investment Advisors partner David Thevenon.

Roxanne Varza will give an update on Station F, the world’s biggest startup campus based in Paris. Varza first unveiled Station F at TechCrunch Disrupt back in December 2016; naturally, we’re excited to see what she has to stay this time.

As for others making the trip to Berlin from the U.S., we’ve got Joyance Partners investment partner Holly Jacobus and Accomplice partner Ash Egan on deck. The rest of the line-up includes some of Europe’s top VCs, including Accel partner Andrei Brasoveanu, Blossom Capital partner Louise Dahlborn Samet, Balderon Capital partner Suranga Chandratillake and principal Colin Hanna, Luminous Ventures founding partner Isabel Fox, Amadeus Capital Partners partner Volker Hirsch, Point Nine Capital partner Christoph Janz, dynamics.vs partner Tanja Kufner, Northzone partner Paul Murphy, Ada Ventures founding partner Matt Penneycard and Dawn Capital partner Evgenia Plotnikova.

Read the entire Disrupt Berlin agenda here. Tickets to the show are still available!

Trudeau, Boris, and other NATO leaders caught on video apparently gossiping about Trump

Trudeau, Boris, and other NATO leaders caught on video apparently gossiping about Trump

For anyone whose job is to keep a straight face around Donald Trump, dozens of private conversations such as these must happen every week, and in much stronger language. But to catch world leaders apparently sharing a laugh over the president’s foibles is rare.

This video, from the reporting pool via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, shows Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, British PM Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Dutch PM Mark Rutte alongside a stiff bouffant appearing to belong to HRH Princess Anne. The group are enjoying a drink and a chat at a Buckingham Palace reception after the day’s formalities at the NATO summit in London.  Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Nato, Culture, and Politics

Trudeau, Boris, and other NATO leaders caught on video apparently gossiping about Trump

Trudeau, Boris, and other NATO leaders caught on video apparently gossiping about Trump

For anyone whose job is to keep a straight face around Donald Trump, dozens of private conversations such as these must happen every week, and in much stronger language. But to catch world leaders apparently sharing a laugh over the president’s foibles is rare.

This video, from the reporting pool via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, shows Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, British PM Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Dutch PM Mark Rutte alongside a stiff bouffant appearing to belong to HRH Princess Anne. The group are enjoying a drink and a chat at a Buckingham Palace reception after the day’s formalities at the NATO summit in London.  Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Nato, Culture, and Politics

This debut venture firm, backed by an Argentine conglomerate, is investing $60 million in far-flung U.S. startups

Nico Berardi considers himself to be a citizen of the world, with a penchant for travel and a wide range of interests. Unlike many other VCs, who’ve increasingly specialized as the market has grown more crowded, Berardi is nearly as wide-ranging in his approach to venture capital, too.

Somewhat counterintuitively, it’s paying off. At least, Berardi’s venture firm, Animo Ventures, has been investing a $60 million debut vehicle since closing it in July of last year.

It’s an impressive, surprising, amount for someone raising a fund for the first time, but then, Berardi’s trajectory into the world of venture capital hasn’t been completely straightforward, either. To wit, Berardi grew up in Argentina, where his professional life began at a community-focused nonprofit Techo, a kind of Habitat for Humanity focused on Latin America. He was so good at his development job, in fact, that he was moved to Miami as the CEO of Techo’s U.S operations.

It was there, over his six year career with the organization, that he was first introduced to the world of investing. Specifically, encouraged by several board members who were angel investors — and aided by some backing from the Knight Foundation — Berardi left the nonprofit world in 2014 to launch a still-active angel investor group called Miami Angels that funnels around $3.5 million into roughly 10 local companies each year.

In quick succession, he then applied to and was accepted into the tuition-based Kauffman Fellows Program, fell in love with a medical student in Boston, and headed to Harvard Business School to be closer to her, spending his summers with the Boston and San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm Resolute Ventures.

He imagined he’d land in San Francisco afterward, to work with Resolute. But when that medical student — now his wife — wound up landing a job back in Miami, he headed there instead and decided to launch his own venture firm. Enter Animo, a Latin word that means with intention or purpose and also, notes Bernardi, “sounds international.”

The latter matters because while Berardi is the sole general partner of the firm, he’s running it with two colleagues, neither of whom lives in the U.S. One of these is partner Antonio Osio, a native Mexican who was running his own firm, Capital Invent, when he first met Berardi through Kauffman Fellows. (“I poached him,” says Berardi.) They also have an operations partner in Caro Acevedo, who worked with Berardi as his COO at Techo and who still lives in Argentina.

As for the money, Berardi says it “mostly comes from Latin America and Europe,” including from anchor investor Techint. It’s a 60,000-person Argentine conglomerate that owns steel, construction, oil, gas, and healthcare businesses around the world and whose CEO, Paulo Rocco, sees Animo as a way to put the company’s resources into new materials sciences, manufacturing technology, and machine learning startups, says Berardi.

“We want to make a dent in the universe, and there aren’t a lot of Latinx investors around and we want to carry that flag,” he offers.

To date, Animo has announced 12 deals, all in the U.S., including six investments in New York and six others in other places, including Scottsdale, Az.; Toronto, Ontario; Miami; and Richmond, Va.

Notably, Animo does not have plans to invest in Latin American companies, though it has backed a number of Latin American founders in the U.S. “I think every investor has their own set of biases,” says Berardi. “Our diversity numbers point in that way, but it hasn’t been a conscious effort. That’s just who we are.” He suggests that a much bigger focus for the firm is using its connections in “tier one ecosystems” like San Francisco and New York to “help [founders] outside the bubble enter it.”

Berardi does say there are a few things Animo won’t consider. “We stay away from FDA-regulated stuff because we don’t understand it well enough and therefore can’t be useful.” Mostly, however, he’s open to anyone and everyone who appreciates hard work, he suggests. “We’re younger, we’re hungry. We work 100-hour weeks and travel like crazy people.”

To underscore his point, Berardi tells a story about Intello, a SaaS operations platform that helps companies manage their SaaS spend, usage and compliance data and an Animo portfolio company. The startup had rented a booth at a conference organized by Okta, the publicly traded identity and access management company. “They didn’t have enough people to man the booth,” says Berardi, “and I was in town, so I was like, ‘I’ll man the booth with you in a cloud suit.’ They thought I was joking and I made an idiot of myself, but it drew a lot of people to the booth.”

Pictured above from left to right, Animo founders Nico Berardi, Caro Acevedo, and Antonio Osio.

Roku puts a remote on your wrist with new Apple Watch app

The Roku remote is coming to your wrist. The company announced today the launch of an Apple Watch app that lets you control your Roku device, including Roku media players and select Roku TVs, with a tap — just like the Roku mobile app, but sized for your wrist.

Considered the limited screen real estate, the app is fairly robust in terms of its feature set.

In addition to the expected media controls — like the ability to play and pause what you’re watching –, the app also offers a home button, the select button (“OK”), a back button and directional arrows. And it includes a way to launch your favorite channels, which are organized in order of the most recently launched to make them easier to access. That way, if you always watch Netflix, you don’t have to scroll down to find it.

In addition, the tiny remote app includes voice search functionality. To activate, you just tap the voice icon, then say things like “Launch Hulu” or “search for comedies,” or even change sources, like “switch to HDMI 1” for your Roku TV, the company explains. This will work on Apple Watch versions 1 through 5.

And if you have a Roku Ultra or a Roku TV with the Remote Finder functionality which uses an audible chime to locate a lost remote control in the couch cushions, you can also use the Roku Apple Watch app to signal your Roku remote to start making a noise.

All these features will be familiar to anyone who has already used the Roku remote for smartphones, as the Apple Watch app is just a miniaturized version. The only thing it’s missing is the ability to stream The Roku Channels’ free movies, but obviously that’s not a feature you’ll want on your wristwatch. (I mean…right?)

To get the Roku Apple Watch app, you’ll need to download or update your Roku iOS app to the latest version (6.1.3), and the app will appear on your Watch as long as you haven’t disabled “Automatic App Install” in the Watch’s Settings.

Alphabet’s board is investigating execs over claims of sexual harassment and other misconduct

Alphabet’s board of directors has opened an investigation into how executives at the company have handled misconduct claims, CNBC reported earlier today after viewing materials that it says show an independent subcommittee has been formed — and a law firm hired — to look into the issues.

One of the subjects of those claims is the company’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, whose long-ago extramarital affair with an employee was first surfaced in a story by The Information in 2017, one day after the outlet reported that another former executive, Android creator Andy Rubin, had earlier left the company after an internal investigation determined that he had carried on an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.

Rubin, who has since cofounded the consumer electronic products startup Essential, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Still,  it infuriated Google employees who learned nearly a year later in a New York Times investigation that he’d negotiated a $90 million severance pay package on his way out the door.

He wasn’t the only executive who was paid by Google after being accused of sexual harassment. Former senior search vice president Amit Singhal was also accused of sexual harassment, deciding to leave the company as it was reportedly looking into the incident. Singhal, who spent 15 years with Google and also denied any wrongdoing, was given a payout that ultimately amounted to $15 million.

Both payouts were approved by Google’s Leadership Development and Compensation Committee. Today, that committee is helmed by investors John Doerr and Ram Shriram, along with Gilead Sciences CFO Robin Washington, though Washington was only brought onto Alphabet’s board in April.

Other employees have also accused the company of not doing enough to stop sexual harassment in previous years, including a former Google engineer who announced on Twitter in 2015 that she was long sexually harassed by management at Google and that the company, despite her complaints, did nothing about it and even supported her harassers.

Why the company has waited until now to take this action isn’t yet clear, but CNBC suggests that recent headlines involving Drummond are at least part of the driver.

It was in late August that his former colleague, Jennifer Blakely, published a post on Medium in which she described Drummond as a serial philanderer who left his wife for Blakely, then left Blakely and the son that he fathered with her for another now-former Google employee.

Blakely also claimed Drummond had had “an affair with his ‘personal assistant’ who he moved into one of his new homes.”

One day later, Drummond issued a statement of his own, acknowledging his relationship with Blakely and their “difficult break-up 10 years ago.” He went on to state that, “As you would expect, there are two sides to all of the conversations and details Jennifer recounts, and I take a very different view about what happened. I have discussed these claims directly with Jennifer, and I addressed the details of our relationship with our employer at the time.”

Then Drummond said in his statement that he wanted to “address one claim that touches on professional matters. Other than Jennifer, I never started a relationship with anyone else who was working at Google or Alphabet. Any suggestion otherwise is simply untrue.”

Days after issuing the statement, Drummond married a Google employee who he’d been dating.

Drummond, who has continued on in his top role at Alphabet and was paid $47 million last year, this week sold $27 million worth of shares, according to SEC filings. He may need some of it for legal fees.

Max Q: SpaceX and Boeing gear up for commercial crew mission tests

Welcome back to Max Q, our weekly look at what’s happening in space and space startup news. This week was a bit more quiet than usual coming off of the amazingly over-packed International Astronautical Congress, but there were still some big moves that promise a lot more action to come before they year’s over – particularly in the race to fly American astronauts to space on a rocket launched from American soil once again.

There’s also startup news, including how an entirely different kind of race – one to make stuff in space – could be a foundational moment that opens up entirely new areas of opportunity for entrepreneurs big and small.

1. SpaceX’s crucial parachute tests are going well

SpaceX needs to nail one key ingredient before its Crew Dragon missions can proceed apace with people on board. Actually, it has to nail quite a few, but parachutes are a crucial one, and it has been developing the parachutes that will help Crew Dragon float back safely to Earth for years not.

The third iteration is looking like the one that will be used for the first Crew Dragon missions with astronauts, and luckily, that version three system has now completed 13 successful tests in a row. That’s approaching the kind of reliability it needs to show to be used for the real thing, so this is good news for the current goal of putting astronauts on board early next year.

2. SpaceX and Boeing ready key milestone tests

SpaceX has another key test for Crew Dragon coming up as early as this week – a static fire of its capsule abort engines. This is a key test because the last one didn’t go so well. Also, Boeing will be doing their pad abort test as early as this week as well, which sets things up nicely for a busy time next year in crewed spaceflight.

3. How in-space manufacturing could prompt a space business boom

Launching stuff to space is expensive and really limits what you can do in terms of designing spacecraft and components. There’s been efforts made to reduce the costs, including SpaceX and Blue Origin pursuing reusable rocketry, but just building stuff up there instead of launching it could unlock much deeper cost savings – and new technical possibilities. (ExtraCrunch subscription required)

4. Changing the economics of satellite propulsion

Satellite propulsion has, until very recently, been almost entirely a bespoke affair, which translates to expensive and generally not accessible to startup companies who actually have to worry about stuff like burn rates. But Morpheus Space has a new “Lego-like” system for offering affordable, compact and scalable propulsion that can serve pretty much any satellite needs.

5. Dev kits for small satellites

Small satellite business is booming, and Kepler wants to make sure that developers are able to figure out what they can do with smallsats, so it’s offering a developer kit for its toaster-sized IoT communications satellites. Cooler than the Apple TV dev boxes that were on offer once upon a time.

6. Northrop Grumman launches ISS resupply mission

The ISS is getting a shipment of supplies and scientific material courtesy of a resupply cargo capsule launched by Northrop Grumman on Saturday. One thing on board is twelve containers of read wine, courtesy of startup Space Cargo Unlimited. I’ll have more info about that on Monday, so stay tuned.