Stock Options Report 2022, Pivot to SaaS, Crypto Investor Survey •

by Ana Lopez

We spend a lot time and again praise tech investors and entrepreneurs for their risk appetite. But why don’t we put new employees on the same pedestal?

Who’s more at risk: a Stanford graduate who used his network to set up a startup round or an immigrant worker who moves to an expensive city for a runway job?

In its latest annual report, Secfi, which helps employees manage equity, found that 24% of companies on its platform lowered their valuations last year.

“For people working at those startups, this means some (in some cases all) of their employee options have spent 2022 underwater,” writes Secfi CEO Frederik Mijnhardt.

Considering how central equity is in attracting tech talent, “underwater stock options have the potential to negatively impact hiring and retention in the startup ecosystem,” he writes.

Investors won’t stop pushing for downturns and more layoffs are on the way. Here’s some candid advice for late-stage entry-level workers:

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Hoping for the best is not a strategy, and your employers will say whatever they need to to keep you focused and productive. If or when you get fired, chances are a reporter will find out before you do.

If you’re nurturing an idea for a company, put together a pitch deck and start contacting investors now. They will be more receptive than you think.

That’s not a hot take.

Monique Woodard tweeted that yesterday she launched Cake Ventures Fund I, “a $17 million seed and pre-seed fund.” Similarly, Axios reports that Social Capital is shifting the focus of its new fund to early-stage deals.

Expect other VC firms to follow suit; despite the tech investor maverick myth, the herd mentality dominates.

Raising enough funds to build your MVP and aim for product-market fit may sound risky, but is it as precarious as working at a late startup in the first quarter of 2023?

Thank you for reading,

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager,
@your protagonist

You are not going to grow in your appreciation of 2021

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According to Jeremy Abelson and Jacob Sonnenberg of Irving Investors, many if not most founders attached to their 2021 valuations live in a fantasy.

For this TC+ post, they “worked out the simple math behind how long it will take companies to price their IPO at a flat round relative to their previous 2021 valuations.”

Companies with 75% year-over-year growth “can have the discussion,” but “if you’re growing below 30%, chances are growing to your 2021 valuation is impossible.”

Why Africa didn’t have unicorns last year, despite a record amount of fundraising

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Unicorns are becoming an endangered species in Africa’s startup ecosystem, Tage Kene-Okafor reports.

While funding in the region increased slightly in 2022, “no unicorns showed up all year, compared to five in 2021,” he writes.

“So what happened in Africa in 2022 that made it so…weird?”

Longevity industry predictions in 2023

A frosted cake with candles blown on, as if someone is making a wish just off screen.

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A silver tsunami is approaching.

“By 2030, the over-50 market is expected to grow to 132 million people, who are expected to spend an average of $108 billion each year on tech products,” said Abby Miller Levy, managing partner and founder of Primetime Partners.

Services such as telemedicine and preventive care are just two aspects of the market: Longevity technology also includes retirement planning and other services aimed at older adults.

“We see incredible momentum from the founder, untapped areas to build new businesses, and a window into an increasingly tech-accessible, high-growth consumer market.”

Some investors are (cautiously) implementing ChatGPT in their workflows

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Can AI draft polite pitch rejection letters, automate aspects of due diligence, or produce accurate market maps?

Some investors are already evaluating ways to integrate ChatGPT “into their workflows to do their jobs better, smarter, and maybe even cheaper,” report Natasha Mascarenhas, Christine Hall, and Kyle Wiggers.

They interviewed several VCs to learn about potential use cases, some early experiments, and the limitations of the technology when it comes to nuance and tone.

“It doesn’t automate the important conversations we have with journalists,” says Brianne Kimmel, founder of Worklife Ventures, “but I think it’s sufficient for things that are pretty simple.”

How we flipped our deep tech startup to become a SaaS company

u-turn road sign

Image Credits: Thomas Winz (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

Shortly after the launch of the iOS location app Burbn, the developers realized that users were mainly interested in its photo sharing features.

After creating a data-driven hub, they redesigned and rebranded their app, which we now know as Instagram.

ECM PCB Stator Technology was founded to build next-generation electric motors, but after an in-depth study of the market, CEO Brian Casey determined that a SaaS model had clear advantages.

“The market forces, customer needs, and opportunities that existed for your business at its initial inception and launch will almost certainly change over time,” says Casey.

6 crypto investors talk about DeFi and the path for adoption in 2023

Light beams depicting data being transferred via blockchain in and out of ports;  web3 framework

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Jacquelyn Melinek surveyed several crypto investors to learn more about what they are looking for and how they advise their portfolio companies in the first quarter of 2023:

  • Michael Anderson, Co-Founder, Framework Ventures
  • Alex Marinier, Founder and General Partner, New Form Capital
  • Samantha Lewis, Headmistress, Mercury
  • Paul Veradittakit, Managing Partner, Pantera Capital
  • David Gan, Founder and General Partner, OP Crypto
  • Mike Giampapa, Managing Partner, Galaxy Ventures

Dear Sophie: Do you have any tips for presenting a strong H-1B case? What if I am not selected?

lone figure at the entrance of a maze hedge with an American flag in the middle

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/

Dear Sophia,

I am currently on regular OPT. My employer will sponsor me in the H-1B lottery in March.

Can you give any tips for presenting a strong H-1B case if I’m selected? If I am not selected, what then?

– Competent and pragmatic

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