Welcome to Startups Weekly, a nuanced look at this week’s startup news and trends by Senior Reporter and Equity co-host Natasha Mascarenhas. Subscribe to receive it in your inbox here.
One of the quieter conversations about venture capital has only grown louder in my DMs and interviews in recent months: the well-known venture capital bias has been a branding issue for some of the emerging, diverse fund managers now entering the scene.
Everyone has a story, but they all kind of sound the same: a female VC launches a fund, and she’s either compared to every other female VC with a fund, expected to invest only in female founders, or a diversity angle , justice and inclusion has as its core thesis. The other thing that happens, of an always homogeneous group of LPs or even founders who see female VCs as monolithic, has led some female VCs to completely rebrand their firms so that they are seen as outside their gender.
Read my full take on this topic with Rebecca Szkutak on TC+: “For female VCs, bias is a brand issue.”
Table of Contents
VC confab brings surprises and AI
All of your favorite business journalists were busy this week with Upfront Summit 2023, an invite-only two-day event that brings together industry insiders — and celebrities — to talk about the future of capital. I interviewed the past and present guard of Kapor Capital. I shook hands with Jamie Lee Curtis and stole interview tips from Kara Swisher. And Al Gore tried to recruit the entire public to take the fight against climate change more seriously.
All in all, the conference has basically fueled my story plans for next month, so stay tuned for lots of follow-up angles. And also some scoops. I’ll start with a summary of the AI conversations across the stage.
Here’s why it’s important: If you ask me, AI was the ubiquitous celebrity at Upfront. Unsurprisingly, hyped technologies often receive inordinate interest. But the vibe is different from 2021, when investors threw billions of dollars at 15-minute grocery delivery services and web3. Venture dry powder is locked in, deals are being made more slowly and some investors are still licking their wounds from the recession so far.
My colleagues took the mic on Equity this week to discuss the latest and greatest headlines. The whole show was a hoot. Unexpectedly, for everyone, was the return of Better.com. Earlier this week, news broke that Amazon is letting employees use their stock to finance home purchases and even second homes.
Here’s why it’s important: It is a creative, but also surprising collaboration. Better has been an Amazon Web Services customer since 2015, and its loan origination system is powered entirely by the software, according to a statement. Still, Better has been through its fair share of struggles that have cast doubt on its future. Do we have to go through all the files?
Seen on businessupdates.org
Salesforce strikes back
Everything Elon Musk and executives shared (and skipped) on Tesla Investor Day
Chamath Palihapitiya: It could take three years for the market to ‘accurately’ reprice the late stage price
OpenAI is launching an API for ChatGPT, plus dedicated capability for enterprise customers
Gamers fix a video game ‘taken over’ by hackers
Seen on businessupdates.org+
Maybe Substack can grow just fine without venture dollars
Pitch Deck Teardown: Gable’s $12 Million Series A Deck
Does web3 need a bailout now that AI has all the hype?
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