March 5, 2024

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a new human experience on startup news and trends this week. To get this in your inbox, Subscribe here.

Technological innovation is a cycle, especially in a world driven by the prime character of early stage venture capital and the imitative nature of startups.

Latest guide? Y Combinator this week announced the launch of YC, a platform where individuals can sort accelerator startups by industry and batch and launch date to discover new products. The popular accelerator, which has sowed the seeds of the likes of Instacart, Coinbase, OpenSea and Dropbox, is inviting users to vote for newly launched startups “to help them climb up the leaderboards, experiment with product demos, and get to know the founding team,” a blog post said.

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If it sounds familiar, it’s because – in my view – Y Combinator is making an inaccurate swipe on Product Hunt, a nearly decade-old platform synonymous with new startup launches and feature announcements.

Y Combinator doesn’t necessarily agree with this characterization: The accelerator’s head of communications, Lindsay Amos, tells me via email that we encourage YC founders to launch on many platforms—from the YC Guide to Product Hunt to Hacker News to launching YC—in order to reach clients and investors and candidates.”

The interference is not isolated. While Y Combinator does product research, Product Hunt makes Andreessen Horowitz. Meanwhile, the a16z is making its own Y Combinator. Not to mention, Product Hunt has venture capital of a16z and previously gone through a Y Combinator accelerator.

The strategy is more than a trick of the tongue, it’s a nod to what institutions think is important to deliver these days (and why they’re starting to borrow more sugar, or deal flow, from their neighbors).

For my full text, read my TechCrunch+ column, “YC does a product search, Product Hunt makes a16z, a16z makes YC.”

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about the Coalition, Backstage Capital, and summertime temperature volatility in Africa. As always, you can support me by forwarding this newsletter to a friend or Follow me on Twitter or subscribe my blog.

Deal of the week

The coalition! Built by a quartet of women entrepreneurs, The Coalition is a network-meets-box trying to get more diverse decision makers to the cap tables. The two-pronged approach to funding and networking helps the alliance cover multiple fronts: founders can turn to the company for capital or the network for advice without further dilution. Aspiring investors and advisors can turn to the company to start building their portfolio, and limited entrepreneurs can put money into a process that is committed to expanding diversity on cap schedules, which is known to have economic benefits.

Here’s why it’s important: Ashley Meyer, co-founder of the alliance, and former vice president of communications for Glossier, explained a little about the building philosophy behind the new company.

Mayer explained that she and her three founding partners recognized the value of taking a “portfolio approach” to jobs, delving into the roles of the operators involved while also doing angel investing and ultimately investing exploration. Three of them had previously worked on a project but left it because they missed the operating experience. Now, they’re trying to expand a way for people to keep their day jobs and build afterward. “As one of the few women to head a venture-backed company, I feel a deep obligation to open the door for others,” said Alliance co-founder and Cityblock Health founder Toyin Ajayi.

Image credits: coalition

When do layoffs matter? Trick question – always

This week at Equity we talked about Backstage Capital laying off the majority of its staff, after weeks of pausing any investments in new startups. The workforce cutback, which affected nine of Backstage Capital’s 12 employees, was due to a lack of capital from limited partners, according to fund founder Arlan Hamilton.

Here’s why it’s important: Backstage Capital has invested in more than 200 startups built by historically overlooked entrepreneurs, while Hamilton herself has invested in more than two dozen venture capital funds. Although there is an impact, no single company can be immune to project difficulties (or to grow in an environment riddled with macroeconomic and cultural hurdles). Below is an excerpt from my story.

Without more support, Hamilton said, it becomes difficult to close the door on new investments, manage more assets, and bring in more follow-up investment.

“Someone asked me, ‘Why don’t you have more management?'” she said during the podcast. “You should ask these potential partners, you should ask these family offices, you should ask those people who ask me, ‘How can I be useful,’ and I say ‘invest in our fund,’ and I never hear from them again.”

One chess pawn on a green raised platform, another on a low pink platform.  Startups and market decline

Image credits: Jordan Lay (Opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Africa charts its own course

TC’s Dominic-Maduri Davis and Tage Kene-Okafor wrote a story about how the downturn is happening in Africa, essentially answering why we should all tune in to the continent’s activity this summer.

Here’s why it’s important: Total venture capital in Africa wasn’t too poor in the first quarter, but investors believe it may just be a reporting delay. Experts say that if most deals are completed before interest rates rise, war and inflation, we could see an economic slowdown that will soon begin to affect developing markets. The story doesn’t stop there. Read more to find out what Tiger Global is telling us and how August is shaping up to be a major month for the movement.

Arrows on the African landscape pointing up and down

Summer could decide the fate of the African finance scene this year.

all the week

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until next time,


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