Grafiti closes a pre-seed round with $1.6 million lead by FirstMark. Grafiti is a search engine for graphs, charts, facts, info-graphics, data, and insights.
Domio closes $100 million in their series B. Domio is building branded apartment-hotels with a focus on group travelers. I’m not sure what apartment-hotels are but it sounds a lot like another play and hybrid of airbnb which could be very interesting. To read more about the round and their plans moving forward, click here.
The legendary Bradley Tusk does it again by closing $70 million for his latest fund. An integral part in Ubers success negotiating with governments and cities to scale their ridesharing platform, Bradley is now an OG in the tech/VC world and I’m sure Tusk Ventures has their eyes on some promising startups. Read more about the new fund here.
Zypp is A Dashboard for your Digital Life. The App has a plugin store where users can add features to enhance their page. The first plugins we’re introducing are for contact information like (phone numbers, emails, chat apps, social handles and websites) but will soon have plugins available for things like a (blog, portfolio, event, eCommerce and more.) Imagine Zypp at the cross sector of a stripped down website and a beefed up social media platform and without all the weird stuff << (very subjective but social media does have some features I wish I could delete or remove.)
I will keep this short and sweet but want to say that I mentioned this idea to a friend of mine when I first moved to the Bay Area in 2016 at a coffee shop. His name is Mo and told him “what if we could put tablets on the back of seats in ubers, create an app where riders can either control the media they are interacting with and then split the revenue with the drivers?”. Techcrunch.com covered this story and I am personally looking forward to the read.
He loved the idea but we quickly shifted to planning the concert series he was helping me put together and the idea was left in the dust. I’m not mad that I wasn’t the one who pursued the idea but I am glad that someone else had this vision and is bringing it to reality. I hope that Octopus is planning on doing rev-share with the drivers and creating an additional source of income in the ever growing yet low wage sector of the ‘Gig-economy’.
ID verification and management is a big and important market as we shift into the digital age at hyper speed. IDnow seems to be in good condition after executing a funding round of $40 Million to grow it’s Identity Verification-as-a-service platform. You may be asking yourself what the hell is ID verification? Here are a few use cases for Identity Verification (government issued ID in a digital format, financial services, travel, driving, and the list goes on) to prep you for the article below written by techstartups.com. Who knows what the future holds but we don’t have to carry that stupid piece of plastic with our picture (that most of us don’t like) anymore then I’m all for it.
We featured this article because if you didn’t know, data has become the leading and most valuable commodity in the world shoving oil further down the list as stated in this article by The Economist that you can read HERE.
We featured this article because Zypp is in a similar space definitely sees an opportunity in the future of data. However our philosophy is people first and we are on a mission to give people the ownership of their data as much as possible and put the user in the driver’s seat of how their personal/digital data is used. We think that if personal data is going to be sold to a company for a marketing campaign, solicit new products or a research initiative, the users themselves should have a seat at the table and get a piece of the pie aka transaction.
Arlan Hamilton is a true outlier and defines the phrase ‘one of a kind’. She has overcome more bias than one could possibly imagine in this male dominated world; especially the world of tech. I hate to lead with all the social tags we use as humans to describe people but let me paint a picture so you can envision the mountains she’s climbed to be in the position she is in. Arlan is a black-gay-woman who has taken the VC world by storm and revolutionizing finance and and the landscape for under-represented founders. If you’re not too familiar with VC and the startup scene, let me give you one stat: Black women receive around .01% of VC capital that is invested into startups every year. This is an astonishing number and one that Arlan is changing as the days pass.
If that isn’t enough, she started her journey of becoming a Venture Capitalist while being homeless in San Francisco and sleeping at the airport while taking meetings with other Venture Capitalist and making her rounds in the world hub of tech. Not surprised that Gimlet Media featured her for their season 7 of ‘The Startup’ podcast. To listen to the season, which is fascinating and produced in a cinematic and storytelling fashion by Gimlet Media, of which the 1st episode is playing above.
This event looks like a must attend with two heavy hitters in the world of tech and pioneers leading the way for women in the industry. I will definitely be in the audience to gain as many nuggets as I can and network my a$$ off. LA has a thriving tech/startup scene and events that are happening all the time that provide tons of insight and valuable connections that a lot of cities aren’t as fortunate to have. Get off your computer for a few hours and get in the scene. AND, you can’t beat FREE food! RSVP Here
So a quick disclaimer about Afrotech, I actually never made it to the conference but I did make it to a dinner that my friend from Blavity (the parent company of Afrotech) invited me to and it was a great experience. I also made my way to some of the surrounding events and festivities around the conference which was fun and gave me a chance to meet some great people. I have to say that I’m impressed to see this conference that launched in 2016 with about 600 attendees grow to about 6000 in just a 3 year span.
If you don’t know about Afrotech or didn’t assume from the name that it had something to do with black people and technology then you would have been correct. In fact it’s the largest tech convention for people of color in the country. Now before you jump to conclusions and think of how that could come off as exclusionary or biased let me provide a few stats from an article I read by Crunchbase:
77.1 percent of founders were white—regardless of gender and education.
Just one percent of venture-backed founders were black.
Women-funded startups received only 9 percent of investments.
Latino founders made up 1.8 percent of those receiving funding, while Middle Easterners totaled 2.8 percent.
What Afrotech represents to me as a POC in tech is a community of willing and able people that have and will continue to be overlooked taking the bull by the horns and creating opportunity for themselves in a very ‘good oh boys’ industry.
The event had a lot of substance, was diverse within industry which displayed in the panels and had plenty to offer entrepreneurs, techies and attendees of the conference. Most of the household tech companies we’re all familiar with also play a role by either having reps speak on a panel or throw a pop-up event at their own at their HQ for convention goers to explore. Below are a few of the notable speakers from this years conference:
Delane Parnell – Founder & CEO @ PlayVS
Angelica Nwandu – Founder @ The Shade Room
Charlamagne Tha God – TV & Media Personality
John Zimmer – Co-Founder & President @ Lyft
Angela Rye – CEO & Principle @ IMPACT Strategies
Hannibal Burress – Comedian, Writer, Podcast Host, Actor
If you haven’t had a chance to see anything from the conference, here is a quick recap of the 2018 conference as there isn’t much quality footage that I could find online.
A conversation between James Clear and Cal Newport about Digital Minimalism, Deep Work and Habit Creation. James is the author of ‘Atomic Habits’ and entrepreneur while Cal Newport is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown.