Startups Weekly - Community isn't a buzzword, it's a challenge

TechCrunch Newsletter
TechCrunch logo
Startups Weekly logo

By Natasha Mascarenhas

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends.

 image

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

I first covered Launch House in Oct 2020, when the co-founders described a strong focus on inclusion when creating hacker homes. A co-founder said then, “I wouldn’t say we’re the next Y Combinator, but the next YC would look something like that.” The company soon went onto raise venture funding for its vision of what a next-generation entrepreneurial ecosystem looks like, combining remote work’s benefits with the rising mindshare around “community.” It won over investment dollars from Andreessen Horowitz, Lightship, CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz, Electric Ant’s Chris Ovitz, 6th Man Ventures’ Mike Dudas and other angels.

Now, a Vox investigation this past week highlighted specific allegations around harassment, sexual assault and misuse of power at Launch House. The response has been complex. The irony with the “build in public” mindset is that, when allegations and scrutiny surface, privacy — or at least opacity — is back in vogue.

As TechCrunch reports, some existing investors in the startup and its venture fund have issued public statements supporting the alleged victims and denouncing the alleged behavior described by Vox in its article about Launch House. Launch House, meanwhile, confirmed to TechCrunch via a spokesperson that it is launching an independent, third-party investigation through a retained law firm.

Days after the investigation went live, Launch House held a town hall with some members of their community. Co-founder Michael Houck said that the startup “dropped the ball on responding to this quickly enough [and] with enough compassion … that isn’t reflective of the values that we’ve built this community on from day one and that we care about.”

“Put more simply, we absolutely should have met with you all sooner than today,” Houck added, “What I can say now is that we’re ready to speak and we have a plan.” The conversation focused on three topics: what Launch House says it has done in the past, what it will do in the future and how it plans to build back trust with female founders in their cohorts.

The Vox investigation, Launch House’s response both publicly and privately, as well as the community’s either outrage or silence over surfaced allegations is a reminder that community isn’t a buzzword. It’s a challenge. Some people may look at LH as a caricature of the “community-based VC-backed startup” trend, but this offers a real look at what happens when these “buzzy trends” meet a bull market, in a remote world, with limited checks and balances.

For the full story of key details in the private town hall, read my story: “Launch House holds private town hall, says investigation is underway.” For the investor and community reaction, read my story with Rebecca Szkutak, “Launch House’s community reacts to misconduct and harassment allegations.”

In the rest of this newsletter, we’re talking about Y Combinator’s paranoia, fund manager shifts and a follow-up on one of the pandemic startups admitting it’s wrong. Make sure to read the whole thing as I’ve snuck in a TC+ discount code, especially for Startups Weekly readers, in the post.

If you like this newsletter, do me a quick favor? Forward it to a friend, share it on Twitter, and tag me so I can thank you for reading myself!

Guide: What is SOC 2 and Why Do Startups Need It

Sponsored by Laika

To close deals, your business needs SOC 2. But getting compliant is complicated, time-consuming, and costly. Uncomplicate SOC 2 with our guide for growth-minded founders. Learn how to turn compliance from a pain point into a competitive advantage.

Download Here

Y Combinator is still paranoid 

Y Combinator’s Michael Seibel, managing partner and head of the accelerator, is one of the most influential people in startups. He joined Equity to chat about the point of demo day, diversity challenges and competition.

Here’s why it’s important: Given the fact that YC doesn’t do a ton of press anymore, the interview clarified some misconceptions. More on TechCrunch+ tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s how he described the utility of demo days.

It’s hard for me to generalize on demo days. There’s a lot of different demo days out in the world, and I don’t really know how they work.

I would say YC’s Demo Day has two functions. The first is the obvious one, which is: present the companies and drive leads. The second is as a forcing function to the founders, right? Just [as] YC doesn’t necessarily need an application deadline. In fact, we read applications all year ‘round. But as a forcing function to [say] “Hey, there’s this date that we want to accomplish this thing by and it’s important,” [it] really, really helps the founders get up to top speed faster, as opposed to a more generalized system.

I would say [Demo Day] also helps the investors. If I’m an investor, and I’m talking to a company, and I know that they’re going to be raising [at] Demo Day in a week, I might make my decision a little faster. So one of the things we tell founders who go through YC is [that] different companies will leverage Demo Day differently. And that’s OK. It’s a tool and your job is to use it as best you can for your company.

Y Combinator is still paranoid  image

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Figma exits

Adobe snapped up Figma for $20 billion, reminding us that M&A can, indeed, happen in 2022. As TC’s Ingrid Lunden reports:

The idea now will be to create a seamless connection between these and Figma, essentially building it out as the native platform to bring them all together. Adobe, of course, already had something like this, in the form of AdobeXD. It’s not clear what will happen when this deal closes. Indeed, whether all this will raise the attention of antitrust authorities will be worth watching: Adobe is already dominant in so many of the tools that are used, and now it will be the dominant player as well in the platform to bring in and provision all of these tools.

Here’s why it’s important: Massive acquisitions have a way with ripple effects. In this case, Adobe just joined forces with one of its biggest rivals in digital design. Figma will soon no longer be a private company and thus not have to share its specific financials, and Figma employees, assumedly, are going to be a whole new generation of angel investors. There are also a lot of investors who won out due to this exit; a homogenous bunch, another notes. 

Figma exits image

Image Credits: Firn / Getty Images

The follow-up

I’m experimenting with a new section in Startups Weekly, where each week we follow up with an old story or trend to see what’s changed since our first look. This week, we’re returning to look at Maven, a creator economy meets edtech play that has raised $25 million over two years.

Here’s what’s new: The live-learning platform announced a pivot this week. Instead of creating courses taught by creators, it is focusing on courses taught by experts. It’s another example of, when it comes to executing on community – this time in a learning sense – it can be challenging to execute. I appreciated the transparency of what they did wrong, and what’s new for the future.

“We had the hypothesis that a creator with a big audience will have a great course and be able to fill it and we were surprised that this hypothesis was wrong,” Kao said in an interview with TechCrunch. “Just because somebody is a creator doesn’t mean that they will run a successful course. Instead, we were seeing tons of smaller instructors who were subject matter experts in their field and didn’t necessarily have big audiences, who wanted to put in the hustle and put in the effort … doing really well on the platform.”

The follow-up image

Image Credits: Tim Robberts / Getty Images

THE TECHCRUNCH DISRUPT 2022 AGENDA IS OUT

Wait for it. See it? Yep, I’m excited too. And while we’re on the topic of housekeeping, some more notes:

To thank you for being a Startups Weekly subscriber, here’s a little TC+ discount for you: Enter “STARTUPS” at check-out for 15% off of your subscription.

Seen on TechCrunch

Codi lands $16 million, led by a16z, to prove that we never really actually liked co-working

Why this consumer investor is switching VC firms after making partner last year

Most fintechs partner with banks. Varo became one, and says it’s paying off

Twilio lays off 11% of its staff as it aims for profitability in 2023

Uber investigating cybersecurity incident after hacker breaches its internal network

Seen on TechCrunch+

Now that the Ethereum Merge is behind us, what’s next?

Pitch Deck Teardown: Helu.io’s $9.8M Series A deck

VC fundraising gets weird as autumn nears

Have you marked down your portfolio yet? You are running out of time to hide

And that’s this week’s startup diary.

N

Read more stories on TechCrunch.com

Newest Jobs from Crunchboard

See more jobs on CrunchBoard

Post your tech jobs and reach millions of TechCrunch readers for only $200 per month.

Facebook Twitter Youtube Instagram Flipboard

View this email online in your browser

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Unsubscribe

© 2022 Yahoo. All rights reserved. 110 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Key phrases

Older messages

All I can see is you — iOS 16 users enjoy new photo background removal feature

Friday, September 16, 2022

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo By Christine Hall and Haje Jan Kamps Friday, September 16, 2022 Fridaaaaay! Today, we will mostly be listening to this delightful end-of-week

Why growth activation matters

Friday, September 16, 2022

TechCrunch+ Newsletter TechCrunch+ logo TechCrunch+ Roundup logo By Walter Thompson Friday, September 16, 2022 Welcome to TechCrunch+ Friday Image Credits: Koldunova Anna / Getty Images In his latest

Last Call - $1100 Disrupt Savings End Tonight

Friday, September 16, 2022

Save $1100 Before Prices Go Up Tonight Beat tonight's deadline & save $1100 Time waits for no one, people. Don't miss out on saving up to $1100 on passes to TechCrunch Disrupt as the

Adobe snaps up Figma in proposed $20B deal that has some scratching their heads

Thursday, September 15, 2022

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo By Christine Hall and Haje Jan Kamps Thursday, September 15, 2022 Happy Thursday! Has everyone recovered from Zoom going down this morning?

Join FTX Ventures' Amy Wu at TC Sessions: Crypto

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Don't miss out - book your pass today TC Sessions: Crypto on Nov 17 FTX Ventures' Amy Wu is coming to TC Sessions: Crypto We're thrilled to be hosting Amy Wu at TechCrunch Sessions: Crypto

[Python Mastery] The hidden costs of "copy-paste" Python programming

Friday, October 7, 2022

Hey there, Here's a development story that plays out thousands of times each day: Avid Pythonista Max is working on a function to find the 10 oldest files in a nested directory hierarchy. He needs

Why your startup needs a prenup

Friday, October 7, 2022

TechCrunch+ Newsletter TechCrunch+ logo TechCrunch+ Roundup logo By Walter Thompson Friday, October 07, 2022 Welcome to TechCrunch+ Friday Image Credits: skodonnell / Getty Images In the early days of

iOS Dev Weekly - Issue 579

Friday, October 7, 2022

The question of what technologies to use has no definitive answer! 🎲🤷‍♂️ View on the Web Archives ISSUE 579 October 7th 2022 Comment Why do I link to Alexandre Colucci's articles reporting on

Daily Coding Problem: Problem #898 [Easy]

Friday, October 7, 2022

Daily Coding Problem Good morning! Here's your coding interview problem for today. This problem was asked by Amazon. Implement a stack API using only a heap. A stack implements the following

Wireless Apple CarPlay? How to add it to your car

Friday, October 7, 2022

Managers can't agree on who to hire; QuietComfort Earbuds II review -- ZDNET ZDNET Tech Today - US October 7, 2022 placeholder How to add wireless Apple CarPlay to your car Wired connections are a

Issue #457: 3D Diffusion vs GET3D, acid traces, and Tranquility

Friday, October 7, 2022

Weekly newsletter about HTML5 Game Development. Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser. Issue #457 - October 7th 2022 If you have anything you want to share with the HTML5 game

🔎 What PMs should know about Product Marketing

Friday, October 7, 2022

Product Marketing - what product managers should know Do you think all you need to know about product marketing is “it's that stuff those product marketing managers do”? While product marketing may

Ranked | The World’s Most Surveilled Cities 📹

Friday, October 7, 2022

The world's most surveilled cities contain hundreds of thousands of cameras. See where these cities are located in this infographic. View Online | Subscribe Presented by: Special Report Now

Google Is Not Apple, and It Should Stop Trying to Be

Friday, October 7, 2022

Did You Know?: Dale Carnegie, most famous for the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, changed his last name from “Carnagey” to “Carnegie” in honor of the steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie, and

Join TechCrunch Live with Casa Verde Capital and Dutchie

Friday, October 7, 2022

TechCrunch Live - Wed, Oct 12 - 11:30am PDT TechCrunch Live on Oct 12 How Dutchie raised half a billion for cannabis tech Ross Lipson co-founded Dutchie in 2017 and has since led the company to a multi