Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.
As Q2 venture capital data starts to come out, it’s clear that there’s a difference between how the startup market is acting and how it actually feels. Sure, capital has slowed, but at least within the United States, the numbers aren’t as damning as expected.
The numbers — which I’d recommend you check out for yourselves — give a healthy dose of perspective during a tough time in tech. It’s a weird dissonance: Regardless of how much capital is out there, it’s clear that startups across all sectors and stages are still reacting to macroeconomic worries.
So, this week’s layoff column is going to be all about contextualizing that dissonance: We have fresh data, courtesy of Trueup, that gives us some color on who has been hit the hardest, both in terms of institutions and sectors, from the great tech layoff.
Trueup, a tech recruitment platform that tracks layoffs, claims that over 117 unicorns have announced layoffs since the start of 2022. Of that cohort, the sector with the most layoffs is fintech, followed by crypto and real estate.
Notable fintech layoffs in the recent weeks include Amount, which cut 18% of staff after landing a $1 billion valuation just one year prior, MainStreet, which cut 30% of staff weeks before pursuing a potential recapitalization, On Deck, which cut 25% and scaled back its accelerator program and Klarna, which cut 10% of its workforce before seeking funding at a lower valuation.
As my colleague Mary Ann Azevedo reports, fintech’s recent fall comes in stark contrast to its busy 2021. It’s not entirely surprising that the same sector that saw massive venture capital gains is also conducting layoffs. Growth at all costs, we’re hearing from investors, comes at its own cost — especially if there’s a sudden pressure to shift to profitability and focus.
Understanding which sectors are having the highest percentage of layoffs gives us a better directional view on where exactly the belt needs to tighten in a profitability-focused startup landscape. That said, things get skewed fast: Fintech and crypto may be having more, publicly known layoffs because of the high clip of innovation that poured over the past few years. Every startup is a fintech, or web3 startup, these days, so sheer volume could be why the scale back is so dramatic.
So, that’s what I’m noodling on these days. In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll get into a creative twist on cap table management, The Roe reversal’s impact on tech and cauldrons. As always, you can support me by forwarding this newsletter to a friend or following me on Twitter or subscribing to my blog.
Deal of the week
AngelList Venture is launching Stack Equity Management, a way for startups to organize and manage their cap tables natively within the platform. Stack Equity is a suite of products that companies use to set up, update and purchase founder, employee and investor equity. It is available, starting today, to U.S.-based C Corporations.
Here’s why it’s important: The company is going head-to-head with its largest competitor, Carta, when it comes to pricing the management of cap tables. Stack Equity Management charges companies based on team members, while Carta charges companies based on stakeholders, aka investors, on the cap table. We love some fintech drama!
Crypto platform Vauld suspends withdrawals, trading and deposits amid financial challenges
a16z leads $6.5M seed round for Adaptive, a construction software and fintech play
Remove that ‘exit strategy’ slide from your pitch deck
Maolac pours new funding into superfood mimicking breast milk health benefits
Cauldrons, Bolts and sour markets: Welcome to Halloween in July
We had an eerie episode this week on Equity, as you can tell by the episode’s title. For me, the highlight of the episode by far was how one company went from suing a startup to settling by becoming a shareholder in the same company. Yikes.
Here’s why it’s important: Forever21’s parent company sued fintech Bolt, which has had ongoing struggles and executive shakeup, because it failed to deliver on its promises. Fast-forward to today, the same company settled with Bolt by becoming a shareholder in the startup. Talk about a fast turnaround. Here’s an excerpt from Mary Ann’s piece:
As for Bolt’s new cozy alliance with its formerly frustrated customer, Kuruvilla suggests now that it’s all water under the bridge.
He noted that “both Forever21 and Lucky Brand have been using Bolt for a long time and they will continue to use it going forward with this renewed partnership.”
“Both ABG leadership and myself are working together to find out how to expand it further and that’s coming directly from their CEO, because he has a very high bar for the kinds of partners he wants to associate with,” Kuruvilla added. “Clearly, he has a strong belief in Bolt and our products. So we’re excited to take it to the next level.”
Across the week
Six reasons to apply to the Startup Battlefield 200 at TechCrunch Disrupt
If you missed last week’s newsletter, read it here: “Tech doesn’t get more full circle than this.” We also recorded a podcast to continue the conversation, so listen to it if you fancy!
TC Sessions: Robotics is coming up on July 21, 2022 and it’s free to attend! Grab your tickets now so you can tune into a full day of in-depth interviews from leaders in robotics and artificial intelligence. Here’s the agenda if you want to dig into it more.
Seen on TechCrunch
Seen on TechCrunch+
Until next time,