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FundersClub Weekly Newsletter - July 21, 2016

By Christine Georghiou  •  Jul 21, 2016

FundersClub Portfolio News

Memebox has helped lesser known brands move to the fore of the cosmetics market in Korea through its model of supplying consumers free samples in exchange for feedback. Memebox's subscriber base is active on social media, and can launch smaller brands through attention garnered there. Data analysis helps Memebox find beauty market niche

StatusPage has been acquired by Atlassian, the owner of HipChat, Bitbucket and other cloud platforms. StatusPage, which allows companies to easily build web pages that show the current status of their online services, brings with it thousands of clients from Alphabet’s Nest, Coinbase, Disqus, Engine Yard, Linode, Loggly, New Relic, Tesla, UserVoice, and Atlassian itself. Atlassian acquires hosted status page company StatusPage

Coinbase has added site-wide support for Ethereum, which has gained traction as a digital currency. Coinbase has supported Ethereum on GDAX, its cryptocurrency exchange, since May. TechCrunch

Investor Thoughts

Tomasz Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures provides a deft explanation of how SaaS companies should examine their sales pipeline to accurately forecast future revenues. He also provides a nifty interactive worksheet for doing it. The Essential Go To Market Math For Beating Your SaaS Startup's Growth Targets

Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures writes that there is a big difference between passive investing and active investing. Netting big gains on investments requires time, energy and intellect, as well as capital. Active vs Passive Investing

Isaac Madan of Venrock provides a thoughtful guide on the latest big news in deep learning, from Google's DeepMind partnering with the National Health Service's Moorfields Eye Hospital, to the Harvard NLP and Visual Computing Group's announcement of a visual analysis tool for recurrent neural networks. Up to Speed on Deep Learning: July Update

Josh Hannah of Matrix Partners writes that for business ideas, tech blogs often don't offer much guidance. The best ideas are informed by new businesses that are starting and having an impact on the market with a view independent from the general din and echo chamber of the tech press and Silicon Valley. What’s the Big Idea?

Michael Seibel of Y Combinator writes that it's much easier to talk to an investor when they have a clear picture of your business. Founders pitch their company hundreds of times—to be effective, a pitch must be clear and concise. How to Pitch Your Company

Elizabeth Yin of 500 Startups explains why it's hard to keep sales fires fully stoked during fundraising periods. Founders have to balance fundraising with growth, even at the smallest of startups. Investors aren't interested in hearing about bad quarters brought on by fundraising activity.Bringing transparency to seed investing

Benedict Evans of a16z writes that we have an 'Cambrian explosion' of permissionless innovation, creating all kinds of ideas, from drones delivering medicine to Pokemon hunts, all built on the same shoulders. To think about tech now is to think about many things. The hedgehog and the fox

Founder and Operator Thoughts

Zach Tellman of Fitbit writes that senior engineers not only reduce technical risk, but also the risks around process, product design, sales and company culture. Senior Engineers Reduce Risk

Pablo Fuentes of Proven explains why some ideas that seem great might not be as great as they look. He reviews the eight different business models that Proven tried before landing on their current model that now supplies seven-figure revenue and 50% to 60% annual growth. Eight Pivots to Profitability... From Idea to Growing Business

Dan Wolchonok of Hubspot explains how, as a product manager, he constantly strove to speak with more customers about nearly everything: existing features, customer pain, features under development, and processes for product research. A critical skill in this realm, he says, is to know the customers who will provide the most valuable feedback. Identify users with the most valuable feedback

Susan Zheng of Planted explains how to determine if a company culture is the right fit for a given employee. A startup's culture is ultimately decided by its leadership but it's carried out by the actions of its employees. These 4 Questions Will Tell You If You Found the Right Company Culture

Kent Beck of Facebook writes that product development proceeds in three phases: explore, expand and contract. Like a triathlon, each phase requires different equipment, different technique and different training. The Product Development Triathlon

Ash Rust of SendHub writes that many startups fail because they set the wrong goals. Bad goals often revolve around static technical and product hurdles that garner no input from a startup's most valuable resource: customers. Goals should be built around collecting feedback from customers and iterating only when that feedback is fully understood. Bad Ways to Set Startup Goals

In Other News

Funding for Artificial Intelligence Startups increased more than fourfold to $681 million in 2015, from $145 million in 2011. Many believe the shift to AI and machine learning applications will be as big as society's adoption of the PC. The New York Times: Artificial Intelligence Swarms Silicon Valley on Wings and Wheels

Softbank, the Japanese internet conglomerate, has paid $32 billion to acquire ARM Holdings, the British maker of semiconductors. ARM's chips can be found in most of the world's smartphones, and many of the devices that make up the Internet of Things. It's the first large deal involving the U.K. since Brexit. SoftBank’s $32 Billion Deal for Chip Designer ARM Is Britain’s Biggest Since Brexit

Elon Musk and Tesla just published 'Master Plan, Part Deux.' It's a sweeping forecast that has Musk's company offering more vehicles to more people and growing past sustainable transport, into 'sustainable energy.'Master Plan, Part Deux

Unilever acquires Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion in a deal that gives the conglomerate another direct way to compete with Procter & Gamble. Fortune's sources say that the deal values Dollar Shave Club, which is not profitable, at 4.2x revenue, and could stoke deals for competitors such as Harry's. Fortune: Unilever Buys Dollar Shave Club for $1 Billion

Microsoft's Bing search engine, the long ridiculed laggard of the Google juggernaut, has quietly grown into a serious business, generating $5.3 billion in revenue during Microsoft's just-ended fiscal year. That's more than Yahoo's sales during the last 12 months, and two-and-a-half times Twitter's advertising revenue. Bloomberg: Microsoft's Bing Isn't a Joke Anymore

Did You Know?

American Crows are among the smartest birds in the world. They will often gather around a dead crow in numbers, but not out of mourning. A study recently published in the journal Animal Behavior found that the crows are most likely investigating the cause of death, and if that threat can somehow be avoided in the future. National Geographic: Do Crows Hold Funerals for Their Dead?