The tech industry has generally wished that structural discrimination would disappear while pretending to have already done so. But anyone can use technology for anything. And so the world saw the brutality of the police against blacks video-by-video in a real-time stream that plays through the last days of quarantine and leads to the death of George Floyd and ongoing protests. With employees leaving their remote offices to take to the streets, even executives from major technology companies – who would normally avoid such complications – have officially expressed their support online.
What can we expect to change now? Eventually, diversity and inclusion programs were curtailed during the pandemic, and employee diversity and VC partner / portfolio demography statistics, at least overall, did not appear to improve rapidly over the past decade.
First, a group of black tech leaders in the Bay Area, including theinformationsuperhighway's Megan Rose Dickey, submitted a widely signed petition setting five goals, including local support and accountability, as well as a commitment to hire and invest in black people and founders .
On site in the startup world, numerous investors state that they provide time and resources for black founders.
Specific suggestions for changing the status quo strike at the heart of technology as we know it.
Will Walker writes that tech companies like Amazon, Yelp, and Grubhub should find ways to showcase and favor black companies – even if that means rewriting the recommendation algorithms.
Connie Loizos writes that legislation could be the best answer to eradicate systemic prejudices when funding people:
Keep in mind that most VCs today sign their rights to invest in guns, alcohol, or tobacco when they manage capital on behalf of the pension funds, universities, and hospital systems that fund them. What if they also had to agree to invest a certain percentage of this capital in start-up teams with members from under-represented groups? We no longer talk about goals, but about actual mandates. In other words, instead of waiting for venture companies to develop organically into less homogeneous organizations – or to invest in fewer founders who share their gender, race and educational background – they are changing their limited partner agreements.
Perhaps technology leaders are reacting so strongly today because they recognize what they're doing when changes don't happen faster?
The future of work, people say, who are trying to invest in it
In the meantime, the type of work as we know it is being reassessed. Megan met top crunch investors in a very popular investor survey this week to better understand the problems and solutions. Ann Muira-Ko from Floodgate Capital assumes that unicorns will emerge as an example:
- How can solopreneurs build companies that are fully tech-savvy? We consider this the Ironman suit for the solo preneur. What financial products and software products can solopreneurs use to provide consumers or their customers with the technical experience they expected?
- How does someone's call follow? A resume or LinkedIn profile measures where and how long you've worked. As more people work in different locations, measuring expertise becomes a new challenge.
- How does an organization maintain knowledge? If a company relies on its employees to share its history and knowledge base, how can this be spread without relying on internal experts (who are in decline)?
- How should productivity tools (calendar and communication) and business systems (CRM, HR, finance, etc.) adapt to a multimodal work environment (work from anywhere)? HR may be the most outdated, but every tool requires better integration.
If you're more interested in the cybersecurity aspects of remote work, be sure to check out security editor Zack Whittaker's investor surveys this week, including this industry overview and this pandemic-focused one.
Data shows that investors are actually busy looking for deals
Are VCs Open to Business During the Pandemic? Docsend, a key internal data source, released a new report this week showing that investor interest increased in April. Here is CEO Russ Heddleston from theinformationsuperhighway, who talks about the activities on his document management platform:
After the initial decline in March, founders and VCs recovered fairly quickly. In fact, VC interest increased by 10% over the next week, while the number of founder links created increased by 12%. In the following weeks, however, the number of links created by founders either remained unchanged or decreased. However, this is not the case with VCs. The demand for pitch decks rose steadily until April 20, an increase of 25% over the previous year. In fact, seven of the ten best days for pitch deck interest in 2020 were April.
The inactivity in collecting donations was on the part of the founder! In a separate article for Extra Crunch, he announced that investors are spreading widely.
In recent weeks, as supply and demand have been above average, we have seen the average time to review a store decrease. In fact, we are at a two-year low. The only other period in which the time spent fell below today's value was in early 2018 (which was not coincidentally when the demand was highest). In 2018 we saw twice that the time spent dropped below three minutes and we are currently at 3 minutes and 7 seconds.
How a growth marketer helped his high school brother win at TikTok
In a fascinating oral story for Extra Crunch, Adam Guild explains how he helped his young brother Topper gain more than 10 million followers in less than five months. Here is a free excerpt:
At first it seemed random to find out what content was going to go viral. There was no correlation between likes, comments, stocks or engagement rate.
What made the difference in its successful content? Topper had to figure it out to maximize growth. So he went through his TikTok Analytics insights and noticed a trend: his most popular videos weren't the ones with the highest engagement rates. They were the ones with the highest average viewing time.
"I wanted to test whether this guess was correct," said Topper. "So I posted some longer length videos and annoyed the people in the subtitles to watch them to the end."
It worked; His videos got more views, but it wasn't a perfect correlation. Some videos with long display times did not start.
When Topper asked me for advice, I suggested that the key metric for the nail is actually the average session time. YouTube optimizes for this. So it would make sense for TikTok to do the same. This metric measures how long people actually stay on the platform – not on the video – and can be increased by individual videos.
He released another video for testing: one that encouraged viewers to watch repeatedly because it had a cliffhanger end – Topper poured hundreds of mentos into a massive container of cola before cutting out the end.
This video was his most-watched so far and had more than 175,000,000 views. He decided to use this lesson in future videos by creating content that helped make viewers dependent on TikTok while being fun to watch.
All about theinformationsuperhighway
Join in and see five startups at Pitchers and Pitches on June 10th
Meet Julia Hartz, CEO of Eventbrite, for a live Q&A: June 11th at 3pm EST / noon PDT / 7pm GMT
In the course of the week
LinkedIn introduces new retargeting tools
The corona virus has accelerated the posthuman era
Zynga acquires Turkish Peak Games for $ 1.8 billion after buying its $ 100 million card game studio in 2017
Huawei's terrible week
Is Zoom the next Android or the next BlackBerry?
The IPO window is (again) open
Unpack the ZoomInfo IPO at the start of trading
SaaS profits are increasing as the pandemic pushes companies to the cloud faster
What a food startup Weee! learned from China’s technology giants
From Alex Wilhelm:
Hello and welcome back to Equity, theinformationsuperhighway's venture capitalized podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
This week, however, the equity crew (Danny, Natasha, Chris, and Alex) agreed that it was silly to raise false enthusiasm for funding rounds and startups. Instead, we talked about a more critical issue: systemic racism in the United States. Venture firms and tech managers across the country are committed to getting better after the brutal murder of George Floyd and the brutality of the police.
Better is long overdue.
What follows are the resources we – and a few more – mentioned on the show itself. We'll be coming back. Now is the time for sustained momentum and change.
How to be a better ally
Equity decreases every Friday at 6:00 a.m. (local time). Subscribe to us at Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all casts.