🚀 Why is Biden briefing TikTok stars?
Plus, the IPO that should have been a Kickstarter campaign 👀
Cool announcement from Substack, the platform we use to publish Accelerated! The company launched an app (iOS only for now) to consume newsletters. The app also enhances discovery, recommending newsletters in categories you like and allowing you to subscribe to publications from people you follow on Twitter.
The journey from “tool” to “platform” can be tricky. Creators work hard to build an audience, and many are skeptical about changes to how content is consumed. The Substack team held a virtual office hours - you can read more here, but the TL;DR is some writers worry the app makes Substack too prominent. Will readers think of themselves as a Substack subscriber instead of an XYZ newsletter subscriber?
Almost all creator platforms go through “growing pains” when adding discovery - Patreon and YouTube are good examples. When a user comes to the platform for a specific creator’s content, does the platform have the right to recommend content from other creators (who might be “competitors”?). Creators know their followers have limited time & money, so may not want to funnel them to other creators.
My take? In the long run, a rising tide lifts all boats - creators benefit from a platform with more users and engagement. Especially because Accelerated isn’t monetized, I don’t see this as a “zero sum” game, as you can tell by the fact that I often recommend other newsletters. I love the idea of independent creators joining forces to promote each other’s content, and I’m glad Substack is making this easier!
💻 Crypto roundup. It was a huge week for crypto news. Three highlights:
Stripe announced support for crypto. Companies like crypto exchanges, wallets, DeFi projects, and NFT marketplaces can now use Stripe to process payments. Supporting fiat-to-crypto transactions is surprisingly difficult, especially if you want to abide by KYC (know your customer) regulations - Stripe is trying to make this easier.
President Biden issued an executive order on crypto, asking regulators to explore questions about consumer protection in the space (e.g. illicit activity, financial inclusion). It struck a more positive tone than many anticipated - Biden noted the importance of maintaining technological leadership, and asked the Central Bank to consider creating its own digital currency.
VC firm Bessemer has committed $250M (from the firm’s existing funds) to support web3 companies. Bessemer also launched an online community for those building in the space - though it will start with a centralized structure, the firm intends for it to eventually evolve into a true DAO.
📈 📉 A tale of two earnings. Bumble reported strong Q4 earnings, beating analysts’ expectations for paying users. In FY 2021, Bumble saw 41% revenue growth and notched its first full year of profitability. Meanwhile, Stitch Fix had a tougher outing, reporting 3% YoY revenue growth after struggling to grow active customers. The company is guiding towards lower revenue next quarter, and expects to see flat or negative growth for FY 2022.
💸 Contrary closes $75M fund. If you’re active in the college entrepreneurship scene, you’ve definitely heard of Contrary Capital. With 100+ partners at schools across North America, Contrary is known as one of the most active investors in student startups. And now, the firm has raised a $75M fund to pursue a broader mandate: investing in the world’s most talented founders. It’s been incredible to watch Contrary grow from its first $2.2M fund in 2018! Congrats to the team 🎉
If you’re a regular reader, you may remember my rant a few weeks back about why SEC registration doesn’t necessarily make an asset “safe” for retail investors.
I couldn’t resist revisiting this topic after stumbling across the IPO filing for Sound Cave Technology. The company plans to make hoodies with bluetooth speakers in the hood, allowing wearers to listen to music or take calls without headphones.
Sound Cave has not yet designed or manufactured any hoodies, so the company has generated zero revenue in its lifetime. As the S-1 states: “our only asset as of the date of this prospectus is our cash in the bank of approximately $768.”
Why does this need to be a publicly traded company instead of a Kickstarter campaign? It’s unclear, but I’ll be following this story with interest.
what i’m following 👀
Our team at Canal announced a $22.5M Series A led by Forerunner and launched a public Shopify app!
How the Durbin Amendment gave rise to a wave of consumer fintech challengers.
Investing app Public acquired Otis, a fractionalized ownership platform for alternative assets like trading cards and sneakers.
Mario Gabriele dropped another 🔥 teardown on AngelList, which just closed a $100M round at a $4.1B valuation.
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, TikTok has become a foreign policy tool - on both sides. This week, the Biden administration briefed 30 TikTok influencers on the conflict, sharing the U.S. government’s objectives in the region and answering their questions (what happens if Russia starts a nuclear war?).
The Biden administration views TikTok as a “critically important avenue” through which Americans learn about what’s going on in the world, and has previously used TikTok influencers to spread the word about the importance of getting vaccinated.
Meanwhile, a VICE News investigation uncovered that Russian TikTok stars are getting paid to post videos with a pro-Kremlin take. These campaigns are coordinated through Telegram, where an anon administrator gives instructions. Telegram has become an increasingly important channel for communication in Russia, as it’s one of the few messaging / social apps that hasn’t been blocked.
On Friday, Russia’s communications regulator announced that it will be banning Instagram effective March 14. Some Russian influencers and public figures are now directing their audiences to join their “official” Telegram channels instead - I stumbled upon a fascinating Reddit thread about how Russian figure skaters are attempting to move their IG followers over to Telegram!
Index Ventures - Investor (TBD)
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1517 Ventures - Community and Talent Operative (Remote)
Touchdown Ventures - Analyst (SF, LA, Philly)
Faire - Chief of Staff* (SF)
Amae Health - Strategy & Biz Dev, Growth & Corp Dev* (SF)
a16z - Consumer, Crypto, and Fintech Growth Fund Deal Partners (Menlo Park)
Smash Capital - VC Associate (LA)
Liberty Mutual Strategy Ventures - Analyst (Boston)
Blank Street - Associate Product Manager (NYC)
Victress Capital - Investment Associate (NYC)
*Requires 3+ years of experience.
Sourcegraph - Sales Dev Intern (Remote)
Toast - MBA Go to Market Strategy & Ops Intern (Remote)
Atomic - Telemedicine Product, B2B SaaS Product Interns (Remote)
Block - Marketing Analytics Intern (SF, Remote)
Cloudflare - PM Intern (SF)
Coinbase - Policy Team Intern (SF)
JetBlue Ventures - Summer Associate (San Carlos)
a16z - Cultural Leadership Fund Intern (Menlo Park)
Pawp - Social Media & Marketing Intern (NYC)
Morning Brew - Editorial, Social Media Content, MBA Strategy & Ops Interns (NYC)
Cadre - Biz Ops & Growth Intern (NYC)
Ribbon - Expansion Intern (NYC)
puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Noaa, a five-month-old golden retriever who lives in California - but is moving to Hawaii soon! (I’m jealous of you, Noaa)
Noaa enjoys hanging out at the beach, chasing seashells, and going surfing.
Follow her on Instagram @goldenpupnoaa!
Hi! 👋 I’m Justine Moore, an early stage consumer & SMB investor. I’m currently a student at the Stanford GSB and Head of GTM at Canal. Thanks for reading Accelerated. I’d love your feedback - feel free to tweet me @venturetwins.