Impact of Coronavirus: Advice for the funded startups and those looking to get funded- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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By Dr Apoorv Ranjan Sharma
Dr Apoorv Ranjan Sharma, Co-Founder and Managing Director, 9Unicorn
By most accounts, the current situation could translate into a long recession. With consistent downward slope on every parameter – sales growth or profit, no one can predict when the businesses will hit bottom. Entrepreneurs, either well-funded or looking for capital, will be forced to make drastic moves as they enter the survival mode. Historically, both large and small businesses have felt the sting of downturn, but smaller startups experienced disproportionate declines hurt by a tightened credit supply.
Firstly, take stock of your current gross burn rate and actual revenue each month. Since it is not a normal situation, assumptions or forecasting about customers, sales cycle and burn rate will no longer hold true. Also, the actual number will likely will be worse a month from now.
While one may hope for an overnight recovery, don’t count on it. And when you assume it is going to get worse, expenses will be strictly monitored. Remember, like you, your customers and clients are also cutting their expenses. The first step is to cut or reduce your monthly cash outflows. This includes negotiating with landlords to cut rent or even switching vendors if they can give you a big discount. However, small morale boosting expenses where the benefits in employee productivity far outweigh the costs and should not be curtailed.
Don’t cut so much of your business expenses that you can no longer service your customers. Remind your customers why they chose you – highlighting that you are most cost-effective. Your low prices are even more important during the recession. In addition, your client would spend differently now in an effort to get more value out of their purchases. Position yourself as a great value, and you outlive the pandemic.
Rivals will be in the same boat as you. Some will also have more capital and marketing clout. Startups should use innovative marketing strategy that in some way mimic how it started – with frugal operations hoping that creativity will be an equaliser.
A jittery team is not an effective team and everybody realises that employees are essential to a company’s survival but so are layoffs. Make sure you cut deep enough so you don’t have to do it again in short term. It will be painful, but getting it over with soon will ensure remaining employees can stop worrying and get back to working on turning the company around. Set an example by cutting or even eliminating your own salary before you cut your employees’ salaries.
After slicing your expenses and cash outflows, the next step is to increase and speed up the inflow of cash. Get cash in hand by offering even if it means offering customers a discount for paying sooner. The situation is also likely to serve as a catalyst for trends that had already been beforehand – more working from home and more online shopping. Enterprise software startups can switch their marketing and sales focus to a more consumer-like strategy, more so after their ability to travel to reach business customers will now be constrained.
Tech startups are particularly vulnerable to productivity lost to coronavirus workplace disruptions — given their constant need to upgrade digital offerings — and many will require cash to endure trying months ahead. On a positive note, there is still industrywide cash reserves held by venture capital firms that need to be put to work. But if past cycles are any guide, we can expect a sharp startup funding slowdown in coming months.
Simply put, companies that have enough cash to cope with the crisis will clear away a lot of competitors and that will continue to remain the ugly truth universally.
(The author is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of 9Unicorn)

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Now, Startups Tackling Coronavirus Have An Opportunity To Get Funded!- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Well, it might seem odd, yet Coronavirus is soon becoming a new boom area for Silicon Valley. The CEO of Artificial Intelligence research lab OpenAI, Sam Altman, extended a helping hand financially by offering to fund COVID-19 projects.
In his blog, Altman said that there would be enough testing capacity. He is on the lookout for startups that could quickly produce a lot of ventilators, masks or gowns, screening existing drugs for effectiveness, novel approach to vaccines, and also different therapeutics that are not developed by big pharma companies. 
Altman has asked all startups to fill out a spreadsheet that would be available publicly, and any potential investor could read that. As of now, the spreadsheet has been filled by 50 existing companies and a dozen ideas. These were mostly from at-home detection tests to ozone generators that can quickly fumigate aircraft.
Just last year, Altman stepped down as the President of Silicon Valley’s accelerator Y Combinator, in order to concentrate on OpenAI. It seems that he has already started betting on startups that are tackling coronavirus.
He had invested in Helix Nanotechnologies, a Massachusetts-based firm. Helix Nanotechnologies has spent the last two years on developing a new cancer vaccine, but now would be focussing on the mutations of coronavirus that are likely to emerge next year.
White House Says
Amid all this, the White House has pleaded tech companies in the Valley to develop tech that can tackle coronavirus. Altman had suggested that there must be a month-long shutdown funded by a $1,000 lump sum for the government to everyone, in order to cover their expenses, followed by a deferral on rent and mortgage payment.
He even said that the first week of June is likely to be normal. With the recent pandemic, it seems that everything has come to a halt. With moves like these, it may be expected that there would be more and more disruptions in the tech space. 

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Another high-flying, heavily funded AR headset startup is shutting down – gpgmail


While Apple and Microsoft strain to sell augmented reality as the next major computing platform, many of the startups aiming to beat them to the punch are crashing and burning.

Daqri, which built enterprise-grade AR headsets, has shuttered its HQ, laid off many of its employees and is selling off assets ahead of a shutdown, former employees and sources close to the company tell gpgmail.

In an email obtained by gpgmail, the nearly 10-year-old company told its customers that it was pursuing an asset sale and was shutting down its cloud and smart-glasses hardware platforms by the end of September.

“I think the large majority of people who worked [at Daqri] are sad to see it closing down,” a former employee told gpgmail. “[I] wish the end result was different.”

The company’s 18,000+ square foot Los Angeles headquarters (above) is currently listed as “available” by real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank. The company’s Sunnyvale offices appear to have been shuttered sometime prior to 2019.

Daqri’s shutdown is only the latest among heavily funded augmented reality startups seeking to court enterprise customers.

Earlier this year, Osterhout Design Group unloaded its AR glasses patents after acquisition talks with Magic Leap, Facebook and others stalled. Meta, an AR headset startup that raised $73 million from VCs including Tencent, also sold its assets earlier this year after the company ran out of cash.

Daqri faced substantial challenges from competing headset makers, including Magic Leap and Microsoft, who were backed by more expansive war chests and institutional partnerships. While the headset company struggled to compete for enterprise customers, Daqri benefitted from investor excitement surrounding the broader space. That is, until the investment climate for AR startups cooled.

Daqri was, at one point, speaking with a large private-equity firm about financing ahead of a potential IPO, but as the technical realities facing other AR companies came to light, the firm backed out and the deal crumbled, we are told.

As of mid-2017, a Wall Street Journal report detailed that Daqri had raised $275 million in funding. You won’t find many details on the sources of that funding, other than references to Tarsadia Investments, a private-equity firm in Los Angeles that took part in the company’s sole disclosed funding round. We’re told Tarsadia had taken controlling ownership of the firm after subsequent investments.

In early 2016, Daqri acquired Two Trees Photonics, a small UK startup that was building holographic display technologies for automotive customers. The UK division soon comprised a substantial portion of the entire company’s revenues, sources tell us. By early 2018, the division was spun out from Daqri as a separate company called Envisics, leaving the Daqri team to focus wholly on bringing augmented reality to enterprise customers.

The remaining head-worn AR division failed to gain momentum after prolonged setbacks in adoption of its AR smart glasses, including difficulties in training workers to use the futuristic hardware, a source told gpgmail.

All the while, the company’s leadership put on a brave face as the startup sputtered. In an interview this year with Cornell Enterprise Magazine, Daqri CEO Roy Ashok told the publication that the startup was forecasting shipments of “tens of thousands” of pairs of its AR glasses in 2020.

Daqri, its founder and several executives did not respond to requests for comment.


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A newly funded startup, Internal, says it wants to help companies better manage their internal consoles – gpgmail


Uber and Facebook and countless other companies that know an awful lot about their customers have found themselves in hot water for providing broad internal access to sensitive customer information.

Now, a startup says its “out-of-the-box tools” can help protect customers’ privacy while also saving companies from themselves. How? With a software-as-a-service product that promises to help employees access the app data they need — and only the app data they need. Among the features the company, Internal, is offering, are search and filtering, auto-generated tasks and team queues, granular permissioning on every field, audit logs on every record and redacted fields for sensitive information.

Whether the startup can win the trust of enterprises is the biggest question for the company, which was created by Arisa Amano and Bob Remeika, founders who last year launched the blockchain technology company Harbor. The two also worked together previously at two other companies: Zenefits and Yammer.

All of these endeavors have another person in common, and that’s David Sacks, whose venture firm, Craft Ventures, has just led a $5 million round in Internal. Sacks also invested last year in Harbor; he was an early investor in Zenefits and took over during troubled times as its CEO for less than a year; he also founded Yammer, which sold to Microsoft for $1.2 billion in cash in 2012.

All of the aforementioned have been focused, too, on making it easier for companies to get their work done, and Amano and Remeika have built the internal console at all three companies. It’s how they arrived at their “aha” moment last year, says Amano. “So many companies build their consoles [which allow users advanced use of the computer system they’re attached to] in a half-hearted way; we realized there was an opportunity to build this as a service.”

“Companies never dedicate enough engineers to [their internal consoles], so they’re often half broken and hard to use and they do a terrible job of limiting access to sensitive customer data,” adds Remeika. “We eliminate the need to build these tools altogether, and it takes just minutes to get set up.”

Starting today, companies can decide for themselves whether they think Internal can help their employees interact with their customer app data in a more secure and compliant way. The eight-person company has just made the product available for a free trial.

Naturally, Amano and Remeika are full of assurances why companies can trust them. “We don’t store data,” says Amano. “That resides on the [customer’s] servers. It stays in their database.” Internal’s technology instead “understands the structure of the data and will read that structure,” offers Remeika, who says not to mistake Internal for an analytics tool. “Analytics tools commonly provide a high-level overview; Internal is giving users granular access to customer data and letting you debug problems.”

As for competitors, the two say their most formidable opponent right now is developers who throw up a data model viewer that has complete access to everything in a database, which may be sloppy but happens routinely.

Internal isn’t disclosing its pricing publicly just yet, but it says its initial target is non-technical users, on operations and customer support teams, for example.

As for Harbor (we couldn’t help but wonder why they’re already starting a new company), they say it’s in good hands with CEO Josh Stein, who was previously general counsel and chief compliance officer at Zenefits (he was its first lawyer) and who joined Harbor in February of last year as its president. Stein was later named CEO.

In addition to Craft Ventures, Internal’s new seed round comes from Pathfinder, which is Founders Fund’s early-stage investment vehicle, and other, unnamed angel investors.


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Warren makes $85B federally funded broadband promise – gpgmail


As part of her bid for the presidency, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has made some bold proposals to improve access to broadband in underserved areas, and has made it clear that restoring net neutrality is also among her priorities. She proposes $85 billion to cover the enormous costs of making sure “every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford.”

The proposal is part of a greater plan to “invest in rural America” that Sen. Warren detailed in a blog post. As well as promises relating to healthcare, housing and labor, the presidential hopeful dedicated a section to “A Public Option for Broadband.”

This isn’t “broadband as utility,” as some have called for over the years, but rather a massive subsidy program to multiply and diversify internet services in rural areas, hopefully bringing them to the speeds and reliability available in cities.

Before announcing her own plan, she criticized the outcomes of earlier subsidies, like the FCC’s $2 billion Connect America Fund II:

[ISPs] have deliberately restricted competition, kept prices high, and used their armies of lobbyists to convince state legislatures to ban municipalities from building their own public networks. Meanwhile, the federal government has shoveled billions of taxpayer dollars to private ISPs in an effort to expand broadband to remote areas, but those providers have done the bare minimum with these resources — offering internet speeds well below the FCC minimum.

Her alternative is to shovel billions to everyone but ISPs to improve internet infrastructure.

“Only electricity and telephone cooperatives, non-profit organizations, tribes, cities, counties, and other state subdivisions will be eligible for grants from this fund,” she wrote, “and all grants will be used to build the fiber infrastructure necessary to bring high-speed broadband to unserved areas, underserved areas, or areas with minimal competition.”

By paying 90% of the costs of rolling out fiber and other costs, the federal government allows smaller businesses and utilities to get in on the fun rather than leaving it all to megacorporations like Comcast and Verizon. (Disclosure: gpgmail is owned by Verizon through Verizon Media. Our parent company is almost certain to be dead set against Warren’s plan.)

Not only that, but it directly targets use by municipal broadband organizations, which have formed in some states and cities in response to ISP chokeholds on the region. These organizations have been rendered illegal or toothless across half the country by legislation often supported or even proposed by ISPs and telecoms. Sen. Warren said she would preempt state laws on this matter using federal legislation, something that would no doubt be controversial.

Applicants would have to offer at least one 100/100 megabit connection option, and one discount plan for low-income customers. This would ensure that companies don’t take the money and then lay down the bare minimum connection tolerable today.

The $85 billion fund will be administered by the Department of Economic Development, part of the Department of Commerce, under a newly minted Office of Broadband Access; $5 billion will be set aside for full-cost coverage of broadband expansion on Native American lands, which are often worse off than non-Native rural areas.

To be clear, this internet effort would not mean a government-run broadband option, even in the municipal case (these are often nonprofits or private entities funded by governments). The plan is to help small companies and organizations overcome the prohibitive cost of entry and jump-start them into actual operation. The government would not operate the service or have any control over it other than, as mentioned, at the outset as far as requiring certain capacities and such.

In addition to the plan for a publicly funded broadband push, Sen. Warren made it clear (as Sen. Sanders did last week) that she would be appointing FCC commissioners who support net neutrality, specifically as it was enacted in 2015 under Title II.

The FCC’s inaccurate broadband maps and progress reports will also get a kick in the pants under Warren’s plan, though the specifics are few. And “anti-competitive behaviors” like under-the-table deals between ISPs and landlords will be rooted out, as well.

These are big promises and of course easy to make ahead of election, but they’re also smart ones, directly addressing frustrations in the industry and parts of the process currently dominated by immovable ISPs and their lobbyists. And the fact that these issues are being addressed so prominently at all as part of a presidential bid is good news to those currently on the wrong side of the digital divide.


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