Wednesday, September 11, 2019

“Want to Do Business in Silicon Valley? Better Act Nice - The New York Times” plus 1 more

“Want to Do Business in Silicon Valley? Better Act Nice - The New York Times” plus 1 more


Want to Do Business in Silicon Valley? Better Act Nice - The New York Times

Posted: 10 Sep 2019 02:00 AM PDT

The first rule of Silicon Valley venture capital is never insult a start-up. Founders are always killing it, disrupting the world or just plain 🙌🙌🙌.

If a start-up is fizzling, shuttering or caught scamming? The socially acceptable response is total silence.

Everyone knows that. Except Jason Palmer.

The start-up in question was AltSchool, a Mark Zuckerberg-backed project to turn school into a start-up experience. It had just announced it was pivoting out of existence after raising $174 million.

Mr. Palmer is in this field: He is a venture capitalist in Washington, D.C., focused on education technology. On June 29, he tweeted that AltSchool was always a bad idea, and he was glad that his firm hadn't invested in it.

That single jab at a failed company sent the investor elite into conniptions.

"This is likely the most expensive tweet you'll ever post," wrote Mark Rose, at the time a product manager at Google, now the vice president of product at a biotech start-up called Ontera. "That's the $ lesson."

Many said Mr. Palmer should be boxed out of future deals.

A start-up founder funded by Y Combinator, an influential start-up training program and investment firm, flagged Mr. Palmer's firm to his funders: "We might want to warn future edtech founders (YC or not) about their best practices," Alex Bouaziz wrote on Twitter.

It goes on.

"I wish I could short your portfolio," Michael Karnjanaprakorn tweeted. He is the founder of Otis, which facilitates investments in art and sneakers.

And on.

"Dude, you realize you are literally the worst," wrote Steve Cheney, a founder of Estimote, which makes sensors for tracking devices.

Michael Arrington, the pugnacious founder of TechCrunch, added a note of criticism. The co-founder of an e-sports collaboration tool described "putting startups on blast" in this manner as "toxic behavior."

Parker Conrad, the former C.E.O. of Zenefits, a human resources start-up, who has since started a similar start-up, jumped in.

"So easy to say this from the cheap seats. No founder in edtech should ever pitch their company to you again," Mr. Conrad wrote. "It's so easy to predict something will fail. You'll be right 9 times out of 10. You will never build anything meaningful."

Inevitably, there was Mr. Palmer's apology. It came in four self-effacing parts, beginning by thanking everyone for the feedback.

"Hi everyone — First of all, I really appreciate the feedback, both positive and negative I've received from this tweet all day. I believe in honest, tough conversations, and that's what all of you have given me."

After a few more apology missives, he apologized to the founders, who poured six years of "their heart and soul" into the project.

Mr. Palmer believed he would save his investors money by not investing in a start-up that would have lost it. He was right. But in the cacophony of venture capitalist boosting, that became about emotion, and even soul.

A founder's soul is a surprisingly common discussion topic in the tech world, often as a defense of a particularly egregious news cycle. In social settings, debate over a company like Facebook will quickly get personal, cutting to the question of what its chief executive feels in his or her heart.

Mr. Zuckerberg, when caught in a scandal, rinses himself in apologies. He does this so often that the Washington Post made a graphic of his heartfelt mea culpas.

The rhetoric of soul and heart is a sleight of hand to distract from the boring truth that tech companies are, of course, for-profit corporations.

After Mr. Palmer's tweet, he was shaken. He said he had no idea how upset everyone would get and that he had no intention of hurting anyone.

"It's been overwhelming," he said.

He sent out a carefully worded email a few hours later.

"The biggest lesson I've learned is to think harder about all the people who might be affected by any tweet," he wrote. "Founders, teachers, employees, students, they're all real people with real lives, feelings and stories. They're much more than 280 characters."

By not knowing the rules, he showed exactly what those rules are, and just how the Silicon Valley positivity machine runs. For venture capitalists, Twitter is a place to sell. It's a place to talk up portfolio companies. It's a place to perform the industry pastime of "thought leading."

Venture capitalists do not think of themselves this way, of course. CB Insights, a company that performs industry analysis, polled venture capitalists on this question: "Should VCs avoid public criticism of the industry / start-ups?"

The result was clear: 88 percent said investors should feel free to criticize.

So, two months after the tweet, how is Mr. Palmer feeling? The outrage that came both in public and private did not, in the end, oust him from the industry. He continues to invest.

For him, it was "a reminder," he said, that tech entrepreneurs truly believe they are saving the world. He wanted to be clear now that he truly believes this, too. They were right. His tweet was very bad. He has been chastened.

"Tech entrepreneurs are just as mission driven as people in nonprofits," Mr. Palmer said. "They believe they are helping the world just as much as nonprofit founders."

But of course most start-ups fail, he added, a little quieter, and the tech world ought to learn how to talk about failure.

"In fact, most high-risk start-ups are nonprofits," he said. "Effectively nonprofits."

His public messages now accord with Silicon Valley venture capital norms.

LinkedIn reveals the top 50 hottest US startups for workers - TechRepublic

Posted: 05 Sep 2019 07:12 AM PDT

Topping the list is cloud-based data warehouse firm Snowflake, followed by cannabis-centric wellness company Dosist, industrial sensor developer Samsara, and delivery service DoorDash.

Startup companies can represent an exciting arena for job seekers. Getting in on the ground floor of a new and innovative company often provides the type of growth and diversity that many employees crave. But of course, startups can be a risky environment in which to work as you're betting that the business will succeed and flourish. To steer you in the right direction, LinkedIn has compiled a list of the top 50 hottest startups in the US based on such factors as interest in the company, employment growth, and the ability to attract talent from LinkedIn's top companies.

Coming in at No. 1 on LinkedIn's 3rd annual Top Startups Ranking is Snowflake, a company that helps businesses move their data to the cloud. Last year, Snowflake almost tripled its employee count to more than 1,000 workers and boosted its revenue by 257%. Despite the job growth, the company is still looking to hire, with 85 jobs now open, many focused in engineering and sales.

Second on the list is Dosist, a company that makes a cannabis dose pen designed to reduce pain, inflammation, and insomnia. Over the past year, Dosist has hired more than 100 employees, grabbing talent from Apple and Tesla. The company is now searching to fill 20 new positions with the largest jobs in operations, sales, and business development.

No. 3 is Samsara, a company that uses hardware and analytical software to increase efficiency in such industries as trucking and food production. Samsara is looking to fill around 280 jobs in divisions from engineering to sales to marketing. Melissa Yeh, Samsara's head of people and places, told LinkedIn that over the next year, the company plans to hire around 1,000 new employees to build new products, delve into new markets, and support the growing customer base.

Food delivery app developer DoorDash took the fourth position. Over the past six years, the company has doubled the number of employees each year and is poised for more growth after its recent purchase of rival Caviar. Chief People Officer Sarah Wagener told LinkedIn that DoorDash is seeking workers with "courage and grit" and who are "quick, adaptable, and resilient."

More for CXOs

Coming in at No. 5 is Brex, a company that develops business-focused financial products, such as its corporate credit card for fellow startups. Based in the Bay Area, Brex is expanding its reach with offices New York City, Salt Lake City, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Currently, 85 jobs are open to "individuals who are ready to grow their careers at a pace matching the growth of our business," HR Director Cookie Wiese told LinkedIn.

Next on the list is Good American, a seller of jeans, activewear, dresses, maternity clothing, and more. With a current US headcount of 80 people, Good American is looking "to hire out-of-the-box thinkers, those who are passionate, solution-oriented, and able to understand our customer on a deeper level," the company told LinkedIn.

At No. 7 is Robinhood, a company that helps customers buy and sell stocks and exchange-traded funds on their phones without a commission. Robinhood is looking to fill jobs in engineering and compliance, many of them available at its office in Lake Mary, Florida.

No. 8 on the list is Peloton Interactive, which not only sells physical bikes but also offers subscription-based group classes that can be streamed from your home. The company recently filed for an IPO, and CEO John Foley told LinkedIn that "people are going to make good money."

With a US headcount of 2,300, real estate technology company Compass came in ninth. Over the next year, the company is seeking to hire people for its product and engineering teams to build its end-to-end software platform. "Look through your LinkedIn network to see if you're connected to anyone who works at Compass," Compass's head of talent Margaret Smith told LinkedIn. "Reaching out to them to get their insight and perspective is important. They may refer you if you show enough initiative."

And at No. 10 is Nuro, a robotics company revving up the self-driving market with its own fleet of small delivery pods. With a current US headcount of 300, the company is looking to fill more than 200 open positions and wants employees who are motivated by big challenges.

"The annual Top Startups list is a reflection of how work is changing, what new industries are emerging and rapidly growing and where people want to work now," Jessi Hempel, senior editor at large at LinkedIn, said in a press release. "Over 11,000 positions were filled at the Top Startups over the last year, and there are thousands of open jobs available at the companies right now."

The other companies on the list are described at the post LinkedIn Top Startups 2019: The 50 hottest U.S. companies to work for now. To make the Top Startups list, a company must be independent and privately held, have at least 50 employees in its base country, be no more than seven years old, be headquartered in the country on the list in which they appear, and have at least 15% employee growth over the time period measure from July 2018 through June 2019. To consider a company for the list, LinkedIn analyzed a range of factors, including user interest in the company, employment growth, engagement with employees, job interest, and its ability to attract talent from the LinkedIn Top Companies.

Also see

Team at work.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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