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TechCrunch+ Roundup: Unicorn Origins, Red Flags for Investors, Generative AI Complies with Copyright Law


Are you an early stage founder building a unicorn?

Last month, during TechCrunch Early Stage, I spoke with NFX Founding Partner James Currier about where ideas for billion-dollar companies come from.

Currier, who was an angel investor in Patreon, Lyft and DoorDash, said startups that grow into unicorns have three basic forms of resilience:

  • Network Effects: Your product becomes more valuable as more people use it.
  • Embedding: Integrate your services so deeply that customers can’t take them out.
  • Data loops: collect, process and act on real-time data.

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“This is really just about world-changing, big-impact companies that can be a billion dollars or more in value,” he said. “We’re investing in that. And what I’m talking about today is just for the people who want to build those kinds of companies.”

After giving a presentation he’d previously given at Harvard Business School, Stanford, and MIT, Currier outlined the mental models employed by unicorn founders and offered candid advice to budding entrepreneurs, including his thoughts on putting together a founding company. team:

“You have to find out what you and your team are capable of. There are all these big pivots that you have to take, but you may not have the people for it. And then it is a real breakdown.”

Thank you for reading!
Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+

@your protagonist

Hidden in plain sight: 5 red flags for investors

Image Credits: Stephen White (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

Investors can review hundreds of pitches every year, which means they are forced to make decisions quickly. It’s not a great system – because it’s largely based on relationships, there’s bias in the recipe.

And given the fast pace of closing deals, “Even the most seasoned angel investors — and VCs — can overlook red flags that are subtle and not immediately obvious,” writes Marjorie Radlo-Zandi.

Drawing on her years as a mentor, an angel, and a board member, she shares five scenarios that should change investors’ minds, including “where the founder has a romantic or marital relationship with a staff member.”

Are you spending too much on paid acquisition?

American bills pushed down the drain of a wet sink

Image Credits: Darius (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

Every startup isn’t ready to hire a full-time marketer, but that’s no excuse to throw money out the window on paid acquisition.

In his latest TC+ column, growth marketer Jonathan Martinez explains how you can use Google Sheets to create a regression analysis spreadsheet to track and optimize weekly spend and customer acquisition costs.

“The beauty of this kind of analysis is that it gives a clear picture of what your optimal spend is at the paid channel level,” he writes.

“If you want to get analytical and have a minimum of 90 days of data on different spending levels, a regression analysis is your answer.”

Generative AI and copyright: what’s next for intellectual property?

Close up of the justice scale icon on the screen

Image Credits: Sean Gladwell (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

Are AI-generated works eligible for copyright protection?

In an article written by Gai Sher and Ariela Benchlouch of the Innovation and Technology practice group at Greenspoon Marder LLP, the authors summarize a recent guidance document released by the U.S. Copyright Office document and examine multiple legal developments in the space .

“While the future of AI and its legal ramifications remain uncertain, we see the emergence of competing interests between authors, AI companies and the general public,” they write.

How to find the right investors for your startup

Image of jellybeans under a magnifying glass surrounded by peas to represent regulatory oversight.

Image Credits: pchyburrs (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

You can’t tell a compelling story unless you know your audience. That’s why effective founders do extensive research on investors before sending out a pitch deck.

In his latest article, Haje Jan Kamps shares a six-step process that helps startups articulate what properties they’re looking for and “how to identify investors investing in your space, stage, and geography.”

Western Sanctions on Russia: Tips for Tech Companies Managing Compliance Risks

Global economic isolation of Russia.  Sanctions concept.

Image Credits: LeMusic (Opens in a new window) /Getty Images

After the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, much of Russia’s technology talent fled and Western countries imposed sanctions to isolate the economy.

The US, EU, UK and other countries have recently taken steps to further punish Russia with additional sanctions, “including expanded export controls on drone components, electronics, industrial equipment and other items,” writes Anthony Rapa, a partner at law firm White Rome.

In this TC+ post, Rapa provides a detailed look at the latest export controls and addresses concerns “about the continued diversion to Russia of sanctions-restricted items.”

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