Inside | Real news, curated by real humans
Inside Founders

Inside Founders (May 10th, 2019)

1. Uber debuted shakily on the New York Stock Exchange Friday morning, trading shares at $42, rather than its $45 IPO price. Company co-founder and ousted CEO Travis Kalanick was not invited to ring the opening bell, but instead watched with his father from the trading floor. While Uber's valuation may have been damaged by competitor Lyft's poor performance since going public in March, early investors' seed shares will yield an approximate 5,000 times return at current IPO pricing. Those investors included First Round Capital partner Rob Hayes, whose $510,000 seed investment is now worth $2.5 billion, and who bought shares in 2010 after seeing a Tweet from co-founder Garrett Camp. — WALL STREET JOURNAL

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

2. Several lawmakers support Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes' call to break up the company. In a Thursday opinion piece for The New York Times, Hughes discussed Facebook’s trajectory in the 15 years since he and Mark Zuckerberg created the company as Harvard undergraduates. While describing Zuckerberg as a “good, kind person,” Hughes also characterized his power as outsized. Citing historical anti-trust laws, Hughes called for the Federal Trade Commission, in conjunction with the Justice Department, to undo Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. Presidential candidate US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tweeted her support for Hughes' position, as did other elected officials. Facebook officials, on the other hand, disagree that breaking up the company is the right way to hold it accountable.  — CNET

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

3. Follow Friday: @DescartesLabs. Spun off from and founded by former scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2015, startup Descartes Labs—headquartered in Santa Fe, NM with additional offices in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.—uses machine learning, satellite imagery and data to provide analysis on issues ranging from agriculture to energy to wildfires (I interviewed co-founder Tim Kelton last year on the company's work in predicting crop performance). Last year, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency chose Descartes for a multimillion dollar project piloting a business model for geospatial analysis.

On Instagram, Descartes exhibits the eerie beauty of our complex world as captured through satellite imagery: A recent video highlights 4,000 oil wells in 15 seconds, while another illustrates New York City’s tree canopy. Be sure to follow Descartes on Medium, where team members write about their cutting-edge work for both a general audience and more tech-specialized readers. For example, a recent post by geographer Tim Wallace demystifies the hype around Artificial Intelligence, and then breaks down how machine learning is utilized in cartography (with numerous illustrated examples).

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

4. Jeff Bezos unveiled on Thursday plans for a lander he says will be ready to go to the moon in 2024. Bezos says the Blue Lander, from his space company Blue Origin, includes a system to map the moon's terrain, and capacity to transport both humans and one or more rovers. Bezos' reveal of his company's normally secretive work follows Vice President Mike Pence's March announcement that NASA intends to return astronauts to the moon, also by 2024. Bezos responded positively to Pence's timeline, noting: "...It’s time to go back to the moon, this time to stay.” Space X competitor Elon Musk mocked Bezos' lander on Twitter with an altered image replacing "Blue Lander" with "Blue Balls." — THE ATLANTIC

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

5. GT’s Living Foods founder George Thomas Dave faces increasing competition in the booming kombucha market. Dave, 41, started selling kombucha in the late 1990s; today, his company owns 40 percent of the market. Along the way, he has remained the sole owner and has rebuffed acquisition offers, remaining uniquely independent in the beverage industry. But the kombucha market has grown over the decades, and now has more than 350 companies, primarily in the US. Newer companies have received approximately $340 million in venture investments. Dave's competitors include PepsiCo, which purchased GT's largest rival, Kevita, for $260 million, three years ago. — FORBES

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

6. San Francisco Board Supervisor Gordon Mar says he has the votes to get his proposal to increase taxes for San Francisco companies that go public—a so-called IPO tax—on the November ballot. — SAN FRANCISCO BUSINESS TIMES

7. Data & Society researcher Alex Rosenblat discusses her research on work and algorithms, concluding that Uber and other Silicon Valley technology companies' ideologies serve as a "microcosm of a larger political battle for power and governance." — FAST COMPANY

8. The startup members-only "family space" The Wonder, founded by two New York moms and backed with $2 million from fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, the Female Founders Fund and others, opens in Tribeca on Mother's Day. — CNN

9. Founder Valentina Milanova, 24, has raised $5.5 million for her company Daye, which is developing a tampon that uses CBD to fight cramps. — TECHCRUNCH

10. MeUndies founder and CEO Jonathan Shokrian argues that both founders and venture capitalists need to shift away from "unicorn or bust" culture toward sustainable business growth. — BUSINESS INSIDER

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

Julia Goldberg is a journalist and author living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She writes regularly about the intersection of technology and culture, and is the executive director of MIX Santa Fe, a networking organization for entrepreneurs. She writes the Inside Founders newsletter and can be found on Twitter @votergirl.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

  • Email gray

Subscribe to Inside Founders