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Inside Founders (Jul 24th, 2019)

1. The Justice Department yesterday announced an antitrust review into whether large tech companies' practices have stifled competition and innovation. The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission divvied up inquiries into concerns about tech companies in June: the Justice Department will look into Apple and Google, while the FTC will oversee Facebook and Amazon. In a press release on the investigation, the Justice Department says it will investigate concerns about the companies raised by consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs, with Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Antitrust Division noting that digital platforms "may act in ways that are not responsive to consumer demands" in the absence of “meaningful market-based competition." — NEW YORK TIMES

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2. Co-working startup WeWork Cos. is aiming for an earlier IPO than expected, and may go public in September. Before doing so, the company—now known as The We Company—will need to raise billions of dollars and assure investors who are concerned about WeWork's losses: $1.9 billion last year. The nine-year-old company is pursuing an asset-backed loan that could raise $5 to $6 billion and decrease how much WeWork needs to raise to go public. Investors also are concerned about co-founder Adam Neumann, the company's largest shareholder, who has cashed out more than $700 million via stock sales and debt—an unusual move for a startup founder before a company goes public. — WALL STREET JOURNAL

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3. By the Numbers: Space Startups

Space startups may benefit from the increased interest and money heading toward space exploration. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has announced goals to put astronauts on the moon by 2024, establish a human presence there by 2028 and requested in May a $1.6 billion increase in next year's budget. The same month, NASA awarded contracts to three space startups to send lunar landers carrying research equipment to the moon. Venture capital also is flowing. According to PitchBook, VC firm Space Angels has invested in 22 space-tech companies since 2010, making it the top investor in the space, followed by Hemisphere Ventures. Overall, capital investment in space companies in 2019 is expected to be more than $2 billion, a record. Much of that is due to SpaceX's fundraising, which has passed $1 billion this year alone.

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4. Aspect Ventures co-founder Theresia Gouw has become the first outside investor in p1440, a digital platform dedicated to beach volleyball founded by Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings. The platform, launched last year, streams live competitions, while also providing resources related to coaching, health and wellness. Guow has been a fan of Jennings—a three-time Gold medalist—since the latter's time as an undergraduate player at Stanford University when Guow was a graduate student. While Gouw's investment amount wasn't made public, Jennings says both the financial contribution, as well as Guow's connections, will help her reach a global volleyball playing audience of 900 million. Guow has an estimated net work of $500 million, and was the first female partner at Accel prior to founding her firm. Walsh will compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. — BLOOMBERG

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5. Microsoft announced this week a $1 billion investment in OpenAI, a four-year-old nonprofit artificial intelligence company backed by Y Combinator president Sam Altman, former Stripe chief technology officer Greg Brockman, SpaceX cofounder Elon Musk and LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, among others. — VENTURE BEAT

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6. Startups in the fintech, digital health, edtech and e-commerce spaces are part of 500 Startups' latest cohort, joining a four-month seed program in which nascent companies receive $150,000 in exchange for 6 percent equity. — TECHCRUNCH

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7. Rowan founder Louisa Schneider wanted to create more ritual for young women getting their ears pierced; her startup, for which she's raised $4 million in seed funding, allows customers to book a nurse for at-home ear piercings and potential ear piercing parties. — FAST COMPANY

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8. Pan-European accelerator program RobotUnion has chosen 20 European robotic startups to participate in its 14-month accelerator program; each chosen company has the chance to win up to $250,000 (U.S.) in equity-free funding. — THE ROBOT REPORT

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9. Ten civically focused startups will participate in the Washington, DC-based CivStart 24-month accelerator program; the startups focus on government software, complimentary on-demand electric car rides and data collection, among other tools. — TECHNICAL.LY DC

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10. Incubus guitarist and songwriter Mike Einziger and violinist Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger have raised $10.7 million in Series A for their startup Mixhalo, an audio platform for live events. — THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

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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.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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