How Zoox turned a failed Sequence C into the long run


I often start calls to founders by asking why they are willing to make a living on an idea that is most likely to fail. It's a little hack that allows me to see how vulnerable a founder is and how much conviction they have behind their ideas. Sometimes when they answer it is the end of my story. And sometimes when they don't answer, I don't write the story.

As blunt as the question sounds, it can trigger the best answers – especially if the founder is working on an idea that is in and of itself a moon shot.

Our own Kirsten Korosec spoke to Zoox co-founder and CTO Jesse Levinson about his electric robotaxi, a six-year accomplishment unveiled this week that outperformed the competition. Levinson had an idea that not only likely failed, but nearly failed: Zoox & # 39; Series C fell apart in March due to the pandemic.

Korosec: What was your trick or how did you focus for six years on something that could be futuristic, expensive and possibly fail? What have you personally done to maintain that focus?

Levinson: Well, doing something like this is definitely a challenge and requires patience. I think the advice I would give is to first convince yourself that what you are doing makes sense and is important and valuable. If you're starting a business because your goal is to make as much money as possible and it turns out to be difficult, it will be really difficult to convince yourself, your team, and your investors to stick with the idea.

One of the great things about Zoox is that the idea itself just makes a lot of sense. After the first tenets, there is really a compelling reason to solve the problem the way we solved it, and the market opportunity is undoubtedly enormous. With these facts and a team of wonderful people and investors who believed in them, we were able to weather some of the ups and downs in the industry, even if it wasn't always easy.

It didn't hurt that Amazon saved Zoox after its failed Series C, considering that deep pockets and futuristic technology go well together. Even so, Zoox's ability to bring bugs into focus is impressive and part of what makes startups successful.

Before we jump to the rest of the newsletter, I wanted to officially introduce myself as your new Startups Weekly writer. Thank you in advance for reading along and trusting me to bring you startup-related news every week. This should be fun and the absolutely anticipated existential dose. Would you like it in your inbox every Saturday morning? Sign up here.

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The Palantir Diaspora

Everyone wants to invest in the next big tech mafia. With the number of successful IPOs in the marketplace, newly minted and cash-rich thinkers from legendary companies like Snowflake, Airbnb and Palantir are entering the startup landscape this year. Strip engineers, even before going public, seem like the hottest commodity on the market.

So investors are hoping to rely on up-and-coming talent – and you've had the top for some time. Ross Fubin of XYZ Ventures introduced Palantir's first job with his first engineer, whom he describes as "the most valuable thing he has ever done." After helping Palantir grow his senior talent (and pocket some advisory shares for himself), he invested his fund in the Palantir diaspora.

Connie Loizos, TechCrunch's Silicon Valley editor, has the story, including where XYZ looks for startups outside of the staff of the once-secret public company.

Loizos also introduced Lux ​​Capital's Deena Shakir, who sees space and border technology becoming mainstream right now. Anyone else feel a moonshot theme popping up in 2021?

Further reading:

Credit: Bryce Durbin

Why Singapore could become Asia's Silicon Valley

In this Extra Crunch story, Catherine Shu argues that Singapore could become Asia's next Silicon Valley. The long-standing global financial center is expected to add hundreds of new jobs over the next several years as ByteDance and Alibaba reportedly plan regional offices in the city-state. The interest comes from the fact that Google, Facebook and Twilio are already active in Singapore.

The main focus is on pressure on companies to find the best tech talent in Singapore of 5.6 million people.

Kuo-Yi Lim, co-founder and managing partner of early-stage investment firm Monk & # 39; s Hill Ventures, explained the talent dynamics:

"I think there will always be a need to include people who are not from Singapore because we are just not big enough," he said.

"The competition is more global as even local startups are always looking for global talent from the region, Australia, India, China or beyond," he added. “I think it actually fosters the instinct for startups to really thoughtfully compete for talent. I think startups have to get more creative and sharper when it comes to positioning themselves as an attractive employer to spend time with, unlike the big companies. "

Panorama of the business district of Singapore skyline at night

Panorama of the business district of Singapore skyline at night

Fast IPO update

After Roblox and Affirm pushed their initial public offerings because market conditions were too hot, the delay proved an opportunity for others. Bumble, UiPath, and Coinbase have signed up to go public in confidence, meaning the intent is now known, but there are no numbers to go over. Eventually, Poshmark submitted his S-1 and StockX picked up a round that Alex Wilhelm believes could be pre-IPO money.

Credit: bumblebee

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