Weekly Roundup: Tesla lays off 9%, Bird to hit $2 Billion valuation

Weekly Roundup: Tesla lays off 9%, Bird to hit $2 Billion valuation

Los Angeles Weekly Roundup …

Top Headlines

  • A federal judge Tuesday cleared the way for AT&T Inc.’s $85.4-billion purchase of Time Warner Inc., creating an entertainment colossus that promises to reshape the media business … read on
  • Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met Tuesday in front of the world’s cameras, against the backdrop of flags of the United States and North Korea … read on
  • CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61 – R.I.P. Tony … read on
  • New York files suit against President Trump, alleging his charity engaged in ‘illegal conduct’ … read on
  • Santa Monica hits electric scooter companies with new rules … read on
  • Google’s diversity stats are still very dismal … read on

LA’s Tech & Startups

  • The 10 biggest stories of E3 2018 … read on
  • Bird, a Santa Monica based scooter rental startup, set to pump the company with MORE financing boosting its value to $2 Billion …another LA unicorn in the making ..read on
  • Tesla has laid off about nine percent of its 30,000+ employees, … This is part of the reorganization Musk talked about in May on the company’s quarterly earnings call. The layoffs reportedly started on Monday … read on
  • Santa Monica based technology-enabled commercial real estate brokerage firm, TenantBase, Inc., announced that it has raised an oversubscribed $10.7 million funding round to simplify the process of finding and leasing office space for small to mid-size businesses … read on
  • SnapChat announced that it is launching four new APIs, including a Snap login API that will let people use their Snapchat username to create accounts on other apps, and what amounts to a Snap camera API, which will let people share things from other apps directly to their Snapchat Story. … read on
  • Elon Musk’s Boring Company is getting the go-ahead to build a multibillion-dollar express transit system between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport, city officials said. … read on
  • AI Influential raises $12 million for AI-based influencer matchmaking platform … read on
  • ZipRecruiter announces AI tool that matches businesses with ideal job candidates … read on

Cultural Shouts

  • I Live in Los Angeles and Everything You Assume About Me Is True … read on
  • The Best Pride Week Parties and Events in L.A. … read on
  • How to Watch the 2018 World Cup Online … read on
  • The Best Vegan-Friendly Bars in Los Angeles … read on
  • How to start a smart home for $200 … read on
  • Is the crypto world sexist? That might be the wrong question … read on

This Weekend

  • Happy Father’s Day!
    43 Last-minute Gifts That Will Arrive by Father’s Day … read on
    27 Luxury Father’s Day Gifts for the Dad Who Has Everything … read on
    45 Awesome Things To Do in L.A. This Father’s Day Weekend … read on
  • DTLA Donut Fest … read on

 

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
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LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

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5 Technology Trends Startup Should Follow Right Now

5 Technology Trends Startups Should Follow Right Now

Be current with today’s technology trends if you want to get ahead (or even just keep up) with your competitors. Here are the most important tech trends for 2019.

Technology trends come and go, depending on the current landscape of the business world. It’s best if you can come in on these trends to get ahead of your competitors so that you can reap the benefits. If you’re lagging behind, you better catch on quick to at least keep up.

So which tech trends are important? For 2019, these are the trends to note:

1 Using Facebook Messenger for Marketing

For years now we’ve heard how sooner or later Facebook will no longer be popular. Yet this behemoth of a website still draws in 1.3 billion users a month. That’s the kind of audience size no business can ignore, which is why it’s crucial to do your marketing on this platform.

Then there’s Messenger, which is a handy tool that can do a lot of stuff for you. It can boost brand awareness, enhance the shopping experience, and demonstrate that you actually care about customers. One great example: this can help resolve various customer complaints and questions in less a minute on average.

2 Using Social Media as a Retail Platform

A lot of companies have already started using social media for marketing by engaging with customers directly. Of course, it occurred to someone (to an increasing number of companies, in fact) that you can also use this platform to engage with customers by selling to them directly. It’s a pretty logical extension of the principle.

Right now a number of social media platforms are doing their bit by making it easier for companies to sell their wares directly. Instagram has the Stories platform, while you have the Shoppable Snap Ads on Snapchat.

3 Optimize for Voice Search

More and more people aren’t typing in the words in the Google search box. They’re now just using voice search. A lot of households now also have auto assistants like Alexa and Siri.

These people who use voice search also use a much different set of keywords. They tend to ask complete questions, so you better optimize your website to match those likely questions.

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Ready to ride, #CES2019? Just say #HeyGoogle.

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4 Assist in Paying Employees’ Student Loans

This is a rather innovative way to attract and retain top talent, especially tech talent. There are no repayment providers that enable employers to provide assistance to their employees when they’re paying off their college debts.

5 Use Square to Offer Customer Financing for Purchases

Square is great. It became popular among many small business owners when it first enabled formerly “cash only” small businesses to finally take customer credit cards so these businesses won’t miss out on making a sale.

Now, Square has come up with its Installments service. This time, Square acts as a middleman between merchants and customers, so that customers can buy items worth $250 to $10,000. It’s like Square is the credit card company, and customers pay Square back through fixed monthly installments for 3 to 12 months. The APR varies, from zero up to 24%. It’s available in 22 states, but this number should grow soon.

Also, check out these 6 Easy Steps to Optimizing Your Voice Search – And Why It’s Important

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

A 30-Point Checklist for Your Startup

A 30-Point Checklist for Your Startup

Do you want to make sure your new startup succeeds? Here’s a nice list of what you have to do for your startup.

Everybody seems wants to do a startup these days. But before you’re dazzled by the prospects of billions of dollars, here’s a list of what you really have to do first:

  1. Find out if your business is actually viable. It’s not enough to say that you’d buy something you offer. You have to determine with utmost honesty if you’ll have enough customers to actually make a profit.
  2. Come up with a business plan. This will help guide your path. Make sure you have financial projections in there so you know if you’re still in the right path.
  3. Deal with the financing. Figure out how much money you need to get your business started. Then see where you can get that money.
  4. Pick your business name. It should be original and memorable.
  5. Get your family to support you. It’s going to be hard enough to start a business, and it’s harder when your family thinks it’s going to fail.
  6. Set up your legal structure. You may need a lawyer for this. Incorporating your business is essential, so you can protect your personal assets.
  7. Apply for an Employer Identification Number. Don’t worry; EIN numbers are free. This number will be needed when you incorporate or open a bank account solely for your business. You can also use this in lieu of your social security number.
  8. Apply for a business license. Check with the SBA for what to do.
  9. Open a business bank account. You ought to separate your business and personal finances ASAP.
  10. Choose an accounting program. You don’t want your books to be a mess.
  11. Register a domain name for your business. Make sure it’s a real commercial domain name. A website with free hosting looks to amateurish.
  12. Start building your website. Nowadays, not having a website for your business is suspicious.
  13. Set up your social media profiles. You need to reserve your brand ASAP. You also get ready to market on these social media channels later on.
  14. Begin generating revenue immediately. Don’t wait until things are perfect. You’ll need that revenue to add to your financing.
  15. Determine if you need an actual office. If you can do everything online, then you can use your money for other expenses as you hold off getting an office. But you’ll need an office if you expect customers to actually meet with you.
  16. Get some business cards. They’re nice and handy marketing materials, and they’re helpful for networking.
  17. Define the responsibilities of all cofounders. These should be in writing, so there are no disagreements as to who has to do what as time passes.

After your launch, make sure you then do these things:

  1. Access free advice. Consult with friends who’ve started their own businesses, check with the local SBA, and find other online resources.
  2. Find the right business apps. These can help while you’re on the go.
  3. See if you need insurance. Your business may need health insurance, workers’ comp, or liability insurance.
  4. Hire an employee. Sooner or later, you’ll find that you can’t do everything yourself if you want your business to grow.
  5. Set up your source of inventory. You may also need suppliers and service providers.
  6. Get legal advice on patents and trademarks. Your lawyer can again definitely give good advice on this topic.
  7. Enhance your network. Tell your family and friends about your business. This doesn’t mean you nag them into buying your products. But they can introduce you to people and they can recommend your business to their own friends.
  8. Focus on making sales and attracting customers. Hold off on chasing business partnerships in the meantime.
  9. Practice your elevator pitch. You need to be persuasive when you encounter financiers, potential customers, and new hires.
  10. Back up your IT. You need to protect your sensitive information contained on your computers.
  11. Consider a salesperson. You may be the head salesperson of your startup at first, but you need someone to focus on day-to-day sales while you concentrate on other aspects.
  12. Pay attention to customer feedback. What your customers have to say can help improve your products and your approach.
  13. Try to find a mentor. Find someone who has already succeeded in your niche to help you out. Their advice can be tremendously helpful.

You may also like this list of 21 Excellent Productivity Apps

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

How the Stock Market Affects the Job Market

  • Cadre Talent is a quality over quantity boutique recruiting shop specializing in all things software engineering in LA
How the Stock Market Affects the Job Market

The recent stock market plummet has sent many people into wondering if the job market will follow suit, affecting their careers and livelihoods.

The good news is, even though the health of the stock market does have an impact on the job market, it’s often not a one-to-one correlation.

The Stock Market As an Indicator of Shareholder Confidence

The stock market reflects not only the strength of the economy at the moment but also the confidence that investors and corporations have in the future of the market.

If shareholders believe that a company is going to make more profits, then the stock price will bounce back and the organization will have more resources to expand and hire employees. If the market feels that a company’s earnings will remain stagnant or decline, then the stock price will drop and the organization will likely have to tighten its belt.

As such, how investors evaluate the economy will impact corporations’ resource allocation and hiring decisions.

Keep in mind that the stock market is a leading indicator while the job market is a lagging indicator. A single fluctuation in the stock market is unlikely to impact the job market significantly in the short run.

However, if the downward trend continues in the stock market and shareholder confidence starts to erode, the job market will likely suffer since a company’s stock value is based on investors’ projection of its future earnings.

One major reason that a bull market typically creates more jobs is the increased M&A activities. Larger companies have more cash and tend to expand more aggressively. On the other hand, M&A activities tend to slow down in a sustained bear market.

Also, VC money tends to drop off in a sustained bear market, which often results in a tight market, as well as a contraction in seed and Series A rounds. This, in turn, affects the hiring prognosis for startups while more candidates are holding onto their jobs at bigger shops. Such candidate-favored market could deter smaller companies from hiring.

How the Stock Market Affects the Job Market

How the Stock Market and Job Market Affect Each Other

Many factors, such as the global economy, political climate, and investor confidence can impact how the stock market and the job market affect each other as they’re intertwined in nuanced ways.

For example, the economy doesn’t have to decline to put CEOs under pressure. If shareholders start losing confidence for any reason and executives are forced to put a hold on spending, the job market could be affected.

Alternatively, when job seekers see signs of uncertainty in the market, they’re likely to stay at their current jobs and start banking more money instead of taking more risks or increase their spending. This will reduce their disposable income, impact the economy, reduce corporate earnings, and eventually affect the stock market.

There are other factors that will affect the confidence of the market and the outlook of investors in response to a plummet in stock prices, which can have a major impact on the job market.

For example, if investors are pessimistic about the political climate and the Fed responds by increasing the interest rates, global stock and bond market will continue to drop. Companies will be under pressure to tighten their spending by pausing their hiring or even laying off employees.

However, if the political climate instills an optimistic mood in corporate America (e.g., through deregulation and tax breaks,) stockholder confidence can stay high despite a momentary drop in stock prices. Businesses will feel empowered and continue to expand and hire more employees.

Last but not least, wild swings in stock prices could impact market confidence more significantly. As a result, the fluctuation is likely to be more destabilizing for the job market.


 

Cadre is a quality over quantity boutique recruiting shop specializing in all things software engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles. Cadre is building a talent network utilizing AI and Machine Learning to help solve the tech talent crisis across their portfolio of 85 startups throughout California, Seattle, and Austin.

 

Jason Stomel
Contributor
Cadre Talent, Santa Monica, CA
Jason is the founder and CEO of Cadre; a talent agency, recruiting software incubator and Angel Investor. He has been recruiting in LA for 12 years across a portfolio of startups ranging from Pre-Series A to publicly traded tech companies and Venture Capitalists.
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Jason Stomel
Cadre Talent, Santa Monica, CA
Jason is the founder and CEO of Cadre; a talent agency, recruiting software incubator and Angel Investor. He has been recruiting in LA for 12 years across a portfolio of startups ranging from Pre-Series A to publicly traded tech companies and Venture Capitalists.

Blockchain: Trust Is Not A Binary Option

Blockchain: Trust Is Not A Binary Option

Trust doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition when it comes to Blockchain

Blockchain’s primary value proposition is decentralization, the idea that the “truth” can be validated without 3rd party intervention in a trustless environment.  As technology has proliferated over the last several years, we have seen the infrastructure incorporate many different types of protocols:

  • Public  – Fully open blockchains with no barrier to participating (eg, Bitcoin, Ethereum)
  • Permission – Private blockchains where a central entity controls access (eg, Orderers in Hyperledger Fabric)
  • Federated – A consortium of entities controlling the blockchain (R3 comes to mind)

Each of these options has a different take on “trust.”  There are some in the crypto space who feel the only groundbreaking solutions are the public, or “permissionless,” solutions.  Their argument is that a protocol is only decentralized when it is fully public, and only then can it reach the full potential of the blockchain.

It’s a fair point, to be sure.  How can you be decentralized if one or more entities are entrusted control access to the blockchain?  However, it occurs to me that this is a very binary view of trust – in reality, trust is more nuanced and multi-layered, like a set of qubits more than a simple 0/1 representation.

Every single day we maintain simultaneous levels of trust at the same time.  I trust my wife implicitly (I hope that is wise), while I have much less trust in the Lakers’ ability to win a title without LeBron.   I have varying degrees of trust in my employees based on past performance, while I have no trust in the cars speeding along my neighborhood street when I walk the kids to school.

Our entire day is defined by a cascading array of trust, depending on our situation.  We understand and accept this because trust is a tool we use to maximize our benefit in specific situations.  I’m not going into a conversation with my wife about whether to have a 4th child (spoiler alert – not happening) from a lack of trust, because the conversation would be utterly pointless.  Conversely, I’m not going into a startup pitch from a place of trust, because it would eliminate the healthy skepticism I’ll need to evaluate the opportunity.

Why wouldn’t the same concept apply to blockchain?  Does every system need to be fully permissionless to add value?  The security and decentralized nature of Bitcoin works great for payments between people who don’t know each other, but in certain environments, organizations can still benefit from blockchain with a degree of centralization, provided there is a healthy level of trust.  For a tight supply chain of organizations with the right incentives to work together, a federated or permission solution would do just fine.

Ripple uses roles to establish specific participants to act as transaction validators

I’ve heard the argument that blockchain technology isn’t needed in situations where a centralized approach is acceptable – a central database would do just fine.  Sure it may be fine, but why not use blockchain when the technology provides other value propositions out of the box – namely, transparency and immutability?

My point is this: because trust is a multi-layered concept in our daily lives, and blockchain can handle trust in many different ways, we should embrace its implementation to support more than just the no-trust situations.  Let’s not limit blockchain’s potential while we still shaping this exciting new technology.

Is Blockchain Truly Decentralized?

Chad Hahn
Contributor
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.

6 Simple Steps to Making a Mobile-Focused Website

6 Simple Steps to Making a Mobile-Focused Website

You’ll need a different mindset if your website is primarily designed for mobile users.

It’s funny when you think about it, but there was a time when websites weren’t really designed for smartphone screens. They were designed for the much larger monitors of desktop PCs. Of course, when you shrink those web pages you can hardly read and see anything, which became a problem when mobile Internet surfing became more popular. So the more farsighted website owners created their websites for PCs, and then they tried to have a different version for smartphones.

Nowadays, most serious websites have both a PC and a mobile version. In fact, more websites are actually being built for mobile surfing first, before a desktop PC version is created. That’s because more people are going online using the smartphones rather than their desktop PCs.

So how do you build a website that’s more focused on serving the needs of mobile visitors? Here are a few tips that can start you on your way:

1. Strip Your Pages Down

When you’re determined to build a website that’s actually geared for smartphone users, you can’t use overly complex webpages. You have to simply your web pages instead.

There are good reasons for this. One, with a small screen to work with you don’t want to overwhelm the user with too many details. A simple layout works much better so they know what to do. Two, with too many complex elements it’ll take too long for a web page to load, and we all know how impatient mobile surfers are. If it takes more than 3 seconds to load a page, chances are good they’ll press the back button and try another website.

2. Plan for Your User’s Needs

Will they be tapping buttons on the web page? If so, you need to make those buttons visible, and they should be large enough so that they can be tapped easily enough. Will they have to input a username and password? If that’s the case, you’ll have to put in a keyboard interface as well. What if they’re looking for a particular section? You may want to feature a clear outline of your site, and a search bar can certainly help.

You have to put yourself in your website user’s shoes. Pretend you’re the user and you need to find something on your website. You’ should then realize what kind of helpful elements you need to put in.

When you’ve designed your web pages, try them out first. You have to know for sure how they would work within a mobile browser.

3. Don’t Forget about Laptops

When you’re designing with a smartphone user in mind, at least you have a touchscreen working for you so your users can simply swipe along the way to navigate your site. But that’s not exactly the case when your mobile user is actually using a laptop. In some instances, they don’t have a mouse either.

What this also means is that you have to plan for various resolutions to make sure your web pages appear at their best. Laptops are often limited to 1024 x 768 resolutions, and that’s what you need to plan for. In fact, check out the various screen sizes of the most popular laptops so you can have a different version for each resolution.

4. Going with Responsive Layouts

Some people would rather opt for a responsive layout, rather than have a different type of website for each type of Internet device. With a responsive design, your website morphs to fit whatever type of resolution your website user is using.

This can be quite convenient for you. You’ll have the same HTML markup that works on all screens. You won’t have to go with specific stylesheets for different types of devices.

Since you’re focused on mobile users first, at least with this approach you take care of the needs of those using smaller screens. Of course, there’s a good chance that you won’t get an optimal look when you’re website visitor is using a desktop browser. But those are bugs that you can fix later. These guys aren’t your top priority after all.

To help you see just how responsive websites can work for different devices, you ought to do some research on the various responsive sites that are currently in operation these days. Just Google for them and you should find them easily enough. You can then cherry-pick the features that you want to appear on your own responsive website.

5. Don’t Forget about the Navigational Requirements

If you’ve been designing websites all this time with a focus on desktop users, then you’re probably more used to people who can just use a mouse to get around a webpage. That’s not going to fly with a mobile website.

For most website designers, the simplest solution here is to just have your page sections cascade down. Your visitors can just swipe downward to see more of your content. You can also have your links appear constantly at the top or at the bottom of the screen so that they can get around your site more easily.

Just don’t go overboard and put in too many links on your navigational menu bar. Just go with the basic root items instead.

6. Set Up Your Images Properly

Dealing with image content can be problematic when you have such a small screen to work with. One solution is to have a set of images solely for small smartphone screens, while you have another set for normal displays. However, you can’t overlook the need for high-resolution images for iPhone retina displays.

Another solution is to set up all your images to contract and then expand up to the maximum point. This can work just as well for desktop users too. Even HTML5 video supports this setup, so it’s convenient.

It does require a different mindset when you’re building a website that’s more focused on mobile users. The old ways won’t work if you’re used to traditional desktop websites. Whatever you do, just don’t forget to give it a test run on your own smartphone first!

Here are 5 Steps You Can Do to Prepare Your Website for Google’s Mobile-First Index

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.