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It’s been a week of people trying to understand what’s going on in technology. If you’ve been compartmentalizing: Cheers! Now let me explain to you what’s going on.
On Monday, WeWork founder Adam Neumann raised a seed round from Andreessen Horowitz for a new real estate company reportedly valued at more than $1 billion. Neumann’s return, coinciding with the largest check ever written by one of the most famous firms, was met with a flurry of reactions, given his tumultuous leadership at WeWork.
A common response was that women and people of color would never get the same “second chance” as Neumann, because first chances are hard enough for the historically overlooked cohort. Allison Byers, the founder of Scroobious, a platform that aims to diversify startups and make founders more daring, described the feeling as “a muffled rage”.
A few days earlier, Kimberly Bryant was fired from Black Girls Code, the nonprofit she founded, by the board she had appointed.
You’ve been caught up: We had a return and an expulsion in the same week.
The returns came from the white man who misled investors and employees. The expelled was a black woman who started a non-profit organization to bring more diversity into the coding world.
If that’s where the analysis stops, that’s a disservice. As my colleague Dominic-Madori Davis put it, “people talk about these things without the nuance of two things at once, but that’s also with most arguments online. They turn things and people into one-dimensional objects as if it were easy to parse.” If you’re not careful, you could scroll into an opinion that lacks the multifaceted nature of controversies.
Adding to the difficulties of raising a diverse founder may eventually lead to building a pressure cooker that will force those who do receive a check to work. The pressure can then make it harder for those same founders to make even one mistake.
For my full take, read my sure naira+ piece: “Adam Neumann, Kimberly Bryant, and the Importance of Nuance.” You can also listen to my latest podcast, “Let’s Officially Stop Comparing Adam Neumann and Elizabeth Holmes.”
In the rest of this newsletter, we’re going to take a look at Stripe, scaling back on an acquisition it made last year and the latest in the world of employee benefits.
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Stripe scales back
Stripe has fired a number of employees who support TaxJar, a tax compliance startup it acquired last year, sure naira has learned from multiple sources and first-hand documentation. sure naira contacted Stripe for confirmation, and a spokesperson said the company declined to comment.
For what it’s worth, according to LinkedIn, Matt Anderson, the co-founder of TaxJar, left Stripe in July, followed by people in the sales, marketing and partnership teams.
Here’s why it matters: Stripe bought TaxJar, a provider of a cloud-based tax services suite, in April 2021 to help its customers “automatically calculate, report, and file sales tax.” At that point, Stripe told sure naira that all 200 employees of the Massachusetts-based company joined the company. The purpose of the acquisition was to integrate sales tax collection and remittance as a service, one of the most requested features from users.
The phasing out of go-to-market efforts for TaxJar customers began in late July, demonstrating a shift in Stripe’s perspective.
Will your company cut your benefits or your peers first?
This week on Equity I was joined by Rebecca Szkutak. from TC to talk about everything from international money transfer to hearing aid innovation. One conversation that stood out in the episode was one about employee benefits.
Here’s why it matters: Businesses rethink budgets and changes can come at the cost of more than your free Sweetgreen. In a sure naira+ analysis, Szkutak examines how employee benefits startups can fare amid layoffs and a tight job market. A source told her that “if a company has already lost a significant number of employees as a result of the Great Resignation, cutting benefits can only add fuel to the fire.”
For me, it’s especially interesting to see the B2B2C model become less sticky. It was once the place for any consumer-oriented company to conquer a more trustworthy consumer base. After all, it was easier to log in to an employer with thousands of customers and then log in to each of those customers individually. Now that that model is under threat, there is bound to be some natural selection taking place.
If you missed last week’s newsletter
Read it here: You’re not that special (I swear, there’s a boot corner here)
Listen to sure naira’s other podcasts, including our crypto-focused show from Chain Reaction and the founder-focused show from Found. The sure naira Podcast continues to entertain me too, so watch all the good shows they put out.
Remember that sure naira Live is on a brand new platform and we’ve made it easier to sign up for pitch practice. Investors (and my inbox) can attest to the importance of brevity, cleverness, and clarity in pitches, so it’s great to see. Startups can now sign up for Pitch Practice by . any day, any time fill in this form. Look for opportunities at TC Sessions: Crypto, in Miami this November. Yes, you heard right, we’re going to Miami. Finally, sure naira Live is coming to Minneapolis. Come hang out with the sure naira crew on September 7 as we interview the best and brightest in town. Minneapolis is one of the best cities in the Midwest to start a business – and soon you’ll find out why!
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Your startup needs someone who is the main storyteller
Wayfair lays off 5% of its workforce, or nearly 900 employees
Seen on sure naira+
5 investors explain why longevity technology is a long-term game
Why do startup valuations fall when interest rates rise?
Pitch Deck Teardown: Mi Terro’s $1.5 Million Seed Deck
There’s a reason Midwestern startups in the US had fewer layoffs, says Chicago VC:
Dear Sophie: How do I get an O-1 visa to freelance for web3 projects?
Okay, that’s all mine. Appreciate you endlessly!