September 10, 2018

“101 is my magic number. 101 meetings / phone calls / pitches / ideas — if you don’t get what you want by then, something’s wrong.”

–Ashwini Anburajan,
Founding Partner of 22X Fund

SUCCESSION: NOT JUST A HIT HBO TV SHOW

Will he or won’t he? Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma is leaving the $420 billion Chinese e-commerce company he co-founded. Or he’s not. Depends which source you trust: the New York Times, which reported the story, or Ma’s spokesman, who called it “factually wrong.” Ma confirmed his plans today, which also happens to be his 54th birthday. In a letter, he says he will celebrate his 55th birthday by stepping down as Chairman and handing over the reins to CEO Daniel Zhang.

⚡10.7% of board seats in China are held by women. The global average is 15%.

INTO THIN AIR

Here’s a fun party game: throw a name at someone and see if they can guess whether it’s a cryptocurrency or a rapper. HitChain? Crypto. 2 Chainz? Rapper. TenX? Crypto. XXXTentacion? (Rapper. Well, former rapper.) Storm? Both. Here’s a less fun game: guess how far Ether’s price has fallen in 2018. Answer: 80%, from almost $1,400 to $199. Vitalik Buterin, the Ethereum co-founder, seems, uh, not optimistic: “There isn’t an opportunity for yet another 1,000-times growth in anything in the space anymore,” he said in a Bloomberg interview. Bitcoin is also down more than 50 percent this year.

⚡378 venture-backed crypto and blockchain companies were founded from January 2012 through January 2018. Of these, 8.2% had a female founder and 0.3% had an all-female founder team.

CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES C’MON

The San Francisco-based ticketing company Eventbrite has set a price range of $19 to $21 for its forthcoming IPO. If all goes according to plan, the company (which is in healthy shape) will raise between $218 and $241 million at a valuation of well over a billion. Surely one last unicorn-themed employee party is on the calendar?

⚡The male-female employee ratio at Eventbrite is close to 50–50.

TRADE! WAR! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR / ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

Apple predicted that product prices would increase if proposed tariffs on goods imported from China go through. According to a letter dispatched by the company to the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, tariffs are “not the right approach” to trade with China. President Donald Trump responded with a well-reasoned analysis in support of his position. JK. He fired off a Tweet containing a grammatical error.

⚡75% of women in the U.S. own a smartphone.

ON CLOUD WINE

The first rule of startups is: if it exists, it can be disrupted. The digital wine platform Drinks has raised a $15 million Series B to build out its business of helping retailers market wine directly to consumers. The company delivered over 10 million bottles of wine to oenophiles in 2017.

⚡Women account for 57% of U.S. wine consumption.

When it comes to women’s shoes, the circles of “BEAUTIFUL” and “COMFY” have an overlap zone that is, shall we say, not there. On one side you have your Gianvito Rossi pumps and Balmain stiletto boots. On the other side you have Uggs.

In 2014, a fashion designer named Eree Kim (alum of Opening Ceremony and Calvin Klein) got sick of collecting blisters and approached the orthopedic shoe company SAS to see if she could license their comfort technology to make sick-looking shoes. They said sure.

She’s been single-handedly running the shoe company HOPP since then, sneaking arch support foam pads and shock-absorbing cushions into strappy sandals and python mules that wouldn’t be out of place on Amal Clooney. Not all tech innovation comes from Silicon Valley.

In LA for a bunch of meetings. Eating a balanced diet!