Elon Musk has a Tesla Cybertruck factory under construction outside of Austin, and his Boring Company recently bought an industrial site nearby.
CEO says he is 'truly sorry for painful but necessary' cuts Dropbox is decimating its workforce, firing 11 per cent of staff in an effort to become “a more efficient and nimble” company, its CEO announced on Wednesday.…
Dropbox has announced significant job cuts in order to 'protect long-term future', losing 315 members of staff.
CEO Drew Houston called the decision one of the toughest he's had to make in 14 years as CEO: "To each of you who are affected, I am truly sorry."
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Alexandr Wang is living the classic Silicon Valley success story.
At just 23 he's the CEO of Scale AI, a four-year-old company valued at $1 billion that he founded at age 19, dropping out of MIT to do so.
His company is building tools for AI developers trying to do for AI tech what cloud computing did for software development, building the infrastructure that makes it easier.
And it's attracted a Silicon Valley who's who of angel and venture investors.
But Wang didn't even have the idea for this company when he got in to the Spring 2016 YCombinator cohort, he told Business Insider, and he didn't really know what he was going to build.
Wang explained how he came up with the idea by the time YCombinator ended and how he convinced Silicon Valley's big players to financially back him, raising his first $4.5 million in months.
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Alexandr Wang is living the classic Silicon Valley success story. At just 23 he's the CEO of a Scale AI, a four-year-old company he founded at age 19, dropping out of MIT to do so.
It hit unicorn status a year ago, when it had only been in business for three years. In those first three years, his company raised $123 million and reached a $1 billion valuation from a list of Silicon Valley's who's who. Angel investors include GitHub CEO Nat Friedman; OpenAI cofounder Greg Brockman; Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Justin Kan; Quora cofounder and CEO Adam D'Angelo, Dropbox cofounder and CEO Drew Houston. His VCs backers include Peter Thiel at Founder's Fund, Mike Volpi at Index Ventures, Dan Levine at Accel, and the list goes on.
Today, a year after raising $100 million at the billion-dollar valuation, he now employs about 180 people, he tells Business Insider and counts companies like Airbnb, SAP, Pinterest, Samsung, Doordash, Lyft and Toyota as customers, among others.
But the most interesting thing about Wang's fast success is that he never originally planned to build this product, or this company. All he knew as a precocious teen coder was that he wanted to build something.
"I was 19 when I started Scale and it was a lot of learning by doing," Wang told Business Insider.
In those early days, he had imagined that big tech companies became that way because they had "some kind of master plan" but as he met successful founders he learned that it never happens like that.
"You have a good idea and then you work on it and then you refine it over time," he said.
At that tender age, and through a careful process, he uncovered a profound engineering problem: artificial intelligence is only as smart as its training and it often needs a human to help verify that it is being trained correctly.
So he built a platform that trains algorithms using the data collected by customers, with training accuracy verified by humans.
For instance, if the customer is building an algorithm to help a self-driving car identify all cars, pedestrians and cyclists on the road with it, Scale AI will take the hours of images and videos collected by the cars from their test drives and verify if they correctly identified those items. Last month, he launched a new service that helps developers debug problems if their algorithm isn't performing as expected.
Finding the breakthrough idea
But Wang didn't have the idea for Scale when he got into the spring 2016 YCombinator cohort, the highly competitive startup incubator and seed investor founded by Paul Graham.
"Even at that point I had a jillion other ideas, like, maybe we should help people get doctors," he laughs.
One of the YC advisors told him to find a "hair on fire" kind of situation, meaning a problem that lots of people are struggling with and would pay to make go away. He also read Paul Graham's famous 2012 essay on how to get startup ideas that advised him to "Live in the future, then build what's missing."
He saw a future filled with AI. When AI worked, to the user, it seemed "magical" he said. But when he was at MIT studying it and he had tried a few just-for-fun projects, like putting a camera in his fridge that could tell him when to buy groceries, building such projects turned out to be really hard to do. There was no easy way to train the algorithm to tell it to do this and not do that.
So instead of building a specific AI product that he imagined people will be using in the future, he knew that someone was going to have to build the infrastructure for making AI products easier to build.
And the idea for Scale was born.
Teen wiz and angels
His next step was "to hustle" as he described it, and find people to angel invest. Wang had a leg up, thanks to his years as a teenage coding star.
Born in Los Alamos, New Mexico, in the shadow of the Los Alamos National lab, where "everybody's parent is some sort of scientist," (including his own) he started winning high school math and coding contests. That's how he caught the attention of tech recruiters. He moved to the Valley straight from high school for an internship at Addepar and then landed a full-time job at Quora. Quora cofounder CEO Adam D'Angelo would later become one of his angel investors.
Scale AI's angels came from a combination of random connections and straight out asking. For instance Accel's Levine introduced Wang to Nat Friedman, CEO of Microsoft's GitHub and a famous Valley programmer.
Wang landed OpenAI's Brockman because he had met him years earlier by introducing himself after a talk he gave and regularly emailed him ever since. "When I started the company, I was just like, 'Hey, do you want to invest?'" And he did.
In 10 months, Wang and his early team raised $4.5 million and built an early product, focusing first on machine vision, which led them into nabbing self-driving cars and drones as their first customers.
And that brought VC Mike Volpi at Index Ventures to them. He had been looking for autonomous companies to back and several of them mentioned using Scale. Volpi led a Series B funding round, joined by Accel, Dropbox's Houston and Instagram founder Kan. And a year later, the big $100 million, billion-dollar valuation deal came together led by Thiel's Founder Fund, with lots more investors and angels in the mix.
Wang became known in the Valley as "the next Zuckerberg."
But from Wang's point of view this rocketship was built by trial and error.
"It's funny, but back then when we would pitch people, we weren't that good at pitching," he says. Most investors "just didn't quite get it" and turned him down until he found the few who had experienced the problem directly.
So the best advice he has for anyone is to focus on building a product and showing it to the people whose lives it will improve. "You have to set a goal for yourself, like: 'In two weeks, I'm going to have five users for this.' And then everything you do is to get that goal," he says, adding."Focus on building the business and then the rest will kind of take care of itself."
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Italian fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli recently shared some advice Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gave him for making an important decision.
"He said, 'Normally, I make important decisions around 10:30 a.m. I'll discuss it the day before, I'll sleep on it and in the morning I'll actually make the decision,'" Cucinelli told The Wall Street Journal.
Cucinelli and Bezos have been friends for a few years, it seems. Last June, Bezos was a guest at Cucinelli's "Solomeo Summit" in Italy, which also included a group of tech execs like Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, and Dick Costolo.
Cucinelli's clothes are also a favorite among leaders like Mark Zuckerberg, who used to wear custom-made t-shirts from the brand, and Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom.
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For anyone faced with making a big decision, Jeff Bezos has some advice that might help.
The Amazon CEO shared his method for making important decisions with Italian fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli, a favorite among Silicon Valley elite. Last summer, a group that included Bezos, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo traveled to Solomeo, Italy, where Cucinelli's fashion house is based, to eat, take walks in nature, and talk about how to make the world a better place.
At some point during the trip — nicknamed the Solomeo Summit — Bezos shared some advice with Cucinelli, which Cucinelli explained in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal's Lane Florsheim.
"When Jeff Bezos came to visit me here at my home [in May 2019] — he was here for three days — he shared something with me that I really liked," Cucinelli told the Journal. "He said, 'Normally, I make important decisions around 10:30 a.m. I'll discuss it the day before, I'll sleep on it and in the morning I'll actually make the decision.'"
Cucinelli told the Journal that the advice has come in handy during the pandemic, when Cucinelli's brand was saddled with $34 million-worth of surplus merchandise after his stores had to close. Cucinelli donated the excess stock to organizations worldwide that will hand out packages of clothing to people in need, according to the Journal.
Cucinelli and Bezos appear to have been friends for a few years, according to GQ. Prior to the summit, he and Bezos had dinner in Seattle, where Cucinelli asked Bezos what he was doing for the future of humanity as the richest person in the world.
Bezos reportedly replied that he's planning to go to space, which Cucinelli dismissed by saying that "people will live on planet Earth for many centuries to come." He told Bezos that he'd like to come back in 500 years and see something built by Bezos, much like the Parthenon in Greece, according to GQ.
Cucinelli and his eponymous luxury brand, which mainly produces garments like knitwear and outerwear, is popular in both fashion circles and tech circles. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a well-known fan of the brand: While he has since moved on from his go-to gray t-shirts, he used to have Brunello Cucinelli custom-make his $300 or $400 tees. And Kevin Systrom, the cofounder and former CEO of Instagram, has also publicly proclaimed his love of the brand, although he prefers its sweaters. SEE ALSO: The '2 pizza rule' is a secret to productive meetings that helped Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos become one of the world's richest men. Here's why it's smart.
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On-demand trucking and freight marketplace Convoy has raised $400 million in a series D round of funding co-led by Generation Investment Management and T. Rowe Price Associates, with participation from Alphabet’s CapitalG, Lone Pine Capital, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management and Research, and Durable Capital Partners.Other illustrious previous investors include Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom, Jeff Bezos’ Bezos Expeditions, Y Combinator, Greylock Partners, and — because why not — Bono and The Edge from U2.By way of a quick recap, Convoy connects shippers with carriers, matching supply with demand to ensure trucks aren’t traveling long distances with empty trailers.It’s all about optimizing and streamlining cargo loads — like Uber for trucks.Countless other trucking startups have raked in big venture capital (VC) bucks — San Francisco-based KeepTruckin recently secured $149 million in funding from a host of big-name investors, including Alphabet’s other investment arm GV, while Next Trucking closed a $97 million investment.“We built this company from the beginning with a focus on creating a more efficient model for connecting shippers and truckers,” explained Convoy CEO and cofounder Dan Lewis.
According to Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, 80% of the product’s users rely on it, at least partially, for work.It makes sense, then, that the company is refocusing to try and cement its spot in the workplace; to shed its image as “just” a file storage company (in a time when just about every big company has its own cloud storage offering) and evolve into something more immutably core to daily operations.Earlier this week, Dropbox announced that the “new Dropbox” would be rolling out to all users.It takes the simple, shared folders that Dropbox is known for and turns them into what the company calls “Spaces” — little mini collaboration hubs for your team, complete with comment streams, AI for highlighting files you might need mid-meeting, and integrations into things like Slack, Trello and G Suite.With an overhauled interface that brings much of Dropbox’s functionality out of the OS and into its own dedicated app, it’s by far the biggest user-facing change the product has seen since launching 12 years ago.Shortly after the announcement, I sat down with Dropbox VP of Product Adam Nash and CTO Quentin Clark .
Today, its founders are back with their second act: An AI-enabled assistant called Navigator meant to help teams work and communicate more efficiently.With the support of $12 million in Series A funding from CRV, Angels, Designer Fund, SV Angel, Dropbox’s Drew Houston and other angel investors, Aspen, the San Francisco and Seattle-based startup behind Navigator, has quietly been beta testing its tool within 50 organizations across the U.S.“We’ve had teams and research institutes and churches and academic institutions, places that aren’t businesses at all in addition to smaller startups and large four-figure-person organizations using it,” Mailbox and Navigator co-founder and chief executive officer Gentry Underwood tells TechCrunch.It launched in 2013, as mentioned, to quick success.At the time, Apple’s App Store was much newer and there were few available options for mobile email, especially ones that prioritized design and efficiency, as Mailbox did.“There were still a lot of opportunities for improvements for how email was being used on these tiny little devices.”
The Italian fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli recently hosted a number of tech executives at his home in Solomeo, Italy.But an image posted from the summit is now being slammed after it was revealed that the two women present were added into the photo after the fact.The fashion house said in a statement that the doctored photo was created "when we realized we didn't have a shot where all attendees were represented," that it was approved by all the participants before it was posted, and that the design firm "meant no harm or had any malicious intent."A photo featuring the Italian fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli and a number of tech executives is being slammed online for digitally adding in the only two female executives present.The photo, which Cucinelli posted to his personal Instagram account on May 30, features familiar faces like Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, the LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was also said to be present but was not in the photo).But if you look closely, something appears to be off with the two female executives pictured, Peek CEO Ruzwana Bashir and Sunrun co-CEO Lynn Jurich.
Tech execs like Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, Dick Costolo, and more recently traveled to Italy for a summit with fashion designer Brunello Cucinelli.The trip was an opportunity for the Silicon Valley elite in attendance to talk about how to make the world a better place, according to GQ.Brunello Cucinelli is a favorite in the tech world, both for his entrepreneurship story and his high-end, stylish clothes.What do Jeff Bezos, Reid Hoffman, Drew Houston, and Dick Costolo have in common (besides tech, of course)?Photos from the trip — which Nextdoor cofounder Nirav Tolia told GQ was called the "Solomeo Summit," named after the tiny town where Cucinelli is based — were posted on Cucinelli's Instagram account.There's a group shot, and another photo of the Silicon Valley crew sitting in a big circle.
Dropbox unveiled a major overhaul Tuesday designed to transform its file-sync service into a central collaboration hub connecting other tools like G Suite, Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Office.Dropbox's new app presents files as a project-based package.Front and center are shared files, but other panes show other contacts in the project, an activity feed showing changes to each file, and a table of contents you can use to navigate to other projects.The app is available for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS in the company's early access program.But many of today's online tools already are hubs unto themselves -- G Suite productivity tools, Microsoft Teams and Slack for communications, for example.The new Dropbox is integrated with other tools including Google's G Suite, Slack, and Zoom videoconferencing.
Ten years ago, Sequoia Capital began quietly encouraging founders of its portfolio companies to consider which of their founder friends they might like to get behind financially.It cemented the firm’s ties to the founders who were already in its family.To learn more on the tenth anniversary of Sequoia’s “scouts” initiative — which has since been widely copied by other venture firms — we reached out to Sequoia’s Mike Vernal, the partner who today oversees the seed-stage program, as well as four scouts whose names you will recognize.What we learned in the process is that their experiences, while fairly different, have had an outsize impact on the way they lead as well, as well as on the founders whose paths have crossed with their own.Among those first scouts — one of now hundreds to work with Sequoia — was Jason Calacanis, a serial entrepreneur whose then startup, a search engine called Mahalo, quickly raised $20 million from Sequoia and others after its 2007 founding.Mahalo didn’t wind up putting Google or Yahoo out of business, but even back then, Calacanis, who’d earlier sold a blog network to AOL, had an established network that Sequoia realized was valuable.
While customers apparently make savings from consolidated services?Analysis Database giant and cloud-dream believer Oracle on Wednesday invited members of the media to its Redwood City headquarters in California because, as global comms SVP Bob Winslow put it, "We need you to tell our story."There's no pretense at Big Red about standing on the moral high ground, about doing no evil, being nice to one another, inclusion or sensitivity.Such sentiment may yet linger within the hearts of Oracle's employees; it's there in the American goliath's corporate giving to various causes.But it isn't worn on the sleeve, which among the Oracle personnel present at least had been pressed to impress, like the rest of their well-tended outfits.So it was that the PR-moderated chat with co-CEO Mark Hurd, a disembodied voice over a feedback-plagued PA system, opened with a discourse on global economics as that relates to Oracle's future financial opportunities.
His list of early investors reads as a who's who of Silicon Valley:Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, Yammer CEO David Sacks, Box CEO Aaron Levie, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim, SurgarCRM CEO Larry Augustin, Zuora CEO and former Salesforce CMO Tien Tzou, Facebook VP of Partnerships Dan Rose, Gmail creator Paul Buchheit, and more ...Reeves is also an angel investor himself.Reeves' company Gusto, which was formerly called ZenPayroll, began as a cloud-based payments tool that makes it easier for small businesses to pay employees.Each day was packed with eight or nine meetings.It helped that he was going through Y Combinator, a notable startup accelerator program that has a strong alumni network.
Mike Sepso has joined the board of directors for 100 Thieves, an esports and content creation brand.Sepso co-founded Major League Gaming in 2002, bringing the first true semblance of infrastructure to competitive gaming.MLG became the biggest independent esports league in the world, and played a big part in the evolution of esports as we know it today.In fact, MLG secured the first televised esports series ever with NBC sports, and eventually launched its own esports streaming platform.MLG was acquired for $46 million by Activision Blizzard in 2016, but still lives as an esports content hub for Activision Blizzard titles like Call of Duty and Overwatch.Sepso joins the 100 Thieves board alongside 100 Thieves founder and CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag, president and COO John Robinson, Jake Cohen from Detroit Venture Partners and Scooter Braun (entertainment industry mogul who represents Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande).
When $9.8 billion Dropbox announced Monday that it plans to acquire e-signature startup HelloSign for $230 million, analysts were not surprised.Last fall, $8 billion DocuSign acquired a cloud-based document management platform called SpringCM, in a move that could bring it into direct competition with Dropbox.HelloSign was founded in 2011 and had raised $16 million in funding."With over an exabyte of data on our platform, millions of people already use Dropbox as a place to collaborate on their most important content," Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston said in a statement."We're thrilled to welcome HelloSign's talented team to Dropbox and add their capabilities to our product suite."In fact, Dropbox had recently sent a user survey that asked users if they would be interested in using a Dropbox E-Signature feature, said Piper Jaffray's Alex J. Zukin, Sr. in a note to clients.
Deal comes months after UK lawyers said 1677 statute couldn’t hold back eSignaturesUPDATED 13:09 28/01/2019 with comment from Dropbox, HelloSignDropbox has agreed to buy Bay area-based eSignature specialist HelloSign for a reported $230 million, bringing it into the increasingly competitive eSignature sector alongside rivals like Adobe and DocuSign.The deal, first reported by CNBC comes eight weeks after HelloSign announced two new new native Dropbox extensions.“With over an exabyte of data on our platform, millions of people already use Dropbox as a place to collaborate on their most important content,” said Dropbox Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Drew Houston.“We’re thrilled to welcome HelloSign’s talented team to Dropbox and add their capabilities to our product suite.