August 5, 2019
We often say our investment thesis is “team, team, market.” That is, no matter how excited we are about a market opportunity, we won’t invest unless we really believe in the team. For NEAR’s Alex Skidanov and Illia Polosukhin, it was basically “team, team, team” because when we had the chance to seed fund the cofounders, the market opportunity was basically unknown.
Well, since that time it’s become more clear. Alex and Illia recently announced a $12.1 million round in support of their goal to the most developer-friendly platform for building decentralized applications. Top crypto and blockchain investors, Metastable and Accomplice, led the round with participation from Coinbase Ventures, Electric Capital, Pantera Capital, Amplify Partners, Naval Ravikant, Balajai Srinvasan and many others. With a focus on usability and scalability, the NEAR Protocol is a sharded, proof-of-stake blockchain. Access to its beta program is now open. We can’t wait to see what applications NEAR enables to bring blockchain technology to a broad population of consumers.
July 16, 2019
It’s no secret that Homebrew loves financial technology and services startups. Since our founding in 2013 we’ve been fortunate enough to invest in companies like Chime, Even, Gusto, Hummingbird, Plaid, and TrueAccord. Today we get to introduce you to Finix, an amazing team we led the seed financing for in 2017. They’ve been quietly creating software upon which the next generation of billion-dollar payments companies will be built, and have raised an additional $17.5m Series A to scale their work.
Who: Finix cofounders Richie and Sean both saw that new software stacks would need to be created to help companies bring their payments processing in-house. They combined their own deep expertise in the finance vertical with a team spanning established payments companies like First Data, PayPal, and Worldpay and fintech startups like Klarna and Balanced.
What: Vertically-focused software providers – companies like MindBody and Veeva that deliver purpose-built solutions for specific industries – are increasingly bringing payments in-house to increase profits, grow market share, and delight customers. And the best way to bring payments in-house today is to become a payment facilitator.
Traditionally, becoming a payment facilitator was a time-consuming, complicated and expensive proposition -- but Finix is changing the equation, and leveling the playing field for businesses that want to own, manage and monetize their payments in as little as 60 days.
How: Finix gives payments teams the flexibility to configure the perfect payments stack for their unique business needs with easy-to-use APIs and dashboards, deliver a seamless payments experience to customers and conveniently manage their entire provider ecosystem through a single platform of record. The Finix platform is SOC I and SOC II, PCI-Level 1 and GDPR compliant.
Why: As the Finix team explains eloquently in their own post, there’s both margin and customer satisfaction gains to be made for companies bringing their own payments processing in house. Before it was too complex to roll your own technology, develop internal expertise and manage the risk associated, but with Finix, you are allowing software to do the heavy lifting.
We know the Finix team has many more milestones ahead and we’re excited to be part of that journey. If you’d like to join them on this journey they’re hiring.
June 4, 2019
At Homebrew, we’ve made a number of investments in the healthcare industry that are focused on democratizing access to better care or to vital data that can help reduce costs and improve outcomes. As part of our work, we’ve often been pitched by startups that are focused on selling to employers as a means of getting to employee patients. But most of those companies have suffered from the lack of a clear ROI for companies and the inability to generate long term engagement from employees.
That’s why we were so excited when we met the team at Level and heard about the clear and ongoing value they were able to create for companies and employees. Level is working to improve health care by providing employers and employees with more flexible, lower cost and higher quality health care experiences with transparent pricing. As Level announced today, it’s starting with dental benefits, an often ignored but critically important part of health care. We’re elated to join Level on its journey and to have co-led Level’s seed financing along with our friends at First Round Capital.
WHO: When building a modern insurance company, you really need a team that deeply understands insurance, payments and user experiences. Fortunately, Paul Aaron, founder of Level, worked on the core product offerings at Square and Oscar Health. With those experiences in hand, he’s set out to rethink how health care benefits can be delivered, benefiting employers, employees and care providers.
WHAT: Level is an employer-sponsored benefit that allows people to easily find, manage, and pay for care. The company is tackling dental benefits to start because it’s an under-appreciated segment of healthcare that accounts for over $100 billion in US spending each year. Level is the only dental benefit with an app that combines searching for providers, comparing fees, managing benefits, and paying bills. It also aligns incentives with employers through a flat fee for service that doesn’t benefit from unused benefits.
HOW: Level combines simple-to-use technology with a robust health care offering to deliver unprecedented simplicity and efficiency. Its mobile app and web dashboard allow employees to find dentists in their area, and compare options, in or out of network. People can compare prices for services and treatments from dental providers up front, and keep tabs on their remaining benefits to avoid surprises later on. And importantly, members can pay what they owe as soon as they leave the dentist office, with no waiting, insurance estimates, or mail. All of this while saving companies up to 20% on their dental benefits spend. Level helps employers, including those that have historically been too small, transition to self-insurance, which saves them money and enables them to build highly customized plans based on budgets and workforce needs.
WHY: Healthcare in the US represents approximately 18% of the GDP and is the largest industry in the world. Innovation is needed to improve the system from both a cost and outcomes perspective. Most companies have been focused on the medical side of the industry, so Level is creating a new approach for dental, which has largely gone unchanged for the last few decades. In the long term, Level intends to improve all employee benefits, and as a result, all health care delivery and outcomes.
Level is based in New York and already working with a number of leading companies. If you share their passion for dramatically enhancing the health care experience for all, join the already stellar team.
June 2, 2019
When we make investments at Homebrew we look for many different things in founders. We always back founders who have a unique vision for how the world should work differently than it does today. But even more important is relentlessness in pursuing that vision. We found those things and much more when we learned about Ride Report. So it was easy for us to agree to play the lead role in the company’s seed financing, which was announced last week. Ride Report already works with more than 30 cities in the US and overseas. We’re ecstatic to be part of the company’s journey as it grows to hundreds of cities in the coming quarters.
WHO: William Henderson grew up fascinated by public transportation and how it shaped cities. Later in life, when he began to commute by bicycle, he saw an opportunity to make cities safer for cyclists and started advocacy work to that end. With the emergence of electric bikes and scooters, William saw the opportunity to expand Ride Report’s work to include micromobility solutions more broadly. And he’s now full steam ahead on making the movement of people and goods within cities more safe, reliable and equitable.
WHAT: Ride Report’s long term goal is to empower cities to make transportation more equitable, efficient and sustainable. The company has a vision for the world in which cities are able to quickly and intelligently adapt physical and digital resources to enable safer and more reliable transportation for their entire populations. The tools and data that Ride Report provides to cities enables them to shape, audit, manage, analyze and enforce micromobility policies.
HOW: Micromobility services generate enormous amounts of data about rides and citizens and are negotiating agreements and rules with cities that could set important precedents. Ride Report makes sense of all of that data for cities, starting with assessing compliance, so that both cities and operators have a shared understanding of how micromobility services are being operated and utilized. The company’s software dashboards and APIs make it easy for all stakeholders to exchange and visualize the data that is needed to make important decisions that will make microbility available to all.
WHY: It’s clear that everything from electric scooters to autonomous cars are going to impact the way that citizens move about their cities. Cities have borne the costs of supporting these services and haven’t had access to the data needed to make decisions about where, how and under what constraints these services can operate. Ride Report makes it possible for cities to get the data they need to make decisions about how to enable micromobility services that benefit their citizens and make the cities themselves better places to work and live. If Ride Report it successful it will help cities make decisions about not just these services but also the physical infrastructure of cities themselves.
It’s been a joy to work with William and team so far. If you care about the future of cities and their development, consider joining Ride Report’s team in Portland.
May 29, 2019
There’s no question that new mobility options are here to stay and are going to transform our cities over time. When we met the team at Ride Report, it was clear that its unique position sitting between cities and micromobility operators (i.e. the companies providing shared bikes, e-scooters, and small electric vehicles) represented both a compelling investment opportunity and an important position in shaping the future of cities. It seems like our country is obsessed with scooters, and there is a new media storm about them every day. Meanwhile, Ride Report has been quietly working behind the scenes to make these micromobility programs run smoothly everywhere from Austin, TX to Madrid, Spain.
It’s been amazing to watch - we couldn’t have imagined that a software system to help transit regulators and city planners would be an exciting Homebrew investment (just announced!). As summer approaches and more people take advantage of new transit options in their city, we thought now would be a great time to share more about Ride Report by sitting down with CEO and Co-Founder, William Henderson.
To get started, one of the things we were intrigued by was your background. Could you explain what led you to create Ride Report?
To be honest, I wouldn’t have guessed I’d end up doing something like this. Before starting Ride Report, I led consumer payments at Square and worked on products at Apple, so my expertise was in using technology for financial systems and privacy protection. I was pretty far removed from mobility and govtech in that work, but in 2003 I started using my bike to get around Portland and came to see efficient transportation options like bikes as key to creating healthier, more sustainable cities.
As I grew from a person biking to a bike advocate, I started to understand the work that needs to be done to address our transportation infrastructure, how we pay for it and the policies we use to govern it. And underlying all of that is a need for cities to use data more quickly and effectively.
So I was already working in this space when scooters launched and I could see that cities had an urgent need to see and control what was happening with this new mode of transportation. We had already built a system to efficiently gather, anonymize and protect micromobility data, so we were in a really natural position to help cities with this problem.
As scooters expanded to more cities, both cities and operators started to realize that sharing the data in real time enables a far better outcome for everyone - it lets cities scale up micromobility faster, more gracefully and in better partnership with operators. Our cities have much better relationships with most of the scooter sharing services than they did with ride-hailing companies, and I think having a good way to share data has been at the center of that.
We remember when scooters first showed up on the streets of San Francisco - people were calling it scooter-mageddon. It feels like the world has been transfixed by scooters and new mobility devices in the past year. How did we get here?
Let me provide some context. In the early days of the automobile, people hated having them in their cities. Newspapers from the 20’s and 30’s are full of enraged accounts – people are parking their personal cars in the street for free! People are driving too fast and children are dying! Several cities came extremely close to mandating a speed-limiting device in every car. Automobile companies had to spend an enormous amount of time and money lobbying at every level of governments to create the city design we have today. We shouldn’t be surprised that the same thing is happening with scooters.
And to understand the city perspective, you have to look at what happened with taxis and ride hailing. Taxis were initially unregulated, but cities were able to successfully impose driver requirements, accessibility standards, rates, etc. When ride-hailing launched and resisted cooperation, that represented a huge loss of control for cities. So that’s why cities immediately asserted their control when some scooter operators tried to copy the ride-hailing playbook.
And yet, despite this history, there is something very compelling about scooters. Both city planners and technologists understand that cars can’t take us much further, that we desperately need a new solution. This has been the case for a while, but now there is a product that can solve these problems that seems to have a much wider appeal than pedaling a bike for a lot of people.
It certainly seems like people love riding them.
Yeah! It’s amazing how much demand there is for these new forms of mobility. We are nowhere near the scale this innovation is capable of. That said, cities are right to take a cautious approach. There are limits to our current micromobility infrastructure, like protected bike lanes. As more people keep asking for these new vehicles, cities will need to adapt today’s street design to support the transportation networks of the future.
What’s your hope for what you’ll be able to achieve?
I think my goals are the same as most people in this space. Both cities and operators want micromobility to work, to scale quickly, to fulfill its potential to disrupt the current system – but in a way that makes cities greener, more accessible and more equitable. But the devil is in the details. That’s where Ride Report comes in - we’re helping cities and micromobility operators be more effective partners in this shared mission. Rather than see it as just another thing to manage, we’re helping cities harness the potential of micromobility.
May 28, 2019
Founders with dirt under their fingernails. In this case not merely an expression to suggest the mentality of teams we like backing, but a literal prerequisite for any of our investments in agriculture technology. We always believe in the power of Disrupting With Love, Not Contempt, but find this to be especially true of startups in industries which function far outside of Silicon Valley culture. So the willingness and interest of entrepreneurs to spend time with their customers and learn with them is an important positive signal for us. Traptic, a Homebrew investment (along with our friends at K9 Ventures and Village Global) announcing itself this week, has been operating the last few years in the strawberry fields of Northern and Southern California. Both its founders and its robots have plenty of dirt under their nails.
WHO: Lewis, Vinh and Bryan share a few common traits - big brains, a love of solving meaningful problems, and responding to challenges with a blend of enthusiasm and humor. When we backed the three of them they’d already been hard at work with strawberry growers, prototyping a robotic arm that became the basis for today’s more advanced machine. It was important to us that they not only appreciated feedback from their customers, but sought it out, early in the process and ongoing.
WHAT: Traptic’s mission is to save the world’s food production from a crippling labor shortage by developing technologies that help expand food production in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. More specifically, Traptic is building robotic farming machines to augment human labor in harvesting fruits and vegetables with a focus on speed and accuracy balanced with delicate handling.
HOW: It starts with a smart robotic harvester built around innovations in grippers, 3D cameras, neural networks and low cost actuators. In combination, these technologies let the robot detect and pick ripe strawberries from field bushes. Seriously, this is outrageously cool stuff. And some of the most fun Board meeting demos we’ve had to date.
WHY: Many produce crops are still largely harvested by hand, creating a variety of limitations in the supply chain. There isn’t enough labor available to pick all of today’s crops, let alone the crops needed to feed a growing world population. These harvesting jobs are physically demanding, and even higher wages have failed to produce predictable labor pools. The problem is only getting worse as a result of demographic changes and immigration frictions. Scaling food production will require that new technologies like Traptic be developed.
We are very excited to be supporting Lewis and team. If you’re curious about these challenges, Traptic is hiring.
May 27, 2019
Always bet on Jon Steinberg. That’s one of our core Homebrew beliefs(!), both of us having known Jon since our shared days at Google. Accordingly, we were happy to be supporting investors in Cheddar’s seed round a few years back. The Cheddar team executed wonderfully in building a “next generation” news network and many folks took notice. Altice USA not only took notice, but opened its checkbook and acquired the startup earlier this spring for $200 million. Thank you Jon for including us in your journey and we can’t wait to bet on you again, and again, and again.
May 27, 2019
As investors we find ourselves critiquing presentations more than creating new ones, but let us tell you something -- we were damn good at it back in our product management days. Still, we struggled to fit our creativity, collaboration needs and multimedia assets into a bunch of software tools designed during the days of landlines and acetate overheads.
So when our friends Trevor and Jeremy told us about the startup they were founding to reconceive presentation software for modern storytelling, we signed up right away as a supporting investor. And this week Projector gave a glimpse of itself in TechCrunch and via its own blog.
And if this looks awesome to you too, well, they’re hiring.
May 5, 2019
Last month, WeWork announced its acquisition of Managed by Q, a company that Homebrew seed funded in 2014. The decision to sell a startup can be a harrowing one. As a founder, you lose control, you commit your team to a different path and you forgo the potential upside (and avoid the downside!) of remaining independent. The most successful acquisitions are ones in which both the buyer and seller have alignment on strategic rationale, culture and a shared vision.
Managed by Q was founded to provide companies with a single platform to manage all of their workplace tasks and services, helping companies save time and money, and create a better environment for employees. WeWork started with a mission to build communities within beautiful, shared office spaces. When WeWork approached Managed by Q about joining forces, it was clear that WeWork’s scale and global presence, combined with Managed by Q’s deep expertise in workplace management, would help both company’s fulfill their respective, and now joint, missions to even greater effect. The alignment of strategy, culture and vision was clear from the very first conversations between Dan Teran, Q’s founder and CEO, and Adam Neumann, WeWork’s co-founder and CEO.
While the acquisition represents a very good outcome for us as investors, we’re more proud to have contributed to building the culture and values of a company that has set the example for how to build career paths and compensation for all employees. Often times doing the right thing is harder (and more expensive!) than doing the easy thing. But Q has proven that doing the hard thing is not only possible, but also good business.
Congratulations to Dan and the entire Managed by Team! We have no doubt that you and WeWork will be an example of a hugely successful acquisition.
May 5, 2019
A/B testing has been both a boon and a curse for companies since third party software became available to help manage it more than a decade ago. But over time, the limitations of A/B testing, and subsequently multivariate testing, have become clear. That’s why, about two years ago, we led an unannounced seed financing for Intellimize. Intellimize has built an AI-based web personalization service that enables the automation of thousands of tests with hundreds of variables in much less time and with much less effort than earlier approaches. Today, we’re pleased to announce that the company recently completed an $8 million Series A financing led by Amplify Partners.
WHO: Intellimize was founded by a team that has lived and breathed the challenges of web personalization for many years. Guy Yalif, Jin Lim and Brian Webb are machine learning and advertising veterans from Yahoo, Twitter, and BrightRoll. Their combined expertise in engineering, product management and marketing are incredible fits with the market opportunity that Intellimize is addressing.
WHAT: Intellimize uses machine learning to personalize mobile and desktop web experiences dynamically for each unique visitor in real time. With it’s AI-powered platform, the company has been able to deliver an average of 46% conversion lift, 577% more than the average lift seen by traditional A/B tests, in several orders of magnitude less time than traditional tests.
HOW: Lots of software companies talking about leveraging machine learning or AI. But the Intellimize team has actually done so in practice at several companies. That practical expertise is the foundation of the company’s product. And importantly, over the long-term, that same expertise will be brought to bear on the entire testing and personalization process, from ideation to measurement. Intellimize customers are already seeing the benefits of a system that continually improves as more customers and more data become part of the Intellimize ecosystem.
WHY: Guy, Jin and Brian had experienced the pain of testing and personalization firsthand at several different companies. They saw that the status quo was bad for both companies and end users. They started Intellimize because online experiences should be geared to the individual but the process of personalizing those experiences is challenging for companies. We are thrilled to be partners in their mission to enable high quality online experiences for all.
If the combination of data and user experience is near and dear to your heart, Intellimize is hiring.
May 4, 2019
It’s no secret that application security testing is becoming ever more important as private data moves to the cloud. It’s also not a secret that most companies don’t have the expertise or resources needed to identify the vulnerabilities and bugs in their applications. That’s why Fuzzbuzz is automating application security testing, starting with “fuzzing-as-a-service”. We’re delighted to partner with our friends at Fuel Capital and Susa Ventures to provide Fuzzbuzz with its $2.7 million seed financing.
WHO: Co-founders, Everest Munro-Zeisberger, Andrei Serban and Sabera Hussain bring together exactly the engineering, product and design skills needed to build Fuzzbuzz. Everest worked on the Google Chrome fuzzing team, surfacing more than 15,000 bugs using fuzzing. Andrei is an accomplished software developer with experience from leading organizations including Confluent and Cloudflare. And Sabera has the unique ability to translate technical complexity into simple to use and understand products. Together, they’ve launched and generated a ton of buzz(!) amongst potential customers and security experts.
WHAT: Fuzzing or fuzz testing is an automated software testing technique used to discover bugs and vulnerabilities. It involves inputting massive amounts of random, invalid and unexpected data into software to see whether it crashes. While it seems obvious that all software should be tested this way, historically, fuzzing has been expensive and has required specialized skills. Fuzzbuzz has distilled all of that cost and complexity into a service that can be implemented in less than 20 minutes.
HOW: Fuzzbuzz integrates with source-control and continuous integration tools like GitHub, Jenkins and CircleCI, to ensure that the latest versions of code are always being tested. The company generates the tests, so developers don't have to spend their time dreaming them up for every possible scenario. Integrations with Slack, Jira, GitHub, and other developer tools allow for bug alerting and tracking within existing workflow. Finally, Fuzzbuzz is taking advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning to use feedback from test results to generate new tests automatically, making the product smarter over time.
WHY: Fuzzbuzz’s mission is to make it safer to use software. Delivering code with fewer bugs via fuzzing is the starting point. But the Fuzzbuzz team has a broad vision in mind and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of their journey. If you’re interested in helping to secure the world’s software, join the Fuzzbuzz team.
March 26, 2019
Any success we had during our product management careers was the byproduct of great teams. Similarly, when Homebrew works with founders we rely not just on our own abilities but also on a network of relationships developed from our decades in the tech community. At any given time there are a small group of these superb individuals who we’re fortunate enough to have as formal advisors to our fund. We’re thrilled to welcome four new Founder Advisors to Homebrew and to deepen our relationship with an earlier Advisor.
Stacy Brown-Philpot: Our relationship with Stacy dates back to our time together at Google. She’s an amazing leader and operator, having helped scale Google’s business for nearly a decade and now serving as CEO of TaskRabbit. Stacy also brings her wisdom and experience to bear as a Board Director for both HP and Nordstrom. Stacy brings smarts, passion and values to everything she touches.
Prakash Janakiraman: Prakash is also a fellow ex-Googler, having built a distinguished career as an engineering leader in Silicon Valley over more than two decades. His experience spans Excite, Shopping.com, Google and Nextdoor, where is co-founder and Chief Architect. Prakash’s unique combination of technical prowess, humility and humor will be incredible assets for our founders.
Ashley Mayer: We originally met Ashley during her years at Box, where over the course of six years, she helped a fast growing enterprise startup retain its unique voice, build a true community among its customers and ultimately go public in a successful IPO. Ashley now leads Communications at Glossier and she’ll be invaluable helping Homebrew founders balance their sizzle and their steak.
Mike Smith: Every company has unsung heroes, and Mike Smith, President and COO at Stitch Fix, is certainly in that group. After serving as COO at Walmart.com, Mike joined Stitch Fix in the very early days and helped build that company into a publicly-traded commerce juggernaut. His expertise in team building, operations, logistics and finance will be invaluable to Homebrew founders.
Cherie Yu: It’s rare to find marketing leaders who span the art and science of the discipline but Cherie is one of these people. Most recently leading Local Marketing at Lyft, we’ve been fortunate enough to know Cherie originally as a Google colleague, and now within the context of supporting Homebrew founders.
We’re also delighted to deepen the relationship with our good friend, Scott Belsky. Scott has been an Advisor to the fund and frequent co-investor as an angel for many years. He brings a true belief in the power of startups to change lives and build products that matter, while sharing a set of values around community that are core to our beliefs as well. We all felt the desire to further our mutual commitment and to collaborate even more closely. As a result, Scott has become a Venture Advisor to Homebrew. Scott will remain an active angel investor (both in Homebrew companies and outside of our portfolio) and nothing changes with his existing commitments (you know, like being Chief Product Officer at Adobe), but we’re proud that Scott has chosen to work with Homebrew in this capacity. As a Venture Advisor, Scott will be involved in both the investing and advising aspects of our business.
Welcome Advisors! We’re grateful to have you on the team!
March 24, 2019
We’ve all seen the data. 40% of Americans can’t pay for a $400 emergency expense. Student debt levels surpassed $1.5 trillion last year. Consumers paid a record $34 billion in bank overdraft fees in 2017. For all of these reasons and many more, Chris Britt and Ryan King founded Chime. From the beginning, Chime’s goal was to be the bank that works for its customers, helping them save, invest and borrow money with confidence and without the burden of excessive fees and obstacles. When we first invested in 2013, this was a simple but powerful idea. Six years later, the company has 3 million accounts and recently raised $200 million to continue building a better consumer bank. We couldn’t be more proud to be part of Chime’s journey in building a business and company that has both value and merit in today’s financial services market. Congratulations to the entire Chime team on an important milestone towards building the bank of the future for the customers who need their money to work for them the most. If you believe in the mission of making banking simpler, more powerful and less expensive for everyone, Chime is hiring in nearly all departments.
February 19, 2019
It’s been an acquisitive last few weeks for a few of our portfolio companies where we’re supporting investors:
Anchor, the best way to make your podcast, was acquired by Spotify. We’ve been incredibly impressed by the product quality and iteration speed of the Anchor team. A very savvy, strategic pickup by Spotify.
eero, the best home WiFi system, was acquired by Amazon. This team was incredibly prescient on what future of home networking could look like, and built a superior product. We’re proud to see Amazon recognize this as well!
And another supporting investment shared a bit more about what it's up to: Elroy Air has raised $9.2m for its large scale, autonomous cargo drone that can carry up to 500 pounds. If this sounds awesome to you (it should!), they’re hiring Engineer and Designer roles in SF.
February 13, 2019
A venture firm, like the startups it backs, is only as strong as the people doing the work. At Homebrew, we’ve optimized for a small, focused team with deep operating experience and unreserved passion for supporting founders. We’ve chosen to expand only when there’s someone we truly believe can make us better investors and partners, not just someone who helps us shift workload. We set out to find just the right team member through an open call of sorts last year. While we were fortunate to meet many qualified people through that process, there was one individual who made us take notice (all the way from New York City!). We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome Kate Coughlin Stern to Homebrew.
There are a number of things about Kate that are special. Her history of results and analytical rigor during years at Goldman Sachs and Uber are remarkable. The confidence of her teammates, who continually rave about her direct but supportive style and “no project too big or small” attitude, is extraordinary. Her deeply competitive spirit, combined with heartfelt optimism and sharp wit, are inspiring. Kate is a culture add, not just a culture fit, and we’re thrilled for you to meet her.
There were a few unusual aspects to our application process, including asking candidates to select their own job title. Kate selected Principal, so that’s how you’ll see her titled on our team page. But we don’t think about roles as boxes. We think of them as platforms. So expect Kate to be a true extension of Homebrew, involved in all aspects of our work - from executing our investment strategy to servicing the founders we’ve backed. Unsurprisingly, our founders are already lining up to benefit from Kate’s lessons learned as an early Uber Eats team member.
Thank you Kate for trusting us to create a great experience for you as you enter the world of venture capital. We’re thrilled to welcome you to our team and to get started in building Homebrew together.
January 1, 2019
It started with a cold email to Homebrew in 2013, progressed to us co-leading their seed round in early 2014 with our friends at Freestyle, and now in late 2018, a $275 million acquisition by Autodesk. A thrilling (and quite meaningful) outcome for a startup that exemplifies many of the qualities we love seeing in an investment: mission-driven founders who understand their market, a disruptive product that becomes a system of record platform for its customers, and a huge industry that pre-dates the PC, but is ready to be transformed by software.
Thank you Dustin and Jesse for the partnership along the way!
December 13, 2018
“Proud to have supported this company since their earliest days” is how VCs coyly signal that they were in early before the rocketship company was off the launch pad. Well, three startups that we’re proud to have supported since their earliest days announced substantial financings recently. Yeah, we had conviction years ago. And yeah, they’re all looking like great, savvy picks. But the congrats goes to these teams, not us. From the CEOs on down, these teams have been working incredibly hard to build companies they’re proud of. Durable companies delivering real value to customers. And eventually, outcomes that will change the lives of their teams, not just their investors. Congrats to the teams at Bowery, Plaid and Weave!
October 25, 2018
With all of the innovation happening in financial services (see Homebrew portfolio companies like Chime, Even, Gusto, Plaid and TrueAccord as examples) it’s no surprise that regulatory compliance is becoming a front and center issue. But dealing with these issues isn’t for the faint of heart and requires the experience and knowledge to handle them correctly. That’s where Hummingbird comes in. Hummingbird brings simplicity, flexibility and intelligence to the anti-money laundering (AML) efforts of financial institutions of all types. We’re delighted to announce we’ve led a $3 million seed financing for the company, in partnership with Omidyar Network, TTV and Designer Fund.
WHO: Joe Robinson, Matt Van Buskirk and Jo Ann Barefoot, co-founders of Hummingbird, bring a unique mix of regulatory and technology expertise to the company. Joe solved risk and compliance challenges in product roles at Circle and Square. Matt and Jo Ann are former regulators and recognized compliance experts. Collectively, the team has lived the problem, worked to solve it and knows how to leverage technology to address it in a scalable and repeatable way.
WHAT: Hummingbird uses machine learning and seamless workflows to provide superpowers to financial crime fighters. Financial institutions struggle to keep up with increasing complexity in AML, and investigators are swamped with cumbersome workflows, strict timelines, and scattered data. Hummingbird’s software-as-a-service and data-driven algorithms assist AML experts with complex investigations and help these institutions stay on top of new money laundering methods.
HOW: Hummingbird’s software combines easy deployment that requires no integration with an intelligent platform that generates insights about investigation subjects and provides capabilities like interactive pattern visualization, automatic location intelligence, time-sequence narratives of customer behaviors, and relationship mapping between investigation subjects. Built-in collaboration tools help share case files securely both inside and outside the financial institution. Ultimately, Hummingbird delivers easier, smarter and more collaborative AML compliance at at time when the financial services industry needs it most.
WHY: Adding intelligence to the compliance process and making it easier for investigators and law enforcement to follow the money is at the heart of Hummingbird’s vision – one that can have a real impact in curbing financing of terrorism, human trafficking, and making the financial system safe for all of us. $2 trillion is laundered every year and less than 1% is caught. Profits from political corruption, bribery, organized crime, human trafficking, and illegal trading all end up being laundered through the financial system. Crimes that rely on money laundering are on the rise. Hummingbird’s mission is to safeguard everyday citizens from the impact of money laundering, as we couldn’t be more excited to support the team’s efforts.
If you interested in enabling financial innovation but protecting all of us from bad actors, join the Hummingbird team. You’ll be joining a team with the strongest collections of skills and experience in the industry.
October 25, 2018
All companies have unexpected things happen to them that dramatically impact their businesses. And often times the dashboards and reports that are reviewed each day and week don’t have any answers for what happened or why. Outlier is designed to collect and monitor enterprise data in real-time, and notify people of important moments of unexpected or dramatic change. It’s this opportunity to automate business analysis and turn traditional business intelligence on its head that got Ridge Ventures excited enough to lead a $6.2 million Series A for Outlier.
We’ve known that we have a stellar team, an innovative product and an enormous market opportunity at Outlier. And the early customers have seen the power of Outlier’s daily updates, identifying 4-5 important changes in the data that they can take action on. This fresh capital will enable Outlier to deliver the same outstanding insights to even more customers. We’re excited to see the company continue to build a culture and business that we are proud to have supported since the seed stage. Check out the openings at Outlier and join a team that is playing to win big!
October 25, 2018
Earlier this morning Expedia announced the acquisition of Pillow, a startup we’ve had good fortune to work with since leading its seed round in 2014. Sean Conway, Pillow’s CEO and cofounder, shared the news in his own blog post, but we thought it was appropriate to add two things.
First, the outcome. While every startup builds to be a profitable, independent company, the reality is that the best path for many of them will be an acquisition. Credit to Sean and team for building a company that was sought after by the industry and a set of relationships within the hospitality/travel community that turned into an offer to join forces. Sean will be helping to lead a very important initiative within the Expedia family of companies and in the process he also made money for his investors, which we thank him for.
Second, the journey. When we first backed Pillow it was operating in a slightly adjacent space, helping average people rent out their apartments or homes on Airbnb with a combination of software tools and on-the-ground operations (cleaning, maintenance, etc). This business was growing quite nicely but about 24 months in, Sean saw that there was a bigger strategic opportunity to help bring new supply to the short-term rental market. Namely, to work with large multi-unit apartment owners and create a product that let their tenants rent their apartments out for short-term stays, while also giving property managers the necessary visibility into rental activity within their buildings. The aligned incentives clicked right away and Pillow was able to sign up a large number of partners, bring differentiated rental inventory to the platforms in exchange for a cut of the revenue.
Without this insight and the willingness to take one step backwards to take two steps forward during the transition, I don’t believe Pillow would have been as valuable in this acquisition. It’s a nice example of a team and their VCs collaboratively supporting a change in strategy and I give a lot of credit to Sean, his exec team and our fellow Board member, Tim Chang of Mayfield, for seeing it through.
Congrats to both Pillow and Expedia!
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