February 22, 2016
The world of traditional media has been slow to evolve in the face of the obvious changes in the demographics of its potential audience. The millennial generation increasingly demands its media be geared towards its tastes and habits. But Business television is the as it has been for has for decades. That’s why Jon Steinberg, former President of Buzzfeed and CEO of Daily Mail US, started Cheddar. Cheddar is a live video news network focused on the businesses, products and technologies transforming the lives of millennials. It will be broadcast live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, like many traditional business broadcasts, but viewable through streaming services and connected televisions, without the need for a cable box. We couldn’t be happier to be supporting investors in Cheddar, helping Jon build the media company that he envisions.
If you’re interested in business, watch Cheddar when it launches later this year. If you want to work in the worlds of business and video, join the Cheddar team!
February 21, 2016
The digital world is riddled with communications and social media in the form for text and images. Yet, the power and intimacy of hearing someone’s voice remains undeniable. What if you could democratize audio broadcasting and make it as simple to record and listen as it is to post to and read Facebook or Twitter? It was these notions that led Mike Mignano and Nir Zicherman to create Anchor, an app that enables public radio for and by the people. We’re in awe of the early response to Anchor, blown away as users of the product and proud to be supporting investors in the company.
January 18, 2016
We’re thrilled to have been an early supporter of Estimote, which we can now share as the company announced its $10.7m Series A fundraise. Besides the quality of the team, we were struck by the path Estimote has taken in the still-developing beacon technology industry. Despite being known for its beautiful and reliable beacon hardware, Estimote has always been focused on cultivating a software platform and developer community atop a real world context layer. We believe this is where the real value ultimately exists, and where Estimote has built a multi-year old strategic moat.
January 14, 2016
Laid off. Reorg’ed. Streamlined. Rationalized. There are a bunch of expressions companies like to use to describe job cuts. And as we enter 2016, startups are looking carefully at their growth plans, many with a more conservative eye than perhaps the past few years. Already, within the first few days of the year, we’ve seen several technology companies make reductions of 5-15% in their team sizes. When reading the coverage of these decisions, it’s important to remember that real people are behind the numbers.
Top performers may find their jobs eliminated for many reasons (cheaper labor, revenue doesn’t support the headcount, etc.). Although this feels personal, you have to remind yourself this is a business decision that is out of your control. But once you’ve processed your emotions, there is a checklist of ‘next steps’ you should know about.
Make sure you have the following items in order before you exit the company. Your HR contact should be able to help with the following.
Health Insurance: Find out when your coverage ends. You can set yourself up with a temporary continuation of group health coverage through COBRA until you either find other employment or figure out another long term insurance plan. Find out what the process is for signing up for COBRA and what it will likely cost you.
Termination letter: You will need an official letter terminating your employment if you are going to be applying for unemployment. Your HR contact should be able to provide this.
Paycheck: The last thing you want to be doing is trying to track down your final paycheck after you leave the company. You are entitled to your last paycheck including vacation days and unpaid bonuses before you leave.
Severance: If you are given severance, you will either be given a check on the spot or a letter with information regarding the details (timing and payout amount) of the severance package. Make sure you have something in writing if you are not getting the severance check on your last day of employment. A verbal “we will get back to you regarding severance” is not good enough. If you find yourself in this position, get a referral for a lawyer who specializes in employment law.
401K: If you have a 401K/retirement account, figure out what to do with this money. This doesn’t need to be taken care of on your last day, but rather something you should get squared away shortly after your employment terminates. You have 3 options:
- Do nothing. Just Keep your assets where they are. This is convenient and requires no effort on your part. The downside is that it limits your investment options.
- Roll this money into an IRA/Individual Retirement Account. You will have control of your money with numerous investment choices.
- Roll this money into your new employer’s 401K plan. The logical thing to do once you find a new job. You will be limited in investment choices but many companies have an employer matching program in which all or some portion of your contribution to the 401k is matched by the company.
Stock Options: Make sure you know the post-termination exercise rules and deadlines. Your HR or Benefits contact can provide you with this information. You have the right to exercise the stock options that you’ve vested. Vesting schedules vary from company to company but monthly vesting over 4 years with a one year cliff (nothing vests for your first year at the company but 25% of your options vest at the one year anniversary of your vesting starting date) is a typical vesting schedule. Whether you exercise or not will be based on your assessment of the future value of the stock (or the market value if the company is public).
- What does exercising mean? Exercising a stock option means purchasing your employer’s common stock at the price of the option, known as the grant price. The typical timeframe for exercising options is 90 days after termination. However, your period for exercise will be dictated by your employer’s plan design and the reason for your termination. If the options are not exercised by the specified date, they expire and are canceled. That means you will no longer have the right to purchase common stock. While some companies send registered letters to outgoing employees with the number of shares they can buy and the cost, and how many days they have to exercise the options, no law requires this. It is your obligation to know your personal grant information and the terms of your stock plan.
- What does it cost to exercise? Make sure you understand all of the financial and tax implications associated with exercising your options. The cost to exercise will be determined by the number of options you have and the grant price for those options. When you exercise, you will have to pay the company an amount equal to the number of options times the grant price. Once you own the shares, you may incur a tax obligation depending on the fair market value of the stock at that time and whether the company is public. For more information visit out Investopedia.
- What about my unvested options? You don’t “own” these options because they are not vested. Therefore, they go back to the company. You are only entitled to exercise the options that are vested. Again, make sure you understand your option vesting schedule.
Recommendations: Be prepared to ask for recommendations as soon as possible from your manager, peers and direct reports, if appropriate. Make a point of getting letters of recommendation on LinkedIn and asking colleagues to be a reference while your accomplishments are fresh in their minds. If you have access to your performance reviews, print them out and take them with you. Ask your HR contact for this information if you don’t have direct access. This information is crucial when you are ready to start networking to find your next role.
Return your things: If you have a company issued badge, laptop or phone, best to return them on your last day rather than wait for a call from someone in HR or security to ask you to come back and return the company owned items. If you have any personal data on the laptop or phone, make a copy of it and then delete it before returning your devices. Another option is to offer to buy the equipment directly from the employer. If you have an older model of a laptop or phone, the company may be open to this.
Stay calm: Although getting laid off can be traumatic and feel very personal, you will be okay. Remind yourself that this was a business decision and NOT a reflection of your work. If you can get organized and armed with the information above, you’ll be in a much better position to move on with a confident and successful job search.
No matter how angry, upset, or blindsided you may feel during this process, do NOT blast your former company, manager, HR Manager, or peer(s) on social media. It may feel good in the short term, but you don’t want to make any negative comments that you can’t take back.
Let Homebrew help. If you’ve been laid off or are thinking about a change, we’d love to hear from you. Warm introductions are best, but we are open to helping anyone who contacts us. Our portfolio companies are hiring and we may have some great ideas for you outside of our portfolio as well. Beth Scheer, Homebrew’s Head of Talent, would love to connect at email@example.com.
November 8, 2015
Perfect WiFi. That’s the promise of eero, a startup Homebrew was thrilled to support during its seed round. This week eero provided an update to consumers detailing production timeline (delivery in Q116), FCC certification and a $40 million in new financing, a strong signal of its continued progress (wireless pun!).
November 8, 2015
We’re delighted to have played a supporting role in Hivemapper’s recent financing. We first met founder, Ariel Seidman, at his previous startup, Gigwalk, which also brought together the idea of distributed work and geo location. With Hivemapper, Ariel and team (plus the Hivemapper community!) are creating a navigable 3D map of the world for drones. It’s a big, needed idea and we’re happy to invest alongside a notable group of partners to back Ariel and the entire Hivemapper team.
November 4, 2015
BuildingConnected landed in our inbox late in 2013 out of the blue. We’d never met the founders. There was no ‘warm intro’. They hadn’t worked for name brand Valley companies. Any ‘pattern matching’ algorithm would have put them into our archive. But we make it a habit to respond to every email that looks at least personalized to us (“Dear *[FNAME]*” errors are always amusing). And with this one, we liked what we saw.
It started out explaining how the construction industry wasn’t yet benefitting from the technologies transforming other markets. How spreadsheets, emails and faxes resulted in lots of lost productivity and errors. How terrible, old-school enterprise tools prevented collaboration and resulted in siloed data. And how the CEO of this startup knew this because he had experienced the pain firsthand for the last several years while working for a top commercial general contractor. Now he, along with a CTO cofounder he had known since college, were building a company to solve these problems. And they had some pilot tests coming up.
Pilot tests? We were intrigued but our reply was clear - come back with data from the pilots. And they did. A few months later Dustin Devan and Jesse Pedersen sent over what they’d learned from the early pilots. And they also shared the resume of the first engineer they were going to hire. Progress on customer development and team. Nice. The more we learned about the company and the market, the more excited we got. They were solving a large, urgent and valuable problem with their first product: managing the subcontractor bidding process on commercial construction projects, which often put into play tens to hundreds of millions of dollars of work. And they had a vision for what could be done atop this network SaaS product, very much in line with how we think about vertical SaaS. Finally, they were disrupting with love, not contempt. Having worked in industry and stepped away from a promising career path, Dustin wanted to build something that would improve and elevate the work, not just automate it. He respected his customers, didn’t just dismiss them as “old industries.” We find this belief and value system, especially in founders who haven’t yet become jaded by “too much” experience in industry, to be very compelling. And so along with our friends at Freestyle Capital, we co-led BuildingConnected’s seed round in early 2014.
It’s been a true pleasure to work with Dustin, Jesse and team as they’ve quietly built a company that is redefining how commercial construction works. And we’re happy to finally share that fueling the company is not just our initial seed funding, but also a Series A financing led by Crosslink Capital. BuildingConnected is already powering over $10 billion of project bidding each month. And they’re just getting started.
November 4, 2015
When you think of “hot industries” perhaps building software for dental practices doesn’t immediately come to mind. But when you’re growing your customer base and revenue by over 300% year over year the numbers speak for themselves. And that’s just what Weave has done since we invested last year. And now, the real business value that the company has created, by delivering high quality solutions to customers, is what has enabled Weave to close a $15.5m Series B financing led by Crosslink Capital.
Weave started by providing unified communication solutions to dental and orthodontic practices. But the vision is to build a modern communication company for all small and medium-sized services businesses. Weave integrates VoIP calling, SMS text messaging, and emailing into a single desktop service, that syncs with existing customer relationship management and electronic medical record software. Businesses can leverage Weave to effectively manage their customer messaging and capitalize on the value of their customer relationships. Technology that creates real economic value for businesses. That’s Weave. And we’re thrilled to be partners in its mission.
July 28, 2015
It’s been roughly two years since we first met the founders of UpCounsel, and like all great startups, they knew what the future could look like before we did. They knew that labor marketplaces had a future not just in task-based enterprise work but in professional verticals. They knew that both lawyers and clients would benefit from a system which added price and quality transparency to the relationship. And they knew that independent lawyers needed a ‘virtual back office’ made of software to communicate and collaborate with their clients.
Now in 2015, UpCounsel is a thriving marketplace community where businesses can connect with rated and reviewed independent lawyers nationwide to have their legal needs met. What started out in one state is now increasingly nationwide. And to fuel that expansion we’re thrilled to participate in UpCounsel’s $10 million Series A financing led by Menlo Ventures, a firm with a strong focus on marketplace businesses. We’re looking forward to many more years of partnership with UpCounsel, and now Menlo, as UpCounsel continues to rethink the legal services market.
July 23, 2015
Do you become a VC when you raise your first fund, make your first investment or see your first exit? Until yesterday, Homebrew could claim progress in two of those three categories. Then Clementine announced its acquisition by Dropbox. Clementine represents not only our first exit, but also our very first investment from Homebrew I. The company was the result of a thesis we were pursuing in the enterprise communications market matching up with a uniquely qualified team. Two and a half years later, working out of the same office, we’ve built quite the relationship with Vinod, Samir and the entire team. As we tell our founders, whether things work out or not with this particular company, our hope is that we’ll be able to work with you for the next few decades. And that is certainly the case with the Clementine team. We couldn’t be happier for them and for Dropbox, which is getting a team and technology that will have a huge impact on its business. And we look forward to working with the team throughout the rest of their careers. Congratulations, Clementine!
June 18, 2015
The lifeblood of any small business is capital. Managing cash flow, working capital, credit and debt can be the difference between survival and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, for well over a decade, the number of banks providing small businesses with access to capital has been declining each year. In addition, since the financial crisis in 2008, regulatory changes, tighter lending standards and depressed collateral value, have made it even harder for businesses to access capital at fair interest rates, if at all. Democratizing access to fairly priced financing is not just good business, it’s an economic imperative. That’s why we’re proud to announce our investment in Bond Street, a company committed to being a financial advocate for small businesses.
WHO: Bond Street was founded by David Haber, CEO, and Peyton Sherwood, CTO. We’d known David through his work at Spark Capital and were impressed by his nuanced understanding of the lending market and how to disrupt it from within. Peyton previously led engineering at Venmo and was a VP at D.E. Shaw, giving him equally unique insight into the financial services industry. When we heard about the small business customer-centric approach that Bond Street was taking and how well it matched our Bottom Up Economy focus, it didn’t take long for us to commit to partnering with David and Peyton.
WHAT: Bond Street provides small businesses with simple, transparent and fair access to capital that can be used to fuel the growth of those businesses. Loans can range from $50,000 to $500,000, with one to three year terms and interest rates starting at 6%. Applications are filed digitally, lending decisions are made quickly and capital is available in just a few days.
HOW: Bond Street has built a technology platform that streamlines the loan application and automatically collects and monitors the data needed to efficiently and accurately make an underwriting decision. But the company’s technology is second to the promise being made to small businesses - simple access to fast, affordable financing to grow their businesses.
WHY: At Homebrew, we believe that technology has become so inexpensive, flexible and accessible that groups and industries that haven’t historically benefited from it, can finally reap its rewards. Bond Street exemplifies this belief perfectly. David and Peyton are using technology to execute their vision of reinventing financial services for small businesses. We are honored to be working with such a stellar team in partnership with the company’s newest supporters, Spark Capital and Jefferies.
June 18, 2015
Cleaning offices isn’t easy, but at Q, everyone cleans. And everyone gets the opportunity to earn a living wage, build a career and contribute meaningfully to the success of the business. It’s this commitment to culture, employees and clients that got us excited when we made our initial seed investment in Q last year. And it’s what has kept us excited as we participated in the company’s $15 million Series A financing, led by RRE Ventures, that Q is announcing today.
Q combines people, process and technology to deliver the operating system for physical office space. Via an iPad installed in your office, Q centralizes stellar office cleaning and other smart services to help office operations run smoothly. Hundreds of offices in New York, Chicago, and as of today, San Francisco, are using Q to clean and manage their offices efficiently and cost effectively.
We couldn’t be more excited about the business and the company that Dan, Saman and the Q team are building. And we’re happy to finally be both investors and customers with Q’s launch in San Francisco! Join us and have your office Managed by Q by signing up here.
June 15, 2015
It’s not #TBT but we’re going to take you back to simpler times: when AIM chat ruled online messaging. Remember setting your Green, Yellow, Red status to signal whether you were available, kinda busy or didn’t want to be disturbed? It made tons of sense to indicate your status while you were online but now that we’re always online (thanks to that smartphone in our pocket), shouldn’t we have just as simple a way to tell our friends where were are and if we’re available to hang? Yup. And that’s what Free cofounder Danny Trinh set out to build.
Danny is someone we’ve known for a long time via his innovative design work at Digg and Path. He’s a friend of Homebrew and we were excited when he offered us the chance to play a supporting role in the financing of his newest project, Free. We love the app. TechCrunch loves the app. You should download the app (iOS) and let us know when you’re Free to hang out.
June 15, 2015
Capital follows talent. So we knew when we started Homebrew that we’d be seeking out talent with the attitude and aptitude to build companies of consequence. When we find and invest in that talent, the entire team is typically no more than 2 to 4 people. Not surprisingly, one of the main areas we focus on with Homebrew partner companies is helping them grow their teams and talent base. That help involves working on many different aspects of the talent recruitment process. How to find the best candidates. Knowing the difference between a good and great engineer. The kinds of questions to ask a design candidate. Appropriate compensation for a product manager. Who to involve in making hiring decisions. What constitutes a great candidate experience. How to close a CTO candidate. And so much more.
We are firm believers that people choose companies; companies don’t choose people. Helping the founders we support understand the issues above is critical to their team building. But we wanted to be able to extend our support to anyone we know, helping him or her find the right opportunity, whether within the Homebrew portfolio or outside of it. How could we best utilize Homebrew’s time, resources and relationships to create value for the entrepreneurs we know and work with in the context of Talent? We recently came to an answer - find someone best-in-class to lead those efforts. And after a long and thorough search, we finally have. It’s with extreme pleasure that we announce the addition of Beth Scheer, Head of Talent, to the Homebrew team.
Beth joins us after a dozen years and hugely successful tenures at Salesforce and Google. She has led and done recruiting for every function within those companies, including Engineering, Sales and Leadership. And she has done so with the recognition that the candidate is as much her customer as is her employer. It’s that attitude, along with her world-class aptitude, that convinced us that Beth is the absolute perfect fit for Homebrew. At Homebrew, Beth will be working closely with our companies to help them establish their talent processes and to fill key positions. She’ll also be working with us to build critical infrastructure for managing our relationships and knowledge so that we can be helpful to anyone who seeks our counsel. Finally, she’ll be working to make information and best practices about the talent process more broadly available to all entrepreneurs inside and outside of the Homebrew family of companies.
We couldn’t be more excited to have Beth join our team. Beth is passionate about recruiting, mentoring, and sharing best practices. Don’t be shy about contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Beth, welcome to Homebrew!
April 21, 2015
Today it’s with extreme joy we welcome Kleiner Perkins to the Shyp team and John Doerr to the Shyp Board of Directors. So if you haven’t used Shyp yet, remember Mother’s Day is coming up so send her something special. If you’re in Los Angeles, sign up because Shyp is hitting SoCal very very soon. And of course, they’re hiring.
Kevin Gibbon and the team behind Shyp have made incredible progress in a short amount of time. Now launched in San Francisco, New York City and Miami, Shyp helps consumers and small businesses turn shipping from a time-consuming chore into something often described as “magical.” Whether you’re sending an urgent package to a client, or returning your most recent regretted ecommerce purchase, just Shyp it. Don’t worry about packing it, don’t worry about dropping it off. Take a picture, press a button and a Shyp Hero will be at your home or business to safely whisk away your treasures.
April 2, 2015
Connection to, or empathy for, the problem you’re solving is something we value greatly at Homebrew. While this isn’t always required to build an amazing company, we think the missionary zeal of founders can’t be underestimated when solving big tough problems. That’s why when Seth Sternberg first shared the idea for what would become Honor we were struck by the fact that it didn’t start with stats about market size or a reminder that he previously exited successfully to Google. Rather, it started with a personal story about his aging parents. Today we’re thrilled to share news of our investment in Honor, a company that is reinventing what’s currently considered to be “in-home care” for seniors.
WHO: We’ve known Honor CEO Seth Sternberg for a quite while, beginning when his prior startup, Meebo, was a fast growing company. Despite a successful acquisition by Google, Seth and team never lost their entrepreneurial fire. So when he got part of the Meebo team back together and combined them with some great talent from Google, we knew we wanted to back Honor.
WHAT: 90% of seniors want to ‘age in place’ - remain in their homes with familiar surroundings. To do this successfully at scale is going to require more technology and a different incentive structure than what incumbents have been employing.
HOW: As Honor details in its blog post, the company is building technology that helps caregivers, seniors and their families all communicate in a meaningful manner. Honor is focused on context, coordination, trust and simplicity. Honor’s dedication to getting a solution out in the field quickly is exemplified by its pilot in California’s Contra Costa County beginning this April.
WHY: At Homebrew we focus on founders solving large, urgent and valuable problems who also have the attitude and aptitude to solve the problem fully. Seth has told us that this is the company he wants to build and run for the rest of his life. Honor sits at the intersection of value and merit - it’s going to be a huge business and one we’re all proud to be associated with.
As an experienced founder with a healthy nine digit exit already notched, Seth had the opportunity to jump straight to an A round. When the first funding is of this size, our model only works if we’re still able to invest enough where a successful outcome can be meaningful for our fund. Seth was welcoming and we’re so very excited to join him, Andreessen Horowitz and a stellar group of angel investors in partnering with Honor.
March 31, 2015
Parents raise kids and they run businesses. They try to get to the gym, and get their kids to practice. They’re just trying to get it all done and sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day. They need brands and retailers that they can count on, not just for for value and convenience, but even for moments of joy. In few categories is the relationship between parents and brands more broken than in kid’s apparel. Kids apparel brands are typically at two far ends of the spectrum - either high fashion and expensive or ordinary and of poor quality. There is no kids apparel brand that delivers the combination of quality, value and delight. Say hello to Primary.
WHO: When the CEO of Diapers.com, one of the most successful ecommerce businesses of the past decade calls and says that you have to meet two of the stars on his management team, you clear your calendar. And Galyn Bernard and Christina Carbonell didn’t disappoint. As executives at Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com, Galyn and Christina built massive brands that delighted parents. But they’re also modern moms just trying to get things done. With Primary, they’re building a brand that they, and other parents, can love ─ with beautiful products, a clear focus on authenticity, a simple buying experience and extraordinary value. And they’re doing it in a way that rethinks the entire kids clothing experience from scratch.
WHAT: Beautiful, simple, everyday clothing that lets kids shine. That’s the core of Primary. But Primary goes beyond elevated basics at an extraordinary value by also providing a simple buying experience that is designed with the lives of busy parents in mind. Oh yeah, and every item is less than $25.
HOW: Ecommerce has moved far past mall store brands with inventory listed online. Brands are being built today that are delivering huge value to consumers by stripping out traditional marketing and distribution costs, by designing and manufacturing their own products and by providing consumers with the excellent value, great service, and brand integrity they want and need. But it’s something that hasn’t been done in kids’ apparel, until now. Primary is building the children’s clothing brand that all parents will love.
WHY: Galyn and Christina are both parents and New York-based entrepreneurs. They very personally saw the need for a kids brand with a strong, authentic relationship with parents. And they had the desire to build a company together that’s a reflection of what they want in a brand that parents like them could love. Gorgeous, high quality basics at affordable prices available via a clear, simple commerce experience with fast, reliable shipping. Seemingly simple, but incredibly powerful.
If you’re a parent, Primary is going to be your new best friend. Visit Primary and use Insider Code “SATYA” or “HUNTER” for free shipping, with no minimums, for an entire year.
February 20, 2015
High five! Now back to work. That was the sequence of events at HQ when we closed Homebrew Fund II earlier today.
Two years ago we spent 100 days raising Homebrew I, a $35 million seed fund. Since that time, we’ve partnered with 17 teams solving large, urgent and valuable problems in support of the Bottom Up Economy. Teams with both the attitude and aptitude to go the distance. Teams with long roadmaps in their heads but a near-term focus on doing one thing really well. With Homebrew II, a $50 million seed fund, we’ll continue to work with teams like these to help them build the companies they envision.
When we kicked off fundraising for Homebrew II, we had certain beliefs about how we wanted to approach the development of Homebrew and how that feeds into the fundraising process:
- Fundraising is about choosing the right long-term partners: Our primary question about any potential LP was always “would they be a great partner for us, and us for them?” For Fund II we have a wonderful base of institutional LPs representing university endowments, charitable foundations and funds of funds. We know that at the end of the day we’ll be evaluated on the returns we deliver to them. But to a person, we feel that they’re in our corner, supporting us and our strategy and rooting for us to succeed.
- Strategy first, capital second: We want to invest in hyper-growth companies, not be a hyper-growth fund. Homebrew is committed to being the partner of choice for early stage founders. We want to focus 100% of our attention on the first few years of company building. In this funding environment, for both companies and VCs, there’s a temptation to maximize how much capital you raise. We raised less than we could have, but as much as we wanted, given our strategy and approach. Homebrew II is a $50 million fund. It’s slightly larger than our first fund because we intend to deploy entry capital over a 30-36 month period, whereas we invested the initial fund in 24 months. Our sweet spot is, and will remain, playing a leadership role in first institutional financing rounds. That usually looks like a $500k-$1m check as part of a $1m-$3m fundraising. In addition to raising Homebrew II, we’ve also raised a $35 million fund called Moonshine. Moonshine allows us to extend our support, where appropriate, for Homebrew fund investments in future financings, primarily B rounds and beyond.
- Having money to invest doesn’t make us relevant: Talented entrepreneurs have more options than ever for funding. We never assume that just having money to invest makes us relevant or valuable to the founders we seek to back. Capital is necessary, but it’s insufficient. The ways in which we engage the teams who have chosen to partner with us, in combination with our own product roadmap, are what help us be relevant. With Fund II, we’ll continue to focus on Credibility in the marketplace, Community building amongst our partner companies and Counsel post investment.
- Best VCs are true partnerships, not just collections of partners: We don’t think of Homebrew as Satya’s investments + Hunter’s investments. It’s with 100% unanimity that we make investments, work with companies and stand behind every company we invest in. Our partnership translates directly to how we’ve structured our firm - equal economics, shared vision and definition of success, no bullshit. We’d proudly sign our names to any word written or action taken by each other and the fund.
- We have a lot of work to do: Our first two years have gone very well, but it’s laughably premature to clink any glasses. Seed stage venture capital investing is a long road - we do it because you love working with founders at this early stage. Our goal is to not just be successful (as measured by financial returns) but also impactful (as measured by our broader contributions to the community, not just where we have interests). Our fund name is a nod back to the Homebrew Computer Club of the 1970s. A time when the beginnings of the PC revolution found momentum in a group of enthusiasts and hobbyists. Today, with so much focus on innovation and disruption, we tend to only look ahead. But looking back to acknowledge and appreciate that we all stand on the shoulders of giants is just as important in the technology industry. We don’t want to walk away from Homebrew just having made money. We hope to build something lasting that we and our founders can all say we were proud to have been an important part of.
A new VC fund is kind of like a startup, just one that writes checks instead of code. Raising a first fund is a like a seed round, often built on reputation and potential. Second funds are like A Rounds – momentum with some early data. By the B round, startups need to have proven product/market fit. Similarly, our next fund, several years down the road, will be driven by having backed great teams and delivered great returns - not vanity metrics, not retweets, not personal brands. We feel incredibly fortunate to be working with founders who want us to be part of their success, and with LPs who believe we’re able stewards of their capital. Homebrew II is closed. Now, back to work.
February 3, 2015
Ever call your broadband provider to debug home wifi? Why does every service decision tree start with “Have you tried power cycling the modem?” Increasingly the modern household has numerous devices which rely on strong, consistent internet connectivity. First it was work productivity and entertainment - laptops, streaming music and video - but increasingly it’s our thermostats, kitchen appliances and security cameras. “Smart” devices can’t be smart if they’re offline.
That’s where eero comes in. An integrated hardware and software solution designed to blanket your home in wonderful ubiquitous connectivity. And when something isn’t working, making it simple to diagnose and fix from your smartphone, not from your hands and knees looking for the router. If that wasn’t enough to make you click PREORDER, they’re building a ton of cool enhancements to today’s home network. Want to create a simple username and password for one time access to your wifi so that the babysitter can get online? Done. Want to serve as remote Sys Admin for your parents? No problem. Just install eero at their house and monitor it from 1000 miles away.
We’re excited to play a supporting role in eero’s financing and are equally thrilled that they’ve announced their preorder today. Get yours here and enjoy constant connectivity with ease.
January 20, 2015
Here’s the scenario: a married couple is traveling for the next month and want to rent their home out. They’ve got a great property in Santa Barbara but with a baby on the way they don’t want to deal with managing the listing or ensuring the guest has a great experience (well, besides the local map they intend to share with their 10 favorite restaurants circled). On the other side of the country is a young man who, with his boyfriend, wants to stay in Santa Barbara for a month this summer while he’s working on an ad campaign. Corporate rentals are so uninspiring and a hotel is so impersonal, but can they rest easy knowing the home they rent will meet all their needs?
What will happen to our two young pairs? Will they ever connect? That answer might have been “no” until Pillow came along, bringing a new layer of hospitality and property management to the short-term rental industry.
WHO: Sean Conway and Justin Miller are no strangers to scaling local marketplaces. They grew their previous startup, Notehall, to 54 campuses before being acquired by Chegg. While recharging their entrepreneurial energies with some international travel, the pair encountered a problem with their own apartments and identified an opportunity they knew they wanted to address: making short-term property rental painless for owners and comfortable for guests. And so was born Pillow.
WHAT: Pillow is a modern, short-term property hospitality company. It offers property owners guaranteed income while managing their listing and handling all the cleaning, amenities and basic on-the-ground services. For guests, Pillow ensures an experience that combines the benefits of staying at a home full of personality with a standard of quality that lets them rest easy.
HOW: Pillow now operates in San Francisco and Los Angeles, with plans to move into other cities this year. In these core markets, Pillow has brought many homes that were previously not being rented on to the short-term rental market by delivering simple software and an income guarantee for owners. These properties give platforms like Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway exciting new listings for their customers. And when someone rents a Pillow-serviced property, they’re sure to have a clean, well-managed residence for their stay.
WHY: One theme core to Homebrew is our belief that the Bottom Up Economy creates new types of marketplaces, revenue streams and efficiencies. Pillow lives across all three - leveraging the growth of short-term rental marketplaces to create additional revenue streams for property owners and five star hospitality for guests.
We’re excited to have led Pillow’s seed round and to back the team creating the future of hospitality. If you’re a homeowner who wants to be powered by Pillow, check their site out here.
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