As college students at Berkeley, Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis developed a successful open source graphics program, GIMP, which caught the attention of Google. The duo eventually joined Google and even received personal praise from Sergey Brin and Larry Page. Kimball and Mattis quickly became known within the company and then decided to leave everything behind to start what would eventually become CockroachDB. Years later, Cockroach Labs has over 250 employees and has received total investments of more than $ 350 million from Benchmark, GV, Index Ventures, and Redpoint, according to Crunchbase. The company is now on its way to what some believe is an “inevitable IPO”.
The story of CockroachDB, from its origins to its future, was told in a four-part series in our latest EC-1:
I’m biased, but it’s required reading and tensions that any startup founder can relate to: from navigating tough competitors to crossing the free tiers to keeping your users’ attention. It’s the eighth EC-1 we’ve released so far. My colleague and TC Managing Editor Danny Crichton estimates we have 90,000 words about startup beginnings, product development, marketing and more.
For the remainder of this newsletter, we’ll cover the WeWork book, bite-sized entrepreneurship, and some SPACs. Follow me on Twitter @nmasc_. Or not, it’s your choice!
This week at Equity, Alex and I interviewed Eliot Brown, who co-wrote “The Cult of We” with Maureen Farrell. Our conversation revolved around some of the book’s eyebrow-raising details and anecdotes, but mostly focused on What The rise and fall of WeWork has impacted the state of startups and tech journalism in general.
Here’s what you should know: Not much has changed. Jokes aside, Brown shared his notes on how the current boom in startup funding has had a worrying atmosphere of frenzy and fluff. He also talked about how the most insightful question can sometimes be a simple one: what makes you a tech company?
More money, more problems?
TikTok what again?
TikTok kept popping up all week. Index Ventures, for example, found that the company’s TikTok account has an impressive following and is a channel to talk to the younger generation. Nothing beats a few short videos to stay hip and relatable while raising $ 3 billion in one go.
Here’s what you should know: While TikTok certainly changed the world, I worry when I see the appeal of bite-sized content turned upside down. Bite-sized content can be a nifty way to distribute content, but it’s not one size fits all. Duolingo, which went public this week, is still struggling to show meaningful learning outcomes and optimizes more for motivation than understanding. That tension is a major cue for companies like Numerade and Sololearn, both of whom raised this week so as not to overdo TikTok study materials.
More Edtech content for your eyes:
It’s been a while since I used this acronym in Startups Weekly. That said, special vehicles for procurement are still very popular and worth paying attention to.
Here’s what you should know: Lucid Motors’ SPAC merger has just been approved. Reporter Aria Alamalhodaei writes that the move came after executives extended the deadline to vote on the merger by one day after insufficient investors showed up. “The problem is unusual, but it could become more common as more companies avoid the traditional IPO path to public markets and instead merge with SPACs,” she writes.
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Over the week
Seen on TechCrunch
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Same time and place next week? Bring a friend!