Report: SoftBank is taking control of WeWork at an ~$8B valuation

WeWork, once valued at $47 billion, will be worth as little as $7.5 billion on paper as SoftBank takes control of the struggling co-working business, CNBC reports.

SoftBank, a long-time WeWork investor, plans to invest between $4 billion and $5 billion in exchange for new and existing shares, according to CNBC . The deal, expected to be announced as soon as tomorrow, represents a lifeline for WeWork, which is said to be mere weeks from running out of cash and has been shopping several of its assets as it attempts to lessen its cash burn.

WeWork declined to comment.

To be clear, it is reportedly the Vision Fund’s parent company, SoftBank Group Corp. that is taking control, with SoftBank International chief executive officer Marcelo Claure stepping into to support company management, per reports.

The Japanese telecom giant’s move comes precisely four weeks after co-founder and former CEO Adam Neumann relinquished control of the company and transitioned into a non-executive chairman role, and about three weeks after WeWork decided to delay its highly-anticipated initial public offering. WeWork’s vice chairman Sebastian Gunningham and the company’s president and chief operating officer Artie Minson are currently serving as WeWork’s co-CEOs.

In addition to those personnel shake-ups, WeWork has lost its communications chief, Jimmy Asci, its chief marketing officer Robin Daniels and several others. Meanwhile, the company has slashed hundreds of jobs, and opted to shut down its school, WeGrow, in 2020.

Now expected to go public in 2020, WeWork was also said to be in negotiations with JPMorgan for a last-minute cash infusion. The company, now a cautionary tale, will surely continue to reduce the sky-high costs of its money-losing operation in the upcoming months.

WeWork revealed an unusual IPO prospectus in August after raising more than $8 billion in equity and debt funding. Despite financials that showed losses of nearly $1 billion in the six months ending June 30, the company still managed to accumulate a valuation as high as $47 billion, largely as a result of Neumann’s fundraising abilities.

“As co-founder of WeWork, I am so proud of this team and the incredible company that we have built over the last decade,” Neumann said in a statement confirming his resignation last month. “Our global platform now spans 111 cities in 29 countries, serving more than 527,000 members each day. While our business has never been stronger, in recent weeks, the scrutiny directed toward me has become a significant distraction, and I have decided that it is in the best interest of the company to step down as chief executive. Thank you to my colleagues, our members, our landlord partners, and our investors for continuing to believe in this great business.”

Airbnb’s WeWork problem

Airbnb may be another overvalued “unicorn,” but it’s no WeWork.

The Information this morning reported new Airbnb financials — indicating a massive increase in operating losses — that immediately call Airbnb’s future into question. Precisely, Airbnb lost $306 million on operations on $839 million in revenue, namely as a result of marketing spend, in the first quarter of 2019. In total, Airbnb invested $367 million in sales and marketing, representing a 58% increase year-over-year, in Q1. The company is gearing up for a major liquidity event next year and is making a concerted effort to rake in new customers, as any soon-to-be-public business would.

Given WeWork’s sudden demise, coupled with Uber and Lyft’s lukewarm performances on the stock markets, many have wondered how Wall Street will respond to Airbnb’s eventual IPO prospectus. Will money managers have an appetite for another over-valued Silicon Valley darling? Or will the market compete like mad for shares in the massive home-sharing marketplace?

But Airbnb, again, is no WeWork, and I wager Wall Street will have a much friendlier approach to its offering. For one, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief executive officer Brian Chesky isn’t dropping $60 million on private jets — I don’t think. CEO behaviors aside, Airbnb has more capital in the bank than it has raised in its entire 11-year history, which is a whole lot of money. This is all according to a source who is familiar with Airbnb’s financials and shared this detail with TechCrunch following The Information’s Thursday morning report. As for Airbnb, the company told TechCrunch, “we can’t comment on the figures, but 2019 is a big investment year in support of our hosts and guests.”

Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky speaks at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2014

Airbnb has attracted more than $3.5 billion in equity funding at a $31 billion valuation and has even more locked away in its bank account. Additionally, Airbnb has an untouched $1 billion credit line, the source said. Presumably, the referenced credit line is the 2016 $1 billion debt financing from JPMorgan, CitiGroup, Morgan Stanley and others.

Moreover, Airbnb has been “cumulatively” free cash flow positive for some time, meaning that it’s seen more money coming in than going out during recent quarters, according to our source. It has been reported that Airbnb surpassed $1 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2019 and in the third quarter of 2018, but we’re guessing the business did not top $1 billion in Q4 of 2018 or Q1 of 2019 because it if had, that information would probably have been “leaked.”

Finally, Airbnb has been profitable on an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) basis for two consecutive years, the company announced in January. Gross bookings, meanwhile, are growing, as is Airbnb’s business offering and its experiences product.

Why does any of this matter, you ask?

Atlassian acquires Code Barrel, makers of Automation for Jira

Atlassian today announced that it has acquired Code Barrel, the makers of Automation for Jira, a low-code tool for easily automating many aspects of Jira that’s also one of the most popular add-ons for Jira Software and Jira Service Desk in Atlassian’s marketplace. The two companies did not disclose the price of the acquisition.

Sydney-based Code Barrel was founded by two of the first engineers who built Jira at Atlassian, Nick Menere and Andreas Knecht. With this acquisition, they are returning to Atlassian after four years in startup land.

“For me and Andreas, it’s almost like coming home,” said Menere, who joined the Jira team in 2005 when there were only a handful of developers working on the product. “It’s the place where we pretty much learned how to develop software and how to develop product. For us, this was the only company we would ever go back to.”

As the name implies, Automation for Jira makes it easy to automate recurring tasks in Atlassian’s issue and project tracking service. “Increasingly, [our customers] are having to spend a lot of time on the mundane,” Noah Wasmer, the VP of Product for Tech Teams at Atlassian, told me. “What we’re seeing is that with Jira as the backbone, they are interacting with a lot of systems, are duplicating work, are manually entering work into different systems. And so what we’re finding is that they’re spending an inordinate amount of time doing things that aren’t actually helping them build and create those next-generation things that help change our world.”

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If you want to reduce this kind of duplication of work, then automation is the obvious thing to look at. And with more than 6,000 companies that found Code Barrel’s solution in Atlassian’s marketplace, plus the founders’ obvious connection to the company, Automation for Jira must have been an obvious candidate for an acquisition.

Wasmer also stressed that the fact that they built a no-code tool will allow anybody who uses Jira to create scripts without having to be a programmer. Automation for Jira allows users to set up time-based rules or those that run based on triggers inside of Jira. It also features third-party integrations with SMS, Slack and Microsoft Teams, among others.

For the time being, Automation for Jira will remain in the Atlassian Marketplace and will continue to sell at the same price of $5/user/month for teams with up to 10 users and $2.5/user/month for teams between 11 and 100 users, with prices going down from there for larger enterprises. Surely, Atlassian will start integrating some of the tool’s features into Jira, but for the time being the company doesn’t have anything to announce on that front.

SoftBank reportedly preps a package to take control of WeWork parent company

SoftBank Group, the multi-billion dollar Japanese technology conglomerate and investment firm, has put together a  bid that would save WeWork parent company We Co., just weeks before the co-working real estate company’s imminent collapse, The Wall Street Journal reports.

With the collapse of the company’s planned initial public offering, We Co. is facing a cash crunch. The company was planning to raise billions of dollars in debt on the heels of its public offering to finance its continued operations.

The botched public offering already cost We Co. co-founder Adam Neumann his leadership position at the co-working rental business he co-founded roughly a decade ago. The new financing pitch that SoftBank has put together would further remove Neumann from the company’s operations and business, according to the WSJ’s reporting.

SoftBank’s pitch isn’t the only lifeline for We Co. According to the WSJ’s reporting there’s a plan in the works to raise billions of debt through a process being managed by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“WeWork has retained a major Wall Street financial institution to arrange a financing,” a spokesperson for We Co. wrote in an email. “Approximately 60 financing sources have signed confidentiality agreements and are meeting with the company’s management and its bankers over the course of this past week and this coming week.”

SoftBank already owns about one-third of the company and their bid for the business would involve billions in equity and debt.

The struggles at We Co. coupled with underperforming investments in publicly traded companies like Uber and Slack have damaged SoftBank just as the company was hoping to move forward with a second version of its ambitious Vision Fund, a $100 billion investment vehicle formed in 2017 to invest in ambitious startup companies.

The results have been lackluster. And it’s not just public companies like Slack and Uber that are dragging down the fund. Investments in direct to consumer companies like Brandless, or the robotic pizza delivery startup Zume have also failed to deliver — despite hundreds of millions in commitments from SoftBank.

SoftBank did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

Coding training and outsourcing service Catalyte launches a toolkit for corporate ‘up-skilling’

Catalyte, the Baltimore-based coding training and placement service, has launched a new software service designed to take its machine learning-based skills-assessment and training program to companies around the country.

With revenues already approaching nearly $100 million for its outsourced software development services, Catalyte is hoping to take the lessons and tools it has learned and developed over the course of its 18-year history as a staffing and training company for the tech industry and sell them to companies looking to retrain or provide additional skills development opportunities for their employees.

“Even if we were the largest employer in the world we still would not be able to move the needle on the labor economy,” says Catalyte’s chief executive, Jacob Hsu. 

He sees the company’s mission as providing a critical step for companies to identify the employees in their workforce with the skills to become coders and an opportunity for those employees to then receive the training they need to move into higher-paying roles as software eats into low-skilled, repetitive labor.

“We’re encouraging all of these employers to deploy these up-leveling skills,” Hsu says.

At Catalyte, the company’s success has hinged on practicing what it preaches (and what it’s now selling). Launched in 2000 as a staffing service in Baltimore called Catalyst Devworks by a former White House economist, Michael Rosenbaum, the company expanded to locations in Chicago and Portland and offers training and workforce development through contracted consulting projects with companies.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The company’s recruits come from anywhere and everywhere and hiring hinges on a skills test would-be employees have to perform that is monitored by software that tracks how test-takers respond to the company’s questions.

Once an applicant passes the test, they’re brought in for training and given a two-year contract during which time they’re put to work on development projects Catalyte has won from customers like Under Armor, Aetna, AT&T and Microsoft .

Catalyte’s developers are paid roughly $40,000 per year (less than half of what a developer typically makes) while they’re working under the two-year contract and are then allowed to seek employment outside of the company. Any employee that breaks the mandatory two-year contract is subject to a $25,000 penalty, according to a report in “Fast Company.” As they enter the third year, their contract with Catalyte gets renegotiated and employees who stay with the company can earn at least $75,000.

“We’re taking people from all walks of life,” says Hsu. “The average salary is $25,000 for people who have come in to the program… But within five years from working with the company, the average salary is $98,000.”

It’s this kind of narrative, and the company’s solid revenue, that attracted investors like Steve Case, who’s backing Catalyte through his $150 million Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

In 2018, Catalyte raised roughly $27 million in a round of funding from Palm Drive Capital, Cross Culture Ventures, Expon Capital and the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.

The relatively novel approach to training and hiring (with some of the company’s recruits even coming in through Craigslist ads that pitch getting paid for learning to code) has netted Catalyte some impressive statistics when it comes to the diversity of its workforce — another important criteria for Case’s Rise of the Rest fund.

“When you use this approach to hiring [in a city]… you end up with a workforce that’s similar to the demographics of a city,” says Hsu.

In Baltimore, the company’s workforce is about 29% African American and 30% of the developers are women. The average age of a programmer in the company’s workforce is 33 years old and education levels range from about one quarter with only a college degree to college-educated candidates. 

Catalyte’s growth over the past three years has been nothing short of explosive. The company went from 50 employees in 2016 to around 800 people on staff now.

That staff is critical not just to the company’s current business model, but also served as a training tool for the machine learning and assessment tools that Catalyte is now trying to sell. “We spent over a decade collecting outcome data from engineering projects,” says Hsu. And that data was what was used to create the company’s metrics for whether or not a candidate for a programming job at the company would be successful.

The company intends to bring its assessment tool to market in the fourth quarter, but on the back of its recent fundraising, Catalyte has been ramping up its research and development activities. It wants to begin putting together a curriculum around cybersecurity and site reliability engineers. The software will cost roughly $1,000 per seat for every employee that receives its training regime.

“One of the fundamental ways our economy is going to both remain competitive on the international level and expand opportunities to more Americans is by changing the way we identify talent,” said Case in a statement discussing Catalyte’s financing last year. “Catalyte proved to us that not only can it bring new and underrepresented groups into the fold, it can do so while helping its own clients grow.”

While the company is growing its product pipeline, it also intends to expand the number of development and training centers it operates. The plan, according to an interview Hsu gave to the local technology news site Technically Baltimore in February, is to have 20 development centers around the country by 2020.

Nigeria’s CcHub acquires Kenya’s iHub to create mega Africa incubator

Two of Africa’s powerhouse tech incubators will join forces. Nigerian innovation center and seed-fund CcHub has acquired Nairobi based iHub — CcHub CEO Bosun Tijani confirmed to TechCrunch.

The purchase amount is undisclosed, but Tijani said CcHub will finance the deal out of its real-estate project to build a new 10 story innovation center to replace its Herbert Macaulay Way building in Lagos.

Details are emerging on how the two entities will operate together, but Tijani noted some degree of autonomy.

“The names will stay the same…iHub will remain iHub…it is a strong brand…but iHub will be supported from the central CcHub, which will help them strengthen what they do,” he said.

Per the acquisition, Tijani becomes CEO of both organizations, while Nekesa Were continues as iHub Managing Director. iHub’s existing programs will remain, according to Tijani, but CcHub will extend some of its existing activities in education, healthcare, and governance to Kenya.

CcHub will also use the iHub addition to expand its investment scope. “We’ll now have access to pipeline in Nigeria, Kenya, and Rwanda,” he said.

CcHub CEO Bosun Tijani

Tijani views the arrangement as a boost to the continent’s tech ecosystem. “It strengthens our ability to support innovation. iHub and CcHub…coming together makes us stronger; it gives us a chance to attract greater resources and talent,” he said.

The acquisition joins two of the Africa’s most recognized tech hubs. These innovation spaces, accelerators, and incubators—which tally 618 per GSMA stats—have become focal points for startup formation, training, and IT activity on the continent.

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There aren’t official rankings for Africa’s most powerful tech hubs, but if there were, CcHub and iHub would arguably be up top. This would be based on the size of their membership networks, volume of tech related programs, startups incubated, partnerships, and global visibility.

Founded in 2011 in Lagos’ tech-synonymous Yaba suburb, the Co-Creation Hub has grown into a multi-faceted innovation center. The organization manages digital skills programs for entrepreneurs and school kids, startup incubation, and a portfolio of investments through its Growth Capital Fund.

CcHub is considered a go-to spot for any tech related visit to Nigeria. It was Mark Zuckerberg’s first public stop on his 2016 Africa trip. While leaving a CcHub event in 2018, I noticed the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo, and his entourage packing into the elevator.

CcHub ZuckerbergTijani and team have mastered gaining partnerships with big global tech names. When Facebook launched its tech space in Nigeria—NG_Hub—CcHub was named lead partner. Google for Startups sponsored CcHub’s Pitch Drive, an African startup tour to Europe and Asia. CcHub also collaborated with the Government of Rwanda this year to open its Design Lab in Kigali, focused on innovating impact solutions in health, education, and governance.

The Design Lab launch extended CcHub’s West Africa reach further east and closer to iHub. The innovation center was co-founded by Erik Hersman in 2010 out of what he saw as a need in Africa’s emerging tech scene “for…creating community spaces…in major cities [for] young entrepreneurs. The nexus point for technologists, investors, [and] tech companies.”

iHub became that central spot in East Africa. Along with M-Pesa mobile-money and a vibrant startup scene, it is one of the pillars that inspired Kenya’s Silicon Savannah moniker.

iHub is also widely seen as giving rise to the Africa’s innovation center movement that inspired the upsurge in tech hubs across the continent.

IHub Kenya PeopleSince 2010, 170  companies have formed out of iHub. It has 16,000 members and has played host to most major visitors to Kenya’s tech scene. After seeing CcHub in Nigeria in 2016, Zuck then headed to Kenya and toured iHub.

There’ll be plenty for continuing coverage on how these two prominent African incubators settle into becoming one big Africa mega-hub. That includes the sustainability question and what this all means to the continent’s tech scene.

At a high level, for now, the CcHub-iHub union creates a direct innovation link between two of Africa’s most active markets for VC and startup formation—Nigeria and Kenya.

In the past, both countries’ techies have shared a healthy rivalry. That could now turn to more  collaborations, as CcHub’s acquisition connects East and West in African tech.

 

 

 

Your guide to WeWork’s CEO shuffle

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week Kate and Alex were back at TechCrunch’s San Francisco HQ to huddle over the weeks’ biggest news story: WeWork’s infamous CEO exiting his role. Adam Neumann is now merely the non-executive chairman of The We Company, a firm that he helped found and led the public story for over the last half-decade.

His exit comes after a number of revelations made his tenure at the highly-valued WeWork appear chaotic and self-dealing. After WeWork’s valuation tumbled as it raced towards a financially-critical IPO, something had to give. The firm tried to ameliorate investors with changes (read: improvements) to its corporate governance but that wasn’t enough. Snakes don’t rot from the tail, and WeWork needed new leadership, which it got the form of co-CEOs.

WeWork is now led by Sebastian Gunningham and Artie Minson, seasoned executives with stints at Amazon and Time Warner Cable, respectively. They’ve been charged with leading the company into an era of maturity, cost-cutting and maybe even profitability! But probably not. Anyway, we think there are a whole lot of parallels to draw between Uber and WeWork, as we’ve made clear in the past.

Kate and Alex also touched on corporate governance, especially regarding super-voting stock. The TL;DR: private company boards look and operate much differently than public company boards. More often than not, startup boards are made up of venture capitalists focused on protecting their equity and future returns. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, folks.

Wapping, it seems likely that WeWork will look to secure new cash in the short-term as it buttons up its business, divests or kills off non-performing assets (remember this?), and looks to temper both its growth-rate and losses. If that will be enough to allow the company to float in 2020 (2019 seems unlikely) isn’t clear.

Icarus.

We’re back Friday morning with our regular episode and a guest. Stay tuned!

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify, and all the casts.

Remagine secures $35M fund backed by media giants to focus on entertainment and media tech

Remagine Ventures is a relatively new European VC fund which focuses on investments in entertainment tech, including AI, gaming, sports & eSports, AR/VR, consumer and commerce. It’s now completed $35 million in funding from a number of entertainment and media corporations, including Axel Springer and ProsiebenSat1, Japanese Adways and American Liontree LLC. Last year global media group Sky put $4 million into the fund as part of the launch of its new innovation office in Berlin.

To date, the fund has invested in six entertainment start-ups, including: Minute Media, a user-generated content platform for sports, Syte.ai a visual search startup, Novos, a gamer training platform, HourOne, which operates in the world of synthetic media, Vault-ai.com, predictive analytics for film and television and Madskil, an eSports company in stealth.

Started by investor/entrepreneurs Kevin Baxpehler and Eze Vidra, Remagine focuses on early-stage (seed and pre-seed) investments in Israel and UK, with synergies between the two territories.
Traditionally, Israel has been better know for it’s ‘deep tech’capabilities but there’s a growing ecosystem of entertainment tech and consumer startups looking to disrupt traditional traditional industries.

Vidra established Campus London, Google’s first physical hubs for startups and later expanded the Campus model internationally. He was also a general partner Google Ventures (GV), the company’s investment arm in Europe.

Baxpehler, is a former entrepreneur and investment banker from in Germany. He most recently led the investment activity of German entertainment giant ProSiebenSat.1 in Israel, investing in Dynamic Yield (which recently sold for $300 million to McDonalds) and Magisto, which was acquired by Vimeo for $200 million.

Vidra said: “We operate in a relatively new market in the Israeli ecosystem. The Entertainment-tech sector has tremendous momentum, and Israeli founders are expanding at a rapid pace in this world and we recognize huge potential in it.” Baxpehler added: “Eze and I have experience in the investment world, the entrepreneurial world and the corporate world. We want to meet startups very early, to accompany and guide them even before investing.”

Startups Weekly: Part & Parcel plans plus-sized fashion empire

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about Stripe’s grand plans. Before that, I noted Peloton’s secret weapons

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

Startup spotlight

The best companies are built by people who have personally experienced the problem they’re attempting to solve. Lauren Jonas, the founder and chief executive officer of Part & Parcel, is intimately familiar with the struggles faced by the women she’s building for.

San Francisco-based Part & Parcel is a plus-sized clothing and shoe startup providing dimensional sizing to women across the U.S. The company operates a bit differently than your standard direct-to-consumer business by seeking to include the women who wear and evangelize the Part & Parcel designs by giving them a cut of their sales.

Here’s how it works: Ambassadors sign up to receive signature styles from Part & Parcel, which they then share and sell to women in their network. Ultimately, the sellers are eligible to receive up to 30% of the profit per sale. The out-of-the-box model, which might remind you somewhat of Mary Kay or Tupperware’s business strategy, is meant to encourage a sense of community and usher in a new era in which plus-sized women can facilitate other plus-sized women’s access to great clothes. 

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“I bought a brown men’s polyester suit and wore it to an interview,” Jonas, an early employee at Poshmark and the long-time author of the popular blog, ‘The Pear Shape,’ tells TechCrunch. “I was that kid wearing a men’s suit.”

Clothing tailored to plus-sized women has long been missing from the retail market. Increasingly, however, new brands are building thriving businesses by catering precisely to the historically forgotten demographic. Dia&Co., for example, raised another $70 million in venture capital funding last fall from Sequoia and USV. And Walmart recently acquired another brand in the space, ELOQUII, for an undisclosed amount. Part & Parcel, for its part, has raised $4 million in seed funding in a round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew.

The startup launched earlier this year in Anchorage, “a clothing desert,” and has since grown its network to include women in several other underserved markets. Given her own history struggling to find a fitted woman’s suit, Jonas launched her line with structured pieces, including suits and blouses — though the startup’s biggest success yet, she says, has been its boots, which come in three different calf width options.

“Seventy percent of women in this country are plus-sized,” Jonas said. “I’m bringing plus out of the dark corner of the department store.”

This week in VC

sex tech 1

Image: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Must read

TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey published a highly anticipated deep dive on the state of sex tech this week. The piece provides new data on funding in sex tech and wellness companies, analysis on sex tech startup’s battle for public advertising and responses from industry leaders on how we can destigmatize sex with technology. Here’s a short passage from the story:

Cindy Gallop sees a market opportunity in every type of business obstacle she encounters. That’s why All The Sky will also seek to invest in startups that tackle the infrastructural tools needed to fuel sextech, like payments, hosting providers and e-commerce sites.

“I want to fund the sextech ecosystem to maintain and sustain a portfolio for All the Skies, to create a bloody huge sextech ecosystem and three, to monopolistically build out the ecosystem to be a multi-trillion-dollar market,” Gallop says.

On my radar

I swung by Contrary Capital‘s Demo Day this week, in which a number of startups gave a 4- to 5-minute pitch. Next on my list is Alchemist‘s Demo Day in Menlo Park. The accelerator welcomes enterprise startups for a six-month program focused on early customer adoption, company development and mentorship.

Also on my radar is Females To The Front. The event began this week in Palm Springs and if I were based in SoCal, I would have swung by. Led by Amy Margolis, the event is said to be the largest gathering of female cannabis founders and funders to date. Here’s how the group describes the event: “Females to the Front Retreat will mix immersive and hands-on workshops, pitch training, investment deck preparation and business skill set education with investor meetings and plenty of shared meals, pool time, yoga, connections, rest and rejuvenation. Every workshop is built to directly engage attendees instead of powerpoint and panels. Be prepared to return home inspired, engaged and with so many more tools in your toolbox.”

For the record, I don’t advertise events in my newsletter just wanted to give props to this one because it’s a great development for the cannabis tech ecosystem.

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Time to Disrupt

We are just weeks away from our flagship conference, TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. We have dozens of amazing speakers lined up. In addition to taking in the great line-up of speakers, ticket holders can roam around Startup Alley to catch the more than 1,000 companies showcasing their products and technologies. And, of course, you’ll get the opportunity to watch the Startup Battlefield competition live. Past competitors include Dropbox, Cloudflare and Mint… You never know which future unicorn will compete next.

You can take a look at the full agenda here. And if you still need convincing, here’s five reasons to attend this year’s conference from our COO himself.

And finally… #EquityPod

This week, the lovely Alex Wilhelm, editor-in-chief of Crunchbase News, and I gathered to discuss a number of topics including WeWork’s IPO and Uber’s attempts to bypass a new law meant to protect gig workers. Listen here.

SAP covers hot topics at TechCrunch’s Sept. 5 Enterprise show in SF

You can’t talk enterprise software without talking SAP, one of the giants in a $500 billion industry. And not only will SAP’s CEO Bill McDermott share insights at TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019 on September 5, but the company will also sponsor two breakout sessions.

The editors will sit down with McDermott and talk about SAP’s quick growth due, in part, to several $1B+ acquisitions. We’re also curious to hear about his approach to acquisitions and his strategy for growing the company in a quickly changing market. No doubt he’ll weigh in on the state of enterprise software in general, too.

Now about those breakout sessions. They run in parallel to our Main Stage set and we have a total of two do-not-miss presentations for you to enjoy. On September 5, you’ll enjoy 3 breakout sessions – 2 from SAP and one from Pricefx. You can check out the agenda for TC Sessions: Enterprise, but we want to shine the light on the sponsored sessions to give you a sense of the quality content you can expect.

  • Innovating for a Super-Human Future 
    Martin Wezowski (SAP)
    We talk about change, but what are the mechanics and the dynamics behind it? And how fast is it? The noted futurist will discuss what it means to be an innovator is transforming faster than before, and this transformation is deeply rooted in the challenges and promises between cutting edge tech and humanism. The symbiosis between human creativity & empathy and machine intelligence opens new worlds for our imagination in a time when “now” has never been so temporary, and helps us answer the question: “What is human, and what is work in a superhuman future?” (Sponsored by SAP)
  • Pricing From Day One
    Madhavan Ramanujam (Simon Kucher and Partners, Gabriel Smith) and Darius Jakubik (Pricefx) A key ingredient distinguishing top performing companies is clear focus on price. To maximize revenue and profits, pricing should be a C level / boardroom consideration. To optimize pricing, you should think about price when determining which products and features to bring to market; put the people, process and technology in place to optimize it; and maintain flexibility to adjust strategy and tactics to respond to changing markets. By doing so, companies unlock the single greatest profit lever that exists. (Sponsored by Pricefx)
  • Cracking the Code: From Startup to Scaleup in Enterprise Software 
    Ram Jambunathan (SAP.iO), Lonnie Rae Kurlander (Medal), Caitlin MacGregor (Plum) and Dimitri Sirota (BigID) The startup journey is hard. Data shows that 70% of upstart tech companies fail, while only 1% of these startups will go on to gain unicorn status. Success in enterprise software often requires deep industry experience, strong networks, brutally efficient execution, and a bit of luck. This panel brings together three successful SAP.iO Fund-backed enterprise startups for an open discussion on lessons learned, challenges of scaling, and why the right strategic investors or partners can be beneficial even at early-stages. (Sponsored by SAP)

TC Sessions: Enterprise 2019 takes place in San Francisco on September 5. It’s a jam-packed day (agenda here) filled with interviews, panel discussions and breakouts — from some of the top minds in enterprise software. Buy your ticket today and remember: you receive a free Expo-only pass to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2019 for every ticket you buy.