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Backstage Capital cuts majority of staff after pausing net new investments

Backstage Capital has downsized its staff from 12 to three people, managing partner and founder Arlan Hamilton said during her “Your First Million” podcast that was published Sunday. The layoff comes nearly three months after Backstage Capital narrowed its investment strategy to only participate in follow-on rounds of existing portfolios. This workforce reduction further underscores that the venture capital firm is struggling to grow, both externally and internally. “It’s not that I feel like there’s any sort of failure on the fund side, on the firm’s side, on Backstage’s side, it’s that this could have been avoided if systems were different if the system we work within were different,” Hamilton said during the podcast. Hamilton did not respond to TechCrunch’s request via email for further comment. Backstage announced in March it was pivoting to fund only existing portfolio companies and would no longer make new investments. At the time, Hamilton said that “there will be peopl

Web3 artist Latashá on educating creators about crypto’s ebbs and flows

Despite all the controversy surrounding the crypto world, one obvious bright spot of blockchain technology has been its ability to support creators and artists in monetizing their work. Rapper and visual artist Latashá , our guest on the latest episode of the Chain Reaction podcast, is a living embodiment of web3’s potential to support independent artists. She minted and successfully sold her first NFT in 2021 of a music video she had made — her first foray into the web3 world. Since then, she’s sold NFTs of her work for tens of thousands of dollars and has become a highly visible advocate for artists to leverage web3 technology. She serves as head of community at NFT marketplace Zora, through which she has hosted her signature event, Zoratopia, all over the country to educate artists interested in getting into the space. You can listen to the full episode below: For artists, the value proposition of minting NFTs is “just like putting things up in an art gallery,” Latashá said. “

Why LFP batteries are poised to bring down entry-level EV prices

An older, cheaper and safer battery technology already dominating China’s electric vehicle industry is now poised to reshape battery manufacturing worldwide and boost EV sales in the United States — if the global lithium supply remains stable. A slew of patents for lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) chemistries due to expire in 2022 could shift the face of battery production in the U.S. and Europe. China has owned the market for nearly a decade due to an agreement with patent holders — a consortium of universities in the U.S. and Canada — that let Chinese manufacturers use them to supply local markets. Meanwhile, manufacturers outside China have focused on developing other lithium-ion chemistries to power their EVs because their higher energy density translates into longer range on the road. LFP already comprises 17% of the global EV market and represents a potential path for the mass market, according to the AlixPartners 2022 Global Automotive Outlook released Wednesday. That’s because

Fintech investors appear to be favoring later-stage deals as sector takes a hit, recent data shows

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Welcome to The Interchange! If you received this in your inbox, thank you for signing up and your vote of confidence. If you’re reading this as a post on our site, sign up here so you can receive it directly in the future. Every week, I’ll take a look at the hottest fintech news of the previous week. This will include everything from funding rounds to trends to an analysis of a particular space to hot takes on a particular company or phenomenon. There’s a lot of fintech news out there and it’s my job to stay on top of it — and make sense of it — so you can stay in the know. Let’s goooo! — Mary Ann I was mostly off this past week, so this edition of The Interchange may be slightly less dense than normal. Some observations, though. We saw fewer layoffs, but also less fintech-related news in general. Things were generally pretty quiet and not filled with as much controversy as weeks past. Honestly, we’re really eager for this quarter to end so we can drill down into the numbers to see j

Red Sox CTO: Baseball teams need modern tech stack as much as any other biz

You know a modern Major League Baseball team like the Boston Red Sox is built on a steady diet of data and analytics — this is true on the field just as much as in the front office. While the main focus of a professional baseball club is building a competitive team that takes advantage of the unique talents of each player, when you get down to it, the Red Sox are no different from most businesses when it comes to their tech stack. They make choices about sales and marketing tools, data storage, analyst dashboards — everything any company needs to run a business these days. The Red Sox, like many companies, are part of a larger corporate entity — in this case, the Fenway Sports Group — so they need to understand when and how to share tech with other members of the corporate family when it makes sense. There’s another wrinkle that most businesses don’t have to take into consideration: The Red Sox are also a part of Major League Baseball, which has its own technology priorities that i

What do you call the opposite of the startup halo effect?

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Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here. Just as one company’s success shouldn’t cast a halo on its vertical’s brethren, one company’s layoffs don’t quite mean that its competitors are equally screwed. Instead, I think that changes within a particular startup can be used as benchmark questions for their larger market; in other words, we can use the micro to better understand the macro. With that in mind, I want to talk about MasterClass’ decision to lay off 20% of its staff, around 120 people, across all teams. The workforce reduction, per CEO David Rogier on Twitter, was made “to adapt to the worsening macro environment and get to self-sustainability faster.” Put differently, the company — which sells subscriptions to celebrity-taught classes — is in search of operating discipline and needs to cut staff in order to get there The layoffs place a spotlight on the premise behind MasterClass

What’s the ‘secret sauce’ behind Croatian EV maker Rimac?

Rimac Group made headlines in June after it raised €500 million ($537 million) in a Series D round led by Goldman Sachs and SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The deal valued the Croatian startup at $2.2 billion, prompting the question: How has this company succeeded where so many other EV makers have struggled? Rimac, which merged its hypercar division with French supercar maker Bugatti in November, has taken a two-pronged approach the industry has not seen before: It’s continuing to make hypercars as Bugatti Rimac while using the knowledge gleaned from that process to develop technology to supply other automakers through its Rimac Technology subsidiary. Its client list includes Porsche, a four-time investor that now holds a 20% stake in the company. Founded in 2009 in the garage of Mate Rimac, then a 21-year-old student, the company has become a Croatian sensation, one of two unicorns in the country, alongside Infobip, an IT and telecommunications business. “I view their secret sauce as t

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