Essential lays off nearly one-third of its staff

Layoffs are never an easy pill to swallow, but for Essential, it seems the writing was on the wall for a while with this one. After months of reports highlighting its struggles, the Andy Rubin-led smartphone startup has announced some major layoffs. All told, the company will be losing around 30 percent of its staff. […]

Layoffs are never an easy pill to swallow, but for Essential, it seems the writing was on the wall for a while with this one. After months of reports highlighting its struggles, the Andy Rubin-led smartphone startup has announced some major layoffs.

All told, the company will be losing around 30 percent of its staff.

We’ve since confirmed the news, which was initially noted by Bloomberg. “This has been a difficult decision to make,” a spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch. “We are very sorry for the impact on our colleagues who are leaving the company and are doing everything we can to help them with their future careers. We are confident that our sharpened product focus will help us deliver a truly game changing consumer product.”

The note strikes a similarly hopeful tone as past responses offered up in the wake of ongoing reports. Certainly the company went out of its way to acknowledge precisely how difficult it would be to launch a successful Android startup from the ground up in 2018. Ditto for the company’s plans to launch a smart speaker to compete with the Echo and Google Home — though that device has reportedly been placed on the back burner as the company looks for a way forward.

It’s been over a year since the company launched its first handset. That device got off to a rocky start, according to analysts, and in the meantime, the company has been fairly quiet on the hardware front, aside from a couple of accessories and a handful of deep discounts on the phone.

Hardware is hard — even when you’ve got the talent and experience to back it up.

Bird hires Uber’s former head of finance and director of corporate development

Bird, the scooter-sharing startup founded by former Uber VP of International Growth Travis VanderZanden, has brought a couple of former Uber employees to the flock. Joining Bird as VP and Head of Finance is Dennis Cinelli, who worked as Uber’s head of finance for global rides up until this month, according to his LinkedIn. Uber, […]

Bird, the scooter-sharing startup founded by former Uber VP of International Growth Travis VanderZanden, has brought a couple of former Uber employees to the flock.

Joining Bird as VP and Head of Finance is Dennis Cinelli, who worked as Uber’s head of finance for global rides up until this month, according to his LinkedIn. Uber, of course, is not without a financial leader. In August, Uber’s lengthy search for a chief financial officer ended when the company hired Nelson Chai, the former CEO of insurance and warranty provider Warranty Group. Bird has also brought on Uber’s now-former director of corporate development Yibo Ling, who also worked at Uber up until this month, according to Ling’s LinkedIn.

“As Bird enters its second year, we’re continuing to expand our talented executive team to build on and scale our momentum,” Bird founder and CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a press release. “Dennis and Yibo both bring valuable experience expanding markets and I look forward to working with them closely as we continue on our mission.”

Last month, Bird hit 10 million rides after about one year of operating. Earlier this month, Bird unveiled custom electric scooters and a delivery service for people to be able to rent scooters for a full day.

Sarah Friar, long the CFO of Square, is leaving to join the social network Nextdoor as its CEO

Square’s CFO Sarah Friar is stepping down to become the CEO of Nextdoor, according to the payment company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey. In a statement issued a bit ago, he says of Friar that she “steered us through an IPO and helped build a growing ecosystem of businesses that will scale into the future.” Friar “leaves […]

Square’s CFO Sarah Friar is stepping down to become the CEO of Nextdoor, according to the payment company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey.

In a statement issued a bit ago, he says of Friar that she “steered us through an IPO and helped build a growing ecosystem of businesses that will scale into the future.” Friar “leaves us having established a culture of entrepreneurship and discipline across the entire company. She has been an amazing leader, partner, and friend, and we are grateful for all she’s done for Square.”

Nextdoor has since released its own statement about Friar, who will assume the position in December. Quoting the company’s co-founder and outgoing CEO Nirav Tolia, the statement reads: “Sarah is one of the most highly regarded executives in Silicon Valley with an exceptionally rare mix of proven business skills, and authentic heart and soul. . . From the very beginning of our CEO search, she has been the top choice, and the board of directors and I feel exceptionally fortunate and excited for her to lead Nextdoor moving forward.”

The hire looks like a smart move by Nextdoor, the fast-growing social network that centers around neighborhoods and which, three months ago, announced that Tolia planned to step aside as soon as he found the right person to take Nextdoor “to the next level.”

At the time, Tolia had said in an email to employees that the role of CEO needed to evolve as the company evolves. He also said then that he will remain the company’s board chairman.

San Francisco-based Nextdoor has raised $285 million from investors over its eight-plus years, including from Insight Venture Partners, Benchmark, Shasta Ventures, Tiger Global Management and Kleiner Perkins. The company has soared into unicorn terrain, but it also seemingly needs to generate more revenue before it can be taken public. Toward that end, it began offering paid real estate listings roughly one year ago. The company also sells targeted ads.

Friar, often described as Dorsey’s right-hand woman at Square, grew up in Northern Ireland, the daughter of farmers. She was the first in her family to go to university, studying engineering at Oxford.

After graduating, she joined McKinsey as a business analyst in London, then Johannesburg, before moving to California in 1998 to nab an MBA at Stanford. Friar went on to spend a decade with Goldman Sachs in Silicon Valley, leaving the powerhouse bank as a managing director before spending a year with Salesforce as an SVP, then joining Square in 2012.

In addition to her work with Square, Friar sits on the boards of two powerful companies: Slack and Walmart.

Shares of Square have fallen in after-hours trading on the news.

Shasta Ventures is doubling down on security startups with 3 new hires

Shasta has hired former Symantec GM Balaji Yelamanchili, former Salesforce CISO Izak Mutlu and longtime enterprise software exec Drew Harman to focus on security.

Early-stage venture capital firm Shasta Ventures has brought on three new faces to beef up its enterprise software and security portfolio amid a big push to “go deeper” into cybersecurity, per Shasta’s managing director Doug Pepper.

Balaji Yelamanchili (above left), the former general manager and executive vice president of Symantec’s enterprise security business unit, joins as a venture partner on the firm’s enterprise software team. He was previously a senior vice president at Oracle and Dell EMC. Pepper says Yelamanchili will be sourcing investments and may take board seats in “certain cases.”

The firm has also tapped Salesforce’s former chief information security officer Izak Mutlu (above center) as an executive-in-residence, a role in which he’ll advise Shasta portfolio companies. Mutlu spent 11 years at the cloud computing company managing IT security and compliance.

InterWest board partner Drew Harman, the final new hire, has joined as a board partner and will work closely with the chief executive officers of Shasta’s startups. Harman has worked in enterprise software for 25 years across a number of roles. He is currently on the boards of the cloud-based monetization platform Aria, enterprise content marketing startup NewsCred, customer retention software provider Totango and others.

There’s no area today that’s more important than cybersecurity,” Pepper told TechCrunch. “The business of venture has gotten increasingly competitive and it demands more focus than ever before. We aren’t looking for generalists, we are looking for domain experts.”

Shasta’s security investments include email authentication service Valimail, which raised a $25 million Series B in May. Airspace Systems, a startup that built “kinetic capture” technologies that can identify offending unmanned aircrafts and take them down, raised a $20 million round with participation from Shasta in March. And four-year-old Stealth Security, a startup that defends companies from automated bot attacks, secured an $8 million investment from Shasta in February.

The Menlo Park-based firm filed to raise $300 million for its fifth flagship VC fund in 2016. A year later, it announced a specialty vehicle geared toward augmented and virtual reality app development. With more than $1 billion under management, the firm also backs consumer, IoT, robotics and space-tech companies across the U.S.

In the last year, Shasta has promoted Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Nitin Chopra and Jacob Mullins from associate to partner, as well as added two new associates, Natalie Sandman and Rachel Star.

Facebook poaches leaders of Refdash interview prep to work on Jobs

Facebook just snatched some talent to fuel its invasion of LinkedIn’s turf. A source tells TechCrunch that members of coding interview practice startup Refdash including at least some of its executives have been hired by Facebook. The social network confirmed to TechCrunch that members of Refdash’s leadership team are joining to work on Facebook’s Jobs […]

Facebook just snatched some talent to fuel its invasion of LinkedIn’s turf. A source tells TechCrunch that members of coding interview practice startup Refdash including at least some of its executives have been hired by Facebook. The social network confirmed to TechCrunch that members of Refdash’s leadership team are joining to work on Facebook’s Jobs feature that lets business promote employment openings that users can instantly apply for.

Facebook’s big opportunity here is that it’s a place people already browse naturally, so they can be exposed to Job listings even when they’re not actively looking for a company or career change. Since launching the feature in early 2017, Facebook has focused on blue-collar jobs like service and retail industry jobs that constantly need filling. But the Refdash team could give it more experience in recruiting for technical roles, connecting high-skilled workers like computer programmers to positions that need filling. These hirers might be willing to pay high prices to advertise their job listings on Facebook, siphoning revenue away from LinkedIn.

Facebook confirms that this is not an acquisition or technically a full acquihire, as there’s no overarching deal to buy assets or talent as a package. It’s so far unclear what exactly will happen to Refdash now that its team members are starting at Facebook this week, though it’s possible it will shut down now that its leaders have left for the tech giant’s cushy campuses and premium perks. Refdash’s website now says that “We’ve temporarily suspended interviews in order to make product changes that we believe will make your job search experience significantly better.”

Founded in 2016 in Mountain View with an undisclosed amount of funding from Founder Friendly Labs, Refdash gave programmers direct qualitative and scored feedback on their coding interviews. Users would do a mock interview, get graded, and then have their performance anonymously shared with potential employers to match them with the right companies and positions for their skills. This saved engineers from having to endure grueling interrogations with tons of different hirers. Refdash claimed to place users at startups like Coinbase, Cruise, Lyft, and Mixpanel.

A source tells us that Refdash focused on understanding people’s deep professional expertise and sending them to the perfect employer without having to judge by superficial resumes that can introduce bias to the process. It also touted allowing hirers to browse candidates without knowing their biographical details, which could also cut down on discrimination and helps ensure privacy in the job hunting process (especially if people are still working elsewhere and are trying to be discreet in their job hunt).

It’s easy to imagine Facebook building its own coding challenge and puzzles that programmers could take to then get paired with appropriate hirers through its Jobs product. Perhaps Facebook could even build a similar service to Refdash, though the one-on-one feedback sessions it’d conduct might not be scalable enough for Menlo Park’s liking. If Facebook can make it easier to not only apply for jobs but interview for them too, it could lure talent and advertisers away from LinkedIn to a product that’s already part of people’s daily lives.

The co-founders of Refdash have something of a track record in building companies that get acquihired to help add new features to existing services. Nicola Otasevic and Andrew Kearney were respectively the founder and tech lead for Room 77, which was picked up by Google in 2014 to help rebuild its travel search vertical. At the time it was described as a licensing deal although Refdash’s founders these days call it an acquisition.

Building tools to improve the basic process of hiring via remote testing could help Facebook get an edge on technical recruiting, but it’s not the only one building such features. LinkedIn’s stablemate Skype (like LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft) last year unveiled Interviews to let recruiters test developers and others applying for technical jobs with a real-time code editor. LinkedIn has not (yet?) incorporated it into its platform.

Welcome Kirsten Korosec, Kate Clark, Zack Whittaker and some guy named Eric

We’ve got some new faces around TechCrunch — some of them real fresh and some who you might know. Though you might have seen some of their bylines around the site, I thought it would be nice to officially welcome them to the site. First up is Kirsten Korosec, who leads our transportation and mobility […]

We’ve got some new faces around TechCrunch — some of them real fresh and some who you might know. Though you might have seen some of their bylines around the site, I thought it would be nice to officially welcome them to the site.

First up is Kirsten Korosec, who leads our transportation and mobility reporting. Kirsten is an accomplished and seasoned journalist in the space and has been with us for a few months writing, hosting panels at Disrupt and scooping major news. You’ll want to stay tuned to her coverage of this wild area of coverage as she deciphers Elon tweets, filters startup coverage and figures out how much horsepower a scooter actually needs. You might have seen one of Kirsten’s great pieces of original reporting on TC already, like Comma.ai getting a new CEO, GM offering Cruise employees equity in Cruise, Skedaddle talking acquisition with the big ridesharing companies and outing Anthony Levandowski’s new stealthy self-driving startup called Kache.ai.

Kate Clark is one of our newest hires and is covering the startup and VC ecosystem in Silicon Valley alongside Danny Crichton, Connie Loizos, Megan Dickey and Lucas Matney. Kate comes to us from PitchBook and has hit the ground running with a host of great stories like raises and acquisitions both large and small, scooter drama, as well as clever posts on sex tech and VC pay.

Our new security reporter Zack Whittaker has been producing some great work in his time here, as well. Zack comes from a 10-year stint at ZDNet and brings with him a deep understanding of security and privacy issues that are affecting so many companies large and small. He’s required reading on the topic, and he’s been proving it with great scoops like this one on Texas voter records being exposed, this story about iPhone apps being caught quietly monetizing your location and a huge breach of credit card data by Newegg.

Next is a gent you might know: Eric Eldon. Eric, who previously served as the co-editor of TechCrunch until he cleverly managed to escape to go live the easy life of doing a startup (called Hoodline), is back to work on a special new project Danny Crichton is heading up that we’re not quite ready to announce yet. Eric, as many of you likely know, is a fantastic editor and has spent quality time in the ups and downs of startupland, a perspective that will help tremendously as we try to keep making TechCrunch the last word in startups and emerging tech, as well as a genuinely useful resource for every founder, engineer, executive and aspirant in tech.

We’ve also got some new columnists and writers on other specific topics joining the team.

Eric Peckham will be writing on media and tech, and has interest in ML and blockchain and how traditional media companies are adapting. You may be familiar with his Monetizing Media newsletter. Joyce Yang is a former equity analyst who now writes a newsletter on Asia blockchain, called Global Coin Research, and is already writing a great column for us today. Gregg Schoenberg, who is the founder of Wescott Capital and co-founder of The Financial Revolutionist newsletter, is doing an interview series with us with CEOs and founders in the fintech space. Conor Witt works at Citi’s strategy group and will be writing about fintech for us with a new column. Finally, Ziad Reslan, a lawyer who is interested in the harder questions of policy issues, as well as John Chen, a former venture investor at Emergence (where he sourced the investment for Crunchbase), have also been writing occasional columns.

New hires to come

We’ve also got some open positions at TechCrunch, so if you know a good candidate, or are one yourself, please apply. We’re looking for a solid senior writer with an insatiable curiosity and a critical eye to bolster our startup coverage in San Francisco, as well as a science writer with a focus on emerging biotech and health tech from a consumer and enterprise perspective with variable location. Here, there, Mars is OK. Since we now have events around the world, a desire for on-stage work is a plus. Feel free to use this link to apply for either or hit me up on Twitter @panzer.

In the engineering and product space, we’re in need of a Product Manager to oversee TC product, including our brilliant new site, events products, apps and more. We need an associate PM, as well, who has strong operational experience and a couple of additional engineers with strong front-end experience but with a major preference to those who have some WordPress and PHP experience, because we work across the full stack to make stuff happen here. We need these folks to work on existing stuff as well as exciting new products. We’re a forward-looking site that is going to be pushing the boundaries of what publishing on the web and other locations looks like. If that sounds interesting to you, you know what to do.

With these people, and more to be announced, you may notice that we are making a commitment to covering the ground that we know you care about the most. We’re not going broad, we’re going deep, accurate and, as always, scrappy as hell. It’s going to be fun; talk soon.

Ohanian’s Initialized raises $225M 4th fund to turn founders into cyborgs

“Right now we’re in this Empire Strikes Back moment” says Initialized Capital’s Garry Tan, referring to tech giants ruthlessly copying and competing with fresh ideas. “We think the startups represent the Return Of The Jedi.” It’s that willingness to stand up against incumbents and give founders their best shot at disrupting them that’s won Initialized […]

“Right now we’re in this Empire Strikes Back moment” says Initialized Capital’s Garry Tan, referring to tech giants ruthlessly copying and competing with fresh ideas. “We think the startups represent the Return Of The Jedi.” It’s that willingness to stand up against incumbents and give founders their best shot at disrupting them that’s won Initialized a place on the cap table’s of some of today’s fastest rising companies. Instacart, Coinbase, Flexport, and Patreon all count Initialized as investors because Tan and Serena Williams’ husband jump in the trenches with them, dispensing advice and connections over text message.

Now Initialized Capital has raised enough money to tackle its next challenge: the Series A crunch. Their first fund of just $7 million in 2011 taught them to be scrappy, and consider nascent companies yet to find product market fit. But even with their $39 million 2013 fund, and the $115 million third one they raised in 2016, they didn’t have enough cash to always follow on or fill out rounds of their 100 portfolio companies the way they hoped.

That changes today with the announcement that Initialized Capital has closed its fourth fund of $225 million.

Initialized Capital’s co-founders Garry Tan (left) and Alexis Ohanian (right)

“We’ve always been the first high conviction check, and often the smallest check” Tan says, recalling how he tracked Airbnb’s Brian Armstrong as he left to start Coinbase and Initialized invested the first $50,000. With the $225 million fund, we can actually do most of round rather than being the first check and then send 30 emails trying to get people to invest in it.”

Williams’ husband, commonly known as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, is the face of Initialized. But it’s Tan and the software he’s built that lets Initialized wield The Force when picking startups, and then rearing them into Jedi. Tan had experience from building BookFace, Y Combinator’s internal community Q&A system that’s often cited as one of the accelerator’s biggest value-adds, when he and Ohanian were still partners there.

“We use software as a means of constantly sharing knowledge” Tan explains. “every phone call, every email we have . . . it all goes in there. Then we take the software that we built…and augment those really talented founders into cyborgs.” From partnerships to recruiting, all that information allows startups to scale faster, and hopefully get to that Series A Initialized now has deep enough pockets to fund.

The human element is still crucial, though, so it’s recruited a lean team of domain experts such as Thiel Macro’s financial modeling whiz Eric Woersching, ex-Founders Fund general counsel Alda Leu Dennis for legal, and former TechCrunch reporter Kim-Mai Cutler for press strategy. But unlike the “wolfpack” funds where entrepreneurs only get aid from the partner spearheading the relationship, all of Initialized’s staff pitches in with deal spotting and around-the-clock assistance.

The Initialized Capital team, where one-third of investment partners are female. Image Credit: Jessica Monroy

Sometimes being contrarian doesn’t mean doing something first, but doing something honorably. After considering bike and scooter rental startups, they saw how startups like LimeBike and Spin invaded cities like a war party. Initialized chose to invest in Skip because its heavy-duty scooters are safer, and the company actually cooperates with local governments. “We didn’t think the ‘ask for forgiveness later’ model of growth — the Uber inspired model — we didn’t think it was going to work. We wanted to bet on the high-integrity founding team.”

Other times, it means siding with founders willing to be vulnerable. Ohanian joined the board of erectile dysfunction pharmacy app Roman as part of its recent $88 million round after its founder Zachariah Reitano was willing to talk about his own men’s health struggles. Customers related, and Roman’s revenue run rate is now in the tens of millions, up 720 percent since January.

What Initialized looks for in founders is the same as what it looked for in a mascot. “I still remember doodling the Reddit alien in college and years later seeing it tattooed on people’s bodies. We know the power that symbols can have, and we do plan on being a different kind of VC firm.” One critical example of how is that one-third of Initialized’s investment team is female. “Women in tech is one of the most important trends in representation and we’re very much allies there.”

So based on an early viral video about the small animal’s ferocity, the team settled on the honey badger for their brand. Though after 20 ugly attempts, Ohanian let a professional designer draw it. In a sea of funds named after old white dudes with abstract shapes as logos, they didn’t want to be another VC that makes you cringe when you see its brand on a Patagonia pullover.

“Garry and I want taking money from our firm to be something [founders] are proud of and they can wear on their chest” Ohanian concludes with a laugh. “Maybe not tatooed…”

VW fires jailed Audi CEO Rupert Stadler

VW AG has ended its contract with Rupert Stadler, removing the embattled executive as CEO and from the Audi and Volkswagen boards several months after he was arrested for his involvement in the cover-up of diesel emissions cheating at the company. Stadler, who began working at Audi in 1990, is the latest executive at parent company […]

VW AG has ended its contract with Rupert Stadler, removing the embattled executive as CEO and from the Audi and Volkswagen boards several months after he was arrested for his involvement in the cover-up of diesel emissions cheating at the company.

Stadler, who began working at Audi in 1990, is the latest executive at parent company Volkswagen AG to be ousted in the wake of the diesel emissions cheating scandal that erupted three years ago. The scandal has implicated numerous executives and several brands under VW Group, including Volkswagen, Audi and even Porsche.

The diesel emissions scandal broke in 2015 when it was revealed that Volkswagen Group’s so-called “Clean Diesel” vehicles had been fitted with software designed to cheat emissions tests.

Volkswagen fired its CEO Martin Winterkorn in 2015 for his connection to the scandal. Winterkorn was later charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in a U.S. court. Three years later, his replacement, Matthias Müller, was also removed as Volkswagen CEO and replaced with Herbert Diess.

Stadler was suspended as CEO following his arrest by German authorities in June in connection with a criminal investigation into the diesel emissions cheating. Stadler is still in jail.

Bram Schot has been acting as temporary CEO since Stadler’s arrest.

Here’s VW’s statement:

The supervisory boards of Volkswagen AG and AUDI AG have today consented to the conclusion of an agreement with Rupert Stadler on the termination of his offices as a member of the board of management of Volkswagen AG and chairman of the board of management of AUDI AG as well as of his service agreements. Mr. Stadler is leaving the companies with immediate effect and will no longer work for the Volkswagen Group. Mr. Stadler is doing so because, due to his ongoing pretrial detention, he is unable to fulfill his duties as a member of the board of management and wishes to concentrate on his defense. The contractual execution depends on the course and outcome of the criminal proceedings.

Stadler joined the company’s board in 2003. He was made chairman of Audi AG four years later. In 2010, Stadler was appointed to Volkswagen AG’s board.

David Ulevitch is now a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz — a big get and the firm’s fourth new GP since June

David Ulevitch has had some strange dealings with investors over the years. Now, Ulevitch is himself one of them. The founder of OpenDNS, a company that sold to Cisco in 2016, is disclosing today that he has joined the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) as its newest general partner. He is the fourth general partner […]

David Ulevitch has had some strange dealings with investors over the years. Now, Ulevitch is himself one of them. The founder of OpenDNS, a company that sold to Cisco in 2016, is disclosing today that he has joined the venture firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) as its newest general partner. He is the fourth general partner to be announced by the firm since it brought aboard former federal prosecutor Katie Haun back in June.

Asked today what these new additions mean in terms of fundraising, the firm declined to say, but certainly, Ulevitch looks like a very smart hire. For one thing, he hustles. In fact, he was the general manager of Cisco’s security business until just yesterday, though he suggests that he’d been preparing to leave throughout the summer, including “talking with lots of people, figuring out how to get close to entrepreneurs and spending more time with the team here.”

Ulevitch has also been through some public ups and downs, which makes him relatable to other founders. In fact, I first met Ulevitch back in 2008, when I was writing a profile of internet pioneer Halsey Minor for a short-lived spin-off of Vanity Fair called Portfolio. Minor had co-founded the media company CNET before becoming an investor, and though he has an undeniable eye for talent, he was overspending wildly at the time in his personal life, which frustrated co-investors, as well as put the founders in his portfolio, including Ulevitch, in a precarious position.

It was an uncertain chapter for Ulevitch, whose popular company OpenDNS focused initially on consumers who wanted to block certain kinds of sites but later catered to enterprises, more of which had begun moving to “the cloud” and wanted to safely extend their service and content browsing policies to on-the-go employees. It also feels like a lifetime ago, suggests Ulevitch, whose sold the company for $635 million after raising less than $50 million altogether, including across a competitive funding that saw Sequoia Capital get involved with the company.

Interestingly, it was former Sequoia investor Michael Goguen — who was at the center of his own, separate drama a couple of years ago — who led the round. During a call today with Ulevitch, we couldn’t resist asking him how convinced he is that VCs are sane, let alone effective partners to founders. Laughing, he admitted to some “weird moments” in his career, but he also noted that he has been “able to work with great partners and board members” over the years, adding he was “always lucky to keep at arm’s length the stuff that people read about and you write about.”

Ulevitch sounds especially excited to work closely with Martin Casado, who previously co-founded the a16z-backed company Nicera (which sold to VMware in 2012), then joined a16z as a general partner in 2016. Casado has since led investments in an array of enterprise startups, including Yubico, a company behind a two-factor authentication key; the marketing activation platform ActionIQ; and the API marketplace RapidAPI.

Unsurprisingly, both paint a picture of a future that’s rife with opportunity for the two of them and the greater team, not to mention the entrepreneurs they hope to fund. Ulevitch observed on our call that there are currently four SaaS enterprise companies with valuations north of $100 billion: Salesforce, Adobe, Cisco, and Microsoft, saying that “there will be so many more of these. We’re really at the earliest innings.”

Casado, who also joined the call, said the same. “We’re starting to see enterprise mirror consumer companies in terms of having network effects and hypergrowth.” He pointed to Slack, which received one of its first checks from Andreessen Horowitz and is now valued by private investors at roughly $7 billion. He also pointed to GitHub, the popular Git-based code sharing and collaboration service that sold to Microsoft for $7.5 billion in stock four months ago, a company on which Andreessen Horowitz also made an early, and very big bet.

Said Casado of this “consumerization” of IT,  a “new generation of companies is following less of an enterprise go-to-market strategy and more of a consumer growth pattern.”

With the help of its growing team of investors, a16z is clearly aiming to be there as that playbook unfolds.

Cratejoy sheds 60% of its workforce amid restructuring effort

Cratejoy, a startup founded in 2014, helps businesses launch and scale their own subscription box services.

Cratejoy, a startup that runs a marketplace for subscription businesses and helps founders launch and scale their own subscription box services, has laid off 18 members of its 43-person team.

The company’s co-founder and chief executive officer Amir Elaguizy confirmed the lay-offs to TechCrunch. He says the cuts are part of a restructuring effort to keep costs in line and that subscribers and merchants will not be impacted.

The startup has raised a total of $10 million to date from investors, including Charles River Ventures, SV Angel, Andreessen Horowitz, Maverick Capital, Start Fund and ACE Venture Fund. Cratejoy completed the Y Combinator accelerator program in the summer of 2013 alongside DoorDash, Le Tote and Bloom That, which itself recently hit pause on its on-demand flower service.

“This was a hard decision made by the leadership team to keep our costs in line,” Elaguizy told TechCrunch. “Whenever we’re forced to make hard staffing decisions it is difficult, and this reduction was no exception. We had to part ways with many very good and talented people.”

Elaguizy declined to elaborate on any other changes to the business.

Austin-based Cratejoy sells a curated collection of subscription boxes and helps entrepreneurs develop their own subscription box. It exists on the premise that the future of e-commerce is these packaged collections of goods delivered on a recurring basis.

For some time, venture capitalists were drinking the subscription box Kool-Aid, but those days appear to be over. Funding into subscription box startups, according to Crunchbase data, has dropped off significantly.

Cratejoy was founded in 2014 amid the subscription box funding boom. The same year it completed its $4 million Series A, Birchbox completed a $60 million round, Dollar Shave Club raised $13 million and Stitch Fix brought in $30 million. With 30 companies raising about $200 million, 2014 was the highest on record for investment in subscription box companies.

Last year, companies in the sector raised just $39.7 million across 20 deals.