Startups Weekly: The alternatives & challenges for psychological well being tech

Good day and welcome again to Startups Weekly, a weekend e-newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and enterprise capital information. Earlier than I leap into in the present day’s matter, let’s catch up a bit. Final week, I wrote about Zoom and Superhuman’s PR disasters. Earlier than that, I famous the large uptick in VC spending in 2019.

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Now let’s discuss psychological well being startups. VCs could also be assured within the potential of teletherapy, however struggling corporations within the house inform one other story.

9 months in the past Foundation launched an internet site and app for guided conversations by way of chat or video with pseudo-therapists or folks skilled in research-backed approaches however who lack the identical certifications as a counseling or scientific psychologist. I wrote a story noting that the corporate, led by former Uber VP Andrew Chapin, had raised a $3.75 million spherical from Bedrock, Wave Capital and Lightspeed Enterprise Companions.

However final month, issues took a flip for the more serious. Foundation quietly shut down its web site and app, its co-founder and chief science officer, Lindsay Trent, a former analysis psychologist at Stanford, exited and a very good chunk of eight-person workforce went out the door.

Foundation was one among many startups to learn from VCs’ rising urge for food for revolutionary companies within the psychological well being sector. Because the stigma related to looking for psychological well being help has dwindled and expertise developments have allowed for personalised psychological well being instruments and practices, extra entrepreneurs have entered the house. Foundation, regardless of having lots of the components wanted for startup success, couldn’t obtain success with its direct-to-consumer strategy to remedy.

Basis Team

Foundation co-founder and CEO Andrew Chapin (heart) with the founding workforce final 12 months

When requested why the Foundation app and web site have been now not lively, Chapin stated the corporate is within the strategy of “shifting enterprise fashions.” He declined to offer additional particulars. Lightspeed declined to remark. Wave Capital and Bedrock didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Foundation, which didn’t declare to deal with diagnosable situations like bipolar dysfunction or schizophrenia, charged $35 per 45-minute cellphone name with its paraprofessionals. Its use of unlicensed therapists sparked concern within the psychological well being supplier group. Harley Remedy founder Sheri Jacobson, an accredited counselor and psychotherapist, famous flaws with the service: “For me, changing skilled therapists and all of their lived expertise and empathy with telepsychiatry administered by novice advisers could possibly be probably harmful,” Jacobson stated in a press release. “Would you let a learner driver navigate an oil tanker?”

Shopper psychological well being startups proceed to draw capital from non-public market buyers. Office psychological well being service Unmind, Blackthorn Therapeutics (a neurobehavioral well being firm utilizing machine studying to create personalised drugs for psychological well being) and Talkspace (a frontrunner within the on-line counseling house) have all closed funding rounds in 2019.

Whether or not Foundation will discover its footing is TBD. What’s clear is VCs are nonetheless prepared to dole out checks as they experiment with the psychological well being house, but when startups don’t begin proving viable enterprise fashions and study to navigate the complicated adoption curve, we’ll see further startups stop operations and psychological well being tech’s second within the solar will finish all too quickly.

Now for a fast take a look at the highest VC and startup information of the week:

Adam Neumann (WeWork) at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

Adam Neumann did what?

The eccentric co-founder and CEO of the worldwide actual property co-working startup WeWork has reportedly cashed out of greater than $700 million from his firm forward of its upcoming IPO. Based on Axios, a majority of that capital got here within the type of loans whereas the remaining $300 million got here from inventory gross sales. The scale and timing of the payouts is uncommon, contemplating that founders sometimes wait till after an organization holds its public providing to liquidate their holdings. However even with the massive sale, Neumann stays the only largest shareholder in WeWork.

Medallia soars

The shopper expertise administration platform priced shares of its inventory at $21 apiece Thursday, closing up Friday a whopping 76%. Cash left on the desk? I believe so, and I wager Invoice Gurley does too. The almost two-decades-old firm offered a complete of 15.5 million shares in its IPO, elevating $326 million at a $2.5 billion valuation within the course of. Medallia’s $268 million in VC funding got here from Sequoia Capital — which owned a roughly 40% pre-IPO stake — Saints Capital, TriplePoint Enterprise Development and Grotmol Options.

Uber lastly units range and inclusion objectives

Inside the subsequent three years, Uber goals to extend the share of ladies at ranges L5 and better (supervisor and above) to 35% and enhance the share of underrepresented staff at ranges L4 and better to 14%. At the moment, Uber is 9.3% black and eight.3% Latinx in comparison with simply 8.1% black and 6.1% Latinx final 12 months. Uber’s tech workforce, nonetheless, is simply 3.6% black, 4.4% Latinx and a pair of.7% multi-racial. Unsurprisingly, there’s little illustration of black and brown folks in management roles. Whereas Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi commented that he’s proud the promotion charges for ladies have improved during the last couple of years, he added, “I can’t but say the identical for promotions for folks of colour.”

E-mail platforms and productiveness apps and subscription instruments, oh my!

Startups targeted on enhancing productiveness and e mail are unstoppable this 12 months. The most recent to shut VC rounds are Substack and Notion. Andreessen Horowitz is betting that there’s nonetheless a giant alternative in newsletters, main a $15.Three million Sequence A in Substack. The corporate, which consists of simply three staff understanding of a front room, says that newsletters on the platform have now amassed a complete of 50,000 paying subscribers (up from 25,000 in October) and that the preferred Substack authors are already making tons of of hundreds of {dollars} per 12 months. As for Notion, The Data reported this week that it raised $10 million at an $800 million valuation. Notion is a note-taking and process administration app that hasn’t sought a lot VC funding and, consequently, VCs have been desperately knocking at its door.

Different notable funding occasions of the week:

The difficulty with blitzscaling

Silicon Valley has many goals. One dream — the Hollywood model anyway — is for a down-and-out founder to start tinkering and coding of their proverbial storage, ultimately constructing a product that’s liked by people the world over and changing into a startup billionaire within the course of. However in terms of that Silicon Valley dream of a pleasant home from an honest return on exit, it’s getting narrower and fewer broadly distributed. Blitzscaling is making lots of people a number of wealth, however early staff? Not a lot.

Learn extra from TechCrunch editor Danny Crichton.

TechCrunch’s senior transportation reporter Kirsten Korosec.

Prepare for … The Station

TechCrunch senior transportation reporter Kirsten Korosec has one thing nice within the works. All of us right here at TechCrunch are very excited to announce The Station, a brand new TechCrunch e-newsletter all about mobility. Every week, along with curating the most important transportation information, Kirsten will present evaluation, authentic reporting and insider recommendations on the fast-growing business. Enroll right here to get The Station in your inbox starting in August.

~Additional Crunch~

Whereas we’re as regards to superb TechCrunch #content material, it’s most likely time for a reminder for all of you to join Additional Crunch. For a low value, you’ll be able to study extra in regards to the startups and enterprise capital ecosystem by means of unique deep dives, Q&As, newsletters, sources and suggestions and basic startup how-to guides. Listed below are a few of my private favourite EC posts from the previous week:


Should you get pleasure from this article, you should definitely try TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Fairness. On this week’s episode, obtainable right here, Fairness co-host Alex Wilhelm and I debate Forbes’ newest subsequent billion-dollar startups checklist.

Additional Crunch subscribers can learn a transcript of every week’s episode each Saturday. Learn final week’s episode right here and study extra about Additional Crunch right here. Fairness drops each Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all of the casts.

That’s all, of us.


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