January 8, 2021
SmartBrief on Entrepreneurs
The Lead
US startups received a record $130 billion from venture capital investors in 2020, according to data from CB Insight. Total investment was up 14% from 2019, but the number of transactions declined 9% to 6,022 in 2020.
Full Story: Reuters (1/8) 
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Today In Startups
Online retail trading platform Robinhood may sell some of its stock directly to its users in its upcoming initial public offering, sources say. Such a move would be unusual because retail investors are normally unable to invest in a stock flotation at the initial offer price, and it could cap any day-one trading gains.
Full Story: Bloomberg (1/7) 
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Users flock to Signal after WhatsApp changes
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Secure messaging app Signal is seeing a sharp rise in new users after WhatsApp changed its policy to require user to share personal data with Facebook, which owns WhatsApp. Business leaders, including Elon Musk, are urging people to switch to Signal, and as a result of the surge in new accounts, phone verification codes are being delayed.
Full Story: The Verge (1/7),  Business Insider (tiered subscription model) (1/7) 
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The pandemic relief package signed into law last month includes changes to the Paycheck Protection Program that may affect entrepreneurs. This article looks at what has changed, including new forgiveness guidelines and the rules for employee retention credits.
Full Story: Crunchbase (1/8) 
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Indoor and vertical farming could be the future of food production, especially in urban areas, but to make controlled environment agriculture sustainable requires innovation, writes Back of the Yards Algae Sciences CEO Leonard Lerer. His company is studying the use of an algae-based biostimulant to speed plant growth and reduce energy use in the growing process.
Full Story: Ag Funder News (1/6) 
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Make Your Startup Better
The importance of equity has been underscored by the differences in the way rioters at the Capitol this week and Black Lives Matters protesters over the summer were treated, and it's up to leaders to prioritize fairness in the workplace, writes consultant Sonia Thompson. "[B]ecause as a society we still struggle with equality, equity becomes essential in creating environments where both your team and your customers feel like they belong with you," Thompson writes.
Full Story: Inc. (tiered subscription model) (1/7) 
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The pandemic has forced startups to look at ways to cut costs, including in the types of workers they hire. Nahla Davies explores the pros and cons of hiring full-time employees, part-time employees or freelancers.
Full Story: BPlans (1/2) 
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Funding, IPOs and Acquisitions
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Business is about belonging.
Consultant Sonia Thompson, writing in Inc.
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