Silicon Valley's decade: From Facebook's promise of social networking to the anxiety of social distancing
Hello again, and welcome to this week's edition of Trending, the newsletter where we highlight BI Prime's biggest tech stories. I'm Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider's West Coast bureau chief and global tech editor. If you're a regular reader or a first-timer, you can get Trending in your inbox every week by signing up here. This week: The 10-year journey from social networking to social distancing Ten years ago, the world was just getting introduced to the concept of social networking. Facebook was still in its early years — a plucky, charming upstart with 500 million users, an Adidas slide-wearing CEO, and a bright future. Today, that cute company is a corporate behemoth whose widely used, but not-necessarily-loved, product is sometimes compared to tobacco. And instead of excitedly buzzing about the thrill of social networking, many of us are uneasily getting familiar with the realities of social distancing.
It's remarkable how much has changed in just 10 years. And it's even more amazing how much has changed in 10 days. The mandatory six-foot buffer that now separates every person in the San Francisco Bay Area who is not of direct kin is a Silicon Valley "first" I certainly never thought I would see. And with worries about the coronavirus outbreak increasing every day, it looks like San Francisco's "shelter in place" order may soon be adopted in other parts of the country. A couple of stories this week highlight how rapidly events are moving, and how tech businesses are scrambling to adapt. Melia Russell and Megan Hernbroth asked a dozen venture capital investors to share the main piece of advice they're giving startups who are preparing for the first bear market in more than a decade. The interviews occurred before San Francisco's shelter in place rule on Monday, but many of the comments already spoke to the extraordinary state of affairs: "Don't be optimistic, and don't assume this will pass quickly," said Menlo Ventures partner Matt Murphy. Troy Wolverton's report on Airbnb's challenges is also very illuminating. As the short-term home rentals startup experienced a wave of coronavirus cancellations recently, Airbnb has been forced to do something it almost never does: give guests a refund. Instead of resolving the problem though, Airbnb's move created a new problem by upsetting the property owners who suddenly found themselves without guests and without the booking payments they would usually collect. It's a perfect example of how business models that worked amazingly well over the past 10 years will be stress-tested like never before in the coming weeks and months. As Troy writes: "Satisfying consumers is going to be costly for Airbnb. Making things right by property managers could be financially impossible." Read the full stories here: Silicon Valley's startups are facing the biggest crisis in a generation. Here's what venture capital investors say businesses should do to stay healthy and survive. The coronavirus crisis has exposed a crucial weakness in Airbnb's business model and it's likely to haunt the $31 billion company's IPO plans
Now for some good news... The coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact are set to unleash unpredictable changes across the startup landscape, but before the deluge, it's worth taking a moment to appreciate one noteworthy achievement of the past decade. A record 4,399 investments were made in female founded startups last year, up 500% from ten years ago.
Check out Bani Sapra's rundown of fast-growing unicorn startups founded, or cofounded, by women. Some of the firms are already household names, like direct-to-consumer beauty company Glossier and online marketplace The RealReal. There's still a long way to go. As Bani notes, the data shows that woman founders consistently receive less funding than their male counterparts. But the success of some of the woman-founded firms on this list is an encouraging bit of news at a time of so much distress. Read Bani's full story here: Meet the 21 startups cofounded by women that reached unicorn status in 2019, hitting a valuation of $1 billion or more
And here are some of the other highlights from the tech team: Here are 20 companies Google could buy to boost its cloud business against Amazon Web Services, according to experts Cybercriminals are posting highly-sensitive stolen documents revealing multi-billion-dollar strategies, and only deleting them when victims pay up Amazon has postponed its twice-a-year all-hands meeting because of the coronavirus, and it means workers won't hear directly from Jeff Bezos at a time of uncertainty This founder's wildly successful virtual tech conference could be a model for future tech events as coronavirus continues to spread A memo circulating inside Google accuses the company of not protecting its army of contract workers from the coronavirus pandemic And more good stories from across the BI newsroom: Inside the wild world of 'The Points Guy,' Brian Kelly: A massively profitable media empire and claims of non-stop partying, drugs and extravagant spending Goldman Sachs studied every bear market in stocks since 1835 — and concluded that 3 red flags make this coronavirus-driven one unlike any other in history FaZe Clan's top recruiters explain how to join the red-hot gaming organization and what they look for in new members Coronavirus shock is pushing highly indebted 'zombie' companies toward financial ruin — and a risky $1 trillion market is already showing the damage a recession would do That's it for this week. Thanks for reading, and remember, if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it. — AlexeiJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How autopilot on an airplane works
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