Venture capitalists reveal the startups that changed everything in the past decade (UBER, SFIX, AMZN, TEAM)
The past decade was an eventful one for the startup world. The rise of smartphones, online marketplaces, the sharing economy, and cheap access to the cloud have enabled entirely new business models — some more successful than others. Business Insider spoke with five venture capitalists about the startups that had the biggest impact on the tech world throughout the 2010s. They noted that companies like Theranos and WeWork demonstrated the pitfalls of "founder worship" and the pursuit of growth at all costs. But startups like Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker stand out as companies that have successfully built direct relationships with consumers. Stitch Fix and Rent The Runway are showing investors the promise of women-led ventures in an industry that grossly lacks diversity, while Shopify and Atlassian have proven that markets outside of Silicon Valley are taking off. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The 2010s were a wild ride for startups and the investors who pumped money into them. As the decade kicked off, smartphones were becoming ubiquitous, connecting billions of people to the internet — many for the first time — and paving the way for a wave of innovative business models. Online marketplaces and sharing economy platforms — Amazon, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, and many more — demonstrated the power of network effects, and in doing so, completely changed how people and businesses interact with each other. Companies seized on the stream of constant, real-time, location-based, and personalized data that consumers volunteered via a growing list of smart devices to provide them with faster and more convenient services. Entrepreneurs had the wind at their backs, thanks to a flood of venture money and access to technical infrastructure — Amazon Web Services — meaning they could spin up and scale up their startups like never before. Unicorns seemed to appear everywhere, and tech IPOs had investors excited. But the tides began to turn in the second half of the decade as a flood of scandals chipped away at the idea that tech companies — and tech founders — are inherently good. Public investors became skeptical of the premium price attached to some tech companies, and the batch that went public in 2019 had a rough go of things. Four months into 2020, the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has rocked the global economy and startup world, leading to at least 30,000 layoffs at venture-backed companies and even impacting unicorn tech darlings like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and Peloton as funding and sales have dried up. After speaking with five venture capitalists about how things have evolved since 2010, some clear lessons emerged — as well as some clear examples of those lessons. While it would be impossible to include every important startup, below are the companies that investors said have had the most impact on their industry in the past 10 years.SEE ALSO: These were the people and events that made the internet curious in 2019, according to Wikipedia Uber, Theranos, and WeWork demonstrate the pitfalls of "founder worship" and the pursuit of growth at all costs.
Uber's Travis Kalanick, Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes, and WeWork's Adam Neumann: All were considered charismatic and visionary founders who sought to change the world, but each was eventually forced out of their respective companies amid scandal. When Holmes resigned in 2018 in the face of criminal charges and reports of fraud at Theranos, "everyone in venture really questioned their own diligence," Kristin Gunther, a principal at Revolution, told Business Insider. Gunther added that it made her reflect on how she engages as a board member. "Against a background where, for a couple years here, hot deals moved really fast and people could get funded based on two PowerPoint slides, it became even more important to say, 'Hey, fine, this is a hot deal, but I'm going to miss it because it's not worth it to cut the corners,'" Gunther said. Kalanick was also forced out for cutting corners. In 2017, investors orchestrated his resignation at a time when Uber's public image had plummeted. Once a company that every investor wanted in on, critics had started alleging that Uber enabled workplace harassment, skirted local regulations, and that Kalanick's own behavior had put the company on a crash course. Neumann, WeWork's eccentric founder, stepped down earlier this year after the company's failed attempt to go public led to reports of his extensive conflicts of interest, mismanagement, and bizarre behavior. All three companies epitomized Silicon Valley's obsessive focus on growth and a celebration of ambitious founders, which often ignored problematic behavior and business practices. "I just think we abandoned values in terms of, not just how we invested, but managed companies," Elliott Robinson, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, told Business Insider. Jet.com, Dollar Shave Club, Glossier, Warby Parker, and Casper stand out as just a few of the many companies that have successfully built direct relationships with consumers.
The pervasiveness of social media and digital ads has given companies powerful new ways to connect with their target audience and helped enable the rise of direct-to-consumer brands. Anu Duggal, founding partner at Female Founders Fund, told Business Insider that social media has "enabled brands to have a direct conversation with those consumers and have that impact their actual product design." Duggal highlighted brands like Warby Parker and Glossier as companies that have effectively leveraged conversations with those consumers to inform product development. Jenny Lefcourt, general partner at Freestyle and founding member of All Raise, said another reason these brands have been so successful is that they've created "authentic community" among their consumers. "Maybe you go to Glossier because you love makeup and you start connecting with the community about that and before you know it, you start becoming friends and you're sharing travel tips," Lefcourt told Business Insider. These companies didn't initially seem like sure bets, however. Gunther pointed to online retailer Jet.com and its acquisition by Walmart as an important proof of concept, and said it "showed the exit path for some of these direct-to-consumer companies where that was really a question." Stitch Fix, Rent The Runway, and Away are showing investors the promise of women-led ventures in an industry that grossly lacks diversity.
It's no secret that venture capital firms — and, as a result, the entrepreneurs they fund — suffer from a lack of diversity. A recent survey by RateMyInvestor found that the typical founding team was a "two person, 'all male,' 'all white,' U.S. university-educated team residing in Silicon Valley." Over the past decade, however, with several women-led ventures reaching multi-billion-dollar valuations and Stitch Fix founder Katrina Lake becoming the youngest female founder to take a company public, investors are finally taking notice. "Venture capitalists are pattern matchers," Lefcourt said. "Seeing these women take these companies from start to IPO and be incredibly successful enables other venture capitalists — whether they're men or women — to change their view on what successful looks like." Venture capital firms still have a long way to go both in terms of who they invest in and who is doing the investing, especially when it comes to racial and educational diversity. But, at least when it comes to women-led ventures, Duggal said investors are "recognizing the fact that there are real returns to be made." Shopify, Atlassian, and Waze proved that markets outside of Silicon Valley are taking off.
RateMyInvestor's survey also found that venture funds have a strong geographical bias, with nearly half of all investments in the past five years going to startups based in Silicon Valley. But in recent years, several companies have revealed the untapped potential of other markets, particularly outside of the US. "There were always great companies and great innovation outside of the US," Victoria Treyger, general partner and managing director at Felicis Ventures, told Business Insider. But prior to Shopify, she said, "there was a belief that VC-backed companies outside of the US exited earlier." Shopify, which is based in Ottawa, Canada, is notable for its outsize role in empowering small and medium businesses. Robinson, who invested in Shopify, said that by building ecommerce tools and "multiple revenue streams off of a really large user base, that just really changed the way people thought about [software as a service]." Atlassian, an enterprise software company out of Sydney, similarly put Australia on the map. "I just see the number of [Atlassian] alums that are in that ecosystem," Treyger said, noting how employees of pioneering companies like Shopify and Atlassian often go on to start their own ventures. Israel has also become a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. It has produced household names like Waze (which was acquired by Google) and, in 2018, 61 companies exited at an average deal size of $81 million. Within the US, cities like Chicago, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., have also seen massive increases in both investment and startups. Stripe, Square, Lending Club, SoFi, and Robinhood are just some of the key startups flipping the financial services industry on its head.
Fintech was another sector this decade that saw major disruption and a flurry of new companies achieving massive valuations. Startups took advantage of the rise of smartphones, digital banking, and machine learning to bring more consumers into the financial system and upend how people spend, make, borrow, and exchange money. "When you look underneath, there is true technological innovation," Treyger said. "It's really exciting to see that the dollars went into companies that have truly transformed the financial service sector." As just a few examples, Stripe and Square helped change the way businesses get paid, Lending Club and SoFi took on incumbents in the personal loan space, and Robinhood reinvented how everyday consumers invest.
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Every venture firm can take these quick steps toward greater diversity, says one of Silicon Valley's few black VCs. What the steps have in common: Reach out.
Precursor Ventures managing partner Charles Hudson has some advice for his fellow venture capitalists as they...Precursor Ventures managing partner Charles Hudson has some advice for his fellow venture capitalists as they consider trying to address the industry's longstanding, systemic racial inequities. The venture industry employs and backs exceedingly few black people. Firms won't be able to rectify that problem overnight, but there are some steps they could take today to get the ball rolling, Hudson told Business Insider. Among other things, they could be more open to unsolicited pitches and to hiring non-traditional venture employees in entry-level roles, he said. Click here for more BI Prime stories. As the venture industry wrestles with addressing its longstanding diversity problems amid a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism, Charles Hudson has some advice. Reshaping the business isn't going to happen overnight, Hudson, the managing partner at Precursor Ventures, told Business Insider. But venture firms can take some relatively simple steps today in how they approach funding and hiring that could lead to meaningful change, he said. "I hope that this whole moment promotes real introspection in our industry about who we hire and who we fund," Hudson said. It's clear that the venture industry has a big problem with diversity, particularly when it comes to race. Black people comprise just 4% of all venture employees and just 3% of investment partners, according to Deloitte and the National Venture Capital Association. Only 1% of founders of venture-backed companies are black. Hudson both knows the problem intimately — and how to address it. He's one of the very few black venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and one of the even fewer who runs his own fund. He's made a point at Precursor to back businesses founded by African-Americans, Latinos, and women. And he's become known for it; many of the entrepreneurs he's invested in have sought him out. Precursor highlights its diverse group of founders One of the first decisions he made with Precursor was to showcase those founders. The web homepages of many venture firms feature big pictures of their partners or logos of the prominent companies they've backed. By contrast, Precursor's homepage is filled with photos of the founders it's backed — a diverse assortment including numerous women and people of color. The point was to signal "to people that we're open for business for all types of people," Hudson said. Other firms could copy that strategy, if they've invested in minority founders. And they probably should, if they really want to invest in startups led by more diverse teams, he said. "I think it's completely reasonable, if you're an entrepreneur, to go to a firm's website, look at the team page, not see anyone who looks like you, look in their portfolio and not even see a hint of a founder who looks like you ... [and] conclude, 'Hey, maybe this firm isn't for me,'" Hudson said. Another change firms could make is in how they solicit potential investments, he said. Many venture firms won't meet with founders unless those entrepreneurs have been referred to them by people they know. Many ignore emails that come in from out of the blue. But many people of color simply don't have those networks of contacts who can introduce or recommend them to venture investors, Hudson said. So what he's tried to do instead is to be open to and to read and to respond to entrepreneurs who email him cold, without any kind of introduction or referral. He and his team don't respond to every message that comes in, but they try, he said. "Being open to people outside your network reaching out to you is step one," he said. "That's one way to level the playing field," he continued. "It means that people don't have to know me or know someone who knows me." People outside the industry can easily learn about it The other relatively easy change venture firms could make would be to broaden the pool of candidates they look at when when trying to fill entry-level analyst-type positions, Hudson said. Many venture firms focus on finding people who are veterans of the big tech firms or have startup experience or are graduates of Stanford or other prestigious universities and have computer science degrees, he said. But that focus makes the potential pool of black or minority candidates very small, because none of those institutions is terribly diverse. But there's no reason the industry has to look for candidates that meet those kinds of criteria, he said. Most venture firms are generalists; they don't typically require people who have deep technical knowledge or science backgrounds or even experience in the tech industry, he said. "I don't understand why as an industry we've been hung up on a really specific profile," Hudson said. By contrast, Precursor hired a black woman to be an analyst who is from the East Coast who had never worked in tech and never been a founder. "She's a smart person," Hudson said. "I think she can figure out how this business works in a year. And the things she doesn't know about venture, she'll learn. And the things that she's bringing from her old job ... is going to be additive to our firm." Such changes would be an important "signal" If other firms took a similar approach, they too could quickly increase the diversity of their teams, he said. "Even if hiring a [general partner] is scary, most of these funds have analysts and associate programs," he said. "You could get a person of color on your investment team who would immediately give you access to a new perspective and a new network, if you empower that person." He continued: "That's something you could do tomorrow." These kinds of moves won't solve venture's diversity problems by themselves. The industry has lots of systemic problems that need to be addressed, from the priorities of the limited partners who back venture funds to the venture firm's broader hiring and funding decisions, he said. But these kinds of changes would be important to make, Hudson said. Doing these kinds of things would be "a signal," he said. "It's a start." Got a tip about the tech industry? Contact Troy Wolverton via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop. Read more about diversity in Silicon Valley: One of Silicon Valley's few black VCs says the industry has a systemic problem with race, but he's hopeful the George Floyd protests are finally going to spark real change A diversity consultant says real change may hit the tech industry due to the George Floyd protests and the coronavirus crisis. Silicon Valley hasn't changed much after past scrutiny, but this time could be different. 'THIS IS NOT A CHARITY': Andreessen Horowitz defends itself against the criticism surrounding the size and structure of its new nonprofit fund SoftBank commits $100 million to invest in companies led by black Americans and people of color: 'We need to do better' SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley billionaires are lining up to condemn racism. But the tech and VC industry has a shameful, decades-long history of ignoring and perpetuating inequality. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
One of Silicon Valley's few black VCs says the industry has a systemic problem with race, but he's hopeful the George Floyd protests are finally going to spark real change
The ongoing nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality have forced Silicon Valley in general...The ongoing nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality have forced Silicon Valley in general to confront its own history of racial exclusion. The venture industry in particular has a poor track record on race; only 3% of investment partners and just 1% of founders of venture-backed firms are black. The industry has a systemic problem that extends from who it hires for entry-level positions to the investors who serve as limited partners to venture funds, said Charles Hudson, the managing partner of Precursor Capital. Hudson is hopeful that the present moment will spur the industry to change, but to do so, it will have to confront and address many of its long-standing practices, he told Business Insider. Click here for more BI Prime stories. The protests over the killing of George Floyd and police brutality have sparked a nationwide conversation about systemic racism and exclusion, up to and including inside the insular venture capital industry. People inside and outside the industry have been calling out the venture business's lack of diversity both in terms of the people it employs and in terms of the people in which it invests. In response, at least two firms — SoftBank and Andreessen Horowitz — have announced new funds that will be charged with backing startups founded by African-Americans or people from other under-invested communities. For Charles Hudson, the venture industry's diversity problem isn't at all a revelation. Hudson is one of the exceedingly few black venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. And as the managing partner of Precursor Ventures, he's also one of the rare investors who made it a point to seek out and back black, Latino, and female founders long before the recent demonstrations. Hudson is hopeful the present moment will lead to real change. But getting to that is not going to be easy and is going to require the industry to take a hard look at itself and its traditional way of doing business. "There's a lot of positive awakening going on where people are seeing problems that I think both black entrepreneurs and black investors have seen for a long time," Hudson told Business Insider this week. "I think the flip side, though, is I hope some of these firms realize how far they have to go." The venture industry's diversity problems are systemic The tech industry in general has a long history of excluding black and Latino people. But the venture industry in particular has been even worse. As of 2018, African Americans comprised just 4% of all employees of venture firms and Latinos only 5%, according to a study released by Deloitte and the National Venture Capital Association. Among investment partners, just 3% were black and 3% were Latino. Meanwhile, only 1% of founders of venture-backed startups were black and just 1.8% were Latino, according to a study released last year by RateMyInvestor and Diversity VC. Venture's diversity and inclusion problem extends to all levels of the business, Hudson said, from the limited partners who invest in venture funds to the kinds of people firms hire for entry-level positions. The kinds of people and institutions who serve as limited partners haven't made diversity a priority, he said. They generally don't pressure mainstream venture firms to invest in black or other founders of color. Instead, the venture industry as a whole seems to have outsourced the problem of investing in people of color to the very few black or Latino-led firms like Precursor, he said. But limited partners generally haven't made it a point to back those firms or give them a whole lot of funding. Base10 Partners is the only black-led venture firm Hudson is aware of that has more than $50 million in assets under management; it has about $137 million in investments and commitments, according to PitchBook. Precursor has $31 million, according to PitchBook. By contrast, SoftBank's Vision Fund — a single investment vehicle — had $100 billion in assets and many other VC firms have multiple funds that each have at least $100 million in assets. "If the default is most of the money that goes to this class of entrepreneurs is going come from people of color and people of color in the investing world don't have much capital, you're not going change anything," Hudson said. Most VCs likely don't know many black people But venture businesses diversity problem extends to the way the people who manage the firms have typically gone about finding founders and companies to invest in, he said. As other venture industry critics have pointed out, the industry has long been a kind of closed system. Venture investors tend to be white men who went to prestigious colleges such as Stanford or one of the Ivy League schools and frequently are former startup founders themselves. When they decide on entrepreneurs to back, they often are consciously or unconsciously looking for people like them — white, male, and well-pedigreed. In recent years, the industry has become somewhat more open to Asian people and to women in both founder and investor roles. But that general hasn't extended to black or Latino people. And a big part of that is that the people who run venture firms likely don't know many such people and aren't encountering them in the places they look for new founders or employees, Hudson said. Stanford and other prestigious schools are typically not very diverse places. There are few black and Latino founders of venture-backed startups. And the bigger tech companies have long done a poor job of hiring and promoting black and Latino people. "I think a lot of investors, they don't have regular or professional associations with black people," Hudson said. "If you're not meeting black founders, if you don't have black people in your social and professional network ... you're just not that likely to find them, if you only look in the places where you already know to find companies." And the industry's insularity extends to its own hiring practices, he said. The criteria venture firms use for new employees is typically similar to those they use for founders. There's just aren't that many black people or people of color who are former venture-backed founders or who have worked in a position of authority at a top tech company and also attended a prestigious university and are interested in being a venture capitalist, Hudson said. "That's really small overlap," he said. To fix its diversity problem, the industry needs to address those kinds of standard practices and mindsets, he said. And there are good business reasons to do so, he said. Female founders have opened the eyes of many VCs Numerous studies have shown that diversity is good for companies' revenue, profits, and return on investment. Having people of different backgrounds on staff opens companies to new markets and new products and helps them address concerns that they likely wouldn't have recognized otherwise. And the venture industry knows this first-hand, Hudson said. In 2017, Susan Fowler sparked a long-needed reassessment in Silicon Valley of how it has treated women when she wrote publicly about her experiences with sexual harassment at Uber. Following Fowler, numerous women in the industry came forward to talk about their own experiences. In reaction, tech companies and venture firms ousted certain executives and investors, and many vowed to make changes. In the venture business in particular, there has been a significant uptick in the number of female investors, venture firms with women on staff, and investment in female-founded firms. While still a distinct minority in the industry, those female investors and founders have helped open eyes at venture firms, Hudson said. "I think people have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of female-founded companies that were overlooked for decades," he said. "People are like, 'Wow, we can't believe that we invested this way before, that we systematically excluded this large group of people. We missed out on a ton.'" He thinks the venture industry is in for a similar revelation if and when it gets serious about investing in companies started by black and Latino founders. "As people spend more time with black and brown founders and provide them with capital, they're going to have [the] same a-ha moment," Hudson said. Beyond the business opportunity, though, backing such people is just the right thing to do, he said. "This is a missed opportunity, and it's also a justice issue," Hudson said. "It can't just be about ROI. "Some things are bigger than that." Got a tip about the tech industry? Contact Troy Wolverton via email at email@example.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop. Read more about diversity in Silicon Valley: A diversity consultant says real change may hit the tech industry due to the George Floyd protests and the coronavirus crisis. Silicon Valley hasn't changed much after past scrutiny, but this time could be different. 'THIS IS NOT A CHARITY': Andreessen Horowitz defends itself against the criticism surrounding the size and structure of its new nonprofit fund SoftBank commits $100 million to invest in companies led by black Americans and people of color: 'We need to do better' 'Words by themselves are empty': Andreessen Horowitz is launching a new nonprofit fund to invest in founders that 'lack the typical background and resources' to get on Silicon Valley's fast track to success. SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley billionaires are lining up to condemn racism. But the tech and VC industry has a shameful, decades-long history of ignoring and perpetuating inequality. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak
The 2008 financial crisis heralded giants like Uber and Airbnb. We asked top investors what they are looking for during a downturn.
The market downturn and increased uncertainty surrounding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has seen startup...The market downturn and increased uncertainty surrounding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has seen startup investors pull term sheets, slash valuations, and pull out of deals. Many startups are laying off staff and risk closure — but some will thrive in challenging circumstances. Major tech companies like Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, and Square were all founded between 2006 and 2009 during the last financial crisis proving that great businesses can still come from a downturn. We asked investors with experience investing in downturns what to look for in a downturn and where they see opportunity. Click here for more BI Prime stories. Increased uncertainty surrounding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has seen startup investors pull term sheets, slash valuations, and pull out of deals. Many startups will be forced into mass layoffs or could close altogether, but others will thrive in challenging circumstances. Uber, Airbnb, and Square were founded during the last financial crisis, suggesting that strong startups can still weather a downturn. We asked investors what to look for in a downturn and where they see opportunity. "Each downturn is peculiar," Paul Asel, partner at NGP Capital told Business Insider in an interview. "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes. There are consistent reasons why we see the best companies coming out of a downturn because there's less competition, less capital available, and more time to innovate." Asel cites the formation of Cisco, founded in 1984, and its development despite the 1987 market crash and the events of Black Monday, and the success of Google amid the dotcom bust in the late 1990s and early 2000s as good examples of companies coming through adversity. The decisions that companies take now to ensure that they survive the crisis will make the difference come the end, according to Michiel Kotting, a partner at Northzone. During the dotcom bust he was the founder of AI company Digital Jones which was later sold to Shopping.com. "In 2001, we had to layoff two thirds of our staff but it helped us focus and we went from $9 million in revenue to $100 million in revenue and a sale in the next three years," Kotting said. "Survival is the most important thing because you want to come out of the gate flying when this is over." The 'batshit crazy' founders survive the tough times In a downturn, personality and resilience count. "When the tide rolls out, all that's left are the batshit crazy people that want to start a company under any circumstances, and those are the people you want to invest in," said Rob Hayes, a venture capitalist at First Round Capital who invested $510,000 in Uber's seed financing round, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "You want entrepreneurs responding to the challenge," Kotting added. "Being creative, working hard, and taking quick decisions are key traits for founders who are grabbing the bull by the horns." There were, of course, unique circumstances that helped the likes of consumer services like Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify. Investors cited the explosion in the app economy and the rise of online marketplaces as key to the success of companies founded during the last downturn. The current batch will need to be equally adept at identifying equivalent trends. Less capital may be good for resetting the ecosystem The market that emerges from the pandemic will look different to the one that came before. There will likely be a curtailment to the mega-rounds that have become more common. "It's been harder for VCs to invest when there are so many tech giants casting long shadows," Asel said. "Most of our top investments came from the 2007-09 period and the same could be true here where the pricing environment is much healthier. If less capital is needed to succeed it's good for both entrepreneurs and investors." Sectors that hold promise include educational tech and healthtech, both sectors venture capitalists have been talking up in recent years. Startups in these sectors are seeing a spike in usage and demand — but were already rising in popularity, according to Reshma Sohoni, founding partner at early-stage London fund Seedcamp, an investor in TransferWise and Revolut. "We are still looking for long-term indicators of growth and genuine product market fit," Sohoni told Business Insider in an interview. "We don't want companies that are only successful now which have 'pandemic fit.'" Historically, there has been a 25% to 30% drop in the number of early-stage deals after an economic downtown, and median valuations decrease 10% to 20% per year for several years post-crisis, according to Daniel Li, a VC at Madrona Venture Group, in a Medium blog post. Valuations are already being slashed in startup land. Investors have sought to regroup to better understand the market they find themselves in, even reneging on terms or pulling term sheets for some startups. "The bar goes up and there will a shakeup between better-performing companies and those that struggle," said Northzone's Kotting. SEE ALSO: The coronavirus crunch will speed up the inevitable fintech market shakeout Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 62 new emoji and emoji variations were just finalized, including a bubble tea emoji and a transgender flag. Here's how everyday people submit their own emoji.