Say it louder for the people in the back: As tech grows bigger by the minute and venture capital adds dollar signs by the day, a startup hub’s success is not an either/or situation. The next Silicon Valley is a tired narrative, when in reality startups look, innovate and create differently all over the world.
On that note, my colleagues spent the past few months digging into the market in Detroit, Michigan:
While StockX is the startup darling that may have put the region in the generalist spotlight, I soon learned that the sneaker marketplace company wasn’t at all where the city’s story started and ended. Instead, it started a little more at ground level.
Detroit techies consistently point to billionaire Dan Gilbert, the co-founder of Quicken Loans and the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the reason behind the region’s startup growth. It made me immediately wonder if all it takes to create a startup ecosystem is deep pockets.
Turns out it’s a little more complicated than that.
Gilbert has poured at least $2.5 billion into rehabilitating buildings in the core of Detroit. Then he invested in the companies that took office space in those buildings, the restaurants that would feed those new families in the area and the retailers that would fill up the side blocks. It wasn’t one check by one billionaire, but instead a measured and consistent approach to try to reestablish Detroit as a city of innovation within the United States.
I think one founder put it best: “there are a lot of people who hate him, but the reality is that, while he wasn’t the only billionaire in town, he’s the only one who heavily invested in Detroit.”
Beyond Gilbert, the vitalization is spread throughout different sectors. There’s a 12-year-old early-stage venture firm that was one of the first to ever bet on mobility as an investment thesis; there’s a thriving garden startup; and there’s a hardware company that, despite remote work, is finding space to scale:
- Detroit’s native son, billionaire Dan Gilbert, makes the case for his town
- Hardware is still hard in the Motor City
- Building tech for worker safety, Guardhat Technologies is a company that could only come from Detroit
- A quick peek inside Fontinalis, one of Detroit’s best-known young venture firms
We’ll continue exploring emerging tech hubs, so throw us suggestions as we virtually (and one day physically) road trip across the country.
In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about Tiger Global, IPOs and a few exciting upcoming events. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @nmasc_ to hang during the week.
Table of Contents
Tiger Global has a spending problem
This week on Equity, we talked about Tiger Global’s aggressive investment approach and what it could mean for early-stage firms and founders.
- Alexa Von Tobel outlines how founders should manage personal finances
- How Pilot charted a course of raising not too much money
Here’s what to know: One of the reasons Tiger Global is feeling spendy is that it just closed one of the biggest venture funds ever. In 2020, the firm closed $3.75 billion in capital commitments. In 2021, it nearly doubled its own record, with $6.7 billion raised for its latest fund.
And if you don’t believe me, below is a list of just some of the New York-based firms’ recent activity:
- HighRadius’ $300M Series C
- Cityblock Health’s $192 million Series C
- 6sense’s $125 million Series D
- Groq’s $300 million financing event
- Outschool’s $75 million Series C
- Tiger Global goes super aggressive in India
Crypto’s Coinbase moment
Cryptocurrency trading giant Coinbase went public this week. The company opened at $381 per share, valuing the exchange at nearly $100 billion. It was a massive exit for the company, which underwent scrutiny last year when it banned politics at work.
Here’s what to know: It’s fairly obvious that Coinbase’s successful IPO was a big moment for fintech and crypto startups, as well as the decentralized finance movement. My colleagues Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim dug into how the crypto ripple effect could look from the perspective of a few venture capitalists. There are too many good bits for me to choose an excerpt, so read it for yourself here, and a take sneak peek below:
So while there is an ocean of bullish sentiment that the Coinbase listing will lead to rising venture capital investment into crypto startups, there’s also some caution to be had; how much of the growing market that Coinbase can capture and control is not yet clear, though IVP’s Loverro was very bullish during our interview about the company’s expanding feature set — things like staking Tezos, or buying Uniswap. Its backers think that Coinbase is well-positioned to absorb future market upside in its niche.
As always, we have a ton of exciting events coming up. Here’s just a taste:
- Tamika Butler, Remix’s Tiffany Chu and Revel’s Frank Reig to discuss how to balance equitability and profitability at TC Sessions: Mobility
- Greylock GP Mike Duboe to discuss growth, growth and more growth at TechCrunch Early Stage in July
Across the week
Seen on TechCrunch
Seen on Extra Crunch