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Two Sigma leads $12m series A for expert knowledge network NewtonX

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Knowledge is the fuel of business. Every decision requires a full understanding of the data underlying it, and that means reaching out not only to an organization’s own staff for insight, but also to experts in the wider world. Management consultants, research agencies, and data providers make hundreds of billions of dollars per year attempting to answer key questions for business executives.

Sometimes they are successful, but many times, finding the right expert can be vexing. For the most important decisions, having multiple experts or even hundreds of experts provide their opinion might be critical to success.

Germain Chastel and Sascha Eder know the problem well. Former McKinsey consultants, they worked with some of the top technology companies in the Valley attempting to answer their questions — but oftentimes struggled to do so given the unique problems that confront those organizations. “We realized it was really hard to find experts who could teach them something and had the insights that were relevant,” Chastel explained.

In early 2017, the two left McKinsey and eventually joined forces with Anuja Ketan, and together the trio formed NewtonX. NewtonX is a “knowledge access platform” which attempts to intelligently answer questions posed to it by business clients. Clients answer a carefully calibrated series of questions to properly vet and scope a query, and then NewtonX farms it out to it network of experts for insight.

That rapid-response network has now gotten the attention of Two Sigma Ventures, the venture wing of the high-flying algorithmic-trading hedge fund, which led a $12 million Series A round into New York City-based NewtonX. That’s a follow up to a $3 million seed round co-led by Third Prime Capital and Xfund last year.

Today, the company offers two main product lines. First is what it calls Expert Calls, which are similar to the traditional expert network offering of companies like GLG. Here, a client answers a series of structured questions to determine a single expert to talk to and get feedback from.

The more interesting product to me, and the one representing 70% of the startup’s revenue right now, is Expert Surveys. With this product, the goal is to ask a business question to a wider number of experts who might provide a variety of responses. So, for instance, NewtonX could potentially answer a query such as how CIOs at large Fortune 500 companies are budgeting for cybersecurity this year.

Where NewtonX gets interesting is that it doesn’t want to just casually facilitate these calls and surveys, but instead, the startup wants to build out a true knowledge graph that can better answer questions faster with each activity on the platform. As the platform gets smarter about knowledge, the idea is that on-boarding a new client or initiating a new survey or question will be faster since the platform will already know many of the nuances of that particular field of business.

Over the two and a half years since the company’s founding, it has found wide support among businesses. It counts Microsoft, 23&Me, and Gartner as public clients, and also has a list of 20 corporates already on the platform. Chastel told me that nine of the top ten management consulting firms have also used NewtonX services, and many top research firms have also used the product.

Early revenues has allowed the company to expand early. It has 32 employees at its offices near Grand Central, and Chastel noted to me that a majority of employees and a majority of managers are women. He said that the firm’s technology to identify experts on the web is also the basis for their own recruiting efforts.

With the new funding, the company intends to grow to 100 head count locally, and also expand out is client success and expert success teams.

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Today, Facebook is coming together with 27 organizations around the world to start the non-profit Libra Association and…

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Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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A Global Coin

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If Facebook succeeds and legions of people cash in money for Libra, it and the other founding members of the Libra Association could earn big dividends on the interest. And if suddenly it becomes super quick to buy things through Facebook using Libra, businesses will boost their ad spend there. But if Libra gets hacked or proves unreliable, it could cost lots of people around the world money while souring them on cryptocurrencies. And by offering an open Libra platform, shady developers could build apps that snatch not just people’s personal info like Cambridge Analytica, but their hard-earned digital cash.

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Facebook just tried to reinvent money. Next year, we’ll see if the Libra Association pulls it off.

n","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Facebook has finally revealed the details of its cryptocurrency Libra, which will let you buy things or send money to people with nearly zero fees. You’ll pseudonymously buy or cash out your Libra online or at local exchange points like grocery stores, and spend it using interoperable third-party wallet apps or Facebook’s own Calibra wallet […]

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Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

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Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend's social location-sharing startup codenamed 'Signal' that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch's editors and has concluded. Constine's fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine's cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he's since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents' estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

","cbAvatar":"https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/v1415412437/xje35licfau9iewxnf44.png","twitter":"joshconstine","_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/1603003"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users"}]}}],"replies":[[{"id":666067,"parent":0,"author":0,"author_name":"c r","author_url":"","date":"2019-06-18T03:10:07","content":{"rendered":"

So, why do I care if the vendor has to pay transaction fees to Visa? That doesnu2019t seem like reason enough for me to adopt a new currency.

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666067","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/063f6ba64d41d4bb4887b432d09d4da0?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/063f6ba64d41d4bb4887b432d09d4da0?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/063f6ba64d41d4bb4887b432d09d4da0?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"GBWCMWNZ2AORDOFG24Z57R2GFY"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666067"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350"}],"children":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments?parent=666067"}]}},{"id":666072,"parent":0,"author":0,"author_name":"Erik de Vries","author_url":"","date":"2019-06-18T03:44:18","content":{"rendered":"

This may replace cash or debit transactions for many people. It will be a hard sell to credit card customers in the US though. Credit cards have 4 benefits over Libra.
n1) Ability to spend now and pay later. Even without interest when paying within a month.
n2) Ability to earn cash back or rewards. The merchants are paying for fees and rewards, but in the US they rarely charge the customer for those fees.
n3) Transactions are not final as they are with cash, debit, and Libra. Customer can challenge fraudulent charges and get transactions reversed.
n4) Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in the US.

n

That said, this looks to be the best attempt to create a stable crypto currency so far. This may gain a lot of traction in countries where people donu2019t have access to stable currencies and for people that donu2019t have access to credit.

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666072","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"S3BOOWUGAEVKG3MQPVHAB5IKJA"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666072"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350"}]}},{"id":666074,"parent":0,"author":0,"author_name":"S N","author_url":"","date":"2019-06-18T04:03:48","content":{"rendered":"

I am sceptical. If KYC is a requirement, what’s to prevent them from censoring people they don’t like? For example, if you own a history channel on YouTube or something like that, and they decide to ban you for hate speech. And all of a sudden you can’t spend your Libra anymore.

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666074","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/62f3bdf30e7b4ea882d77925c6db6265?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/62f3bdf30e7b4ea882d77925c6db6265?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/62f3bdf30e7b4ea882d77925c6db6265?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"M73UWALWXVWUBJ3WIOUUDUHAGQ"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666074"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350"}]}},{"id":666076,"parent":0,"author":0,"author_name":"Charles Porter","author_url":"","date":"2019-06-18T04:36:01","content":{"rendered":"

Facebook is known for censoring undesirable content and collecting obscene amounts of private data on its users (and non-users. Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp announced that it would be suing users for violating its TOS, even if that violation occurred on a different platform or even meat-space.

n

Can’t imagine that FaceBucks will be free from those concerns.

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666076","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/435ffae10670466471c0b46cc7e90c39?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/435ffae10670466471c0b46cc7e90c39?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/435ffae10670466471c0b46cc7e90c39?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"KST5RH2GOMT5SGZO3XAUZVZ3QY"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666076"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350"}]}},{"id":666069,"parent":666067,"author":0,"author_name":"F F","author_url":"","date":"2019-06-18T03:24:35","content":{"rendered":"

Hm… how about sending money to oversea? When you travel, you need to do currency exchange, you lose heaps of money by doing that. 7% sounds like a fair figure.

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666069","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/89d55d331bc8ec7879531cbba3b45d34?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/89d55d331bc8ec7879531cbba3b45d34?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/89d55d331bc8ec7879531cbba3b45d34?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"S7U2QTVHQRYVXIDR2LILVKDOYQ"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666069"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350"}],"in-reply-to":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666067"}]}},{"id":666073,"parent":666067,"author":0,"author_name":"Erik de Vries","author_url":"","date":"2019-06-18T03:56:55","content":{"rendered":"

Companies like TransferWise are lowering the cost of international transfers and access to money overseas. You donu2019t need crypto currencies to take on the remittance industry. You just need a company with less overhead and more automation to reduce the transaction costs.

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666073","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/e83df7fd7ab6f712087b6d91d09a81fd?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"S3BOOWUGAEVKG3MQPVHAB5IKJA"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666073"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350"}],"in-reply-to":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666067"}]}},{"id":666080,"parent":666067,"author":0,"author_name":"Shannon Butler","author_url":"","date":"2019-06-18T04:50:50","content":{"rendered":"

@Erik De Vries Transferwise is unfortunately still really expensive. I’d say due to the regulatory requirements imposed on these types of companies. As regulation comes into place this platform is likely to also become more expensive until it can be truly decentralized.

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/18/facebook-libra/#comment-666080","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/6a6594ad086c14c085f66f59ca0fc5e2?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"NBRR4URN2JESBPUFJIP2MGAZAG"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666080"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1845350"}],"in-reply-to":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/666067"}]}}]],"author":[{"id":1603003,"name":"Josh Constine","url":"","description":"","link":"https://techcrunch.com/author/josh-constine/","slug":"josh-constine","avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/fd3b857e7f0024396cdbd36c4c102a5d?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"links":{"homepage":"http://www.JoshConstine.com","facebook":"http://www.facebook.com/JoshConstine","twitter":"https://twitter.com/joshconstine","linkedin":"https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshconstine/","crunchbase":"https://www.crunchbase.com/person/josh-constine"},"position":"Editor-At-Large","cbDescription":"

Josh Constine is a technology journalist who specializes in deep analysis of social products. He is currently an Editor-At-Large for TechCrunch and is available for speaking engagements.

nn

Previously, Constine was the Lead Writer of Inside Facebook through its acquisition by WebMediaBrands, covering everything about the social network.

nn

Constine graduated from Stanford University in 2009 with a Master's degree in Cybersociology, examining the influence of technology on social interaction. He researched the impact of privacy controls on the socialization of children, meme popularity cycles, and what influences the click through rate of links posted to Twitter.

nn

Constine also received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Stanford University in 2007, with a concentration in Social Psychology & Interpersonal Processes.

nn

Josh Constine is an experienced public speaker, and has moderated over 120 on-stage interviews in 15 countries with leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whistleblower Edward Snowden (via on-stage video conference), and U.S. Senator Cory Booker. He is available to moderate panels and fireside chats, deliver keynotes, and judge hackathon and pitch competitions.

nn

Constine has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, The Atlantic, BBC World Magazine, Slate, and more, plus has been featured on television on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, China Central Television, and Fox News. Constine is ranked as the #1 most cited tech journalist on prestigious news aggregator Techmeme.

nn

[Disclosures: Josh Constine temporarily advised a college friend's social location-sharing startup codenamed 'Signal' that was based in San Francisco before dissolving in 2015. This advising role was cleared with AOL and TechCrunch's editors and has concluded. Constine's fiancu00e9e Andee Gardiner co-founded startup accelerator Founders Embassy. Constine's cousin Darren Lachtman is the founder of influencer advertising startup Niche that was acquired by Twitter, and he's since left and founded teen content studio Brat. Constine does not write about Founders Embassy or Brat. Constine has personal acquaintances stemming from college housing circa 2007 with founders at Skybox Imaging (now Terra Bella), Hustle, Snapchat, and Robinhood, but does not maintain close social ties with them nor does that influence his writing. Constine occasionally does paid speaking engagements at conferences, but only those funded by companies he does not cover. Constine owns a small position in Ethereum and Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, does not day-trade, and discloses his positions directly in articles where appropriate. Constine does not do consulting, angel investing, or public stock trading beyond public stock invesments by his parents' estate that he has no role in managing or advising.]

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Modern Fertility is a San Francisco-based company that sells fertility tests directly to consumers, but increasingly, those customers will be educating the company, too. Indeed, the two-year-old startup now plans to develop a database of anonymized data about its largely younger demographic.

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Modern Fertility is a San Francisco-based company that sells fertility tests directly to consumers, but increasingly, those customers will be educating the company, too. Indeed, the two-year-old startup now plans to develop a database of anonymized data about its largely younger demographic.

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Microsoft in 2017 said it would eventually shut down Wunderlist, a company it acquired, in order to forge ahead with its own “to do” app. It has since launched To-Do, as the app is called, on Windows, iOS, Android and the web and expanded its feature set. Today, it’s bringing the app to the Mac, as well.

n

The company announced this morning its To-Do app is live on the Mac App Store, where it will support most of the core features right away, including the ability to create and manage tasks, work offline, share lists, utilize tags and more. It also will integrate with Microsoft Outlook to pull in your “Flagged” email list and will support integration with Planner soon, allowing you to see any items assigned to you.

n

The Mac version also takes advantage of its new platform to offer a handful of keyboard shortcuts, like u23182 to minimize the app so it only displays the list view, and u23181 to return to viewing all your lists. You can click on a task’s text to edit it directly from the list view, as well.u00a0

n

n

It’s worth noting that Microsoft built this native Mac app using 100% AppKit, it says.

n

At Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference this month, the company announced a new set of tools — called Project Catalyst — that allow developers to bring their iPad apps to the Mac by leveraging their existing codebase. This is expected to bring more Mac apps to Apple’s Mac App Store over time, as it simplifies the process of maintaining multiple apps for various platforms. Twitter, for example, said on Friday that it would leverage Project Catalyst to bring its app back to the Mac.

n

Microsoft, however, went a different route. We understand the company wanted to ship the new app to Mac users running older versions of macOS (macOS High Sierra and higher), which Project Catalyst wouldn’t allow.

n

A big question now is what today’s news will mean for Wunderlist — an app that has a near-perfect 4.9 out of 5 stars rating on the Mac App Store and is the No. 21 most popular free app in the store’s Productivity category.

n

As of today’s launch, Microsoft To-Do has seen a surge of downloads and jumped ahead of its predecessor — it now claims the No. 11 spot in the same category (as of the time of writing).

n

Microsoft had earlier promised that it wouldn’t close down Wunderlist until it was confident that it has “incorporated the best of Wunderlist into To-Do.” Some of the company’s initial concerns were adding support for list sharing in To-Do and rolling out support for all platforms — which Microsoft has now done with this Mac app launch.

n

We asked Microsoft if it will comment on its updated plans for Wunderlist as a result of this launch.

n

“We’re not currently working on new features for Wunderlist as we’re concentrating on our new app, Microsoft To-Do,” a spokesperson said. “Once we are confident that we have incorporated the best of Wunderlist into Microsoft To-Do, we will retire Wunderlist,” they added.

n

This is generally the same statement the company made years ago, so it doesn’t add much clarity to the situation.

n

In the meantime, the new Mac version of To-Do is a free download from the Mac App Store here.

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founders need to decide how much salary is enough"},"content":{"rendered":"

Startup founders don’t typically launch a company as a get-rich-quick scheme. Most know that it will be a long, hard slog if they are to succeed. There will be lean years where the money is tight, and where they may personally struggle to pay their bills. They do it because they believe in the mission and they want to build a successful company, where, if all goes well, they could end up with a healthy amount of money.

n

But it takes a lot of hard work, long hours, tough times and a bit of luck to find your way through to a successful outcome, however you choose to define that. Early on every dollar you give yourself is money that’s not going into the business, and while you don’t want to starve yourself, neither do you want to run out of money, and those early dollars are especially valuable.

n

While the ultimate goal is a successful exit, not everyone gets there, and it begs the question, how much is fair to take out in the form of salary, especially in the early years when money is tight, and at what point is it reasonable to sell a bit of equity to take some money out of the business and live a more comfortable life. There are no hard and fast answers.

n

Removing financial obstacles

n

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Startup founders don’t typically launch a company as a get-rich-quick scheme. Most know that it will be a long, hard slog if they are to succeed. There will be lean years where the money is tight, and where they may personally struggle to pay their bills. They do it because they believe in the mission […]

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

nn

Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

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Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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Ron Miller has been writing about the enterprise at TechCrunch since 2014.

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Previously, he was a long-time Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. Past regular gigs included CITEworld, DaniWeb, TechTarget, Internet Evolution and FierceContentManagement.

nn

Disclosures:

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Ron is currently corporate blogger for Intronis where he writes once weekly on IT issues. He has contributed to various corporate blogs in the past including Ness, Novell and the IBM Mid-market Blogger Program.

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proposes share split ahead of reported $20B Hong Kong IPO"},"content":{"rendered":"

Alibaba is being heavily linked with a public listing in Hong Kong, which could reportedly happen in Q3 and raise up to $20 billion. The firm is keeping quiet on those rumors, but it did let slip a major hint after it announced plans for a stock split.

n

Filings uploaded today (but originally released Friday) announced a proposal for a one-to-eight stock split.

n

Shareholders are invited to vote on the offer ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on July 15. The initiative has already been approved by Alibaba’s board, which is recommending that shareholders follow suit.

n

The particularly interesting part of the filing is where Alibaba explains the reasons behind the stock split.

n

“The Board of Directors is proposing the Share Subdivision to increase the flexibility for the Company in future capital market activities. Among other reasons, the one-to-eight share subdivision will increase the number of shares available for issuance at a lower per share price, and the Board of Directors believes that this will increase flexibility in the Companyu2019s capital raising activities, including the issuance of new shares,” the filing reads.

n

That would appear to clear the way for a second listing for the company, which went public in a record U.S. IPO that raised more than $20 billion in 2014.

n

Alibaba declined to provide further comment when we asked.

n

Reports last week suggested that the Chinese e-commerce giant has already filed initial paperwork for the listing, which would become the largest such float on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The city has become a destination for Chinese tech IPOs since relaxed listing rules came into effect two years ago. Ironically, a lack of flexibility was cited as a key reason why Alibaba picked the U.S. over Hong Kong for its 2014 listing.

n

Tech firms that have gone public in Hong Kong include Razer, Xiaomi, Tencent’s China Literature and selfie app company Meitu. Despite the hype, some have been guarded of Hong Kong’s suitability for tech firms, which are often not profitable when listing. Indeed, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan previously warned that “the U.S. [public markets] are probably more cognizant of tech companies” than Hong Kong retail investors.

n","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Alibaba is being heavily linked with a public listing in Hong Kong, which could reportedly happen in Q3 and raise up to $20 billion. The firm is keeping quiet on those rumors, but it did let slip a major hint after it announced plans for a stock split. Filings uploaded today (but originally released Friday) […]

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Jon Russell has been a reporter for TechCrunch since 2014 covering all things tech in Asia, in particular the major players in China, India and Southeast Asia. Originally from the UK, he is based in Bangkok and has lived in Thailand since 2008. During that time, Jon has watched smartphones and the internet, most notably Facebook, completely change the daily life of people across Southeast Asia. That's pace of change is set to continue as tech and startups become all the more influential in the region, and that's what keeps Jon's interest and attention.

nn

You reach Jon via [email protected] or use his PGP key. He's also active on Telegram (@jonrussell) and Twitter (@jonrussell) and he runs a weekly newsletter at Asiatechreview.com.

nn

Note: Jon owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

","cbAvatar":"https://crunchbase-production-res.cloudinary.com/image/upload/ea9babfujmoiwhjfy16h","twitter":"jonrussell","_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/5956050"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users"}]}}],"author":[{"id":5956050,"name":"Jon Russell","url":"","description":"","link":"https://techcrunch.com/author/jon-russell/","slug":"jon-russell","avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/5f5876ccfd72ee5c2620b86429e8caf5?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/5f5876ccfd72ee5c2620b86429e8caf5?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/5f5876ccfd72ee5c2620b86429e8caf5?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"links":{"homepage":"http://asiatechreview.com","twitter":"https://twitter.com/jonrussell","linkedin":"http://th.linkedin.com/in/jmarussell","crunchbase":"https://www.crunchbase.com/person/jon-russell-2"},"position":"Writer","cbDescription":"

Jon Russell has been a reporter for TechCrunch since 2014 covering all things tech in Asia, in particular the major players in China, India and Southeast Asia. Originally from the UK, he is based in Bangkok and has lived in Thailand since 2008. During that time, Jon has watched smartphones and the internet, most notably Facebook, completely change the daily life of people across Southeast Asia. That's pace of change is set to continue as tech and startups become all the more influential in the region, and that's what keeps Jon's interest and attention.

nn

You reach Jon via [email protected] or use his PGP key. He's also active on Telegram (@jonrussell) and Twitter (@jonrussell) and he runs a weekly newsletter at Asiatechreview.com.

nn

Note: Jon owns a small amount of cryptocurrency. Enough to gain an understanding, not enough to change a life.

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HANGZHOU, March 21, 2016– People walk past a logo of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba in Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province, March 21, 2016. Alibaba China retail marketplaces real-time gross merchandize value in fiscal year 2016 reached three trillion RMB at 2:58 p.m. on March 21, 2016. This means Alibaba Group, China’s leading e-commerce company, might exceed Wal-Mart and become the world’s biggest retail platform in fiscal year 2016, according to analysis. (Xinhua/Wang Dingchang via Getty Images)

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won the H-1B lottery: Donu2019t lose your ticket when changing jobs"},"content":{"rendered":"n n

Getting an H-1B skilled-worker visa is like winning the lottery u2014 literally: With the number of new visas issued each year capped at 85,000, most of this year’s over 200,000 applicants face disappointment. But if youu2019re already working in the United States, then youu2019ve already won the H-1B lottery, and that makes you a hot commodity.

n

With H-1Bs in short supply, successful companies frequently poach skilled workers. Everyone knows the tech sector thrives on this free exchange of people and ideas, so if another employer needs your skills, why not start working for them?

n

Well, not so fast. H-1B holders can work only for the company that originally sponsored their visa application. So if you want to change employers, youu2019ll need to u201ctransferu201d your H-1B.

n

That process used to be relatively straightforward but not in the Trump era. (Boundless recently underwent this process with an employee, so we understand the pain.) The denial rate for initial H-1B applications spiked over five-fold to 32 percent just in the first quarter of fiscal 2019, up from 6 percent in 2015. Crucially, the Trump administration is targeting u201ccontinuingu201d H-1B applications used by existing employees to either renew their H-1B or switch it to a new employer. Even tech giants like Amazon are now seeing double-digit rejection rates.

n

n

The bottom line: The days of getting an H-1B transfer quickly rubber-stamped are long gone, and that makes it vital to do whatever you can to keep the odds in your favor. The stakes are high u2014 if things go south, you could lose your right to live and work in the United States. Hereu2019s what H-1B holders need to know about the right u2014 and wrong u2014 ways to set about switching employers:

n

Donu2019t take your transfer for granted.

n

First, understand that an H-1B u201ctransferu201d is actually a brand new visa application, not a simple handover of your existing H-1B visa from one employer to another u2014 thereu2019s no such thing.

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Getting an H-1B skilled-worker visa is like winning the lottery u2014 literally: With the number of new visas issued each year capped at 85,000, most of this year’s over 200,000 applicants face disappointment. But if youu2019re already working in the United States, then youu2019ve already won the H-1B lottery, and that makes you a hot commodity.

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Previously, he worked as an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley covering the Power, Utilities & Clean Tech sectors. 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Every time I see a “the future of work is remote” article, I think to myself: “How backwards! How retro! How quaint!” That future is now, for many of us. I’ve been a fully remote developer-turned-CTO for a full decade. So I’m always baffled by people still wrestling with whether remote work is viable for their company. That jury rendered its verdict a long time ago.

n

One reason companies still struggle with it is that remote work amplifies the negative effects of bad practices. If everyone’s in one place, you can dither, handwave, vacillate, micromanage, and turn your workplace into an endless wasteland of unclear uncertainty, punctuated by ad-hoc last-second crisis meetings u2014 and your employees will probably still conspire against your counterproduction to get something done, albeit much less than what they’re capable of.

n

If they’re remote, though, progress via conspiracy and adhocracy is no longer an option. If they’re remote, you need decisive confidence, clear direction, iterative targets, independent responsibilities, asynchronous communications, and cheerful chatter. Let me go over each of those:

n

Decisive confidence. Suppose Vivek in Delhi, Diego in Rio, and Miles in Berlin are all on a project. (An example I’m drawing from my real life.) It’s late your time. You have to make a decision about the direction of their work. If you sleep on it, you’re writing off multiple developer-days of productivity.

n

Sometimes they have enough responsibilities to have other things to work on. (More on that below.) Sometimes you don’t have to make the decision because they have enough responsibility to do so themselves. (More on that below.) But sometimes you have to make the business-level decision based on scant information. In cases like this, remember the military maxim: “Any decision is better than no decision.”

n

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Every time I see a “the future of work is remote” article, I think to myself: “How backwards! How retro! How quaint!” That future is now, for many of us. I’ve been a fully remote developer-turned-CTO for a full decade. So I’m always baffled by people still wrestling with whether remote work is viable for […]

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Test

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Image via Getty Images / PayPau

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top VCs look for in women’s fertility startups"},"content":{"rendered":"

A number of promising women’s health tech companies have popped up in the last few years, from fertility apps to ovulation bracelets — even Apple has jumped into the subject with the addition of period tracking built into the latest edition of the watch. But there hasn’t been much in the way of innovation in women’s sexual health for decades.

n

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is now a 40-year-old invention and even the top pharmaceutical companies have spent a pittance on research and development. Subjects like polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis and menopause have taken a backseat to other, more fatal concerns. Fertility is itself oftentimes a mysterious black box as well, though a full 10% of the female population in the United States has difficulty getting or staying pregnant.

n

That’s all starting to change as startups are now bringing in millions in venture capital to gather and treat women’s health. While it’s early days (no unicorns just yet) interest in the subject has been jumping steadily higher each year.

n

To shine a better light on the importance of tech’s role in spurring more innovation for women’s fertility, we asked five VCs passionate about the space for their investment strategies, including Sarah Cone (Social Impact Capital), Vanessa Larco (NEA), Anu Duggal (Female Founders Fund), Jess Lee (Sequoia) and Nancy Brown (Oak HC/FT).

n

Sarah Cone, Social Impact Capital

n

Sarah Cone, Social Impact Capital

n

Weu2019re interested in companies that create large data sets in womenu2019s health and fertility, enabling personalized medicine, clinical trial virtualization, better patient outcomes, and the application of modern AI/ML techniques to generate hypotheses that discover new targets and molecules.

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

A number of promising women’s health tech companies have popped up in the last few years, from fertility apps to ovulation bracelets — even Apple has jumped into the subject with the addition of period tracking built into the latest edition of the watch. But there hasn’t been much in the way of innovation in […]

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I write about the wild new frontier of biotechnology (3D printed organs, one drop blood tests, or hamburgers grown in a lab? I'm your gal), also a bit of politics, gender and diversity and sometimes they put me on camera at TechCrunch so send your fun gadgets and gizmos my way.

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101: Do VC associates matter?"},"content":{"rendered":"

Building a company is fueled by highs and lows, but one of the few moments of potential ecstasy (or perhaps for grizzled veterans, deep annoyance) is the VC outreach email. You are building your startup on deforming IKEA desks eating frozen dinners when out of nowhere, a major VC firm reaches out and wants to discuss a potential investment.

n

But then you look up your interlocutor online and find that they have that completely enigmatic title of u201cAssociate.u201d Heck, that email may well have been from me over the years.

n

What do you do? Do you connect with someone who may well be working at a prominent firm and try to engage? Do you flat out ignore it? Do you equivocate and delay?

n

In short, do VC associates matter to your fundraise?

n

First, what exactly are associates and what do they do?

n

The best way to understand the work of a venture firm is to look at their actual activities rather than the titles or listed duties of any individual person. On the investment side, there are three main activities: analytics, networking / deal sourcing, and closing.

n

","protected":false},"excerpt":{"rendered":"

Building a company is fueled by highs and lows, but one of the few moments of potential ecstasy (or perhaps for grizzled veterans, deep annoyance) is the VC outreach email. You are building your startup on deforming IKEA desks eating frozen dinners when out of nowhere, a major VC firm reaches out and wants to […]

n","protected":false},"author":15408904,"featured_media":1841458,"comment_status":"open","ping_status":"closed","sticky":false,"template":"","format":"standard","meta":{"outcome":"","status":"","crunchbase_tag":0,"amp_status":"","relegenceEntities":[],"relegenceSubjects":[],"jetpack_publicize_message":""},"categories":[576602978,20429,35394854],"tags":[576673265,20334,576673264],"crunchbase_tag":[],"tc_stories_tax":[],"tc_event":[],"jetpack_featured_media_url":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/GettyImages-88622588.jpg","jetpack_publicize_connections":[],"shortlink":"https://tcrn.ch/2MK9SzJ","rapidData":{"pt":"","pct":""},"featured":false,"subtitle":"","fundingRound":false,"seoTitle":"","seoDescription":"","premiumContent":true,"premiumCutoffPercent":0.12,"tc_cb_mapping":[],"associatedEvent":null,"event":null,"authors":[1719192],"hideFeaturedImage":false,"relatedArticles":[],"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1841449"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts"}],"about":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/types/post"}],"version-history":[{"count":4,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1841449/revisions"}],"predecessor-version":[{"id":1841462,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1841449/revisions/1841462"}],"authors":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/guest-authors/danny-crichton-2"}],"replies":[{"embeddable":true,"count":2,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments?post=1841449&order=asc&tc_hierarchical=flat"}],"https://techcrunch.com/edit":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1841449&action=edit"}],"author":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/tc/v1/users/15408904"}],"wp:featuredmedia":[{"embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media/1841458"}],"wp:attachment":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/media?parent=1841449"}],"wp:term":[{"taxonomy":"category","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/categories?post=1841449"},{"taxonomy":"post_tag","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tags?post=1841449"},{"taxonomy":"_tc_cb_tag_taxonomy","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/crunchbase_tag?post=1841449"},{"taxonomy":"tc_stories_tax","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_stories_tax?post=1841449"},{"taxonomy":"tc_event","embeddable":true,"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/tc_event?post=1841449"}],"curies":[{"name":"wp","href":"https://api.w.org/{rel}","templated":true}]},"_embedded":{"authors":[{"id":1719192,"name":"Danny Crichton","link":"https://techcrunch.com/author/danny-crichton-2/","description":"Danny Crichton is an investor at CRV and a former contributing writer at TechCrunch. ","slug":"danny-crichton-2","links":{"homepage":"https://www.dannycrichton.com","facebook":"http://www.facebook.com/dancric","twitter":"http://twitter.com/dannycrichton","linkedin":"http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannycrichton","crunchbase":"https://www.crunchbase.com/person/danny-crichton"},"position":"Contributor","cbDescription":"

Danny is Executive Editor of TechCrunch Extra Crunch, where he covers technology and power. Previously, he was a foreign correspondent at TechCrunch based in Seoul, South Korea as well as a venture capitalist with General Catalyst in Palo Alto and Charles River Ventures in Boston and New York. He was awarded a Fulbright research scholarship to South Korea, where he researched the development of Koreau2019s startup ecosystem. He is a PhD dropout from Harvard where he studied public policy and an honors graduate of Stanford, where he studied mathematical and computational sciences. Danny is based in Brooklyn.

nn

His ethics statement is located at https://www.dannycrichton.com/ethics/

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totally agree. relationships are everything

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/12/fundraising-101-do-vc-associates-matter/#comment-665833","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/4ca18687cfc6f19d03c826b6a35fac46?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/4ca18687cfc6f19d03c826b6a35fac46?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/4ca18687cfc6f19d03c826b6a35fac46?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"KPUAFPUPYWGEZ5SJBGTYKJIFXY"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/665833"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1841449"}]}},{"id":665838,"parent":0,"author":0,"author_name":"Derek Bittar","author_url":"","date":"2019-06-14T02:59:38","content":{"rendered":"

Entrepreneurs need to understand that VCs mean no offenses in having associates in the frontlines. Associates make a GPs work scalable. They are the extension of the GPs work – usually very synergetic. So, beware not to underestimate an associateu2019s influence on an investment decision. Being arrogant may spoil your opportunity, no matter the size of the fund on the other side of the table.

n"},"link":"https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/12/fundraising-101-do-vc-associates-matter/#comment-665838","type":"comment","author_avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/448a8f70751354d8fa944d473e2cf674?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/448a8f70751354d8fa944d473e2cf674?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/448a8f70751354d8fa944d473e2cf674?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"techcrunch":{"avatar":"https://ct.yimg.com/cy/1768/39361574426_98028a_64sq.jpg","company":"(no company found)","title":"(no title found)","user":"COGLA7RR6E5WFXRGQ4WPPHPOXY"},"_links":{"self":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments/665838"}],"collection":[{"href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/comments"}],"up":[{"embeddable":true,"post_type":"post","href":"https://techcrunch.com/wp-json/wp/v2/posts/1841449"}]}}]],"author":[{"id":15408904,"name":"Danny Crichton","url":"","description":"","link":"https://techcrunch.com/author/danny-crichton/","slug":"danny-crichton","avatar_urls":{"24":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/8c216d6030a712ef1dd35e2d6ffdf497?s=24&d=identicon&r=g","48":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/8c216d6030a712ef1dd35e2d6ffdf497?s=48&d=identicon&r=g","96":"https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/8c216d6030a712ef1dd35e2d6ffdf497?s=96&d=identicon&r=g"},"links":{"homepage":"https://www.dannycrichton.com","facebook":"http://www.facebook.com/dancric","twitter":"https://twitter.com/dannycrichton","linkedin":"http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannycrichton","crunchbase":"https://www.crunchbase.com/person/danny-crichton"},"position":"Editorial Manager","cbDescription":"

Danny is Executive Editor of TechCrunch Extra Crunch, where he covers technology and power. Previously, he was a foreign correspondent at TechCrunch based in Seoul, South Korea as well as a venture capitalist with General Catalyst in Palo Alto and Charles River Ventures in Boston and New York. He was awarded a Fulbright research scholarship to South Korea, where he researched the development of Koreau2019s startup ecosystem. He is a PhD dropout from Harvard where he studied public policy and an honors graduate of Stanford, where he studied mathematical and computational sciences. Danny is based in Brooklyn.

nn

His ethics statement is located at https://www.dannycrichton.com/ethics/

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future of car ownership: Building an online dealership"},"content":{"rendered":"

Buying a car is painful. Dealerships are the worst, and the options are endless. The rise of the Internet produced powerful tools for shoppers, but in the end, most buyers still have to trudge down to a car lot.

n

For this series of articles, TechCrunch spoke with several founders and investors attempting to rethink car buying. It’s clear these startups are the underdog in this fight. Most consumers buy cars the same way as their grandparents did and for good reason. Dealerships nationwide fought for years to enact laws and regulations that protect their businesses.

n

Several young companies are attempting to put the dealership online. Companies like Carvana, Shift, Vroom and Joydrive are putting the entire car buying process online, allowing customers to buy, trade-in and even test drive vehicles without talking to a salesman in an oversized golf pullover.

n

In the next part of this series, weu2019ll look at companies like Fair that are moving consumers away from purchasing and into short-term leases. Even automakers are trying something new. Tesla sells directly to consumers while Volvo, BMW, Mercedes and others are launching subscription options to give owners even more flexibility.

n

The three new dealerships

n

n

Several companies are building online car dealerships. Shoppers find and buy a vehicle solely through these sites, and often, the cars are delivered to the buyer. These online dealerships even take trade-ins.

n

Three services dominate this space, and they were all founded in 2013. Carvana, Shift, and Vroom hit the market at the same time but have experienced different paths. One thing is clear though: it takes hundreds of millions of venture capital money to build an online dealership.

n

Emily Melton, co-founder and managing partner, Threshold Ventures (formally known as DFJ Ventures), points to consumeru2019s changing expectations and an optimized process across all kinds of vehicles. She co-led Shiftu2019s Series A in 2014.

n

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Buying a car is painful. Dealerships are the worst, and the options are endless. The rise of the Internet produced powerful tools for shoppers, but in the end, most buyers still have to trudge down to a car lot. For this series of articles, TechCrunch spoke with several founders and investors attempting to rethink car […]

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Knowledge is the fuel of business. Every decision requires a full understanding of the data underlying it, and that means reaching out not only to an organizationu2019s own staff for insight, but also to experts in the wider world. Management consultants, research agencies, and data providers make hundreds of billions of dollars per year attempting to answer key questions for business executives.

n

Sometimes they are successful, but many times, finding the right expert can be vexing. For the most important decisions, having multiple experts or even hundreds of experts provide their opinion might be critical to success.

n

Germain Chastel and Sascha Eder know the problem well. Former McKinsey consultants, they worked with some of the top technology companies in the Valley attempting to answer their questions u2014 but oftentimes struggled to do so given the unique problems that confront those organizations. u201cWe realized it was really hard to find experts who could teach them something and had the insights that were relevant,u201d Chastel explained.

n

In early 2017, the two left McKinsey and eventually joined forces with Anuja Ketan, and together the trio formed NewtonX. NewtonX is a u201cknowledge access platformu201d which attempts to intelligently answer questions posed to it by business clients. Clients answer a carefully calibrated series of questions to properly vet and scope a query, and then NewtonX farms it out to it network of experts for insight.

n

That rapid-response network has now gotten the attention of Two Sigma Ventures, the venture wing of the high-flying algorithmic-trading hedge fund, which led a $12 million Series A round into New York City-based NewtonX. Thatu2019s a follow up to a $3 million seed round co-led by Third Prime Capital and Xfund last year.

n

Today, the company offers two main product lines. First is what it calls Expert Calls, which are similar to the traditional expert network offering of companies like GLG. Here, a client answers a series of structured questions to determine a single expert to talk to and get feedback from.

n

The more interesting product to me, and the one representing 70% of the startupu2019s revenue right now, is Expert Surveys. With this product, the goal is to ask a business question to a wider number of experts who might provide a variety of responses. So, for instance, NewtonX could potentially answer a query such as how CIOs at large Fortune 500 companies are budgeting for cybersecurity this year.

n

Where NewtonX gets interesting is that it doesnu2019t want to just casually facilitate these calls and surveys, but instead, the startup wants to build out a true knowledge graph that can better answer questions faster with each activity on the platform. As the platform gets smarter about knowledge, the idea is that on-boarding a new client or initiating a new survey or question will be faster since the platform will already know many of the nuances of that particular field of business.

n

Over the two and a half years since the companyu2019s founding, it has found wide support among businesses. It counts Microsoft, 23&Me, and Gartner as public clients, and also has a list of 20 corporates already on the platform. Chastel told me that nine of the top ten management consulting firms have also used NewtonX services, and many top research firms have also used the product.

n

Early revenues has allowed the company to expand early. It has 32 employees at its offices near Grand Central, and Chastel noted to me that a majority of employees and a majority of managers are women. He said that the firmu2019s technology to identify experts on the web is also the basis for their own recruiting efforts.

n

With the new funding, the company intends to grow to 100 head count locally, and also expand out is client success and expert success teams.

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Knowledge is the fuel of business. Every decision requires a full understanding of the data underlying it, and that means reaching out not only to an organizationu2019s own staff for insight, but also to experts in the wider world. Management consultants, research agencies, and data providers make hundreds of billions of dollars per year attempting […]

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