Sequoia raises $3.4 billion for US and China investments; will they spend it wisely?

When VCs become too large, it becomes political. Sheer size does help to push companies in the right direction, but in absolute terms, these companies are becoming extremely powerful.
I firmly believe that startups (not random young companies, but those that have the potential to change the way we live), should get all the support they need to make mistakes, learn and grow. That does not have to be a political game. Yet, I understand the issues surrounding national infrastructure, investments in 5G networks (or technology surrounding politically sensitive technologies) from VCs and other institutional investors.
These investments essentially should and can bring the world we live in closer together. Hence, I do applaud VCs that are able to invest in multiple markets, understand the complexity of intercontinental trade and the global challenges we face.
The more the better. If it is used wisely. I hope we can soon start to measure VCs by impact instead of an increase in Market Valuation for their businesses. It is not about creating more unicorns, but developing tools that benefit the masses. That is what these VCs are able to achieve.
The larger “you get” the more politics are involved. Red tape is everywhere and business ethics should be on the agenda of every firm. $3.4 billion can do a lot of good in this worlds. Let’s hope it’s not all spent on apps and websites that promote funny videos and entertainment.

Noted Silicon Valley venture capital fund Sequoia Capital has raised nearly $1 billion for later-stage U.S. investments and roughly $2.4 billion for venture and growth deals in China, according to paperwork filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

Source: Setting politics aside, Sequoia raises $3.4 billion for US and China investments

Larry Page and Sergey Brin brought in a new age of founder control over companies in Silicon Valley. Is their departure a symbol for the end of an era? (GOOGL)

Alphabet CEO Larry Page and President Sergey Brin announced that they were stepping back from managing Google’s parent company on Tuesday, ending a 21-year stretch of founding Google, growing its ecosystem of products, and later managing its parent company.

The end of an era, indeed. Both Larry and Sergey have “retired” from their operational roles at Google. Needless to say, the Google founding team has been on a tremendous journey in the last two decades and have done extraordinary work.
Questions do arise, though. Who will be the next generation to step up to the plate? Who are the role models of tomorrow? With the late Steve Jobs not being with us anymore, and the core Google team retiring their operational roles, many are looking at “The Zuck” to make it happen. But privacy concerns and the lack of long term vision are not the best foundation to build upon.
It’s hard to say what will be next. In the western world, there are not many visionary founders who have made as high of an impact on our society as Page and Brin have, if at all. Bill Gates and Marc Benioff are probably the only two who are still “active”. Even Jack Ma (T-Mall, Alibaba group founding father) decided to step down last year.
The road to innovation is long and hard. I wonder who will truly make the next move. Probably someone we simply do not know yet. But one thing is for sure, these founding fathers will leave a void behind that is hard to fill. A new era for both Google and the rest of the world.

“Page and Brin’s decision to step back from the company as ‘proud parents’ comes at a time when Wall Street has grown disillusioned with companies fueled by the leadership and vision of their founders.”

Source: Larry Page and Sergey Brin brought in a new age of founder control over companies in Silicon Valley. Is their departure a symbol for the end of an era? (GOOGL)

Direct mail still works if you avoid common mistakes

Direct mail works, if the target group makes sense and is not advertised to, too much. It sort of makes sense, everyone wants to be part of a close(d) community. Furthermore, it is important to create a sense of exclusivity and <insider> knowledge.

Julian Shapiro Contributor Julian Shapiro is the founder of , the growth marketing team that trains startups in advanced growth, helps you hire senior growth marketers, and finds you vetted growth agencies. He also writes at .

Source: Direct mail still works if you avoid common mistakes

When you are part of this particular group of people, on a mailing list or any other form of communication, you will be more knowledgable about a certain topic than others. 

Direct mailings can be a strong asset to have and a great way to communicate to others what it is that interests us and what we are working on. It might be more sustainable than Instagram or Facebook, and gives us a direct way of communication with potential clients and your professional network.

Do direct mails really make sense? Or is it time for another medium?

The question I do ask myself, is whether email or mail as a medium are the way to go in the years to come. Would it make more sense to set up a WhatsApp or closed Slack-Group people can join for insights? I am torn between starting a new mailing list of services as a growth hack, or focusing my attention on entirely different mediums of communication. 

As email is still one of the most used communication medium in companies (large and small), it might still be worth spending time on. Yet, it is the one thing I have been trying to get away from for years… A bit of a dilemma.

LVMH buys Tiffany & Co, strengthening position as luxury retail market leader

Luxury group LVMH is buying Tiffany & Co for more than $16bn (£12.5bn). The companies have entered into a definitive agreement whereby LVMH will acquire Tiffany for $135 per share in cash, in a transaction with an equity value of approximately €14.7 billion (£11.41bn) or $16.2 billion (12.5bn).

Source: LVMH buys Tiffany & Co

That is big news, the LVMH group is getting stronger by the minute and if it wasn’t a monopoly already, luxury retail is starting to look more and more like it.

The equity value and sheer numbers that combine these brands are not the interesting part of the story. LVMH moving more directly into jewelry and diversifying the group into another luxury segment, is.

Portfolio diversification

Understandably, Tiffany & Co. fit right into Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy’s brand strategy. Tiffany & Co. are a respected brand, with a clear corporate image and identity that appeals to the masses, whilst still having kept its luxury appeal upright in the last decades.

LVMH said the deal would transform its watches and jewellery division, which includes Bulgari, TAG Heuer and Hublot, and boost its presence in the US. It is the latest addition to the group’s 75 big brands, known as “maisons” or houses.

The LVMH group is on a war path and luxury retail continues to consolidate, as investment groups such as the ones around Michael Kors (Capri Group, owning Versace and Jimmy Choo) are on a shopping spree to build ever stronger brand portfolios.

Jewelry, watches and high fashion are growing markets; with the demand for luxury goods on the rise in Asia as well as a positive market sentiment in the USA and mainland europe.

Tiffany and Co. could very well be a steal for LVMH at 16 billion. When will legislators start to step in and review the sheer size the LVMH group has developed?