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VCs say Silicon Valley isn’t the gold mine it used to be

In the days leading up to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, The Economist published the cover story, ‘Why Startups Are Leaving Silicon Valley.’ The author outlined reasons why the Valley has “peaked.” Venture capital investors are deploying capital outside the Bay Area more than ever before. High-profile entrepreneurs and investors, Peter Thiel, for example, have left. Rising rents are making it impossible for new blood to make a living, let alone build businesses. And according to a recent survey, 46 percent of Bay Area residents want to get the hell out, an increase from 34 percent two years ago. Needless to say, the future of Silicon Valley was top of mind on stage at Disrupt. “It’s hard to make a difference in San Francisco as a single entrepreneur,” said J.D. Vance, the author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ and a managing partner at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Fund, which backs seed-stage companies based outside Silicon Valley. “It’s not as a hard to make a difference as a successful entrepreneur in Columbus, Ohio.” In conversation with Vance, Revolution CEO Steve Case said he’s noticed a “mega-trend” emerging. Founders from cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit or Portland are opting to stay in their hometowns instead of moving to U.S. innovation hubs like San Francisco. “The sense that you have to be here or you can’t play is going to start diminishing.” “We are seeing the beginnings of a slowing of what has been a brain drain the last 20 years,” Case said. “It’s not just watching where the capital flows, it’s watching where the talent flows. And the sense that you have to be here or you can’t play is going to start diminishing.” J.D. Vance says that most entrepreneurs don’t need to move to Silicon Valley. Here’s why. #TCDisrupt pic.twitter.com/0mFPeTuHLe — TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) September 6, 2018 Farewell, San Francisco “It’s too expensive to live here,” said Aileen Lee, the founder of seed-stage VC firm Cowboy Ventures, amid a conversation with leading venture capitalists Spark Capital general partner Megan Quinn and Benchmark general partner Sarah Tavel . “I know that there are a lot of people in the Bay…

Deep-linking startup Branch is raising more than $100M at a unicorn valuation

Branch, the deep-linking startup backed by Andy Rubin’s Playground Ventures, will enter the unicorn club with an upcoming funding round. The four-year-old company, which helps brands create links between websites and mobile apps, has authorized the sale of $129 million in Series D shares, according to sources and confirmed by PitchBook, which tracks venture capital deals. The infusion of capital values the company at roughly $1 billion. In an e-mail this morning, Branch CEO Alex Austin declined to comment. The Redwood City-based startup closed a $60 million Series C led by Playground in April 2017, bringing its total equity raised to $113 million. It’s also backed by NEA, Pear Ventures, Cowboy Ventures and Madrona Ventures. Rubin, for his part, is a co-founder of Android, as well as the founder of Essential, a smartphone company that, though highly valued, has had less success. Branch’s deep-linking platform helps brands drive app growth, conversions, user engagement and retention. Deep links are links that take you to a specific piece of web content, rather than a website’s homepage. This, for example, is a deep link. This is not. A Brief History Of Deep Linking Deep links are used to connect web or e-mail content with apps. That way, when you’re doing some online shopping using your phone and you click on a link to an item on Jet.com, you’re taken to the Jet app installed on your phone, instead of Jet’s desktop site, which would provide a much poorer mobile experience. Branch supports 40,000 apps with roughly 3 billion monthly users. The company counts Airbnb, Amazon, Bing, Pinterest, Reddit, Slack, Tinder and several others as customers. Following its previous round of venture capital funding, Austin told TechCrunch that the company had seen “tremendous growth” ahead of the raise. “[We] have been fortunate enough to become the clear market leader,” he said. “There’s so much more we can accomplish in deep linking and this money will be used to fund Branch’s continued platform growth.”

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