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Former Uber exec Andrew Chapin takes the wraps off his stealth mental health startup

One can only imagine what it was like to work at Uber in the years leading up to Susan Fowler’s infamous blog post. Many of the company’s leaders were said to be overly competitive, sexist and inappropriate — “brilliant jerks,” as Arianna Huffington once said, — and its over-arching “move fast and break things” mentality hardly left room for employees to take a step back and reflect on how the company’s culture was impacting their mental health. Andrew Chapin joined Uber in 2011 as one of its first hires in New York. He worked his way up to head of vehicle solutions and established Uber’s vehicle finance program, which helps drivers obtain and pay off car leases. He says the struggles within the company gave him severe anxiety, something he was all too familiar with from his stint as a commodities trader at Goldman Sachs. “There were days when I was walking through lower Manhattan and thinking if I got hit by a car and was in the hospital for a week, it’d be better than going to work,” Chapin told TechCrunch. At both Goldman and Uber, Chapin would go through rough patches but resisted therapy, in part because of the outlandish costs but mostly because of the hassle. Toward the end of his five-year Uber tenure, he realized the dire need for accessible and flexible tech-enabled tools to help workers endure stressful times, as well as the need to destigmatize the mental health issues prevalent within the tech industry and beyond. In late 2016, he left Uber to build his own startup. Two years later, he’s ready to share what he’s been working on. Basis, an app meant to help people cope with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues through guided conversations via chat or video, is emerging from stealth today with a $3.75 million investment led by Bedrock. Wave Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners have also participated in the round. Investors are waking up to the emotional struggle of startup founders “Looking back at the Goldman experience of just kind of wallowing in this unpleasant situation, [Basis] would have been an…

Unblockable raises $5M to create crypto collectibles around pro athletes

Unblockable is tackling a new area for blockchain technology — sports fandom, specifically collectibles and fantasy sports. CEO Jeb Terry (a former Fox Sports executive, and before that a former offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) said the goal is to connect pro sports and pro athletes with the technology, and to “create new means of access and really empower the fans to celebrate their fandom, to show off who they’re fans of and create new relationships.” Terry founded Unblockable with Eben Smith, a former derivatives trader, as well as Greg Dean and Kedric Van de Carr, entrepreneurs who have founded multiple crypto projects in the past. The startup is announcing it has raised $5 million from Shasta Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, with Shasta’s Jacob Mullins joining the board of directors. (Mullins and I have been friends since we worked together at VentureBeat a decade ago.) “Taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the emerging blockchain platform, UNBLOCKABLE is defining a new category of fun, engaging and approachable experiences and games for consumers as well as new ways for stars, athletes and leagues to build new relationships with fans,” Mullins said in the announcement. Unblockable isn’t launching its consumer product yet — Terry told me that will probably happen later this year. But the basic idea is to release collectible crypto tokens tied to pro athletes. The goal is to have tokens representing every player (including their likeness), not just the big stars, and to create “true, authentic scarcity.” Terry argued that the tokens will function as a kind of virtual collectible, with “a limited volume ever minted.” The value of each token should also fluctuate depending on the player’s performance on the field, especially since there will be a fantasy sports component of the platform — you’ll need to own a player’s token in order to include them on your team. “There will be market dynamics in play,” Terry said. “With the value of the performance of the athletes in the field, it will be basic supply-demand behavior.” When asked about reaching the (presumably) huge swath of…

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