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A VC-backed formula company turned the tables and let moms invest too

"Women in general are always taking a backseat on this. They will put more money into a nonprofit before they will put it into their own wealth growth," said Bobbie CEO Laura Modi.

​Bobbie co-founders Sarah Hardy (left) and Laura Modi wanted to have other moms invest in their formula brand.

Bobbie co-founders Sarah Hardy (left) and Laura Modi wanted to have other moms invest in their formula brand.

Photo: Bobbie

When Laura Modi worked at Airbnb, the company had conversations over and over and over again about how they could make hosts feel like they had a stake in the company.

"It was very, very challenging," Modi said. "It was a wake-up call for me that as a company evolves, it becomes harder and harder to do that."

That's why she's started early with her new company, Bobbie, a brand of European-style baby formula that survived an early FDA recall to become a cult hit among parents. The company already boasted a 7,000-person waitlist and reached $1 million in revenue in the first quarter. Now Modi did for Bobbie what she had trouble doing at Airbnb: She's given those fans a chance to invest in her company through a new crowdfunding initiative called The MotherLode.

After launching the campaign on Monday, Bobbie raised over $245,000 from 190 investors, primarily from moms and customers. It's also collecting names on a waitlist as it's weighing extending the offering to more moms, Modi said.

The MotherLode was not your typical crowdfunding campaign to raise cash for a business. Bobbie is fresh off raising a $15 million series A round, led by VMG, and has plenty of demand for its product. Instead, Modi, a mother of three, felt like she had a responsibility to offer the moms who are buying her product a chance to also become stakeholders of the company and share in its success.

Bobbie CEO Laura Modi with her family. Bobbie CEO Laura Modi with her family.Photo: Bobbie

"Raising this round woke me up to something that has actually been plaguing me for many years now, which is just the kind of people who get an opportunity to invest always look the same," Modi said. "And when you have an opportunity to build a brand from scratch, you also have an opportunity, maybe even a responsibility, to take money from people that you want to be able to give that value back to."

Founded by two mothers, Modi and Sarah Hardy, Bobbie wanted to raise money from a group that lost out on wealth and income during the pandemic. Last April, 45% of mothers with school-age children were not working, and millions of mothers left the workforce entirely, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In tech startups, female CEO salaries took a nearly 30% dip during the pandemic compared to male's salaries, which mostly stayed the same.

"Women in general are always taking a backseat on this. They will put more money into a nonprofit before they will put it into their own wealth growth," Modi said.

The company launched a campaign on equity crowdfunding site Republic and found it was fully subscribed within three hours. Those who invested also got a free year of Ellevest, a financial and career advice service geared toward women started by Sallie Krawcheck (also a Bobbie investor).

The goal wasn't cash — $245,000 won't go far for a venture-backed business — but to bring in "true fans" of a brand to be more invested in the business. Venture firms and startups alike are starting to crowdfund equity rounds to bring in supporters and give them skin in the game. Backstage Capital, a venture fund, offered a share of its carry to backers also through Republic to help bring more underrepresented investors into the ecosystem. Gumroad, a creator service, ended up raising most of its series C funding round through a crowdfunding campaign, eschewing traditional venture capital altogether.

For Modi, it's also a personal mission to bring moms in to share in the wealth. She already has high-profile moms, like Bumble's Whitney Wolfe Herd, as investors, and Modi wants the average mom to have a chance to invest "just like Whitney."

"The investing world feels closed off, almost like politics, for everyone else," she said. "It is the responsibility of people to try and break that down so that everyone has an opportunity to grow their wealth."

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Sallie Krawcheck's name. This story was updated on June 30, 2021.

Protocol | Fintech

Amazon wants a crypto play. Its history in payments is not encouraging.

It missed chances to be PayPal, Square and Stripe — so is this its chance to miss being Coinbase, too?

Amazon wants to be a crypto player.

Image: NurPhoto/Getty Images

The news that Amazon was hiring a lead for a new digital currency and blockchain initiative sent the price of bitcoin soaring. But there's another way to look at the news that's less bullish on bitcoin and bearish on Amazon: 13 years after Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper appeared on the internet, Amazon is just discovering cryptocurrency?

That may be a bit unkind, but the truth is sometimes unkind. And the reality is that Amazon has a long history of stumbles and missed opportunities in payments, which goes back more than two decades to the company's purchase of internet payments startup Accept.com.

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Owen Thomas

Owen Thomas is a senior editor at Protocol overseeing venture capital and financial technology coverage. He was previously business editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and before that editor-in-chief at ReadWrite, a technology news site. You're probably going to remind him that he was managing editor at Valleywag, Gawker Media's Silicon Valley gossip rag. He lives in San Francisco with his husband and Ramona the Love Terrier, whom you should follow on Instagram.

Over the last year, financial institutions have experienced unprecedented demand from their customers for exposure to cryptocurrency, and we've seen an inflow of institutional dollars driving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to record prices. Some banks have already launched cryptocurrency programs, but many more are evaluating the market.

That's why we've created the Crypto Maturity Model: an iterative roadmap for cryptocurrency product rollout, enabling financial institutions to evaluate market opportunities while addressing compliance requirements.

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Caitlin Barnett, Chainanalysis
Caitlin’s legal and compliance experience encompasses both cryptocurrency and traditional finance. As Director of Regulation and Compliance at Chainalysis, she helps leading financial institutions strategize and build compliance programs in order to adopt cryptocurrencies and offer new products to their customers. In addition, Caitlin helps facilitate dialogue with regulators and the industry on key policy issues within the cryptocurrency industry.
Protocol | Enterprise

How Google Cloud plans to kill its ‘Killed By Google’ reputation

Under the new Google Enterprise APIs policy, the company is making a promise that its services will remain available and stable far into the future.

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian has promised to make the company more customer-friendly.

Photo: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images 2019

Google Cloud issued a promise Monday to current and potential customers that it's safe to build a business around its core technologies, another step in its transformation from an engineering playground to a true enterprise tech vendor.

Starting Monday, Google will designate a subset of APIs across the company as Google Enterprise APIs, including APIs from Google Cloud, Google Workspace and Google Maps. APIs selected for this category — which will include "a majority" of Google Cloud APIs according to Kripa Krishnan, vice president at Google Cloud — will be subject to strict guidelines regarding any changes that could affect customer software built around those APIs.

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Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is Protocol's enterprise editor, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire, and served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure.

Amazon job opening points to plan to accept crypto payments

The news sparked a rally in the values of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Amazon may be planning to let customers pay for orders with cryptocurrencies.

Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Amazon is looking to hire a digital currency and blockchain expert suggesting a plan to let customers accept cryptocurrencies as payments.

The tech giant's job opening says Amazon is looking for "an experienced product leader" to help develop the company's "digital currency and blockchain strategy and roadmap" Amazon is looking for product leader with expertise in blockchain, distributed ledger, central bank digital currencies and cryptocurrency.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

Protocol | Policy

Big Tech tried to redefine terrorism online. It got messy fast.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism announced a series of narrow steps it's taking that underscore just how fraught the job of classifying terror online really is.

Erin Saltman is GIFCT's director of programming.

Photo: Paul Morigi/Flickr

A little over a month after the Jan. 6 riot, the tech industry's leading anti-terrorism alliance — a group founded by Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter — announced it was seeking ideas for how it could expand its definition of terrorism, which had for years been more or less synonymous with Islamic terrorism. The group, called the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism or GIFCT, had been considering such a shift for at least a year, but the rising threat of domestic extremism, punctuated by the Capitol uprising, made it all the more clear something needed to change.

But after months of interviewing member companies, months of considering academic proposals and months spent mulling the impact of tech platforms on this and other violent events around the world, the group's policies have barely budged. On Monday, in a 177-page report, GIFCT released the first details of its plan, and, well, a radical rethinking of online extremism it is not. Instead, the report lays out a series of narrow steps that underscore just how fraught the job of classifying terror online really is.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

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