May 30, 2020
Photo: Courtesy of The Yes
Hello and welcome to Pipeline.Hopefully you had a better week than Twitter's comms team did. This week: SoftBank staff members are circulating resumes, what it's like launching a startup in a pandemic, and the worst deal ever.
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Julie Bornstein had picked out the launch date for her new company: March 25, 2020. It was supposed to be a splashy debut, the culmination of two years of work on her already buzzy, AI-powered shopping app called The Yes. Then, with around 10 days to go before launch, she decided to push it back. Instead, the news that dominated the headlines that day in March was a grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic: the U.S. had just passed 1,000 deaths.
Bornstein wasn't alone in grappling with how to launch a company amid a pandemic. San Jose chipmaker Perceive considered delaying its March 31 launch but ended up keeping the course. Quibi famously launched in early April, a move that its CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg called "regrettable." "I attribute everything that has gone wrong to coronavirus," he told The New York Times in early May. "Everything. But we own it."
The Yes officially launched May 20, nearly two months after its original planned launch date. The company sent boxes of swag and Champagne to the employees so they could toast the launch over Zoom.
What's a startup area that's under-hyped right now?
Full-stack automation of legacy processes, like agriculture, aquaculture, mineral extraction, cleaning and even some parts of manufacturing. The robot future is nearer than we think!
What's one pitching pet-peeve?
Not using a deck and being too informal about it. I appreciate seeing the way teams put together their story.
What's one problem you wish entrepreneurs would solve?
Fixing the buying and selling of real estate. I absolutely abhor the process and all the people involved. The entire process is pitifully poor and an unnecessary tax on all of us.
What's one of the worst predictions you've ever made?
OMG. There are SOOOO many. I was confident Spotify would never be profitable (right so far) and thus not a great investment (couldn't be more wrong).
What's a secret obsession you have that most people don't know about?
It's not so secret but I am a musician and DJ and have been known to randomly appear on stage at parties and concerts from time to time …
Thanks for reading this week's Protocol Pipeline. A special congratulations to Playbyte founder Kyle Russell and Business Insider's VC reporter Melia Russell on their new daughter, Florence. If you like what you're reading, sign up hereto get it in your inbox. Send story tips and Pipeline feedback to email@example.com. Otherwise, stay safe, stay healthy and stay home. See you next week.