Coinbase, Clubhouse and the inevitable conflict of competition

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This week, cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase announced that it is launching its own NFT platform to take on OpenSea, an existing NFT platform. Some techies aptly pointed out that both Coinbase and OpenSea are backed by Andreessen Horowitz, leading to questions around competitive conflicts that could arise from having a shared investor (it’s unclear if a16z ever sold its shares in Coinbase after it went public).

As we discussed on Equity this week, the idea of having competitive companies within the same portfolio feels uncomfortable. It could impact how open each company is with its investors, and, as we saw with Hinge Health, can cause tension if there’s an overlap in advisers. It’s a fair argument.

But, is it just me, or does competitive conflict sound somewhat inevitable? As venture firms grow, especially an institution like a16z, the idea that no portfolio companies in booming sectors like fintech or crypto overlap in vision feels unrealistic. Clubhouse, another a16z-backed company, was met with an entire wave of competitors after its debut — and I joked then that it’s only a matter of time until one of the firm’s portfolio companies pivots to social audio, too.

In a world of rapid deal-making and booming subsectors, competitive conflict will continue to grow. Imitation holds startups to a higher standard. If a startup can copy your idea, and entirely win based off of that, a shared investor is likely not your problem. Sure, there should be some processes in place to make sure that your board member isn’t sitting in meetings with your closest competitor, but, beyond extreme cases, the line is blurring on what should constitute conflicts.

I’m being harsh, but that’s my first reaction. Your competitor can always eat your lunch, but in the great OpenSea, maybe that just means it’s time to swim a little deeper.

As always, you can find me on Twitter @nmasc_ or listen to me on Equity. This week, I also made a guest appearance on Here & Now to talk about edtech’s evolution!

A fund for, and by, South Asian female entrepreneurs

tech diversity

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

As a South Asian female, I was amped to see the emerging fund manager world get a new influx of my people this week. Neythri Futures Fund announced that it has closed a $10 million fund with investments from leading South Asian men and women.

Here’s what you need to know: The fund, per founding managing partner Mythili Sankaran, brought together 200 investors, with 90% South Asian women and, here’s the kicker, 70% first-time investors. It was built on AngelList, which has been working on a suite of SaaS tools for venture capitalists.

More money, less problems: 

ClassPass has stepped off the treadmill and onto a new track

Image Credits: Dan Bruins

ClassPass was acquired by Mindbody in an all-stock deal that actually got half of TC staff really excited. ClassPass, for those who don’t know, helps fill workout classes with consumers, while Mindbody provides the software that helps fitness centers and boutique shops better run their business.

Here’s what to know: It felt sensical and smart, two words that should be associated with acquisitions.

By combining forces, the Mindbody/ClassPass entity has the opportunity for huge growth. ClassPass studios that are not using a booking software — Lanman says it’s about one-third of the studios on ClassPass — will now have the chance to sign up with Mindbody.

Mindbody’s consumer-facing business will have the chance to double down on their experience by signing up for a ClassPass subscription and get access to those studios. And, of course, gyms and studios that use Mindbody for à la carte bookings could be upsold to ClassPass, as well. — Jordan Crook

When M&A goes away:

A tale of two travel stories

Image Credits: Hey Darlin / Getty Images

This week on Equity, the TechCrunch team looked at how two travel-focused startups have pivoted and rebounded their way through the pandemic. While one startup chose to focus on flexible living, another decided to go the fintech route.

Here’s what to know: TripActions went from $0 in revenue to $7.25 billion in valuation. How? Well, as Mary Ann reports, TripActions leaned into the very nascent fintech product that it launched a month before the pandemic hit, giving it growth and a way to support customers through expense management. The news reminds us all that every startup, eventually, is a fintech company.

Fintech & friends:

Around TC

This week, I’m going to convince you that one of the best, free ways to build a better venture-backed business is … TechCrunch Live. The weekly event, put together by some of the best internal folks at the publication, connects founders and the investors who finance them in a chill chat.

TC interviews investors on their thought process when writing checks, pushing for specifics and reverse engineering their biggest deals to date. Then, in the latter half of each episode, founders in the audience are encouraged to jump on our virtual stage and pitch their products, receiving live feedback from our esteemed duos.

This past week, we had Chime founder and CEO Chris Britt with Menlo Ventures partner Shawn Carolan. In the past, we’ve had Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra, Mayfield’s Navin Chaddha, Planet FWD’s Julia Collins and Cleo Capital’s Sarah Kunst.

TechCrunch Live is free for anyone who would like to attend live, so come hang every Wednesday at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT.

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

How Los Angeles is preparing for the air taxi takeoff

SoWork just convinced investors (and Tinder) that virtual co-working is here to stay

Reddit hires former Google Cloud exec as its first chief product officer

How to sell clothes online and actually make money

Coinbase is launching its own NFT platform to take on OpenSea

Seen on TechCrunch+

Inside Plaid’s plans to build a new, global finance network

Selling into the enterprise: How Slack and other startups get it wrong

NerdWallet’s IPO filing reveals high-margin content business, accelerating marketing spend

Founders should use predictive modeling to fundraise smarter

How my company is winning the war for engineering talent

Talk soon,