A return and an eviction

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Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh, human take on this week’s startup news and trends. To receive this in your inbox, subscribe here.

People have been trying to make sense of what’s going on in tech for a week. If you compartmentalized: Congratulations! Now let me explain what happened.

On Monday, WeWork founder Adam Neumann raised a seed round from Andreessen Horowitz for a new real estate company, reportedly worth more than $1 billion. Neumann’s return, along with the biggest check one of the most well-known companies has ever written, has sparked a series of reactions given his tumultuous leadership at WeWork.

A common answer was that women and people of color would never have the same “second chance” as Neumann, because first chances are hard enough for the historically overlooked cohort. Allison Byers, the founder of Scroobious, a platform that aims to diversify startups and make founders more likely to be backed by venture capital, described feeling “a dull rage.”

A few days earlier, Kimberly Bryant had been fired from Black Girls Code, the nonprofit she founded, by the board of directors she had appointed.

You are caught up: we had a return and an eviction in the same week.

The comeback came from the white male who deceived investors and employees. The ousted was a black woman who founded a nonprofit to bring more diversity to the world of coding.

If that’s where the scan stops, it’s a disservice. As my colleague Dominic-Madori Davis said, “People talk about these things without the nuance of two things at once, but that’s also with most arguments online. They turn things and people into one-dimensional objects as if it were easy to parse. If you’re not careful, you might end up in an opinion that misses the multifaceted nature of controversies.

Amplifying the difficulties of raising as a diverse founder may end up building a pressure cooker that those who do get a check are forced to operate. The pressure can then make it harder for those same founders to make even one mistake.

For my full take, read my TechCrunch+ article: “Adam Neumann, Kimberly Bryant, and the Importance of Nuance.” You can also listen to my latest podcast, “Let’s officially stop comparing Adam Neumann and Elizabeth Holmes”.

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll cover Stripe winding down an acquisition it made last year and the latest in the benefits world.

As always, you can support me by forwarding this newsletter to a friend or follow me on twitter

The band is peeling towards the back

Stripe has laid off some of the employees who support TaxJar, a tax compliance startup it acquired last year, TechCrunch has learned from multiple sources and first-hand documentation. TechCrunch contacted Stripe for confirmation, and a spokesperson said the company declined to comment.

For what it’s worth, according to LinkedIn, TaxJar co-founder Matt Anderson left Stripe in July, followed by members of the sales, marketing and partnerships teams.

Here’s why it’s important: Stripe bought TaxJar, a provider of a cloud-based tax services suite, in April 2021 to help customers “automatically calculate, report, and file sales taxes.” At that time, Stripe told TechCrunch that the Massachusetts-based company’s 200 employees were joining the company. The goal of the acquisition was to integrate sales tax collection and remittance as a service, one of the most requested features by users.

The end of go-to-market efforts for TaxJar customers began in late July, showing a shift in Stripe’s perspective.

Fintech and payment company Stripe are shown on a negative trend chart

Picture credits: Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Will your company cut your benefits or your colleagues first?

This week on Equity, I was joined by Rebecca Szkutak of TC to talk about everything from international money transfer to hearing aid innovation. One conversation that stood out in the episode was about employee benefits.

Here’s why it’s important: Companies are rethinking their budgets and the changes can cost more than your free Sweetgreen. In a TechCrunch+ analysis, Szkutak explores how employee benefits startups can fare amid layoffs and a tight job market. A source told him that “if a company has already lost a significant number of employees to the big resignation, removing a benefit can only add fuel to the fire.”

For me, it is particularly interesting to see that the B2B2C model becomes less sticky. It used to be the place for any consumer-focused business to find a more trusted consumer base. After all, it was easier to sign an employer with thousands of clients than to sign each of those clients independently. With this threatened pattern, there will certainly be natural selection occurring.

Picture credits: Bryce Durbin / Tech Crunch

If you missed last week’s newsletter

Read it here: You’re Not That Special (I swear, there’s a kickstarter angle here)

  • Listen to TechCrunch’s other podcasts, including our crypto-focused show that runs through Chain Reaction and the founder-focused show that runs through Found. The TechCrunch podcast also keeps me entertained, so watch out for all the great shows they put on.

  • Remember, TechCrunch Live is on a whole new platform, and we’ve made it easier to practice pitching. Investors (and my inbox) can attest to the importance of brevity, insight and clarity in presentations, so it’s great to see. Startups can now apply any day, anytime for Pitch Practice by filling out this form.

  • Seek out opportunities at TC Sessions: Crypto, November in Miami. Yes, you heard right, we are coming to Miami.

  • Finally, TechCrunch Live is coming to Minneapolis. On September 7, come hang out with the TechCrunch team as we interview the best and brightest in town. Minneapolis is one of the best cities in the Midwest to start a business – and you’ll soon find out why!

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Seen on TechCrunch+

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Why do startup valuations fall when interest rates rise?

Pitch Deck Teardown: Mi Terro’s $1.5 million seed deck

There’s a reason startups in the US Midwest have had fewer layoffs, according to Chicago VC

Dear Sophie: How do I get an O-1 visa to freelance on Web3 projects?

Ok, that’s all about me. I appreciate you endlessly!

NOT

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