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Anna Palmer just became the first female general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners



Better late than never. So it might be said of the Boston- and New York-based seed-stage firm Flybridge Capital Partners, which is today announcing that Anna Palmer has been promoted to general partner.

She is the first woman to hold the title at the 19-year-old firm.

It’s a nice distinction to have and Palmer sounds enthusiastic excited about the role, but she also suggests that as a longtime member of Flybridge’s community, the transition to a full-time position with the firm should be relatively seamless.

The Boston-based Harvard Law grad first met Flybridge cofounder Jeff Bussgang a decade ago as a student at the university, where Bussgang teaches on entrepreneurship. Flybridge later funded the second of two companies she has cofounded: Dough Collective, a membership community to discover, buy and save on products made by women. (Palmer previously co-founder Fashion Project, which collected online designer clothing donations, then delivered the proceeds from their sale to thousands of organizations before it ultimately sold itself in 2016.)

By 2017, Palmer was cofounding the seed-stage firm XFactor Ventures with another of Flybridge’s cofounders, Chip Hazard. At its launch, the organization featured nine partners altogether. Now it has 22 partners across six different cities who have collectively made 57 investments across two funds. Except for Hazard, all are women who run their own companies. They manage a collective $12 million in assets; Flybridge is among their limited partners.

XFactor’s overarching goal is to provide seed funding to other startups that are led entirely or in part by women founders. But it was also founded with the belief that “if we as women founders wanted to change things, we need more women VCs, and as women get experience [on both sides of the table] they will become general partners at other firms,” says Palmer.

That thesis seems to be paying off. Earlier this year, Aubrie Pagano, an XFactor investor whose online customizable shirt company Bow & Drape was acquired last year by a holding company, was brought into the New York venture firm Alpaca as a general partner. Palmer is the second proof point.

As for what she’ll be funding, Palmer told us in an interview earlier this week that she’ll be invest in both business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies and that her specific interest ties right now to “startups that have some sort of community-driven thesis, including commerce 3.0, marketplaces, and the future of everything economy.”

One area she’s is drilling into, for example, is “large marketplaces for local” given the opportunity she’s seeing. As she puts it, “Why is it easier for me to a Christmas ornament from Amazon than a store in Boston that’s five miles away?”

Asked if deal-making is as frantic in Boston as elsewhere, Palmer says it “absolutely” is owing to startups that are no longer limited by geography when it comes to fundraising. In the the Zoom era, a partner at every investment firm in the world is just a click away, and Flybridge is seeing it time and again in its portfolio. Indeed, she points to one mobile gaming company funded by Flybridge that “ended up having gaming-specific funds interested from various geographies in just two to three days.” Last year, she notes, that wouldn’t be possible.

Because of the hyper-speed at which deals are moving, we wonder if it’s a tricky time to be diving in as a full-time VC, but Patterson doesn’t sound daunted. “You’re leaning on expertise, which is easier to do in markets that you know incredibly well and patterns you’ve seen before. Between founding two companies and XFactors, I’ve had time to develop those theses about where I think the world is going.”

Flybridge is currently investing a sub-$100 million fund that it closed in early 2019. Palmer says the firm — which prefers to lead seed rounds, whose first checks range from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and whose biggest win to date may be the database software company MongoDB (its market cap is $16.8 billion on Nasdaq) — is likely to fundraise again next summer.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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Facebook will pay $650 million to settle class action suit centered on Illinois privacy law



Facebook was ordered to pay $650 million Friday for running afoul of an Illinois law designed to protect the state’s residents from invasive privacy practices.

That law, the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), is a powerful state measure that’s tripped up tech companies in recent years. The suit against Facebook was first filed in 2015, alleging that Facebook’s practice of tagging people in photos using facial recognition without their consent violated state law.

1.6 million Illinois residents will receive at least $345 under the final settlement ruling in California federal court. The final number is $100 higher than the $550 million Facebook proposed in 2020, which a judge deemed inadequate. Facebook disabled the automatic facial recognition tagging features in 2019, making it opt-in instead and addressing some of the privacy criticisms echoed by the Illinois class action suit.

A cluster of lawsuits accused Microsoft, Google and Amazon of breaking the same law last year after Illinois residents’ faces were used to train their facial recognition systems without explicit consent.

The Illinois privacy law has tangled up some of tech’s giants, but BIPA has even more potential to impact smaller companies with questionable privacy practices. The controversial facial recognition software company Clearview AI now faces its own BIPA-based class action lawsuit in the state after the company failed to dodge the suit by pushing it out of state courts.

A $650 million settlement would be enough to crush any normal company, though Facebook can brush it off much like it did with the FTC’s record-setting $5 billion penalty in 2019. But the Illinois law isn’t without teeth. For Clearview, it was enough to make the company pull out of business in the state altogether.

The law can’t punish a behemoth like Facebook in the same way, but it is one piece in a regulatory puzzle that poses an increasing threat to the way tech’s data brokers have done business for years. With regulators at the federal, state and legislative level proposing aggressive measures to rein in tech, the landmark Illinois law provides a compelling framework that other states could copy and paste. And if big tech thinks navigating federal oversight will be a nightmare, a patchwork of aggressive state laws governing how tech companies do business on a state-by-state basis is an alternate regulatory future that could prove even less palatable.


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AWS reorganizes DeepRacer League to encourage more newbies



AWS launched the DeepRacer League in 2018 as a fun way to teach developers machine learning, and it’s been building on the idea ever since. Today, it announced the latest league season with two divisions: Open and Pro.

As Marcia Villalba wrote in a blog post announcing the new league, “AWS DeepRacer is an autonomous 1/18th scale race car designed to test [reinforcement learning] models by racing virtually in the AWS DeepRacer console or physically on a track at AWS and customer events. AWS DeepRacer is for developers of all skill levels, even if you don’t have any ML experience. When learning RL using AWS DeepRacer, you can take part in the AWS DeepRacer League where you get experience with machine learning in a fun and competitive environment.”

While the company started these as in-person races with physical cars, the pandemic has forced them to make it a virtual event over the last year, but the new format seemed to be blocking out newcomers. Since the goal is to teach people about machine learning, getting new people involved is crucial to the company.

That’s why it created the Open League, which as the name suggests is open to anyone. You can test your skills and if you’re good enough, finishing in the top 10%, you can compete in the Pro division. Everyone competes for prizes as well such as vehicle customizations.

The top 16 in the Pro League each month race for a chance to go to the finals at AWS re:Invent in 2021, an event that may or may not be virtual, depending on where we are in the pandemic recovery.

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Free 30-day trial of Extra Crunch included with TC Sessions: Justice tickets



TC Sessions: Justice is coming up on Wednesday, and we’ve decided to sweeten the deal for what’s included with your event pass. Buy your ticket now and you’ll get a free month of access to Extra Crunch, our membership program focused on founders and startup teams with exclusive articles published daily.

Extra Crunch unlocks access to our weekly investor surveys, private market analysis and in-depth interviews with experts on fundraising, growth, monetization and other core startup topics. Get feedback on your pitch deck through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletter. Other benefits include an improved experience and savings on software services from AWS, Crunchbase and more.

Learn more about Extra Crunch benefits here, and buy your TC Sessions: Justice tickets here.  

What is TC Sessions: Justice? 

TC Sessions: Justice is a single-day virtual event that explores diversity, equity and inclusion in tech, the gig worker experience, the justice system and more. We’ll host a series of interviews with key figures in the tech community. 

The event will take place March 3, and we’d love to have you join. 

View the event agenda here, and purchase tickets here

Once you buy your TC Sessions: Justice pass, you will be emailed a link and unique code you can use to claim the free month of Extra Crunch.

Already bought your TC Sessions: Justice ticket?

Existing pass holders will be emailed with information on how to claim the free month of Extra Crunch membership. All new ticket purchases will receive information over email immediately after the purchase is complete.

Already an Extra Crunch member?

We’re happy to extend a free month of access to existing users. Please contact and mention that you are existing Extra Crunch members who bought a ticket to TC Sessions: Justice. 

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