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8 Miami-area investors assess America’s southernmost tech ecosystem

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The exodus out of San Francisco and New York is making a big impact on Miami, a city that’s been steadily growing into a tech hub over the last 15 years. We’re seeing a “moment” in Miami, but many are hoping — and working — to turn it into a movement.

In late January, Softbank Group International announced a $100 fund directed at Miami’s exploding tech scene. As explained in this article, this is the latest validation that Miami is booming. Softbank Group Intl. told TechCrunch this ahead of his announcement. “Miami is quickly evolving to accommodate increasing demand as it becomes a growing startup destination. From emerging ‘elder tech’ to biotech, Miami is an attractive investment market that offers unique opportunities for immigrants and minorities to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities.”

The pandemic has been the catalyst for change, and Miami locals are embracing newcomers and helping them feel at home, hoping that by bringing their talents to South Beach, their bank accounts will follow. For this survey TechCrunch spoke with the following Miami investors to get their input on where the city is now, and where it may be going.


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Marcelo Claure, CEO, Softbank Group Intl.

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene five years from now?

Miami is quickly evolving to accommodate increasing demand as it becomes a growing startup destination. From emerging “elder tech” to biotech, Miami is an attractive investment market that offers unique opportunities for immigrants and minorities to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities. Between 2012 and 2018, Miami-Dade saw a 40% growth in the tech sector, indicating a healthy business trajectory. We anticipate that this trend will only continue in the years to come.

We also know the biggest challenge is getting started, with talent acquisition as the first step toward building a viable headquarters location in any new city. Miami offers a number of attractive benefits including cost of living, lifestyle and opportunity to grow. It’s a natural bridge from Latin America that allows businesses and entrepreneurs to expand seamlessly to the U.S. with an active cultural base. This is a time of exponential opportunity and at SoftBank, we are committed to supporting the technology ecosystem in the Miami market.

Miami has always been close to our hearts — our $5 billion Latam Fund was born in Miami and is headquartered here.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the global workforce. This means that offices will disappear from Miami, even with more companies moving in, but also more locals who work remotely for companies elsewhere. How do you see these factors impacting the city’s tech evolution?

The accelerated global shift to remote work as the new normal means that talent and entrepreneurship have no geographical boundaries. Miami has significant advantages over competitive markets, including no state income taxes, a commitment to arts and culture, and beautiful weather that encourages an active lifestyle. Florida has seen an insurgence of talent from the technology and finance sectors — in September of 2020 it was reported that roughly 1,000 people were moving to the state every day. That’s incredible.

While remote work is part of the future fabric of business, there’s no replacement for face-to-face interaction in building company culture. We believe that businesses may decrease their traditional office footprint slightly, but will continue to seek space in co-working spaces or rental spaces that are prime destinations for headquarters. We think there will be continued significant net growth in the number of offices located in the city.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Miami (and beyond)? What is happening in Miami now that you are most excited to fund?

At SoftBank, we invest in technology-focused companies in various sectors — from fintech, to agritech, to education. We invest in the entrepreneurs and companies that are leading the digital transformation of these sectors. Over the last year, we’ve recognized a dramatic shift in where these entrepreneurs call home. For years it was mainly Silicon Valley and New York City — today, it’s also Austin, Dallas, and (of course) Miami. Due in large part to the tireless efforts of Mayor Suarez, Miami has been positioned at the forefront of innovation and the tech industry.

Many of the businesses we’re seeing pop up in Miami are natural fits for what we’re looking to invest in. Through our Latam Fund, we invest in companies focused on the Latin American region. In an effort to address the long-standing diversity and inclusion issues within the VC community we also launched a $100 million Opportunity Fund, focusing on companies founded by Black, Latino and Native American entrepreneurs. So far, we’ve evaluated over 700 companies and have made ~20 investments totaling $20 million. These investments span multiple sectors (healthcare, SaaS, fintech, gaming and more) — sectors we’ve seen growing in Miami.

What are some of the local challenges you have encountered or seen founders struggle with? More generally, how should people looking to hire in, invest in or relocate to Miami think about doing business in the city?

Any market poses natural challenges, but there are far fewer barriers to entry in Miami and Florida as a whole. Access to a robust, diverse local professional network is an incredibly valuable resource for companies. Top names in technology and VC are moving to Miami and urging others to do the same.
Take the example of Keith Rabois, who decided to make it his 2021 resolution to rally support for a mass pilgrimage from Silicon Valley to Miami. We are seeing many such examples that are driving the perception of Miami as a hotspot for tech networking. At SoftBank, we have deep roots in Miami and we’re excited to encourage other entrepreneurs to join us here.

Who are key startup people you see creating success locally, whether investors, founders or even other types of startup ecosystem roles like lawyers, designers, growth experts, etc. We are trying to highlight the movers and shakers who outsiders might not know.

Emil Michael (ex-Uber), Shervin Pishevar (ex-Uber, Sherpa Capital), Martin Varsavsky (ex-Jazztel, FON), Alexis Ohanian, Reddit co-founder.

German Fondevila, investment manager, Clout Capital

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene five years from now? The city has attracted a wide range of people over the years, including more tech and finance companies very recently. How will it add up to something more than the sum of the parts? 


I moved to Miami in 2016 from Barcelona, Spain and I decided to stay because I realized the potential the city held. The first thing to note is that it’s an ecosystem in the making, so it’s still maturing. I believe in the coming years Miami will solidify its identity in the broad startup scene. More talent will relocate here and I hope we will see more companies redomicile here as well. Miami is culturally rich, vibrant and people seem to smile more often than in other cities.

It’s important to state we should avoid jumping on the “hype wagon” right away. There’s a lot of potential for this city, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. There are different layers to building a strong startup community. It’s a messy multivariable problem with no exact recipe. This is a long game we’re playing, so expectations need to be adjusted in that sense. I think it’s funny when people compare it to San Francisco or New York. Had they been in those cities 30 years ago while they grew to become what they are today … surely a lot was missing. I think people with an entrepreneurial mindset will gravitate toward places “in the making.” Here, one can take on an active role in shaping the city’s future and your own.

We also need to come together, talk to each other more and be more deliberate in helping Miami grow. When I moved here I wore the entrepreneur hat. Something that shocked me then was seeing how different players of the ecosystem didn’t collaborate that much with each other. Everyone seemed to be doing their thing. I’ve always thought we should have a “Startup Council” of some sort. To gather every relevant and legitimate stakeholder at the table and work organized to leverage Miami’s strengths. Mayor Francis Suarez has been doing a great job recently, but he’s going to need help to discern the noise from the signal.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the global workforce. This means that offices will disappear from Miami, even with more companies moving in, but also more locals who work remotely for companies elsewhere. How do you see these factors impacting the city’s tech evolution?


I have been a defender of remote work for several years. Specifically, the idea of a distributed workforce and the infrastructure that supports it. People think remote work means working in your pajamas from home or at a beach somewhere in the Caribbean (I have done both, I confess). People want flexibility, it’s inevitable. We are finally shifting from the Industrial Revolution model toward the knowledge worker type of organizations.

I don’t think offices will disappear from Miami, but what will change is the density of office space near downtown and the way we develop cities. My guess is that the co-working space model will come back stronger with larger adoption. People will go to work in an office space, it just won’t always be with people from their same company. These will be more evenly distributed around residential areas, cutting commutes; freeing up peoples’ time will lead to a higher sense of well-being that will revert back into productivity.

Startups with distributed teams will be more normal. Capital, however, will take longer to get accustomed to the idea of investing beyond the city limits. A lot of investors like to be in the same city where the founders are. It will take some time to normalize capital dispersion in that sense. Investors have a herd mentality so it will take some top investors to question this status quo publicly to get the ball rolling. A good recent example of this is the recent move of Keith Rabois from Founders Fund to call Miami home.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Miami (and beyond)? What is happening in Miami now that you’re most excited to fund?

With our new $60 million fund, we’re looking to partner with entrepreneurs raising their Series A in Latin America and Florida. Occasionally we participate in seed deals as well.

We tend to gravitate toward product-driven companies. It’s always stimulating to find companies that are not just trying to build a “copycat” but have a genuine IP or value-add in their product or business model. We primarily focus on SaaS, enterprise software, proptech, fintech and insurtech, although we look at many companies outside of that scope. Ultimately, we aim to partner with amazing teams.

There are several great teams in the city and naming only a few wouldn’t be fair. I’m personally excited about investing in collaboration tools that empower the future of work, applied AI and AI infrastructure, payments and e-commerce enablement. I am also becoming increasingly curious about consumer subscriptions. I find the merge between the recurring revenue model of a SaaS and the large market of a B2C business quite powerful.

What are some of the local challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders struggle with? More generally, how should people looking to hire in, invest in or relocate to Miami think about doing business in the city?

The main challenges we hear about are the access to qualified talent (technical or not) and access to capital. The former should be less of a barrier now that people are relocating here and the increasing trend of hiring from a distributed workforce. The access to capital has improved over the last few years with more firms opening in South Florida, covering a wider range of a startup’s lifecycle. Yet, we still need more smart capital. I am hopeful that this will be the case in the coming years.

Miami attracts people of all kinds, so there are all kinds of Miami/s that you can experience. I always like to say that you have to pick the one that works for you. There are a lot of very intelligent people with interesting backgrounds and life stories here, they’re also probably not hanging out at Wet Willies or talking about “popping bottles.” I recommend that people avoid having preconceived judgments about the city, especially at the beginning. You have to come with an open mind, take it for what it is, both the good with the bad. I’m always happy to connect with people that have just relocated here and show them what Miami truly can be.

Who are key startup people you see creating success locally, whether investors, founders, or even other types of startup ecosystem roles like lawyers, designers, growth experts, etc. We’re trying to highlight the movers and shakers who outsiders might not know.

Like any developing ecosystem, there are a lot of important players. Some of the stakeholders that have been committed to helping Miami’s ecosystem include The Knight Foundation, Miami Angels, CIC, Refresh Miami, Wyncode, Next Legal, PAG Law, The LAB, Secocha Ventures, Animo Ventures, Las Olas VC, The Venture City, among many others. I highly encourage outsiders to go beyond the surface of a quick Google search. I have found that it is often the least “flashy” that tends to be worth connecting with.

Tigre Wenrich, CEO, LAB Ventures

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene five years from now?

All of the recent buzz sounds a lot like 1999 to me. It wasn’t so much immigrants from California then, but rather from Latin America. I wasn’t living here (I was in Mexico), but I remember the press started going wild about Miami becoming “Silicon Beach” and a lot of startups opened expensive offices on Lincoln Road. After the dot.com bubble burst in 2000, most of them went out of business or (like MercadoLibre, who became wildly successful but with no Miami presence) went back to Latam.

I am cautiously optimistic that this time is different. It’s great to have big name VCs moving to Miami to save on state taxes, and I applaud Mayor Suarez for the very active promotional role he has been playing. Some of these people are being very vocal about wanting to contribute to the local community, which is awesome. But this is not what gives me conviction about Miami’s future as a tech hub.

The real reason I am optimistic is the slow but steady growth of the local tech community over the past 8 to 10 years. We now have several very large tech companies based in South Florida (e.g., Chewy, Magic Leap, Reef), a much larger pool of local talent, important regional offices for companies like Google, Facebook, Uber, etc, and other large corporations have been opening tech offices here (e.g., JetBlue, Blackstone). And most importantly, we have a small but growing pool of entrepreneurs who have realized successful exits and are giving back by investing in and mentoring new startups.

This is not a recent phenomenon, but rather a trend that has been building since at least 2012 when we opened The LAB Miami. The growth in co-working spaces, accelerators, incubators, university entrepreneurship, and computer science programs, coding schools, and other kinds of organizations offering support to entrepreneurs has been a long-term project that has enabled the recent Twittermania about Miami as the next Silicon Valley. The success of major tech centers like Silicon Valley is based on having a community of different actors that feed off of each other and reinforce each other, thus the overused metaphor “ecosystem.” Miami wasn’t at critical mass 20 years ago (or even 10), and so its tech movement in 1999 was just a tech moment. But today we are approaching critical mass, and I expect that in another five years Miami as a tech hub will become an accepted reality and no longer a topic of debate.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the global workforce. This means that offices will disappear from Miami, even with more companies moving in, but also more locals who work remotely for companies elsewhere. How do you see these factors impacting the city’s tech evolution?

I don’t believe that offices will disappear from Miami, but the way we use offices will certainly change. While many jobs can be performed remotely forever, many service professions rely on an apprenticeship model, which is very hard to maintain over Zoom (lawyers, accountants, management consultants, etc.). Corporate culture can be maintained with remote work over the short term, but it’s very hard to transmit to new hires. I also believe there is a huge pent-up demand for people to socialize and that there will be a rush back to offices once the vaccines have been rolled out and it’s safe to go back.

The office of the future will likely look very different, however. There will be more shared spaces and areas for people to collaborate. Permanently assigned offices will become much less common as more people transition to a rotational schedule that includes a couple of days a week at the office and the others work from home. Whether this means that demand for commercial office space will decrease or not is unclear. Very dense downtown markets may struggle, but demand will likely surge in suburban markets. I also expect to see a rush back into co-working spaces in the second half of 2021, both as a base to host fully remote workers and as an option on the days when people don’t want to go all the way downtown to their “regular” office. Some people can work very productively from home, but many of us find it quite distracting!

The number of fully remote workers in this country has permanently increased by the pandemic, and if you can live anywhere, then Miami is obviously a compelling option. But all that does for us is drive up housing prices. Those people will be relatively less connected to the local community and less likely to stay long term. The real opportunity is if more companies choose to set up operations here, bringing permanent job growth with them — that has to be the goal. If we succeed, then Miami may very well need more office space, not less.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Miami (and beyond)? What is happening in Miami now that you’re most excited to fund?

At LAB Ventures, we focus on proptech (tech companies that serve the real estate and construction industries). Our focus is not just on Miami, it is global.

We are quite excited about the opportunities in residential real estate, especially with the booming single-family market. Our local portfolio companies with the most traction are focused here, including Beycome — a digital real estate agent that helps consumers to buy or sell their home by themselves, saving thousands in commissions, and Expetitle — a title agency that enables fully remote real estate closings. Both raised seed rounds during the pandemic and have been growing strong throughout.

Construction tech is another area we believe is poised for very strong growth. We’ve invested in a number of companies that provide solutions for the construction industry, including on-site labor tracking, project management software and offsite modular construction. Miami is a great place to pilot these technologies because there is so much construction activity here, and you have very large local players that are actively trying to innovate. We are also the gateway to Latin America, and we are seeing opportunities to bring technology from the region into the U.S., as well as to help Latin American construction companies to deploy innovative new technology from the US.

What are some of the local challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders struggle with? More generally, how should people looking to hire in, invest in or relocate to Miami think about doing business in the city?

Access to capital and the local talent pool are two challenges that everyone mentions, and they are very real. But I think we are making huge progress on both fronts. A third one that I would add is Florida’s reputation as a haven for con men and weirdos. While we do objectively have more than our fair share of fraud, it is also true that the cultural diversity and immigrant ethos that permeates Miami brings a deep pool of creative and hardworking people. We are also a very open community — since almost all of us are from somewhere else, we tend to be more welcoming to newcomers. The local tech community is still small too, so it’s really not very hard to figure out what’s what pretty quickly.

Who are key startup people you see creating success locally, whether investors, founders or even other types of startup ecosystem roles like lawyers, designers, growth experts, etc. We’re trying to highlight the movers and shakers who outsiders might not know.

There are many great founders doing important things in Miami. Here are just a few of them at the top of my mind:

  • Aaron Hirschhorn — Aaron is building Gallant, a stem cell banking business for pets, and has raised a ton of money already from big-name VCs (and on Shark Tank). He moved here a couple of years ago after selling his startup DogVacay to Rover.
  • Andres Moreno — In addition to still running Open English, Andres is the co-chair of Endeavor Miami and is actively involved in two other early-stage startups (Longevo and Escala).
  • Maurice Ferré — He is the capo of the Paypal Mafia for Miami health tech; he sold Mako Surgical and is now investing in and mentoring a slew of really legit startups.
  • Jose Rasco and Juan Calle — Sold .CO in 2014 and are now involved in many other projects, including the co-working space building.co.
  • Ariel Quinones at IronHack — He’s based in Miami, but they are the market leader in Europe and just raised another $10 million last month; they are building something big.
  • Felipe Sommer and Emiliano Abramzon. They built Nearpod but recently stepped back from day-to-day management. I’m sure they’ll do something else big soon.
  • Marco Giberti — Marco is an entrepreneur turned angel investor and a pioneer in “company building,” or what we call the “venture studio” model. He is a co-founder at LAB Ventures and also an expert on EventTech (about which he literally wrote the book).
  • Lawyers: PAG.LAW — They represent a huge share of Miami startups, as well as startups from Latin America that have or want to have a U.S. presence or U.S. legal entity.

Rebecca Danta, managing director, Miami Angels

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene five years from now?

I believe people will continue to move here more than ever before. Some of the current buzz may fade, but we will continue to see people actively choosing to live and do business here. Before 2020, living in Miami was sometimes seen as a lifestyle choice, but something that set you back careerwise. We’re already starting to see that is no longer the case. We’re now solidifying ourselves as a real place for tech companies and investors to thrive. We will see the startups that began a few years ago mature and hire more talent at a faster rate as they grow, and we will see more employees of those companies leave to start their own companies.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the global workforce. This means that offices will disappear from Miami, even with more companies moving in, but also more locals who work remotely for companies elsewhere. How do you see these factors impacting the city’s tech evolution?

I see hybrid work environments being essential in a post-pandemic world and we’re already seeing that with Pipe’s recently announced microhubs, for example. I don’t think all tech jobs and companies will be 100% remote (many will), and I definitely don’t think they’ll be 100% location-based and in-person five days a week. Founders have more options than ever before on where to headquarter their companies, and although employees won’t have to relocate for a job, founders will choose cities that are attractive when it comes to quality of life and a supportive work environment. And if Miami is one of those options, it won’t be hard to attract talent here.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Miami (and beyond)? What is happening in Miami now that you’re most excited to fund?

We are industry agnostic (within early-stage software) at Miami Angels. We’ve been investing in Miami companies since 2013, but we don’t only invest in Miami companies. Some industries that have always been exciting for Miami are edtech and healthcare tech because of our large school and hospital systems. We also have a lot of local expertise and innovation in these areas, which has also been accelerated by the pandemic. At Miami Angels, we’ve invested heavily in these areas over the years; we believe in honing in on areas that are already key for a geography.

What are some of the local challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders struggle with? More generally, how should people looking to hire in, invest in or relocate to Miami think about doing business in the city?

Although we’ve had a few notable success stories, we’re still in our infancy as a tech ecosystem. The majority of startups here are still small and have less than 50 employees. This means most companies do not have large product, design and engineering teams. We have good, local talent graduating from our universities but we will continue to see that talent leaving to other cities until we have a larger mass of startups that are able to hire 20+ junior engineers each year, for example. The best product, design and engineering talent is simply not concentrated here right now. Luckily, we can absolutely attract this talent, but it is important that founders know this.

Who are key startup people you see creating success locally, whether investors, founders or even other types of startup ecosystem roles like lawyers, designers, growth experts, etc. 

A successful ecosystem is all about the founders, so it’s absolutely the founders who built startups here a few years ago and really took a bet on Miami that deserve special attention. They consciously chose to build here, believing in Miami, even when outside investors told them it wasn’t a great idea. Some of these Miami founders we’ve backed include Alex Nucci of Blanket, Chris Sopher, Rebekah Monson, and Bruce Pinchbeck of WhereBy.Us, Emiliano Abramzon and Felipe Sommers of Nearpod, Maxeme Tuchman of Caribu, and Jason Dettbarn of Addigy. We also have our eye on Emma Harris of Kiddo, Evan Leaphart of Kiddie Kredit, and Emil Hristov of Domaselo.

Kevin Cadette, executive director, Black Angels Miami

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene five years from now?

Miami will expand as an ecosystem for innovators, builders and investors as each community will experience rapid growth and greater interconnectivity. And, if I have a say in this matter, Black Angels Miami will be a critical foundational piece to this community. There are many angel investors that call Miami and South Florida home and that trend will continue on the back of general regional population growth. Black Angels Miami will continue to galvanize the opportunity for investors, educating those new to investing with our Black Angels U programing, in addition to creating opportunities to be Limited Partners in funds.
Miami is a very diverse city and there are many active organizations working to ensure that it remains diverse as the ecosystem grows. The groundwork for what Miami Tech is today has been laid for many years. The Knight Foundation has been at the forefront of supporting organizations in the ecosystem, and that infrastructure is bearing the fruits of today.

As I believe we are scratching the surface of tangible success stories coming out of Miami, I anticipate Miami to be nationally recognized in the next five years as one of the most important entrepreneurial metro regions in the country.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the global workforce. This means that offices will disappear from Miami, even with more companies moving in, but also more locals who work remotely for companies elsewhere. How do you see these factors impacting the city’s tech evolution?

Remote work will ignite our technology evolution that is already simmering. Miami’s designation as a city where people enjoy spending time will be a major boon for remote work. People want to be here! Offices may disappear, just as they are in all metro areas, but companies are also moving into Miami. Miami and South Florida have demonstrated that one can live and work here without compromise. With more large companies relocating, startups building and investors living in South Florida, I believe Miami’s startup scene will only become stronger.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Miami (and beyond)? What is happening in Miami now that you’re most excited to fund?

Black Angels Miami is sector agnostic, and we are looking for the best early-stage ventures with high growth potential in Miami and anywhere in America. I’m most excited about growth industries that have large total addressable markets that offer delightful solutions for companies and individuals globally.

What are some of the local challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders struggle with? More generally, how should people looking to hire in, invest in or relocate to Miami think about doing business in the city?

One of the local challenges here is its biggest opportunity: The tight-knit, collaborative nature of the city. Miami is a very collaborative community — send an email to someone here and you will get a reply, and will most likely steer you in the right direction. Everyone is trying to collaborate; it’s very much a rising tide for all. We all want to see success stories coming out of the community. However, if you are trying to build here, it can be difficult if you haven’t immersed yourself in the community. The one piece of advice I have to new arrivals would be to reach out to those already here. It is easy to be based here and carry on working virtually as you did before, but then you are missing out on exciting opportunities. The Miami ecosystem is very relationship-based and the doors are wide open.

Who are key startup people you see creating success locally, whether investors, founders or even other types of startup ecosystem roles like lawyers, designers, growth experts, etc. We’re trying to highlight the movers and shakers who outsiders might not know.

There are many “movers and shakers” in the ecosystem. I will just take this opportunity to thank the Knight Foundation for all that they’ve done to support Miami tech. Just take a look at who they have supported through the years, and you’ll see the foundation they have laid.

Mark Kingdon, founder, Quixotic Ventures

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene five years from now?

The city has attracted a wide range of people over the years, including more tech and finance companies very recently. How will it add up to something more than the sum of the parts? In five years, I believe we will have had more notable exits that show the world that Miami can produce major companies. Building an ecosystem takes time. Decades even. Investors, entrepreneurs, startup employees are attracted to Miami. Significant exits occur. Money is recycled into new startups. It’s a virtuous cycle. We’re at the early stages now.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the global workforce. This means that offices will disappear from Miami, even with more companies moving in, but also more locals who work remotely for companies elsewhere. How do you see these factors impacting the city’s tech evolution?

The trend for remote work is an important trend for Miami. It is already a major hub for Latin America that will increase substantially. Miami is an easy trip from NYC. I can see many NYC inhabitants moving south as I did but maintaining their connection to NYC as I did.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Miami (and beyond)? What is happening in Miami now that you’re most excited to fund?

I focus on e-commerce and e-commerce enablement. I have a narrow focus by design. I’m excited by founders with grit, determination, a great idea and ideally some traction. Sktchy has shown that grit and determination.

What are some of the local challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders struggle with? More generally, how should people looking to hire in, invest in or relocate to Miami think about doing business in the city?

Hiring today is a challenge. The candidate flow isn’t what you’d see in NYC. You can’t post a job on Friday and have 10 applicants on Monday. It takes longer here to recruit. That’s workable but only if founders identify needs early and understand there is a longer process to fill key roles.

Who are key startup people you see creating success locally, whether investors, founders or even other types of startup ecosystems roles like lawyers, designers, growth experts, etc. We’re trying to highlight the movers and shakers who outsiders might not know.

There are too many to name; that’s the fantastic thing about Miami. The community is super welcoming and always has time for new people; it’s wonderful and not something I’ve ever experienced before. A few of the people who helped me get started in Miami include: Nico Berardi, Juan Pablo Cappello, Melissa Krinzman, Matt Haggman, Raul Moas, and Jesse Stein. Miami Angels has been a great community to be part of — the board: me, Melissa Krinzman, Juan Pablo Cappello, Raul Moas, Nico Berardi, Tigre Wenrich, and Marco Giberti have invested in more than 50 Miami companies. Miami Angels has invested in three dozen more. In my opinion, Miami Angels has done a great deal to bring new investors into the ecosystem and to connect them with locals.

Ana González, head of partner funds, 500 Startups

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene five years from now?

There is a unique window of opportunity for Miami to position itself as a regional and even global hub for entrepreneurs. Miami can build on years of investment by public and private entities in the ecosystem, and shape the identity and brand that it wants to showcase to the world. The city can double down on its core strengths and identify new assets that will provide growth into the future. Miami has incredible access to a diverse pool of talent, is well positioned geographically, has a great quality of life and favorable tax policies. A number of industries also have a strong presence in the city and are growing at global scale, including healthcare, logistics and transportation, fintech, blockchain and crypto. New sectors that align with Miami’s future also include climate resiliency, smart cities and sustainability.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the global workforce. This means that offices will disappear from Miami, even with more companies moving in, but also more locals who work remotely for companies elsewhere. How do you see these factors impacting the city’s tech evolution?

The 2020 pandemic has only accelerated the trend that we’d begun to see in the previous years in which more and more, people are able to choose where to live independently of where their work is. Miami stands front and center in this movement. As people continue to realize the great quality of life that they can have in this city, they move here to settle down, or even better, to build things locally that enable them to stay. This in turn increases quality and density of talent, and feeds the positive feedback loop that makes Miami more and more attractive to live and work in. As the COVID-19 vaccine enables us to move toward in-person meetings and events again, we believe that we will all have to learn to live in a new hybrid model (mix of digital and in person) for building interpersonal relationships, doing business and living our lives overall. Miami can be a great innovator in this sense, just as it has already started innovating with novel outdoor theater productions that are safe and interesting to watch.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Miami (and beyond)? What is happening in Miami now that you’re most excited to fund?

At 500 Startups we accelerate and invest in tech-enabled, seed-stage startups that are coming up with novel solutions and building the industries of tomorrow. And we are sector agnostic. In Miami, we are excited to see the growth of certain industries such as fintech, healthcare, transportation and logistics. There are also contactless solutions being developed that will be especially relevant in the world post-COVID, in the security, travel and hospitality, and financial services industries.

What are some of the local challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders struggle with? More generally, how should people looking to hire in, invest in or relocate to Miami think about doing business in the city?

Founders in Miami generally struggle in accessing early-stage capital (anything from angel investing to seed to pre-Series A rounds), as well as finding good talent, especially in engineering, growth and product management roles. This is typical in the development of a new ecosystem. But for Miami, we are excited that this is changing quickly as more and more talent and capital funders are moving here now.

What is great about Miami is how connected it is with other ecosystems. The traditional connection has been with Latam, but now much more with the Bay Area, New York and Europe. So more and more companies are able to do business in Miami, but leverage the global network connected with the city to find the talent, capital and access to markets that you’re looking for.

Who are key startup people you see creating success locally, whether investors, founders or even other types of startup ecosystem roles like lawyers, designers, growth experts, etc. We’re trying to highlight the movers and shakers who outsiders might not know.

There are so many great people doing amazing work in Miami. What’s great is most people here seem to genuinely want to build something for all. I’d suggest as a starting point:
Maria Derchi (Refresh Miami), Matt Haggman (Beacon Council), Raul Moas (Knight Foundation), Rebecca Danta (Miami Angels), and Tigre Wenrich (The Lab Ventures).

Tom Wallace, managing partner, Florida Funders (Tampa)

Where do you see Miami’s startup scene five years from now?

Although there has been a lot of news about the growing tech community in Miami over the past several months, this plan of transforming Miami and Florida as a whole to a technology hub has been in the works for years. If you look at how technology ecosystems are built, it comes down to two things: talent and capital. The state of Florida has always had a lot of capital but unlike California and New York most of our wealth does not come from technology. What we have seen though is the rise and sale of some great unicorn companies here in Florida that has ultimately fueled the organic growth of the ecosystem. When unicorns liquidate many new millionaires are made and those millionaires are starting their own companies. Just like HP in Silicon Valley, Microsoft in Seattle and Dell in Austin, this is how technology ecosystems are built. So in five years, Miami and Florida as a whole will potentially be a leading technology ecosystem in the country.

Remote work is pushing and pulling the global workforce. This means that offices will disappear from Miami, even with more companies moving in, but also more locals who work remotely for companies elsewhere. How do you see these factors impacting the city’s tech evolution?

There’s no doubt we’re benefiting from the trend in remote work — historically, we’ve been working to build great companies here. We’ve never struggled proving that Miami is an amazing place to spend time. With the shift toward remote work, we’re accelerating the trend of smart people moving here to work for companies that may not be based here, but moving forward, they’ll start or join companies that are local.

I also don’t believe that offices will be completely eliminated. If you look at the companies moving to Miami and Florida (like Blackstone and Goldman Sachs) they’re setting up sizable footprints. Offices will change forever and people will continue to have the ability to work from home for many companies, but there will always be an in-person element of work that cannot be replaced by Zoom. I especially think this is true in early-stage technology companies. For great conversation and innovation nothing beats being in a room with your entire team working through problems on the whiteboard.

What industry sectors do you focus on within Miami (and beyond)? What is happening in Miami now that you’re most excited to fund?

Being the gateway to Latin America has a massive appeal to me and us here at Florida Funders. The Latin American technology market is still in a very early stage, and Miami is where Latam companies jump into the U.S. and vice versa. Logistics and microlending platforms are a major interest. The secondary sector I am beginning to get serious about is fintech. With major players such as Goldman and Blackstone setting up operations in Miami there will be innovative fintech companies that follow in their footsteps.

What are some of the local challenges you’ve encountered or seen founders struggle with? More generally, how should people looking to hire in, invest in or relocate to Miami think about doing business in the city?

Talent, specifically tech development talent has always been a struggle in the state of Florida. We are now seeing, with the rise of remote working, better talent than ever before. But we still have a long way to go. Ecosystems like Boston, Silicon Valley, and even my home town of Pittsburgh have world-class institutions pumping out great tech talent. We do not have that yet here in Florida although the University of Florida and Florida Polytechnic Institute are trying to bridge the talent gap with some great new educational initiatives.

Who are key startup people you see creating success locally, whether investors, founders or even other types of startup ecosystems roles like lawyers, designers, growth experts, etc. We’re trying to highlight the movers and shakers who outsiders might not know.

I would like to say Florida Funders is really moving the needle on the capital side in Florida. In Miami, there are some amazing physical locations that have become startup hubs such as the CIC or now the new Mana Development. Also, I know our attorneys at Greenberg Traurig, especially partner Jaret Davis, are making large strides to support the community and have been for years.

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

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Gillmor Gang: Win Win

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Just finished a Twitter Spaces session. It is an engaging platform, somewhat clunky in feature set but easily a tie overall with Clubhouse. I don’t see this as a horse race, however, more as cooperating teams fleshing out a platform where both will be major players. Like notifications in iOS and Android, the feature set is a push and pull motion where Android delivers deep functionality and Apple alternately pulls ahead and consolidates gains. Though the details can vary, the combined energy of effectively 100 percent of the consumer base mandates best practices and opportunities for innovation.

Something similar is going on in Washington as the Democrats test out their majority of none on the pandemic stimulus bill. The headline in the Times says bipartisanship is dead, but the subheading is the real story. The battle for control of the Senate is closing in on the arcane gerrymandering of the filibuster, or what passes for it after Republican whittling of the original talk ’til you drop croaking of Jimmy Stewart as in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

The telltale giveaway is Senator Lindsay Graham, who complains bitterly that the Democrats are steamrolling the COVID Rescue Bill without Republican votes “because they can.” The actual bipartisanship is between the progressives and moderates in the Democratic Party, as the Senator from West Virginia moderates one aspect of the bill to gain the prize of something the President can sign. Not only does it establish Biden’s power to govern but it also provides a roadmap for justifying the necessity of altering the filibuster equation.

Notice how Biden changed the subject from bipartisan negotiations to the power play it turned into. He used the polls to squeeze the Republican moderates where they fear most, the primary battles for control of the House in the midterms. The wave of vaccines are making it almost impossible to put up a political firewall; the anti-mask mandates seem like clueless floundering as people begin to have hope of an exit from the gridlock of partisan obstructionism. It will be hard to run on a platform of denial and death as we reach the end of May.

Governing by success undercuts the argument that government doesn’t work. Breaking the back of the filibuster requires the framing of the issue as finding a way to let government keep working in a bipartisan way. That brings us back to changing the definition of bipartisan as evidenced in the technology arena. In the Apple/Android example, two viable entities bring different strengths to insuring the ability to survive long enough to govern. Google’s lock on the network effect in advertising and “free” services may be challenged by Apple’s focus on privacy and a hardware revenue base, but the net effect is to cancel each other’s vulnerabilities due to the market force of their positions. The bipartisan finesse is that each platform has the other as a dominant customer.

In the same vein, Twitter v. Clubhouse is really not the point. Certainly we can cherrypick the battle as startup v. incumbent: Clubhouse filled with unicorn celebrities and rockstar investors and a builtin tension with the media, Twitter protectively fast following with its natural social graph advantages and struggling with scalability and the fear they’ve sown of abandoning projects before they can thrive. The question begged: what is the nature of the bipartisan compromise that will ensure both end up winners?

The answer is how to make each player the best customer of the other. Twitter’s problem is focus, and harnessing the power of users to hack the system to both theirs and the company’s advantage. The @mention spawned the retweet, providing the analytics that drive Twitter’s indelible social graph. Instagram may be Facebook’s best attempt so far at challenging the fundamental strategic value that the former president used to dominate, but Clubhouse promises to go one big step better with its hybrid of mainstream media and a Warholesque factory engine that creates new stars and the media they generate. This in turn migrates through the entertainment disruption led by the streaming realignment. What exactly is this NFT thing really about?

So Clubhouse has to open up its ability to multitask with Twitter and other curated social graphs. Facebook as a source for Clubhouse notifications and suggested conversations is different than Twitter’s But patching into the sharing icon on iOS will offer substantial access to blunt Twitter’s native integration in Spaces. On the flip side, Twitter’s Revue newsletter tools present an opportunity to mine the burgeoning newsletter surge, using its drag and drop tools to bring not just default social network citations but the implicit social graph of curated editorial rockstars. Not only is the influencer audience rich in signal for advertisers, but these same brands will prove most attractive to Clubhouse listeners looking for value. Win win.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, March 5, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

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The iMac Pro is being discontinued

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Chalk this up to inevitability. The iMac Pro is soon to be no more. First noted by 9to5Mac, TechCrunch has since confirmed with Apple that the company will stop selling the all-in-one once the current stock is depleted.

One configuration of the desktop is still available through Apple’s site, listed as “While Supplies Last” and priced at $5,000. Some other versions can also still be found from third-party retailers, as well, if you’re so inclined.

The space gray version of the popular system was initially introduced in 2017, ahead of the company’s long-awaited revamp of the Mac Pro. Matthew called it a “love letter to developers” at the time, though that particular letter seems to have run its course.

Since then, Apple has revamped the standard iMac, focusing the 27-inch model at those same users. The company notes that the model is currently the most popular iMac among professional users. The system has essentially made the Pro mostly redundant, prefiguring its sunsetting. Of course, there’s also the new Mac Pro at the high end of Apple’s offerings.

And let us not forget that the Apple silicon-powered iMacs should be on the way, as well. Thus far the company has revamped the MacBook, MacBook Air and Mac Mini with its proprietary chips. New versions of the 21.5-inch and 27-inch desktop are rumored for arrival later this year, sporting a long-awaited redesign to boot.

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Investors still love software more than life

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Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday morning? Sign up here.

Ready? Let’s talk money, startups and spicy IPO rumors.

Despite some recent market volatility, the valuations that software companies have generally been able to command in recent quarters have been impressive. On Friday, we took a look into why that was the case, and where the valuations could be a bit more bubbly than others. Per a report written by few Battery Ventures investors, it stands to reason that the middle of the SaaS market could be where valuation inflation is at its peak.

Something to keep in mind if your startup’s growth rate is ticking lower. But today, instead of being an enormous bummer and making you worry, I have come with some historically notable data to show you how good modern software startups and their larger brethren have it today.

In case you are not 100% infatuated with tables, let me save you some time. In the upper right we can see that SaaS companies today that are growing at less than 10% yearly are trading for an average of 6.9x their next 12 months’ revenue.

Back in 2011, SaaS companies that were growing at 40% or more were trading at 6.0x their next 12 month’s revenue. Climate change, but for software valuations.

One more note from my chat with Battery. Its investor Brandon Gleklen riffed with The Exchange on the definition of ARR and its nuances in the modern market. As more SaaS companies swap traditional software-as-a-service pricing for its consumption-based equivalent, he declined to quibble on definitions of ARR, instead arguing that all that matters in software revenues is whether they are being retained and growing over the long term. This brings us to our next topic.

Consumption v. SaaS pricing

I’ve taken a number of earnings calls in the last few weeks with public software companies. One theme that’s come up time and again has been consumption pricing versus more traditional SaaS pricing. There is some data showing that consumption-priced software companies are trading at higher multiples than traditionally priced software companies, thanks to better-than-average retention numbers.

But there is more to the story than just that. Chatting with Fastly CEO Joshua Bixby after his company’s earnings report, we picked up an interesting and important market distinction between where consumption may be more attractive and where it may not be. Per Bixby, Fastly is seeing larger customers prefer consumption-based pricing because they can afford variability and prefer to have their bills tied more closely to revenue. Smaller customers, however, Bixby said, prefer SaaS billing because it has rock-solid predictability.

I brought the argument to Open View Partners Kyle Poyar, a venture denizen who has been writing on this topic for TechCrunch in recent weeks. He noted that in some cases the opposite can be true, that variably priced offerings can appeal to smaller companies because their developers can often test the product without making a large commitment.

So, perhaps we’re seeing the software market favoring SaaS pricing among smaller customers when they are certain of their need, and choosing consumption pricing when they want to experiment first. And larger companies, when their spend is tied to equivalent revenue changes, bias toward consumption pricing as well.

Evolution in SaaS pricing will be slow, and never complete. But folks really are thinking about it. Appian CEO Matt Calkins has a general pricing thesis that price should “hover” under value delivered. Asked about the consumption-versus-SaaS topic, he was a bit coy, but did note that he was not “entirely happy” with how pricing is executed today. He wants pricing that is a “better proxy for customer value,” though he declined to share much more.

If you aren’t thinking about this conversation and you run a startup, what’s up with that? More to come on this topic, including notes from an interview with the CEO of BigCommerce, who is betting on SaaS over the more consumption-driven Shopify.

Next Insurance, and its changing market

Next Insurance bought another company this week. This time it was AP Intego, which will bring integration into various payroll providers for the digital-first SMB insurance provider. Next Insurance should be familiar because TechCrunch has written about its growth a few times. The company doubled its premium run rate to $200 million in 2020, for example.

The AP Intego deal brings $185.1 million of active premium to Next Insurance, which means that the neo-insurance provider has grown sharply thus far in 2021, even without counting its organic expansion. But while the Next Insurance deal and the impending Hippo SPAC are neat notes from a hot private sector, insurtech has shed some of its public-market heat.

Stocks of public neo-insurance companies like Root, Lemonade and MetroMile have lost quite a lot of value in recent weeks. So, the exit landscape for companies like Next and Hippo — yet-private insurtech startups with lots of capital backing their rapid premium growth — is changing for the worse.

Hippo decided it will debut via a SPAC. But I doubt that Next Insurance will pursue a rapid ramp to the public markets until things smooth out. Not that it needs to go public quickly; it raised a quarter billion back in September of last year.

Various and Sundry

What else? Sisense, a $100 million ARR club member, hired a new CFO. So we expect them to go public inside the next four or five quarters.

And the following chart, which is via Deena Shakir of Lux Capital, via Nasdaq, via SPAC Alpha:

Alex

 

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