BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, handling more than $6 trillion, is leaving no stone unturned in its effort to shore up the investing dollars of the millennial and Gen Z generations. Having already made inroads in the robo-advisor business in recent years, BlackRock is coming for your nickels and dimes next. BlackRock announced Wednesday that it has led a $50 million investing round in microinvesting site Acorns. BlackRock declined to say how much it had specifically invested in Acorns. The personal finance app allows customers to automatically invest spare change from everyday purchases, such as those made via credit card transactions, in exchange-traded funds from BlackRock and Vanguard.
BlackRock Invests $50 Million into Acorns to Find Out What Young Investors Want
The world’s biggest money manager is buying a stake in a startup that invests its users’ pocket change, reinforcing a broader push by BlackRock Inc. BLK 2.19% to serve individual investors. The investment in Acorns Grow Inc., which was announced Wednesday, is part of a $50 million fundraising round that BlackRock is leading. It is using its own money instead of client funds for the investment. BlackRock manages $6.3 trillion in assets. The Acorns stake is part of a larger strategy to broaden BlackRock’s appeal beyond big institutions to individuals and wealth managers. Because BlackRock does not sell mutual funds or exchange-traded funds directly to retail investors, as rivals Vanguard Group and Fidelity Investments do, BlackRock lacks direct access to information about how individuals choose to invest over time and what younger people prefer when it comes to digital apps.
Yale undergrads created delicious, 90-calorie energy bars with as much caffeine as an espresso
Three current Yale undergrads, Matt Czarnecki, Bennett Byerley, and André Monteiro, didn't want to sit around simply complaining about ineffective energy solutions (or all the money wasted on them). In the spring of 2016, they started experimenting with caffeinated energy bar recipes in their dorm room kitchen. The guiding philosophy behind the recipes was that simple is better. Could they create bars that made people more energized, while sticking to ingredients everyone knows and recognizes? After more than 100 tries, they did land on the perfect combination and started handing the bars out to friends. It was clear they had to take it to scale once they rented a local bakery to make energy bars during its off-hours and still couldn't keep up with demand.
Verb Re-Energizes With New Line and Rebrand
Coming off a $1 million investment round, caffeinated snack maker Verb Energy is evolving to get consumers to think beyond the cup for their afternoon pick-me-up. The caffeinated, green tea-based snack brand announced today that it has rebranded, revised its product line from bars to bites and has further built out it’s ordering system. The goal is to shake its collegiate vibe and resonate with a new core, caffeine seeking consumer as its founders graduate and relocate the company’s headquarters from the Yale University campus to Boston. This rebrand and platform expansion was, in part, funded by the nearly $1 million of capital that Verb raised earlier this year from investors including Global Founders Capital, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Vast Ventures and a syndicate of angel investors including Kevin Ryan, the founder of Business Insider.
How to Live in San Francisco Without Spending Any Money
“A lot of those customers are bad customers in that they’ll never pay you what your product is worth,” said Henry McNamara, a partner at venture-capital firm Great Oaks Venture Capital, which invests in startups including Allbirds shoes and meal company Plated. In general, free credits and referral bonuses are “two things we push and urge our companies to avoid,” he said. Such discounts are everywhere in the highly competitive food-delivery space, troubling some participants.
Acorns launches retirement account product to expand beyond retail investing
Acorns, the mobile service that’s providing a gateway to investing in the stock market, has completed the master plan it set in motion months ago with the acquisition of Vault by finally launching a retirement account product today. Called Acorns Later, the service is the first Acorns investment vehicle to get the same kind of tax advantages the swells get when they invest through products like Individual Retirement Accounts. “Setting up a retirement account is confusing and, as a result, two out of three Americans aren’t saving for later in life,” said Noah Kerner, Acorns chief executive officer, in a statement. “Acorns Later removes friction from the decision making process, getting back to our central product philosophy: make big decisions small.”
Cannabis Service Company, Eaze, Releases Survey In Time For 4/20
April 20 (4/20) is a kind of American national holiday in the pot-smoking world , but no one seems to know exactly why. Is it Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (12 x 35 = 420)? Is it an old police code (a 420) for marijuana possession? Or is it for some other wild reason, like Adolf Hitler’s birthday? Whatever the reason, to Eaze Solutions, Inc. (Eaze) this week seemed a good time to release the results of its recent cannabis survey. Eaze is a four year-old San Francisco-based technology platform serving licensed cannabis dispensaries and brands. The company’s technology provides help to cannabis businesses with compliance, inventory management and delivery. Eaze says it helps consumers too by connecting them either online or via mobile. According to Eaze’s social impact director, Jennifer Lujan, the company’s mission is to “improve people’s lives by helping them understand the benefits of cannabis and by providing them with safe, convenient access to legal cannabis products.”
The Great California Cannabis Experiment Lurches Forward
To coincide with this "holiday," a technology company with San Francisco roots held an open house this week at its new Venice office, just steps from the sign. Eaze, a platform that connects consumers to dispensaries for home deliveries of cannabis, invited the city's cannabis czar, a dispensary owner and a delivery driver to talk about the newly legalized recreational market.
How Kate Ryder Started a Healthcare App Designed for Women
Everyone needs healthcare. Yet, to the surprise of many people I speak with, both healthcare providers and the consumers interacting with the healthcare system are overwhelmingly female. Approximately 80% of healthcare decisions are made by women, who commonly guide care not just for themselves, but also for their children and families. Likewise, the majority of healthcare jobs — including doctors, nurses and technicians — are held by women. Given this, it’s worth a double-take that the system is run almost entirely by men. Only about a fifth of healthcare executives are women. I’m part of a small percentage of women who run digital health startups. My company, Maven, a digital clinic for women, bridges gaps in healthcare by providing on-demand access to a network of over 1,000 women’s and family health providers. Patients can see Maven Practitioners either by video, by text
Tentrr is turning private land into glampgrounds, with the help of VCs
Venture capitalists certainly appreciate the startup’s pitch. Tentrr — founded by one-time investment banker turned former NYSE managing director Michael D’Agostino — has raised $13 million to date, including a newly closed $8 million Series A round led by West, a San Francisco-based venture studio that both funds startups and helps them market their goods and services. No doubt the investors are looking at the overall market, whose numbers are compelling. According to one trade association, for example, the outdoor recreation industry represents an $887 billion opportunity, with Americans shelling out $24 billion annually on campsites alone.
They created the Uber of flower delivery. Then disaster struck. Could they find redemption?
It was around 3 a.m. on Feb. 14, 2017, when Ajay Kori and Jeff Sheely knew things were starting to go wrong. Three years earlier, the two college buddies — along with friends Jereme Holiman, Chetan Shenoy and Scott Simpson — had set out to upend the stodgy, low-tech world of flower delivery with a sleek, Silicon Valley-like competitor. They named their start-up UrbanStems and based it in downtown Washington. But that Valentine's Day, it felt like it could all come crashing down. Hours before deliveries were supposed to begin, Kori, Sheely and several employees were still entombed in their building’s mailroom, clustered around a few tables, assembling bouquets and putting them in boxes. They’d never used such a small space for prep work on a Valentine’s Day before, and this year, the number of orders had nearly tripled compared with the previous year’s. Sheely recalls worrying about whether they would finish in time for deliveries. “At a certain point, it was like, ‘We are not gonna make it,’ ” he says.
Virta Health Raises $45 Million for Digital Diabetes Treatment
Virta Health, a startup that is taking a software approach to treating diabetes rather than pills or injections, has raised $45 million in funding to support its technology. San Francisco-based Virta says its software “reverses” diabetes through behavioral changes that reduce the biological measures of the disease. The company’s software platform, accessible via a mobile app, helps the patient track blood sugar, carbohydrate intake, and other indicators. The Virta starter kit includes a scale, blood pressure cuff, and glucose meter that automatically upload data to the Virta app. The platform also provides clinicians and caregivers real-time access to the data so that they can provide additional guidance and support. Virta unveiled its technology last year, along with $37 million in funding. At that time, the startup pointed to published clinical data from a Virta-funded study showing that after 10 weeks, the software reduced or eliminated the need to take insulin in 87 percent of patients.