The New Yorker - The San Francisco-based brand Allbirds makes shoes so soft and flexible that you can bend them almost a hundred and eighty degrees in your hands. When worn, the lightweight rubber soles flare out at the ball of the foot, creating a slightly geriatric silhouette. The “S-curve tread array” carved into the bottom of the sole is supposed to distribute your weight evenly as you walk; the insoles caress your arches and make walking feel like gliding. The merino-wool fabric, in a variety of neutral and pastel shades, is reminiscent of an expensive Fair Isle sweater, except somehow not at all itchy. It is thin enough that you can see the outline of your toes as you walk. The eight lace holes of the original Allbirds “Runners,” embellished with contrast stitching, have a dad-ish quality to them. The only visible branding is a small tab on the back and a cursive, lowercase “allbirds” carved into the heel. The shoes are, for all my attempts to describe them, excessively nondescript. This is perhaps their biggest innovation. Allbirds are so meticulo
Burgerbot startup Creator hires inventor of Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog
Disney Imagineering animatronics wizard Dr. Martin Buehler is a legend in the robotics world. His work leading development of the galloping Big Dog quadruped at Boston Dynamics both inspired and terrified a new generation of makers. But after playing in the worlds of fantasy and science fiction that consumers can’t buy, Buehler has been poached to work on something much more tangible. In fact, it’s edible. He’s joining burger-making robot startup Creator as VP of engineering. “It was a great experience working on experimental validation [at Boston Dynamics],” Buehler tells me, “But one of the things I really value at Creator is the immediacy of real impact to real people. With burgers being such a big segment of the food market, we have the potential to touch millions of people.”
The Muse, a popular recruitment site for millennial women, has made its second acquisition
The Muse, a New York-based, content-rich recruitment site that matches job seekers and all kinds of information about different career paths, as well as with companies that are hiring, has made it second acquisition, picking up TalentShare, a year-old, HR software-as-a service company. TalentShare has been focused on enabling companies to share high-quality candidates that they didn’t hire but would recommend to other companies that are in the market for talent. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but four of TalentShare’s five-member team are joining The Muse. In fact, those new employees will help The Muse in establishing a second office in San Francisco.
Custom eyewear startup King Children raises $2 million
Eyewear can be a statement-making, attention-grabbing fashion accessory — if done right. King Children, a custom eyewear startup emerging from stealth today, aims to give everyone unique, custom designs made for them, by them. Harnessing the power of 3D scanning and printing technology, in addition to augmented reality, King Children aims to create custom frames that fit your face perfectly. “One of the things we felt strongly about is there are so many consumer brands that don’t treat people of diverse backgrounds equally,” King Children co-founder and CEO Sahir Zaveri told TechCrunch. “They make products designed for these imaginary, average people. They don’t end up fitting diverse people as well. What we started to think about was creating a brand and platform that by definition would treat every single person equally.”
The Warby Parker of Strollers is Here
Ted Lobst had just started his MBA at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School when he got the good news: He and his wife were expecting twins. It was immediately clear to him that his business school experience wouldn’t revolve around the typical networking mixers and jet-setting to visit overseas companies. Nope. Most of his time would be spent changing diapers and cleaning spit-up. By the time year two of the program rolled around, Iobst became the primary caregiver for his two babies, Fritz and Larkin, as his wife went back to her job as a lawyer. While his classmates were at cocktail parties, hobnobbing with captains of industry, Lobst found himself at
Knotch launches Blueprint to help marketers find the best publishers of sponsored content
When I last wrote about Knotch, the company had just patented its color-based feedback system that helps advertisers measure the effectiveness of their sponsored content. Since then, it’s added a competitive intelligence product and now Blueprint, a tool for marketers who want to find the best topics, formats and partners to reach their desired audience. Lara Vandenberg, Knotch’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, told me that agencies had been asking the company to recommend which publishers to work with, so Blueprint is meant to meet that need. She described it as both “this ultimate content planning product” and as “a predictive matchmaker for brands as content becomes so much more of a focus.”
The radical idea behind this kitchen brand? Selling fewer tools
The cookware industry thrives on making you feel like you need hundreds of highly specialized tools to make your dinner. This is perhaps why, in the decade and a half since I graduated from college, I have accumulated heaps of kitchen tools, most of which are poorly made and don’t get much use. I recently took a glance at my utensil drawer and found: 12 different knives, five spatulas (some metal, some silicone), slotted spoons, regular spoons, a pasta spoon, a ladle, a pizza cutter, a garlic smasher, metal tongs, and plastic tongs. As someone who likes clean, minimal spaces, opening this drawer often puts me on the verge of a minor heart attack. Material Kitchen is here to help. This direct-to-consumer startup, which launched earlier this year, creates a grand total of nine tools (plus a base to hold them in).
Shoe start-up Allbirds co-CEO on origin story and going brick and mortar
How Yale students launched a caffeinated energy bar company from their dorm—and raised $1.4 million to turn it into a business
Back in 2016, Matt Czarnecki, then a sophomore at Yale University, found himself exhausted after studying for an exam one night. He needed a caffeine boost and his only option was a coffee shop, where he reluctantly handed over $6 for a coffee and some granola. He asked himself: Why isn't there a simpler, healthier, cheaper alternative? Czarnecki tossed some ideas around with his classmates Bennett Byerley and André Monteiro and, that semester, the students started experimenting with caffeinated energy bar recipes in their dorm kitchen.
Trendy Sneaker Startup Allbirds Laces Up $1.4 Billion Valuation
Trendy Silicon Valley shoe startup Allbirds Inc. is now valued at $1.4 billion, people familiar with the matter say, after raising new cash from investors. Allbirds, whose sneakers has become hip footwear for striving venture capitalists and celebrities alike, sells two varieties of shoes made of wood or wool. It announced a new $50 million investment round Thursday from backers including T. Rowe Price Investment Management, Fidelity Management and hedge-fund firm Tiger Global Management. The new valuation, which wasn’t publicly disclosed, vaults the San Francisco footwear brand into the closely watched realm of so-called Silicon Valley unicorns, or startups valued at more than $1 billion. It was valued by investors at $370 million last year, one of the people said.
Sneaker Startup Allbirds Takes Flight With $50 Million In Funding
Two years ago, Allbirds started with one type of shoe: a pair of superfine merino wool sneakers designed to be the most comfortable shoe on Earth. In a world where the line between formal and casual has become increasingly blurred, Allbirds’ grey sneaker struck a note and sales took off—with over a million pairs sold in its first two years. Investors bought in too, and on Thursday the company announced it had raised an additional $50 million in funding from T. Rowe Price, Fidelity and Tiger Global, bringing the total raised to $77.5 million. The new funding round values the company at over $1 billion, according to a source familiar with the deal.
Silicon Valley's 'Pixar': Why The Startup Studio Behind Hims' Breakout Success Just Raised $150M
When direct-to-consumer men’s health startup Hims launched in November 2017, it seemed to come out of nowhere. Offering easy-access prescriptions for men’s issues like hair loss and erectile dysfunction through a quick online doctor consultation, Hims had sleek branding and eye-popping numbers for a debutant: $1 million in first-week sales and $7 million in funding from blue-chip investors including Kirsten Green and Josh Kushner right out the gate. Even in Silicon Valley’s hard-charging startup culture, Hims’ momentum stood out. Less than a year later, Hims has already raised another $90 million at a reported half-billion-dollar valuation, with tens of millions in sales. Its torrid pace has made CEO Andrew Dudum look brilliant; or at least, very, very lucky. “We were excited about how men interacted with the healthcare system,” Dudum tells Forbes. “I don’t think anybody expected how fast this would grow.”