A local retailer in San Francisco. Image courtesy of Faire.

The leading online wholesale marketplace raises $170M to help local retailers thrive during uncertain times.

Local retailers form the bedrock of their respective communities. In aggregate, they sell over $1 trillion of goods each year in the U.S. alone. In times of crisis, they have repeatedly proven to be resilient. During the Great Recession, for example, retailers with 1–4 employees were the only segment of retail to add net employees every year after 2008. Taken as a group, these small business owners found a way to innovate their way out of a crisis.

Team Outschool saying hi on Zoom!

Announcing Lightspeed’s Series B investment in Outschool — the leading marketplace of live, online classes for K-12 students.

“This is the value of the teacher, who looks at a face and says there’s something behind that and I want to reach that person, I want to influence that person, I want to encourage that person, I want to enrich, I want to call out that person who is behind that face, behind that color, behind that language, behind that tradition, behind that culture. I believe you can do it. I know what was done for me.”
— Maya Angelou

A truly great teacher has a lifelong impact on her students.

Most of us can remember a special teacher who made learning feel personal. She somehow took inscrutable subject matter…

Retailer placing orders via Faire’s mobile app.

Doubling down on Lightspeed’s investment in Faire, the leading wholesale marketplace for independent brands and retailers.

Today, the WSJ announced a $150 million Series D round for Faire, led by our friends at Founders Fund, with a significant investment from Lightspeed, Y-Combinator, Forerunner Ventures, and more.

The small, but mighty team at Flockjay, an online academy to train & support top sales teams.

Announcing Lightspeed’s investment in Flockjay, an online academy to train and support top sales teams.

Today Fast Company announced Lightspeed’s lead investment in Flockjay. The company is building the world’s most accessible onramp into the technology industry, starting with a 12-week, online academy and post-graduate community for sales professionals. I am delighted to work with CEO/founder Shaan Hathiramani, whom I’ve known for over 15 years.

The world’s smallest businesses are the next consumers to come online.

Small businesses are the bedrock of the American economy.

Nearly half of all employed Americans work at one. The very smallest of these firms, with fewer than 20 employees, employ over 20 million Americans, with an average of less than 4 employees per firm. These “micro firms” are most common in industries like professional services, construction, healthcare/social assistance, retail, and food services.

Compared to larger enterprises, micro firms act more like consumers. The owner of a micro firm is the sole decision maker of the business. She also runs HR, finance, purchasing, IT, and every other “function” of her micro…

Mickey and friends. (Source)

Announcing Lightspeed’s investment in AWA, a modern character-driven entertainment studio built for and by creators.

Iconic characters come around once in a blue moon. When they do, they quickly become part of popular culture.

Today the WSJ announced Lightspeed’s investment in Artists, Writers, & Artisans (aka AWA Studios). The company’s aim is to build a cohesive universe of characters from scratch, leveraging modern context and technology. It also seeks to compensate creators fairly for their contributions and has already attracted world class talent to the platform.

We are just beginning to talk about what AWA is working on. …

Alex Honnold on a “free solo” climb is risk-taking personified. (Source)

With the “low hanging fruit” picked, online marketplaces must absorb and mitigate risk on behalf of customers.

In all likelihood, the first business ever created was a marketplace.

Checkmate! (Source)

Applying HBS Professor Michael Porter’s classic strategy framework to Facebook’s decision to enter the VR/AR market

For all the focus on driving operational efficiencies in tech startups, running faster or harder than your competitor will only take you so far. After achieving product/market fit, the next question for all companies is how to sustain a lead over time in ways that are not linearly proportional to the effort exerted. That comes down to choosing the right strategy and aligning your organization behind it.

Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter defined “strategy” in his classic 1996 article on the topic. …

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/afq5-t0ZGtQ

An ode to wonderfully imperfect products.

Recency bias is powerful, especially in technology. Our favorite consumer products are elegant and sleek — the results of years of iteration, testing, and user feedback. It is easy to forget the path a product took to reach its present state of perfection. The starting point is, too often, mere dust in the wind.

In the beginning, most consumer products were broken in some meaningful way. An early product doesn’t need to be perfect to be valuable. Succeeding in spite of clear product flaws demonstrates a visceral user need.

As an investor, this lesson took me years to internalize. I…

Happy New Year! (Source)

A short retrospective on an active year at Lightspeed

As we wind down 2018 and look towards the new year, I wanted to reflect on some of the pieces I’ve published here on Medium.

If you enjoy reading these posts, I’d encourage you to sign up for my newsletter Drinking from the Firehose. If you’re interested in reading more from me, go subscribe at this link.

Portfolio growth

Three portfolio companies I support — Faire (new in 2018), Vector, and Zola — raised a combined total of $270 million. I shared my thoughts on each of these businesses in individual posts below:

The re-platforming of retail

In 2017, I wrote that The Retail Apocalypse Isn’t…

Alex Taussig

Partner at Lightspeed. Boards: AWA, Daily Harvest, Faire, Forage, Flockjay, Outschool, Zola. Prior: thredUP, RentJuice/$Z, $TWOU, $CBLK. Writes firehose.vc.

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