New Research on the Region

  • May 2022
  • Case

Deborah Quazzo at GSV Ventures

By: William A. Sahlman, Michael D. Smith and Nicole Tempest Keller

Facing a surge in investor interest in EdTech during the COVID-19 pandemic, GSV Ventures must decide whether to raise a larger Fund #2

  • March 2022
  • Case

LooksRare: The Decentralized, Tokenized, NFT Marketplace

By: Scott Duke Kominers, Shai Bernstein and George Gonzalez

LooksRare launched a decentralized and anonymous organization to compete against NFT marketplace leader OpenSea. By launching its own cryptocurrency, LooksRare attempted to lure users with a digital rewards program. The nature of the organization and its business model, however, brought challenges that are unique to the blockchain industry.

  • March 2022
  • Teaching Material

Space Financing

By: Matthew Weinzierl, Nicole Tempest Keller and Brendan L. Rosseau

This note provides an update on the space financing state of play in 2021.

  • February 2022 (Revised March 2022)
  • Case

Aleph Farms: A New Culture of Meat

By: Elie Ofek and Jeff Huizinga

Aleph Farms, an Israeli food-tech start-up, was hoping to play a major role in disrupting the conventional meat sector. Compared to intensive agricultural practices, Aleph’s cultured (or lab-grown) meat solution held the promise of considerably reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the use of land and water, while providing a new source of food for a rapidly growing world population. With much of the science already worked out, the company was now facing a host of challenges as it planned to launch its first product—a cultured steak. In particular, Aleph’s CEO, Didier Toubia, and his management team had to figure out the best way to position and bring to market its innovative steaks, with a debut expected in late 2022 in Singapore. Management fully recognized potential barriers to consumer adoption and strived to build a relevant brand image. On the production side, the company knew it had to scale quickly and continue to bring down costs so that its steaks approached price parity with conventional meat. Yet given the intensive capital expenditures involved, this was no simple feat. Planning for the longer term, the company was beginning to consider its next product line.

  • February 2022
  • Case

NFX Capital and Moov Technologies

By: Scott Duke Kominers and Nicole Tempest Keller

In July 2019, James Currier, a general partner at San Francisco-based NFX Ventures, was considering a seed stage investment of $1.5 million in Moov Technologies, a B2B marketplace for used industrial equipment. NFX was a venture capital firm focused on seed-stage investments in technology businesses that utilized one or more of 15 network effects that NFX identified, viewing such businesses as having asymmetric upside potential. Currier saw growing potential in B2B marketplaces, which had taken a backseat to B2C marketplaces in the early 2000s. But market dynamics were changing as Millennials took the reins in legacy industries and looked for ways to bring the ease and speed of B2C marketplaces they were accustomed to in their personal lives to the workplace. NFX had already invested in one B2B marketplace and was now considering Moov, which operated in the pre-owned semiconductor manufacturing equipment market—estimated to have a market size of $8 to $10 billion. The business model was predicated on the fact that large manufacturers like Intel typically bought manufacturing equipment that had a 15-30 year useful life, but only used it for 3-5 years before swapping it out for newer models. The used equipment then either sat idle while it depreciated or was sold to other manufacturers through brokers. Steven Zhou, Moov’s founder and CEO, had worked as a broker in the semiconductor equipment industry for 6 years; he used that experience to launch Moov in 2017 to digitize the equipment resale process through an online marketplace. As a seed stage investor, Currier knew he had to rely heavily on his assessment of the team, the product, and the sector. Currier acknowledged that Zhou was relatively inexperienced and would need mentorship. Yet Currier was impressed by Zhou’s work ethic and “hustle.” He was also encouraged by the fintech growth potential for Moov, including adding services such as insurance, shipping, and vendor financing. There was also potential for Moov to branch into other vertical markets, although Currier realized that this could be a challenge for the Moov team, given that their experience was limited to semiconductors. Currier had to decide whether to invest in a second B2B marketplace, and if so, was Moov the right one?

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California Research Center Team

Allison Ciechanover
Executive Director
George Gonzalez
Senior Researcher
Jeffrey Huizinga
Senior Researcher
Nicole Keller
Senior Researcher