Everyone is drafting their own startup Black Swan memo – businesstraverse.com

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh, human take on this week’s startup news and trends. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

“You can often gain significant market share in an economic downturn just by staying alive,” top startup accelerator Y Combinator wrote in an internal email to its founders this week. The advice was one of ten points in a memo designed to help companies navigate the shattering technology of the economic downturn. Other notable quotes include “plan for the worst” and “no one can predict how bad the economy is going to get, but things aren’t looking good.”

The email is a mood shift from just a few weeks ago, when hundreds of Y Combinator startups — many of which had already raised venture capital — presented themselves to the public on Demo Day. The startups were the first to receive Y Combinator’s new $500,000 standard check and aggressively targeted international opportunities. Now, YC says that “this slowdown will have a disproportionate impact on international businesses, among other things.”

While Y Combinator’s memo wasn’t meant to be public, it’s not the only one posting a Black Swan memo in preparation for what’s to come. businesstraverse.com received a series of memos that venture capitalists sent to portfolio companies about the market’s downturn. Some were hopeful, others were simple, and others were as simple as ‘Do you find your ARR and cash burn writing? Please?

I explored this topic in my most recent businesstraverse.com+ column, “It’s not normal business (and investors admit it).” Subscribe to Equity for a podcast version of this conversation next week too! In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll be covering more layoffs at tech companies, ghosts popping up to $44 billion dates, and Swyft startups. As always, you can support me by forwarding this newsletter to a friend or follow me on twitter or my blog.

So. Loads of. laid off.

The crazy month of layoffs in May continues. Amanda and I wrote down a third of tech layoffs that rippled across all sectors and stages. Employees at Section4, Carvana, DataRobot, Mural, Robinhood, On Deck, Thrasio, MainStreet and Netflix have been affected by the workforce reduction. Some larger companies are putting hiring freezes, such as Twitter and Meta, or announcing a shift in strategy, such as Uber.

Here’s why it’s important: At the time of publication, employees at Picsart, Netflix, Cars24 and Skillz were hit by this week’s spate of discounts. It tells us who is vulnerable from a business model perspective – such as subscription-based companies and marketplaces – and that companies may start making more than one round of layoffs in the same month (cough, cough, Netflix).

red balloon with man helping people cross the gorge

Image Credits: wildpixel (Opens in a new window) / Getty Images

A Twitter bot wrote this

On Equity this week, your favorite podcast trio talked about unicorn vibes, tech plays about real estate ownership and, as you can tell from the headline, the latest in the Elon Musk Twitter story. At this point, we’re deciding whether it’s worth keeping the timeline.

Here’s why it’s important: Our weekly tech news roundup is a great way to keep up with the big news items that make up this shaky landscape, as well as stay on top of deals that may have flown under your radar. In this case, we spent most of the time deciding why Elon Musk is haunting the $44 billion date he made with Twitter. The answer, not so complicated, seems because he is more interested in hunting than in fetters.

After we filmed our episode, more news about Elon Musk emerged from an investigation by Business Insider. Elon Musk reportedly exposed herself to a SpaceX flight attendant and proposed to her to have sex. The company paid $250,000 for its silence, Business Insider reports. Musk has since refused the harassment claims. Read the whole story here.

Image Credits: Westend61 / Getty Images

Offer of the week

Swyft Cities! The Mountain View-based company, built by Google alums, aims to improve transportation and offer a vehicle that is cheaper per mile and has lower CO2 emissions. The solution looks like an autonomous, lightweight vehicle with a fixed cable. The startup is the winner of the businesstraverse.com Sessions: Mobility 2022 pitch-off, with Beyond Aero as the runner-up.

Here’s why it’s important: Swyft has ticked off a lot of ‘we’re not flailing’ boxes. In addition to an MVP and an initial customer agreement, the company has set up an R&D center in Christchurch, New Zealand. It is also working with Remarkables Park in Queenstown, a major office, retail and residential space, to develop a network of autonomous gondolas, businesstraverse.com reports. It is planned to be operational in August 2024.

during the week

Seen on businesstraverse.com

Seen on businesstraverse.com+

Until next time,

N