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Use this year’s angel investor rankings to place your startup

(FINANCE) If you’re trying to decide where to start your business, consider this year’s rankings for most active angel investor groups.

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CTAN named #1 angel network two years in a row

Look out Silicon Valley, there’s a new innovation hotbed in town.

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For the second year in a row, Central Texas Angel Network (CTAN) has won the coveted #1 ranking at the Angel Capital Association’s annual ACA Summit in San Francisco.

The report

At this summit, the Angel Resource Institute (ARI) released its HALO Report, comprised of national data and rankings of angel investor groups. The HALO Report awards the most active groups in each region and ranks each nationally — CTAN has been recognized as the most active angel group nationwide once again.

CTAN wins at winning

With more than 160 investors from a wide range of backgrounds, CTAN has invested more than $82 million in over 140 companies since 2006. The organization doesn’t just invest in startups — they also mentor and support entrepreneurs every step of the way by connecting them to critical business resources that accelerate their growth.

This is the first time in CTAN history to win first place two years in a row (2015 and 2016).

That’s not all Texas has to brag about: CTAN was tied for #1 by none other than Houston Angel Network (HAN). The two organizations work together often as sister angel groups to share resources and collaborate on deals. Both CTAN and HAN are working to turn Austin, Houston, and Texas as a whole into a hub of innovation for early-stage businesses, and are clearly pulling it off.

The HALO Report is full of interesting data points, many of which bode well for both entrepreneurs and investors at early seed-stages.

For example, the report revealed that after reaching a high of $4.6M in 2015, pre-money valuations plummeted by 22% nationwide in 2016, down to $3.6M. The average pre-money valuation in Texas remained $3.8M in 2016.

Also, for the first time in history for angel groups nationwide, there were more follow-on rounds than new rounds.This shows that more angel investors have been acknowledging the importance of setting aside funds to support their portfolio companies with follow-on rounds.

CTAN’s second win in a row, along with HAN’s #1 ranking, are proof that seed-stage funding thriving in Texas.Click To TweetThese big wins also prov that Texas’ economy as a whole is in great shape now and likely for years to come.

#CTAN

Helen Irias is a Staff Writer at The American Genius with a degree in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara. She works in marketing in Silicon Valley and hopes to one day publish a comically self-deprecating memoir that people bring up at dinner parties to make themselves sound interesting.

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Business Finance

Blockchain has a competitor that could already obsolete the tech

(TECH NEWS) Just as people are learning what the word “blockchain” means, technology is already advancing beyond this groundbreaking innovation.

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Blockchain’s new competitor may one day render the popular database service obsolete. Hashgraph pitches itself as a “superior consensus mechanism/data structure alternative to blockchain,” featuring a decentralized platform for micropayments, live collaboration apps, distributed MMOs, auctions, and distributed capital markets.

The distributed ledger technology system notes it’s faster, fairer, and more secure than blockchain. However, Hashgraph has very diplomatically stated, “The pitching of Hashgraph against Blockchain is a sensationalist angle that we do not endorse.”

They go on to say, “We consider Blockchain to be like a capable older brother who graciously paved the way by bringing the power of Distributed Ledger Technology to the light of day, for which we are very grateful.”

Very Miss America of them. Unlike Bitcoin, Hashgraph doesn’t need massive amounts of computation or energy consumption. This is in part due to how the system handles transactions, particularly mining.

Bitcoin mining is the process of adding records of transactions to Bitcoin’s public ledger. These records are a blockchain, which serves as a confirmation of past transactions. With standard bitcoin mining, each transaction is put into a container, forming a long single chain.

If two miners happen to make two blocks at the same time, one will be discarded eventually, especially if one arrives too quickly. Instead, Hashgraph uses every container, and any member can create transactions at any point without threat of deletion.

Currently, Bitcoin uses proof-of-work (POW), requiring costly custom hardware. PoW artificially slows down the mining process, which is why miners need special hardware to gain anything close to efficiency. However, Hashgraph offers faster transactions, too.

Right now, Bitcoin on standard blockchain are limited to seven transactions per second, but Hashgraph could be up to 50,000 times faster with 250,000 transactions per second (pre-sharding). The transactions would only be limited by bandwidth availability.

Further, Hashgraph brings fairness into play with consensus time stamping, meaning no one can alter the order in which transactions are processed. Basically, there’s no line cutting or fast passes like in blockchain, where miners can choose what order transactions occur in a block, even delaying or stopping future blocks.

Unlike blockchain, Hashgraph uses asynchronous Byzantine fault tolerance to achieve consensus within the community using virtual voting. Members cannot change the consensus once reached, nor can they prevent any community from reaching a consensus.

Plus, Hashgraph uses bank-grade consensus algorithms for added security, and is resilient to DDoS, Sybil, firewall, and virus attacks, as well as network partitions.

The amount of storage is reduced as well by only keeping the effects of the transaction, shrinking the amount of storage from its current 60GB for bitcoin to 1GB. So what does that mean? Your smartphone could act as a node.

Yes, you can start geeking out now.

At this time, Hashgraph isn’t available on public networks or ledgers, so no associated cryptocurrency is currently available. However, you can apply for an an enterprise or commercial license use on a private network by contacting Swirlds, the company that handles Hashgraphs licensing.

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Business Finance

Like it or not, Millennials prefer Bitcoin over Stocks

(FINANCE NEWS) A new survey shows that the investment pendulum has swung to favor blockchain backed cryptocurrency over stocks when it comes to millennials.

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Informed or not, Millennials prefer bitcoin over stocks. Could it be because “bitcoin” sounds cool and futuristic while “stock” sounds super boring? Studies haven’t officially evaluated my hypothesis, but let’s go with a maybe for now.

Venture capital firm Blockchain Capital’s survey of 2,000 people found that around 30 percent of the participants in the 18-34 age range would rather own $1000 of Bitcoin than $1000 of government stocks or bonds.

Additionally, of those surveyed, 42 percent of millennials were at least marginally familiar with bitcoin, while only 15 percent over age 65 knew of the concept.

On Wednesday bitcoin rose more than six percent to as high as $7,545, pushing the value of the cryptocurrency market over $200 billion for the first time ever. This time last year, bitcoin was worth around $700.

In the past year, cyrptocurrency has risen 600 percent. This is compared to measly gains of 15 percent for the S&P 500 Index. Despite the rise in value, only 2 percent of Americans currently own or have ever owned bitcoin according to Blockchain Capital’s survey.

However, as millennials become more involved in the investment force, this number is sure to increase. If U.S. regulators allow bitcoin ETFs, it may be even easier for new bitcoin buyers to enter the market.

According to Google Trends, more people are searching online for how to buy bitcoin that gold. Can you dive Scrooge McDuck style into a ludicrous pile of bitcoins? Well, no. But you also can’t have the Dothraki give you a melted bitcoin crown, so there’s that safety factor working in bitcoin’s favor.

What else is so appealing about bitcoin? Unlike traditional banks, the bitcoin network isn’t run by a centralized agency and has no physical backing. Instead, it’s run by a network of computers worldwide digitally keeping track of all transactions by storing records in a blockchain.

Since anyone can make an anonymous account, bitcoin gained notoriety a preferred method for drug dealers and ransom payment aficionados. However, the cryptocurrency is also accepted by many major businesses, including Overstock.com and eBay, for legal transactions.

Since there are no transaction or currency conversion fees, people in countries with high inflation can use bitcoin to avoid losing money. Plus, bitcoin makes international money transfers significantly faster than traditional methods.

While bitcoin certainly has proven fruitful for shady transactions, the rising popularity of cryptocurrency for legitimate uses indicates a market shift.

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Business Finance

Venezuela cash crunch means workers won’t see money for months

(FINANCE NEWS) Venezuela is currently in a cash crunch due to a weakening oil market which means that Venezuelans won’t see pay for at least 5 months.

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If you ever ran out of money as a broke 20-something, you know how nervewracking it can be to go without cash. Now, imagine you ran a country and ran out of money. Sweating yet?

Be glad you’re not Venezuela, who is extremely cash poor at the moment. According to coverage from Bloomberg, “more than $1.2 billion of the company’s debt is coming due in the next few days, and investors are showing less confidence that funds will be transferred.”

The country is already two weeks late to pay off several other bonds. Additionally, cargo ships full of crude oil have idled for months because Venezuela can’t pay for their supply of oil.

The biggest culprit for the cash shortage is the shrinking market for crude oil. PDVSA controls one of the large crude supplies in the world, and it’s been a lucrative export for the country. However, in three years, the price of oil has dropped by 50 percent.

The biggest demand for crude used to come from America, who would pay cash for the barrels; however, shipments are down 35 percent since August.

Part of that demand shortage is due to political sanctions, imposed on the country by the United States. In response to Maduro’s aggressive political maneuvering, which sought to arrest opposition leaders, “rewrite the constitution and strip power from Congress,” President Trump punished this behavior through sanctions on imports from Venezuela.

Because oil was such a lucrative export, PDVSA was targeted heavily by the sanctions. Oil importers don’t want to run afoul of these sanctions by buying crude from the country. That problem will get even worse if the sanctions increase, which Bloomberg predicts is likely to happen within the year.

There is a risk that PDVSA could default on its debt, which could have a huge impact on the oil economy. According to Bloomberg, if oil could be seized as an asset to cover for debts, oil traders will expect a significant discount to cover for that risk. That discount will sink overall oil revenue. This same problem came up when Ecuador, another large exporter of oil, defaulted on its debt in 2008.

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