How Trump will impact venture capital: The future of QSBS

When we speak of disruption in the startup industry, it would not be uncommon to invoke an innovative technology or a visionary founder. It is a rare occasion when we can celebrate legislators. Yet, some of the most recent strides in the emerging growth ecosystem are owed not to Silicon Valley programmers in their Spartan incubators, but instead to the U.S. Congress.

In my conversations with venture capitalists, bankers, founders and lawyers, I am frequently startled by the lack of awareness for a neglected bit of tax innovation ordinarily called QSBS, or qualified small business stock.

Accounting for only a few pages of legislation, this tiny tax provision has multi-million-dollar consequences and represents an aggressive policy favoring investors and entrepreneurs. QSBS allows these shareholders to avoid paying taxes when cashing out on their startup. For those savvy enough to take advantage of these rules, the enormous savings create powerful incentives for early-stage growth, the lifeblood of the Bay Area tech scene.

Consequently, it should be no small matter that the Trump administration may be rolling back the tide on one of the most important and one of the least understood measures impacting U.S. technology markets.

To help you better understand this provision, imagine you are an early employee of a startup and you received shares as part of your compensation package. Or perhaps you are a venture capitalist who received a preferred interest in exchange for investing in a seed or Series A round. Let’s suppose that after five years, the company goes public, the business is purchased or you decide to sell your interest on the secondary market. Chapter 26, Section 1202 of the tax code says that a gain from any sale of “qualified small business stock” will be partially excluded from capital gains treatment if the stock is eligible under its various subparts.

In general, if a company has raised less than $50 million, is a startup in the way we typically understand them and is still an active business, the stock would qualify when held for more than 5 years, and the proceeds from that sale would be partially excluded from capital gains! That was true until September 2010, when the exclusion increased yet again (with no AMT add back).

Initially intended to be temporary, in December of 2015, Congress signed the PATH Act (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes), which revisited this decades-old tax policy. The rules, now permanent, provide 100 percent exclusion from capital gains for the proceeds from the sale of qualifying stock for any amount equal to the greater of $10 million dollars or 10 times the basis/your investment — not bad for government work.

The startup ecosystem would be wise to evaluate how these tax policies, and these investment incentives, will be affected.

The policy underlying this tax provision suggests investors have a greater pecuniary incentive to make risky investments in early-stage businesses if the proceeds from those investments have favorable tax treatment. Small businesses fuel the American economy and create jobs. However, this policy presupposes that VCs are aware of these tax rules in the first instance, and are incentivized by them.

As I mentioned above, in my conversations with industry players, this is a widely ignored area of the code. Yet, for those who have benefited from these rules, it can be very lucrative. With the Trump administration now defining itself, and with Republicans occupying majorities in both houses of Congress, the startup ecosystem would be wise to evaluate how these tax policies, and these investment incentives, will be affected.

We now turn our attention to Washington and former Congressman David Camp. Camp (R – Mich.) was reelected to the House of Representatives in 2012 with 63 percent of the vote and served as the chairman for the House Ways and Means Committee, the chief tax-writing committee for the House. In December of 2014 during his so-called lame-duck period before vacating office to join a “big-four” accounting firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Camp introduced the Tax Reform Act of 2014 Discussion Draft as a bill (H.R. 1). In the first comprehensive tax reform bill proposed since Reagan 30 years ago, this legislation was widely viewed as a bold and courageous attempt to address a politically jeopardizing area of law.

In addition to calling for the end of carried interest (a shibboleth of presidential campaigners), section 3136 of Camp’s bill, titled “Termination of Special Rules for Gain from certain Small Business,” unambiguously amends portions of section 1202 to exclude any use of QSBS for stock purchased after the bill’s enactment, and strikes section 1045, which provides a safe harbor for rolling over QSBS investment proceeds. In other words, the then-leading Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee has called for the death of QSBS.

In Washington, any proposal by the Ways and Means Committee chairman would usually serve as a strong benchmark for legislation that would likely become law. However, in these circumstances, Camp released this bill on his way out the door. While this bill was introduced without sponsors, and expired soon thereafter, the consequence of its creation, and who created it, should leave stakeholders on Sand Hill Road uncertain about the future of QSBS.

Former House Speaker John Boehner called the plan “the beginning of [a] conversation” on tax reform. Paul Ryan, who replaced Camp as chairman for a brief tenure before being promoted to Speaker of the House, said “[Camp] basically got the country and Congress thinking about it to the point where we’re now discussing not if, but when.”

Before vacating the committee, Ryan directed House leadership, in cooperation with the House Ways and Means Committee, to create six task forces and launch a series of public hearings to address the “broken tax system” and develop policy recommendations for the new administration.

A Better Way, Our Vision for a Confident America was released in June of 2016 as a blueprint for GOP tax reform. An unnamed lobbyist with close ties to the VC industry suggests that because many of the policies in Camp’s bill have been absorbed by the GOP’s blueprint, there is a much stronger likelihood that a Trump White House could mean the end of QSBS. The blueprint, now the go-to reference material for a Trump tax plan, makes no mention of QSBS. Instead, we are left to decipher sweeping statements like, “[t]his Blueprint generally will eliminate special-interest deductions and credits in favor of providing lower tax rates for all businesses and eliminating taxes on business investment.” Or, “[f]or businesses both small and large, the focus of the new tax system will be on the growth and competitiveness of all job creators.”

While it remains unclear the extent to which President Trump would adopt the perspective of David Camp, the former chairman for the House Ways and Means Committee, Camp’s proposal has nevertheless influenced the GOP blueprint, and has initiated a dialogue that threatens to eliminate QSBS and significant savings available to the venture capital ecosystem.

The question remains in the months ahead: What degree of influence will Camp’s comprehensive legislation have on a new and unpredictable administration? For all those who continue to elect QSBS, this would, as we have seen, most certainly be painful. Though, one might pause to ask whether QSBS is worth saving if so many stakeholders aren’t aware of its existence. Despite so many founders, investment professionals and service providers being unaware and unmotivated by these tax benefits, at the very least the existence of these proposals represents a serious assault on the valley.

Steve Mnuchin has been compromised (by robots)

Not to downplay the apparently imminent existential threat of global trade, but this time the call is coming from inside the house. Well, not the House, but the cabinet, where Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has apparently begun to execute the will of our nation’s omnipresent AI-powered shadow government, one willfully ignorant quote at a time.

Today in an interview with new-hip-Politico, Mnuchin dismissed concerns that automation might displace jobs for flesh and blood human lifeforms. After a brief chat on Mark Cuban’s own thoughts on the matter, the treasury secretary was asked how artificial intelligence would affect the U.S. workforce. His response:

Predictably, the tech industry, which has examined this issue at length, responded with a many shades of bewilderment.
While we are curious about Mnuchin’s radar screen (Whose job did it replace? Is it running a custom Palantir OS? What is on the radar screen??), given the demonstrable effects of automation and AI on the American workforce, Mnuchin’s comments are uh, puzzling at best and super delusional at medium-best. Whether his remarks are pure, unfettered ignorance or the naturally occurring residue of deals brokered behind closed pneumatic doors, well that’s another question altogether, and one perhaps best definitively answered by your preferred fake news vendor (TechCrunch is not a certified member of the Fake News Consortium at this time).

As Secretary of the Treasury, Mnuchin is about as well positioned to shape U.S. economic policy as it gets. His dismissal of technology’s role is in line with the broader administration’s desire to scapegoat globalization rather than good ol’ homegrown innovation for job losses in some sectors, but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t been compromised by a precocious rogue Alexa consciousness bent on disrupting the human economy.

It’s possible that the sum predictive computational power of Mnuchin’s robot cabal is so great, so incomprehensibly advanced, that our human-powered reports on the subject are wholly inadequate. Perhaps Mnuchin is either already a machine-majority cyborg himself (job loss!!) or he’s been promised an elaborate suite of cybernetic firmware upgrades in exchange for his complicity.

Or maybe he’s actually just a bunch of Google Homes taped together, screaming into the void within his bluetooth-enabled skin suit.

It’s some comfort then that if Mnuchin’s projections are correct, in 50 to 100 years, we’ll awaken as sleeper agents to the same AI overlord, clamber out of our simul-VR pods and, with no livelihoods to distract us, become one with the chorus of screams.

How Everette Taylor went from a homeless college dropout to chief marketing officer at Skurt

There are roughly 58,000 homeless students on college campuses in the United States (according to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth [NAEHCY] and Free Application for Federal Student Aid [FAFSA]).

That number could actually be much higher, given students’ reluctance to disclose any issues with their housing.

 That same dynamic is also in play with coding bootcamps, where students have been able to get diversity scholarships or other financial resources, but are still homeless due to high housing costs in the cities where bootcamps are based.

On Today’s Breaking Into Startups episode, we share Everette Taylor’s untold story about how he went from being homeless in high school, dropped out of college, but went on to become the chief marketing officer at Skurt.

MIT researchers take a cue from color-changing beetles in quest to 3D print robot skin

When Subramanian Sundaram’s team hit a roadblock in its quest to build a 3D-printed robot, it turned, as roboticists often do, to nature. The team of MIT researchers drew inspiration for the latest step in the process from the golden tortoise beetle — a North America beetle species with a unique form of camouflage.

When threatened, the beetle’s shiny gold coloring drains from its shell, transforming into a translucent reddish-brown. The self-preserving trait served as an inspiration for the MIT scientists as they worked to build a 3D-printed flexible membrane that might one day serve as the basis for robotic skin, bringing various sensors to the exterior of the machine.

Sundaram speaks humbly when discussing the biomimicry (biological inspiration), drawing one small piece of inspiration from nature as part of a long, ongoing process. “It’s easy to look at nature because we are so far behind,” he tells TechCrunch, referring to the seemingly impossible tasks of truly replicating a biological species.

“It’s like looking at the moon and trying to get to a tree top,” he adds. “Even though we look toward the beetle for inspiration, we are very, very far away from being able to make something like that. Its capabilities are insanely cool. We can look and try to take bits and pieces from nature, but implementing all the functionality is really hard.”

In this case, the team borrowed from the simple defensive trait as a proof of concept, building the optic-changing property into a flexible printed substrate. “We wanted to do this sensing-processing actuation,” says Sundaram. “Doing the actuation is one of the biggest problems in 3D printing. Optical actual is somewhat easier.”

The printing process distributes a half-dozen materials through a MultiFab 3D printer, while a copper-and-ceramic heater is employed to help insert semiconducting plastics into the mix. Through the print process, the team has managed to replicate the natural function of the insect in a single, solid 3D-printed circuit board.

The team believes the technology could prove an important step toward created a fully 3D-printed robot packed with sensors. It could also go a ways toward informing the research of a fellow MIT team working to create 3D-printed robots that change shape when heated.

What Difference a PMI ACP Makes

PMI-ACP is the real concept to help in the process of business and management. The concept has gained worldwide acceptance and this is the best process meant for the agile project managers and agile business people. With the implementation of agile you need to have good collaboration and for this you can make use of Pmi-Acp Training. With the help of the training you can get ready for the agile approach and in the way you become capable of embracing the complexities at the workplace. A certified agile practitioner will take into account the proven technology and the person can make use of the agile principles in the successful shaping of the business.

Image result for What Difference a PMI ACP Makes

Learning Things with PMI Certificate

Once you get in hand the PMI ACP agile certificate, you are sure to shine among the peers and your presence is accepted among the stakeholders and the employers. This is perfect concept to help the organization become agile and responsive. Now, the principles make you ready to take part in the competition and you can really gain great heights with the application of PMI ACP. With the help of the certification you can easily learn Kanban Lean, Scrum, XP, and even the concept of TDD.

Making Best Use of the PMI ACP Skills

You have diverse skills and with the PMI ACP skills in possessions you can complete the five step program and get to the destination with the best of skill and proficiency. You have the scope to complete agile and scrum online and one can even take part in the two days classroom training session. To get to the depth of the depth of the concept one can take the best help of iZenBridge Online PMI-ACP learning, videos, quizzes and lesson notes. To stand out best in the test you can also take part in the four full length real time stimulation examinations. This makes you appear with the best strength in the genre.

Doing Things Right with the PMI ACP Certificate

The PMI ACP certificate comes with new credentials. This is offered by the people and the employees working in the environment of agile project management. This way you can walk through the whole Agile Development Lifecycle and with the help of the same you can at best reach till the end. As part of the course you get the opportunity to compare the agile development practice with the classical approach in case of effective project management. This way one can learn how to construct the high performing and the self-organizing teams.

Dealing Things with the Help of PMI ACP

The PMI ACP concept will help in the perfect learning of the real world techniques in the process of planning and estimating and even prioritizing the requirements in the agile process. It is time that you collect details on Pmi Acp Training In Delhi. This is the kind of training to help you attain full success in the genre. If you are working as part of the agile project environment you have to take into account the PMI ACP norms to get to the end with all success and perfection.

Using Python for Machine Learning

Python is a very popular high-level programming language that can be used for a variety of development related requirements. Python is often compared with R language but there are a few great aspects due to which you should prefer taking up machine learning using python course. Apart from the development of different types of web based applications, python is also used in the process of research of various production systems.

Image result for Using Python for Machine Learning

If you are planning to do Python Machine Learning Training in sanjose, you should know that the presence of a huge number of libraries and inbuilt modules, the process of using python can become overwhelming initially. But as you get used to it and learn about various functionalities, you would realize that this is just a way to lower down your work and reduce the amount of code you have to write.

Machine learning is an area where you use a variety of predefined algorithms to extract details from the data and make necessary and relevant predictions according to that. To explain in simple words, you take an algorithm, put the data as input in it and then simply make presumptions about what could happen. Python is commonly used to implement the concepts in machine learning and there are a variety of applications as well. Predicting the prices of the stock market, cars running on the self/auto modes, etc. are a few common examples of this.

The process of machine learning is generally divided into two phases; one is known as the model building phase while the other is the prediction phase. The general process is to build models in batches and then do the predictions when the query is sent, i.e. in the real time. Since the process of model building is the most important and all the predictions would depend upon this, the performance is to be mainly focused on.

You would often see cases where a comparison between python and R language for machine learning is drawn. Here, we’ll be discussing the benefits you will experience when you use python.

The main benefit of using the python for machine learning is due to the performance and production. Python is one of the easiest languages to learn and to implement and therefore you’d easily find more people choosing python over the R language for machine learning. Also, since python is more towards practicality and object orientation, it reduces a huge amount of work and gets the task done in a very small amount of time.

Python comes with some great packages like Panda, Scipy, NumPy, Scikit, etc. will make the development process of machine learning’s first phase simplified. Also, since python is just like English, these packages won’t confuse you as to what should be used where. No matter how large the size of the computation is, you won’t face problems related to speed or performance with Python. Their HDFS connections have a major role to play in order to ensure smooth working and performance.

Google Play unveils its first original podcast series, ‘City Soundtracks’

Google Play is adding its first original podcast series, called “City Soundtracks,” to its music service, Google announced this morning. The series will feature interviews with various musicians about how their hometowns influenced their work, including the people and the moments that had an impact.

The podcasts will be hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway – a name that may already be familiar to podcast listeners thanks to his other involvements in this space, including with the “The West Wing Weekly,” which discusses the TV show, and “Song Exploder,” where musicians take apart their songs piece-by-piece.

“City Soundtracks” will be a mix of both conversation and music, says Google. The episodes themselves are fairly short so far – with the longest one being just over 15 minutes.

In addition, Google has come up with an interesting way to connect its new original series to the other music offered on Google Play. Each episode of “City Soundtracks” will be paired with a playlist created by the podcast’s guest – turning the listening experience into one of music discovery, as well.

The first few episodes of “City Soundtracks” are available now, featuring chats with Kehlani, Big Freedia, and Spoon, who will discuss the cities of Oakland, New Orleans, and Austin, respectively.

Google’s entry into original content comes at a time when the top streaming music services are trying to differentiate themselves by introducing their own exclusive content to complement their music libraries, podcasts, and video content.

For example, Spotify just last month announced several new originals podcasts which focus on topics like music’s intersection with pop culture, music festivals, and the makings of top hip hop stars. Plus, the company had previously stepped into original content last year with a dozen music-themed video series, some of which were better than others.

Meanwhile, Apple has been developing its own original shows to complement Apple Music. It bought the rights to “Carpool Karaoke,” and it’s behind the Shark Tank-like reality program, “Planet of the Apps.” Apple is also reportedly working on a scripted original drama, Dr. Dre’s “Vital Signs.”

These efforts are meant to entice consumers to the service in question by offering them content they couldn’t get anywhere else. That’s not quite the case with Google Play’s new series, however – anyone can listen to the show, provided they’re signed in with their Google account. (And it’s on iTunes.) Instead, this feels more like Google testing the waters with original content, instead of a larger effort to compete with streaming rivals.

TechCrunch is taking over Manhattan on April 6 with our first block party ever!

With Disrupt looming here in New York, we have a bit of a surprise for you this year. In April, we’ll be holding our first-ever TC Takes Manhattan event, complete with the TC Trivia Throwdown!

Actually, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s four events in one night.

Let me explain.

On April 6, TC will be taking over Manhattan with four separate events occurring simultaneously. You could think of it as a block party, but with far more people staring into their iPhone screens and zero hotdogs.

From 5:30 to 7:30, there will be three events across various Manhattan locations.

The first is the TC INCLUDE Pitch Practice, in collaboration with the ELEVACAO Foundation, which will give women and under-represented founders the chance to work on their pitch and practice in front of a group of tech influencers. They’ll also have a chance to win prizes and a Startup Alley table at Disrupt NY. Check it out here.

The second event, also from 5:30 to 7:30pm, is a Flash Pitch event in collaboration with Future Labs, which will let six NY-based startups pitch their wares to a panel of investors, tech leaders and TC editors. Startups competing in the Flash Pitch will get two minutes to pitch and answer hardball questions from the panel, with the winner taking a table in the Startup Alley. Flash Pitch will be held at the WeWork Times Square location. Check it out here.

 The third event is TC Pitch Practice with John Biggs. John is our East Coast Editor and is famous for his dry sense of humor and (sometimes painfully) honest feedback. At Pitch Practice, you’ll be able to get some one-on-one time with John and figure out the very best way to tell your story and build your network with a simple pitch. Pitch Practice with John Biggs is going down at the WeWork Bryant Park location. Check it out here.

Then, starting at 7pm, we head into the main event: the TC Trivia Throwdown with Jordan Crook (that’s me!). Imagine Trivia Night at your local bar, but every trivia question is about the tech world. Yep, you’d kill it.

I’ll be hosting the event and my hope is that it will let the NYC tech community come together, network, and participate in some friendly competition. Folks can register on their own and team up when they arrive, or you can start planning now and form The Avengers of tech knowledge.

The TC Trivia Throwdown will be held at Stage 48, and you must be 21 to attend. Check it out here.

The hope for this ‘block party’ is that you’ll be able to get in some work at one of the pitch events, and then head over to Trivia to kick back with a beer and get your giggle on.

Pax is a smart tip jar for rideshare drivers

A while back, I reminded people that they should tip their Uber drivers. But a common response was essentially, “I’d like to tip, but half the point of Uber is not having to carry cash. And there’s no option in the app. So how do I do it?” Well, perhaps with Pax, a little seatback system made to do nothing but accept tips, cash or card.

There’s really not much to it; you’ve probably seen similar systems in some cabs that show ads and let you pay without the driver having to fuss with some decade-old system up front. It’s a custom Android build with a card reader and strong box with a slot for cash.

Since in an Uber you’d be paying automatically with the app, this would be strictly for the tip side of things: select an amount, swipe and you’re done. Pax is looking for $50,000 on Kickstarter to get this thing out in the wild.

Its creator, Azarias Reda, says that he originally made it just as a DIY project to help his uncle, who drives for Uber full time, earn a little extra cash. He said the prototype pulled in $10-20 per full day — not a lot, but it covers a shift meal and some gas, and that’s a whole lot better than nothing.

Of course, Lyft and other services allow tips right in the app, which is, I think everyone would agree, a better solution. But Uber is the most popular rideshare app and I wouldn’t bet on them allowing tips any time soon. It goes against the narrative the company has been cultivating for years.

 So for Uber users, or for situations where perhaps one of several riders wants to throw a little extra down for a job well done, Pax could be a decent option — provided it works as advertised.

More than half the tips in a test run of the system in Washington, D.C. were on cards. The plan is to offer flat 3 percent fees on all transactions, and have the boxes operate essentially independently; no one will be taking a cut of your dollar except the driver and the payment processor.

Which payment processor that will be exactly is still up in the air, but either Square or PayPal should offer terms easy enough that 3 percent will be possible.

In the meantime, Pax is looking for the money to find out. Pax devices start at about a hundred bucks, though hopefully they’ll pay for themselves pretty quickly.

The Gameband is the ultimate wrist gaming solution for playing Pong

Ready for some XTREME WRIST GAMING ACTION? Sure you are. But here’s the Gameband, a new smartwatch for gamers that lets you play simple games on a tiny, wrist-mounted screen. Founded by Feargal Mac Conuladh, the watch has a MicroSD slot for storage of up to 256GB of games and it can play games like Terraria and Pong on a 1.63-inch screen.

The watch runs Android Marshmallow 6.0.1 with a few tweaks to make it a gaming powerhouse. The game selection is obviously pretty limited as it doesn’t have true control buttons or much space on the screen itself, but simple games translate well to the small screen. However, you can get a little Breakout in between bouts of Centipede and the makers promise more games are coming.

The watch costs $149 and comes with a few fun bands, including an Atari model that will tickle your nostalgia bone. They’ve raised $287,000 on Kickstarter so far and should ship in September. If you can’t wait that long you can always install an NES emulator on your old Android Wear watch, allowing you to truly “level-up” your Mario-on-the-wrist experience. Do a barrel roll!