Twitter testing ‘Original Tweeter’ tag to distinguish who started a thread

Twitter is testing a new tag that will make it easier to parse who started a thread. The new feature, which is starting to pop up for some users, makes it easier to find posts from the original tweeter within a thread, but may also help curb (some types of) abuse on the platform, making it easier to distinguish accounts that are masquerading as other tweeters, for instance.

Twitter confirmed the experiment to TechCrunch, noting that the tag has been rolled out to a “small percentage” of iOS and Android users across markets.

“Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation. As part of this work, we’re exploring adding more context to discussions by highlighting relevant replies – like those from the original Tweeter,” Twitter’s Director of Product Management Sara Haider told TechCrunch in a statement.

In practice, this will probably be most helpful for situations like distinguishing Elon Musk from the Ethereum-hocking false copies popping up below him, ensuring that users don’t have to read every character of a user’s handle before they can tell if it’s trusted information.

This solution obviously only helps users distinguish the “owner” of the thread they are viewing, but it’s a worthwhile start. As the company verifies more accounts but still allows users to easily change their name or profile picture, this could avert some imitation issues.

One wonders if they could have more easily distinguished the “Original Tweeter” in a more pretty way than by spelling out “Original Tweeter” beneath their handle, but it’s a small rollout and I guess it leaves very little room for interpretation, so whatever.

It’s certainly a small change, but it all plays back into Twitter’s more drastic (beta) plans to introduce changes like color-coded replies that give users more prominent interface cues to gather insights about the threads that they’re surfing through. The same beta app also introduces features like algorithmically-sorted replies and a generally more toned-down UI.

Buzzfeed will cut its staff by 15% in major round of layoffs

It’s a dark day to work in media. On the heels of news that TechCrunch parent company Verizon Media Group (formerly Oath) would lay off roughly 800 workers, BuzzFeed has announced its own substantial staffing cuts. And though they were anticipated, Gannett also made substantial cuts to newsrooms around the US on Wednesday.

In a memo to employees, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti explained that the layoffs would hit next week, reducing its workforce by 15% or about 250 positions.

“Over the past few months, we’ve done extensive work examining the trends in our business and the evolving economics of the digital platforms,” Peretti said in the memo. “We’ve developed a good understanding of where we can consolidate our teams, focus in on the content that is working, and achieve the right cost structure to support our multi-revenue model.”

Peretti added that he is “confident” that the layoffs would chart a sustainable course of growth for the new media giant — likely one that aims to turn the maturing media company’s revenues into a profit. According to the memo, that means a future in which BuzzFeed could sustain operations without seeking additional rounds of funding.

Between its smaller investments and two huge rounds from NBCUniversal, BuzzFeed has raised $500 million over the last decade. The company last raised $200 million in late 2016 from NBCUniversal, which invested a total of $400 million in the media company. BuzzFeed’s other investors include Andreessen Horowitz, RRE Ventures, Hearst Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

Though the company cut 100 jobs in 2017, 2019’s layoffs are BuzzFeed’s most substantial to date. The news comes at an uncomfortable time for the website’s employees who will have to wait in limbo until early next week for the axe to come down.

“This will be a tough week for all of us and I realize it will be much worse for the people losing their jobs,” Peretti said. “To them, I want to say thank you, I’m sorry our work together is ending this way, and I hope we get to work together again in the future.

The full memo from Peretti to staff is embedded below.

Hello BuzzFeeders,

I’m writing with sad news: we are doing layoffs at BuzzFeed next week. We will be making a 15% overall reduction in headcount across the company. I’m sending this tonight because I wanted you to hear it from me directly instead of from the press.

Over the past few months, we’ve done extensive work examining the trends in our business and the evolving economics of the digital platforms. We’ve developed a good understanding of where we can consolidate our teams, focus in on the content that is working, and achieve the right cost structure to support our multi-revenue model. We are confident the changes we are making will put us on a firm foundation and allow us to invest and grow sustainably for years to come.

I’m so proud of what our team accomplished over the last year, including diversifying our revenue, and growing our business double digits. Unfortunately, revenue growth by itself isn’t enough to be successful in the long run. The restructuring we are undertaking will reduce our costs and improve our operating model so we can thrive and control our own destiny, without ever needing to raise funding again. These changes will allow us to be the clear winner in the market as the economics of digital media continue to improve.

I’ll share more about our future structure in a few days, but today I want to focus on what will be a difficult week, especially for the people who are leaving the company. These are talented people, friends, and valued colleagues, who’ve made huge contributions to our success, and who’ve done nothing wrong. Even though I’m confident this is the right business decision, it is upsetting and disappointing.

On a personal note, I’ve never thought about my job as “just business.” I care about the people at BuzzFeed more than anything other than my family. This will be a tough week for all of us and I realize it will be much worse for the people losing their jobs. To them, I want to say thank you, I’m sorry our work together is ending this way, and I hope we get to work together again in the future. Our loss will be to the benefit of other organizations where I know you will go on to make formidable contributions.

We will be back to you with specifics on the process by Monday at the latest. Thank you all in advance for your compassion and kindness as we go through this process.

Jonah

A former Bessemer Venture Partners principal just closed his own $30 million fund, and here’s how

Sunil Nagaraj, who’d studied computer science as an undergrad at UNC Chapel Hill, landed two pretty nice gigs after deciding to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School. First, he founded a venture-backed company called Triangulate — though he recognized when it was time to shut it down two years later. He then wound up working as a principal for Bessemer Venture Partners, a top-tier venture firm with locations around the world.

Nagaraj helped source a number of deals at the firm over the next six years, too, investments that made him proud, like bets on the identity platform AuthO and the space startup Rocket Lab, for example. But he was itching to meet with even younger companies, and he was itching to strike out on his own. So in the summer of 2017, he did, and now, 18 months of so later, Nagaraj says he has finally closed his debut fund with $30 million.

The name of the firm is Ubiquity Ventures, and its focus is on “software beyond the screen,” says Nagaraj, pointing to one investment, New Zealand-based Halter, as an example of what he means. How it works: with the help of a solar-powered, GPS-enabled neck band for cows, Halter’s app allows farmers to remotely guide their herds when it’s time for the animals to milked. Its software also keep the cows out of rivers and drains by creating virtual fences and can detect when cows are in heat or about to give birth, among other things.

We asked Nagaraj last night about leaving Bessemer, and what he has learned that other aspiring VCs — as well as current VCs who aspire to leave their firms — might learn from his path. Our chat has been edited for length.

TC: You had a plum gig at Bessemer. Why leave it?

SN: I learned everything I know about venture investing from the team at Bessemer, especially from working alongside [partner] David Cowan . . But even though Bessemer’s large fund size and robust team provide enormous support and rigorous processes, that can be the wrong fit for very early seed capital and nascent technical sectors with uncertain outcomes. There are certain things I treasure about my new role that wouldn’t have been possible at any large firm, including spending one day each week coding and nerding out on new technologies.

TC: What gave you the confidence to bounce?

SN: There’s never a moment where it feels comfortable or rational to jump. Every founder of a startup or VC firm rolls their eyes when they hear someone say “I would jump for the right opportunity.” For me, I was in the midst of uncovering my inner nerd and beginning to see some of my investments take off, and those things, combined with some inspiration from the OG wave of single GP firms — and Manu Kumar at K9 Ventures in particular — got the ball rolling.

TC: Who wrote your first check who was not a family member?

SN: David Cowan. Next was John Hollar, CEO of the Computer History Museum for the last 10 years. (He stepped down last year.) We’ve known each other since 2009, when I arrived in the Valley and launched the Computer History Museum NextGen Board. He was a reference for VCs when I raised venture capital as an entrepreneur in 2010 and his confidence in Ubiquity was a critical jump start.

TC: What was the hardest check to land?

SN The hardest capital to raise was institutional capital. Institutional investors like universities and pension funds tend to be savvier and have their pick of the litter, so I feel fortunate to have both categories of investors in my debut fund. Understandably, there are many hurdles to clear on track record, references, and portfolio construction for an institutional investor to commit to a new fund.

TC: You’ve already made nine investments, so presumably you were investing as you were getting your capital commitments. How much of the fund is left?

SN:  Yes, I have been investing since my first closing at the end of September 2017. I can’t say exact numbers, but Ubiquity is on schedule with capital deployment. Levl, which prevents the spoofing of wireless devices, and Eclypsium, which protects software in the real world from malware, were my first two investments; I made both in October 2017.

TC: How many companies do you anticipate funding altogether with this first fund?

SN: 20

TC: What happens if a company like Halter takes off and you want to continue funding it? Is the plan to use SPVs? AngelList?

SN: I have a healthy capital reserve for follow-on funding. After that, my priority is to ensure my LPs have access, likely via SPVs.

TC: Does Ubiquity have a geographic focus?

SN: Two portfolio companies are in the Pacific Northwest, another splits its time between Palo Alto and Israel, three more are in Palo Alto, and two are in Pasadena. Then there’s Halter in New Zealand. It’s not a total accident that zero are in San Francisco itself. My focus on software beyond the screen, deeply technical founders, and reasonable valuations hasn’t uncovered any SF investments so far.

TC: Are you price sensitive? What did you learn about this at Bessemer?

SN: Price matters to anyone buying anything. There’s a pervasive belief that a few companies make up all the returns in the Valley, so you shouldn’t worry about price if you have a winner. This may be true when looking retrospectively, but it’s sloppy thinking to apply when it is impossible to know if your current deal will be one of the massive winners. Also, high prices and pricing a deal to perfection too often results in down rounds and a messy aftermath for founders. My time at Bessemer allowed me to see so many good and bad startup outcomes, where price discipline only helps.

TC: How much traction does a startup need to have to get a check from you?

SN: Zero. I’m looking to back founders who are technical, know their problem space cold, and are going after a problem that fits tightly with Ubiquity’s thesis of software leaping off the screen and into the real world around us. I meet technical experts pre-idea, as well as founders with early products. My investments rarely have revenue when I invest,  but they should by the end of their seed runway.

TC: How much of an ownership stake are you targeting?

SN: Ten to twenty percent.

TC: What’s harder about starting your own firm than you anticipated would be the case?

SN: I wrongly believed that launching a venture firm would be similar to launching a startup. In startup fundraising, VCs are evaluating a specific product/market/customer. They have a very compressed time frame to decide. And they have monthly board meetings to provide regular input and even trigger changes.

With VC firm fundraising, their own investors have no concrete data about the future investments that will eventually populate the fund.  They’re on the receiving end of quarterly updates. And they’re called “limited” partners because they exercise no authority over investment decisions. The two worlds couldn’t be more different. As a result, LPs are charged with a much trickier decision and have a much deeper diligence process to make what amounts to a 10-year commitment.

TC: Anything easier than you’d guessed it would be, striking out on your own?

SN: Having no overhead allows me to focus 100 percent of my time on startups. It is more wonderful than I imagined.

Microsoft Edge on mobile now includes a built-in fake news detector

In 2019, we still don’t really know what to do about fake news. With nothing to disincentivize viral hyperpartisan headlines and other exercises in confirmation bias, online misinformation seems to run as rampant as ever. It’s a tricky problem, particularly because it’s one that requires the readers most drawn to too outrageous to be true news to challenge their beliefs. In other words, without some kind of technical solution or massive cultural shift, the fake news dilemma won’t be solving itself any time soon.

That being said, Microsoft’s mobile Edge browser is taking a modest swing at it. On Android and iOS, the Microsoft Edge app now installs with a built in fake news detector called NewsGuard. The partnership is an extension of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy program and NewsGuard for Edge was first announced earlier this month.

While NewsGuard isn’t on by default, anyone using Edge can enable it with a simple toggle in the settings menu. When I downloaded the app to test it, Edge actually nudged me to the Settings menu and then to an option called News Rating (this enables NewsGuard) with a small blue dot. The dot wasn’t an alarm-red notification but would probably be notable enough to pique my interest and point me to the setting, even if I wasn’t writing this story.

For now, NewsGuard’s ratings concentrate on US-based websites, but major sites abroad are included too. TechCrunch received a healthy green check on NewsGuard, indicating that we maintain “basic standards of accuracy and accountability.” Clicking the green badge next to the address bar presented an option to review TechCrunch’s full “nutrition label” — a rundown of pertinent information like our ownership and financing, content and credibility. The information was pretty nuanced, right down to the insight that “opinion pieces are not always clearly labeled” which is fair enough. It even included an example of a corrected story and how we handled it. As The Guardian noted, the Daily Mail didn’t fare quite so well.

The editorial deep-dives that influence NewsGuard’s ratings are impressive, though they do exemplify another issue that makes fighting fake news particularly tricky. Even if news sources are evaluated across a matrix of factors, there’s still some degree of subjective assessment necessary to make these decisions. While there are plenty of entities that could be making these calls, how do we reach a consensus on who should be doing it?

NewsGuard is co-led by Gordon Crovitz, former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, and Steven Brill. Like other editorially-minded news experiments, NewsGuard relies on a human team instead of algorithms. The company counts former CIA director General Michael Hayden and The Information founder Jessica Lessin among its advisors.

Edge isn’t a very popular browser, but it still makes an interesting case study in the intractable war against low quality information online. It also illustrates the central Catch 22 of the fake news era: The users who need a fake news detector the most are the least likely to use one. Microsoft’s Edge experiment with NewsGuard isn’t a solution to that issue, but baking some kind of news verification tool right into the browser does feel like a step in a compelling direction.

Facebook may proactively close Pages and Groups before they’re in violation of policy

Facebook today announced changes to the way it handles the removal of content from Facebook Pages that’s in violation of the social network’s Community Standards, as well as when the Page has posted items that are rated false by a third-party fact checking service. It says it will also make it harder for those whose Pages have been shut down for violations from returning with new Pages featuring the same, duplicated content by proactively banned other Pages and Groups, in some cases.

To address the first two issues, Facebook says it’s introducing a new tab on Facebook Pages – the “Page Quality” tab – which will inform those who manage the Page which content has been removed for violating standards and what was rated “fake news.”

The section will explain if content was removed for being “hate speechgraphic violenceharassment and bullying, and regulated goodsnudity or sexual activity,” or being “support or praise” of people and events that are not allowed to be on Facebook, the company explained today in a blog post detailing the upcoming changes.

The “people or events” not allowed on Facebook are those associated with real-world harm. This could include people associated with hate groups, terrorist activity, mass or serial murder, human trafficking, or organized crime or violence. Facebook also removes any content that expresses praise or support for those involved in such activities.

The tab will also inform Page managers which content may have been demoted by Facebook algorithms, if not removed entirely. This includes content that has been found to be false news by independent fact-checking organizations. Facebook began taking action against clickbait several years ago, then later began to flag and down-rank fake news, as that essentially became the new clickbait.

But those who distributed fake news headlines weren’t necessarily aware that their content’s distribution was being reduced as a result. This tab will now inform them.

Facebook says it will identify several types of down-ranked news items, including content recently rated “False,” “Mixture” or “False Headline” by third-party fact-checkers.

However, it won’t actually show those items it deemed “clickbait,” or those that it removed for being spam or due to an IP violation.

In other words, the new Page Quality tab isn’t a full window into everything being removed or down-ranked, only those areas that are today of utmost importance to Facebook to get under control.

“We hope this will give people the information they need to police bad behavior from fellow Page managers, better understand our Community Standards, and, let us know if we’ve made an incorrect decision on content they posted,” the company explained in its announcement.

Proactive Bans

Related to this, Facebook says it’s seen an increase in people using their existing Pages to duplicate the content that had been pulled down from Pages that were banned for violating Facebook’s Community Standards.

While it’s had policies that prohibited people from creating new Pages (or groups, events, accounts, etc.) for this purpose, it hadn’t yet been policing the use of existing Pages – and that, effectively, became a loophole for the violators to abuse.

Now, Facebook says when it removes a Page or Group for policy violations, it may also remove other Pages and Groups – even if the other Pages and Groups haven’t “met the threshold to be unpublished on its own.”

In other words, if Facebook believes the other Pages and Groups will be used as the new home for the content found to be in violation, it will proactively remove them…before they actually do so. (That’s likely to cause some debate.)

Facebook says it will make this determination based on a broad range of factors – like if the other Pages or Groups have the same admins or a use similar name, for example.

The new “Page Quality” tab will launch tomorrow, while the proactive removals will begin in the weeks ahead.

A new ABC documentary and podcast about Theranos features never-before aired depositions

The rise and fall of Theranos, the blood-testing company whose technology never worked despite its promises otherwise, has already been covered extensively. Most notably, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who broke open the story of Theranos’s secrets and lies, John Carreyrou, went on to author a best-selling book about the saga in Bad Blood.

Still, with Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes continuing to face criminal charges that she knowingly defrauded investors, along with Theranos’s former president and COO (and Holmes’s longtime lover) Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, the company and the pair’s trajectory remain a point of fascination for many.

A new documentary produced by ABC’s “Nightline” — along with a six-part podcast series whose first episode is being released today (the others will be pushed out every Wednesday through February’s end)  — will undoubtedly stoke even more questions about how investors and customers like Walgreens bought the act in the first place.

So we gathered after speaking yesterday with Rebecca Jarvis, ABC News’s chief business, technology, and economics correspondent, who led a three-year investigation into Theranos and Holmes, a Stanford drop-out who would go on to win acclaim as the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world before everything, very slowly, crashed down around her.

Some outtakes from our chat with Jarvis follow, edited lightly for length. (Note that an air date has not yet been announced the documentary, but ABC has begun running trailers.)

TC: You’ve been covering this story for years. Given all that you’ve seen in the depositions that “Nightline” plans to air as part of this documentary, and everything you’ve learned in your reporting, who was the worse actor in all of this, Holmes or Balwani? John Carreyrou certainly painted him as a kind of Svengali figure.

RJ:  Most of what we’ve seen publicly to this point have been official statements, or statements made in very nurturing environments, or interviews don’t don’t explicitly look at the technology itself. When we got access to these depositions — and it’s thundreds of hours of footage — we couldn’t believe our eyes, watching Elizabeth Holmes’s deposition. It was just remarkable, hearing her having to answer to questions in a way that she’d never had to previously.

As for [the way Holmes and Balwani operated], Tyler Schultz [a former employee who later became a whistleblower] has said, for example, that he was flagging things that were wrong to Elizabeth, and after he would flag a concern, she would react with a non-response. It was Sunny who became known as the enforcer, telling Tyler to watch himself and not to continue to raise these issues.

TC: Are they open about their romantic relationship in the footage being aired?

RJ: Yes. We’ve never heard of them speak of it before, and viewers will see them talking about this relationship.

TC: What was something in the many depositions you pored over that really took your breath away?

RJ: One of the things that we heard over and over again, talking with various parties, including customers of Theranos, is that Elizabeth Holmes had told them that these Theranos-manufactured devices had been deployed in hospital rooms, emergency rooms and medevac helicopters among other places, and she’s asked if this is accurate, and in every single case, the answer is no.

Naturally, too, this whole thing was predicated on being able to run tests on a few drops of blood, and for the first time, you see Elizabeth having to answer questions about what the devices were really capable of. A lot of what comes up is how much of this was aspiration versus reality, and the great divide between those two things.

TC: The government filed its criminal fraud case against former Holmes and Balwani last June. Does the documentary cover the status of that case?

RJ: At this point, both of them have pleaded not guilty to the DOJ’s charges. She’d settled with the SEC without admitting wrongdoing; Balwani is still fighting the SEC’s charges. But they’ll have to face the DOJ in court. When will that happen [is a question mark]. The government shutdown has slowed the ability to get millions of documents to the DOJ and to prosecutors.

TC: How much do the podcast and the documentary have in common?

RJ: The podcast encompasses a greater breadth of our work. For example, among the numerous interviews in the podcast that you’ll hear is with Rochelle Gibbons, the wife of a former chief scientist at Theranos [Ian Gibbons] who’d committed suicide, an act she blames on Theranos. You’ll hear how the deal with Walgreens came together from behind-the-scenes accounts. Walgreens ultimately sued Theranos and settled with Theranos for an undisclosed sum, but people look at story and ask how this could have made it into Walgreens in the first place; we looked in depth at how it happened, talking with the people who were there and who share what they were shown by people from Theranos. We also talk with her honors physics teacher in high school and her family friendsl

TC: Do you think Holmes has a personality disorder?

RJ: I don’t have the medical training to answer that question. I”m not a psychologist. But people around her have used the word “sociopath.”

Her family friends give a real sense of what she was like as a kid. They paint  a picture of someone who was incredibly precocious, who wanted to be successful and who believe her family’s history had a lot to do with this. There’s a kind of paradise lost backstory tying back to the Fleischmann yeast fortune, which had dwindled as it passed through the hands of generations, before it made it to her father, Christian Holmes. It’s something that people who were around the family say was a talking point among them.

TC: Were you ever concerned about your safety, reporting on Theranos? Holmes has repeatedly been portrayed as a bully.

RJ: I didn’t feel that way. We did pay Theranos a number of visits over the years and we did get kicked out. But we talked with other people who worked at Theranos at the time the story [of its failings] starting getting out into the mainstream, and for example, one employee who was crashing on the couch of a friend for a few days, at an address that she hadn’t even given to her mother, was sent a legal notice there, which made her believe she was being followed.

TC: How else did the company try to intimidate employees?

RJ: The fear was always that your job was on the line if you raised concerns. If you said, “This isn’t working,” you’d get in trouble and be asked: “Do you like working here?” A lot of people wound up quitting.

TC: Knowing what you do, do you have sympathy for the investors who’d gotten involved in Theranos? There’s only so much due diligence one can do but were there warning signs they should have heeded?

RJ: It’s true that early-stage venture investments, there isn’t a ton of due diligence you can do. For the story, we talk with one attorney who is suing on behalf of 200 investors, and he talks about his long, storied career, in which he has also gone up against Bernie Madoff. And in both of these cases, he points to affinity fraud. If an investment is good enough for you, who are a person in my social circle who I respect, it’s good enough for me. Betsy DeVos’s family was involved. Rupert Murdoch. Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. The Walton family. But it wasn’t just big names. We hear from a retired executive assistant who got a tip to put money into this, that it was the next Apple, and she lost $150,00 of her retirement savings — the biggest investment of her entire life.

[Renowned VC] Tim Draper wrote Holmes her first check for $1 million around the time she dropped out of Stanford. His daughter Jessie was a friend of hers. But the board you hear about came together in 2011 after she landed the support of [the dean of Stanford’s engineering school] Channing Robertson, who helped her put her board together. He was a very well-liked professor who was taken with her. Because he came on board right as she was leaving Stanford, he really gave credibility to her. Meanwhile, other Stanford professors were wondering: how does a young student with less than two years of college experience know enough about medical devices and the medical industry to develop a product like this?

Idera acquires Travis CI

Travis CI, the popular Berlin-based open source continuous integration service, has been acquired by Idera, a company that offers a number of SQL database management and administration tools for both on-premises and cloud applications. The move comes at a time where other continuous integration services, including the likes of Circle CI, seem to be taking market share away from Travis CI.

Idera, which itself is owned by private equity firm TA Associates, says that Travis is complementary to its current testing tools business and that the acquisition will benefit its current customers. Idera’s other tools in its Testing Tools division are TestRail, Ranorex and Kiuwan. “We admire the business value driven by Travis CI and look forward to helping more customers achieve better and faster results,” said Suhail Malhotra, Idera’s General Manager for Travis CI .

Idera clearly wants to move into the DevOps business and continuous integration is obviously a major building block. This still feels like a bit of an odd acquisition, given that Idera isn’t exactly known for being on the leading edge of today’s technology (if it’s known at all). But Travis CI also brings 700,000 users to Idera and customers like IBM and Zendesk, so while we don’t know the cost of the acquisition, this is a big deal in the CI ecosystem.

“We are excited about our next chapter of growth with the Idera team,” said Konstantin Haase, a founder of Travis CI, in today’s announcement. “Our customers and partners will benefit from Idera’s highly complementary portfolio and ability to scale software businesses to the next level. Our goal is to attract as many users to Travis CI as possible, while staying true to our open source roots and community.”

That’s pretty much what all founders write (or what the acquiring company’s PR team writes for them), so we’ll have to see how Idera will steer Travis CI going forward.

In his blog post, Haase says that nothing will change for Travis CI users. “With the support from our new partners, we will be able to invest in expanding and improving our core product, to have Travis CI be the best Continuous Integration and Development solution for software projects out there,” he writes and also notes that the Travis CI will stay open source. “This is who we are, this is what made us successful.”

How we’re finding the best lawyers for early-stage startups

We’re nearing 1,000 submissions from startup founders and leaders in Silicon Valley and across the world about the best early-stage tech lawyers to work with. As we’ve sorted through survey responses and begun scheduling interviews with the first qualified nominees, we’ve gotten a bunch of questions. We love questions.

First of all, why are we creating a living list of great tech startup lawyers? Lawyers don’t create startups, but they can help great startups succeed. They can also kill promising ventures before they have time to get off the ground. Who you use as your lawyer matters, and yet, there are no great resources to help early-stage founders navigate this decision.

Need more detail before you take the survey? Read on.

A living list

We are not making a listicle or an occasional ranking like what you might see on other news sites or legal review services. Instead, we are making a living body of knowledge about service providers by and for people who are building companies. This survey will be staying open indefinitely and we’ll be updating our findings whenever we have enough feedback from our community about an individual lawyer. Ultimately, we will add as many lawyers as there are lawyers in the world who qualify.

We are just beginning what will be a continuous process. Each additional recommendation will help you know more about who to hire to help you with your work.

Early-stage focus

We are interested in featuring lawyers who are today heavily focused on early-stage technology startups. We realize that “early-stage” can mean multiple funding rounds and many, many millions of dollars, so we are not drawing hard boundaries. As a rule of thumb, think of startups in the process of finding product-market fit and/or a scalable business model, and are maybe even in the early stages of growth.

We realize that attorneys who have succeeded with early-stage companies over the years will themselves often move into later-stage legal work. We’re happy to hear about these folks — particularly what they have done for a company in key early moments — but we know they’re often busy and will take on few if any young companies today.

We’re happy to feature them when relevant, but we’ll also note that if you’re looking for the overall top technology lawyers in Silicon Valley or elsewhere, you should really be checking out Chambers and Partners, Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers, The American Lawyer, National Law Journal and the numerous other established sources for lawyer rankings.

Tech focus

“Tech” has been heavily abused by marketers in recent years. If you’re leaving a review as a founder, but you’re not clearly building some sort of meaningful technology yourself, we will likely discard your recommendation. There are plenty of great lawyers out there who can assist with starting a business, who are not going to be familiar with the myriad challenges that a startup faces when it attempts meaningful technology innovation.

Global breadth

We’re open to submissions about lawyers working anywhere in the world. As the tech industry has gone global, locally focused attorneys have helped nurture their startup hubs and develop new crops of successful companies. Based on our survey results so far, we’re going to be featuring a geographically broad range of people to help the next generation of entrepreneurs get the best support from people who understand their surroundings.

Online legal services

While traditional law firms continue to be the preferred route for many founders, especially when they scale into the later stages of company-building, we’ve gotten a number of strong recommendations about attorneys working through software-enabled services. We see this as an important part of the future of the industry — if you’ve had a great experience, let us know about both the lawyer and the product they’re working within.

Attorneys who haven’t made partner (yet)

While submissions to date tend to focus on lawyers who have already made partner at larger firms, or have founded their own established operations, we have also gotten glowing recommendations about folks who are earlier in their careers. Like companies themselves, the top lawyers of tomorrow are working hard to get there today — so we very much want to hear about them now. Maybe we can even help them get to the top faster?

Remember, we invite any lawyer who is actively working with early-stage technology companies anywhere in the world to share this survey with their clients.

Now go take the survey if you haven’t already.