Oh hey guys! We cannot be the only ones giddy about trading family obligations for a full week of work, right?
We can guess online car insurer Clearcover was stoked to get back to work and announce a $50 million funding round. The company hopes to go the way of Geico and offer cheaper policies than a State Farm or Allstate using technology to streamline operations. Sometimes that vision is clear — letting people submit claims via app — sometimes it’s nebulous — “a tech-driven carrier.” Still, the company’s raised more than $100 million at this point, and plans to hire something like 50 new people this year, mostly engineers and data scientists.
Risk turned out to be the hottest gift of the season. In addition to Clearcover’s auto insurance, Logicgate raised $24 million for its governance, risk and compliance software and ThirdPartyTrust raised $4.45 million for its plans to mitigate risks from vendors.
Oh and there was big news in freight? Are we dreaming with all this excitement?! Downstate electric truck manufacturer Rivian raised $1.3 billion to supply Amazon with a new fleet of last-mile vans, among other things. And San Francisco-based shipping platform Flexport is signing a new lease in Chicago — with enough space to double its 150-person workforce.
Flexport will be joined in Fulton Market by a new, 400,000-square-foot incubator for life sciences. The building will house rentable lab space, in addition to regular offices for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. The idea is that it can serve as a home for companies that spin up in universities, then have nowhere to go.
At least one of the big healthcare companies is also trying to get it right. Loyola Medicine is proactively boosting its minimum wage to $15 an hour, raising pay for roughly 2,300 people.
The news is not so good everywhere — December typically being the time executives secure their bonuses by pushing through big cuts. Allstate is ditching its Esurance brand and selling all its online policies as Allstate. It’s not a great sign for online insurer Clearcover above, nor a particularly good sign for the company, which is already having issues keeping its salesforce happy after reducing commissions.
Sears is also dropping brands, only in this case it’s selling DieHard, one of the few remaining profitable pieces left in its fire sale. Advance Auto Parts will pick up the company for a round $200 million.
It comes alongside an announcement of 200 layoffs at Sears, kicking off more than 1,000 total layoffs in Illinois this November. In December, ostensibly successful business Uptake laid off 23 people, mostly in product. The once-ambitious plans to sell big data generally seem to have scaled back to mostly just tracking big machinery. Unclear how that translates to a valuation of more than $2 billion, other than the fact that Uptake is taking money from the U.S. Army.
Fellow lauded tech company Jellyvision also cut its team, dropping 65 people and shrinking its total workforce by 15%. The company is looking to move its main product, software for explaining healthcare to employees, into other benefits like retirement plans. Not a bad move on the off chance healthcare gets a lot less difficult to explain after this year’s election.
One thing to note. CEO Amanda Lannert took full responsibility for the layoffs, calling it a fault in the company’s structure and saying it’s the company’s loss and the tech community’s gain. A nice change of pace from the usual generic public statement about economies and scale and nonsense. Wonder what else makes her different from most CEOs …
Jellyvision might not be the only company girding its loins for a potential healthcare recogning. Blue Cross Blue Shield parent company HCSC laid off “a few dozen middle management positions,” which, bro, that is a lot of middle managers to have, let alone to spare. Could be a fear of socialist medicine, could be an insatiable lust for Q4 profits.
Just kidding, it’s probably greed! Ditto for Navistar, the DuPage County-based truck maker which laid off 10% of its employees globally last month. While the startups above may be doing great, it’s not all good news in the freight business.
The layoffs may just be the start of what will likely be a bad 2020 — already analysts are forecasting stasis at best for behemoths like Walgreens. And the smaller companies keep eating each other in an effort to get big enough to survive. California-based Molina is swooping in to buy Medicaid managed care plan NextLevel, giving Illinois residents just five options for managed care plans, down from 12 in 2017. Grubhub is denying rumors that it’s for sale, but it wouldn’t be surprising, or necessarily a bad idea.
It’s probably going to get tough out there, is what we’re saying. We have every intention of staying right here and helping you move through it, but you also have to help each other.
In maybe slightly more optimistic news, the December jobs report reveals that women outnumbered men in the workforce for the first time since the Great Recession. 50.04%, y’all. We’ll take it. Overall, job growth was a little slower than expected in an expectedly slow December, but no one seems to be worried yet. We’re seeing job posts pick up, as expected, now that decision-makers are back to the grind.
Job with badass potential
Job: Director of Social Marketing for Venmo at PayPal
Work: Create a content and channel strategy and build a team to put it in motion. Go deep into market data to measure and direct your plans. Develop brand guidelines and unleash them on internal teams and external partners.
Downsides: Venmo has struggled to make money off its users, though that number continues to rise and now includes more retailers. The kick-ass cash app (not to be confused with Cash App) plans to launch a credit card this year, among other monetization inspirations.
Perks: Venmo parent PayPal was founded on the belief “that having access to financial services creates opportunity … to join and thrive in the global economy” — at least allegedly. We’d take that purpose and run with it because we already love the product. Plus, you’d learn so much you might come out of this job overqualified for any other social media-focused jobs in the future. Now just pay me and we’re good.
A few other jobs we’re curious about …
Digital Media Lab Supervisor at Loyola University
There are definitely parts of this job that sound like an assistant manager at a Circuit City in 2001. If that doesn’t put you off though, it’s basically an opportunity to be in charge of a little sliver of university life and an army of student labor.
VP or Director of Social Strategy at Digitas
You can decide whether working at a “highly-caffeinated [sic] playground” sounds appealing to you. You can probably also guess our opinion by the fact that we felt compelled to note that grammatical error. ANYWAY, Digitas makes many people happy and works on a lot of cool projects and even though we’re salty we’d be a little jealous if you got this job.
Architect at Canopy Architecture + Design
Full disclosure that they are a client of our real life money-making business, BUT that just means we can personally second everything Anjulie says in the link above. The team is so lovely you know we’re constantly thinking it’s a trap. If you know an architect, they could do no better.
Inspiration of the week
“Enough has to be a metric that is within your control.”
—Liz Fosslien, co-author of No Hard Feelings and co-creator of a great Instagram account. It’s a new year! A new decade! An election year! A chance to turn it all around! A time to watch the world burn! It’s exhausting. If the outcome is the only thing determining whether you’ve done enough, you’ll never have a reason to get started. But the little things — eating less meat, taking one class, reaching out to one friend — those are the things you can control. And sometimes they’re enough.
Forward this email to anyone who’s ready to take the first steps. They can sign up here for bi-monthly support getting to enough.