Are you ready for the new KingsCrowd membership plans and site upgrade this coming Monday? Check out our announcement if you still have any questions about the change.

The Business Buzz

The “nays” have it. The results are in for the historic Amazon union vote at the Alabama-based warehouse. And with nearly 1,800 votes out of 3,215 ballots, the victory goes to Amazon itself. Voting began in mid-February and ran through the end of March. Counts began this week, and the results were called on Friday (April 9). 

Representatives for the union — formally known as the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) — have already stated their intention to appeal the results. They say that Amazon pressured the US Postal Service to place a mailbox on site at the warehouse in order to discourage workers from voting (the idea being that if they were seen mailing in their ballot, they would be singled out by the company). RWDSU also accuses the ecommerce giant of using mandatory meetings to discourage workers from voting in favor of the union. Amazon claims it merely held informational sessions. Approximately 55% of eligible employees cast ballots for the decision. 

Smartphone consolidation continues. Tech company LG announced this week that it will be discontinuing its smartphone business. After failing to find a buyer for the struggling division, the South Korean firm has decided to cease smartphone operations entirely. It will continue to offer support to current products for a limited time while also selling its remaining inventory. 

Although LG managed to hold steady as the No. 3 contender in the US smartphone market, it struggled to find traction in the Chinese and Korean markets. The company focused on mid-tier and high-end phones — but was unable to keep up major competitors like Samsung and Apple. Things are not all bleak though! LG has stated that it intends to refocus on growing sectors like electric vehicle components, AI, and B2B solutions. 

Beef up your investing chops. Not so much a news story, but a way to access more news and investing advice. Brian Feroldi of The Motley Fool put together a list of his favorite investing podcasts. With nearly 25 different series, there should be something for every intrepid investor.

The Private Market

A match made in crowdfunding heaven. Crowdfunding platform Wefunder has listed nearly 40 new startups on its platform. And they all have one thing in common — they’re all graduates of the famed Y Combinator startup program. While this doesn’t seem to be an official partnership between Wefunder and Y Combinator, it is significant. The Y Combinator accelerator program is known for being one of the best around and boasts major success stories like Airbnb and Coinbase. Furthermore, many of these companies are offering everyday investors terms that are similar to what VCs who have already invested received. By putting everyday investors on the same level as VCs, these companies are emphasizing the legitimacy of crowdfunding. 

So why now? The recently increased limit for Regulation Crowdfunding campaigns. According to Crowdfund Insider, “the decision to pursue [Y Combinator] issuers was due to recent changes in the Reg CF offering rules.” The current set of companies are from industries across the board, including biotech, ecommerce, and fintech.

The highs just get higher. Global venture funding is at its highest levels since 2018, according to a report from Crunchbase. In Q1 of 2021, venture capital hit a whopping $125 billion! The next highest quarter? Q4 of 2018 at just $92 billion. This is the first quarter where global venture funding broke $100 billion — and it represents an almost 100% increase from this time last year. Early-stage and late-stage investments seem to have been a major driver of the growth, while seed stage investment rates held steady. Crunchbase is also reporting that it’s seeing an unprecedented number of private unicorns this year. On average it’s adding about two companies each working day to its list of unicorns. Seems like a very good time to be a startup investor, doesn’t it?

The Fun Stuff

What’s old can always be repainted. Thrift stores are amazing places. From crystal wine glasses to amazingly cheap (and sometimes limited edition) books, there’s always something great to be found. But sometimes these treasures need an update. And that’s exactly what members of the online Reddit community r/Repaintings specialize in. These creatives find thrift store paintings and prints — and then give them some fantastic upgrades.