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Submission + - Ex-Googlers Build an Algorithm to Predict the Success of 20-Somethings (

waderoush writes: "Say you're in your early 20s, you're finishing college or graduate school, and you're smart but poor — and you've got some big student loans hanging over you. You're pretty sure that within 10 years you'll be selling your first startup or earning a high-six-figure salary. But you need some money *now* so that you can actually start the company, and avoid taking a corporate job. Shouldn't there be a way to calculate how much you'll be worth, and borrow against that promise of future success? Upstart, a new Palo Alto investing operation founded by a group of ex-Google employees, thinks the answer is yes. In a new spin on the crowdfunding model, the organization gathers data from recent graduates such as schools attended, academic transcripts, job offers, and credit scores. Its 'pricing engine,' based partly on techniques developed to assess job applicants at Google, determines how much each aspiring 'upstart' should be allowed to raise from investors per each percentage point of their future income. Upstart has already helped 35 young people raise amounts varying from $10,000 to $170,000; the upstarts, who must pay the money back over a 10-year period, say they're using the funds mainly to retire student debt or bootstrap startups. 'We can look at a 25-year-old and very quickly assess whether he or she would be successful at Google,' says Upstart founder Dave Girouard, formerly the head of Googles $1 billion enterprise apps division. 'My whole thesis was, if you could use the same algorithms to predict whether he or she would be successful beyond that, in the business world, that would be pretty useful.'"

Submission + - Opponents of California's Retroactive Startup Tax Win a Reprieve (

waderoush writes: "Back in January Xconomy detailed the genesis of California's surreal plan to claw back $120 million in taxes from tech startup investors and other small-business backers. Now the California Franchise Tax Board says it won't immediately seek to impose the retroactive tax assessments, leaving time for officials in Sacramento to resolve the roiling dispute over a small-business investing incentive recently ruled unconstitutional by a state appeals court. 'This is certainly not a victory at all for our position, but it takes the time pressure off, and it takes the immediate financial hit that a lot of people were looking at off the table,' says Brian Overstreet, the Healdsburg, CA-based entrepreneur who is leading opposition to the tax plan."

Submission + - California's Surreal Retroactive Tax on Tech Startup Investors (

waderoush writes: "Engineers and hackers don't think much about tax policy, but there's a bizarre development in California that they should know about, since it could reduce the pool of angel-investment money available for tech startups. Under a tax break available since the 1990s, startup founders and other investors in California were allowed to exclude or defer their gains when they sold stock in California-based small businesses. Last year, a California appeals court ruled that the tax break was unconstitutional, since it discriminated against investors in out-of-state companies. Now the Franchise Tax Board, California’s version of the IRS, has issued a notice saying how it intends to implement the ruling — and it’s a doozie. Not only is the tax break gone, but anyone who claimed an exclusion or deferral on the sale of small-business stock since 2008 is about to get a big retroactive tax bill. Investors, entrepreneurs, and even the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit are up in arms about the FTB’s notice, saying that it goes beyond the court’s intent and that it will drive investors out of the state. This Xconomy article takes an in-depth look at the history of the court case, the FTB’s ruling, and the reaction in the technology and investing communities."

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