scorecardInside the implosion at the checkout startup Fast, as told by leaked screenshots, former employees, and investors
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Inside the implosion at the checkout startup Fast, as told by leaked screenshots, former employees, and investors

Matt Turner,Jordan Parker Erb   

Inside the implosion at the checkout startup Fast, as told by leaked screenshots, former employees, and investors
Tech5 min read
Fast CEO Domm Holland often prided himself on making "fast" decisions, one employee told Insider.    Harry Murphy/Getty Images

Hi, I'm Matt Turner, the editor-in-chief of business at Insider. Welcome back to Insider Weekly, a roundup of some of our top stories.

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Inside Fast's fall from grace

That was Fast.

OK, OK, I apologize, it's a bad joke. Still, the rapid demise of the online-checkout startup Fast, which had raised more than $100 million, has been a hot topic this week in Silicon Valley and beyond. As recently as February, the company was talking about doubling its head count from 390 to close to 800 by the end of the year. Instead, the number will go to zero.

The majority of startups fail, of course. Fast was operating in an increasingly competitive sector. "There are only so many checkout solutions that the world can handle," one VC told Insider. And in the aftermath of Fast's sudden closure, one investor said he'd back its founder and CEO Domm Holland again if he had the chance.

But Fast's lavish spending and Holland's brazen persona have made the startup's demise especially striking, especially against a backdrop of fintechs getting pummeled in the public markets.

Kylie Robison, who's been covering this implosion all week, takes us inside her reporting:

What are your sources saying went wrong at Fast?

Usually in the tech sector, something new starts out as a project, then it grows to become big enough to be its own team and has a leader. Fast did the opposite. The firm would hire a team and task it to build the next big feature with very little direction. My sources told me the company conflated hiring with scaling.

At the top, the CEO, Domm Holland, was overconfident and surrounded by a lot of people who never told him no, they said.

Is there anything you learned during your reporting that surprised you?

Much like everyone else following this story, I'd never seen such a striking cash burn. I was surprised to see that 60% of Fast's operating budget went to payroll. I knew this week Fast would likely lay off all their employees, as one source told me, rather than half.

However, I was surprised to hear the news that they'd shuttered instead, especially since Holland had dubbed himself "the world's fastest CEO." I didn't expect him to let go of the business that easily.

What are you hearing from Fast employees right now?

They're devastated. A lot of them were very proud of the work they'd done at the company. Due to a lack of transparency from leadership, most of them didn't see this coming. So right now, they're looking to gain new employment and make sense of this very abrupt decision.

Read the full story here:

Also read:

Cold War 2.0 is well underway

Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden facing back to back on background with Cold War imagery
Getty; Savanna Durr/Insider

The second Cold War started the moment Russian forces crossed the border into Ukraine — and judging by its first month, it will be far more fluid and complex than its predecessor.

Unlike the first Cold War, this won't be a bipolar, spy-versus-spy affair, a dual between two superpowers. It will be a multipolar conflict, and the fight is likely to drag on for years, if not decades.

Read the full story here:

Americans are cashing in on soaring home prices — with Wall Street's help

An aerial shot of a suburban housing development in Southern California
US households have built up $26 trillion in home equity, the largest share of the overall housing stock since the 1980s.      halbergman/Getty Images

US homeowners are sitting on an estimated $26 trillion worth of home equity — and to unlock that equity, some are selling stakes in their homes to firms backed by Wall Street.

That's been the case for Betty Noujaim, a single mother who gave the firm Point a 25% stake in her home's future appreciation and received $60,000 in return.

Read the full story here:

The New York Times has issued a Twitter "reset"

dean baquet
The New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet.      Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Like many newsrooms, The Times once encouraged its reporters to take to Twitter to share its journalism. Now, in a leaked memo viewed by Insider, the Times' executive editor Dean Baquet has told employees that a presence on Twitter is "purely optional."

Baquet also encouraged staffers to "meaningfully reduce" their time on the platform, adding that the newsroom will provide support to journalists experiencing harassment.

Read the full story here:

Also read:

More of this week's top reads:

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Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Jordan Parker Erb and Lisa Ryan. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.