Daily Crunch: Toptal sues rival Andela for allegedly making ‘a perfect clone’ of its freelancer marketplace

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 11, 2021. As a small note I am off next week, so my dear friend and TechCrunch lifer Henry Pickavet will be taking over. He’s more fun and a better writer than I am, so consider him a temporary upgrade. See you in a week or so! — Alex

p.s. Cheap tickets to TC Early Stage 2021: Marketing & Fundraising are nearly gone. Flagging in case you needed a ticket and also like saving money. 

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Technology companies are trying to figure out post-pandemic work: Minor tech CEOs look to major tech companies for signals about what to do. Google, for example, is a famous cultural bellwether for other tech firms. But when it comes to post-pandemic work every tech company — big and small — is scrambling to come up with a plan that will keep control-oriented managers happy and staff from quitting en masse. TechCrunch has the rundown you need on what the majors are deciding.
  • Didi’s going public! If you thought that the Uber and Lyft IPOs were fun, oh boy is this good news for you. TechCrunch has notes on the venture capital winners’ list and more on the company’s economics for your reading pleasure.
  • The tech labor market is brutal: So brutal, in fact, two companies that help their customers find remote, freelance technology talent are now in a legal fight. Toptal is taking Andela to court over “the theft of trade secrets in pursuit of a perfect clone of its business,’” TechCrunch reports.

Startups and VC

  • Vertical SaaS is still hot: How do we know? Fresha just raised $100 million. The company provides software for hair and nail salons, yoga instructors, and other health, beauty, and wellness SMBs. Vertical SaaS companies can often have both attractive software incomes and strong payments revenues.
  • More money for neobanks: My general philosophy that there is infinite money available for neobanking startups around the world is holding up as TechCrunch broke news that “Bangalore-based neobank Open is in advanced stages of talks to raise about $100 million” from possibly Temasek and General Atlantic. The neobank could be worth $600 million after the deal, TechCrunch reported.
  • The edtech boom is not over: Sure, COVID-19 is receding in some countries, and economic activity is rebounding globally, but that’s not stopping edtech companies that got a pandemic bump from raising more cash. This week it’s Indian edtech company Classplus, which could raise $30 million from Tiger Global we reported, at a valuation of up to $250 million. That’s real money.
  • Neither is global interest in funding more insurtech startups: That’s what TechCrunch learned chatting up a bunch of EU-based VCs, who said that the European insurtech market is super busy, if perhaps not quite as frenetic as the market for insurance technology startups in America.

Insurtech is hot on both sides of the Atlantic

This morning, The Exchange dug into the EU insurtech market, interviewing European VCs and collating the biggest recent rounds to get a temperature of the waters across the pond:

  • Alex Timm, CEO, Root
  • Dan Preston, CEO, Metromile
  • Luca Bocchio, partner, Accel
  • Florian Graillot, investor, Astorya.vc
  • Stephen Brittain, director and founder, Insurtech Gateway

Several European-based insurtech startups entered unicorn territory this year, such as Bought By Many, which offers pet insurance, London-based Zego and Alan, a French startup that raised a $220 million round.

According to Brittain, EU startups in this sector are “still at the very early stages of innovation,” having only shown “a fraction of what’s possible” in a market that is “as large as banking.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Everyone sucks at cybersecurity: This week’s its Volkswagen, via a third-party vendor. The vendor in question exposed 3.3 million customers’ data. At some point the fines for this sort of error have to rise to the level of pain that will force corporations to stop fucking up. Enough is enough.
  • Apple hires from Canoo for car can-do: This week Apple confirmed that it hired “former co-founder and CEO [Ulrich Kranz] of electric vehicle company Canoo. Though the company declined to say what he’s working on. It’s 1,000% a new cube-shaped, six-screen iBloc, right? Without wheels?
  • Sticking to the Apple beat, the company announced its “Design Award” winners. TechCrunch has the run-down you need here.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

TechCrunch wants you to recommend growth marketers who have expertise in SEO, social, content writing and more! If you’re a growth marketer, pass this survey along to your clients; we’d like to hear about why they loved working with you.

The results from this survey will help influence our editorial coverage of growth marketing. Today, we have a guest column from Fuel Capital CMO Jamie Viggiano: 5 questions startups should consider before making their first marketing hire.

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

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Daily Crunch: With $639M funding found, Klarna is Europe’s highest-valued private fintech

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 10, 2021. A short note from TechCrunch to start, namely that it’s the last few hours to get an early-bird pass to TC Early Stage 2021: Marketing & Fundraising, coming in early July. It’s going to be pretty much amazing, so get on that, early-stage founders. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Microsoft thinks it can get cloud gaming to work: Microsoft has big plans to make cloud gaming more than whatever is left of Stadia today. Per TechCrunch, the company is preparing to “launch a dedicated device for game streaming” and wants to integrate related tech into TVs. Gamers, it’s a good time to be one of us. So long as you don’t need a new GPU.
  • Klarna raises $639M: The craze to stuff capital into successful buy-now-pay-later startups continued this week, with Klarna raising a huge stack of funds at a new, greater valuation. For more on the space and its rapid growth, read this.
  • Tech culture is changing: Recent unrest at Medium after related issues at Coinbase and Basecamp are bringing to light changing cultural expectations at startups and at the well-known Y Combinator accelerator. Inside these debates, it’s not hard to see growing recognition among some tech employees of the leverage that they have over their employers.

Startups and VC

Today we’re looking at a few key funding rounds from startupland, then some fund news and a roundup of recent unicorn IPOs.

  • AI-powered recruiting is valuable: That’s the lesson from Eightfold AI’s recent funding round. The company just put together a fresh $220 million round at a $2.1 billion valuation, more than double what it was worth late last year. Notably, this valuation doubling was not born from Tiger Global’s largesse, but SoftBank’s second Vision Fund. The company, TechCrunch writes, “uses deep learning and artificial intelligence to help companies find, recruit and retain workers.”
  • Say hello to analytics for how you spend your workday: There’s a fine line between keeping tabs on your workers and looking over their shoulders too frequently. Time is Ltd just raised $5.6 million for what we described as the Google Analytics for company time. For example, if a company wanted to know how much time its staff was spending in Slack versus, say, Teams, TiL could help. So long as the startup respects individual privacy, we’re fine with this.
  • Everyone needs fintech: Including Indonesia’s micro, small and medium businesses. Evidence of that fact is evinced by a huge $60 million Series A raised by BukuWarung, a fintech company focused on just that market. Valar Ventures and Goodwater Capital led the investment. The startup has now raised $80 million, per Crunchbase.

Over on the venture capital beat itself, here’s some recent fun fund fundraising featured facts:

  • Lots more capital for European startups: Perhaps to avoid having Tiger Global eat every round the world ‘round, Balderton Capital has put together a $680 million “early-growth” fund that will drop $25 million to $50 million checks into startups. That’s big coin for a growing scene.
  • Serena Williams’ husband raises new fund: Well-known investor Alexis Ohanian’s new firm, Seven Seven Six, has raised a $150 million fund. And it’s involved in the latest round at Nuggs.

To round out the day’s startup news, Marqeta, Monday.com, Zeta Global and 1stDibs went public. Here’s our dig into their debuts and what they mean for the IPO market — and the value of startups more generally.

The fintech endgame: New supercompanies combine the best of software and financials

Now that we can transact from anywhere, a new, hybrid class of software companies with embedded financial services are scooping up consumers — and investors are following the action.

Using data from a Battery Ventures report about “the intersection of software and financial services,” this post examines why these companies can be so hard to value and offers a framework for better understanding their business models and investor appeal.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Waymo’s self-driving push continues: Alphabet’s huge running bet on self-driving technology is partnering with J.B. Hunt Transport Services to test self-driving trucks in the busy Texas market. It’s long been thought that freight vehicles that don’t spend much time on side streets could make good early targets for self-driving tech. Let’s see. While we’re on the subject of autonomous transit, Scale has news on the data side of the equation.
  • Stripe brings sales tax to its payments platform: Stripe, while still private, is worth 84.2 zillion dollars, so it counts as Big Tech. The payments unicorn announced a new piece of tech today, namely the ability for its payments stack to handle sales tax both internationally and domestically. Sales tax is a huge problem, and handling it could provide Stripe with a nice edge over some of its competition.
  • Apple to (probably) kill Dark Sky: After Cupertino bought weather service Dark Sky, it was presumed to be on its way to the wood chipper. Thus ends many a technology exit to a bigco; the larger entity really wants the tech and team, but doesn’t want to keep the company’s app alive. Apple, to its credit, won’t axe Dark Sky until 2022. After that, it’s all bets off.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

TechCrunch wants to help startups find the right expert for their needs. To do this, we’re building a shortlist of the top growth marketers. We’ve received great recommendations for growth marketers in the startup industry since we launched the survey yesterday, and we’re excited to read more responses as they come in!

Fill out the survey here.

We look forward to publishing more about growth marketing. Check out our most recent offering, Growth marketing amid the pandemic: An interview with Right Side Up’s Tyler Elliston.

We’re excited to continue our editorial coverage about growth marketing with posts from the TechCrunch team and guests. If you’re interested in writing a guest column, read more here.

Community

Come chat with us about Pittsburgh on Twitter Spaces tomorrow 6/11 at 1 p.m. PDT/4 p.m. EDT ahead of our upcoming TC City Spotlight series event.

TC City Spotlight: Pittsburgh. Background is black and yellow city skyline.

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

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Daily Crunch: A crowded market for exits and acquisitions forecasts a hot AI summer

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 9, 2021. Today was TC Sessions: Mobility, a rollicking good time and one that we hoped you enjoyed. Looking ahead, we’re starting to announce some speakers for Disrupt — including Accel’s Arun Mathew. Mark your calendars, Disrupt is going to be epic this year. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Biden tears down Trump’s Chinese app wall: After a very confusing episode in which the former U.S. president demanded that TikTok sell to an American company and that the U.S. government get a cut, things are mostly back to normal today after President Biden “signed an executive order revoking actions targeting TikTok and WeChat,” TechCrunch reports. Biden also signed a “new order requiring the Commerce Department to review apps with ties to ‘jurisdiction of foreign adversaries,’” so this story is not yet finished.
  • Billions for battery tech: Northvolt has raised a $2.75 billion round to build its in-Europe battery manufacturing capacity to 150 GWh by 2030. While 2030 may sound far away, it’s under a decade from now. The news of Northvolt’s round underscores how many regions want to ensure that they can build core technology products like batteries, chips and AI on their own as a way to limit geopolitical risk.
  • Everyone wants to fund AI startups: The era in which every startup claimed to be an AI company is behind us, leaving us with the era in which every VC wants to fund AI startups. That’s the gist of a recent TechCrunch dig into the hot and busy fundraising market for startups leveraging artificial intelligence.

Startups and VC

  • Branch finds more backers for its insurtech service: Bundled home-and-auto insurtech startup Branch has raised a $50 million round led by Anthemis Group. The company’s pitch is that it starts customers off with a bundle, meaning that it doesn’t have to cross-sell them later on. VCs are still more than willing to pour capital into neo-insurance providers, despite some struggles from unicorns in the space after they went public.
  • ShelfLife wants to help you source raw materials: Ever wanted to produce and sell your own version of White Claw? Lillian Cartwright and some fellow Harvard Business School folks had that idea, but ran into supply issues. Cartwright built ShelfLife, which helps brands by providing “a directory and marketplace of raw material suppliers based on what brands actually, specifically need, allowing them to secure quotes quickly.”
  • If you are tired of insurtech rounds, how about an NFT round? Mythical Games announced a $75 million round despite fading near-term momentum in the market for blockchain-specific digital ownership writs. Regardless of what you think about NFTs, it’s clear that VCs are bullish and are willing to pay up to not miss a possible trend.
  • American political luminary Stacey Abrams’ Now raises $9.5M: Now is a fintech company that buys corporate invoices for a fee, allowing companies to unlock revenue before they get paid. Provided that it can properly assess nonpayment risk, it’s a pretty business-friendly model.
  • Behead your CMS: If you are not hip to headless CMS tools, imagine WordPress but without the bits that make it render in your browser. The headless model has attracted backers in a more fractured end-user device world, where users might access content on everything from smartwatches to tablets to desktops to VR helmets. And now Contentstack’s headless CMS service is $57.5 million richer after an investment led by Insight Partners.

To round out our startup news today, two things: The first is that Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra and his buddy Todd Goldberg, the founder of Eventjoy, have formalized their investing partnership in a new fund called Todd and Rahul’s Angel Fund. That name has big “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” vibes, albeit with a larger, $24 million budget.

And fresh on the heels of the Equity Podcast diving into hormonal health and the huge startup opportunity that it presents, there’s a new startup working on PCOS on the market. Check out our look at its early form.

Don’t panic: ‘Algorithm updates’ aren’t the end of the world for SEO managers

SEO expert and consultant Eli Schwartz will join Managing Editor Danny Crichton tomorrow to share his advice for everyone who gets nervous each time Google updates its algorithm.

To set a foundation for tomorrow’s chat on Twitter Spaces, Eli shared a guest post that should deflate some myths. For starters: A drop in search traffic isn’t necessarily hurting you.

Instead of chasing the algorithm, he advises companies that rely on organic search results to focus on the user experience instead: “If you are helpful to the user, you have nothing to fear.”

Just like you release product updates based on feedback and analytics, Google’s improving its products to offer a better user experience.

“If you see a drop, in many cases, your site might not have even lost real traffic,” says Eli. “Often, the losses represent only lost impressions already not converting into clicks.”

Tomorrow’s discussion is the latest in a series of chats with top Extra Crunch guest contributors. If you’ve worked with a talented growth marketer, please share a brief recommendation.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Google is building a huge fiber trunk to Argentina: Imagine you were a megacorp. And the internet was a bit slow between your headquarters, and, say, Argentina. Do you curse your luck? Stamp your feet? Or do you announce that you are going to “build a new subsea cable that will connect the East Coast of the U.S. and Las Toninas, Argentina — with additional landings in Brazil and Uruguay” as Google did? We hope it’s the final option.
  • Did you know that it’s Facebook’s creator week? It is, as it turns out. Big Blue announced a “native affiliate tool” for Instagram that will allow “creators to recommend products available on checkout, share them with followers and earn commissions for sales their posts drive.” The idea may prove annoying for non-influencers, but for the folks with large followings it could be a boon.
  • $270M for end-point security shop 1E: Rising acceptance of remote work means more and more end points for companies to secure. To see Carlyle pick up 1E for a quarter-billion, then, is not a surprise in substance. Crunchbase has no funding data from the London-based company, so perhaps this was a pretty big exit for its team.

Introducing TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

TechCrunch is back with our next category for our Experts project: We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices.

Fill out the survey here.

We’re excited to share the results we collect in the form of a database. The more responses we receive from our readers, the more robust our editorial coverage will be moving forward. To learn more, visit techcrunch.com/experts.

Community

Join us for a conversation tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. PDT / 3:30 p.m. EDT on Twitter Spaces. Our own Danny Crichton will be discussing growth marketer Eli Schwartz’s guest column Don’t panic: ‘Algorithm updates’ aren’t the end of the world for SEO managers. Bring your questions and comments!

 

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

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Daily Crunch: Fastly CDN outage briefly takes Twitch, Reddit and Pinterest offline

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

If you want to catch up on why the internet broke today, we have the story that you need. I suppose it’s nice to read that story without it being Amazon’s fault for once. Or Cloudflare. Now that we think about it, there are a lot of failure points for the internet. Today’s culprit, Fastly, went down, taking lots of the internet with it. But Fastly’s stock? Up more than 9% as I write to you. Figure that one out — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • How bottom-up sales helped Expensify blaze the path for SaaS: The final entry of TechCrunch’s deep dive into Expensify’s business ahead of its IPO is live today. Anna focused her final installment of the five-part series on how the well-known expense software company managed the growth that is helping take it public.
  • Personal computers are not dead: Remember when the iPad came out and PCs were supposedly kaput? Well, they are not dead yet, not by a long shot. In fact, here in the U.S., PC sales shot up 73% in the first quarter compared to Q1 2020 numbers. And Apple lost its top slot to HP, in America at least.
  • Investors still love software more than life: The market for high-growth technology companies is super hot at the moment, recent evidence for which was provided by Monday.com’s IPO pricing and expected investments from both Zoom and Salesforce. The Israeli company should debut on the U.S. markets later this week.

Startups and VC

We have three main blocks of startup news this morning. The first deals with consumer social applications, a category that goes through booms and busts in investor interest. The second is fintech-focused. And the third is a mix of funding rounds large and small to keep you up to date on the latest.

2 Turntables and a camera phone:

  • Dispo’s camera app confirms its Series A round: After a hyped launch and the fallout regarding a member of co-founder David Dobrik’s “Vlog Squad,” the social camera application confirmed what we had heard earlier this year: that it raised a $20 million round. It will be interesting to see when the company accesses the private markets again, if it is able to.
  • Turntable spins up beta apps for Android and iOS: Turntable, similar to Turntable.fm but not the same application, is launching early-release applications for iOS and Android. Don’t forget that Turntable raised half a million dollars earlier this year. Or that Turntable.fm, a competitor, is back from the dead. It’s very 2021 to have two startups in the market with effectively the same name.

From the world of fintech:

  • Nubank raises $750M: Brazilian neobank Nubank is now worth $30 billion and has an extra three-quarters of a billion dollars in the bank. Its new capital is a sort of extension to its known Series G, though at a higher valuation. Which means it’s a new round. But, hey, it’s 2021 and rules are over.
  • Corporate spend startup Airbase raises $60M: On the heels of competing startups Ramp and Brex raising huge new rounds, Airbase followed suit. The company is betting that its focus on midmarket companies and software will set it apart from competitors.

Our regular funding round digest:

  • What happens when you cross easy consumer credit and subprime lending scores? Kafene is going to find out. The company raised $14 million to build what one of its founders called “Affirm for the subprime.” So, buy-now-pay-later tooling, but for folks with poor, traditional credit scores. Expect the “Affirm but for rich people” to come out next.
  • Compose.ai raises $2.1M to help you write super, really, very, amazingly fast: The rise of GPT-3 has helped TechCrunch get hip to all sorts of neat language-focused startups. Compose.ai is similar, even if it uses its own AI. It wants to help everyone write faster, and, in time, offer companies the ability to have their own in-house language model to help keep everyone to the same tone [ed note:😬].
  • If you cross 3D-printing and rockets, you get to raise $650M: That’s the lesson that Relatively Space taught us this week. It’s now worth $4.2 billion after its latest fundraise, and the company thinks that it can print its new heavy rocket in 60 days. That would shake things up.
  • And the world of warehouse robotics is far from complete: So says Gideon Brothers, a Croatian robotics startup that just raised a $31 million round. Per Mike, the “investment will be used to accelerate the development and commercialization of GB’s AI and 3D vision-based ‘autonomous mobile robots’ or ‘AMRs.’”

Network security startup ExtraHop skips and jumps to $900M exit

News broke this morning that Bain Capital Private Equity and Crosspoint Capital Partners are purchasing Seattle-based network security startup ExtraHop.

Part of the Network Detection and Response (NDR) market, ExtraHop’s security solutions are for companies that manage assets in the cloud and on-site, “something that could be useful as more companies find themselves in that in-between state.”

A year ago, ExtraHop was closing in on $100 million in ARR and considering an IPO, so we spoke to ExtraHop CTO and co-founder Jesse Rothstein to learn more about how (and why) the deal came together.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Our Apple coverage is not yet complete: The company’s Realty Kit 2 is going to help developers build 3D models from iPhone photos. That’s neat-sounding tech, but I have to admit that I’m curious how it will be used in the market.

read more about Apple's WWDC 2021 on TechCrunch

To close, Google is shaking up its Android search tools after running into a regulatory buzzsaw, and Ford is making a small hybrid truck. It’s very cute.

Image Credits: Ford Motor Company

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

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Daily Crunch: At Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote, everything old is new again

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Today was the kickoff of Apple’s developer conference, WWDC, meaning that the TechCrunch crew was super busy all day and that we have an ocean of news from Cupertino for you to enjoy. But the startup market was just as busy, thankfully, with some fascinating funding rounds, acquisitions and more to parse through. Today we have something for everyone! — Alex

P.S. Including all of you interested in finance. Here’s a teardown of the Babylon Health SPAC deal. Enjoy!

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Apple’s keynote lucre: Apple’s keynote today was the usual affair of animation, on-screen text, musicals, and lots and lots of news. More below but iOS 15, SharePlay and iCloud+ are obvious standouts.
  • The global chip shortage: The global chip shortage won’t lift until late next year, meaning that we’re likely going to see investment in new chip-fab capacity. Like the news today that Bosch opened a $1.2 billion chip manufacturing facility in Germany. Much like the AI market is cleaving along geopolitical fault lines, in time, more countries are going to want to have domestic chip-fab capabilities as a form of self-reliance.
  • Paytm is going public: Noida, India-based Paytm, the most valuable startup in the country, will go public, it told employees recently. That’s good news for the company, we suppose, but also potentially big news for India’s larger startup and venture capital scene.

Startups and VC

  • Astra buys Apollo Fusion: This is a fun one. Astra, a space launch upstart that is pursuing a SPAC-led IPO, is buying Apollo Fusion, which is focused on what TechCrunch described as “electric propulsion.” So not fusion, sadly, but electric propulsion is a key space technology that allows satellites, for example, to move around while in orbit. It can also be fuel-sipping to a degree, making it a tech that could help satellites and other heavenly bodies enjoy long service lives.
  • Briq raises its construction-focused fintech service: The recent implosion of construction-unicorn Katerra is not stopping venture investment in its market. Today Briq, a startup that provides fintech solutions to construction companies, announced that Tiger Global has led a $30 million round into its business. Normally a $30 million check would give us a good feel for how big Briq’s revenue base is today. But with market scuttlebutt indicating that Tiger is content to pour capital into companies with diminutive revenues, it’s hard to say. Briq told TechCrunch that its annual recurring revenue grew by 200% in the last year.
  • Mendel raises $18M to structure unstructured medical data: Every industry creates lots of data these days, but the medical industry sweats data like a first-time Peloton user. And, as you can imagine, most of the data that off-gases from the medical world is unstructured and generally a mess. Enter Mendel, which wants to organize, share and exchange medical data after it ingests and cleans it up. I dig it.
  • Finally today, Lightspeed has acquired “e-commerce platform Ecwid for $500 million, and NuOrder, a B2B ordering platform servicing wholesales, brands and retailers, for $425 million.” The Canadian point-of-sale provider has been busy buying startups in recent years, part of a larger roll-up strategy that it expects will accrete into an enticing package of services. Or, as the company put it, the deals will help Lightspeed become “the common thread uniting merchants, suppliers and consumers.” That’s pretty heavy on the corporate-speak, but does speak to Lightspeed’s ambitions. I raise this particular set of deals because Lightspeed is not as well known as its scale might have you think.

The hidden benefits of adding a CTO to your board

Conventional wisdom says startup boards should include a few CEOs who are able to offer informed advice, but having a technical leader in the mix creates real upside, according to Abby Kearns, chief technology officer at Puppet.

Beyond their engineering experience, CTOs can help founders set realistic timelines, identify pain points and bring what Kearns calls “pragmatic empathy” to high-pressure situations.

“A CTO understands the nuts and bolts,” says Kearns.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

As noted above, there’s a lot of Apple news to dig through, but we also have notes from Microsoft and Pinterest to parse. So let’s get done with WWDC and then dive into the rest.

Today’s Apple event generated oodles of coverage. Here’s what you need to know (products bolded to help you find what you need):

And there’s more to come. So, if that’s not enough from the Apple news column for you, keep your eyes on the site.

read more about Apple's WWDC 2021 on TechCrunch

Elsewhere in BigTechLandia

Pinterest is finally rolling out the ability to save items into a shopping list. The general argument for the long-term value of Pinterest has been that, sure, it has ads, but it’s also essentially an e-commerce sleeping giant. Perhaps Big Pin wants to awaken a bit faster than we had expected.

To close, Microsoft is renaming Windows Virtual Desktop to Azure Virtual Desktop. Why the change? Because, loosely, there’s lots more demand for the product in a post-pandemic world than the one that came before it, and thus the ability to “set up a full virtual desktop environment from the Azure portal” using only “a few clicks,” as Frederic reported, could be a big deal.

Community

What were you looking forward to the most at WWDC? You told us iOS updates. And there are a bunch. Come chat on the Discord server about what Apple did (and didn’t) announce.

TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility is happening this Wednesday, and there’s still time to buy tickets. On the fence? Come hang out with us tomorrow on Twitter Spaces at 4 p.m. PDT/7 p.m. EDT to get a taste of what you’ll experience at the event.

Speaking of events, keep an eye on the site for some Pittsburgh Spotlight-related news tomorrow.

TC Eventful

Whether you’re into artificial intelligence, autonomous and/or electric vehicles, robotics or hunting the next transportation unicorn, you’ll want to make sure you’re at TechCrunch’s Sessions: Mobility event this Wednesday, June 9. Bring your questions and join the conversation with CEOs and founders from Scale AI, Ford, Joby Aviation and Hyundai and discover 30 of the hottest early-stage mobility startups poised to become the next big thing. Register today and get a free expo ticket with promo code DAILYEXPO. Or save 50% for access to the entire event with promo code DAILYCRUNCH50.

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

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Daily Crunch: Facebook extends Trump’s suspension until January 2023

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 4, 2021. What a week, yeah? That was four super-packed days. But don’t think that the pace of news is about to slow down. It’s not. Next week is Apple’s big WWDC developer event, which we previewed here. And TechCrunch’s next event focused on mobility is just around the corner.

Here’s to catching up on sleep this weekend. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Facebook can’t quit Trump: News broke today that Facebook will reconsider its ban of former American president and wannabe autocrat Donald Trump in two years’ time. The decision fits inside of Facebook’s larger struggle to decide the rules for its hugely popular social platforms.
  • The IPO wave continues: Venture-backed startups are filing to go public at a rapid clip. Today it was Xometry (our first look here) and SentinelOne (more here). Expect to see more filings as a busy Q3 pipeline forms.
  • Governments v. Tech: The world’s governments continue to push tech companies around. Sometimes for reasons that make some sense, as with the U.S. government’s refreshed crackdown on certain Chinese tech companies. And sometimes for reasons that do not, like Nigeria trying to ban Twitter late this week. Regardless of your politics, expect more from this space every week until the end of time.

Startups and VC

  • Flink raises quick $240M: After operating in the market for just half a year, German grocery delivery startup Flink has raised a quarter billion dollars. Flink is German for quick, which relates to both its delivery timeline and its venture capital cadence.
  • GBM raises “up to” $150M from SoftBank: When is a startup not a startup? When it’s 35 years old. That’s the case with Mexican company Grupo Bursátil Mexicano, or GBM. But as TechCrunch reports, the company is seeing hypergrowth, expanding from “having 38,000 investment accounts in January 2020 to more than 650,000 by year’s end.” It is not over the 1,000,000 account mark. Not bad.
  • The BNPL market is growing quickly, still expensive: A TechCrunch analysis of recent buy-now-pay-later companies that are big enough to report earnings indicates that the popular startup market is still growing quickly, but that few if any companies working on the consumer sales model are actually making money. Yet.
  • Toyota commits $300M to startups: Toyota’s AI-focused venture capital fund is AI-branded no more, and TechCrunch reports that the corporate VC group is “commemorating its new identity by investing an additional $300 million in emerging technologies and carbon neutrality.” That’s a lot of bread to help save the world.
  • Auto SPAC: TechCrunch broke the news that “autonomous vehicle startup Aurora is close to finalizing a deal to merge with Reinvent Technology Partners Y, the newest special purpose acquisition company launched by LinkedIn co-founder and investor Reid Hoffman.”

Domain experts wanted: Submit your guest articles to Extra Crunch

Prospective Extra Crunch contributors regularly ask us about which topics Extra Crunch subscribers would like to hear more about, and the answer is always the same:

  • Actionable advice that is backed up by data and/or experience.
  • Strategic insights that go beyond best practices and offer specific recommendations readers can try out for themselves.
  • Industry analysis that paints a clear picture of the companies, products and services that characterize individual tech sectors.

Our general submission guidelines haven’t changed, but Managing Editor Eric Eldon and Senior Editor Walter Thompson wrote a short post that identifies the topics we’re prioritizing at the moment:

  • How-to articles for early-stage founders.
  • Market analysis of different tech sectors.
  • Growth marketing strategies.
  • Alternative fundraising.
  • Quality of life (personal health, sustainability, proptech, transportation).

If you’re a skillful entrepreneur, founder or investor who’s interested in helping someone else build their business, read our latest guidelines, then send your ideas to guestcolumns@techcrunch.com.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Today’s Big Tech news is essentially a huge slug of Facebook. So, if you are irked by spending more time than you have to considering Zuckerberg’s empire, feel free to move on to the Community section of today’s missive!

Facebook land was more today than just the news regarding former U.S. President Donald Trump. Big Blue also got busy buying a gaming company and getting hit with antitrust probes in the U.K. and EU.

On the gaming front, Facebook announced today that it is buying Crayta, which TechCrunch described as a ”a Roblox-like game creation platform.” Roblox, of course, recently went public via a direct listing after seeing its fortunes rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. TechCrunch also wrote that Facebook has been buying one-off VR startups as well. So, there’s something of a larger gaming push afoot at the company, perhaps. If there is any rule to Facebook’s actions, it’s that if it sees any other company doing a thing and making money, it has to copy it.

To close out Big Tech for the week, Facebook is under new scrutiny by both the U.K. and the EU, this time for its use of data from advertising customers and the folks who use its single-sign-on tool. TechCrunch reported that the investigations are “looking at whether it uses this data as an unfair lever against competitors in markets such as classified ads.”

Community

Thanks for joining us yesterday for our chat about the future of e-commerce. It’s nice to be able to dive deeper into the things we write. Twitter Spaces was fun to use, but sadly our friend Brandon Chu from Shopify wasn’t able to join from his Android device (yay beta apps!). Just means we’ll have to do it again.

Speaking of doing Twitter Spaces again, we’re going to be pregaming WWDC on Monday, led by our hardware editor, Brian Heater. We’ll start bright and early at 8:30 a.m. PDT/11:30 a.m. EDT, so bring all of your thoughts and questions then.

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: Canada and Australia get first look at Twitter Blue subscription service

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 3, 2021. If you are a startup founder or early employee or investor, there’s good news on the TechCrunch front today: The start of the Disrupt agenda is live! It’s going to be one hell of a show for anyone interested in startups and how they grow. See you there! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • United goes Boom: News broke today that United Airlines has agreed to purchase 15 supersonic jets from Boom, a startup focused on building them. For Boom, the deal is a big happening, evidence of material market demand for its products. And, given how much planes cost in general, a huge set of bookings for the company to show to its investors that have plowed nearly a quarter billion dollars into the company, according to Crunchbase.
  • Twitter is Blue: No, the social media company isn’t sad. Quite the opposite. Instead, Twitter’s subscription service Blue is going live in two markets for a few dollars per month. It’s something of a very public test of what Twitter hopes — we presume — will be a globally available subscription option for those of us who can’t stop tweeting.
  • Women’s health remains an underinvested startup niche: TechCrunch’s Natasha Mascarenhas dug into the world of hormonal health for the blog today, asking why there aren’t unicorns in the huge market. It’s a great read.

Startups and VC

We’re dividing up today’s startup and venture capital news into two buckets. The first comprises early-stage rounds, and the latter investments in upstarts that are a bit more mature.

  • India’s early-stage market accelerates: Manish Singh reports for TechCrunch that a host of Indian startups are in the process of raising money. He broke an ocean of news in his piece on the matter, not only underscoring how active the global venture market is, but just how hard it can be to keep track of all the activity.
  • Simplified raises $2.2M to support marketing creative: Marketers are expected to generate lots of content. Simplified is taking on Canva and that huge market need in a single go. And now it’s backed by Craft Ventures.
  • Ganaz raises $7M to help agricultural workers get paid: Not every tech company has to cater to the tech elite or the wealthy. Ganaz is betting that its business — focused on what we described as changing “how people with little documentation and no bank account get paid and send money with a modern workforce stack” — is going to be a hit. Given how huge the agricultural sector is, its wager makes some sense.

And then, on the late-stage front:

  • Gong raises $250M for sales automation: Gong’s rapid growth and latest funding was part of my column this morning because of how interesting they proved to be. In short, the sales automation company has roughly tripled its valuation to more than $7 billion since last August. How? By growing by more than 2x in the last year.
  • Realtime Robotics raises $31M for real-time robotics: Boston’s startup scene is more than biotech, it should be clear by now. Realtime Robotics is one such Beantown startup that isn’t building new drugs. Instead, Brian Heater reports, it’s building robot software to “help companies deploy systems with limited programming, offering adaptable controls that work for multiple systems at once.”
  • LeoLabs raises $65M to keep satellites from hitting each other: As SpaceX sends bushels of internet satellites into space, the issue of crowding in near-Earth orbit will only get stickier. LeoLabs is betting that keeping expensive space tech from hitting other space tech, or even space trash, is going to be a growth industry.

3 lessons we learned after raising $6.3M from 50 investors

Two years ago, founders of calendar-assistant platform Reclaim were looking for a “mango” seed round — a boodle of cash large enough to help them transition from the prototype phase to staffing up for a public launch.

Although the team received offers, co-founder Henry Shapiro says the few that materialized were poor options, partially because Reclaim was still pre-product.

So one summer morning, my co-founder and I sat down in his garage — where we’d been prototyping, pitching and iterating for the past year — and realized that as hard as it was, we would have to walk away entirely and do a full reset on our fundraising strategy.

In a guest post for Extra Crunch, Shapiro shares what he learned from embracing failure and offers three conclusions “every founder should consider before they decide to go out and pitch investors.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Big Tech was busy yet again today, with news from Waymo, Twitter and Blackstone. We also have to talk about the law.

  • You can now hail Waymo taxis in Google Maps: Vertical integration, baby! It’s a jam if you are a platform company that makes self-driving cars, operates a taxi service, and also publishes what I presume is the most popular mapping software in the world.
  • In related news: Waymo, bring self-driving taxis to Providence, Rhode Island, you cowards!
  • In related apologies: Waymo is not made up of cowards, but merely businesspeople who should invest more of their testing budget in Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Twitter wants to hear you talk: Twitter is bringing its Spaces product more front-and-center in its mobile experience. Sure, all you use Twitter for today is tweets, but Big Tweet will soon want to send your newsletters, host your chats, and, well, distribute your Fleets as well.
  • A court case draws limits around a controversial American hacking law: Per TechCrunch, the U.S. Supreme Court “ruled that a police officer who searched a license plate database for an acquaintance in exchange for cash did not violate U.S. hacking laws” in a “landmark ruling [that] concludes a long-running case that clarifies the controversial Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA.”
  • In terms of legal news and tech, it’s nice to have some good news.
  • And, finally, Blackstone is buying IDG: While your humble TechCrunchers are somewhat sensitive to the idea of private equity buying media properties, the Blackstone-IDG deal is yet another example of the trend.
  • The deal means that titles like “CIO, Computerworld, InfoWorld, Macworld, Network World, PCWorld, and Tech Hive” are changing hands, along with IDC itself.

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: Tesla switches on camera-based driver monitoring for Autopilot users

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Welcome to the Daily Crunch for May 28, the last edition before a long weekend here in the United States. But impending holiday or not, there’s plenty to catch up on, not the least of which today is Elon Watch in our top-three rundown. Let’s get into it! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

Startups and VC

Let’s wrap this week with startups that are challenging the status quo, shall we?

Penfold just raised $8.5 million to keep pensions alive: In your part of the world the pension may be dead, but Penfold wants to keep the retirement plan alive in the U.K. With a mobile app. Sure, your company has probably given up on the idea that it should materially provide for workers’ post-work existence, but Penfold is betting that its freelancer-friendly pension system will find purchase in its market.

Kitt put together a $5 million round to build out your next office: Parts of the world are slowly circling back to the idea of going to the office. Kitt wants to take advantage of the trend by “a ‘fully customizable’ workspace solution to tenants via its landlord partners,” TechCrunch reports. Everyone seems to agree that post-COVID office life will look different. Here’s a startup trying to help design that future.

Anthropic pulls together $124 million to make AI more steerable: Some of the folks behind GPT-3 have a pile of new money for their AI-focused startup. But unlike most AI-centered startups, the company appears to be working on model tuning over building something to, say, do one particularly focused task.

“Today [in AI] the general rule is: The more powerful the system, the harder it is to explain its actions,” Devin reports, adding that that’s “not exactly a good trend.” Perhaps Anthropic can build the AI tuning dials we’ve long needed. It certainly now has the money to pursue its vision.

Dismantling the myths around raising your first check

The growing complexity of fundraising has the opportunity to make tech either inclusive or exclusive. For new founders looking to raise money, let’s dismantle the myths about raising your first check and instead focus on how investors and other successful founders describe the nuance needed to secure money.

Natasha Mascarenhas spoke to Elizabeth Yin, founding partner of Hustle Fund, and Leslie Feinzaig, founder of Female Founders Collective, to get their candid thoughts about the challenges first-time founders face when fundraising.

According to Yin, all startups should be able to reach one of two goals: by the fifth year, achieve $100 million ARR or a $1 billion valuation.

“This is hard to do,” she said. “And most businesses will never get there — not for a lack of trying — but there’s a lot of luck whether your idea has that much demand that quickly.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Closing this week with a mote of Big Tech news, once again centered around the rising tension between technology companies and the Indian government. Our own Manish Singh reports that “Google, Facebook, Telegram, LinkedIn and Tiger Global-backed Indian startups ShareChat and Koo have either fully or partially complied with the South Asian nation’s new IT rules, according to two people familiar with the matter and a government note obtained by TechCrunch.”

Singh goes on to note that “Twitter has yet to comply with the rules.” We saw earlier this week how Twitter is pushing back against the Indian government after it tried to use force to intimidate the American social network into going against its own policies in defense of its party’s political goals.

American social networks born in an environment where they had plenty of room to experiment and maneuver have a history of running afoul of foreign governments with either rising autocratic tendencies or a fondness for full-blown control. This is no exception. The question is whether Twitter will wind up a cautionary tale in its argument with the Indian government, or a guiding light.

TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing

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We’re thrilled with the responses to our survey about the top email marketers. It’s not too late to weigh in: Fill out the survey here.

If you’re a growth marketer, pass the survey on to your clients — we’d love to hear from them!

To find out more details about this project and how we plan to use it to shape our editorial coverage, visit techcrunch.com/experts.

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: Saving-investing app Acorns files to go public in $2.2B SPAC deal

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Thursday, May 27. From the home desk, TechCrunch has a few notes to share. First, we’re hosting a virtual meetup in Pittsburgh as part of our national tour spotlighting neat startup markets. And if you are a super early-stage founder, you can still apply to take part in the upcoming Battlefield competition at Disrupt. Do it. It’s going to be a blast. See you at both! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

Startups and VC

We have our usual mix of funding rounds below, but first a note on diversity in the venture capital world. Collab Capital this week announced a $50 million fund to invest in Black founders, which TechCrunch covered here. And today we wrote about a $250 million growth fund that will reserve half its profits to donate to historically Black colleges and universities. More of this, please.

Now, the day’s hottest funding rounds:

Breinify raises $11M to bring data science to marketing: A good theme in tech recently has been bringing capabilities previously reserved for the technically trained to teams of nontechnical folks. No-code does this at times, for example. Breinify is doing something related, namely “working to apply data science to personalization, and do it in a way that makes it accessible to nontechnical marketing employees to build more meaningful customer experiences,” according to TechCrunch. For marketing teams currently stuck waiting for the engineering team to get back to them, this will prove more than welcome.

RevenueCat raises $40M to help developers leverage in-app subscriptions: RevenueCat now has a huge new check at a $300 million valuation, but more than that, it’s changed its cost structure, offering different tiers of service that are priced not on a per-head basis, but on how much revenue a company is tracking at any given point in time (on-demand pricing is hot). RevenueCat, you can math out, costs 0.8% to 1.2% cut of tracked revenue, depending on what sort of functionality a company needs. For anyone building in-app subscriptions and looking for help, RevenueCat wants to be cheap to start and lucrative as its customers scale.

And then there were robots: Our own Brian Heater compiled a super great look at the world of robotics startups and their recent fundraising. TerraClear recently raised $25 million for its rock-picking-up tractor-robot. Bowery Farms recently raised $300 million as we noted here at Daily Crunch, but we failed to mention how “robots, sensors and AI are a big part of [its] vertical farming approach.” Very cool.

Heater has more notes in the posts, but the key takeaway is that not every robot comes from the weird place between Uncanny Valley and Boston Dynamics.

SaaS needs to take a page out of the crypto playbook

It seems like a great time to launch a SaaS startup, but the landscape is crowded with well-designed applications that promise “blazingly fast and delightfully simple” experiences.

Most of these will fail, but not because of a marketing campaign or server downtime. In most cases, SaaS startups fall victim to what seed-stage investor John Chen of Fika Ventures calls “the myth of frictionless onboarding.”

Despite the hype, enterprise companies are always asking us to learn how to use new tools. “Just like with a new fitness program, participants feel good after completing the workout, but it takes a lot of activation energy to start and hard work to get there,” says Chen.

Instead of putting the onus on customers to roll up their sleeves, SaaS startups should learn from cryptocurrency culture and find ways to “incentivize users to do the necessary work to have the right experience.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Today we’re mostly talking about Twitter, but before we do, is Ford about to win a chunk of the electric vehicle market? Two years ago I would have scoffed at the notion, but between what feel like strong pre-orders for its electric pickup and a huge bet on internal battery R&D, it’s now a question worth asking.

On the Twitter front, there are two things to know. First, that Twitter is not taking incoming fire from the current Indian government sitting down. And, second, that Twitter’s product work has been pretty fast-paced lately, which is more than welcome.

Regarding India, TechCrunch’s Manish Singh reports that “Twitter called the recent visit by police to its Indian offices a form of intimidation and said it was concerned by some of the requirements in New Delhi’s new IT rules.” Good.

Here at Daily Crunch, we called the matter attempted intimidation, so it’s nice to see the company also stating the obvious. And fighting back. The Indian government’s push to censor Twitter smacks of a CCP-style crackdown on speech that the ruling regime deems too true to be read. Down with that sort of thinking.

On the product front, Twitter is rolling out its Clubhouse-competing Spaces product to desktop machines. Normally I’d skip such an incremental Twitter feature, but in this case it fits into the recent rapid-fire product cadence from the social network, which was famously slow for years and years. Then something changed, allowing the company to ship all sorts of products and services. The company’s even moving toward some sort of email newsletter-subscription-audio-tipping product amalgamation that could prove to be very, very interesting to creators.

Who expected to be excited by Twitter’s dev team this year? It’s a nice surprise.

TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing

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TechCrunch Experts is still collecting survey responses to help us identify the top email marketers in tech!

At this time, we’re not looking for self-nominations — we’re only seeking nominations from clients. We want to hear all about your experience and how you found the right expert for your needs. Fill out the survey here.

We’re excited to move this project forward. Visit techcrunch.com/experts to find out more!

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: In $8.45B deal, Amazon to buy MGM Studios

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Wednesday, May 26. Yes, we’re going to get to the huge Amazon-MGM deal, but we have to chat about a startup first. Have you heard of Poparazzi? If you have kids you might have — it’s the latest social phenom. And it just ran its way up to the top of the App Store. (Too bad it’s not Puparazzi!)

Yes, I feel old as well. Take a look if you want to know what the kids are up to. Now, the rest of the news. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Amazon snaps up MGM: The biggest news out today is the giant Amazon-MGM deal worth more than $8 billion. Its studio purchase helps cement Amazon in the mix of tech companies with huge investments in the online video space. Observers believe the e-commerce giant plans to use MGM to bolster its Prime service, making consumers less likely to churn thanks to the inclusion of more services. Which rings hollow to us: Who is going to give up Prime, but be swayed by movies? The connection to shipping speed feels tenuous.
  • The global fintech boom: This morning, Clara announced a new round, mere months after it raised its preceding round of capital. The Mexican startup works in the corporate spend market, a startup niche that recently saw a $2.5 billion exit in the United States, and more capital for both Ramp and Brex. Our read here is that many nascent fintech formulas that work in the U.S. are going to have wide remit globally.
  • IPOs are back: The recent Flywire IPO pricing (strong) and first-day trading (even stronger) are indicative that the temporarily slowed public-offering market is back. So, Robinhood, let’s go?

Startups and VC

Here are five of the tastiest venture capital rounds that TechCrunch covered, showing off an array of niches and round sizes:

  • UK’s Paysend raises $125M for mobile B2B payments: You are excused for wondering if every fintech round these days involves both companies and payments. I feel the same way. But what matters in the case of Paysend is that its model to provide SMB online payment services is happening from a post-Brexit U.K. Not even a tectonic decoupling can stop U.K. fintech, it seems.
  • Yalo raises $50M for conversational commerce: Here’s a tech startup round that typifies the year. Did it raise less than a year ago? Yes. Did the company have funding find it, as opposed to the other way around? Yes. And did COVID accelerate its business? Yes. Yalo is a wager that the way we buy online is changing, a technology story if we’ve ever heard of one. And it’s one that venture capitalists are lining up to bet on.
  • Skiff raises $3.7M for encrypted Google Docs: That’s the pitch, per our own Zack Whittaker. Essentially, Skiff mimics the familiar features of Google Docs, but with end-to-end encryption. As a fan of privacy, I dig the project.
  • Treet raises $2.8M to help brands resell their own stuff: The online resale market is huge. ThreadUp is public now, as is Poshmark. But Treet is betting that there is still room in the market for more tech, namely its plan to get brands involved in their own resale market. It isn’t the richest startup around, but given the sheer number of brands out there, it has a pretty huge TAM to grow into.

Finally, African fintech OPay is in the process of raising a huge new round. The investment could help push the continent’s 2021 venture capital totals to new heights, based on data TechCrunch reported earlier in the week.

7 questions to ask before relocating your startup to Florida

Cities like Miami, Pittsburgh and Austin have been drawing talent and wealth from Silicon Valley for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend.

In recent months, many investors and entrepreneurs have noisily departed for Miami, citing the region’s favorable business climate and quality of life. It’s always good to consider one’s options, but before booking a moving van for the Sunshine State — or any emerging tech hub, for that matter — here are some basic questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

We’re not going to touch on the Amazon-MGM deal more here in the Big Tech section, leaving us room for all sorts of other news:

  • Facebook is looking into allowing users of both the Big Blue App and Instagram to hide social like counts. Which is great for your mental health, we suspect, if awful for those of us with overdeveloped competitive urges.
  • Visa is rebounding from its pre-nuptial breakup with fintech unicorn Plaid by building a vetted list of fintech startups that its friends and other customers may want to leverage. In a sense, it’s a way for startups to get a stamp of approval from Visa, and possibly more clients in the process. What’s in it for Visa? More digital payments. That’s good for a company that does lots of payments work, we reckon.
  • GM and Lockheed are working on the next American lunar vehicle. It is very, very American to have the progenitors of the consumer Hummer and various weapons of death build our next extraplanetary go-kart. And it’s good that we may go back to the moon? It’s more than time.

To round out the Big Tech section today, OpenAI is out in the market with a $100 million fund to invest in startups. And Microsoft is partnering with the company and putting funds into the capital pool. It feels like ages ago that Microsoft told me that it wasn’t getting into the VC game because the returns would not prove material to its asset base. That wasn’t the point and the company seems to have figured that out.

TechCrunch reports that OpenAI’s Sam Altman of Y Combinator fame said that the fund “plan[s] to make big early bets on a relatively small number of companies, probably not more than 10.” Something to watch out for.

TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing

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Have you recently worked with an email marketer? We want to hear about your experience!
Fill out the survey here.

TechCrunch wants to help startups find the right expert for their needs. To do this, we’re building a shortlist of the top growth marketers.

The answers to this survey will help shape our editorial coverage as we begin to dive into email tools, privacy laws and more! Find more details at techcrunch.com/experts.

TC Eventful

TechCrunch’s virtual transportation event, TC Sessions: Mobility, is just two weeks away. Join us to discover crucial trends shaping this rapidly expanding sector and find out how technology including artificial intelligence and cloud-based services will define what’s possible. The fun starts on June 9, so grab your ticket before this Friday with code DAILYCRUNCH and save 50% on your ticket at TechCrunch.com/mobility.

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: Before the pandemic, Expensify made remote work cool and profitable

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Welcome to Daily Crunch for May 25, 2021. Whether you are a developer, a startup fanatic or merely someone with wanderlust, we have something for everyone today. Well, except for disappointed investors in Lordstown Motors. They are stuck holding the bag today after the American electric vehicle company announced a pretty awful set of earnings.

But for the rest of us, there’s quite a lot of tech and startup news to enjoy. Let’s get to it! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • TechCrunch’s deep dive into Expensify continues: Ahead of its IPO, TechCrunch is digging into Expensify’s growth from startup to unicorn, with our latest entry discussing how the company shed its “Silicon Valley arrogance” to go global.
  • $300M for vertical farming: Startups shaking up the agricultural world is no longer a surprising idea, but the recent Bowery Farms round did make us sit up and take note. The company is now worth $2.3 billion, and its “vertically farmed produce is now available in 850 grocery stores.”
  • Venture capital’s global march continues: New data from Africa indicates that the continent’s historically lagging venture capital results are making up for lost time. Tage Kene-Okafor reports that VC activity in Africa could reach “between $2.25 billion and $2.8 billion” this year. That would be a new record.

Startups and VC

$26M for Airbyte, which is working to better connect data to where it’s needed: Having data is one thing, but startups are starting to get into not only storing data, but also how it gets ingested (Monte Carlo is working on that), and making sure it’s moved to where it’s needed. That’s where Airbyte comes in. And the company’s latest round comes just months after it raised a $5.6 million seed deal.

We asked our own Ron Miller what induced him to cover the round. Here’s what he had to say: “What attracted me to this round was the fact that the founders were using open source to drive the development of a community of users, then worrying about monetization down the road.”

Twilio opens wallet for Hyro: Whenever a company well known for leading a sea change in the tech world cuts a check, we tend to take notice. Recall when Salesforce was hip; its investments made waves. Today, Twilio is the BigCo in question, and Hyro the startup it is backing.

Per our own Jordan Crook, Hyro “calls itself an adaptive communications platform, which essentially means that customers use plug-and-play tools to get information to end users in a conversational way.” Very cool.

$50M for Whatnot, which wants to livestream e-commerce: Look, if you are not into buying things, Whatnot is not going to be your jam. But if you are, it has a neat take on e-commerce that is popular around the world, but has yet to take off in North America. Notably this round comes mere months after Whatnot raised $20 million.

Something something real-life NFTs?: What happens when you cross a startup that wants to bring blockchain to the real estate market and NFTs? You get this: Propy. The startup in question, is “auctioning a real apartment as an NFT.” I don’t get it! But maybe that’s the point.

$65M for social engineering-fighting Tessian: U.K.-based Tessian is a cybersecurity company, which means that of course it raised a huge new round. The cybersecurity market is hotter than all heck given waves arms around at all the breaches lately. But what makes Tessian neat is that it is taking on the human side of things by “flagging problematic [usage] patterns [that] could signify risky stuff is happening.”

Brian Chesky describes a faster, nimbler post-pandemic Airbnb

Managing Editor Jordan Crook interviewed Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to discuss the future of travel and what it was like leading the world’s biggest hospitality startup during a global pandemic.

“Our business initially dropped 80% in eight weeks. I say it’s like driving a car. You can’t go 80 miles an hour, slam on the brakes and expect nothing really bad to happen.

“Now imagine you’re going 80 miles an hour, slam on the brakes, then rebuild the car kind of while still moving and then try to accelerate into an IPO, all on Zoom.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Today was Microsoft’s Build conference, the second time that the annual Redmond developer confab took place virtually. But before we get into that, a short note on autonomous deliveries.

Getting stuff brought to your house without human power is a long-running technology dream. Remember those Amazon drones that everyone got super stoked about and then we never heard from again (not once, but twice)? Or the cute Postmates robot? Well, there’s another set of players in the space, namely JD.com and Meituan. TechCrunch has the latest on their self-driving delivery efforts.

Back to Build — oh boy was there a lot of news. From top to bottom, Microsoft is bringing more Azure services to Kubernetes, new tools for developers building on top of Teams, updates to its Edge browser as Internet Explorer shuffles off this mortal coil, enterprise Azure support for PyTorch, and, my personal favorite, the company is leveraging GPT-3 (which I think is super cool) to help people code in natural language.

I used to be a Microsoft beat reporter. I kinda miss those days. It’s a huge company with a finger in nearly every pie, which makes covering it surprisingly horizontal. Regardless, enjoy Frederic’s coverage!

 

Community

Some of us have started traveling again … revenge travel, if you will. Our own Jordan Crook chatted with Airbnb’s CEO and we asked him if he thinks “the trends we’re seeing in travel right now, like more rural destinations and decreased business travel, are here to stay?” See what he had to say here and tell us what you think here.

Do you like data? How about BIG Data? Come hang out with us on Clubhouse and chat about our recent Extra Crunch article on the topic this Thursday at 9 a.m. PDT/12 p.m. EDT. Need a Clubhouse invite? We got you; just swing on by the Discord server and ask.

TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing

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Who do you turn to when you need to know how to lay out your content, how to improve your open rates or for general email marketing advice?

TechCrunch wants to find the top growth marketers in tech! We’re looking to founders for their recommendations on email marketers.

Fill out the survey here.

This feedback will help shape our editorial coverage moving forward, so make sure your voice is heard. Find more details at techcrunch.com/experts.

#daily-crunch, #newsletter, #tc

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Daily Crunch: Police search 2 Twitter offices in India after politician receives warning label

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Welcome back to Daily Crunch. It’s Monday, May 24, and all I can think about is how much I want a Surface Duo now that it can do two-screen gaming. And one of those new iMacs. I don’t need either, of course, but that doesn’t stop my coveting both of the gadgets. Alas.

Regardless, it was a super busy start to the week, with lots of startup funding rounds, more in the long-running saga of governments trying to control social media platforms, even more IPO news and the latest troubles with Tesla. Let’s cut the chatter and dive in. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Governments vs. Tech: Indian police tied to the central government showed up at two different Twitter offices today, in what appeared to be an intimidation effort following Twitter’s decision to not unlabel a tweet from a member of the current ruling party as manipulated media.

A few things here. First, India is not alone in trying to force social media companies to behave as local governments want them to. That said, what the current Indian government is doing is particularly egregious and doesn’t bode well for the country’s tech ecosystem as a whole.

  • Tesla owes Norway: American electric car darling Tesla appears to be in hot water with Norway after a “Norwegian conciliation council” ordered the company to pay $16,000 each to thousands of Model S owners after “it found that a software update led to longer charging times.” Ouch. Tesla will have to sell lots of American regulatory credits to cover that loss. Norway is a key market for EVs.
  • U.S. cities buy abuse-linked tech: From the “you should read this” files, the latest report from our own Zack Whittaker and IPVM states that “at least a hundred U.S. counties, towns and cities have bought Chinese-made surveillance systems that the U.S. government has linked to human rights abuses.” Not good.

Startups and VC

As always we’re picking and choosing the best rounds from the day, so feel free to scrounge around the blog if you need even more!

Solidus Labs raises $20M for crypto-snooping: As the value of cryptocurrencies rose in the past year, so too did business at Solidus Labs, which detects “volume and price manipulation” among bitcoin and its brethren. Per its CEO, Asaf Meir, his company saw a “400% increase in inbound demand over 2020.” That sounds about right. Also, Solidus should drop a monthly report on the level of manipulation on every exchange and crypto. That would rule.

Fireflies.ai raises $14M to record, transcribe and connect your meetings: Former Acceleprise company Fireflies is building software that will record and transcribe your meetings, and then connect the text — and perhaps the embedded tasks — to other bits of software. It’s interesting, and growing like a weed. So Khosla helped put $14 million into it.

Mono raises $2M to power African fintech: From building the Plaid for Africa to “power the internet economy in Africa,” Mono is not short on vision. And now it has had its accounts refreshed to pursue its plans to “[streamline] various financial data in a single API for companies and third-party developers.” APIs are cool. Fintech is cool. Fintech APIs are extra cool. That’s our take.

Flat6Labs raises $13.2M to fund Egyptian startups: This is fund news, but it’s small enough that it fits inside the startup section today. In short, since 2011 Flat6Labs has been an accelerator in Egypt and Tunisia. And now it has a new checkbook to play with.

Inside Zeta Global’s IPO: Finally from the startup world today, Zeta Global is going public. It’s an offering that could set the tone for the martech world for some time to come. So, we dug into its numbers a bit tardily to figure out just what Zeta has that public investors might want.

When to walk away from a VC who wants to invest in your startup

Ofri Ben-Porat flew from London to NYC to meet potential investors, but at the last minute, one canceled, claiming illness. Moments later, he received a DocSend push notification informing him that said VC had just opened the pitch deck he’d sent days before.

Undeterred, he showed up anyway and pretended he hadn’t received their email. The discussion went well; after he flew home, the VCs offered pre-terms and due diligence, “but ultimately, I didn’t feel right taking money from them,” says Ben-Porat.

Securing the right amount of funding at the right moment can make or break a startup, but founders who can’t identify red flags — or worse, ignore them — will live to regret it.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

What has a zillion hands and likes to copy its friends? Facebook! This time, however, Facebook could be doing something interesting. TechCrunch dug through some creator-friendly feature work that Big Blue is putting into its TikTok clone. So it’s still running the copy machine at full tilt, just with a few upgrades.

Turning back to Apple, not everything is M1 chips and purple iPhones. Some things are less good at the Cupertino-based technology leviathan. Today TechCrunch reported on a few different macOS vulnerabilities that, frankly, don’t sound good. What’s the old adage? Buy a PC; they just work?

In happier Apple news, the company has a pile of new software updates for your enjoyment, especially if you are an iPhone or iPad user.

Don’t fret, Microsoft fans, we have something for you as well. Namely a review of the new Surface Laptop 4. It’s pretty darn good, keeping all its predecessor’s weaknesses and strengths, with new guts.

Wrapping, ByteDance has another chart-topping app; Airbnb is doubling down on guest flexibility, though we have questions; SiriusXM is partnering with TikTok on a new channel; and SensorTower is making sure that there is at least some M&A to report on.

TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing

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TechCrunch Experts is still collecting survey responses to help us identify the top email marketers in tech!

At this time, we’re not looking for self-nominations — we’re only seeking nominations from clients. We want to hear all about your experience and how you found the right expert for your needs. Fill out the survey here.

We’re excited to move this project forward. Visit techcrunch.com/experts to find out more!

TC Eventful

Last year, we held our first dedicated space startup event, TC Sessions: Space, featuring some of the industry’s top founders and leaders, including Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, Lockheed Martin’s Lisa Callahan, Amazon’s Dave Limp, NASA’s Kathy Lueders and many more. This year, we’re excited to announce we’re doing it again with TC Sessions: Space 2021, happening virtually December 14-15.

TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 is right around the corner of your calendar (June 9). If you want to place your ground-breaking, edge-cutting, envelope-pushing (no extra charge for clichés) early-stage startup in front of the world’s leading mobility movers, shakers and makers you gotta hustle. You have just one week left to buy one of our remaining three Startup Exhibitor Packages.

#daily-crunch, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: Snap spends more than $500M to acquire AR display startup WaveOptics

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Welcome to Daily Crunch for May 21, 2021. Closing out the week, bitcoin dropped sharply today on (more?) news from China about possible restrictions on cryptocurrencies more broadly. Depending on your priors, the most recent news is purely FUD, or it’s indication that Bitcoin and friends are terrible inflation hedges. Pick your poison! Regardless, we have a grip of startup news to get to, so off we go! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Snap spends a half billion on AR: Yesterday’s news from consumer photo giant Snap didn’t stop with the company plunking down $500 million for WaveOptics, which we reported “makes the waveguides and projectors used in AR glasses.” That sure sounds like Snap gearing up for eventual mass production? Right?
  • Startups heart farming: TechCrunch covered a huge $65.5 million Series B for Indonesian startup TaniHub Group today. Part of what it does is loan capital to farmers ahead of their harvests. In related news, ProducePay raised $43 million earlier this week to do something similar in Latin America. There’s notable startup activity, then, at the intersection of agtech and fintech.
  • Mobile gaming is bigger than you thought: Did you know that former gaming darling Zynga is in the midst of a comeback? Mobile gaming, its core focus, had a huge 2020, leading to the company posting record Q1 results. Riding the same way is Jam City, another mobile gaming shop is going public. More here.

Startups and VC

To round out the week, how about a few smaller venture capital rounds? We have a number from today that are well worth our time:

Secai Marche raises $1.4M for farm-to-table food distribution: We don’t cover enough Japanese startups, frankly, but here’s to doing better. Tokyo-based Secai Marche is building a B2B “logistics platform for farmers that sell to restaurants, hotels and other” food and beverage companies, and we think it’s neat. Rakuten and Beyond Next supplied the capital.

Mio raises $1M to bring social commerce to rural Vietnam: Quickly growing e-commerce market Vietnam is seeing rising penetration in major cities. Mio wants to bring e-commerce to smaller cities and rural areas. Per our reporting, it is “building a reseller network and logistics infrastructure that can offer next-day delivery to Tier 2 and 3 cities.” Our present may be someone else’s future, so it’s swell to see startups bring the latest to more folks.

To round out our round coverage today, a slightly larger deal for a mental-health focused service:

Wysa raises $5.5M for AI-powered mental health: This is at a minimum cool on paper. We’ll have to get some time with the service as it evolves through time, but TechCrunch reports that “Jo Aggarwal, the founder and CEO of Wysa, is hoping you’ll find it easier to confide in a robot. Or, put more specifically, “‘emotionally intelligent’ artificial intelligence.” I, for one, welcome our robot mental-health overlords. Jokes aside, there is a therapist shortage in the world, and if Wysa can help more folks handle their mental health better, we’re all for it.

5 predictions for the future of e-commerce

The United States is one of the world’s most advanced economies, but until quite recently, South Korea and China had much higher e-commerce penetration.

American consumers and companies are closing that gap. In 2016, the percentage of total retail spend where the goods were bought and sold online in the U.S. was about 8%. Today, that figure is closer to 17%.

Despite the last two decades of disruption, we’re still in the early days of e-commerce. But as more merchants of every size start making their goods and services available online, we’ve reached an inflection point.

In an exclusive report for Extra Crunch, Ethan Choi, a partner at Accel, offers five well-researched predictions about where e-commerce is heading in terms of D2C and the overall enablement landscape.

“We’re entering what we at Accel believe is ‘the golden age of D2C e-commerce,’” says Choi.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Today we have to stretch the Big Tech portion of this newsletter to include entities even larger than the largest technology companies, namely governments.

The Indian government is mad at tech companies yet again. This time it’s Twitter’s turn. Per TechCrunch, New Delhi “has expressed strong objection to Twitter for classifying tweets by Indian politicians as ‘manipulated media,’ and separately asked social media firms to remove posts that refer to an ‘Indian variant’ of the coronavirus.”

A few thoughts here: One, Twitter is going to have to navigate an increasingly complicated global climate for free speech in general. And figure out how to handle governments’ reactions to its decisions on labeling content. That’s going to be hard. And asking a social service to blanket-ban a particular phrase is going to be essentially impossible. After all, even in China, where banned phrases on social media are common, individuals have found myriad ways around the restrictions. So, good luck, Indian government.

On a related note, if you are interested in privacy more generally, what’s going on in the European Union regarding data protection is fascinating.

Moving back to the world of corporate news, Spotify is finally bringing offline listening to the Apple Watch. For runners, this is big news. Our own Brian Heater is hype about the update.

To close us out today, the Equity podcast team has thoughts on the growth in corporate “media” and what it means for unicorns and other large technology companies.

Community

Two quick things heading into the weekend: Ford’s new electric truck looks cool, but you, our readers, are hodling out for Tesla’s Cyber Truck. If you’re a founder of a startup of any stage and want to try your pitch out on some really cool investors … then Extra Crunch Live is the place to go. Check out this week’s pitch by Capri Money. From the audience to the stage, just like that! See you there next week.

TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing

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We’re thrilled with the responses to our survey about the top email marketers. It’s not too late to weigh in: Fill out the survey here.

In addition to giving founders who respond to the survey a discount to a new Extra Crunch subscription, we’ll be featuring a couple of nominations in Daily Crunch starting next week!

If you’re a growth marketer, pass the survey on to your clients — we’d love to hear from them!

To find out more details about this project and how we plan to use it to shape our editorial coverage, visit techcrunch.com/experts.

TC Eventful

The Extra Crunch Live party carries on into June, with new episodes connecting you with some of tech’s biggest names.

#daily-crunch, #newsletters, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: Ford’s powerhouse F-150 Lightning pickup can actually power your house

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

It’s Thursday, everyone, and the technology and startup worlds were a mixed bag today. We learned about the final death of Internet Explorer (RIP), new AR glasses from Snap, fresh cryptocurrency rules for the United States, and even took the time to look into all the pizza-robot startups. Hell, Ford even made the cut with its new electric truck that I secretly covet (it can power your house if the grid goes down!).

As always, we’ve collected the three key stories for the day below and then have a rapid-fire breakdown of startup and Big Tech news to follow. Let’s go! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Consumer financial technology is so hot: With Berlin-based investing app Trade Republic raising $900 million and Robinhood’s partial, first-quarter results looking strong, your Twitter feed may feel all fintech, all the time. And with good reason, as startups in the niche are seeing huge customer demand, which is, in turn, making investors both public and private salivate.
  • E-commerce roll-ups are raising jillions: The world is moving toward e-commerce at a rapid clip, which is leading to a host of startups raising piles of cash to buy, and consolidate brands that sell on popular digital platforms. It’s an arms race to own your wallet, and Factory14 just put together $200 million for its own effort. (More here, and here.)
  • Governments are not thrilled with cryptocurrencies: On the heels of news concerning fresh crackdowns on Bitcoin and friends in China, the United States is looking “to put new requirements in place that would make it easier for the government to see how money is moving around, including digital currencies,” Taylor reports.

Startups and VC

The startup world is awash in capital these days, so we cannot get to all the latest venture capital rounds in one bloc. Here, however, are a few favorites from the day:

Eano raises $6M for its home renovation software: Home renovations are hard because most of us are not trained project managers. Eano wants to make the process simpler for both homeowners and the folks hired to do the renovation work. Thank god.

Workrise raises $300M for its workforce management platform: With Procore’s IPO going well today, and Workrise raising $300 million at roughly the same time, it appears to be a great time to build products for less sexy markets. Workrise, for example, “connects skilled laborers with infrastructure and energy companies looking to staff and manage projects efficiently.” With Franklin Templeton now an investor, it looks like it’s headed for an IPO in not too much time.

Pitch raises $85M to help folks build shareable presentations: The push to build and fund software that may fit neatly into a remote or hybrid-work world continues today, with Pitch announcing a huge round at a $600 million valuation for what Ingrid describes as the “ability for people to create, collaborate on and share presentations with each other through an online-based interface.” Frankly that sounds cool.

Maven raises $20M for its cohort-based professional classes: The education technology VC rush continues, with Andreessen Horowitz leading a $20 million round into Maven, which Natasha reports “helps professionals teach cohort-based classes.” Notably Maven raised money via equity crowdfunding earlier in its life.

Kredito raises $4M to get loans for LatAm small businesses: The fintech lending boom that has impacted consumers (BNPL and the like) and business is not stopping at the borders of the United States. Kredito is testament to that fact, putting together a new round to help get SMBs in Latin America access to credit.

Chasing hype is human nature: The tyranny of startup trends

The fear of missing out (FOMO) spreads faster than wildfire and often overwhelms rational decision-making.

In the VC community, investors look for lessons from disruptive startups they can use to identify other potential winners. But hype leads to bad decision-making, rushed due diligence and wishful thinking.

When and if those startups actually do well, “irrational FOMO takes over” because the initial assessment was based on bad information, says Victor Echevarria, a partner at Jackson Square Ventures. “Trends are addictive; to remain disciplined and avoid hype is to deny our innate instincts.”

It’s natural for investors to follow the crowd, but in the race to the bottom, FOMO can be high-octane fuel.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Today’s Big Tech news comes from Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Snap. And TikTok. Enjoy:

Twitter’s epic product run continues: The product news parade from Twitter continued today, with the social media company announcing a revamp to user profiles and the restarting of its verification process. Between a rapid-fire rollout of its Clubhouse-competing Spaces product, or its media push with Revue and subscriptions, Twitter has been on a roll.

Google didn’t learn from Microsoft’s retail experiment: Big Search is following Redmond into the IRL retail game that the latter company already gave up on. Which is a bummer as I kinda dug Microsoft stores. Regardless, read all about Google’s impending meatspace storefront here.

Microsoft lays Internet Explorer to rest: The death date of Internet Explorer has been fixed for June, 2022. So you have that long to fool around with the venerable, if comedically aged internet browser. Few will miss Internet Explorer, but it was a pretty key product in the rise of the web. Kinda like Yahoo. Even if Yahoo will ride again (again). Again.

TikTok builds out way-late anti-bullying tooling: As the founder of its parent company steps down amidst a Chinese government crackdown on that country’s tech industry, TikTok is rolling out some long-awaited features that should make its service a bit better to use. At long last.

TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing

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Have you recently worked with an email marketer? We want to hear about your experience!

Fill out the survey here.

TechCrunch wants to help startups find the right expert for their needs. To do this, we’re building a shortlist of the top growth marketers.

The answers to this survey will help shape our editorial coverage as we begin to dive into email tools, privacy laws and more! Find more details at techcrunch.com/experts.

TC Eventful

We’re excited to announce that Mate Rimac will be joining us at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021, a one-day virtual event that is scheduled June 9. We have a lot of ground to cover, from how he started a company outside of a traditional incubator or VC network to his upcoming 1,914 hp electric hypercar and plans for the company’s future.

#daily-crunch, #newsletter, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: India gives WhatsApp one week to revoke its updated privacy policy

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Happy Wednesday, friends! It was another super-busy day in the tech world. I had my sights on Squarespace’s public debut, as well as the value of Coinbase’s stock, which may be tracking the price of bitcoin a bit more literally than some folks expected. And if you are a long-term crypto holder, congrats on the buying opportunity. If you are a short-term crypto holder, yes, you can have a drink now regardless of what time it is. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Whatsapp v. India: The scrap between Facebook’s Whatsapp service and the Indian government continued today as the nation-state “once again directed the Facebook-owned company to withdraw the planned update.”
  • Telehealth + fertility: Famous for its initial men’s health products, Ro (née Roman) purchased Modern Fertility today, a fertility-focused startup founded in 2017. Our question is how Ro’s telehealth approach will fit with reproductive health.
  • Squarespace flops: Squarespace’s direct listing set a reference price of $50, valuing the company sharply lower than its final private price ($10 billion, set earlier this year). Then its stock fell further.

From the TechCrunch Events side of things, Tess Hatch, a vice president and partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, is coming to Disrupt. Which is very hype.

Startups and VC

We’re shaking things up today and talking about product first and venture capital rounds second. Sound good?

First up is Otter.ai’s new product: Otter Assistant. It can transcribe your Zoom calls. For reporters, this is huge as a note-taking tool. But it will likely find even broader remit in the business world. Don’t forget that Otter raised $50 million just a few months ago. (For more on the voice transcription space, check out Deepgram’s 2020-era funding round.)

Second in the product category, Liquid Instruments has raised $13.7 million to bring its Moku:Go product to classrooms and labs everywhere. What does the Go do? It “combines several commonly used tools into one compact package, saving room on your workbench or classroom while also providing a modern, software-configurable interface,” TechCrunch reported.

Moving onto some purely financial coverage from startup-land, here are four neat rounds we dug into more deeply:

$20M for Assignar: Construction tech is a busy sector, not merely because the construction sector is itself rather active; the digital transformation push that we’ve seen around the business is also touching down in the world of mortar and bricks. Its software helps contractors and subcontractors “connect to the field and vice versa,” according to its CEO Sean McCreanor.

  • Why do we care? Fellow construction tech player Procore is going public as we speak. So the market that Assignar is playing in is active in both early- and late-stage terms.

$150M for Formlabs: 3D printing has come of age, it appears, as Massachusetts-based Formlabs closed a nine-figure round for its printing tech. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led the round, which values the company at around $2 billion.

  • Why do we care? Formlabs wants to improve 3D printing machines while also making them cheaper. If it can pull that off, whole sectors could be shaken up.

$50M for Super: If you own a home, you are familiar with how rapidly entropy will ensure that you have a regular stream of repair bills. Why not convert those into a monthly subscription? That’s what Super is working to do, and now it has cash to pursue its vision after growing 7x since last April.

  • Why do we care? The subscription push is far more than merely an enterprise-software affair, or something related to consumer entertainment. Anything as a service is where we are in 2021.

$250M for Pipe: Pipe is a platform that allows companies to sell their future, predictable revenue streams to investors. It’s best known for working with SaaS companies, but is expanding into other business types as well.

  • Why do we care? Pipe has been growing at a torrid pace, and raising capital at a similar clip. It’s either onto something super huge, or the market for financial products is just bonkers for now. Either way, it’s an interesting option for software startups hunting for cash.

5 innovative fundraising methods for emerging VCs and PEs

According to David Teten, founder of Versatile VC, five new strategies are gaining traction among fund managers looking to raise capital from family offices and high-net-worth individuals:

  • Online communities and virtual events.
  • Platforms that help other investors access your fund.
  • Soliciting under the 506(c) designation.
  • Launching a rolling fund.
  • Crowdfunding from retail investors into a general partnership.

In a summary of a class he taught for the Oper8r VC fund accelerator, Teten offers actionable advice for anyone who wants to connect with pre-qualified investors.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing

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Extra Crunch is looking to founders for recommendations on email marketers to help us build a short list of top growth marketers in tech!

If you’re a founder and have an email marketer you enjoyed working with, we want to hear from you! If you’re a growth marketer, please pass this along to your clients.

Fill out the survey here.

We’ll share great recommendations publicly so more startups can find the help they need. Find more details at techcrunch.com/experts.

Big Tech Inc.

Today from the world of Big Tech, we’re pausing to listen to our own Editor in Chief Matthew Panzarino discuss the new iPad Pro, which he thinks has amazing hardware:

  • Screen: “The mini-LED-driven Liquid Retina XDR display is probably the best display that’s ever shipped on a mobile computer. It’s just fantastic.”
  • Speed: “The M1 chip is absolutely blistering.”
  • Imaging: “The new iPad Pro cameras are pretty fantastic; both front and back are now very usable and the new front camera especially benefits from an increase in resolution and new wide-angle optics.”
  • Keyboard: “The overall feel of the keyboard is still great, a really nice typing experience.”

But then there’s the software. Which Panzarino is not stoked about. It’s aging, he argues:

The other side of this coin that isn’t so shiny is the iPad’s aging software. It’s just as good as it was when I wrote my review of the iPad Pro in 2020 — at which point my conclusions were “you can adapt to it but it could be better.” That was a year ago. As someone who has used it as my only portable machine for the last two and a half years, I can tell you that this is a very long time to wait for a big leap forward in capability.

I have a very simple ask for the iPad’s software: I want to feel the same energy, vivacity and pure performance for the sake of peak performance that the hardware side exhibits.

Apple has now come to the crossroad that Microsoft tried to meet with Windows 8 and failed; how do you build an OS that serves either two form factors (touch and mobile, and desktop) well, or two OSs that can share enough third-party software so that neither is neglected? We’ll know more at WWDC.

Community

Turns out nothing announced this week will get you to move over to Android from iOS. Fair enough. Now we ask … what do you think is going on with cryptocurrency?

Have some thoughts to share? A story idea? Looking for a new gig? Come hang out with us on the Discord server.

#daily-crunch, #newsletter, #tc

0

Daily Crunch: AT&T’s $43B WarnerMedia spinoff will create a new content colossus

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Welcome to Daily Crunch for Monday, May 17. We have a lot to get to, so we’ll keep our introduction incredibly curt and simply note that early-stage founders can still apply to the upcoming TechCrunch Battlefield event for another week or so. Neesha has the details here. — Alex

TechCrunch Top 3

Today the biggest stories concern the never-ending flow of cash to insurtech, the ability of software companies to post accelerating revenue growth, and the market leverage of major tech platforms:

Jerry raises $28M: Adding another name to the list of startups working on building insurance marketplaces, Jerry has a twist on the model and a huge new infusion of cash. The startup wants to help consumers do more than just find insurance, pursuing the superapp concept, but in a new direction. For more on insurtech marketplaces and their growth, head here. (Insurtech is super hot in aggregate, it’s worth remembering.)

Monday.com is going public: We’ve long known that corporate communications and planning startup Monday.com was north of $100 million in annual recurring revenue. Now, at last, it has filed to go public. So we ripped into the numbers, which show accelerating revenue adds. More importantly than the raw math, however, was the implicit point from the news that the IPO markets remain open, and for more than just the latest SPAC deals. That’s good news for late-stage startups everywhere.

Apple adds lossless for no cost: Spotify wants to charge for higher-quality streaming. Apple has decided not to. And that’s not great news for the smaller company because it needs to boost its revenue per user over time. Apple, which has infinite money, does not. The Spotify-Apple war is a notable one to watch because it pits an incumbent upstart against an upstart incumbent in the music streaming space. Let’s see how Spotify fires back.

Startups and VC

It appears that every startup in the world just raised more money, so here’s a rundown of the latest deals in quick-fire fashion, ordered by size:

Fave raises $2.2M to connect fans and creators: Founder Jacquelle Amankonah Horton wants to close the space between fans and the creators they love. Given the general market focus in recent quarters on creators, the company makes sense.

Merge raises $4.5M for its HR and finance API: Merge offers a single API to connect products to all sorts of finance and HR products. It’s akin to a super API. And with what we presume is a developer-led sales motion and on-demand pricing, it’s right in the middle of the current startup business model zeitgeist.

Telda raises $5M for Egyptian neobanking: The Telda round is cool not only because we don’t cover Egyptian tech enough, but also because there’s Sequoia money in it. American VCs are looking farther and farther afield for their next deal.

Houm raises $8M for LatAm home sales: TechCrunch described Houm as “an all-in-one platform that helps homeowners rent and sell their properties in” Latin America. The recent Y Combinator grad took part in the accelerator’s winter 2021 batch.

Code Ocean raises $21M for collaborative data science: In short, Code Ocean provides data jockeys with a “small-scale container platform that lets you wrap up all the necessary components of your data and analysis in an easily shared format,” Devin Coldewey reports. And now it has a lot more money to chase that vision.

Ankorstore raises $102M to supply indie stores: Hailing from France, Ankorstore provides wholesale items to smaller retailers. And Tiger just poured capital into the company, meaning that the startup has some of the most intriguing financial backing out there today.

One more hardware SPAC: Bright Machines is going public via a SPAC. Our own Ron Miller helped us dig into the company and its accounting results.

The battle for voice recognition inside vehicles is heating up

Until recently, integrating affordable voice-recognition software into an automobile was something from science fiction.

But last year, the percentage of vehicles offering in-car connected services reached 45%. By 2024, analysts predict cars with voice recognition will comprise 60% of the market.

Considering how much time many of us spend behind the wheel, there’s an infinite number of applications for the technology. For our latest Extra Crunch market map, we sized up the general market opportunity before creating a roster of major players and reaching out to investors to see where they’re placing bets.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Akin to the startup market, Big Tech was incredibly busy in the last few days, so here’s your run-through:

JD.com’s logistics subsidiary is going public: Good news from the Chinese startup market has been somewhat rare lately. Here’s some, which not only helps change the narrative a bit about the country’s tech scene, but also underscores how bonkers the global e-commerce market is.

SpaceX sent out 52 more Starlink satellites: Bring on rural, high-speed internet. So we can all move to Montana. (Please.)

GoJek and Tokopedia are GoTo Group: The expected combination of “Indonesia’s two biggest startups” is done, TechCrunch reports. GoJek, of course, is in the ride-hailing business, while Tokopedia is a marketplace. Now it’s a single, massive entity.

Microsoft makes Teams better for your parents: What happens when your Discord deal dies? Well, you make your current chat-video-groups service better for regular folks, it turns out. Aside from gaming, Teams may be Microsoft’s best shot at a consumer play that works out for some time.

Finally, BigTelco companies ditching media assets to de-lever ahead of higher infrastructure spend? Say no more, AT&T, we’re already hip to it. (Or they could just limit some shareholder return programs for a bit. You know?)

#daily-crunch, #tc

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Daily Crunch: Stripe buys Y Combinator alum Bouncer for undisclosed sum

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Wrapping the week here at Daily Crunch with a big thanks to Henry for taking over yesterday and a fist bump to everyone who has written in with notes on its format. We’re still tinkering, so your notes are read and (mostly) appreciated, even if we can’t respond to everyone.

Stick with us as we get this fully figured out. — Alex

TechCrunch Top 3

Coding school drama: The market for coding schools and bootcamps is not going to go away so long as there is an outsized market demand for developers that current educational methods can’t fulfill. But not every player in the market is doing well. Lambda School, for example, is in even more hot water this week.

VCs love edtech: While private investors are happily pouring capital into the edtech startup market, the share prices of many public edtech companies are under fire. That’s a sentiment gap that TechCrunch is keeping close tabs on. More here on the edtech venture market.

Apply to Startup Battlefield: There’s not a lot of time left to apply to the upcoming Disrupt Startup Battlefield. And we want to hear from you. Really. Many startups that have taken part in our free and fun and very public pitch-off have gone on to raise lots of capital or even go public. So hang out with us; we think you’re great!

Startups and VC

Stripe buys Bouncer: The progress of the yet-private Stripe as an online finance behemoth continued today with its purchase of Bouncer, a startup based in Brooklyn that TechCrunch reports has “built a platform to automatically run card authentications and detect fraud in card-based online transactions.” Fraud detection is a point of product differentiation among online payment companies, so this is a deal to watch.

Why aren’t more African startups going public? The SPAC boom is taking a host of American startups public, but not upstart tech companies from Africa. The real issue could simply be one of scale, it turns out. TechCrunch investigates.

SoftBank makes piles of money: Some of the bets that SoftBank has made on its own, and via its Vision Fund 1 and 2, have been clunkers. WeWork remains a byword for embarrassment. But the teleco and investing powerhouse has been on a heater lately, as TechCrunch’s Equity Podcast explored. How good were its results? Very, very well. More on its investing performance here.

Don’t leak customer account data: An exercise startup that competes with Peloton didn’t have its cybersecurity house in order. Echelon, TechCrunch reports, “had a leaky API that let virtually anyone access riders’ account information.” That’s all kinds of not good. And the news item explains why cybersecurity has been so hot lately. More tech everywhere means more potential vulnerabilities everywhere, as well.

5 ways to raise your startup’s PR game

By now, it’s widely understood that storytelling is the foundation for successful startup PR.

Tech journalists receive more pitches than we can count each day from very early-stage companies seeking to make a name for themselves, and, to be honest, most of them sound like they were written with language-prediction technology.

What most companies fail to grasp is that storytelling is everyone’s job, like product managers who write blog posts that give users real insights into the latest release. The same holds true for founders who take part in Reddit AMAs and engineers who join product Slack chats.

To make a splash and stay relevant, here are five actionable suggestions that won’t cost a dime to implement.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Wrapping up news from the biggest tech companies this week, a short digest of earnings results from companies that you care about is in order.

Coinbase met its pre-released Q1 2020 earnings expectations, posting both huge revenue and profit gains. In short, the first quarter was a huge win for the crypto trading house. It had the same sort of quarter that likely led to Robinhood filing to go public.

DoorDash blew the, er, doors off its own quarter, leading to its shares spiking by around 25% in today’s trading. That’s one hell of a result. Sure, DoorDash is worth a lot less than it was at its peak, but the company had a great day all the same.

Airbnb managed a roughly 2.5% gain today after reporting its own earnings yesterday. It also got an analyst upgrade to boot. In short, the company managed year-over-year revenue growth, but also detailed larger-than-anticipated losses thanks to some one-time items. Worth around $85 billion, Airbnb remains richly valued.

And then there was Alibaba, which has lost around a quarter-trillion in value since it got into a scrap with its local administration and swung to a loss after it was served with a multibillion dollar fine by the Chinese government. But the e-commerce giant’s $28.6 billion in total revenue was up 64% compared to its year-ago result. Hot dang.

Now you are all caught up! Have a lovely weekend, and we’ll see you again Monday afternoon.

#daily-crunch, #tc

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Daily Crunch: Lemonade says website security flaw that exposed customer data is ‘by design’

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

I interrupt your regularly scheduled Daily Crunch to announce that your regularly scheduled writer, one Alex Wilhelm, is out sick today. If the effects of his second shot subside by tomorrow, then he’ll be back with his commas. In the meantime, I have taken the reins and hope to be at least half as spirited. Let’s get on with it, shall we? — Henry

TechCrunch Top 3

Lemonade “DGAF”: Activist short seller Carson Block wrote a letter to the CEO of insurance marketplace Lemonade saying that he “accidentally discovered” a security flaw that exposed customers’ account data. Block told Zack that his firm is shorting the company’s stock “because it is clear Lemonade does not give a fuck about securing its customers’ sensitive personal information.” Strong words!

Google’s gotta pay in Italy: Natasha writes about the most recent European trouble Google finds itself in. Italy’s antitrust watchdog group slapped the company with a €100 million (or about US$123 million) for its Android Auto practices. Specifically, the AGCM says Google has prevented Enel X Italia, the maker of electric car charging app JuicePass, from inclusion in the platform. Google says it didn’t do anything wrong. Shrug.

Space adventures afoot: Japanese entrepreneur and billionaire Yusaku Maezawa will be passing the moon aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon by 2023. But he can’t wait to leave Earth. So to whet his space-travel whistle, Maezawa will head to the International Space Station as a client of Space Adventures on a Russian Soyuz rocket set to take off from Kazakhstan on December 8. And he’s taking his production assistant, Yozo Hirano, with him. That’s dedication.

Startups and VC

Vietnamese flexible pay startup Nano raises $3M seed round: Nano Technologies, a startup that lets workers in Vietnam access their earned wages immediately through an app called VUI, has raised $3 million in seed funding.

Legionfarm, pairing pro gamers with amateurs, raises $6 million Series A: The gaming platform that lets gamers play with pro players in their favorite games announced a $6 million Series A round.

Chef Robotics raises $7.7M to help automate kitchens: Chef Robotics raised a combined $7.7 million pre-seed and seed round, with the goal of helping automate certain aspects of food preparation. The company says its robotics and vision system is destined to increase production volume and enhance consistency, while removing some food waste from the process. Fast casual restaurants appear to be a key focus for this sort of tech.

Sylvera grabs seed backing from Index to help close the accountability gap around carbon offsetting: The U.K.-based startup is using satellite, radar and lidar data-fueled machine learning to bolster transparency around carbon offsetting projects in a bid to boost accountability and credibility. And it’s just grabbed $5.8 million in seed funding to do it.

SpecTrust raises millions to fight cybercrime with its no-code platform: Risk defense startup SpecTrust is emerging from stealth today with a $4.3 million seed raise to “fix the economics of fighting fraud” with a no-code platform that it says cuts 90% of a business’ risk infrastructure spend that responds to threats in “minutes instead of months.”

BluBracket nabs $12M Series A to expand source code security platform: The early-stage startup focuses on keeping source code repositories secure, even in distributed environments.

Alba Orbital’s mission to image the Earth every 15 minutes brings in $3.4M seed round: Alba Orbital raised the money to get its next satellites into orbit to provide Earth observation at intervals of 15 minutes rather than hours or days.

The hamburger model is a winning go-to-market strategy

Software startups that fail to reach product-market fit simply fade away, memorialized only by an inactive Twitter account and perhaps a stenciled sign in a now-vacant co-working space.

All product-led growth companies will reach the stage where their founders must figure out how to crack the code that allows them to vault to the next level and become a billion-dollar company. That’s where the “hamburger” go-to-market comes in.

The bottom bun is bottom-up GTM, the top bun represents enterprise sales and your product? That’s the meat.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Google Analytics is preparing for life after cookies by using its machine learning systems to model user behavior when cookies are not available. During her first interview as the new head of Google Analytics, Vidhya Srinivasan tells Frederic that this is the only way to go.

Amazon’s back with its Echo Buds, and this time, Brian’s not as unimpressed as he was last time. Progress! Read his review here.

When Discord launched its own Clubhouse-like voice event rooms, Stage Channels, in March, it set the stage for connecting folks to live events beyond their own communities. Today, the company announced all the pieces are in place to start helping people discover live events and the servers that host them. Think open mic nights and book clubs, says Taylor.

Elon Musk, the self-dubbed Technoking, is backpedaling on the company’s stance about bitcoin, writes Kirsten and Rebecca. The Tesla CEO announced yesterday in a tweet that he has suspended purchases of its electric vehicles with the cryptocurrency. The shift comes just weeks after the Tesla CFO said the company believes in the longevity of bitcoin, despite its volatility.

Acquisition corner: Walmart acquires virtual try-on startup Zeekit and PayPal buys returns logistics business Happy Returns.

Community

Polls are fun and we like hearing and learning from you. What have we learned this week? You’re not that excited about going back to an office, and you’re not too keen on Bird’s upcoming SPAC. Next up? Let us know what you think about Tesla’s move to pause accepting bitcoin as payment (then come chat about all of it on our Discord server).

#daily-crunch, #tc

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Daily Crunch: The early-stage tech talent crunch is real

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

By now everyone is familiar with the tech world’s talent crunch: Developers are scarce and expensive, while data scientists are maybe even scarcer and expensiver. Some folks I’ve spoken to think that rising acceptance of remote work may help reduce the supply-demand imbalance. Hell, every early-stage startup I’ve spoken to in weeks is remote-first. Many were born during COVID, but they all love the ability to hire anywhere in the world.

But if a more distributed workforce is not enough to lower the pain that many companies feel when it comes to attracting and then retaining technical talent, good news could be coming. The sibling product philosophies of no-code and low-code are not only attracting lots of venture attention, public companies that dabble with either are posting interesting results.

Perhaps the solution to needing lots more code is no code at all? — Alex

TechCrunch Top 3

Today’s TechCrunch Top 3 come from the three phases of startup life: Early stage, when startups are still getting their product and market in order. Late stage, when they are prepping for an eventual exit. And the exit stage, when a former startup is looking to spread its wings and fly the private markets.

  • The anti-venture movement is global: Today Mary Ann reported that Divibank, a Brazilian startup offering revenue-based financing to other startups, has raised $3.6 million in a seed round led by Better Tomorrow Ventures (BTV). TechCrunch thinks it could build something akin to the Clearbanc of Latin America.
  • London’s Lyst looks to list: When you raise a pre-IPO round, you’d best be heading toward the public markets. With fashion e-commerce app Lyst saying that its new $85 million funding round is pre-IPO money, well, we have big expectations.
  • Bird hopes to take flight: Bird is going public via a SPAC. TechCrunch has the big news here, and a more dorky financial analysis here. I helped write the latter. The short version is that a business-model shakeup is helping the scooter unicorn lose less money over time.

Startups and VC

Scootin’ into startup mode, TechCrunch covered a huge number of funding rounds in the last 24 hours, so what follows is a sampling of the most interesting. Enjoy!

For unicorns, how much does the route to going public really matter?

Natasha Mascarenhas and Alex Wilhelm recently hosted Yext CFO Steve Cakebread and Latch CFO Garth Mitchell on an episode of TechCrunch’s Equity podcast.

In their discussion, “The morality and efficacy of going public earlier,” the group discussed the myriad paths startups are taking to go public and assessed the pros and cons of each method, and, importantly, the potential impacts on employees and business operations.

“I think when money’s chasing money, you don’t want to be the last guy holding the money. You want to be the chase,” said Cakebread.

Since Latch is currently going public via a SPAC and Yext followed a traditional IPO route a few years ago, the discussion is heavily weighted toward experience, not opinion.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Turning to tech’s largest companies today, we have three things for you to chew on:

First, Waymo is losing key talent in a very public fashion. Kirsten reports that “Waymo’s chief financial officer Ger Dwyer and its head of automotive partnerships and corporate development Adam Frost,” both long-time execs, are “leaving this month.” The exits come after the company’s former CEO also departed.

I guess we’ll have to drive ourselves for a bit longer.

Next up is a story that came out yesterday, but we missed in the newsletter. But after burning up the TechCrunch analytics all day, I decided to make sure that you saw it. With the simply excellent headline Prime today, gone tomorrow: Chinese products get pulled from Amazon, Rita writes that several Chinese retailers have evaporated from the online megastore. “In total, the suspended accounts contribute over a billion dollars in gross merchandise value (GMV) to Amazon,” she reported.

Changes afoot at Amazon? We’ll have to see, but the news is driving mega-attention from, we presume, confused shoppers.

Finally, looping back to no-code for a hot second, Salesforce is only adding to its own efforts. It’s everywhere!

#daily-crunch, #newsletter, #tc

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Daily Crunch: Expensify’s hacker approach to enterprise software is paying off

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Today as we dig deep into Expensify, its history and its current ramp toward the public markets after reaching $100 million in ARR, a quick note on where we are in the world of exits.

If you are bored of IPOs, consider it a luxury. For years, the unicorn market was all hype and no liquidity. But in the last year or so, the public market has been a welcome and lucrative exit path for a host of unicorns. The same excitement that has led to record venture capital results in the private sector has been at play amongst public investors, boosting the value of many a former unicorn as they left their startup days behind them.

But an April pause led to some concern that the IPO market was cooling. News out today details an IPO climate that is warming once again. For Expensify, and other unicorns on the sidelines like Robinhood, it’s good news.

For one company in particular, warm IPO markets could not have come back at a better time. Let’s talk about Expensify.

A deep dive into Expensify ahead of its IPO

TechCrunch’s continuing series of deep dives on the most interesting startup companies continues this week, with the kickoff of our look at Expensify. Unlike some other companies we’ve profiled as part of our EC-1 series, like Tonal, perhaps, you’ve probably used Expensify’s software.

So you know the company in question. What you might not have known is just what a wild ride Expensify has been on during its startup life. From the introduction to the Expensify series, I present the following paragraph:

Most interestingly, this is a story about just not giving a damn about what anyone goddamn thinks, an approach to life and business that led to more than $100 million in annual revenue, and an IPO incoming on what looks to be a very quick timetable. Prodigious revenues, 10 million users and only 130 employees running the whole shebang — that’s a hell of an achievement in only 13 years.

You can read the first main piece here. The rest will be coming out over the next few weeks. Get hype!

Startups and venture capital

We have a lot to get through, so please excuse the following list of bullets:

4 lessons I learned about getting into Y Combinator (after 13 applications)

Can you imagine making 13 attempts at something before attaining a successful outcome?

Alex Circei, CEO and co-founder of Git analytics tool Waydev, applied 13 times to Y Combinator before his team was accepted. Each year, the accelerator admits only about 5% of the startups that seek to join.

“Competition may be fierce, but it’s not impossible,” says Circei. “Jumping through some hoops is not only worth the potential payoff but is ultimately a valuable learning curve for any startup.”

In an exclusive exposé for TechCrunch, he shares four key lessons he learned while steering his startup through YC’s stringent selection process.

The first? “Put your business value before your personal vanity.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

The tech giants

Tech’s bigger players have been busy today, giving us quite a lot to chew on. Facebook, for example, is taking fire from state lawyers arguing that its idea of building an Instagram for kids is a bad idea. Not that the complaints will stop Facebook from doing whatever it wants, but the level of criticism is notable. Facebook doesn’t have a lot of political goodwill to spend, these days.

Facebook is also following in Twitter’s footsteps in asking users to read articles before they share them. Because the world going digital has not yet stopped humans from being in need of chronic correction.

In order of descending market capitalization, Spotify is next on our list. The company is improving its social sharing capabilities, in essence boosting the ability of its users to share podcasts intelligently. As Sarah reports, “Spotify will also now allow users to share a time-stamped link to a podcast, which allows users to tune into a particular moment of the podcast episode.”

Thank everything, and it’s about time. Even if everyone who listens to my show uses Apple Podcasts.

Finally, enterprise storage, security and collaboration company Box is in the middle of a very public fight with an activist investor. In short, Box’s growth is slowing. While the company’s leadership is confident that it can restart its growth engine, outside parties want more control. Yoof.

Community

The fun thing about setting up something new like our Discord server is that it’s new. The tough thing about setting up something new (like the Discord server) is that it needs folks like you to come make it great. Join us! (New this week, a room about fintech and one dedicated to space!)

#daily-crunch, #tc

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Daily Crunch: A huge fintech exit as the week ends

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Our thanks to everyone who wrote in this week about the format changes to the newsletter! Feedback largely sorted into two themes: Some people really like the more narrative format, and some folks really want a more link-list styled missive. What follows is an attempt to balance both perspectives.

Starting today we’ll bold company names, so that you can more quickly pick out startups, add more bulleted points to sections, and, per a different piece of feedback, include more regular descriptors of companies that are not household names.

That said, we’re not going to abandon chatting with you every day, as TechCrunch is nothing if not full of things to say. So here’s a blend of what the new, updated Daily Crunch team had in mind, and your notes. A big thanks to everyone who wrote in!

Alex @alex on Twitter

A mega-exit for American fintech

The news that public fintech company Bill.com will buy Divvy, a Utah-based startup that helps small and midsized businesses manage their spend, was perhaps the biggest startup story of the week. Breaking late Thursday, the $2.5 billion transaction was long expected. Divvy had raised more than $400 million from PayPal Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, Insight Partners and Pelion Venture Partners.

TechCrunch covered the impending sale, rumors of which sprung up before Bill.com reported its Q1 earnings. To see the company drop the news at the same time as its earnings was not a surprise. For the burgeoning corporate payment space (more here on startups in the space like Ramp, Airbase and Brex).

I got to noodle on the financial results that Bill.com detailed regarding Divvy — they are pretty key metrics to help us value the startups that are competing to go public or find a similarly feathered corporate nest. In short, the corporate spend startup cohort is doing great. It’s even spawning new startups like Latin American-focused Clara, which raised $3.5 million earlier this year.

Broadly, the fintech market had a huge Q1 and is blasting its way toward a record venture capital year, like AI startups and the rest of the VC world.

Startups and venture capital

5 investors discuss the future of RPA after UiPath’s IPO

Much ink (erm, pixels) has been spilled about robotic process automation (RPA) recently, particularly in the wake of UiPath’s IPO last month.

But while some of the individuals Ron interviewed about the future of RPA believe the technology is in its “early infancy,” the pandemic increased attention toward things we can let robots handle for us. And it’s hard to argue that repetitive tasks like billing and spreadsheeting and paper-pushing should not be outsourced to robots.

“RPA allows companies to automate a group of highly mundane tasks and have a machine do the work instead of a human,” Ron writes. “Think of finding an invoice amount in an email, placing the figure in a spreadsheet and sending a Slack message to accounts payable. You could have humans do that, or you could do it more quickly and efficiently with a machine. We’re talking mind-numbing work that is well suited to automation.”

Although RPA is the fastest-growing category in enterprise software, the market remains surprisingly small. Ron spoke to five investors about where the sector is headed, where there are opportunities and the biggest threats to the RPA startup ecosystem.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

The tech giants

It was a quieter day from the tech giants, who made plenty of news earlier in the week. The good news is that their relative calm means we can take a look at news from other Big Tech companies, those that don’t quite crack the $1 trillion market cap threshold yet:

Community

Some of us are mourning the shutdown of Nuzzel, so we asked … would you pay for it (and why)? Let us know what you think!

#daily-crunch, #tc

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