Extra Crunch roundup: Adtech investing, Intuit buys Mailchimp, ideal customer profiles

Major gains in online advertising have boosted valuations for adtech startups since the pandemic began, but one insider says investors are missing the party.

“Adtech is having a moment,” writes industry veteran Casey Saran.

“And while much of the oxygen has been soaked up by large legacy companies hitting the public market, there have been smaller deals that indicate a hunger for better creative adtech.”

Saran shares five reasons “why VCs should consider ratcheting up their investment into adtech startups building the next generation of creative tools.”


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On Wednesday, September 22 at 9:05 a.m PT, I’m moderating “The Path for Underrepresented Entrepreneurs,” a panel discussion at Disrupt 2021.

Our conversation will examine some of the unique challenges facing founders from historically marginalized groups, the strategies they used along the way, and the disruptive changes we need to consider if we want to see fundamental change.

I’ll be speaking with:

  • Hana Mohan, founder & CEO, MagicBell
  • Leslie Feinzaig, founder & CEO, Female Founders Alliance
  • Stephen Bailey, co-founder & CEO, ExecOnline

I hope you’ll attend; we’ll take audience questions after our discussion concludes. Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week, and have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

5 things you need to win your first customer

Putting the final building block onto the top of a rising pile signifying success and achievement

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

Congratulations on shipping your product, but how much do you know about your target customers?

Companies that haven’t created an ideal customer profile and performed a SWOT analysis are making big bets on guesswork and intuition. Sometimes that works out, but more frequently, it leads to tears.

In a guest post that walks readers through the fundamentals of creating customer personas that map to your company’s goals, Grammarly product marketing lead Bryan Dsouza shares five basic requirements for customer acquisition.

“Understanding and executing on these things can guarantee you that first customer win, provided you do them well and with sincerity,” he says.

“Your investors will also see the fruits of your labor and be comforted knowing their dollars are at good work.”

4 ways to leverage ROAS to triple lead generation

Someone pops the tab on a soda can, releasing a mist/spray

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

In school, it’s highly unethical to copy someone else’s work and pass it off as your own. In business, however, it is expected.

Xiaoyun TU, global director of demand generation at Brightpearl, wrote a comprehensive guide for how to use the key metric of return on advertising spend (ROAS) to triple your company’s lead generation.

“A ‘good’ ROAS score is different for each company and campaign,” she says. “If your figure isn’t where you’d like it to be, you can leverage ROAS data to create targeted campaigns and personalized experiences.”

3 strategies to make adopting new HR tech easier for hiring managers

Steps with Check Mark on Chalkboard

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Most of us prefer to trust our instincts instead of letting automated tools help us make decisions, particularly when it comes to hiring. But that’s not smart.

If your startup relies on an ad hoc hiring process, you’re probably not tracking candidates properly, there’s likely little consistency regarding how they’re treated, and bias can play a major role in who gets hired.

It’s fine to be skeptical of automated hiring tools — but not ignorant.

What could stop the startup boom?

In yesterday’s edition of The Exchange, Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm speculated about the conditions that could combine to cool off a hot startup market currently fueled by low interest rates and a sweeping digital transformation.

“From where we stand, the factors underpinning the startup fundraising boom appear solid and unlikely to unwind overnight. Still, no golden period shines forever, and even today’s luster will eventually tarnish.”

Intuit’s $12B Mailchimp acquisition is about expanding its small business focus

Signage for financial software company Intuit at the company's headquarters in the Silicon Valley town of Mountain View, California, August 24, 2016. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).

Image Credits: Smith Collection/Gado / Getty Images

Before news broke this week that Intuit was acquiring Mailchimp for $12 billion, the ’80s-born fintech giant’s biggest buy was spending $7.1 billion last year for Credit Karma.

In the last few years, Mailchimp “has been expanding upon its core email marketing functionality” with offerings like web design and CRM, writes enterprise reporter Ron Miller.

The industry watchers he interviewed said the move signals Intuit’s interest in acquiring and serving more SMB customers with a variety of tools:

  • Laurie McCabe, co-founder and partner, SMB Group
  • Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst, CRM Essentials
  • Holger Mueller, analyst, Constellation Research

Forge’s SPAC deal is a bet on unicorn illiquidity

“One of my favorite long-term issues with the late-stage startup market is that it is far better at creating value than it is at finding an exit point for that accreted value,” Alex Wilhelm writes for The Exchange. “More simply, the startup market is excellent at creating unicorns but somewhat poor at taking them public.”

That’s good news for Forge Global, a technology startup that operates a market for secondary transactions in private companies, with Alex dubbing its plans to go public via a SPAC combination “perfectly reasonable.”

Dear Sophie: Should I apply for citizenship if I have a conviction?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

At Burning Man a few years ago, I was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor for smoking marijuana in public (in my car) and driving under the influence.

I currently have a green card and want to apply for U.S. citizenship next year.

Can I? If so, how should I handle my criminal record?

— Remorseful About the Reefer

Atlanta’s sundry startups join in global VC funding boom

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim continued their tour of U.S. cities after hitting up Chicago and Boston in recent weeks.

This time, they dug into Atlanta’s booming startup scene, which is seeing record capital inflows.

“The picture that forms is one of a city enjoying a rising tide of venture activity, boosted by some local dynamics that may have helped some of its earlier-stage companies scale for cheaper than they might have in other markets,” they write.

#adtech, #advertising-tech, #business, #ec-roundup, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #growth-marketing, #intuit, #lawyers, #mailchimp, #private-equity, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #venture-capital, #verified-experts

Extra Crunch roundup: BNPL bonanza, scraping Toast’s S-1/A, early-stage SaaS pricing

Are founders in fundraising mode short-sighted when it comes to working with Chinese venture funds?

Runa Capital’s Asia business development manager Denis Kalinin studied data from iTjuzi, a database of Chinese venture capitalists, and found:

“…Chinese funds invested around $250 billion in 2020 (three times higher than the figure reported in Crunchbase). This figure puts Chinese VC investments only 30% lower than investments by U.S. funds, but three times that of U.K. funds and 12.5 times more than German funds.”

The pandemic, geopolitical tensions and other factors led many Chinese venture funds to pare back their international investments, but that’s largely “because during COVID, China’s economy recovered much faster than other countries’,” writes Kalinin.

His analysis covers multiple angles: Chinese investments in Europe are catching up with those in Asia and the United States, half of China’s top cross-border investors are CVCs, and investors are particularly interested in fintech, deep tech and digital health at the moment.

“Chinese investors can bring value to foreign startups, but you need to study their expertise and how it can be useful for you.”


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Today at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET on Twitter Spaces, Managing Editor Danny Crichton and immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn will discuss whether remote work is making H-1B visas less critical for international founders.

It’s a provocative question: If remote teams are becoming the norm, tech hubs are decentralizing and investors are comfortable cutting checks after a Zoom call, how important is it to do business as a startup inside the U.S?

It’s sure to be an interesting conversation; to get a reminder, please follow @TechCrunch on Twitter.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Toast looks toward $18B valuation in upcoming IPO

Toast released an early IPO price range of $30 to $33 per share on Monday, and Alex Wilhelm digs into the S-1/A filing to “better understand how to value vertical SaaS startups that are pursuing a payments-and-SaaS business approach.”

Is the restaurant software startup worth the $18 billion valuation it’s aiming for?

3 keys to pricing early-stage SaaS products

Family of disposable coffee/tea cups

Image Credits: Peter Dazeley (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Every founder who launches an enterprise software startup has to figure out the “right” pricing model for their products.

It’s a consequential decision: Per-seat licenses are easy to manage, but what if customers prefer a concurrent licensing model?

“Early pricing discussions should center around the buyer’s perspective and the value the product creates for them,” says Ridge Ventures partner Yousuf Khan, who previously worked as a CIO.

“Of course,” he notes, “self-evaluation is hard, especially when you’re asking someone else to pay you for something you’ve created.”

Is India’s BNPL 2.0 set to disrupt B2B?

Image Credits: jayk7 / Getty Images

India’s mom-and-pop businesses are experiencing a digital transformation that’s creating new e-commerce opportunities; smartphones have replaced paper records, and a new government-backed instant payments system is disrupting how value is exchanged.

But instead of importing legacy credit systems, buy now, pay later systems are the “next step for solving the digital B2B puzzle,” writes Anubhav Jain, co-founder and CEO of Rupifi.

What to make of Freshworks’ first IPO price range

Developing programming and coding technologies. Website design. Programmer working in a software develop company office.

Image Credits: scyther5 / Getty Images

Freshworks, which develops and offers a variety of business software tools, set an IPO price range of $28 to $32 per share on Monday, meaning its valuation could reach nearly $10 billion, Alex Wilhelm writes.

“It appears that the Freshworks IPO is pretty reasonably priced as is, though a boost to its price range is not out of the question if public market investors decide that they are bullish on its future growth prospects. We just don’t see dramatic upside.”

ish on its future growth prospects. We just don’t see dramatic upside.”

Here’s what your BNPL startup could be worth

The multibillion-dollar exits of Japanese startup Paidy (to PayPal) and Australian buy now, pay later company Afterpay (to Square) “provided hard market proof that what BNPL startups are building has value beyond simple operating results,” Alex Wilhelm writes in The Exchange.

He breaks down the value of Afterpay, Paidy and Klarna using a simple metric: What would you pay for $1 of BNPL GMV?

3 methodologies for automated video game highlight detection and capture

Image of a gaming computer setup with two monitors.

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

Video game livestreaming is booming.

Twitch has an average of almost 3 million concurrent viewers; by comparison, on the night of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, CNN’s livestream averaged 1.1 million.

The most successful streamers use their ad revenue and sponsorship money to hire video editors and social media teams to make them look good, but new automated tools are giving part-time streamers the ability to spotlight their best moments as well.

Have ‘The Privacy Talk’ with your business partners

Speech bubbles between two human hands against khaki background.

Image Credits: Boris Zhitkov (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

A data breach costs a company an average of $3.8 million, Marc Ellenbogen, Foursquare’s general counsel, notes in a guest post, adding up to a “concrete financial incentive to having The Privacy Talk.”

What is it?

“It’s the conversation that goes beyond the written, publicly posted privacy policy and dives deep into a customer, vendor, supplier or partner’s approach to ethics,” he writes.

If you think the talk doesn’t apply to you, think again.

Advanced rider assistance systems: Tech spawned by the politics of micromobility

First person view of riding an e-scooter in a city

Image Credits: Alexander Spatari (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In an effort to “reassure local administrations that micromobility is safe, compliant and a good thing for cities,” scooter operators are “implementing technology similar to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) usually found in cars,” Rebecca Bellan writes.

She breaks down how the tech could help prevent unwanted behavior and explores the cost for scooter operators and opportunities for startups.

 

#asia, #china, #ec-roundup, #extra-crunch-roundup, #foursquare, #freshworks, #klarna, #paypal, #sophie-alcorn, #startups, #tc

Extra Crunch roundup: China’s new data privacy law, fractional farming, debt vs. equity

China’s first data privacy laws go into effect on November 1, 2021. Will your company be in compliance?

Modeled after the EU’s GDPR, the new regulations “[introduce] perhaps the most stringent set of requirements and protections for data privacy in the world,” writes Scott W. Pink, special counsel in O’Melveny’s Data Security & Privacy practice.

In a comprehensive overview, he explains its key requirements and compliance steps for U.S.-based firms that service Chinese consumers.

“American firms doing business in China or with companies inside China will need to immediately start assessing how this new law will impact their activities,” he advises.


Now that the world has embraced remote work, are visas as critical for startup founders who want to succeed in the United States?

On Tuesday, September 14, at 2 p.m PT/5 p.m. ET, Managing Editor Danny Crichton and immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn will discuss the matter on Twitter Spaces.

They’ll take questions from the audience, so mark your calendar and follow @techcrunch on Twitter to get a reminder before the chat.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch; I hope you have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Fintech is transforming the world’s oldest asset class: Farmland

Minnesota soybean field during early morning sunrise

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

Whether or not he actually said it, “buy land, they ain’t making any more of it,” is one of Mark Twain’s best quotes on capitalism.

Past recessions and the ongoing pandemic have created real uncertainty about the future of commercial and residential real estate, but farmland is “historically stable,” says Artem Milinchuk, founder and CEO of FarmTogether.

Anatomy of a SPAC: Inside Better.com’s ambitious plans

Speech bubble with home

Image Credits: mikroman6 (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Online mortgage company Better.com isn’t waiting to complete its SPAC merger before making big moves: Ryan Lawler reported that it purchased Property Partners, a U.K.-based startup that offers fractional property ownership.

It’s the second company Better bought in recent months: In July, it snapped up digital mortgage brokerage Trussle.

“We aren’t so easily categorized,” said Better CEO Vishal Garg, who told Ryan that the company plans to soon expand into traditional financial services like auto loans and insurance.

Said CFO Kevin Ryan, “a lot of people have their niches in the way they’re attacking this, but we feel like we’re on a path to being full stack where everything’s embedded in the same flow.”

5 factors that can make or break a startup’s growth journey

Rusty old keys isolated on a white background.

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

If you don’t have a good story to share, it doesn’t matter how big your marketing budget is.

“Paid marketing can be a useful tool in your toolkit to accelerate an already humming flywheel. Just don’t let it be the only one,” suggests Brian Rothenberg, a two-time founder who’s now a partner at Defy.

Drawing from his time as VP of growth for Eventbrite, he shares five critical factors for kick-starting, maintaining and measuring growth over the long term.

Debt versus equity: When do non-traditional funding strategies make sense?

A close up of a woman's hands, one holding an apple the other hand holding a doughnut

Image Credits: Peter Dazeley (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Many potential founders are well-versed in startup economics — and many are completely green.

When it comes to raising funds, understanding the relative benefits (and limitations) of debt and equity financing is required knowledge, however.

Founders who are less willing to dilute their control may be willing to use debt financing to fund their capital expenditures, “but it doesn’t make sense for everyone,” says six-time entrepreneur David Friend.

Investors are doubling down on Southeast Asia’s digital economy

Image Credits: Getty Images

Last year, startups based in Southeast Asia raised more than $8.2 billion, a 4x increase from 2015.

In the first half of 2021, regional M&A has increased 83% to a record $124.8 billion.

It’s not just venture capitalists and Big Tech who are beefing up their presence in the region.

“Over 229 family offices have been registered in Singapore since 2020, with total assets under management of an estimated $20 billion,” writes Amit Anand, a founding partner of Jungle Ventures.

Edtech leans into the creator economy with cohort-based classes

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Natasha Mascarenhas examined the parallels between edtech and the creator economy, both of which boomed amid the pandemic — and blurred amid the rise of cohort-based classes.

“Edtech and the creator economy certainly differ in the problems they try to solve: Finding a VR solution to make online STEM classes more realistic is a different nut to crack than streamlining all of a creator’s different monetization strategies into one platform. Still, the two sectors have found common ground in the past year.”

Meet retail’s new sustainability strategy: Personalization

photo of a fitting room with a three-way mirror and a rack of dresses

Image Credits: Liyao Xie (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Were the shoes, jacket and makeup that looked so good on Instagram (and in your shopping cart) disappointing when you put them on for the first time?

Due to buyer’s remorse, it’s not uncommon for apparel or beauty products to languish in the back of a drawer or end up as gifts, but there are also serious consequences.

“The beauty industry produces over 120 billion units of packaging every year, little of which is recycled. Globally, an estimated 92 million tons of textile waste ends up in landfills,” Sindhya Valloppillil, founder and CEO of Skin Dossier, notes in a guest column.

The answer to bringing sustainability to the industry, she says, is using tech to personalize the retail experience:

  • AR virtual try-on with shade matching
  • Advanced virtual fitting rooms with VR/AR for fashion
  • Smart packaging with IoT and distributed ledger technology

Plentywaka founder Onyeka Akumah on African startups and global expansion

Illustration of Onyeka Akumah of Plentywaka

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Twenty million people live in Lagos, Nigeria, and each day, 14 million of them use the city’s transit system.

Travelers rely on overcrowded public buses that navigate congested routes: What should be a 30-minute trip is often a three-hour journey, but Treepz CEO and co-founder Onyeka Akumah “has big plans to ameliorate the public transport infrastructure in Africa and beyond,” writes Rebecca Bellan.

“We wanted to give people a better way to commute with predictability, where they can know when the bus will get here, the certainty that they will have a seat in a vehicle, that it’s a decent vehicle and a safe one where you can bring your laptop,” said Akumah.

“Those are the things we said we wanted to change.”

Dear Sophie: When can I apply for my US work permit?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

My husband just accepted a job in Silicon Valley. His new employer will be sponsoring him for an E-3 visa.

I would like to continue working after we move to the United States. I understand I can get a work permit with the E-3 visa for spouses.

How soon can I apply for my U.S. work permit?

— Adaptive Aussie

#africa, #asia, #better-com, #china, #diversity, #ec-roundup, #education, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #nigeria, #onyeka-akumah, #retail, #sophie-alcorn, #southeast-asia, #startups, #tc, #transportation

Extra Crunch roundup: Options pool rules, voice tech hurdles, keeping employees engaged

“In today’s cash-rich environment, options are more valuable than cash,” says Allen Miller, a principal at Oak HC/FT. “In turn, managing your option pool may be the most effective action you can take to ensure you can recruit and retain talent.”

In an article squarely aimed at early-stage founders, Miller shares best practices for protecting your option pool, lists the mistakes many founders make and offers multiple tips for course-correcting “if you made mistakes early on.”

As we’re just returning from the Labor Day holiday, today’s newsletter is quite brief. We have much more planned for this week, so thanks very much for reading.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist


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To commercialize, voice tech must first solve its ‘cocktail party problem’

Image Credits: Karnet / Getty Images

Voice and speech recognition is expected to be a $26.8 billion global market by 2025, but there’s still a long way to go before voice can be fully commercialized.

Developers are deploying natural language processing and conversational AI to overcome current limitations, but “solving these problems requires voice tech to meet the human standard for voice and match the complexities of the human auditory system.”

How engaged are your employees?

Image Credits: katleho Seisa (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

According to a recent survey, more than 70% of workers are actively hunting for a new job or are giving the matter serious consideration.

In a startup environment, employee development takes a back seat to priorities like scaling growth. As a result, few managers have any experience or interest in helping employees acquire new skills or advance their careers.

Don’t wait to be blindsided: Put an action plan in place to assess employee engagement. Remember, seven out of the next 10 people you see on a video call might be polishing their resumes.

#artificial-intelligence, #ec-roundup, #extra-crunch-roundup, #labor, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #voice-recognition

Extra Crunch roundup: cohort analysis, YC Demo Day recaps, building your supply chain

The ongoing fintech revolution continues to level the playing field where legacy companies have historically dominated startups.

To compete with retail banks, many newcomers are offering customers credit and debit cards; developer-friendly APIs make issuance relatively easy, and tools for managing processes like KYC are available off the shelf.

To learn more about the low barriers to entry — and the inherent challenges of creating a unique card offering — reporter Ryan Lawler interviewed:

  • Michael Spelfogel, founder, Cardless
  • Anu Muralidharan, COO, Expensify
  • Peter Hazlehurst, founder and CEO, Synctera
  • Salman Syed, SVP and GM of North America, Marqeta

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We’re off on Monday, September 6 to celebrate America’s Labor Day holiday, but we’ll be back with new stories (and a very brief newsletter) on Tuesday morning.

Thanks very much for reading,

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

 

6 tips for establishing your startup’s global supply chain

Image Credits: Suriyapong Thongsawang (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The barrier to entry for launching hardware startups has fallen; if you can pull off a successful crowdfunding campaign, you’re likely savvy enough to find a factory overseas that can build your widgets to spec.

But global supply chains are fragile: No one expected an off-course container ship to block the Suez Canal for six days. Due to the pandemic, importers are paying almost $18,000 for shipping containers from China today that cost $3,300 a year ago.

After spending a career spinning up supply chains on three continents, Liteboxer CEO Jeff Morin authored a guide for Extra Crunch for hardware founders.

“If you’re clear-eyed about the challenges and apply some rigor and forethought to the process, the end result can be hard to match,” Morin says.

Our favorite startups from YC’s Summer 21 Demo Day, Part 1

Y Combinator’s Summer 21 Demo Day, Part 1

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Twice each year, we turn our attention to Y Combinator’s latest class of aspiring startups as they hold their public debuts.

For YC Summer 2021 Demo Day, the accelerator’s fourth virtual gathering, Natasha Mascarenhas, Alex Wilhelm, Devin Coldewey, Lucas Matney and Greg Kumparak selected 14 favorites from the first day of one of the world’s top pitch competitions.

Virtual events startups have high hopes for after the pandemic

Image Credits: Yuichiro Chino / Getty Images

Few people thought about virtual events before the pandemic struck, but this format has fulfilled a unique and important need for organizations large and small since early 2020. But what will virtual events’ value be as more of the world attempts a return to “normal”?

To find out, we caught up with top executives and investors in the sector to learn about the big trends they’re seeing — as the sequel to a survey we did in March 2020.

We surveyed:

  • Xiaoyin Qu, founder and CEO, Run The World
  • Rosie Roca, chief customer officer, Hopin
  • Hemant Mohapatra, partner, Lightspeed Venture Partners India
  • Paul Murphy, former investor in Hopin with Northzone (currently co-founder of Katch)

Tracking startup focus in the latest Y Combinator cohort

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim wrapped up TechCrunch’s coverage of the summer cohort from Y Combinator’s Demo Day with an evaluation of how the group fared in comparison to their expectations.

They were surprised by the number of startups focusing on no-and low-code software, and pleased by the unanticipated quantity of new companies focusing on space.

“It seems only fair to note that some categories of startup activity simply met our expectations in terms of popularity,” noting delivery-focused startups including dark stores and kitchens.

Popping up less than expected? Crypto and insurtech.

Read on for the whole list of startups that caught the eye of The Exchange.

Use cohort analysis to drive smarter startup growth

Image Credits: erhui1979 / Getty Images

Cohort analysis is what it sounds like: evaluating your startup’s customers by grouping them into “cohorts” and observing their behavior over time.

In a guest column, Jonathan Metrick, the chief growth officer at Sagard & Portage Ventures, offers a detailed example explaining the value of this type of analysis.

Questions? ​​Join us for a Twitter Spaces chat with Metrick on Tuesday, September 7, at 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET. For details and a reminder, follow @TechCrunch on Twitter.

#debit-card, #ec-roundup, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #growth-marketing, #logistics, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #virtual-events, #y-combinator

Extra Crunch roundup: Toast and Freshbook S-1s, pre-pitch tips, flexible funding lessons

The digital transformation currently sweeping society has likely reached your favorite local restaurant.

Since 2013, Boston-based Toast has offered bars and eateries a software platform that lets them manage orders, payments and deliveries.

Over the last year, its customers have processed more than $38 billion in gross payment volume, so Alex Wilhelm analyzed the company’s S-1 for The Exchange with great interest.

“Toast was last valued at just under $5 billion when it last raised, per Crunchbase data,” he writes. “And folks are saying that it could be worth $20 billion in its debut. Does that square with the numbers?”


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Airbnb, DoorDash and Coinbase each debuted at past Y Combinator Demo Days; as of this writing, they employ a combined 10,000 people.

Today and tomorrow, TechCrunch reporters will cover the proceedings at YC’s Summer 20201 Demo Day. In addition to writing up founder pitches, they’ll also rank their favorites.

Even remotely, I can feel a palpable sense of excitement radiating from our team — anything can happen at YC Demo Day, so sign up for Extra Crunch to follow the action.

Thanks very much for reading; I hope you have an excellent week.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

How Amazon EC2 grew from a notion into a foundational element of cloud computing

Image Credits: Ron Miller/TechCrunch

In August 2006, AWS activated its EC2 cloud-based virtual computer, a milestone in the cloud infrastructure giant’s development.

“You really can’t overstate what Amazon was able to accomplish,” writes enterprise reporter Ron Miller.

In the 15 years since, EC2 has enabled clients of any size to test and run their own applications on AWS’ virtual machines.

To learn more about a fundamental technological shift that “would help fuel a whole generation of startups,” Ron interviewed EC2 VP Dave Brown, who built and led the Amazon EC2 Frontend team.

3 ways to become a better manager in the work-from-home era

Image of a manager talking to his team via a video conference.

Image Credits: Jasmin Merdan (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images

Most managers agree that OKRs foster transparency and accountability, but running a team effectively has different challenges when workers are attending all-hands meetings from their kitchen tables.

Instead of just discussing key metrics before board meetings or performance reviews, make them part of the day-to-day culture, recommends Jeremy Epstein, Gtmhub’s CMO.

“Strengthen your team by creating authentic workplace transparency using numbers as a universal language and providing meaning behind your team’s work.”

The pre-pitch: 7 ways to build relationships with VCs

A person attracts people to his side with a magnet.

Image Credits: Getty Images under an Andrii Yalanskyi (opens in a new window) license

Many founders must overcome a few emotional hurdles before they’re comfortable pitching a potential investor face-to-face.

To alleviate that pressure, Unicorn Capital founder Evan Fisher recommends that entrepreneurs use pre-pitch meetings to build and strengthen relationships before asking for a check:

“This is the ‘we actually aren’t looking for money; we just want to be friends for now’ pitch that gets you on an investor’s radar so that when it’s time to raise your next round, they’ll be far more likely to answer the phone because they actually know who you are.”

Pre-pitches are good for more than curing the jitters: These conversations help founders get a better sense of how VCs think and sometimes lead to serendipitous outcomes.

“Investors are opportunists by necessity,” says Fisher, “so if they like the cut of your business’s jib, you never know — the FOMO might start kicking hard.”

Lessons from COVID: Flexible funding is a must for alternative lenders

Flexible Multi Colored Coil Crossing Hexagon Frame on White Background.

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

FischerJordan’s Deeba Goyal and Archita Bhandari break down the pandemic’s impact on alternative lenders, specifically what they had to do to survive the crisis, taking a look at smaller lenders including Credibly, Kabbage, Kapitus and BlueVine.

“Only those who were able to find a way through the complexities of their existing capital sources were able to maintain their performance, and the rest were left to perish or find new funding avenues,” they write.

Inside Freshworks’ IPO filing

Customer engagement software company Freshworks’ S-1 filing depicts a company that’s experiencing accelerating revenue growth, “a great sign for the health of its business,” reports Alex Wilhelm in this morning’s The Exchange.

“Most companies see their growth rates decline as they scale, as larger denominators make growth in percentage terms more difficult.”

Studying the company’s SEC filing, he found that “Freshworks isn’t a company where we need to cut it lots of slack, as we might with an adjusted EBITDA number. It is going public ready for Big Kid metrics.”

#amazon-web-services, #cloud, #ec-roundup, #ec2, #enterprise, #extra-crunch-roundup, #fundings-exits, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #y-combinator, #y-combinator-demo-day

Extra Crunch roundup: Pre-pitch tactics, Warby Parker S-1, Israel’s fintech ecosystem

Forget what you’ve heard: There are many shortcuts to success.

Tapping into someone else’s experience is a tried-and-true method, which is why two-time Y Combinator participant Chris Morton wrote a guest post for Extra Crunch with advice for founders hoping to be accepted by the famed accelerator.

Morton, who has also reviewed thousands of YC applications, shares his thoughts on when to submit an application, what to do if you miss the deadline and whether you’ll need to relocate if accepted.

“Remember that your application should be good enough to get an interview, not win a prize,” says Morton. “Go back to work instead of spending more time perfecting an application.”


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Robert Katai

Image Credits: Robert Katai under a license.

In an interview with reporter Anna Heim, Romania-based marketer Robert Katai discussed some of the methods he uses to help clients refine their content and branding strategies.

“Today, content creation is free — everybody can do it. The hard part is how you distribute and amplify that.”

Katai also shared his impressions of Romania’s startup ecosystem, suggestions for maintaining top-of-mind status with customers, and reinforced the often-overlooked need to continually repurpose content to grab mindshare.

Like our other growth marketing interviews, there’s no paywall.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week! I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Why global investors are flocking to back Latin American startups

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Latin America’s increasingly dynamic venture capital scene has been making headlines of late. To learn more about why investors are so enthusiastic, senior reporter Mary Ann Azevedo spoke to several who are actively engaged with the region:

  • Shu Nyatta, managing partner, SoftBank
  • Ethan Choi, partner, Accel
  • Julie Ruvolo, director of venture capital, LAVCA
  • Bill Cilluffo, partner, QED Investors
  • Ana Cristina Gadala-Maria, principal, QED Investors
  • Ross Darwin, principal, Owl Ventures

“I am not surprised by all the activity,” Mary Ann writes. “However, I am a bit taken aback by the sheer number of rounds, the caliber of firms leading them and the sky-high valuations.

“It seems that the region is finally, and deservedly, being taken seriously. This is likely just the beginning.”

Corporate venture capital follows the same trend as other VC markets: Up

Corporations are not remaining on the sidelines of the fiery 2021 venture capital game, Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim note in The Exchange.

After parsing data from CB Insights and Stryber and chatting with a handful of investors, Alex and Anna concluded that the corporate venture capital market looks a lot like other VC markets.

“Perhaps this should not be a surprise,” they write. “We’ve seen non-venture funds flow into the later stages of startup land, pushing VCs toward earlier-stage and more venture-y deals. Why would CVCs be immune to the same trend?”

Ramp and Brex draw diverging market plans with M&A strategies

Image Credits: Bryan Mullennix (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Corporate spending management startup Brex raised a $300 million Series C and acquired Buyer just a week after rival Brex announced it had acquired Israeli fintech Weav.

Ryan Lawler and Alex Wilhelm dug into the Ramp-Brex rivalry, and what those acquisitions say about their diverging strategies.

“From a high level, all of the recent deal-making in corporate cards and spend management shows that it’s not enough to just help companies track what employees are expensing these days,” they write.

“As the market matures and feature sets begin to converge, the players are seeking to differentiate themselves from the competition.”

Boston’s startup market is more than setting records in scorching start to year

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim interviewed VCs and corralled data to present a detailed picture of Boston’s startup funding scene.

“Boston is benefiting from larger structural changes to at least the U.S. venture capital market, helping close historical gaps in its startup funding market and access funds that previously might have skipped the region,” they write.

“And local university density isn’t hurting the city’s cause, either, boosting its ability to form new companies during a period of rich investment access.”

Europe’s quick-commerce startups are overhyped: Lessons from China

Image of a motorcycle courier speeding down a street.

Image Credits: Andrew Holt (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Half of the companies offering instant grocery delivery in Europe were founded last year as the pandemic reshaped most aspects of our existence.

To date, they’ve raised about $2 billion, but Picus Capital’s Alexander Kremer says startup lessons from China suggest that “instant delivery is not the magic bullet to crack the dominance” of old-school grocery players.

“If the performance of online grocery platforms in China (a market five to seven years ahead of Europe in terms of online retail) is anything to go by, a range of B2C business models would be more likely to displace the traditional grocery retailers.”

D2C specs purveyor Warby Parker files to go public

For The Exchange, Alex Wilhelm examines the S-1 filing from Warby Parker, “a consumer hardware company with two main sales channels, largely attractive economics, falling losses and rising adjusted profitability. You could even argue that it handled the pandemic well, despite COVID-19’s negative impact on its operations.”

But how are its growth prospects?

Dear Sophie: Can I still get a green card through marriage if I’m divorcing?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I received a conditional green card after my wife and I got married in 2019. Recently, we have made the difficult decision to end our marriage. I want to continue living and working in the United States.

Is it still possible for me to complete my green card based on my marriage through the I-751 process or do I need to do something else, like ask my employer to sponsor me for a work visa?

— Better to Have Loved and Lost

Using AI to reboot brand-client relationships

Artificial intelligence robot arm and businessman completing gear jigsaw puzzle (teamwork).

Image Credits: Getty Images under an alashi (opens in a new window)license.

Marketing automation can help boost key metrics, but it can also be a disservice to brands by perpetually devaluing goods and services, ShareThis’ Michael Gorman writes in a guest column.

Companies with a narrow focus on driving conversions are missing the bigger picture: AI can help create richer experiences that identify consumer actions and intent while also improving customer experiences.

“We live in a world rich with data, and insights are growing more vibrant every day,” he writes.

Israel’s maturing fintech ecosystem may soon create global disruptors

Abstract of israel map network, internet and global connection concept, Wire Frame 3D mesh polygonal network line, design sphere, dot and structure. Vector illustration eps 10. (Abstract of israel map network, internet and global connection concept, W

Image Credits: Thitima Thongkham (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Fintech startups based in Israel raised more than $1.8 billion in 2019, but in Q1 2021, companies in the category raised $1.1 billion.

Facilitating a wide range of services, more than a dozen fintech unicorns have already emerged in a country that has a population slightly smaller than Los Angeles County, many of them started by entrepreneurs who lacked financial backgrounds.

“So what is it about Israeli-founded fintech startups that stand out from their scaling neighbors across the pond?” asks Flint Capital’s Tel Aviv-based investor, Adi Levanon.

Forbes jumps into hot media liquidity summer with a SPAC combo

For The Exchange, Alex Wilhelm takes stock of Forbes’ SPAC combination during a week when POLITICO was snatched up for more than $1 billion by Axel Springer and just a few months after BuzzFeed went public via a blank-check company.

“Is it the most exciting debut? No,” he writes.

“But it does highlight that with enough sheer gumption, one can take a magazine business into the digital age and keep aggregate revenue growing. That’s worth something.”

Are B2B SaaS marketers getting it wrong?

A square peg forced into a round hole. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

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

Technical jargon is one of the most annoying aspects of technology marketing.

Sadly, it tends to perpetuate itself: Marketers are terrified of making a wrong move, so they tend to copy what everyone else is doing.

If you want to attract customers and drive higher conversions, cut the jargon.

“Do everything you can to be immediately understood and you’ll have a much better chance of cutting through the noise and pushing clear and persuasive benefits in a way no prospect can resist,” advises Konrad Sanders, CEO of The Creative Copywriter.

#andreessen-horowitz, #axel-springer, #brex, #buzzfeed, #ec-roundup, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #saas, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #warby-parker, #y-combinator

Extra Crunch roundup: Zūm CEO interview, Cisco’s M&A ethos, neoinsurance bad romance

It was once common practice for doctors to visit sick patients in their homes: In 1930, 40% of all consultations were house calls. By 1980, that figure was less than 1%.

Today, urgent care centers occupy Main Street storefronts and 33% of all medical expenditures occur in hospitals. It’s clear that the additional overhead is generating higher prices, but not necessarily better results, according to Sumi Das and Nina Gerson, who lead healthcare investments at Capital G.

“We can improve both outcomes and costs by moving care from the hospital back to the place it started — at home,” they write in a post that explores five innovations enabling at-home care and identifies investment opportunities like acute care and infrastructure development.

Today, in-home care comprises just 3% of overall healthcare spending, but Gerson and Das estimate that will expand to 10% in the next 10 years.

“To make these improvements, in-home healthcare strategies will need to leverage next-generation technology and value-based care strategies. Fortunately, the window of opportunity for change is open right now.”


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Image Credits: Cowboy Ventures / Guild Education

Tomorrow’s episode of Extra Crunch Live will feature guests VC Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures and Rachel Carlson, CEO and co-founder of Guild Education.

Among other topics, Lee will talk about how Guild Education met her criteria for investment before the duo offer feedback on startup pitches submitted by audience members.

Register now to join the free chat on Hopin on Wednesday, August 25, at 11:30 a.m. PDT/2:30 p.m. EDT.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch; have a great week!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Zūm CEO Ritu Narayan explains why equity and accessibility works for mobility services

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Ritu Narayan founded Zūm with her two brothers in 2016 to disrupt student transportation, a space that hasn’t seen much innovation since pupils began finding their way to and from little red schoolhouses.

Since then, Zūm has inked partnerships with school districts around the country to create more efficient routes and reduce vehicle emissions.

By 2025, Narayan says her company will have 10,000 electric school buses and plans to put the fleet into service to generate power and feed it back to the grid.

To learn more about the company’s development, its immediate plans for the future and how the pandemic impacted operations, read on.

Bird shows improving scooter economics, long march to profitability

For The Exchange, Alex Wilhelm looked at recent financial data from scooter sharing service Bird, which — like Lyft, Uber, Airbnb and others — took a beating during the pandemic as potential riders stayed home.

Bird flipped its business model and its results improved, but it still has a ways to go. “In the bull case, Bird can get rid of its adjusted losses in a few years,” Alex writes.

“If any issues arise at the top of the company’s table — say, for example, that rides per scooter do not scale as the company rolls out more hardware, or merely slower than expected — the anticipated profitability results could evaporate or be pushed into the future.”

India’s path to SaaS leadership is clear, but challenges remain

Image Credits: Thitima Thongkham / Getty Images

By 2030, India’s SaaS industry is estimated to comprise 4%-6% of the global market and generate between $50 billion and $70 billion in yearly revenue, according to a SaaSBOOMi/McKinsey report.

“With the right approach, it won’t be long before the Indian SaaS community becomes a large-scale employer of talent, a significant contributor to India’s GDP and a creator of unmatched products,” says Manav Garg, CEO and founder of Eka Software Solutions.

In a guest post, he lays out several key growth drivers, which include “the largest concentration of developers in the world” and the fact that “SaaS is not a winner-take-all market.”

Even so, the region still faces challenges, since “growth requires a growth mindset.”

Why have the markets spurned public neoinsurance startups?

As Alex Wilhelm has repeatedly noted in The Exchange, neoinsurance companies, from healthcare to auto to home and rental, have taken a whacking by the market.

But he hadn’t quite figured out why until he chatted with Pie Insurance co-founder and CEO John Swigart, who had an interesting hypothesis.

Summing up their conversation in a single sentence: “From the public markets’ perspective, it’s the results, stupid.”

How Cisco keeps its startup acquisition engine humming

The Cisco Systems logo is displayed at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on February 25, 2019. - Phone makers will focus on foldable screens and the introduction of blazing fast 5G wireless networks at the world's biggest mobile fair starting February 25 in Spain as they try to reverse a decline in sales of smartphones. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Image Credits: Josep LAGO /AFP/ Getty Images

Ron Miller interviewed three Cisco executives to learn more about the company’s “rich history of buying its way to global success”:

  • CFO Scott Herren
  • Derek Idemoto, SVP for corporate development and Cisco investments
  • Jeetu Patel, EVP and GM, Security and Collaboration

Since its founding, Cisco has acquired 229 companies, buying more than 30 startups in the last four years that focus on everything from edtech to event management.

“Indeed, one of the big reasons for all these acquisitions could be about maintaining growth,” writes Ron.

Future tech exits have a lot to live up to

Image Credits: Sam Salek/EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images (Image has been modified)

“Inflation may or may not prove transitory when it comes to consumer prices, but startup valuations are definitely rising — and noticeably so — in recent quarters.”

That’s Alex Wilhelm’s summation of a recent PitchBook report rounding up valuation data from U.S. startup funding events.

He dug into the report and analyzed what the numbers mean for startup valuations and potential exits.

#cisco, #ec-roundup, #extra-crunch-roundup, #health, #healthtech, #india, #john-swigart, #ma, #pitchbook-data, #ritu-narayan, #saas, #startups, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital

Extra Crunch roundup: Corp dev handbook, Chicago startups, Brazil’s e-commerce landscape

If you’re a founder who finds yourself in a meeting with a VC, try to remember two things:

  1. You’re the smartest person in the room.
  2. Investors are looking for a reason to say “yes.”

Even so, many entrepreneurs squander this opportunity, often because they direct questions or fail to understand their BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement).

“As the venture landscape becomes more a meritocratic environment where resumes and institutional affiliations matter less, these strategies can make the difference between a successful fundraise and a fruitless meeting,” says Agya Ventures co-founder Kunal Lunawat.

Whether you’re already in the fundraising process or plan to be in the future, be sure to read “A crash course on corporate development” that Venrock VP Todd Graham shared with us this week.

“If you’re going to get acquired, chances are you’re going to spend a lot of time with corporate development teams,” says Graham. “With a hot stock market, mountains of cash and cheap debt floating around, the environment for acquisitions is extremely rich.”


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The cover of "After Cooling On Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort"

On Wednesday, August 24 at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT/11 p.m GMT, Managing Editor Danny Crichton will host a conversation on Twitter Spaces with Eric Dean Wilson, author of “After Cooling: On Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort.”

Wilson’s book explores the history of freon, a common refrigerant that was later banned due to its devastating impact on the ozone layer. After their discussion, they’ll take questions from the audience.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week! I hope you have an excellent weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Apple is changing Mail Privacy Protection and email marketers must prepare

Image of a yellow envelope with a red notification dot.

Image Credits: Carol Yepes (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Apple iPhone, Apple Mail and Apple iPad account for nearly half of all email opens, but the privacy features included with iOS 15 will allow consumers to block marketers from seeing their physical location, IP address and tracking data like invisible pixels.

Email marketers rely heavily on these and other metrics, which means they should prepare now for the changes to come, advises Litmus CMO Melissa Sargeant.

In a detailed post, she shares several action items that will help marketing teams leverage their email analytics so they can “continue delivering personalized experiences consumers crave.”

Let’s make a deal: A crash course on corporate development

Meeting room with a big polished table and arm-chairsOther photos from this business series:

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

Venrock Vice President Todd Graham has some frank advice for founders at venture-backed startups: “It would be wise to generate a return at some point.”

With that in mind, he authored a primer on corporate development that lays out the three most common categories of acquisitions, tips for dealing with bankers, and explains why striking a partnership with a big company isn’t always the best way forward.

Regardless of the path you choose, “you need to take the meeting,” advises Graham.

“In the worst-case scenario, you’ll get a few new LinkedIn connections and you’re now a known quantity. The best-case scenario will be a second meeting.”

When VCs turned to Zoom, Chicago startups were ready for their close-up

The pandemic failed to slow the momentum of venture capitalists pouring money into startups, but Chicago stands out as an “outlying benefactor of accelerating venture capital activity and the rise of remote investing,” Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim write for The Exchange.

When the world shut down and it didn’t matter if you were in NYC or SF (because everyone was on Zoom), the Windy City was ready to present itself as the venture champion of the Midwest.

What does Brazil’s new receivables regulation mean for fintechs?

Female hand holding brazilian money (Real/Reais)

Image Credits: Priscila Zambotto (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The Brazilian Central Bank made a major reform to the way payments are processed that may throw the doors open for e-commerce in South America’s largest market.

Historically, merchants who accepted credit card payments had two options: Receive the full payment distributed over two to 12 installments, or offer a deep discount to receive a smaller sum up front.

But in June 2021, the BCB created new “registration entities” that permit “any interested receivables buyer/acquirer to make an offer for those receivables, forcing buyers to become more competitive in their discount offers,” says Leonardo Lanna, head of payment products at Monkey Exchange.

The new framework benefits consumers and sellers, but for the region’s startups, “it opens the door to a plethora of opportunities and new business models, from payments to credit.”

As its startup market accelerates, Brazil could be in for an IPO bonanza

An inflow of VC dollars, notable acquisitions and rising unicorn counts are all features of the Brazilian tech startup market, Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm note in The Exchange.

“The IPO market in Brazil is changing,” they write. “TechCrunch noted last year that in the decade leading up to 2020, just two of the 56 IPOs in Brazil were technology companies. More recently, the number of technology companies listed in the country has swelled to at least 16, up from just four in 2019.”

Insider hacks to streamline your SOC 3 certification application

Digital encrypted Lock with data multilayers. Internet Security

Image Credits: Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images

“For good reason, security certifications like the SOC 3 really put you through the wringer,” Waydev CEO Alex Cercei writes in a guest column.

Waydev, a Git analytics tool that helps engineering leaders measure team performance automatically, just attained the SOC 3 certification.

“We learned so much from the process, we felt it was right to share our experience with others that might be daunted by the prospect,” Cercei writes.

“So here’s our advice on how teams can smoothly reach an SOC 3 while simultaneously balancing workloads and minimizing disruption to users.”

Dear Sophie: Tips on EB-1A and EB-2 NIW?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I’m on an H-1B living and working in the U.S. I want to apply for a green card on my own. I’m concerned about only relying on my current employer and I want to be able to easily change jobs or create a startup. I’ve been looking at the EB-1A and EB-2 NIW.

I’m not sure if I would qualify for an EB-1A, but since I was born in India, I face a much longer wait for an EB-2 NIW.

Any tips on how to proceed?

— Inventive from India

How to establish a health tech startup advisory board

Most startups could use an advisory board, but in health tech, it’s a core requirement.

Founders seeking to innovate in this area have a unique need for mentors who have experience navigating regulations, raising capital and managing R&D, to name just a few areas.

Based on his own experience, Patrick Frank, co-founder and COO of PatientPartner, shared some very specific ideas about who to recruit, where to find them and how to fit them into your cap table.

“You want to leverage these individuals so you are able to focus on the full view of the company to ensure it is something that both the market and investors want at scale,” says Frank.

Crypto world shows signs of being rather bullish

There’s no shortage of tech news to analyze, Alex Wilhelm notes, but this week, he took a fresh look at crypto.

How come?

“Because there are some rather bullish trends that indicate the world of blockchain is maturing and creating a raft of winning players,” he writes.

4 common mistakes startups make when setting pay for hybrid workers

Organization Chart or Organizational Graph for Human Resources

Image Credits: kentoh (opens in a new window) / Getty Images (Image has been modified)

In one recent survey, 58% of workers said they plan to quit if they’re not allowed to work remotely.

Startups that don’t offer employees work-from-home flexibility are at a competitive disadvantage, but figuring out how to pay hybrid workers raises a complex set of questions:

  • Should you localize salaries for workers in different areas?
  • How should you pay workers who have the same job when one is WFH and the other is at their desk?
  • Are you being transparent with your staff about how their compensation is set?

#apple, #brazil, #chicago, #ec-roundup, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #payments, #security, #startups, #tc, #venrock, #venture-capital

Extra Crunch roundup: The Nuro EC-1, early-stage growth tactics, understanding Salesforce+

In 2010, Google’s autonomous vehicle project placed self-driving cars on Bay Area streets and freeways, but practical applications were thought to be at least a decade away.

The futurists were right on schedule: In 2020, Mountain View-based Nuro was testing its second-generation R2 robotic vehicle, the first to earn a federal exemption to operate an autonomous vehicle.

But before Nuro could even consider reaching product-market fit, its founders had to overcome technological challenges, win over regulators and strike partnerships with a range of consumer-facing companies.

“Neither JZ nor I think of ourselves as classic entrepreneurs or that starting a company is something we had to do in our lives,” says co-founder Dave Ferguson. “It was much more the result of soul searching and trying to figure out what is the biggest possible impact that we could have.”


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Across four articles, reporter Mark Harris (The Guardian, Wired, MIT Technology Review) explores Nuro’s origins and operations, including the founders’ decision to focus on creating autonomous delivery vehicles instead of entering the passenger EV market.

I’ve lived inside the San Francisco Bay Area bubble for most of my adult life, so it’s interesting to see how people in Houston’s Woodland Heights neighborhood react to seeing Nuro’s R2 delivering pizza and prescriptions on a limited basis.

As one Redditor recently posted in r/houston: “With these self-driving cars, it’s only a matter of time before a country song is written about a guy’s truck leaving him.”

Part 1: How Google’s self-driving car project accidentally spawned its robotic delivery rival

Part 2: Why regulators love Nuro’s self-driving delivery vehicles

Part 3: How Nuro became the robotic face of Domino’s

Part 4: Here’s what the inevitable friendly neighborhood robot invasion looks like

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Why fintechs are buying up legacy financial services companies

Image of a bank vault.

Image Credits: Peter Dazeley (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Why bother to beat the competition when you can buy them outright?

“It used to be that if you were a fintech startup or, for lack of a better term, a digitally native financial services business, you might be eyeing an acquisition from an incumbent in the industry,” Ryan Lawler writes.

“But lately, fintech upstarts are the ones doing the acquiring.”

Growth tactics that will jump-start your customer base

Image of a megaphone on a pink background with colorful balls in the air to represent marketing.

Image Credits: Jasmin Merdan (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

“With audiences spread out over so many platforms, reaching cult status requires some level of hacking,” Jenny Wang, a principal investor at Neo, writes in a guest column.

Covering everything from collecting user-generated content to launching splashy guerrilla marketing strategies that can take advantage of someone else’s events, she shares several growth tactics for startups, plus the metrics required to track their success.

There could be more to the Salesforce+ video streaming service than meets the eye

Behind the scenes of video recording or filming online movie by 8K high definition digital camera and professional monitor. And flare lighting set up with film crew team in the studio production.

Image Credits: ppengcreative / Getty Images

Salesforce announced last week that it plans to launch a video streaming service.

The industry analysts who enterprise reporter Ron Miller interviewed said the initiative has tremendous potential, but one noted that Salesforce will have to dig deep to compete in today’s crowded media landscape.

Salesforce hasn’t released details on the type of programming it plans to offer, but given its vast and diverse customer base, its options are many. Said Brent Leary of CRM Essentials:

“A customer could sponsor a show, advertise a show or possibly collaborate on a show. And have leads generated from the show [which could be] directly tied to the activity from those options and track ROI. And it’s all done on one platform. And the content lives on with ads living on with them.”

More companies should shift to a work-from-home model

An orange tabby kitten rests his paw on a hand as a person works from home

Image Credits: Ann Schwede (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Karl Laughton, president and COO of Insightly, offers best practices for companies looking to make the move to a remote model.

“Employers are at a crucial crossroads when it comes to deciding where and how to let employers do their jobs,” he writes in a guest column. “There are those who will adopt the work-from-anywhere model and those who resist it.

“Those who resist it will likely struggle to keep employees.”

Early-stage benchmarks for young cybersecurity companies

3D illustration of a conceptual maze.

Image Credits: Getty Images under a Olivier Le Moal (opens in a new window) license.

YL Ventures’ Yoav Leitersdorf and Michael Cortez lay out a roadmap for founders of early-stage cybersecurity companies that are heading toward unicorn status.

“The early days of any young startup decide how successful it can be, which is why we’ve developed a focused, value-add program to support cybersecurity founders during this most critical stage and maximize their potential in building market-leading companies,” they write in a guest column.

“It’s never too early to think big, and, with the right support, launch the next industry titan.”

The hyperactive late-stage market should keep the startup investing game afoot

Alex Wilhelm considers last week’s funding news from Carta, Chime and Discord and noodles on what the recent rounds mean for startups.

“Understanding why investors are so willing to buy minute stakes in dozens of private companies worth billions of dollars is key to grokking the crush of investment we see among younger technology startups.”

#alex-wilhelm, #chime, #ec-roundup, #extra-crunch-roundup, #finance, #nuro, #ron-miller, #ryan-lawler, #salesforce, #security, #self-driving-cars, #startups, #tc, #transportation, #venture-capital, #yl-ventures, #yoav-leitersdorf

Extra Crunch roundup: 3 lies VCs tell, betting big on Kubernetes, NYC’s enterprise boom

Although older adults are one of the fastest-growing demographics, they’re quite underserved when it comes to consumer tech.

The global population of people older than 65 will reach 1.5 billion by 2050, and members of this cohort — who are leading longer, active lives — have plenty of money to spend.

Still, most startups persist in releasing products aimed at serving younger users, says Lawrence Kosick, co-founder of GetSetUp, an edtech company that targets 50+ learners.

“If you can provide a valuable, scalable service for the older adult market, there’s a lot of opportunity to drive growth through partnerships,” he notes.


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Cropped photo a photo of author Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

Image Credits: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

On Thursday, August 19, Managing Editor Danny Crichton will interview Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, author of “Choose Possibility,” on Twitter Spaces at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT/9 p.m. UTC.

Singh Cassidy, founder of premium talent marketplace theBoardlist, will discuss making the leap into entrepreneurship after leaving Google, her time as CEO-in-Residence at venture capital firm Accel Partners and the framework she’s developed for taking career risks.

They’ll take questions from the audience, so please add a reminder to your calendar to join the conversation.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week! Have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Dear Sophie: Can I hire an engineer whose green card is being sponsored by another company?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I want to extend an offer to an engineer who has been working in the U.S. on an H-1B for almost five years. Her current employer is sponsoring her for an EB-2 green card, and our startup wants to hire her as a senior engineer.

What happens to her green card process? Can we take it over?

— Recruiting in Richmond

3 lies VCs tell ourselves about startup valuations

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

In a candid guest post, Scott Lenet, president of Touchdown Ventures, writes about the cognitive dissonance currently plaguing venture capital.

Yes, there’s an incredible amount of competition for deals, but there’s also a path to bringing soaring startup valuations back to earth.

For example, early investors have an inherent conflict of interest with later participants and many VCs are thirsty “logo hunters” who just want bragging rights.

At some point, “venture capitalists need to stop engaging in self-delusion about why a valuation that is too high might be OK,” writes Lenet.

‘The tortoise and the hare’ story is playing out right now in VC

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Aesop’s fable about the determined tortoise who defeated an arrogant hare has many interpretations, e.g., the value of perseverance, the virtue of taking on bullies, how an outsized ego can undermine natural talent.

In the case of venture capital, the allegory is relevant because a slow, steady and more personal approach generates better outcomes, says Marc Schröder, managing partner of MGV.

“We simply must take the time to get to know founders.”

What’s driving the global surge in retail media spending?

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As the pandemic changed consumer behavior and regulations began to reshape digital marketing tools, advertisers are turning to retail media.

Using the reams of data collected at the individual and aggregate level, retail media produce high-margin revenue streams. “And like most things, there is a bad, a good and a much better way of doing things,” advises Cynthia Luo, head of marketing at e-commerce marketing stack Epsilo.

New York City’s enterprise tech startups could be heading for a superheated exit wave

“We lied when we said that The Exchange was done covering 2021 venture capital performance,” Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm admit.

Yesterday, they reviewed a detailed report from NYC-based VC group Work-Bench on the city’s enterprise tech startups.

“New York City’s enterprise footprint is now large enough that it must be considered a leading market for the startup varietal,” Anna and Alex conclude, “making its results a bellwether to some degree.”

“And if New York City is laying the groundwork for a huge wave of unicorn exits in the coming four to eight quarters, we should expect to see something similar in other enterprise markets around the world.”

Disaster recovery can be an effective way to ease into the cloud

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

Given the rapid pace of digital transformation, nearly every business will eventually migrate some — or most — aspects of their operations to the cloud.

Before making the wholesale shift to digital, companies can start getting comfortable by using disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). Even a partially managed DRaaS can make an organization more resilient and lighten the load for its IT team.

Plus, it’s also a savvy way for tech leaders to get shot-callers inside their companies to get on board the cloud bandwagon.

Regulations can define the best places to build and invest

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“The decisions of government, the broader legal system and its combined level of scrutiny toward a particular subject” can affect market timing and the durability of an idea, Noorjit Sidhu, an early-stage investor at Plug & Play Ventures, writes in a guest column.

There are three areas currently facing regulatory scrutiny that have the potential to “provide outsized returns,” Sidhu writes: taxes, telemedicine and climate.

VCs unfazed by Chinese regulatory shakeups (so far)

“China’s technology scene has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent months,” Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm write about the Chinese government’s crackdown on a host of technology companies.

“The result of the government fusillade against some of the best-known companies in China was falling share prices,” they write.

But has it affected the venture capital market? SoftBank this week said it would pause investments in China, but the numbers through Q2 indicate China is steadier than Alex and Anna expected.

Perform a quality of earnings analysis to make the most of M&A

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If you’re a startup founder, odds are, at some point, you’ll raise a Series A (and B and C and D, hopefully), perform a strategic acquisition, and maybe even sell your company.

When those things occur, you’ll need to know how to do a quality of earnings (QofE) to maximize value, Pierre-Alexandre Heurtebize, investment and M&A director at HoriZen Capital, writes in a guest column.

He walks through a framework for thinking and organizing a QofE for “every M&A and private equity transition you may be part of.”

VCs are betting big on Kubernetes: Here are 5 reasons why

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“What was once solely an internal project at Google has since been open-sourced and has become one of the most talked about technologies in software development and operations,” Ben Ofiri, the co-founder and CEO of the Kubernetes troubleshooting platform Komodor, writes of Kubernetes, which he calls “the new Linux.”

“This technology isn’t going anywhere, so any platform or tooling that helps make it more secure, simple to use and easy to troubleshoot will be well appreciated by the software development community.”

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