Ben Rubin, who founded Houseparty, Meerkat and Slashtalk, will peer into the future of social at Disrupt

Ben Rubin understands where social is going. In fact, he understands it so well, he’s always there early.

Rubin is the current CEO and co-founder of Slashtalk and an angel investor who scouts for Sequoia Capital. He previously founded Houseparty and Meerkat — apps that pioneered group video chat and mobile livestreaming, respectively — shaping massive social trends in their earliest stages.

In 2015, Meerkat took SXSW by storm. The app seemed to have captured lightning in a bottle, and entrenched players in social noticed. Twitter was early to the trend too, having bought Periscope earlier that year, and leveraged Meerkat’s momentum to attract people to its own product. Half a year later, Facebook vaulted into the space with Facebook Live.

Meerkat didn’t keep up, but it did transform. In 2016, the same team launched Houseparty, a group video chat app geared toward connecting established friends in casual virtual hangouts rather than streaming to the masses. Three years later, in a world not yet ravaged by the pandemic, it sold to Fortnite maker Epic Games.

With people driven indoors and away from IRL social interactions, Houseparty boomed. In a single month during the pandemic’s early phase, the app saw 50 million new signups and hit the top of the charts across the iOS App Store and Google Play. But Houseparty struggled to retain users, and by fall of 2021 Epic announced that it would unceremoniously wind down the project and pull Houseparty from app stores.

Only time will tell if Houseparty’s technology will play a role in Epic’s vision for the metaverse — an interconnected series of seamless virtual worlds for people to explore and socialize in. But regardless of the app’s eventual fate, Houseparty’s take on social spontaneity and casual group video was ahead of its time.

If anyone is well positioned to know where social networks are going in the near future, it’s probably Rubin. He’s now working on Slashtalk, “an anti-meeting tool for fast, decentralized conversations.” Slashtalk’s ethos echoes both Meerkat and Houseparty’s belief in social serendipity, but this time Rubin is focused on the workplace rather than consumer social.

Rubin will join us onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 to talk about his new company and the trends powering current upheavals in social networking, from decentralization and ownership to the future of a connected post-pandemic world.

#ben-rubin, #epic-games, #events, #facebook, #house-party, #houseparty, #ios-app-store, #meerkat, #periscope, #sequoia-capital, #slashtalk, #social, #social-networking, #social-networks, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Evil Geniuses CEO Nicole LaPointe Jameson is coming to Disrupt

As the opportunities in the gaming world continue to expand aggressively as part of post-COVID shifts to the entertainment sector, esports has found its own opportunities in reaching new audiences. While competitive gaming is still in its early stages, the stakeholders of the industry are some of gaming’s most prominent publishers and organizations, and disrupting how business gets done can be a major challenge for rising leagues and platforms.

We’re excited to have Evil Geniuses CEO Nicole LaPointe Jameson join us at TechCrunch Disrupt this week to discuss the business of competitive gaming and how esports is faring in its quest to gain an even larger audience. We’ll talk to LaPointe Jameson about the various leagues and stakeholders in the industry and where the momentum is shifting.

Evil Geniuses is a two decade-old competitive gaming brand, but over the past few years, the esports company has seen a dramatic revamp, exiting leagues and joining new ones while bulking up its roster and looking to find new opportunities in a space that has matured dramatically this decade but is still chasing after mainstream audiences. The esports organization was formerly part of Amazon as a result of the Twitch acquisition, but in 2019 was acquired by Chicago-based Peak6 Investments.

LaPointe Jameson joined Evil Geniuses as CEO back in 2019. At the time, the 25-year-old investor had scant experience running a gaming organization, but since her appointment, the esports company has looked to shake up how companies in the esports world operate. Earlier this year, the company launched its own esports analytics platform, collecting and parsing professional and amateur gameplay data and giving the industry access to more streamlined tools to analyze players and recruit.

As one of very few Black women in charge of an esports organization, LaPointe Jameson has looked to build out a more diverse organization and find a more expansive audience outside traditional niches. The league has helped pioneer signing mixed-gender teams to compete at major competitions.

“To clarify for the people in the back that didn’t catch it the first time… I don’t care where you come from. Nor your creed, gender, religion, class, past industry, or sexual orientation. If you are the best of the best, you have a home here at [Evil Geniuses],” LaPointe Jameson tweeted earlier this year.

We look forward to chatting with LaPointe Jameson, alongside a whole host of amazing speakers at Disrupt, including Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, and actor-entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds.

The show is coming up fast. Get your ticket now for less than $100 before the price increases tonight — and we’ll see you soon.

#esports, #events, #evil-geniuses, #gaming, #nicole-lapointe-jameson, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Carmichael Roberts, Sean O’Sullivan will share insights into climate tech and investing at Disrupt

The effects of a warming planet, from frequent and extreme flooding to hurricanes and drought, has prompted activists and governments to take action. It’s also spurred a growing number of entrepreneurs to launch technology startups focused on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

At the center of this activity are the venture capitalists deciding which startup — and tech — has the best chance to decarbonize the planet while providing returns. Unlike other categories, climate tech is particularly complex because it spans so many different industries. Investors might be meeting with a founder trying to develop a plant-based fabric on a Monday and one who claims to have developed cutting-edge carbon capture technology on Tuesday.

TechCrunch is excited to announce that Carmichael Roberts, who co‐leads the investment committee at Breakthrough Energy Ventures, and Sean O’Sullivan, managing general partner at SOSV, will join me on our virtual stage at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021. The virtual conference kicks off September 21 and runs through September 23.

Roberts and O’Sullivan will dig into what climate tech means — and what it doesn’t — their investing approach, the hottest and most promising technology within this sector and the risk of not getting it right.

The pair have the expertise to weigh in. Roberts is also co-founder and managing partner of Material Impact, a fund that builds resilient technology companies developing products to solve real‐world problems using innovative materials. Before he became an investor, Roberts  co‐founded several ventures, in which he served as president and CEO or chairman. He also worked in business development at GelTex Pharmaceuticals, acquired by Genzyme for $1.3 billion, and in new product and business development at Dow Chemical (formerly Union Carbide Corporation).

Before Sullivan joined SOSV, one of the most active venture investors in the world, he founded MapInfo. The company grew to a $200 million revenue public company with more than 1,000 employees, and popularized street mapping on computers. He also founded NetCentric, is credited as the co-creator of the term “cloud computing” and co-founded Dial2Do.

The panel is just one of many investment-focused discussions we’ll be having at Disrupt 2021. But as moderator, this is the one I look most forward to!

#breakthrough-energy-ventures, #carmichael-roberts, #climate-change, #climate-tech, #events, #sean-osullivan, #sosv, #tc, #tc-disrupt, #tc-disrupt-2021

Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto boss Katie Haun is coming to Disrupt

The crypto space has matured so much in so little time, but even amid a blockbuster year, it’s still facing down the existential risk of aggressive regulation from U.S. agencies.

All the while, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has been tirelessly building out a major crypto arm dedicated to ensuring that the firm will be an institutional powerhouse in the world of cryptocurrencies, decentralized finance and broader “Web3” technologies for years to come. Its early network of investments power much of the crypto world’s earliest success stories, but the firm has bigger ambitions yet. The firm’s efforts here are co-led by General Partner Katie Haun — who was once a federal prosecutor tackling fraud and cyber crime alongside top government agencies.

We’re excited to have Haun join us at TechCrunch Disrupt this year (September 21-23), where we’ll be asking her about all things crypto regulation and what the firm hopes to accomplish with its new, massive $2.2 billion crypto fund. Beyond the firm’s aggressive fund sizes and rapid deal-making in the crypto space, the firm’s partners — including Haun — have been among the most vocal about the potentially transformative nature of the blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

This has gotten more attention in 2021 when currencies have surged, fallen and surged again, minting more and more crypto millionaires while sucking in retail investors clamoring to get a piece of the hot space. It’s also been a year where the crypto space’s diversity has emerged with decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) gaining attention, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) catching global attention and decentralized finance (DeFi) threatening to upend financial institutions.

Haun serves on the boards of Coinbase and OpenSea. Coinbase went public this year and delivered one of the firm’s biggest payouts ever, while OpenSea is the dominant platform in the ever-shifting and ever-surging world of NFTs. Both companies are facing controversies on their quest toward crypto greatness. This month, Coinbase detailed that the SEC plans to sue it over the company’s upcoming lending feature. Meanwhile, OpenSea is grappling with the resignation of a highly visible executive who was discovered to be abusing company information to trade NFTs.

It’s a controversial space with plenty of money to be had, and Andreesen Horowitz has made a lot of it.

We look forward to chatting with Haun, alongside a whole host of amazing speakers at Disrupt, including Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, actor-entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The show is coming up fast. Get your ticket now for less than $100 before the price increases tonight — and we’ll see you soon.

#andreessen-horowitz, #crypto-economy, #cryptocurrency, #events, #katie-haun, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

SEC Regional Director Erin Schneider is joining us at Disrupt

If ever there was a time when working at the Securities and Exchange Commission was a dull affair, that’s no longer true. The federal agency that’s responsible for protecting investors and maintaining fair and orderly functioning of our securities markets is busier than ever, thanks to the rise of SPACs, cryptocurrencies and new rules around how startups raise money. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In just a few of its many cases, it this week charged App Annie, the mobile data and analytics firm, as well as its co-founder and former CEO and Chairman Bertrand Schmitt, with securities fraud.

The charges come hot on the heels of another case that the SEC announced late last month against Manish Lachwani, the former CEO of Silicon Valley startup HeadSpin, who has been accused of defrauding investors out of $80 million by falsely claiming HeadSpin had achieved stronger and more consistent growth on the customer and revenue front than was the case.

It also still has an active case against former Theranos president “Sunny” Balwani, who, unlike Theranos and its founder Elizabeth Holmes, has refused to settle with the agency.

Of course, in the midst of its active fieldwork, it’s getting used to grappling — publicly — with powerful tech CEOs. It famously became a target of Elon Musk several years ago when it filed securities fraud charges against him tied to his social media activities. (It continues to try reining in the tweets of Musk, who has openly mocked the agency.)

More recently, it found itself the target of a Twitter tirade by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.

Leading the charge in each of these cases and many more is Erin Schneider, who attended UC Berkeley as an undergraduate and law student and who, after a brief stint as a staff accountant at PWC and as a lawyer with a global law office, headed to the SEC as a staff attorney. She has steadily worked her way up since, and in May 2019 was appointed as the head of its San Francisco office, which leads enforcement and examinations in not only Northern California but also the Pacific Northwest.

Because she and her colleagues have their hands particularly full, you can imagine how excited we are that Schneider is coming to Disrupt (September 21-23) to discuss some of the agency’s many current challenges — as well as its victories.

If you’re interested in learning more about the SEC’s ever-evolving approach to Silicon Valley startups, and why you shouldn’t expect its interest to dissipate any time soon, you really won’t want to miss this conversation.

Disrupt is coming up fast. Don’t miss our conversation with Schneider or with Brian Armstrong himself, or actor-entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds, or investor Chamath Palihapitiya, or the many other powerful speakers who will be gracing our virtual stage this year. Get your ticket now for less than $100 — and we’ll see you soon.

#erin-schneider, #events, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission

SoftBank’s Marcelo Claure is coming to Disrupt next week

SoftBank has been on a tear in Latin America. The Japanese investment conglomerate just announced it has launched its second Latin America-focused fund with a $3 billion capital commitment from the company that may grow as the fund explores “options to raise additional capital,” according to SoftBank. The vehicle follows hot on the heels of SoftBank’s debut Latin America-focused fund, announced in March 2019 with an initial $2 billion in committed capital.

It’s easy to see what all the fuss is about. Led by Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Group International and COO of SoftBank Group Corp., the outfit’s roughly four dozen employees — who operate out of Miami, São Paulo and Mexico City — have helped SoftBank identify and fund 48 startups into which it has plugged $3.5 billion and, according to the firm, which feature a combined (on paper, notably) net IRR of 85%.

Among the so-called unicorns that SoftBank has backed — and, in some cases, helped drive into unicorn territory — are QuintoAndarRappiMercado BitcoinGympass and MadeiraMadeira. Recently, it also co-led a $350 million Series D round in Argentine personal finance management app Ualá.

It’s so busy that it just brought aboard two new managing partners at the end of last week to help out with all that investing.

Amazingly, overseeing investments in Latin America is just one of the many roles that Claure, a native of Bolivia, plays for SoftBank. (He also oversees a vast portfolio of SoftBank’s operating companies, including Arm, Brightstar, Fortress, SB Energy and Boston Dynamics; he oversees SoftBank’s ownership in T-Mobile US; and he serves as executive chairman of WeWork, which he ran as interim CEO after founder Adam Neumann was forced to resign.) Still, one senses that it may be his greatest passion right now, and we’re thrilled to say that he’ll be joining us at Disrupt on the morning of Thursday, September 23rd, to talk all about it.

If you care about where SoftBank is shopping in Latin America right now — or generally want to understand better what sparked the torrid pace of investing there that the industry has seen over the last 18 months — this is a conversation you won’t want to miss.

Even better, Claure joins a whole host of amazing speakers at Disrupt, including Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, actor-entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.

The show is coming up fast. Get your ticket now for less than $100 before the price goes up in a few short days; we’ll see you there.

#events, #marcelo-claure, #softbank, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021, #venture-capital

WarnerMedia’s Andy Forssell will discuss HBO Max at Disrupt 2021

In May 2020, WarnerMedia launched HBO Max into a crowded streaming landscape. In spite of early struggles, the timing couldn’t have been better. When the world was stuck at home, struggling to find new sources of entertainment amid a global pandemic, HBO’s latest attempt at an app-based platform rose in the ranks alongside fellow newly launched service, Disney+.

The platform builds on HBO’s much-loved original prestige programming, while taking advantage of a day and date approach to streaming films, which many studios have opened up to amid worldwide theater shutdowns. In particular, its sister studio Warner Bros. has premiered a number of big-budget films on the service — including “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Space Jam: A New Legacy” — as the pandemic has shown no sign of slowing.

The past year has brought plenty of channels for the service, as well. Not everyone is thrilled about the pandemic trend of bypassing the theater. Sopranos creator David Chase was recently quoted as being “extremely angry” about the HBO Max release of the prequel — news that followed Scarlett Johansson’s lawsuit against Disney over its own streaming release of “Black Widow.” The company has evolved strategies, removing its offering from Amazon Prime Channels and adding a lower-cost ad-based tier to Max.

WarnerMedia EVP and head of business operations for HBO Max Andy Forssell will be joining us at our virtual TechCrunch Disrupt next week on September 21-23 to discuss the service’s launch during a turbulent time, as well as what the future holds for the app, and video streaming in general. Prior to joining WarnerMedia in 2019, Forssell served as the COO of Otter Media and Fullscreen, Inc. and was the acting CEO and SVP of Hulu.

Disrupt starts next week. Get your ticket now for less than $100 before the price goes up in a few short days.

#andy-forssell, #events, #media, #streaming-services, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021, #warnermedia

Reid Hoffman is returning to Disrupt

You’ve probably learned from Reid Hoffman before, either through his inventions, investments or inspirational words. The entrepreneur is the co-founder of LinkedIn, a partner at Greylock and the author of a new book based off of his hit podcast, Masters of Scale. 

His storied past makes him chock-full of interesting anecdotes and lessons, which is why we’re excited to have him back on the TechCrunch Disrupt stage happening next week from September 21-23. I’ll sit down with him to learn about his perspective on some of the biggest tensions that entrepreneurs face today. Hoffman’s advice is often fueled by his raw conversations with top tech CEOs and founders, so we’ll broaden access to his speed-dial list to understand how even his own perceptions on blitzscaling, growth and entrepreneurship are changing amid the pandemic. As I explained in my review of his new book, his words read like a well-networked mentor giving you a pep talk — so even if you’re not building a startup, there will be useful lessons to learn just by listening.

Here’s how it impacted my interview process, for example:

While press wasn’t a main character in the book, “Master of Scale” has already changed my perspective on how I interview founders. Lessons from Tristan Walker made me want to ask more questions about founders, and their most controversial beliefs, rather than how they plan to spend their new round of funding. A note from Andrés Ruzo made me realize that a startup that makes too much sense might be a comfortable read, but it might not be a moonshot that disrupts the world; in other words, pursue the startups that have too much seemingly foolish ambition — because they may be where the best strides, and stories, are made. Finally, it confirmed my belief that the best litmus test for a founder is if they are willing to talk about the hardships ahead of them in an honest, humble way.

OK, that’s all I’m hinting. Join me at Disrupt, where I’ll put Hoffman on the hot seat, balance out the cheerfulness with some cynical takes and push him to explain what his inevitable next book is about. Buy your tickets to TechCrunch Disrupt using this link, or use promo code “MASCARENHAS20” for a little discount from me.

#disrupt, #events, #reid-hoffman, #startups, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck will discuss taking a company interplanetary at Disrupt 2021

Building an orbital launch business from scratch is no simple matter, but what if that business is just a stepping stone to a vertically integrated, interplanetary space company? Rocket Lab founder Peter Beck will be joining us next week at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 (Sept 21-23) to talk about the challenge and exhilaration of pursuing his passion for space, all the way to orbit, the moon and beyond.

Rocket Lab started over a decade ago as Beck tested increasingly large rockets, with the (supposedly) ultimate goal of building a small, reliable and relatively inexpensive launch vehicle that could deliver payloads to orbit at a weekly cadence — or even faster.

Since then the company and its Electron launch vehicle have become not just a sought-after ride to orbit, but it has begun expanding into spacecraft design and manufacturing with Photon, and announced a much larger vehicle called Neutron. Now they’ve even been tapped for an Artemis-related lunar mission and are planning a privately funded mission to Venus. (And of course they’ve raised a boatload of money and are going public.)

The always forthcoming, Beck will join us virtually from his home country HQ in New Zealand to discuss Rocket Lab’s success and future endeavors, and the challenge of adapting a company from underdog launch provider to sprawling space services company with competition nipping at its heels.

We hope you’ll join us next week at Disrupt. You can get your passes now for under $100 until Monday, September 20.

#aerospace, #events, #peter-beck, #rocket-lab, #space, #tc-disrupt-2021

Submit your pitch deck now for live feedback at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 next week

The art of pitching is perhaps the most important art that a founder learns on their journey to unicorn status and beyond. And like any art, it helps to get some critical feedback along the way from the judges on the other side of the table.

That’s why every Disrupt, we host Pitch Deck Teardown, a panel of VCs who read and critique several pitch decks in a row to offer feedback on everything from the overarching narrative and story to the mundane details of format, typography and colors.

At TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 next week, I’m excited to be hosting Maren Bannon of January Ventures, Bling Capital’s Ben Ling and Vanessa Larco of NEA for our next iteration of this popular workshopping panel.

If you’re a founder and want to submit your deck for consideration, head on over to this trusty Google Form and upload a copy of your pitch deck in PDF format. Remember that this will be presented publicly, so make sure it’s appropriate for a live studio audience. We’ll be selecting roughly six of them for inclusion in the event, and we’ll notify the founders selected by email.

Come join us next week! And if you need tickets to Disrupt, we still have some available for all the virtual excitement across two stages and dozens of fireside chats and panels.

#disrupt-2021, #events, #pitch-deck-teardown

Don’t miss the Startup Alley Crawls at Disrupt next week

It’s coming down to the wire folks. TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 — our flagship global event — takes over the internet on September 21-23. More than 10,000 people will attend to learn about the latest tech and investment trends from iconic leaders, founders and VCs. They’ll network and connect to build game-changing startups.

Time to get on board: It costs less than $100 to attend TechCrunch Disrupt until this Monday. Purchase your pass now to save yourself some money. You can check out the Disrupt agenda here and then go grab your ticket.

The heart of every Disrupt — even our virtual incarnations — is Startup Alley. It’s where hundreds of innovative startups exhibit their products, platforms and services. It’s where investors look for portfolio potential, founders find new customers, tech journalists hunt for stories, and everyone finds inspiration.

We’ve created a special series of events to focus on the wide range of talent in Startup Alley. It’s the Startup Alley Crawl — think pub crawl without the remorse. We group exhibitors in Startup Alley by business category, and each business category will have its own dedicated, hour-long crawl.

You might even see some of these exhibitors interviewed live during a Disrupt Desk segment. Sit back in the comfort of your secure, undisclosed location and tune in to learn more about what these companies have to offer.

All Startup Alley exhibitors have their own virtual booth where you can check out their pitch deck, strike up a conversation, schedule a product demo or connect with them via CrunchMatch to set up 1:1 video meetings.

Here’s what Jessica McLean, the director of marketing and communications for Infinite-Compute, a Startup Alley exhibitor at Disrupt 2020, had to say about networking during a virtual conference.

“The virtual platform made networking easy. We sent quick introductions, scheduled meetings with investors and other smart people who could add value to our company. A person we connected with at Disrupt is currently helping us with marketing, which is fantastic.”

TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 takes place on September 21-30. If you haven’t done so yet, buy your pass now. Pop some corn, pop a pint and join the Startup Alley Crawl — and check out all the other exhibitors, too. You never know what opportunities are waiting there just for you.

#events, #startup-alley, #startups, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Check out the amazing speakers joining us on Extra Cru… ahem, TechCrunch Live

It’s been an Extra Crunch summer. We’ve heard how to craft your pitch deck around the one thing that really hooks an investor, and how the industry experience of Retail Zipline’s Melissa Wong ticked every box for Emergence when raising her Series A. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We’ve also gotten a sneak peek at the Disrupt Startup Alley companies in our summer episodes of Extra Crunch Live: Startup Alley Edition.

But there’s more where that came from this fall. Without any further ado, check out the incredible speakers joining us on upcoming episodes of Extra Crunch Live.

Oh, and by the way, we’re changing the name. Henceforth, ECL shall be known as TechCrunch Live. Here’s why: We realized that hanging out with TechCrunch in this context should be accessible to everyone. We interview startup founders and the investors that finance them to learn how the deal actually gets done, and we have folks in the audience pitch to get the expert feedback of our guests. Everyone should be able to benefit from that.

Because of that, we’re calling the series TechCrunch Live, as the live event hasn’t been an EC member perk for quite some time. Although the live portion is free upon registration, the video replays from TechCrunch Live will remain behind the paywall.

So, let me try that again.

Here are the upcoming speakers joining us on TechCrunch Live in October.

Nicole Quinn (Lightspeed Venture Partners) + Vlad Novakovski (Lunchclub)

October 6 – 3pm ET/12pm PT

Nicole Quinn, partner at Lightspeed, has spent her career helping startups reach their target audiences on digital platforms. Her portfolio includes Cameo, Zola, Goop, Calm and Haus Laboratories, among others. Hear Quinn and Lunchclub founder Vlad Novakovski talk through how they came together for the startup’s Series A, and get their feedback on your startup’s elevator pitch!

REGISTER FOR LIGHTSPEED VENTURE PARTNERS AND LUNCHCLUB

Image Credits: Lightspeed Venture Partners / Lunchclub

Shawn Carolan (Menlo Ventures) + Chris Britt (Chime)

October 13 – 3pm ET/12pm PT

Chime, helmed by Chris Britt, has raised over $2 billion, with a valuation of $25 billion. Hear Britt, alongside investor and Menlo Ventures partner Shawn Carolan, share how the company got its earlier funding and how they’ve strategized growth since. Carolan and Britt will also hear live pitches from the audience and give their feedback.

REGISTER FOR MENLO VENTURES AND CHIME

Image Credits: Menlo Ventures / Chime

Mark Goldberg (Index) + Jessica McKellar (Pilot)

October 20 – 3pm ET/12pm PT

Jessica McKellar’s Pilot has taken an old-school business (taxes, bookkeeping, etc.) and made it simple through software, with more than $160 million in funding. Index led the company’s A and B rounds. On TCL, we’ll hear why Index doubled down from partner Mark Goldberg, and McKeller, and they will give live feedback on pitches from the audience.

REGISTER FOR INDEX VENTURES AND PILOT

#events, #extra-crunch-live-announcement, #tc, #techcrunch-live

Chamath Palihapitiya is coming to Disrupt

Retail investors love him. Venture capitalists envy him. But pretty much everyone writing checks these days is paying attention to Chamath Palihapitiya, whose star has been on the rise since the outset of his career at an early online media player called Winamp that was acquired by AOL.

Indeed, over the last 20 years, Palihapitiya — whose family moved from Sri Lanka to Canada as refugees when he was five — has been changing up the status quo of nearly everything he touches. At AOL, he became the company’s youngest VP and wound up doing a small deal with Facebook whose “biggest outcome of the deal was the connection Palihapitiya formed with Mark Zuckerberg,” as writer Steven Levy reported last year. (Palihapitiya later said that one of his biggest takeaways from AOL was that, “Most people at most companies are really shit.”)

Hired into Facebook in 2007, his role there would prove more seminal. Though Palihapitiya reportedly floundered at first — even proposing after a year that Zuckerberg should perhaps fire him, according to Levy — he zeroed in on how to make both himself and Facebook more valuable by building a data-driven “growth team” that focused relentlessly on improving and growing the engagement of monthly active users.

Among its biggest successes: Facebook’s “People You Know” feature, which was heavily inspired by a similar LinkedIn feature after Palihapitiya’s team identified that new users needed to discover seven friends and fast.

That period of Palihapitiya’s life would have wide-ranging ripple effects. For one thing, like a lot of people working at Facebook before it went public in 2012, he made a fortune from his Facebook shares, such that around the same time that he was leaving in 2011, he acquired a stake in the Golden State Warriors and founded his own venture capital firm, Social Capital.

Being a “former Facebook exec” also made Palihapitiya more widely famous, including as he began expressing regret publicly over his role with the company, which he began to see as corrosive.

Indeed, in 2017, he told an audience at the Stanford Graduate School of Business what many had already begun to fear about Facebook: “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he said.

More drama, more money and more fame have followed. In recent years, Social Capital has shed most of its employees — Palihapitiya now describes himself as a solo GP. He has become a regular guest on CNBC.

He has become closely identified with special purpose acquisition vehicles, or SPACs, owing both to his early and bullish embrace of them. The first SPAC he organized merged with Virgin Galactic Holdings, enabling the space tourism company to begin trading publicly in October 2019. It performed so well that it kicked off a massive boom in SPAC activity, with Palihapitiya — whose many earlier bets include Yammer, Palantir and Box — forming or investing in more than a dozen SPACs since, including one that took public Opendoor and another that took public Clover Health. (Earlier this year, The New Yorker dedicated valuable real estate to Palihapitiya in a profile titled, “The Pied Piper of SPACs.”)

One question is whether Palihapitiya is now moving on. SPAC activity has cooled, with enthusiasm around the vehicles dampened by class-action lawsuits (including against Clover Health) and the widespread expectation that the Securities & Exchange Commission is about to regulate them more closely.

Back in March, Palihapitiya was also believed to be shifting his gaze toward environmental investment, including through the sale of his entire personal stake in Virgin Galactic for more than $200 million — a move he said was designed to help finance “a large investment I am making towards fighting climate change.”

(He also late last month donated $7 million to an organization that is affixing hydropanels that supply clean water to homes in the California counties of Fresno, Monterey, Kern and Tulare, which has become “ground zero” for the climate crisis, observes Fast Company.)

What has come of that large investment he was planning to make? Is he past SPACs? And what else does the inimitable Palihapitiya have cooking? We’re very excited to say we’ll have the opportunity to talk with him about all of these things and much more in roughly one week at TechCrunch Disrupt, our signature annual event, which is entirely virtual this year. While 25 minutes will surely prove too short a time, we’ll cover as much ground with him as we can in a conversation that, if you know Palihapitiya at all, you know you definitely don’t want to miss.

Even better, Palihapitiya joins a whole host of amazing speakers at Disrupt, including Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, actor-entrepreneur Ryan Reynolds, and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The show is coming up fast. Get your ticket now for less than $100 just for a few short days, and we’ll see you next week.

#chamath-palihapitiya, #events, #spac, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

The Disrupt Desk will help you catch everything you missed at Disrupt 2021

This year at TechCrunch Disrupt (happening just next week), there is more to explore than ever before. From the scores of Startup Alley companies to the Startup Battlefield presentations to the Disrupt Stage, Extra Crunch Stage and beyond.

We’ll hear from big name VCs like Chamath Palihapatiya, a16z’s Katie Haun, GC’s Niko Bonatsos, Forerunner’s Kirsten Green and more. Founders, such as Stewart Butterfield (Slack), Tope Awotona (Calendly), Brian Armstrong (Coinbase) and Melanie Perkins (Canva), will share how they’ve grown an idea into a unicorn. We’ll even have policy folks like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the SEC’s Erin Schneider at the show, with celebrities Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogen to boot.

On the Extra Crunch stage, panels on how to raise your first dollars, how to craft your pitch deck, how to land your first B2B customers and how to find product market fit will include audience Q&A, to make sure you leave with everything you need to know to be successful.

Obviously, it would be impossible to catch it all in real time. But the Disrupt Desk is making its grand return after debuting in 2020.

The Disrupt Desk will hit you with all the biggest highlights from the show, complete with analysis of breaking news and meaningful insights from our speakers. Plus, the Disrupt Desk will have a few never-before-seen demos and breaking news announcements.

Of course, alongside catching up with the Disrupt Desk, Disrupt attendees can catch everything from the show on-demand with their complementary 3-month Extra Crunch membership.

TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 goes down in just a few days (September 21-23 to be exact), so snag your pass soon before it’s too late! Prices are less than $100 to get access to it all but just until Monday when prices increase by $200.

#events, #startups, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Live from Apple’s virtual 2021 iPhone event

It’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down, the leaves are starting to change color and Apple’s getting ready to drop a brand new iPhone on the world. Today’s big event arrives less than a year after the last big iPhone event, as Apple seems to be back on schedule, after some early pandemic supply chain issues.

I wrote a handy roundup of all the things we expect to see live on video from Cupertino, based on a slew of rumors and leaks. The big news today is almost certainly the arrival of the iPhone 13. We’re also expecting the new Apple Watch Series 7 to drop, as well as some other key hardware additions, potentially including new AirPods and additional Apple Silicon Mac models.

Matthew and Darrell are going to be heading up the liveblog team, kicking off at 10AM PT/1PM ET today. Check out the video stream here and stay put on this very page to get the up to the minute news as it arrives.

Read more about Apple's Fall 2021 Event on TechCrunch

#airpods-3, #apple-fall-event-2021, #events, #hardware, #iphone-13

Peloton’s CEO and chief content officer are coming to Disrupt

It’s been a wildly unprecedented year and a half by any metric. The pandemic has utterly transformed many industries and made or broken others. In the world of technology, however, few categories were as well positioned to embrace a changed world than connected fitness.

The space was well on its way prior to the arrival of COVID-19, of course, and Peloton was largely seen as the tip of that spear. Founded in 2012, the company’s connected stationary bicycles have redefined the landscape for home workouts, through instructor-led live courses.

Demand for Peloton’s growing selection of fitness equipment saw a sharp spike as gyms all over the world shut down for indefinite periods, leaving many stuck at home to reimagine their workout experience.

But the period arrived with its share of challenges for Peloton’s executives. Increased demand saw the company battling supply chain issues, while in May, its treadmills were met with a pair of recalls over injury concerns.

On September 21-23 at Disrupt, Peloton CEO John Foley and Chief Content Office Jennifer Cotter will join us to discuss the company’s rise and successes and struggles amid the pandemic.

Foley is the former CEO of Evite.com and Pronto.com, and former president of BarnesandNoble.com. He co-founded Peloton in June 2012 and has served as CEO since its inception. Cotter joined the company in 2019 to oversee Peloton’s streaming content. Her background in television programming includes stints at the Home Shopping Network and Oxygen Media.

Foley and Cotter join a growing list of great guests, including Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, investor Chamath Palihapitiya, Calendly CEO Tope Awotona and Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. Get your ticket for less than $100 for a limited time!

#connected-fitness, #events, #hardware, #health, #home-fitness, #peloton, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan will share their vision of our AI-powered future at Disrupt

We’ve had visionary investors onstage before, and we’ve had science fiction authors onstage — but never at the same time, let alone a pair who collaborated on a unique book of stories and essays that make an optimistic prediction of our AI-infused future. Sinovation founder Kai-Fu Lee and author of “Waste Tide” and others Chen Qiufan will join us at Disrupt (September 21-23) for a discussion of the fiction and fact of today’s hottest technology.

Lee, born in Taiwan, attended CMU and obtained a PhD in computer science, working initially on speech recognition before working for Apple, SGI and Microsoft, then establishing Google China as its president. His research and investment company, Sinovation (originally Innovation Works) has been his focus since its founding in 2009, and he has grown to become a leading mind and influential figure in AI.

When we last spoke with Lee, at Disrupt SF 2018, he emphasized that China was catching up to the U.S. on AI research, and had surpassed it in some ways. And certainly his own investments have contributed to that. Since then, as someone who thinks frequently about what the future holds, he has found a kindred spirit in Chen Qiufan.

Qiufan is a Chinese author whose 2013 novel “Waste Tide” propelled him to literary fame, though like many authors, that wasn’t enough to make him quit his day job until a few years later (Wired only just ran a profile on him). But by that time he had attracted the attention of Lee, who proposed a novel project: a collaborative book where the two would put their heads together to create a fictitious future informed by fact and realistic extrapolation.

The result is “AI 2041”: 10 stories by Qiufan set in the titular year, all over the world, with people from all walks of life encountering AI in the many ways that the authors speculate it may come to shape society over the next two decades. Each is followed by an explanatory essay by Lee that goes into the technical aspects and why they might lead to that future.

I’ll be posting a full review of the book ahead of the event, but I can certainly say that it’s unlike any collection I’ve read before. Each story is independent but takes place in something like a shared world, and each illustrates a potential application, conflict or change in thinking that AI could lead to. And, importantly, the AI is recognizable as descended directly from existing technologies.

For instance, one story concerns a talented deepfake creator working out of Lagos, one who knows the ins and outs of generative adversarial networks, image inspection, media pathways and so on. He’s tasked with creating a video of a long-dead celebrity that fools not just people watching it but the hosting service’s automated scanners, the government’s facial recognition algorithms and all the rest — but he begins to suspect there’s an unsavory motive behind it all (I won’t spoil the rest).

What follows the story is Lee’s essay on GANs, facial recognition and deepfakes that explains the concepts in an understandable but not patronizing way, then explores the risks and benefits in a non-narrative way. It helps ground the stories as real possibilities, not just imagined situations.

With both Qiufan and Lee onstage (virtually this time), the discussion of the book and the issues it brings up should be a lively one — not least because it will be moderated by yours truly. But to catch this session, you’ll need to grab a pass to attend Disrupt happening September 21-23. Get yours today for less than $100 for a limited time!

#artificial-intelligence, #chen-qiufan, #events, #kai-fu-lee, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Ryan Reynolds is coming to Disrupt

Ryan Reynolds is America’s sweetheart, despite being both Canadian and somewhat irreverent. The actor, producer, screenwriter and entrepreneur has been nominated for a Golden Globe and Grammy for his work on the Deadpool franchise.

But it wasn’t just his acting that made Deadpool a record-breaking, billion-dollar franchise. Reynolds is one of the world’s greatest when it comes to fast-vertising, which he’s leveraged into his production company and marketing firm Maximum Effort, which ran some of the cheapest, and most impactful marketing for Deadpool from the start.

Maximum Effort is also responsible for some of the best ads of the past few years. It would be hard to forget his campaigns for Aviation Gin (remember how quickly he turned a terrible Peloton ad into an hilarious Aviation Gin ad) or the devilishly funny Match.com spot.

His creative chops are impressive, but come with some clever entrepreneurial grit. Reynolds is an owner of Aviation Gin, which sold for more than $600 million in 2020, and an owner of Mint Mobile, a fast-growing MVNO. Reynolds has brought his marketing expertise to Mint Mobile, too, without becoming the joke.

Obviously, we’re thrilled to have him join us at Disrupt (Sept 21-23) for a fireside chat to talk about how he leverages both his creativity and his platform in the world of entrepreneurialism, and pick his brain on how startups can use fast-vertising to have a maximum impact on a minimum budget.

We’ll also get a feel for his investment appetite in the world of startups.

Reynolds joins a whole host of amazing speakers at Disrupt, including Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, investor Chamath Palihapitiya, Calendly CEO Tope Awotona, and Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield. Get your ticket now for under $100 for a limited time!

#events, #mint-mobile, #ryan-reynolds, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Canva CEO Melanie Perkins will tell us about the journey to a $15B valuation at Disrupt

The design space has undergone major changes in the last decade. What once was dominated by a single player in Adobe has now become a burgeoning software landscape, with a handful of major players answering the needs of designers across every industry.

One such player is Canva, the startup valued at over $15 billion. The company started out with a consumer-facing product, making design accessible to non-designers. But on the back of launching an enterprise-centric suite of tools, the growth of Sydney-based Canva has been staggering.

So it should come as no surprise that we’re absolutely thrilled to have Canva co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins join us at Disrupt (Sept 21-23) for a fireside chat.

Since launching the company in 2013, Perkins has led its growth to now see more than 55 million users each month, ranging from individual creators to SMBs to Fortune 500 companies.

We’ll talk to Perkins about how she shifted the company from individual creators to a B2B platform, what it’s like to run an industry-specific startup in the midst of a fundamental evolution — see: Design may be the next entrepreneurial gold rush — and how she’s handled this period of monumental growth for the company.

Perkins joins a stellar lineup of speakers at Disrupt, including Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Calendly’s Tope Awotona, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, Houseplant’s Seth Rogen and investor Chamath Palihapitiya, among many others. Check out a full list of speakers here. Disrupt is less than a month away and you can still get your pass to access it all for less than $100! Register today.

 

#canva, #events, #melanie-perkins, #startups, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Techstars’ Saba Karim is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt 2021

Good news, TechCrunch family, Techstars’ Saba Karim is coming to Disrupt (September 21-23) this year.

With a great vantage point from his perspective as Global Startup Pipeline Manager at Techstars, Karim will be hosting a session on the Extra Crunch stage discussing how to craft a pitch deck that cannot be ignored. It’s a popular topic not only because of how important decks remain in today’s venture capital world, but also because what they should contain slowly changes over time — what not to include, as well.

Karim has a background in making people pay attention. Before he had his current role at Techstars, he was CMO at Evolve, for example. Earlier in his career, Karim helped found and run Rawberry in Australia, before working for Telstra. He was also the marketing director at T.H. Capital Ventures in Sydney, before jetting to Boston to work as the VP of growth at StartupCMO.

And as an investor — he writes checks to startups working in the future of work sphere, for example — he has seen pitch decks good, and pitch decks bad. We’re excited to have him aboard to help save our founder-heavy audience time and effort.

In case you need a refresher, Karim is joining what could be our strongest-ever Disrupt speaking cohort. Tope Awotona, the founder and CEO of Calendly is coming. Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong is making what I think is his third appearance at Disrupt. Mercedes Bent from Lightspeed Venture partners is coming. Salesforce’s Stewart Butterfield will be there. Hell, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is coming.

If you are in the startup world, it’s going to be a must-attend event, thanks in no small part to what Karim will be bringing to the show. And your humble servant will be hosting the Extra Crunch stage, so I will see you there! Disrupt is less than a month away and you can still get your pass to access it all for less than $100! Register today.

#events, #pitch-deck, #saba-karim, #startups, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021, #techcrunch-disrupt-2021, #techstars

Stewart Butterfield and Bret Taylor are coming to Disrupt

When Salesforce acquired Slack at the end of last year for almost $28 billion, the deal seemed on its face to make sense, given that the coronavirus pandemic accelerated already growing demand for tools that enable people to work remotely and that roughly 90% of Slack’s enterprise customers already used Salesforce.

Today, the question is: How well are things going?

Salesforce just last week announced some initial integrations with Slack, including introducing so-called account and deal Slack rooms to its “Sales Cloud,” which Salesforce says will allow sales teams to interact around a customer deal cycle. Rob Seaman, SVP for Slack at Salesforce, told TechCrunch last week that, more broadly, “We really want Slack to be the primary engagement surface for our users, their communications, their work, their workflows and the processes and the apps they support.”

But these kinds of public pronouncements don’t get to the heart of what’s happening inside the company. That’s where TechCrunch steps in. At TechCrunch Disrupt happening September 21-23, we are thrilled to be sitting down with both Bret Taylor — the entrepreneur and former Facebook executive who is now the No. 2 executive at Salesforce — and famed Slack founder Stewart Butterfield, to learn far more about their collective mission to take on Microsoft, and what, if anything, the market doesn’t understand about the tie-up between Salesforce and Slack. (Saleforces’s shares are only up slightly from a year ago and priced 16% higher than they were at the start of this year, compared to the S&P 500, which is up 35%.)

Who reports to whom? How independently is Slack being run? How will the two judge the success of the merger, and by when? These are just a few of the many questions we have for these two iconic executives, whose candid conversation with TC is one you won’t want to miss.

To participate in this year’s virtual show, check out the handful of pass options with discounts now available for founders, students and nonprofitsGet your ticket soon, though; prices more than double on September 20. We hope to see you online.

#bret-taylor, #events, #salesforce, #slack, #stewart-buttefield, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Lux Capital’s Deena Shakir is helping judge Startup Battlefield at this year’s Disrupt

Deena Shakir is a partner at Lux Capital, where she looks to invest in technologies that are streamlining analog industries while also improving lives and livelihoods. Among the companies she has backed, for example, are Shiru, which is leveraging computational design to create enhanced proteins to help feed the world; and AllStripes, which aggregates and analyzes medical records, then sells the de-identified data to pharma companies to help them develop medicines.

It’s not a surprise that Shakir is focused on empowering people. Shakir’s father is a psychiatrist and as she once told us, “for a hot minute, I thought I was going to be a doctor myself.” Instead, after attending Harvard, then Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, she wound up working for the State Department during the Obama administration, then headed to Google. She would stay for the next seven years, spending the last of them with GV, Google’s venture unit. There, her work revolved in part around some of the alternative protein companies in GV’s portfolio. Then, in 2019, she was poached by Lux.

Indeed, while Shakir might have once imagined working with people on an individual basis, she has become an increasingly sought-after investor in startup teams, which is why we couldn’t be more excited that she’s able to join us this year for TechCrunch Disrupt. Specifically, we’re thrilled that Shakir will be judging our Startup Battlefield competition, the centerpiece of Disrupt every year and oftentimes a life-changing event for the winning team — and often runners-up, too. Consider that past winners include Vurb, Dropbox, Mint and Yammer, while runner-up Cloudflare currently boasts a market cap of $26 billion.

It’s because we take the competition — and our record to date — so seriously that we’re exceedingly thankful to savvy investors like Shakir, who ask the right questions, and make the tough decisions when it comes time to decide which teams to move along.

Want to watch and judge from home? With our entirely virtual event this year, you’re more than welcome to join us from the comfort of your home or office (and let us know what you think of the startups within the many networking forums you’ll find).

To watch this year’s 20+ startups compete for $100,000 — and to interact with more than 100 hours of content and thousands of enthusiastic startup fans — make sure to book your pass to TC Disrupt, happening September 21-23 — all for less than $100.

Secure your seat today.

#deena-shakir, #events, #lux-capital, #startup-battlefield, #startups, #tc, #techcrunch-disrupt

Discover all things biotech with Mayfield at Disrupt 2021

Solving the twin challenges of human and planetary health is the greatest task of our generation, and it also presents the greatest entrepreneurial opportunity in history, which is why we’ve partnered with Mayfield to bring you an engineering biology track to Disrupt 2021 this September 21-23. Haven’t secured your spot yet? Grab your ticket now for $99 (or even less if you’re a student, founder or nonprofit/government employee)!

Mayfield has over 50 years of experience under its VC belt, and it got there by investing in people first, with a focus on enterprise, consumer and engineering biology companies. They have served as early investors to iconic biotech and health IT entrepreneurs throughout their 50+ year history — from Amgen and Genentech to Mammoth Biosciences — whose mission is to create a better world for this and future generations.

This track will feature insights from the founders of multibillion-dollar companies Twist Bioscience, Gingko Bioworks and Adaptive Bio; NotCo (a rising planetary health star and Indie Bio company) and Mammoth Biosciences (a breakout CRISPR platform company co-founded by Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna); plus Mostafa Ronaghi, the premier SPAC manager and former CTO of Illumina and more innovators working to solve the twin challenges of human and planetary health.

Do you science? Then you won’t want to miss any of the sessions below. Check the Disrupt 2021 agenda for days and times according to your time zone.

Bioplatforms for Saving the Planet: Mayfield’s Arvind Gupta joins two iconic entrepreneurs, Twist CEO Emily Leproust and Ginko Bioworks CEO Jason Kelly, to discuss their founder journeys — from inception through IPO and beyond — and how they are changing our world for the better.

Saving Lives with Precision Biology: Mayfield’s Ursheet Parikh joins Mostafa Ronaghi (former CTO, Illumina), Chad Robins (co-founder & CEO, Adaptive Biotechnologies), Yan Zhang (CEO, Mission Bio) and Diego Rey (co-founder & CSO, Endpoint Health) to talk about how these leaders are leveraging biology breakthroughs to save lives. 

Taking Care of the Next Generation: Mayfield’s Kamini Ramani joins these three exceptional leaders — Sandra Oh Lin (KiwiCo), Maneesh Jain (Mirvie) and Stu Landesberg (Grove Collaborative) — to talk about creating a better world now and for future generations, building movements and communities and the milestones in getting to escape velocity.

The New Human and Planetary Health Pioneers: Mayfield’s Arvind Gupta joins leaders of two breakout companies — Trevor Martin (Mammoth Biosciences) and Matias Muchnick (NotCo) — in a discussion about the founder journey and tips for scaling your business.

Rewiring the Brain to Improve the Quality of Life: Mayfield’s Ursheet Parikh joins neuroscientists, physicians and entrepreneurs — Nanea Reeves (TRIPP), Konstantinos Alataris (Nēsos) and Paul Dagum (Mindstrong Health) — in a discussion about building brain-based businesses that improve the quality of life.

TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 takes place September 21-23. If you science — heck, even if you don’t — be sure to catch the sessions in this special engineering biotech track to learn from visionary leaders determined to build a better world. Buy your Disrupt 2021 pass and join this fascinating conversation for less than $99.

#biotech, #events, #mayfield, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Seth Rogen is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt to talk about the weed business

TechCrunch is thrilled to announce Seth Rogen is coming to TechCrunch Disrupt this September. The movie-star-turned-pot-businessman is speaking on his latest venture: Houseplant, his privately funded entrée into the cannabis business.

Houseplant made a big splash when it launched in 2021, and it continues to get a lot of attention in the noisy world of cannabis. But, of course, having Seth Rogen involved helps keep the company relevant.

You know Seth. Seth Rogen is one of the biggest stars in the entertainment world and isn’t shy about his use of cannabis — the plant is nearly a co-star in each of his movies. And now he’s selling different strains and lifestyle house goods, too.

Houseplant quickly gained a large following. As a result, we have a lot of questions. First, we want to know about Houseplant’s trajectory and its involvement with the cannabis giant, Canopy Growth. And then there’s Houseplant’s use of social media, which is instrumental in the company’s success. How can other cannabis companies learn from Houseplant’s strategies? And then there’s the celebrity angle, too. How can a brand net a high-profile spokesperson or investor, and at what cost?

Houseplant isn’t just a variety project for co-founders Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. This company can become a significant player in the cannabis world, and we’re thrilled to have Seth on our stage, answering questions and giving advice.

Passes are now available for the virtual show and there’s a handful of pass options with discounts for founders, students and non-profits. Get your ticket soon though, prices more than double on September 20. We hope to see you online.

#cannabis, #events, #seth-rogen, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

Hear how Cityblock Health’s Toyin Ajayi, Carbon Health’s Eren Bali and Forward’s Adrian Aoun see tech impacting access to health at Disrupt 2021

If there’s one thing that the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has proven, it’s that the healthcare system in the U.S. is in drastic need of major transformation. One of the biggest issues to be highlighted by the pandemic in particular is the iniquity in access to care, but there are signs that one of the effects of COVID-19 will be a stepping up of accessibility reform driven in particular by technology.

At Disrupt 2021, we’re thrilled to have three guests onstage for a panel discussion all about how tech companies are working to address access gaps in healthcare. From Cityblock Health, we’ll host co-founder and Chief Health Officer Toyin Ajayi; from Carbon Health, co-founder and CEO Eren Bali; and from Forward, CEO and co-founder Adrian Aoun.

Cityblock Health is the first tech-driven provider for communities with complex health and social needs — bringing better care to neighborhoods where it’s needed most. Cityblock’s goal is to foster a model of care that meets individuals where they are, delivering highly personalized primary care, behavioral healthcare and social services to its members, with a focus on those who access Medicaid, are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, and others living in lower-income neighborhoods.

Carbon Health has a goal of making good healthcare accessible to all, with same-day appointment booking, telehealth services and prescription delivery, facilitated through partnerships with some of the leading insurers and payers in the U.S. The company has taken a central role in vaccine administration in California, and continues to evolve its model of modular healthcare delivery to reach communities where primary care hasn’t traditionally been readily available.

Forward is an AI-based healthcare system combining world-class private doctors with new technology to enable proactive, data-driven primary care. Starting with cutting edge in-clinic and at-home biometric data measurement, Forward aims to tailor its primary care to individuals in a combination that delivers both scalability and personalization. The company also espouses a direct-to-consumer, subscription-based model of care that it argues avoids some of the traditional pitfalls of insurance-backed care.

We’re excited to be able to dig in to these very different approaches to healthcare, that still all share the fundamental goal of making a higher-quality standard of care available to more people.

During the three-day event, writer, director, actor and Houseplant co-founder Seth Rogen will be joined by Houseplant Chief Commercial Officer Haneen Davies and co-founder and CEO Michael Mohr to talk about the business of weed, BioNTech co-founder and CEO Uğur Şahin will dive into what’s next for mRNA technologies after COVID, and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong will dig into the volatile world of cryptocurrency and his company’s massive direct listing earlier this year.

Disrupt 2021 wouldn’t be complete without Startup Battlefield, the competition that has launched some of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Cloudflare and Dropbox. Join Ajayi, Bali, Aoun and more than 10,000 of the startup world’s most influential people at Disrupt 2021 online this September 21-23. Check out the Disrupt 2021 agenda here. We’ll add even more speakers soon.

Buy your Disrupt pass before September 20, and get ready to join the big, bold and influential — for less than $100. Get your pass to attend now for under $99 for a limited time!

 

#adrian-aoun, #eren-bali, #events, #health, #healthtech, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021, #toyin-ajayi

Craft your pitch deck around ‘that one thing that can really hook an investor’

Michelle Davey’s pitch to Jordan Nof of Tusk Ventures about Wheel, a startup focused on providing a full suite of virtual care solutions to clinicians, was front-loaded with early metrics. It may not be standard practice to start with the numbers, especially early on, but she explained to us why she chose that strategy — and Nof told us why it worked.

Davey and Nof joined us on a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live and went into detail on why Tusk was eager to finance Wheel, walking us through the startup’s Series A pitch deck and sharing which slides and bits clinched the deal.

Extra Crunch Live is a weekly virtual event series meant to help founders build better venture-backed businesses. We sit down with investors and the founders they finance to hear what brought them together, what they saw in each other and how they work together moving forward. We also host the Extra Crunch Live Pitch-Off, where founders in the audience can pitch their startups to our outstanding speakers.

Extra Crunch Live is accessible to everyone live on Wednesdays at noon PDT, but the on-demand content is reserved exclusively for Extra Crunch members. You can check out the full ECL library here.

When to lead with traction

Davey emphasized the importance of not sticking to a rigid format for building a pitch deck. She said it’s important to instead focus on crafting your pitch around what makes you appealing and unique. That should be on the foreground and featured prominently.

For Wheel, that meant leading with traction, since the company had impressive uptake even early on. That remained true for their recent Series B raise, too.

#ec-healthtech, #ec-how-to, #ecl, #events, #extra-crunch, #extra-crunch-live, #health, #jordan-nof, #michelle-davey, #startups, #tc, #tusk-ventures, #wheel

Prices increase tonight on all TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 passes

If your work life — or your life’s work — revolves around the tech startup world, there’s no more important place to be on September 21-23 than TechCrunch Disrupt 2021. And for just a few more hours, you can snag a pass to this be-all-and-end-all tech startup conference for less than $99.

In other words, peeps, it’s now-o’clock. Buy your pass before the early-bird price ends tonight at 11:59 pm (PT).

We can’t possibly detail in one post all of the Disrupt presentations, speakers, events and opportunities waiting for you — believe me, we’ve tried. So, let’s focus on just one aspect of Disrupt 2021 you won’t want to miss. The breakout sessions.

You’ll find a diverse array of these sessions scattered throughout all three days. We’ll highlight a few here; be sure to check out all of them in the Disrupt 2021 agenda.

Startup Pitch Feedback Sessions: You’ll find 10 of these scheduled over three days. Make time to watch and learn as all the startups exhibiting in Startup Alley pitch and hear feedback from TC staff. You’re sure to pick up tips to improve your own pitch.

You Complete Me: In the age of the composable ecosystems, we’re all partners now — from frenemies to pure collaborations. So why is now the right time to invite friends and challengers to the table? The truth is we have to build for an unknown future, with a shared strategy and value outcome. Join us to discover five ways to encourage more symbiotic relationships in the platform economy. Presented by Elliott Limb, chief customer officer at Mambu.

Hacking U.S. Healthcare: Few things conjure more negative emotions than navigating medical billing; Americans urgently need solutions that prioritize their needs, decrease costs and elevate the patient journey so they can focus on getting care. Digital innovation can provide exceptional patient experiences that remove friction for payers, providers and consumers. Hear how Cedar, a digital-health unicorn, engineered a consumer-first digital platform that’s revolutionizing the financial experience for the entire healthcare industry. Presented by Cedar.

Taking Care of the Next Generation: KiwiCo empowers kids to explore, create and learn with hands-on kits. Mirvie provides a personalized window into pregnancy for early detection and intervention. Grove is committed to a plastic-free future with its line of eco-friendly beauty, home and lifestyle products. Hear from the exceptional leaders of these three companies about their mission to create a better world now and for future generations, building movements and communities, and the milestones in getting to escape velocity. Presented by Mayfield.

TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 is where you need to be on September 21-23. Why not be there for less than $100? Buy an early-bird pass before the deal expires tonight at 11:59 pm (PT).

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

#events, #tc, #tc-disrupt-2021

What to expect from Samsung’s next Unpacked

Foldables! Two, probably! Those are your headliners. Samsung tipped its hand with the event invite, which features a pair of geometrical objects that pretty clearly represent the new Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip.

The other headliner is what we won’t be seeing at the event (Deadliner? Endliner?). The company already confirmed via corporate blog that we won’t be seeing the next version of the Galaxy Note next week. That’s a big break from the device’s long-standing annual refresh cycle.

We still don’t know if this is the end-end of the line for the phablet. Samsung told TechCrunch, “We will not be launching new Galaxy Note devices in 2021. Instead, Samsung plans to continue to expand the Note experience and bring many of its popular productivity and creativity features, including the S Pen, across our Galaxy ecosystem. We will share more details on our future portfolio once we are ready to announce.”

Image Credits: Samsung

Rumors surfaced prior to this revelation that the company may have been forced to put the device on hold, as global supply chain issues continue to hamstring manufacturers. There’s also an argument to be made, however, that Samsung has gradually made the Note redundant over the past several Galaxy S updates.

It seems telling that the company referred to a forthcoming “flagship” in its official Unpacked copy. With the Note out of the picture and the Galaxy S about six months out from a refresh, this appears to refer to the Galaxy Fold gaining the (admittedly ceremonial) title. Whether that means two or three flagships in the company’s Armada remains to be seen.

What we do know, however, is that — like the Galaxy S before it — at least one of the forthcoming foldables will be blurring that Note line.

“I hope you’ll join us as we debut our next Galaxy Z family and share some foldable surprises — including the first-ever S Pen designed specifically for foldable phones,” the company’s president and head of Mobile Communications Business, TM Roh wrote. The executive also promised “even more refined style, armed with more durable, stronger material” on the new Galaxy Z Flip.

Previous — and subsequent — leaks have given us good looks at both the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3. Hell, it wouldn’t be a Samsung event if pretty much everything didn’t leak out prior to the event.

A series of tweets from EVLeaks has given us nearly every angle of the upcoming foldable smartphones, along with (European) prices that put the Fold and Flip starting at €1,899 and €1,099, respectively. Both mark a sizable decrease from the previous generation. That’s nice — if not entirely surprising. Samsung’s plan all along has clearly been a prolonged drop in pricing as foldable technology scaled. We’re still a long ways away from cheap here, but perhaps nudging our way toward the realm of possibility for more users.

Other leaked details for the Fold/Flip include a 7.6/6.7-inch internal display, a Snapdragon 888 processor (both) and 12MP triple/dual cameras, respectively. Interestingly, water resistance is also reportedly on board here.

With a year of virtual events under its belt, the company seems to have a better idea of pacing. Samsung — along with many other companies in the space — took liberties when events went more from in-person to online, meting out announcements event by event. Thankfully, next week’s Unpacked is a much bigger, self-contained event.

The other expected highlights are both wearables. First is the long-awaited fruits of the partnership between Samsung and Google that was announced at I/O. We didn’t get a lot of info at the time, beyond the fact that it will potentially be a boon for users and developers, with the ability to jointly create apps for both the beleaguered Wear OS and Samsung’s custom brand of Tizen.

Image Credits: Samsung

“Samsung and Google have a long history of collaboration, and whenever we’ve worked together, the experience for our consumers has been dramatically better for everyone,” Google SVP Sameer Samat said at a June follow-up to the I/O news. “That certainly holds true for this new, unified platform, which will be rolling out for the first time on Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch. In collaboration with Samsung, we’re thrilled to bring longer battery life, faster performance and a wide range of apps, including many from Google to a whole new wearable experience.”

The company held an (admittedly disappointing) event at MWC focused on the forthcoming watch. There was, however, one key thing missing: the watch. Based on pure speculation, I’d suggest that the wearable just didn’t come together on the timeline Samsung was expecting, but the company went ahead and did a virtual presser at the (mostly virtual) trade show.

The company did, however, announced One UI Watch — a wearable version of its streamlined OS interface. Samsung notes in a press release:

One UI Watch together with the new unified platform will create an entirely new Galaxy Watch experience. As part of the new experience, once you install watch-compatible apps on your smartphone, they will be swiftly downloaded onto your smartwatch. If you’ve customized your clock app on your phone to show the time in different cities around the globe, this will be automatically reflected on your watch as well. And if you block calls and messages from your watch, they will now be blocked on your smartphone, too.

Leaks have also revealed the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic models along with (again) European pricing. They’re reportedly set to start at €279 and €379, respectively, with each featuring multiple sizing options. That last bit was always a sticking point for me with Samsung watches, which have traditionally been fairly massive, knocking out a good number of potential buyers in the process.

The last big piece of the puzzle are the Galaxy Buds 2. The latest upgrade to the company’s entry-level buds are said to be gaining active noise canceling.

Will there be surprises once things kick off at 7AM PT/10AM ET on August 11? Little, ones, probably. These leaks have a tendency to capture things in broad strokes but miss some of the key nuances in the process. And while the company is more than a little familiar with pre-show leaks, it’s still managed to surprise us in the past.

#events, #foldables, #gadgets, #galaxy-buds, #galaxy-flip, #galaxy-fold, #galaxy-watch, #hardware, #mobile, #samsung, #samsung-unpacked, #samsung-unpacked-2021, #wearables

Design expert Scott Tong outlines 4 concepts founders should consider when designing products

In the last decade, high-quality design has become a necessity in the software space. Great design is a commodity, not a luxury, and yet, designing beautiful products and finding great designers continues to be a struggle for many entrepreneurs.

At Early Stage 2021, design expert Scott Tong walked us through some of the ways founders should think about design. Tong was involved in product and brand design at some of the biggest brands in tech, including IDEO, IFTTT, Pinterest and more. He’s now a partner at Design Fund.

Tong explained how to think about brand as more than a logo or a social media presence, what design means and the steps that come before focusing on the pixels, and gave guidance on when entrepreneurs should hire third-party design agencies or bring on full-time talent.

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Reputation

“The purest treasure mortal times afford is spotless reputation,” wrote Shakespeare. Though we often think of a brand as a logo or a social media persona, a brand is the equivalent of a person’s reputation. It signifies what the company and products stand for, and it has an element of being memorable for something, whether it’s prestige, like for Chanel, or terrible customer service, like for Comcast.

The closest word in the English language to brand is actually reputation. The analogy is that brand is to company as reputation is to person. If you can link your brand with your company’s reputation, I think it’s a really great place to start when you’re having conversations about brands. What is the first impression? What are the consistent behaviors that your brand hopes to repeat over and over? What are the memorable moments that stand out and make your brand, your reputation memorable? (Timestamp: 2:40)

Existing versus preferred

Tong outlined what design is truly about. There are many different schools of thought on design methodology and there are many different types of design. You may be thinking about product design and logo design and brand design all at the same time, and the only way to successfully hire for those tasks and complete them is to understand what design is, at its core.

#brand-design, #design, #early-stage-2021, #ec-early-stage-2021, #ec-how-to, #event-recap, #events, #product-design, #scott-tong, #startups, #tc

BioNTech founder Uğur Şahin and Mayfield’s Ursheet Parikh are coming to Disrupt

It’s hard to argue that any technology company has had a greater impact in the past decade than BioNTech, the mRNA-based therapeutics pioneer behind the world’s most widely-used COVID-19 vaccine. Developed in record time in partnership with Pfizer, thanks to an existing partnership to work on immunization for the common flu, BioNTech’s mRNA inoculation is without a doubt one of the biggest medical innovations of the past century.

BioNTech co-founder and CEO Uğur Şahin isn’t stopping there, of course: the company recently announced that it would be developing an mRNA-based vaccine targeting malaria, an illness that still kills more than 400,000 people per year. It also has treatments for a range of cancers in process in its development pipeline, and has announced plans to address HIV and tuberculosis with future candidates.

This year at Disrupt 2021, Şahin will join us along with Mayfield Fund Partner Ursheet Parikh, a key investor in BioNTech. Both Şahin and Parikh will be talking to us about how the COVID-19 vaccine came to be, but more importantly, about what the future holds for mRNA technology and its potential to address a wide range of chronic healthcare problems that have been tough challenges to solve for decades or even centuries. We’ll also be talking about what it means to build a biotech startup with true platform potential, and how that might differ now as compared to what investors were looking for just a few short years ago.

Şahin and Parikh are just two of the many high-profile speakers who will be on our Disrupt Stage and the Extra Crunch Stage. During the three-day event, writer, director, actor and Houseplant co-founder Seth Rogen will be joined by Houseplant Chief Commercial Officer Haneen Davies and co-founder and CEO Michael Mohr to talk about the business of weed, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg will talk about the future of getting around and the government’s role in partnering with startups, and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong will dig into the volatile world of cryptocurrency and his company’s massive direct listing earlier this year.

Disrupt 2021 wouldn’t be complete without Startup Battlefield, the competition that launched some of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Cloudflare and Dropbox. Join Secretary Buttigieg and over 10,000 of the startup world’s most influential people at Disrupt 2021 online this September 21-23. Check out the Disrupt 2021 agenda. We’ll add even more speakers.

Buy your Disrupt pass before July 30 at 11:59 pm (PT), and get ready to join the big, bold and influential — for less than $100.

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#articles, #biontech, #brian-armstrong, #ceo, #clinical-trials, #cloudflare, #coinbase, #dropbox, #events, #hiv, #illness, #life-sciences, #malaria, #mayfield-fund, #medical-research, #pete-buttigieg, #pfizer, #secretary, #tc, #tc-disrupt, #tc-disrupt-2021, #technology, #ugur-sahin, #ursheet-parikh

Sequoia’s Mike Vernal outlines how to design feedback loops in the search for product-market fit

Sequoia’s Mike Vernal has worn many hats. He was VP of product and engineering at Facebook for eight years before getting into investment. His portfolio includes Houseparty, Threads, Canvas, Citizen, PicsArt and more, and he continues to invest in companies across a broad spectrum of stages and verticals, including consumer, enterprise, marketplaces, fintech and more.

Vernal joined us at TechCrunch Early Stage: Marketing and Fundraising earlier this month to discuss how founders should think about product-market fit, with a specific focus on tempo. He covered how to organize around the pace of iteration, how to design with customer feedback loops in mind and how Sequoia evaluates companies with regard to tempo.

Be explicit and be greedy at every single step along the way about getting feedback.

What is tempo?

Vernal breaks down tempo into two separate ingredients: speed and consistency.

It’s not just about going fast (which can often lead to some recklessness). It’s about setting a pace and staying consistent with that pace.

One of the very best compliments an angel can bestow on a founding team and include in an introduction to us is, “They’re just really fast,” or “She’s a machine.” What does that mean? It doesn’t mean fast in the kind of uncontrolled, reckless, crashing sense. It means fast in a sort of consistent, maniacal, get-a-little-bit-better-each-day kind of way. And it’s actually one of the top things that we look for, at least when evaluating a team: how consistently fast they move. (Timestamp: 2:26)

Vernal went on to say that tempo is directly correlated to goals and objectives and key results (OKRs). Building a feedback loop into those OKRs and determining the tempo with which to attack them is critical, especially during the process of finding product-market fit.

Finding product-market fit is not a deterministic process. Most of the time, it requires iteration. It requires constant adaptation. My mental model is that it’s actually just a turn-based game with an unknown number of steps, and sometimes either the clock or the money or both run out before you get to finish the game. It’s kind of like a game of chess. So what is your optimal strategy? (Timestamp: 4:25)

Feedback is your friend

As Vernal explained, finding product-market fit is all about feedback, and that must be an ongoing, built-in part of the process. He outlined how founders can go about designing with that in mind.

#early-stage-2021, #ec-techcrunch-early-stage, #event-recap, #events, #mike-vernal, #product-market-fit, #sequoia, #tc

SOSV partners explain how deep tech startups can fundraise successfully

Startups developing so-called deep tech often find it challenging to raise capital for various reasons. At TechCrunch Early Stage: Marketing and Fundraising, two experienced investors spoke on the subject and advised startups facing a challenging fundraising path.

Pae Wu and Garrett Winther are both partners at SOSV and run the fund’s programs around biotech and hardware. SOSV doesn’t shy away from startups building complex technology, and because of this, Wu and Winther are well placed to advise on fundraising. They presented three key points targeting startups fundraising for deep tech applications, but the points are applicable to startups of any variety.

Before giving advice, the two acknowledged the nuances across the deep tech ecosystem and each industry. Their presentation is focused on general guidance applicable to nearly every startup.

Finding the right investor

The first point on Wu and Winther’s presentation sounds a bit self-serving but is based on solid advice. When building a deep tech startup, find the right investor, they said. This is general advice for startups, but according to these two, it’s even more important when building a company that might take longer for the investor to see a return.

In deep tech, it’s essential to think about founder-investor fit. And what we mean by this is understanding why an investor is even in VC in the first place. And what it is that’s driving you, the founder, to do what you do.

And so we look at this fit as a Venn diagram between founders who have a near maniacal devotion to wanting to solve a core systemic problem and investors that thrive on the unique risk profile that comes in deep tech. Because with deep tech, we’re talking about both technical risk, where maybe that insight that is core to the company merely proves that we’re no longer having to break any laws of physics to do whatever it is you’re trying to do. So there’s a big technical risk. (Timestamp: 6:09)

We, as investors, love to see methodical founders who can see the first step that will converge at the right moment of technical and business milestones.

Set obtainable goals

Breakthrough technology hardly came from sudden breakthroughs. As explained in this presentation, it’s critical to set obtainable goals that lead to the desired outcome.

#business-incubators, #deep-tech, #early-stage-2021, #ec-techcrunch-early-stage, #entrepreneurship, #events, #fundraising, #sosv, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

Susan Su on how to approach growth as your startup raises each round

Your startup might rely on clever growth tactics to get off the ground, but you need more than spreadsheets if you want to turn viral spikes into a real business. You need a qualitative growth model to guide the strategy that you can use to tell your story to your team and investors.

Growth marketing expert Susan Su sat down with us at TechCrunch Early Stage: Marketing and Fundraising this month to share pointers for young companies that are trying to raise money after initial market traction. In the presentation below, she maps out a growth strategy from seed through Series A and B rounds and details how your milestones, budgets, investor updates and other measures change as you advance.

The not-so-secret secret here is that the key to great retention is really simple. It is building a product that solves a real and especially persistent problem for people.

Throughout the process, “a qualitative model tells the story of growth that you can use at early stages and really all throughout your company life cycle,” she explains.A quantitative model or quantitative growth accounting charts the numerical course for how you actually deliver against that narrative and becomes more relevant at later stages when you actually have real numbers.

Formerly a strategic growth adviser to companies at Sound Ventures, a growth marketing lead focused on startups at Stripe, and the first hire and head of growth at Reforge, Su just became a partner investing in climate tech for early-stage fund Toba Capital. She also writes a popular newsletter on climate investing and runs a six-week course for other investors on the topic.

Here’s more about growth, and how to talk about it with investors, from her presentation:

So here’s a sample qualitative growth model that I built for one of our portfolio companies with some modifications for anonymity. At the bottom, we have our linear inputs that form the foundation of awareness — in other words, traffic or leads that feed into our growth machine.

Once those leads come in, we have our acquisition loops, working to turn that non-repeatable spiky linear traffic (aka TechCrunch traffic, if you get so lucky as to be written up in TechCrunch) into scalable, repeatable acquisition. You cannot repeat the TechCrunch effect.

For this sample business, I happened to spec out five different acquisition loops — I was really ambitious. Many companies will struggle to identify this many. But the key to being able to scale is to have multiple viable acquisition loops, not just one single thing that works.

#ec-growth-marketing, #ec-techcrunch-early-stage, #events, #growth-marketing, #startups, #susan-su, #tc, #techcrunch-early-stage-2021, #verified-experts