Daily Crunch: European regulators share more privacy concerns over Facebook “smart” glasses

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

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 20, 2021. It is Disrupt week, everyone, and TechCrunch is buzzing. Kicking off tomorrow morning, Disrupt is set to be a pretty butt-kicking affair. Check the agenda here, speakers here, Battlefield companies here, and if you want to see your humble servant doing his first run (last run?) at hosting, well, stick to the Extra Crunch stage. Nice tweets only, please.

See you tomorrow morning! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Coinbase pulls plug on lending product: U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has decided to shelve its “Lend” product that would have provided yield to investors who stake their crypto assets. Why? The U.S. regulatory body involved with such products views the creation as a security and said that it would sue Coinbase if it launched the product. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong publicly made the case that the SEC was being silly, which didn’t seem to help much. Perhaps somewhat-snarky Twitter threads are not the way to regulatory victory.
  • IPOs galore: Alrighty folks who care about public-market liquidity, we have a bevy of stories for you today. Here’s who is going to get rich from GitLab’s IPO, here is a dig into the new pricing for Toast’s IPO, and here are a few notes on Freshworks’ raised IPO price. Enjoy!
  • Europe wants Facebook to turn its lights on: Or at least more on. In the wake of Facebook’s announced Ray-Ban camera-glasses, the “lead privacy regulator in Europe has raised concerns” about the hardware. At issue is the small light indicating that they are recording. Perhaps a bigger light would be better. That or we may be in another cycle of Glasshole discourse, which I am sure we’d all rather avoid.

Startups/VC

  • You don’t have to go to space to image the Earth: That’s the lesson from Near Space Labs’ latest round of capital, a $13 million infusion. While several startups want to take lots of pictures of the Earth for commercial purposes from satellites (Albedo is one we’ve covered before), Near Space wants to use balloons that are merely, well, near space. Reaching orbit is cheaper than ever, but certainly still not cheap. Perhaps this is the way forward?
  • Fivetran raises huge round, buys smaller company: Hard enterprise reporter Ron Miller covered this $565 million investment for TechCrunch, noting that Fivetran is now worth some $5.6 billion. The company is also shelling out $700 million for HVR, what Miller describes as a “data integration competitor that had raised more than $50 million.” The latter deal is a mix of cash and stock. Fivetran helps companies move data around. Given the scale of data in the world, that’s big business.
  • Salesforce makes investment in Razorpay: As the Chinese market for startup investment retreats, India’s continues to collect checks, with the latest being an investment from Salesforce Ventures into Razorpay, a major fintech player in the Indian market that was last valued at $3 billion. This deal doesn’t appear huge in dollar terms, but that Salesforce is bridging the Pacific does in fact matter.
  • Video and photo editing is an industry: As companies like Picsart raise nine-figure rounds, it’s perhaps not a surprise to see the company behind Facetune and other editing applications raise similar-sized rounds. In this case, Facetune developer Lightricks has put together a $130 million round. The company “operates more than a dozen subscription-based photo- and video-editing apps across iOS and Android,” TechCrunch reports.
  • B2B fintech is hot: Airwallex just secured a $200 million round at a $4 billion valuation, which is notable not only for the dollars involved but also due to the fact that the company is based in Australia. The now-multiple unicorn offers embedded fintech services for other companies, as well as business banking services.
  • A marketplace for selling businesses sells part of its business: That’s the news from Flippa, a marketplace where online businesses and digital assets can be bought and sold. The company just secured an $11 million round, and as part of that released what has to be the single worst non-GAAP metric since community-adjusted EBITDA. TechCrunch writes that the company “sees over 600,000 monthly searches from investors looking to connect with business owners.” To which I say, sirs, are you so afraid of sharing real metrics that that is what you went with?
  • In related news, this newsletter is the leading internet missive that includes both “daily” and “crunch” in its heading, giving us a market-leading pace of readership activation and conversion of our newsletter-to-reads pipeline.
  • Cars24 raises $450 million in cash, debt: Indian used-car marketplace Cars24 is now worth $1.84 billion after raising $340 million in equity capital and $110 million in debt. It’s a healthy round for a company that has “sold 400,000 vehicles to date.” See? That’s an actually useful metric. Not incredibly useful; a rate of sales would be better than an absolute stat, but still!

The next healthcare revolution will have AI at its center

In an excerpt from “AI 2041: Ten Visions For Our Future,” author Kai-Fu Lee makes the case that recent advances in artificial intelligence are starting to transform healthcare.

Studies have shown that AI is as good as humans when it comes to diagnosing disease, but the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of patient records and data.

“Over the coming decades, we can expect medical diagnosis to evolve from an AI tool that provides analysis of options to an AI assistant that recommends treatments,” writes Lee.

Lee identifies several areas where AI will improve outcomes in drug discovery, complex surgeries and monitoring, but also looks at potential concerns, such as legal liabilities.

“AI healthcare is not just a market — it represents a tidal wave of transformations that will change the entire industry.”

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Maybe we’ve figured out this generation of mobile operating systems: TechCrunch’s dive into iOS 15 notes that the new mobile OS brought with it quality-of-life improvements and feature-bumps to Apple’s own apps. That’s what you have to look forward to. Or, more precisely, you will update to the new code, I reckon, and then instantly forget that you have. Such is the state of today’s mobile OSes, which, along with smartphone hardware, seem to have reached a plateau of boring excellence. It’s time for a new paradigm to shake things up.
  • Big Tech wins some awards that your parents cared about: How much stock do you put in the Emmys? Do you actually know what an Emmy is? I don’t. But it turns out that Netflix and Apple won some the other day. Good for them. It turns out that if you are among the most wealthy companies in the history of the world, you are able to buy talent and take enough shots on goal that you score some points. Or in this case, small, ugly trophies.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

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

If you’re curious about how these surveys are shaping our coverage, check out this interview Anna Heim did with Ammo, “Australian growth marketing agency Ammo helps startups calibrate their efforts.”

Daily Crunch: Lucid Air puts Tesla in rearview mirror by earning 520-mile EPA range rating

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

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 16, 2021. We are still on the countdown to Disrupt, so make sure you have a ticket, and get ready to drop your pitch deck into the hat. We’re going to space! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Tigers love robots: Sure we’re accustomed to seeing Tiger cut checks into every software company still alive, but did you know that the capital fund is also into physical goods? Our own Brian Heater has the news.
  • What could stop the startup boom? Today on the site TechCrunch dug back through its coverage of the Q2 venture capital cycle, asking what could stop the momentum that we’ve seen in recent quarters. The short answer? Not too much. The heady startup market is more stable than you’d think, but only partially on its own merit.
  • The American government gets serious about breaches: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is making sure that companies know that if their apps “collect personal health information [they] must notify consumers if their data is breached or shared with third parties without their permission.” Which is good. But how was that not always the rule?

Startups/VC

Apple held an event this week, so the technology market is still reverberating with takes about why it’s the iPhone 13 and not the iPhone 12S. Regardless of your take there, Apple’s long shadow is making itself known in other places. Like the market for helping folks find their gadgets. The Cupertino-based giant made waves the other month by introducing AirTags, in competition with Tile, a startup. Well, Tile is now back with $40 million in new capital. To war!

  • Fiberplane raises capital to build Google Docs for SREs: Building software tuned for a particular market is hot these days. The strategy is akin to building an anti-Word, if you will. In Fiberplane’s case — the company just raised $8.8 million — it’s building a Google-Docs-style product for site reliability engineers, or SREs. Is that niche too small? Probably not?
  • CodeSignal raises (again): Ah, credentialing. CodeSignal wants to make applying for developer gigs a bit more based on skill and a bit less based on where one went to school. Investors are lining up to fund its vision, dropping a fresh $50 million into the company’s coffers less than a year after it raised $25 million.
  • Self Financial proves that credit-building is still venture-backable: Altos Ventures led a $50 million Series E for the company, which wants to help “consumers build credit and savings at the same time.” It’s a good idea, given how broken the American credit system still is today.
  • Byju’s buys coding platform Tynker: The $200 million transaction will help Byju’s continue to expand in the United States. The Indian company’s bullishness on its own sector is perhaps balm to founders and investors worried about edtech in the wake of China’s decision to kneecap its domestic startup class chasing the market.
  • Open Mineral: What a great startup name. And it is more than apt, as the company wants to bring transparency to the global commodities markets. Which is good, as more transparency means better price discovery, and a more efficient market. Open Mineral just closed $33 million in a Series C.

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

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 has an ad hoc hiring process, you’re not tracking candidates properly, there’s little consistency regarding how they’re treated and bias plays a major role in who gets hired.

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

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Twitter Super Follows may not be super lucrative: Data coming out from the Twitter Super Follows product indicates that its early performance is lackluster. So much so that it might go the way of Fleets. Do you Super Follow? If so let us know.
  • Ford spends to boost electric truck production: Worried that EVs might be a fad? Stop fretting. Traditional American car company Ford is doubling-down on its electric F-150 production, TechCrunch reports. And if Ford is doing well with EVs, they well and truly are mainstream.
  • Lucid Air snags the longest-range EV title, surpassing Tesla: Dodging the Elon fanboys for a minute, Lucid Motors is pushing the state of the EV art a bit forward with a car that sports a 520-mile range. That’s one hell of a hike. In general terms, the distance bump that Lucid — recall that the company is going public later this year — intends to offer could spark an arms race regarding EV range. Yes, please.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

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

If you’re curious about how these surveys are shaping our coverage, check out this guest column by Bryan Dsouza on Extra Crunch, “5 things you need to win your first customer.”

Daily Crunch: SpaceX set to launch 4 civilians into orbit for 3-day mission

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

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 15, 2021. Today we have everything in the newsletter. Bad behavior in the crypto world? Yep. Why the Mailchimp deal might make good sense? You bet.

But before we get into the mix, a few TechCrunch notes. First, Jordan Crook’s regular series of streamed chats with investors and founders is now called TechCrunch Live. And Chamath Palihapitiya is coming to Disrupt. Which is in less than a week!

Oh, and as you are reading this, SpaceX’s first “all-civilian crew” may be taking off into space. In case you wanted to tune in. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Today in bad actors: Want to know if you are living in overheated times? Check for a rise in fraud and related bad behavior. And oh boy has there been news in the last day. Startup App Annie will pay $10 million in SEC fines for securities fraud. Which is Not Good. And NFT marketplace OpenSea ate a buffet of crow earlier today when it admitted that an executive at the concern was front-running NFT sales. 😑
  • Maybe the Intuit-Mailchimp deal is not dumb? Sure, TechCrunch’s first reaction to the news that TurboTax parent company Intuit wants to spend $12 billion on Mailchimp was skeptical. But Ron Miller hit up a bunch of smart folks, and there was more positive sentiment to be recorded than we might have guessed.
  • Tech companies are still going public: We’re waiting for Toast and Freshworks and Warby Parker to get their debuts launched, but other companies aren’t waiting for a clear news cycle. Secondary share marketplace Forge is going public via a SPAC, so we had to take a look.

Startups/VC

First things first, more news from the BNPL beat. Yes, the method of paying for a transaction in installments is still making news. This time it’s Ascend raising $5.5 million to bring BNPL services to the commercial insurance world. Recent liquidity in the fintech market could help drive fresh venture interest in coming quarters.

  • Sendcloud raises $177M for SaaS: No, not that SaaS. Shipping as a service, in Sendcloud’s space. The Dutch startup now flush with SoftBank cash “has built a service [that provides] a cloud-based platform to easily organize and carry out shipping services by choosing from a wide range of carriers and other options.” It sounds a bit like a European Shippo?
  • Rivian proves it’s not vaporware: After raising dump trucks worth of capital, Rivian’s first production R1T electric pickup has rolled off the line. It’s a big moment for the company and sets Rivian apart from a host of other EV companies that hope to match its new milestone. Also apparently there is a color called Rivian Blue, and I am here for it.
  • Clubhouse hires head of news: NPR vet Nina Gregory has taken on the role of Clubhouse’s head of News and Media Publishers, TechCrunch reports. Her role will be to work with both the social platform and news orgs. Perhaps her job would be a smidgen easier if Clubhouse backer a16z wasn’t so antagonistic toward the media. But, hey, the hire still makes good sense.
  • Speaking of news, SmartNews is now worth $2 billion: Sure, media is a trash business — mostly — but perhaps media aggregation is the golden ticket. Investors just put $230 million into news aggregator SmartNews, giving it a shiny new valuation. I have a soft spot for SmartNews as we partnered with them back in the Crunchbase News days, but past that, I am impressed and curious how it is going to generate the revenue needed to surpass its new price tag.
  • Airbase further differentiates itself from Brex, Ramp: The corporate spend wars are good fun because there are a number of startups in the space that are growing quickly, raising money and making deals. And they are increasingly carving up their market. Airbase just built some new capabilities that may help it attack larger customers than what some of its rivals appear to have their eyes on.
  • Finally today, Inspired Capital has raised a second fund just two years after its first.

5 things you need to win your first customer

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 personals 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.”

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

Big Tech Inc.

Want some government news? Yes, you do. Trust me. This stuff matters:

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

TechCrunch wants to help startups find the right expert for their needs. To do this, we’re building a shortlist of the top growth marketers. We’ve received great recommendations for growth marketers in the startup industry since we launched our survey.

We’re excited to read more responses as they come in! Fill out the survey here.

Our editorial coverage about growth marketing includes articles from the TechCrunch team, guest columns and posts like “In growth marketing, signal determines success” by Jonathan Martinez.

Community

Image Credits: Basic Books

Join Danny Crichton, tomorrow Thursday, September 16, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT on Twitter Spaces. Danny will be joined by Martin Ford, author of “Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything.” Make sure you’re following the TechCrunch Twitter account to stay up to date with our news and events.

Daily Crunch: Here’s what happened at Apple’s virtual 2021 fall event

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

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 14, 2021. It was an Apple day on the internets, so we’ve all spent the afternoon trying to figure out if we need a new smartphone. Answer? Probably not, but that won’t stop a good portion of the TechCrunch crew from deploying fresh Yahoo lucre into Cupertino’s market cap. We love this stuff.

On the TechCrunch front, Disrupt is in a week’s time. Your humble servant is going shopping later this afternoon so that he can look slightly less disheveled. Jordan, of course, will look brilliant on the Disrupt Desk. See you there! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Apple drops grip of new hardware: Anytime Apple hosts an event, it’s like time stops in the technology world. If that should still be the case is up to you, but it remains fact. Here’s our rundown of iPhone news, Apple Watch news, iPad updates and a general roundup in case you want to go meta. Enjoy!
  • Atlanta booming: TechCrunch continued its tour of U.S. cities today after hitting up Chicago and Boston in recent weeks. This time, we dug into Atlanta’s booming startup scene, which is seeing record capital inflows. We talked to some founders and investors to get the latest. Don’t forget that Atlanta just produced a decacorn exit.
  • And speaking of decacorns, Canva just raised $200 million at a $40 billion valuation. In percentage terms, the Australian design software company managed to raise two bills for 0.5% of its equity value. A steal at twice the price. Why is Canva worth so much? Huge scale, as our notes regarding its revenue growth illuminate.

Read more about Apple's Fall 2021 Event on TechCrunch

Startups/VC

Before we dive into our usual rundown of startup news, TechCrunch did a dig into the value of the myriad BNPL startups around the world through the lens of some recent acquisitions. I wrote it. Read it if that’s your jam.

  • In light of the day’s Apple Fitness news, it matters that Tonal just announced live classes are coming to its service. Tonal competes in the hardware-and-software market against Peloton and other players. Notably it’s the startups of the world that are fusing hardware and software more than Apple in this case, which is mostly bundling services into its existing products. Regardless, good news for you Tonal users out there.
  • 1047 Games closes $100M: If you are hot, Brian Heater writes, you are hot. And 1047 games with its hit title Splitgate is more than warm. So sweltering that it just closed a third round since May. What’s Splitgate? An FPS that includes portals. (Which frankly sounds awesome.)
  • Grammarly opens up for developers: Grammarly is well known as a product that folks use to help tighten up their writing. But what if you wanted to bake Grammarly tech into your own product? Well, now you can. The company just announced a developer product. The finance nerd in me wonders how lucrative the new business line will prove, and if it will help the company file its damn S-1 already.
  • EverAfter raises $13M, underscores that HRtech is still hot: Per our own reporting, EverAfter has built a “no-code customer-facing tool that streamlines onboarding and retention.” That’s a bit like Sora, a startup that TechCrunch has also written about. A few rounds focused on the same space is signal!
  • Today’s Tiger round is Indonesian fintech Xendit: Xendit is now a unicorn thanks to a $150 million check led by Tiger. At this point, we reckon that every time Tiger’s managing partners go to dinner they tip $150 million. It’s the only number that they know! Regardless, the Jakarta-based fintech with a payments focus has big expansion plans that are now well financed.

Is it so bad to take money from Chinese venture funds?

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

Asia Business development manager for Runa Capital 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 reduce 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.”

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

Big Tech Inc.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Big Tech news, an update from the U.S. government: “Biden’s new FTC nominee is a digital privacy advocate critical of Big Tech,” it turns out. That matters.

  • LinkedIn pledges $25M to creators: In case your LinkedIn feed was lacking in pizazz, the Microsoft subsidiary has plans to bolster your content influx. A $25 million “Creator Accelerator Program” has been established to encourage more, well, creation. Also LinkedIn is getting into live audio.
  • 51 more Starlink satellites take flight: We’re including this news item in Daily Crunch today in case you are also considering a move to rural Montana but need to stay employed.
  • Spaceflight looks to fly to the moon: Elon’s space company is not the only player looking to get humans off the plant. Spaceflight will “shuttle customers on a lunar flyby mission next year,” which is more than neat. How much for a ticket?

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices. Fill out the survey here.

Read one of the testimonials we’ve received below!

Marketer: Andrew Race, Juice

Recommended by: Orin Singh, Merchant Industry

Testimonial: “We were referred to Juice by a family friend of my company’s owner, and as a personal courtesy, they said they were giving us their best guy. Naturally, we thought that is what everyone says, but they were not kidding. Andrew was singularly leagues above our previous marketing company. Having someone so knowledgeable and willing to learn a new industry proved to be the turning point for us.”

Community

Image Credits: Basic Books

From planned Twitter Spaces to impromptu chats with the Equity crew, the TechCrunch team is constantly on Twitter. Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 15 at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT, the Disrupt Battlefield judges will be talking on Twitter Spaces. On Thursday, September 16, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT, Danny Crichton will be joined by Martin Ford, author of “Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything.” Make sure you’re following the TechCrunch Twitter account to stay up to date with our news and events.

Daily Crunch: Here’s what happened at Apple’s virtual 2021 fall event

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

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 14, 2021. It was an Apple day on the internets, so we’ve all spent the afternoon trying to figure out if we need a new smartphone. Answer? Probably not, but that won’t stop a good portion of the TechCrunch crew from deploying fresh Yahoo lucre into Cupertino’s market cap. We love this stuff.

On the TechCrunch front, Disrupt is in a week’s time. Your humble servant is going shopping later this afternoon so that he can look slightly less disheveled. Jordan, of course, will look brilliant on the Disrupt Desk. See you there! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Apple drops grip of new hardware: Anytime Apple hosts an event, it’s like time stops in the technology world. If that should still be the case is up to you, but it remains fact. Here’s our rundown of iPhone news, Apple Watch news, iPad updates and a general roundup in case you want to go meta. Enjoy!
  • Atlanta booming: TechCrunch continued its tour of U.S. cities today after hitting up Chicago and Boston in recent weeks. This time, we dug into Atlanta’s booming startup scene, which is seeing record capital inflows. We talked to some founders and investors to get the latest. Don’t forget that Atlanta just produced a decacorn exit.
  • And speaking of decacorns, Canva just raised $200 million at a $40 billion valuation. In percentage terms, the Australian design software company managed to raise two bills for 0.5% of its equity value. A steal at twice the price. Why is Canva worth so much? Huge scale, as our notes regarding its revenue growth illuminate.

Read more about Apple's Fall 2021 Event on TechCrunch

Startups/VC

Before we dive into our usual rundown of startup news, TechCrunch did a dig into the value of the myriad BNPL startups around the world through the lens of some recent acquisitions. I wrote it. Read it if that’s your jam.

  • In light of the day’s Apple Fitness news, it matters that Tonal just announced live classes are coming to its service. Tonal competes in the hardware-and-software market against Peloton and other players. Notably it’s the startups of the world that are fusing hardware and software more than Apple in this case, which is mostly bundling services into its existing products. Regardless, good news for you Tonal users out there.
  • 1047 Games closes $100M: If you are hot, Brian Heater writes, you are hot. And 1047 games with its hit title Splitgate is more than warm. So sweltering that it just closed a third round since May. What’s Splitgate? An FPS that includes portals. (Which frankly sounds awesome.)
  • Grammarly opens up for developers: Grammarly is well known as a product that folks use to help tighten up their writing. But what if you wanted to bake Grammarly tech into your own product? Well, now you can. The company just announced a developer product. The finance nerd in me wonders how lucrative the new business line will prove, and if it will help the company file its damn S-1 already.
  • EverAfter raises $13M, underscores that HRtech is still hot: Per our own reporting, EverAfter has built a “no-code customer-facing tool that streamlines onboarding and retention.” That’s a bit like Sora, a startup that TechCrunch has also written about. A few rounds focused on the same space is signal!
  • Today’s Tiger round is Indonesian fintech Xendit: Xendit is now a unicorn thanks to a $150 million check led by Tiger. At this point, we reckon that every time Tiger’s managing partners go to dinner they tip $150 million. It’s the only number that they know! Regardless, the Jakarta-based fintech with a payments focus has big expansion plans that are now well financed.

Is it so bad to take money from Chinese venture funds?

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

Asia Business development manager for Runa Capital 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 reduce 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.”

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

Big Tech Inc.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Big Tech news, an update from the U.S. government: “Biden’s new FTC nominee is a digital privacy advocate critical of Big Tech,” it turns out. That matters.

  • LinkedIn pledges $25M to creators: In case your LinkedIn feed was lacking in pizazz, the Microsoft subsidiary has plans to bolster your content influx. A $25 million “Creator Accelerator Program” has been established to encourage more, well, creation. Also LinkedIn is getting into live audio.
  • 51 more Starlink satellites take flight: We’re including this news item in Daily Crunch today in case you are also considering a move to rural Montana but need to stay employed.
  • Spaceflight looks to fly to the moon: Elon’s space company is not the only player looking to get humans off the plant. Spaceflight will “shuttle customers on a lunar flyby mission next year,” which is more than neat. How much for a ticket?

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices. Fill out the survey here.

Read one of the testimonials we’ve received below!

Marketer: Andrew Race, Juice

Recommended by: Orin Singh, Merchant Industry

Testimonial: “We were referred to Juice by a family friend of my company’s owner, and as a personal courtesy, they said they were giving us their best guy. Naturally, we thought that is what everyone says, but they were not kidding. Andrew was singularly leagues above our previous marketing company. Having someone so knowledgeable and willing to learn a new industry proved to be the turning point for us.”

Community

Image Credits: Basic Books

From planned Twitter Spaces to impromptu chats with the Equity crew, the TechCrunch team is constantly on Twitter. Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 15 at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT, the Disrupt Battlefield judges will be talking on Twitter Spaces. On Thursday, September 16, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT, Danny Crichton will be joined by Martin Ford, author of “Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything.” Make sure you’re following the TechCrunch Twitter account to stay up to date with our news and events.

Daily Crunch: Apple urges users to update all devices after hacktivists reveal zero-day flaw

Hello and welcome back to Daily Crunch for September 13, 2021. This is Alex and I am back! A big thanks to Greg for taking over last week while I was on staycation. It is lovely to be back with you all.

Before we dive into the news, a reminder that Disrupt is next week. So, make sure you have a ticket and get hype. More here. It’s going to be a heck of a show.

The TechCrunch Top 3+

  • The Apple-Epic war far from over: While the internet digests the recent, controversial ruling between Apple and gaming giant Epic, the latter party is not letting the decision sit. Epic is appealing. What’s at stake is the monetization of mobile applications for years to come. Given how much money is in the mix, it’s not a huge surprise that the legal wrangling is taking time.
  • Welcome back to IPO season: Toast, a software-and-hardware startup that is the, well, toast of Boston, is targeting a huge valuation gain in its IPO. So is Freshworks. We’re tracking both companies and will have more notes as they get closer to trading. Expect many, many more offerings in the coming weeks.
  • China’s regulatory crackdown could harm its cloud market: That’s the recent summary of a report that TechCrunch covered, discussing the larger Chinese software market. News also broke earlier today that the Chinese government may break up Ant, the Alibaba financial affiliate, and that the country wants to reduce the number of EV companies its market currently supports.
  • BREAKING NEWS TODAY: Apple has released a patch to a zero-day flaw “that affects every iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch,” TechCrunch reports. Update your devices, folks.

Startups/VC

  • GrubMarket lands $120M to connect food growers, consumers: Sure, you’ve ordered food delivery. That’s one plank of the food game. But for distributors, wholesalers and supermarkets, there are far greater needs to be served than just what you and I can consume for dinner. That’s the market that GrubMarket plays in, and it just raised a huge bloc of cash to keep its growth rates up.
  • BitSight raises from Moody’s, buys VisibleRisk: BitSight, a startup that “assesses the likelihood that an organization will be breached,” per TechCrunch, has purchased an Israeli cyber-risk-assessment startup VisibleRisk for an undisclosed price. The Moody’s round put $250 million into BitSight, funds that we presume it used to snag VisibleRisk. What’s the connection? Moody’s wants to use cyber risks in its credit ratings, we reckon.
  • SpotOn also raises, buys smaller company: Unicorn SpotOn, which provides financial software and technology to small businesses, has raised a $300 million round that values the company at $3.15 billion. It’s also buying Appetize, “a digital and mobile commerce payments platform for enterprises such as sports and entertainment venues, theme parks and zoos.” The round is notable not only for its size, but also because SpotOn raised at a $1.875 billion valuation in May and a $625 million valuation last year.
  • JumpCloud raises $159M: JumpCloud sells cloud directory services and a host of other cloud-based identity services. It’s now worth $2.56 billion, a tidy sum. Sapphire Ventures’ Jai Das led the round. He’s a nice dude in my experience. The company grew its customer base by around 40% since last November. I asked the story’s author Ron Miller why JumpCloud was cool enough for him to cover. He said that the company’s effort to “provide a range of identity services, such as single sign-on and multifactor authentication” is important.
  • I suppose it’s time to learn what DevSevOps is: Every technology wants its own neologism. DevOps. Adtech. Finservices. Hell, even Databricks’ Lakehouse. Add DevSecOps to your personal lexicon. Per our own Ingrid Lunden, DevSecOps is “the area of IT that addresses the needs of security teams and the technical work that they need to do in their jobs.” Startup Rezilion just raised $30 million for its efforts to serve that particular market.
  • Everyone loves an e-commerce platform play: Shopify is big. BigCommerce is growing nicely. And investors want to put capital into the next, similar effort. Enter Egyptian startup Capiter, which just snagged a $33 million round to “help manufacturers and sellers distribute products and [ … ] access them on a single platform” in Africa.
  • To close out our startup coverage, GM just invested into radar software startup Oculi. The move fits neatly into the trend of self-driving cars getting better and better over time, even if they are not yet there, if you will.

3 keys to pricing early-stage SaaS products

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.”

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

Big Tech Inc.

Kicking off our short big technology section today, let’s pick back up with the automotive theme from GM’s news we discussed above. Ford also made headlines today by hiring Mike Amend to be its chief of digital and information. That it is not surprising that Ford would make such a hire is good indication of where the automotive market is heading.

  • Instagram thinks you follow too many people: That’s my read of the social service’s effort to build a product in its service that will allow users to favorite accounts and thus not miss their updates. Algorithmic timeline problems, I suppose.
  • Dutch judge makes Uber sad: Sure, that’s a slightly subjective summary, but news that a Dutch judge has ruled that Uber drivers are actually employees is antithetical to the ride-hailing company’s position. So it can’t be happy. And what’s the opposite of happy?

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

Are you all caught up on last week’s coverage of growth marketing? If not, read it here.

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

Community

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Join Danny Crichton on Twitter Spaces tomorrow, Tuesday, September 14, at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT as he discusses whether remote work will make H-1B visas redundant with Sophie Alcorn, a lawyer at Alcorn Immigration Law and guest columnist for “Dear Sophie” on Extra Crunch.

From passion to hobby to startup

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s inspired by what the weekday Exchange column digs into, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here.

Hey team! Alex here. I am off next week. Anna, my regular co-pilot on the weekday column, will be handling next week’s newsletter. It will be beyond good. Enjoy!

A few weeks back we took a look at some startup results, with a focus on growth. Today we’re narrowing our focus to a single company from the collection of startups that wrote in: Water Cooler Trivia.

Many startups begin life as a solution to a problem. A developer finds a flaw in their workflow, codes up a solution for it and later builds that hack into a product that scales. That sort of thing.

Collin Waldoch did something different, turning a hobby of his into a business.

Coming from a family of six kids in what he called a competitive family, Waldoch hosted bar trivia during college, and later sent around weekly trivia questions at his workplace after he completed his schooling. He kept the habit up during his early career, which included a stint at Lyft.

It was during his corporate life that Waldoch realized that companies were willing to spend heavily on team activities. Like a soccer team that he joined during one job that his employer spent a few grand on, but which struggled to find enough regular players. If companies would drop that much money on a group sport that few of its denizens wanted, he thought, perhaps there was some budget he could attack with a trivia product.

So Waldoch started Water Cooler Trivia, building it as a corporate product that he and some friends scaled to around $20,000 in ARR as a side project. The founder described its level of success at the time as pretty good beer money. Helping the project bring in revenue was a super-low churn rate, something that helped Waldoch decide to quit his day job at Lyft and take his side project full time.

Today Water Cooler Trivia has reached $300,000 worth of ARR and sports a collection of workers around the globe that help it run. Companies can select difficulty levels for their weekly trivia questions and track employee scores with longitudinal leaderboards.

Part of the idea’s success in Waldoch’s view is that it is built for the end user — employees — instead of HR. Which means that it’s actually fun. Today the company has experienced some churn, but still sports net retention rates of just under 100%. That’s great for a product that doesn’t feature enterprise-SaaS level upsells.

And the service is cheap. Probably too cheap frankly. At $100 per month for 100 seats, Water Cooler could likely boost what it charges and push its revenues higher in short order. Waldoch said that his company might start raising its rates in Q4 of this year. But even without that, Water Cooler thinks that it has a huge amount of growth open to it from its core product.

I dig it. Long live software making life a bit more fun.

Drift, Xometry, Carrot

It was a busy week with infinite IPO filings and eight billion YC startups pitching, but other things did happen that we need to talk about:

I’m curious about Drift’s sale to private equity: Boston’s Drift sold the majority of its shares to Vista Equity Partners, it announced this week. I’ve been to the Drift offices, as the company once lent us a room to record a podcast in. The folks there were nice. But with the company reporting 70% ARR growth in 2020, I am dead curious why Drift didn’t just raise more capital and keep growing. The company was able to raise lots of private money in the past, including, say, a $60 million round back in 2018. Exiting the bulk of the company early feels a little weird, similar to how the Gainsight sale to PE was a bit of a head scratcher. For Boston, the exit is good news as it may help mint new angel investors. But it still feels like an exit for which we’re missing a key detail.

Xometry: This one has been in the notes folder for too long, and since I’m off next week we’re including it here. I spoke with Xometry CEO Randy Altschuler after his company reported earnings a few weeks back. Recall that Xometry went public earlier this year. Altschuler reported generally bullish views on the process of going public during the COVID-19 era, calling his company’s Zoom roadshow efficient in a manner that allowed his company to chat to more folks while also saving on travel-related exhaustion.

Xometry, continued: But past the standard post-IPO chit chat, Altschuler had a few notes that stood out in my memory. The first being that inflation can impact technology businesses. Rising costs are impacting companies like Root, who have to deal with used car prices impacting claims costs. Inflation also crops up in Xometry’s business connecting manufacturing demand with manufacturing supply. It’s a good reminder that macro market conditions really do matter in the technology world, just not in ways that we can always easily see.

Xometry, even more: Altschuler also said that he thinks that a carbon tax at some point is inevitable. This came up in our discussion of onshoring manufacturing in the United States over time. Shipping stuff is expensive today and would prove even more costly if we added in the price of carbon emissions via a tax. That could make local manufacturing more competitive, notably. Perhaps that will prove a boon to folks in favor of more industrial production in post-industrial societies. For tech companies that deal with physical-world goods, it’s something to keep in mind.

And, finally, Carrot: Another entry from the notes archive, let’s talk about Carrot. The startup raised a $75 million round a few weeks back, so I asked the company about its growth history and a few other things. Carrot sells a product to employers so that they can offer their workers fertility benefits. Given falling human fertility rates, coverage of this sort is, in my view, likely to become more popular over time.

Other factors are at work, of course, but the last 18 months have proved accelerative for Carrot’s business. Per the company, it has seen “nearly 5x overall growth” in the last six quarters. The startup expects to reach 450 customers by the end of 2021, which will add up to around one million covered folks.

Carrot declined to share a valuation differential from its Series B to its Series C. Happily PitchBook has data on the matter, so we can report that per its dataset, Carrot’s valuation rose from around $66 million (post-money) following its $21 million Series B to around $260 million after its Series C. That’s a good markup for the company’s employees and founders.

My general bullishness around rising needs for fertility support matches the company’s ethos, which it described in an email by saying that it thinks fertility and “family-forming care could and should be the fourth pillar of employee benefits and health care more broadly, much like medical or dental or vision.” A hard yes to that one.

OK, that’s all from me for a few weeks. Stay safe, get vaccinated, and let’s be kind to one another. — Alex

Daily Crunch: Fintech startup Jeeves snags $500M valuation after $57M Series B

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

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 3, 2021. As noted yesterday, most of TechCrunch has the day off so today’s newsletter is a little bit different than usual.

Up top let’s chat early-stage startups. The TechCrunch team spent an age this week cataloging a host of startups from Y Combinator’s marathon demo day, with our notes covering all presentations from day one and day two. We also yanked our favorites in two batches, in case you wanted to avoid the full download and want to skip straight to the highlights.

But that’s not all. We also dug into trends from the group and hopped on Twitter Spaces to chat about what we saw. Of course, Y Combinator is a single accelerator, but given its mammoth cohort sizes we pay extra attention to the trends that its startups detail.

That behind us, let’s take a moment to highlight some great stuff from newer TechCrunch reporters:

Finally, Disrupt is coming up. So make sure that you have a ticket. As it’s a virtual event they are cheaper than they have been in years past, despite the event having perhaps its strongest content lineup ever. We’re excited!

With that, let’s head into the weekend — a long one here in the United States — and get some rest. What a week in the world at large and in our startup-focused niche. I’ll be taking all next week off, but I will leave the Daily Crunch in the very capable hands of one Greg Kumparak. — Alex

Use cohort analysis to drive smarter startup growth

Cohort analysis is a basic tool for startups that need to better understand customer behavior, but many early-stage companies let it slide.

Grouping users into “buckets” is common practice at most startups, but robust cohort analysis uncovers trends and missed opportunities that young companies can pounce on.

Don’t wait to hire a senior marketing person or a consultant to start this critical work: In a guest column, Jonathan Metrick, chief growth officer at Sagard & Portage Ventures, offers a detailed example explaining the value of this type of analysis.

If you have questions after reading this comprehensive step-by-step, please join us for a Twitter Spaces chat with Metrick on Tuesday, September 7, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT. For details and a reminder, follow @TechCrunch on Twitter.

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

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

TechCrunch wants to help startups find the right expert for their needs. To do this, we’re building a shortlist of the top growth marketers. We’ve received great recommendations for growth marketers in the startup industry since we launched our survey.

We’re excited to read more responses as they come in! Fill out the survey here.

Community

Jonathan Metrick

Image Credits: Jonathan Metrick

Join Danny Crichton and Mary Ann Azevedo Tuesday, September 7, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT on Twitter Spaces as they talk with Jonathan Metrick about fintech and growth marketing.

Daily Crunch: 8 Indian banks launch Account Aggregator to centralize consumers’ financial data

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

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Thursday, September 2, 2021. TechCrunch is largely off tomorrow thanks to a pan-Yahoo corporate reprieve. But don’t worry, all systems will continue to function while we recharge ahead of the next chapter of TechCrunch’s varied history of corporate ownership. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • China is hacking U.S.-based Uyghurs: The campaign by China’s government to erase Uyghur culture and undermine the Uyghur population inside its borders doesn’t stop there. The Chinese state has been hacking Uyghurs while traveling, for example. And the FBI reports today that the Chinese Communist Party is doing the same thing inside the United States’ borders.
  • SEO is far from dead: A new $55 million funding round into startup Botify underscores how the era of search engine optimization is hardly behind us. The company said that despite seeing “more and more sections of the search results coming from first-party or paid results,” organic traffic is still growing. And everyone wants a piece of that clickstream.
  • Europe, where net neutrality lives on: Europe’s top court has dealt another blow to “zero rating,” TechCrunch reports. Zero rating is the practice by which internet providers don’t count certain content against bandwidth limits, giving certain materials — often their own — a leg up. It’s a practice frowned on by open-internet advocates, and the EU is apparently unwilling to bend on the matter.

Startups/VC

We’ll have a huge digest of our Y Combinator coverage so that you can peruse a few hundred different startups tomorrow in Daily Crunch. But we could not resist adding in a teaser. How’s this for a headline: “Fintech startup Jeeves raises $57M, goes from YC to $500M valuation in one year.” Even in 2021 that’s rapid valuation creation for an early-stage startup.

  • Yet more capital for neobanks: Challenger bank Point has put together a $46.5 million Series B, pouring more fuel into the startup’s goal of building a debit card that offers credit-card-level perks. Point’s service isn’t free, but for folks who don’t want to use revolving consumer credit accounts that often come with high interest rates, its model could be a neat way forward.
  • Shepherd raises $6.2M for construction insurance: TechCrunch is tracking a number of B2B neoinsurance companies today, including Shepherd. The startup is working to offer excess liability insurance to construction companies, building technology usage data into its underwriting models. It’s a neat idea. Procore put capital into the funding round.
  • HomeLight raises $100M: The real estate technology upstart wants to connect buyers and sellers, and also provides title and escrow services. And after its latest funding event, it’s worth $1.6 billion. HomeLight managed such a large round after projecting that its revenues will “triple to over $300 million in 2021.” So, when’s the IPO?
  • Edtech’s boom is not done: That’s our takeaway from news that General Atlantic has helped pour $60 million into Panorama Education, which has built a “a K-12 education software platform,” per TechCrunch reporting. Edtech startups got a huge boost in 2020 when schools around the world went remote. It appears that that wave has yet to crest.

All the reasons why you should launch a credit or debit card

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

To compete with retail banks, many startups 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

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • All hail the Googlebot: Alphabet has built an exoskeleton, our own Brian Heater reports in his Actuator series. It frankly looks rad. At times it’s easy to forget that Alphabet retains a large skunkworks effort despite being best known today for its Android mobile software, ad technology and online document editing services.
  • Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight coming soon: After sending some folks to either space, or near-space the other month, Virgin Galactic is getting ready for commercial work. Per the company, that mission could come later this month, or in early October. For the company’s shareholders, it’s good news. Scratch that! After we wrote that blurb, news broke that the next Virgin flight is off after the FAA grounded the company. More here.
  • Today in Tesla: Two things from Elon-world today. First, Tesla has been told to share Autopilot data with the United States’ traffic safety agency. And Tesla’s hyper-quick Roadster car might not come until 2023. Follow-up question: When will the Cybertruck roll out?
  • And, finally, news from India: Eight banks in the country are soon rolling out “a system called Account Aggregator to enable consumers to consolidate all their financial data in one place.” India’s banking industry has a history of banding together to create products for consumers, including the “interoperable UPI rails” that many fintech companies in the country depend on, TechCrunch reports.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

TechCrunch wants to help startups find the right expert for their needs. To do this, we’re building a shortlist of the top growth marketers. We’ve received great recommendations for growth marketers in the startup industry since we launched our survey.

We’re excited to read more responses as they come in! Fill out the survey here.

Community

Jonathan Metrick

Image Credits: Jonathan Metrick

Join Danny Crichton and Mary Ann Azevedo Tuesday, September 7, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT on Twitter Spaces as they talk with Jonathan Metrick about fintech and growth marketing.

Daily Crunch: Researchers claim Fortress S03 home security system can be remotely disabled

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

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 1, 2021. It’s a big day in TechCrunch history in that we’ve been shuffled to a new parent company. More on that in a moment. First, Disrupt attendees, you can now hit up CrunchMatch to meet other cool folks. See you there! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Hello, Apollo! TechCrunch is no longer part of Verizon Media Group, a somewhat forgotten subsidiary of the U.S. telco. Instead, we are now part of Yahoo, which is owned, in turn, by Apollo, a large investing company that is publicly traded. Cue the parade. Jokes aside, the long-announced deal has finally been completed. We’ll have more notes on our new overlords as soon as we meet them.
  • Inside Amplitude’s IPO filing: TechCrunch’s coverage of the accelerating IPO market continued today with notes on Amplitude’s product-analytics-focused debut. For more on Toast and Freshworks’ filings, head here or here. Oh, and Warby Parker here, if D2C is your jam.
  • Sticking to the big-dollar news today, Vista Equity is buying a majority stake in Drift. Based in Boston, Drift focuses on what it calls “conversational” sales tools. The two parties were being coy to a silly level by not disclosing the price paid for Drift, other than that the majority sale of the company values the former startup at more than $1 billion. Why Drift sold to Vista instead of going public is not clear, but we do feel cheated out of its S-1 filing.

Startups/VC

As we write to you today, the TechCrunch team is busy writing thousands of words about the second day of startup pitches from Y Combinator’s Demo Day. You can read about every startup that pitched yesterday.

Now, to today’s news. First, Berlin Brands, which buys and hopes to scale brands that sell on Amazon, is now worth north of $1 billion after raising a $700 million equity-and-debt round. There is apparently infinite capital available to finance the purchase of smaller e-commerce brands.

So much so that Forum Brands also announced new capital for the activity today. Its $100 million in debt financing may sound small compared to what Berlin Brands just secured, but it’s still nine figures of dry powder.

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

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.

Read their analysis, then come back later today for their rundown of Day Two.

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

Big Tech Inc.

Today’s Big Tech news is mostly focused on feature upgrades. Enjoy!

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

In case you didn’t catch it yesterday: We’re giving away one free ticket to Disrupt through the Experts survey. Check out the schedule for Disrupt, and read on to learn about the giveaway details.

  • Have you already submitted a recommendation? That’s great — we’re counting all previous survey submissions as an entry for the Disrupt ticket.
  • We’ll also enter the next 100 survey submissions into the giveaway.
  • Do you want to submit 10 recommendations to increase your chance at winning? We love the enthusiasm, but we ask that you only submit one recommendation for each marketer that you’ve worked with.
  • Don’t know what to say in your recommendation? Start with what traits they had, what they did to help your company, how their work affected your business and go from there!
  • We manually go through all entries, so please don’t copy and paste the same response multiple times.
  • Have a question about the giveaway? Send us an email at [email protected].

Community

Jonathan Metrick

Image Credits: Jonathan Metrick

Join Danny Crichton and Mary Ann Azevedo Tuesday, September 7, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT on Twitter Spaces as they talk with Jonathan Metrick about fintech and growth marketing.