Should we be worried about insurtech valuations?

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.

Hello everyone, I hope you had a lovely week. I turned 32 after experiencing sleep-destroying heartburn. So, a little good and a little bad. But that didn’t stop the markets. Nope. Not a bit. Which means we have a lot to talk about, including falling insurtech stocks and what the situation might mean for startups, and a raft of IPOs. This will be fun!

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of our chats with newly public companies Kaltura, Couchbase and Enovix, let’s talk insurtech.

In the last year or so we’ve seen a number of insurtech startups go public, including Root (auto insurance), Metromile (car insurance), and Lemonade (rental insurance). Here’s a quick digest of how their performance looks today:

  • Root: $7.72 per share, 71.4% down from its $27 per share IPO price.
  • Metromile: $7.26 per share, down 64.4% from its post-combination highs.
  • Lemonade: $86.97 per share, up 199.9% from its IPO price of $29 per share.

Recall that Root and Metromile began to trade after Lemonade, so their declines are not over a longer time horizon, but a shorter interval. Which makes the situation all the more interesting.

What’s going on? Well, two of the three insurtech public offerings (SPACs, IPOs, etc.) are sharply underwater. That doesn’t bode incredibly well for Hippo, which is pursuing its own SPAC-led combination that should be wrapping up in short order. The huge declines don’t seem bullish for insurtech startups, who will have to answer private-market investor doubts concerning their value.

Does Lemonade’s strong post-IPO performance allay concerns? It’s tricky. The company has been busy expanding into new markets, including auto insurance. The company did take a somewhat material hit from the Texas freeze earlier this year — per its most recent earnings report — but past those two data points it’s not entirely clear what the company is doing that the other two are not. But investors are stoked about Lemonade, and not Root and Metromile. Figuring out why that’s the case, and why their startup is more Lemonade than the other two, is going to be key for the many insurtech startups still scaling toward their own IPOs.

It’s IPO season

The Exchange has been busy on the phones these last two weeks, talking to CEOs of companies going public to try and learn from their recent experiences. So, what follows are notes from calls with folks at Kaltura, Couchbase and Enovix. Enjoy!

Kaltura

  • Reminder: Online-video-focused Kaltura filed to go public earlier this year before delaying its IPO and taking another run at the funding event.
  • The Exchange spoke with Kaltura CEO Ron Yekutiel, who said that the company’s IPO’s timing was impacted by the early-2021 public market turmoil. That was not a surprise, but it was good to get confirmation regardless.
  • That freeze was partially caused by the Archegos implosion, per Yekutiel. That makes sense, but was news to us.
  • Yekutiel said that his company wasn’t thrilled about the delay — going public is the only fundraise that you pre-announce, he noted — but added that investors his company had already spoken to the first-time around were still enthused about Kaltura on its second run at an IPO.
  • Per the CEO, Kaltura’s preliminary Q2 results showed investors that what it was talking about earlier in the year was coming true. He also stressed uptake in new products as key to the company’s continued growth.
  • The CEO was happy with how his company priced and traded during its first day, snagging a flat 20% uptick in value upon trading. He noted that more would have been excessive, and less would have been un-good.
  • Regarding the lower valuation that Kaltura priced at compared to its March-era IPO price range, Yekutiel said that you don’t get a third chance to make a first impression and that his company wanted to get the offering done. So they did. Points for not getting lost in their own head.
  • Kaltura is up 17.5% from its $10 per-share IPO price as of the time of writing.

One anecdote, if I may. Kaltura won an early TechCrunch40 — the precursor to the TechCrunch50 event, itself a predecessor to today’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference series — thanks to a single vote cast via physical token. Yekutiel still has that token, and showed it to us during our chat. Neat!

Couchbase

  • The Exchange spoke with noSQL database company Couchbase’s CEO Matt Cain. Couchbase priced at $24 per share, above its $20 to $23 per-share IPO price range.
  • Today it’s worth $33.20, rising 9.2% in today’s trading as of the time of writing.
  • Cain was talking from a pretty strict script — a pretty standard situation amongst newly public CEOs worried about fucking up and going to jail — so we didn’t get the precise answers we were looking for. But we still managed to learn a few things, including that Couchbase was yet another company that found the meeting density made possible by remote roadshows to be accretive.
  • The CEO was focused on discussing the scale of the opportunity ahead of Couchbase, namely the world of operational databases. It’s hard to find a bigger market, he argued, which made investors excited about what his company might be able to accomplish. Our read here is that there’s probably plenty of surface area for startups in the database world, if the market is as big as Cain reckons it is.
  • We wanted to learn a bit more about how public-market investors view open-source powered companies, but didn’t get too much from him on the matter. Still, the company’s IPO is a pretty damn strong one, implying that being OSS-built isn’t exactly a detriment to a company hoping to exit.

Enovix

  • The Exchange wanted to chat with newly public company Enovix because it debuted via a SPAC. Why does that matter? Because there are other battery-focused companies looking to go public via SPACs. So, the chat was good background for later work.
  • And we love talking to public companies. Who doesn’t?
  • Asked if combination-and-trade-under-new-ticker-symbol day was like an IPO to his firm, Rust said that it was. Fair enough.
  • The company’s combination date for its SPAC slipped from Q2 to Q3, we noticed. Why was that? Some SEC changes regarding accounting, in short. Not a big deal was our impression from the chat, but one that did cause a slight delay to Enovix’s trading date.
  • Why go public via a SPAC? Cash, but also the particular sponsor of their combination, which Rust said was a key resource in terms of operational knowledge. The company has also hired from its SPAC sponsor’s network, which felt notable. (Hey look, actual investor value-add!)
  • Asked why his company is worth less than the impending SES SPAC, another battery company that has yet to generate revenue, Rust said that the value of his company in its SPAC deal was a negotiation, and that if the company is successful, whether it was valued at $1.1 billion or $1.4 billion wouldn’t really matter.
  • What’s fun about Enovix is that it is not starting with its impending battery tech aimed at EVs. Instead, it’s targeting high-end electronics. Why? Quick cycles to get batteries into hardware and possible pricing power. It does intend to get into EVs in time, however.
  • The company is worth $17.33 per share, giving it what Yahoo Finance describes as a $2.5 billion valuation. That’s a good markup from what it expected and could bode well for SES’s own, future debut.

Yo, that was a lot. Thanks for sticking with me. And thanks for reading The Exchange’s little newsletter. You can catch up on all our work here if you want some long-form reads on the global venture capital market, edtech and other topics. Stay cool!

Your friend,

Alex

Daily Crunch: Bitcoin ‘is a big part of our future,’ says Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

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 July 23, 2021. It’s been an interesting week for the crypto faithful. One eye-catching piece of news came from Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who said that bitcoin will be a “big part” of the company’s future. In his view it’s the internet’s “native currency.” Kinda? I would have picked a more modern chain, but that’s just me. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Indian IPOs are a go: After much selling and waiting, the Zomato IPO took flight in India to great effect. Shares of the food delivery unicorn went up sharply, marking a successful flotation for the growth-oriented unicorn. For other richly valued Indian unicorns, it’s just about the best news that you could imagine. More, please.
  • Snap is very much not dead: Lost amidst all the Facebook and TikTok brouhaha is the fact that Snap is still growing its user base (some) and revenue scale (more). The company still consumes cash and has huge share-based compensation costs, but it reported the sort of growth that delights investors. So, up went its shares.
  • China cracks down on edtech: The changing climate for startups and tech giants in China took a new twist this week when news broke that the Chinese Communist Party may force tutoring companies in the country to go nonprofit. That hit a number of stocks, and, we presume, was a pretty bad day for the country’s larger edtech venture and startup ecosystem.

Startups/VC

  • Paystand is building Venmo for businesses: Want to send a bloc of cash as a company? The process can suck. Happily Paystand just raised $50 million for its work on the matter. TechCrunch’s Christine Hall told Daily Crunch that she picked up the round because the company is “not only taking on the business-to-business payment space, but is also utilizing blockchain technology as its engine.”
  • Former Minter wants to be king: That’s our first read of the startup Monarch, founded by Val Agostino, who was the first PM at Mint.com. What does Monarch do? Helps folks manage their financial futures. Sure, other companies do that, but most of them are garbage. Have you used the Fidelity website lately?
  • Lucid Motors discovers the weaknesses of democracy: The EV company had to extend its voting deadline to approve its SPAC deal after not enough folks voted. Per TechCrunch, the “hiccup occurred on Thursday, when shareholders voted to approve all but one of the proposals as part of the merger.” That particular item required more votes. Regardless, it now has the votes and will go public.
  • And if you wanted to know what’s up with the Duolingo IPO, the Equity team has you covered.

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

If you are methodical in your approach to building a larger customer base, it is not difficult to foster steady growth.

Marketers who shift with whichever way the wind is blowing — or blindly follow someone else’s idea of best practices — are less likely to be successful.

“The not-so-secret secret here is that the key to great retention is really simple,” said growth expert Susan Su recently at TechCrunch Early Stage: Marketing and Fundraising.

“It is building a product that solves a real and especially persistent problem for people.”

In a conversation with Managing Editor Eric Eldon, Su delved into several issues, including tips for how founders should discuss growth with their investors and her methods for developing a sample qualitative growth model.

“I firmly believe that every founder should try their hand at growth,” said Su.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • GM recalls the Bolt. Again: If you own a 2017-to-2019-era Bolt, it may catch fire. So you’ll want to take part in the current recall. The first to happen since November of 2020 we hasten to add. Still the news underscores that EV tech is coming to maturity, even if some earlier attempts at such vehicles are riding the struggle bus.
  • Taboola goes shopping: Fresh off its SPAC combination, Taboola announced that it is buying “Connexity, a marketing technology company that operates a retail- and e-commerce-focused advertising network” for $800 million. You can do this more easily if you are public. Buy things, that is. Shares in the online effluent provider were up sharply in today’s trading.
  • Folks still using Tumblr not stoked that Tumblr wants a future: A few days back Daily Crunch was generally positive about Tumblr’s move to introduce paywalls for creators who wanted them. Why not position the venerable company toward the burgeoning creator economy and help folks make a few bucks? Well, users are pissed. It’s a somewhat standard internet mess, but that doesn’t make it any less befuddling.

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: Jonathan Metrick, Portage Ventures

Recommended by: Matt Byrd

Testimonial: “Jonathan was truly transformative at Policygenius. Prior to his arrival, we were running a smart but disjointed marketing effort. Our messaging was inconsistent, and our approach to understanding channel efficacy was weaker than it could have been. Jonathan brought a growth mindset to the team, and built a hypereffective org in a short amount of time.”

Daily Crunch: Today’s widespread internet outage ‘not a result of a cyberattack,’ says Akamai

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 July 22, 2021. Today we have a lot of news for you, but with a notable twist. Normally we have lots of startup news and a few notes from Big Tech companies. Today we have a lot from both, so strap in.

Also, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is coming to Disrupt. Because TechCrunch covers the worlds of micromobility, mobility proper and the future of transit, we have a few questions for the man. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Gopuff is raising again: TechCrunch broke the news today that Gopuff, the SoftBank-backed delivery company, is raising more capital. Our sources say $1 billion at around a $15 billion valuation. Axios confirmed the news. The potential funding will follow in the wake of lots of capital raised for instant-delivery grocery around the world.
  • Canada’s venture capital market is hotter than the sun: TechCrunch’s exploration of the global, U.S, Indian, European and Latin American startup markets continued today with a look at North North America. It turns out that Canadian startups are enjoying one hell of a year when it comes to landing big venture rounds.
  • The internet went down. Here’s why: Akamai’s DNS system hit a pothole today, taking down a pretty big chunk of the internet. Lots of stuff broke, including the Couchbase website right as your humble servant was prepping to chat with its CEO about its recent IPO (more here). Things are back to normal now, but don’t forget that the internet is not a series of tubes. It’s a series of leaky tubes held together with duct tape.

Startups/VC

Let’s talk about startups. Today we have everything from passwordless tech to new venture funds and a robotics roundup. But if you need even more, here’s Greylock’s Mike Duboe explaining how to define growth and build your team.

  • Mindtech raises $3.25M for synthetic human watching: No really, that’s what it does. The U.K.-based company’s service wants to train CCTV cameras on digital humans, saving customers from knotty privacy issues. This is one of those times when venture capital dollars appear to be flowing to an actually kinda wild idea?
  • Sendlane wants you to spend more: Sendlane, now flush with $20 million in new capital, wants to help its customers use data on their customers to help keep shoppers loyal and spend more. I would call this slightly creepy but then I would sound like the luddite that I am.
  • All Raise launches virtual bootcamp for women and nonbinary founders: As venture funding races to new heights, it’s not landing everywhere equally. In fact, some data sources indicate that VC is actually getting less diverse this year. All Raise wants to push back on that by helping more founders other than folks who look like me raise capital. Good.
  • Magic raises $27M to get rid of passwords: Magic, a startup that will spend its life trying to live up to its name, just raised a huge amount of money to pursue its vision of a less password-focused future. Its tech allows developers to “implement a variety of passwordless authentication methods with just a few lines of code,” TechCrunch reports.
  • What has a five-letter name and 3 billion more dollars? Sadly, it’s not you or me. It’s Index! The venture capital firm has put together new funds worth just under $3 billion, a big chunk more money than it raised, er, a year ago. Hot Startup Summer is being made possible by Hot Zero Interest Rate Policy Decade, which in turn is helping fuel Hot Bored Cash Season, leading to every venture capital firm raising enough money to cause their GPs to lose sleep. Fun!

And for your robotics fans out there, TechCrunch has a new digest from the industry here. Enjoy!

Last-mile delivery in Latin America is ready to take off

Thanks to sprawling fulfillment centers, seamless logistics networks and ubiquitous internet access, consumers in many regions now order groceries and a new set of cookware during breakfast and can reasonably expect everything to arrive in time for dinner.

In Latin America, a lack of technology infrastructure makes delivery operations less complex — products are delivered from a retailer’s loading dock to a customer’s front door — but these supply chains are often managed with spreadsheets, paper and pen.

Algorithms that manage delivery routes or automatically dispatch drivers “are almost unheard of in the Latin America retail logistics sector,” says Bob Ma, an investor at WIND Ventures.

But thanks to growing consumer demand and expanding investment in last-mile delivery startups, Ma says the region is at a turning point.

Since Latin America’s middle class has grown 50% in the last decade and e-commerce constitutes just 6% of all retail, several unicorns have emerged in recent years, with more waiting in the wings.

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

Big Tech Inc.

Let’s start with transportation news and then talk about the rest of Big Tech.

Daily Crunch asked TechCrunch transportation guru and generally sterling person Kirsten Korosec just why there was so much news today from her beat. “I have no idea why, just make it stop,” she joked, before adding that she “can say that with so many automakers making commitments to move to all electric lines, we can expect more announcements about how they plan to ensure they have battery capacity and other raw materials.”

Here’s the news:

  • Rivian sets sights on second factory: Fresh off production delays, EV company Rivian is planning for the future in the form of another factory. The company admitted to being in the process of looking for a second plant. Our read? This electric car thing is not slowing down.
  • Speaking of which, Tesla will source nickel directly from commodity production giant BHP. It’s going to be the Hunger Games out there for the raw materials needed for electric cars if the market evolves as it is expected to. Tesla wants to make sure it doesn’t lack supplies.
  • How much demand are we talking about? Well, Mercedes is going to build eight — eight! — battery plants. Now that we’ve read the news, the idea makes sense, but it still made us sit up and consider its implications. The days of the internal combustion engine are coming to an end.
  • Uber buys Transplace for $2.25B: Rounding out our mobility rundown, Uber is making moves with its checkbook, this time buying Transplace, a digital logistics company, for a few billion. The effort will fit into Uber’s larger freight aspirations. The company has said that it intends to reach adjusted profitability this year.
  • Meanwhile, Waymo announced it is opening an office in Pittsburgh, where it will certainly put even more pressure on an already competitive talent recruiting process.

And from the rest of the world of giant tech companies:

  • Spotify and Giphy team up: Er, have you wanted GIFs in your music player? Well, good news if so: Spotify has “a new partnership with online GIF database GIPHY to enable discovery of new music through GIFs.” Cool?
  • Microsoft buys CloudKnox: Microsoft’s push to provide cash returns to every cybersecurity-focused venture capitalist continued today, with the Redmond-based software giant buying CloudKnox. It’s the fourth deal this year for a smaller cybersecurity-focused startup from Microsoft.
  • Visa buys Currencycloud: Visa, likely still stinging slightly from its inability to buy fintech API provider Plaid, is busy buying other companies. This time it’s Currencycloud, which builds other fintech APIs. Jokes aside, the deal will bring the smaller company’s remittance and currency-transfer tech into Visa for just under $1 billion.

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: Adam DuVander, EveryDeveloper

Recommended by: Karl Hughes, Draft.dev

Testimonial: “In addition to writing a book on developer marketing, Adam draws from deep experience as a developer and developer advocate to make sure his clients set a winning strategy in motion.”

Daily Crunch: Today’s widespread internet outage ‘not a result of a cyberattack,’ says Akamai

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 July 22, 2021. Today we have a lot of news for you, but with a notable twist. Normally we have lots of startup news and a few notes from Big Tech companies. Today we have a lot from both, so strap in.

Also, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is coming to Disrupt. Because TechCrunch covers the worlds of micromobility, mobility proper and the future of transit, we have a few questions for the man. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Gopuff is raising again: TechCrunch broke the news today that Gopuff, the SoftBank-backed delivery company, is raising more capital. Our sources say $1 billion at around a $15 billion valuation. Axios confirmed the news. The potential funding will follow in the wake of lots of capital raised for instant-delivery grocery around the world.
  • Canada’s venture capital market is hotter than the sun: TechCrunch’s exploration of the global, U.S, Indian, European and Latin American startup markets continued today with a look at North North America. It turns out that Canadian startups are enjoying one hell of a year when it comes to landing big venture rounds.
  • The internet went down. Here’s why: Akamai’s DNS system hit a pothole today, taking down a pretty big chunk of the internet. Lots of stuff broke, including the Couchbase website right as your humble servant was prepping to chat with its CEO about its recent IPO (more here). Things are back to normal now, but don’t forget that the internet is not a series of tubes. It’s a series of leaky tubes held together with duct tape.

Startups/VC

Let’s talk about startups. Today we have everything from passwordless tech to new venture funds and a robotics roundup. But if you need even more, here’s Greylock’s Mike Duboe explaining how to define growth and build your team.

  • Mindtech raises $3.25M for synthetic human watching: No really, that’s what it does. The U.K.-based company’s service wants to train CCTV cameras on digital humans, saving customers from knotty privacy issues. This is one of those times when venture capital dollars appear to be flowing to an actually kinda wild idea?
  • Sendlane wants you to spend more: Sendlane, now flush with $20 million in new capital, wants to help its customers use data on their customers to help keep shoppers loyal and spend more. I would call this slightly creepy but then I would sound like the luddite that I am.
  • All Raise launches virtual bootcamp for women and nonbinary founders: As venture funding races to new heights, it’s not landing everywhere equally. In fact, some data sources indicate that VC is actually getting less diverse this year. All Raise wants to push back on that by helping more founders other than folks who look like me raise capital. Good.
  • Magic raises $27M to get rid of passwords: Magic, a startup that will spend its life trying to live up to its name, just raised a huge amount of money to pursue its vision of a less password-focused future. Its tech allows developers to “implement a variety of passwordless authentication methods with just a few lines of code,” TechCrunch reports.
  • What has a five-letter name and 3 billion more dollars? Sadly, it’s not you or me. It’s Index! The venture capital firm has put together new funds worth just under $3 billion, a big chunk more money than it raised, er, a year ago. Hot Startup Summer is being made possible by Hot Zero Interest Rate Policy Decade, which in turn is helping fuel Hot Bored Cash Season, leading to every venture capital firm raising enough money to cause their GPs to lose sleep. Fun!

And for your robotics fans out there, TechCrunch has a new digest from the industry here. Enjoy!

Last-mile delivery in Latin America is ready to take off

Thanks to sprawling fulfillment centers, seamless logistics networks and ubiquitous internet access, consumers in many regions now order groceries and a new set of cookware during breakfast and can reasonably expect everything to arrive in time for dinner.

In Latin America, a lack of technology infrastructure makes delivery operations less complex — products are delivered from a retailer’s loading dock to a customer’s front door — but these supply chains are often managed with spreadsheets, paper and pen.

Algorithms that manage delivery routes or automatically dispatch drivers “are almost unheard of in the Latin America retail logistics sector,” says Bob Ma, an investor at WIND Ventures.

But thanks to growing consumer demand and expanding investment in last-mile delivery startups, Ma says the region is at a turning point.

Since Latin America’s middle class has grown 50% in the last decade and e-commerce constitutes just 6% of all retail, several unicorns have emerged in recent years, with more waiting in the wings.

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

Big Tech Inc.

Let’s start with transportation news and then talk about the rest of Big Tech.

Daily Crunch asked TechCrunch transportation guru and generally sterling person Kirsten Korosec just why there was so much news today from her beat. “I have no idea why, just make it stop,” she joked, before adding that she “can say that with so many automakers making commitments to move to all electric lines, we can expect more announcements about how they plan to ensure they have battery capacity and other raw materials.”

Here’s the news:

  • Rivian sets sights on second factory: Fresh off production delays, EV company Rivian is planning for the future in the form of another factory. The company admitted to being in the process of looking for a second plant. Our read? This electric car thing is not slowing down.
  • Speaking of which, Tesla will source nickel directly from commodity production giant BHP. It’s going to be the Hunger Games out there for the raw materials needed for electric cars if the market evolves as it is expected to. Tesla wants to make sure it doesn’t lack supplies.
  • How much demand are we talking about? Well, Mercedes is going to build eight — eight! — battery plants. Now that we’ve read the news, the idea makes sense, but it still made us sit up and consider its implications. The days of the internal combustion engine are coming to an end.
  • Uber buys Transplace for $2.25B: Rounding out our mobility rundown, Uber is making moves with its checkbook, this time buying Transplace, a digital logistics company, for a few billion. The effort will fit into Uber’s larger freight aspirations. The company has said that it intends to reach adjusted profitability this year.
  • Meanwhile, Waymo announced it is opening an office in Pittsburgh, where it will certainly put even more pressure on an already competitive talent recruiting process.

And from the rest of the world of giant tech companies:

  • Spotify and Giphy team up: Er, have you wanted GIFs in your music player? Well, good news if so: Spotify has “a new partnership with online GIF database GIPHY to enable discovery of new music through GIFs.” Cool?
  • Microsoft buys CloudKnox: Microsoft’s push to provide cash returns to every cybersecurity-focused venture capitalist continued today, with the Redmond-based software giant buying CloudKnox. It’s the fourth deal this year for a smaller cybersecurity-focused startup from Microsoft.
  • Visa buys Currencycloud: Visa, likely still stinging slightly from its inability to buy fintech API provider Plaid, is busy buying other companies. This time it’s Currencycloud, which builds other fintech APIs. Jokes aside, the deal will bring the smaller company’s remittance and currency-transfer tech into Visa for just under $1 billion.

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: Adam DuVander, EveryDeveloper

Recommended by: Karl Hughes, Draft.dev

Testimonial: “In addition to writing a book on developer marketing, Adam draws from deep experience as a developer and developer advocate to make sure his clients set a winning strategy in motion.”

Daily Crunch: India’s most valuable startup buys US-based digital reading platform Epic for $500M

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 Extra Crunch for July 21, 2021. It’s been a good day for crypto fans, with major coins seeing some recovery from recent lows. Bitcoin and ether remain depressed on a seven-day time frame, however. And the stock market is up today. What more can we ask for on a Wednesday? Well, how about a huge run of startup and tech news? We can do that! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Clubhouse leaves beta: Clubhouse, the buzzy live-audio startup that captivated the technology world earlier this year, is out of beta. The move feels a hair late given the work that Twitter has done with its Spaces product, but is welcome all the same. Data indicates that Clubhouse is having a moment in India, a key tech market as Daily Crunch has discussed ad nauseam.
  • Tumblr goes pro: Feeling like a comeback story? Tumblr certainly does. After winding up as part of Yahoo thanks to a $1.3 billion deal, and later part of Verizon after the company (and still TechCrunch’s parent company’s parent company) bought the online portal giant, it got sold to Automattic for a song. Now it wants to join the creator economy boom by allowing its users to put up paywalls. We’re here for it — the internet would be more fun with a healthy Tumblr in the mix.
  • Byju’s comes to America: Indian edtech superstar Byju’s is coming to the U.S. on the heels of its newly announced $500 million deal for Epic, what TechCrunch described as a “California-headquartered reading platform.” The edtech market is hot, something that we’ve long known. Duolingo’s IPO is also in the mix, as is a recent $24 million round for Sololearn, a startup that wants to take the Duolingo model and apply it to learning to code.

Startups/VC

We have lots to chat about today from the world of startups thanks to the supercharged venture capital cadence around the world. Up top, if you are keeping tabs on the Robinhood IPO, our latest notes are here. Now, let’s talk tech upstarts and private capital, starting with some fintech updates.

Fintech

  • Lending startup Upgrade embraces crypto: Back in 2019, TechCrunch took note of Upgrade, a consumer lending startup from LendingClub founder Renaud Laplanche. Today the startup rolled out a credit card with bitcoin rewards. If you need a few more satoshis worth of $BTC and want to build credit, this might be for you.
  • No-code + Payments = WhenThen: WhenThen’s no-code payments service is not struggling to explain itself to investors, its latest $6 million round indicates. Its service, TechCrunch reports, allows customers to “autonomously orchestrate, monitor, improve and manage all customer payments and payments ops.” The no-code element likely means it’s a bit more friendly to the non-developers out there. We grade this idea neat out of 10.
  • $118M more for corporate spend management: Here in the U.S., the corporate spend wars have Ramp versus Airbase versus Brex on the front lines. But that doesn’t mean that the popular model of fusing corporate cards and software to help companies manage their overall dispensation of funds is fully figured out. Especially in a global context. And now Spendesk has a fresh €100 million in its own accounts to spend taking on the EU market. I wonder what service it will use to track those costs?

Software

  • Sequoia Capital India backs Outplay: The new $7.3 million investment will bolster the startup’s efforts to “help outbound sales teams scale their campaigns.”
  • Say hello to what may be the future of spreadsheets: Spreadsheet.com wants to flip the idea of turning spreadsheet usage into targeted apps on its head. Instead, the startup wants to put apps in your spreadsheets. And its general release is coming this October.
  • Aussies want to help D2C brands kick the Big Tech habit: Now flush with $5.3 million in new capital, Sydney-based Okendo wants to help “brands scale the quality of their first-party data and loosen their reliance on tech advertising kingpins for customer acquisition and engagement.” If they can manage that, hats off.

Closing our startup coverage, a few final notes. Pangaea has raised $68 million for its men’s personal care brands. That is cool. But don’t get it mixed up with Providence, Rhode Island-based Pangea, a recent Y Combinator grad that has some news coming up. More on that soon.

If you want a deeper dive into the latest in hot business books, the Equity team recently sat down with one of the authors of “The Cult of We” to chat all things WeWork.

These simple metrics will tell you if your startup is ready to scale

There’s a temptation inside early-stage startups to claim that the go-to-market strategy is fully operational. In reality, GTM is a stark numbers game, and even with a solid plan in place, it can be easily foiled by common problems like turf battles and poor communication.

Finding GTM fit is a milestone for any startup that can include anything from expanding the engineering team to launching your first media buy. But how do you know when you’ve reached that magic moment?

“You have to consider three metrics: gross churn rate, the magic number and gross margin,” says Tae Hea Nahm, co-founder and managing director of Storm Ventures.

High churn means customers aren’t delighted, low gross margins mean poor unit economics, and that so-called magic number?

“You can calculate it by taking new ARR divided by your marketing and sales spending,” according to Nahm. “But keep in mind that the magic number is a lagging indicator, and it may take you a few quarters to see a positive result.”

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Remember Alexa? Amazon still wants you to build for it: Amazon’s voice assistant still wants developers to build for it, something that they may do. To entice more developer love, Amazon released a slew of new features for the service. Frankly, given the slow pace of growth in intelligence we’ve experienced with Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google’s “OK Google” setup, we are gently skeptical.
  • Can Ford, Argo and Lyft make self-driving taxis work? Recall that Google’s Waymo taxi service both exists and operates, albeit in micro compared to the riding networks that Uber and Lyft sport. Now Ford, a car company; Argo, a self-driving concern; and Lyft, a ride-hailing effort, “plan to launch up to 1,000 self-driving vehicles on Lyft’s ride-hailing network in a number of cities over the next five years, starting with Miami and Austin.”

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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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 Miranda Halpern did with Maya Moufarek, founder of Marketing Cube: ”Marketing Cube founder Maya Moufarek’s lessons for customer-focused startups.”

Daily Crunch: Jeff Bezos and 3 guests share Blue Origin’s first crewed flight

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 July 20, 2021. The markets have been active in the last few days, with stocks dropping yesterday before rebounding today. Cryptos have also been suffering from ups and downs. A bit like Jeff Bezos, though his were planned. More on that in a second. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Bezos blasts off: The billionaire space race reached its second stage today, as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos left the planet for a few minutes. There was a livestream, though the Blue Origin space company was a bit more salesy than I was comfortable with. Regardless, the humans went up and came down, and the rocket and everyone aboard survived. The crew was pretty stoked about it all.
  • European startups are thriving: Of all the startup markets in the world, Europe’s is among the very hottest. And according to venture capitalists that TechCrunch spoke with, the pace of investing activity on the continent is not set to slow much in the back half of 2021. This year will set all-time records in the European startup market for capital raised.
  • Square builds a business bank: What has lots of small-biz customers and big fintech aspirations? Well, a lot of tech companies, but also Square. The company has put together a business bank for its business customers. How long until Square is simply a bank for individuals and companies alike? A good rule of thumb for fintech: No matter where a startup starts in financial technology, it will end up doing all things. Or die trying.

Startups/VC

Holy heck there were a lot of funding rounds announced today. TechCrunch covered a huge chunk of the total, so many that we can’t get to them all here. But after checking in on China, we have your speed-read all the same. Let’s go!

  • All about the Chinese startup scene: Are you a little behind on China’s technology regulatory crackdown? Don’t worry if so. Our own Rita Liao is on the case and has a brilliant roundup of what’s going on with Didi and other China-based companies that went public on the U.S. market. The gist is that data may not be the new oil, as some liked to say a few years back, but data is proving to be a geopolitical flashpoint. As it turns out, the Europeans were early on this one.

Now, the venture capital rundown, in brief format to allow for the inclusion of more items:

  • Taking on counterfeit drugs in Africa: That’s what RxAll is doing, and it has landed $3.15 million to pursue its vision. Launched in 2016, the company wants to combat fake drugs and the health problems that they cause.
  • Charging consolidation: TechCrunch covered the deal between ChargePoint and the frustratingly punctuated has·to·be, in which the first company spent $295 million to buy the latter. Our read is the deal will allow ChargePoint “a boost in its pursuit to gain market share beyond North America” in the EV charging market.
  • Titan raises $58M to bring active wealth management to the masses: If Robinhood did a good job making retail investing open to the masses by cutting fees to zero, Titan wants to pull a similar trick with the active-management world of wealth management. The company raised a $12.5 million Series A earlier this year.
  • $44M for Little Spoon’s baby food mission: Feeding children is a daily challenge. Finding good things for them to eat that they will actually consume is even harder. Little Spoon wants to solve the matter by helping parents of young kids subscribe to D2C baby foods while also selling vitamins and the like.
  • Path Robotics raises (again): The Ohio-based Path Robotics is back at the fundraising well this week, picking up a $100 million Series C. The round comes after the startup raised a $56 million Series B in May. What does it do? Welding robots!
  • More money raised to buy SaaS revenue: Capchase has put together a $280 million round of funding (debt and equity) to grow its business of buying future software revenues for present-day cash. It’s a big market that Pipe also plays in.

To close out our startup and venture capital news, some updates on venture capitalists that want to fund startups:

  • Hyper’s $60M concept: Part venture firm, part venture-funded media group, the Product Hunt sister company is looking to put capital and connections to work. TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino has the details.
  • New Boston funds: Pillar VC has raised new capital in two chunks, including $169 million for its Pillar III capital pool and a $23 million second fund. The VC firm intends to invest broadly, including into SaaS, hardware and other categories. The investing group is perhaps best known for buying common stock in companies it backs.

For the operators out there, TechCrunch has a chat with Maya Moufarek, the founder of Marketing Cube, who spent more than 15 years working for companies like Google and American Express before launching her own growth consultancy about startup marketing. Enjoy!

How we built an AI unicorn in 6 years

Few startups go to market with the exact product their founders first envisioned.

Today, Tractable is known for developing tech that allows drivers to upload photos of their vehicles after a collision so its AI can assess the damage. Its first paying customer, however, used Tractable to inspect plastic pipe welds.

As fate would have it, that customer also fired them just as the founders were raising their first round.

“We struck gold with car insurance,” says co-founder Alex Dalyac, as it was “a huge and inefficient market in desperate need of modernization.”

In an Extra Crunch guest post, he shares several takeaways from the last six years spent scaling a unicorn that have value founders of all stripes. Step one?

“Search for complementary co-founders who will become your best friends,” advises Dalyac.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Facebook is really doing the newsletter thing: The newsletter push is not slowing down, with Facebook’s Bulletin service bringing on 31 new writers. That’s a pretty big haul. Of course, Facebook is using the service as a way to drive Facebook Pay usage, among other goals. But as a writer, seeing major companies argue over my professional cohort is certainly a turn of the tables.
  • Venmo admits that its default-public feed was bad: Ah, the public Venmo activity feed. It never made sense, but Venmo stuck to it through thick and thin until now. Now you will merely see a more friend-focused feed. Progress!
  • YouTube embraces tips: Want to tip a YouTube creator for their work? You will be able to thanks to a new feature on the social video service called Super Thanks. It’s a one-time tip of between $2 and $50. Hopefully this helps musical groups that use the platform for distribution.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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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: Illia Termeno, founder of Extrabrains

Recommended by: Anonymous

Testimonial: “T-shaped expertise with focus on strategy and long-term ROI.”

Tomorrow! XTC Global Finals. The No. 1 purpose-driven startup event. Free registration

XTC Global Finals is the world’s largest startup ecosystem for powering a better world via purpose-driven innovation and technology, inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It’s free to attend. Sign up today and join the show tomorrow starting at 9 a.m. PDT!

Daily Crunch: In all-stock transaction, Zoom to purchase Five9 for $14.7 billion

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 July 19, 2021. In the old days, venture capital had seasons. VCs didn’t work in December, and the July-August period could be a bit hazy. Such variations have declined. Deal-making, it turns out, is now pretty much the theme for all seasons. Evidence? Just read what’s below! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Rappi raises $500M: The on-demand economy is still hot around the world, something we can know for sure thanks to Rappi’s latest half-billion-dollar raise. The Colombian delivery company is now worth $5.25 billion. That’s a lot of money. Per Crunchbase data, the unicorn has now raised more than $2 billion since inception. Rappi operates in nine countries and 250 cities across Latin America.
  • Zoom buys Five9: Well, the deal got announced at least. It won’t close until next year. But the $14.7 billion transaction has folks talking. It’s a large amount of money, and it’s the combination of two public companies. Both companies, of course, are formerly venture-backed companies, and the deal could help set some pricing notes for other software M&A. TechCrunch has a look at the price of the deal here.
  • Robinhood and Duolingo set prices for their IPOs: If you are into watching the biggest tech companies go public, you are in luck. We got fresh infusions of data from both Robinhood, the U.S. consumer fintech giant, and Duolingo, the U.S. edtech giant. Enjoy!

Startups/VC

  • Sweetch raises $20M to help you get off your backside: If you wear a smartwatch, you’ve gotten notifications from it at the wrong time. A nudge to get up and move, say, when you are seated at a restaurant. Sweetch wants to provide smarter inducements for folks to take better care of themselves, framing it as a way to “outsmart chronic conditions.” Given how much we could all do better at health, I am curious about how this startup performs.
  • Dover raises $20M to make recruiting more organized: Recruiting is not a great process. Mostly it’s done by hand, and managed in spreadsheets, or perhaps a system like Lever. But startups think that there is more room for improvement. Dover is one such company, hoping that its software that helps recruiters “juggle and aggregate multiple candidate pools to source suitable job candidates automatically, and then manage the process of outreach” is just the ticket. And now it has raised from Tiger.
  • Breakr wants to connect musicians and influencers: The days when radio play was the way to break into the mainstream are firmly behind us. Startups like Breakr want to help musical artists navigate the new world by connecting them to folks with their own audiences. Along the way, Breakr will take a 10% cut of fees generated from linking the two parties.
  • Recapped raises $6.3M for better sales software: Akin to how Dover wants to help make recruiting a smoother process, Recapped wants to improve the sales process, namely by building software that provides greater visibility into sales pipelines and by providing buyers with a similar digital interface that it provides to sales folks. Anything to make buying stuff less awful, please!
  • Jones wants to make hiring commercial real estate vendors simpler: If you own a building, hiring folks to do work in or on said building is fraught with liability. Jones just raised $12.5 million to help CME folks “find and hire the people they need in a compliant way.”
  • TechCrunch broke the news that private equity group Carlyle is looking to spend more than $400 million on LiveU, a livestreaming service.

Founders: How well do you really understand seed-stage financing?

A famous poem advises us not to compare ourselves with others, “for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

The same holds true for startup fundraising; the size of your seed round will be determined solely by your company’s immediate needs and the investors you’re working with.

“Remember that fundraising is not the goal,” says three-time YC alum Yin Wu. “Building a successful business is.”

If you are an early-stage founder who’s seeking clarity about apportioning equity — or if you’re biting your nails over how much to raise — read this primer. It’s also a useful overview for early employees and co-founders who may be new to startup financing.

  • How financing works: SAFEs versus equity rounds.
  • How much to raise.
  • How to arrive at your valuation.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Chaos in lidar-world: The CEO is out at Velodyne, a lidar company that went public via a SPAC. The news follows much other post-SPAC drama, our own Kirsten Korosec reports. In short, going public does not ensure that a company’s ducks will remain in a row after its shares start to trade. Velodyne is now worth just $8.69 per share, down from a high of $32.50.
  • CNN is going +: Yep, another streaming service with a “+” in its name is coming out. This time from cable news pioneer and hoster-of-many-useless-panels CNN. The company is apparently hiring heavily for the effort. CNN, I hereby offer to host a regular TechCrunch show on CNN+. Call me.
  • Uber wants to deliver more carrots: That’s our takeaway from news that the ride-hailing giant is expanding its grocery-delivery service to some 400 new cities. Uber also has earnings coming up, so the timing of this news item isn’t an accident; the company will have something positive to chat about in case its earnings do not delight investors’ expectations regarding its trailing performance.
  • Today in cybersecurity, the United States is pointing a finger at China for “the mass-hacking of Microsoft Exchange servers earlier this year, which prompted the FBI to intervene as concerns rose that the hacks could lead to widespread destruction,” TechCrunch reports. The climate regarding cyber fuckery is changing, with nation-states increasingly content to point a finger at China and Russia for bad behavior.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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Join us tomorrow, July 20, at 5 p.m. ET on Twitter Spaces to hear Danny Crichton and MKT1, who we’ve previously interviewed for TechCrunch Experts, talk about the trends they’re seeing in growth marketing.

Announcing the agenda for the Disrupt Stage in September

We’re excited to give you a closer look at the Disrupt Stage, where the biggest names in tech talk about their companies, their plans and what’s next for the greater tech ecosystem.

How F1 got the data crunched for its new race car

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

Friends! Hello and thanks for dropping by. Today we have lots of our usual fare: Funding rounds to digest, some data on the startup market (thank you, DocSend), and the like. But we’re starting with a passion of mine: Racing.

The Exchange has made various jokes about technology money finding its way into the Formula One world this year. Companies like Splunk and Webex and Microsoft and Zoom and Oracle and others are sponsoring teams, races and the league itself.

One particular F1 partner of note is Amazon. Its public cloud project, AWS, has powered on-screen graphics for the sport, for example. Sure, sometimes fans wonder precisely how the group’s compute clusters are coming up with certain metrics, but AWS’ notes on tire wear are useful and timely.

It turns out, however, that behind the scenes Amazon has been more active in the F1 world than I had previously understood. In short, the tech-and-F1 money story that we’ve discussed was just a piece of a larger puzzle. How so? It turns out that AWS was key to the design process of F1’s new 2022 car.

It looks like this:

Image Credits: Formula One

Pretty neat, yeah?

I’ll bet you are wondering why it is so swoopy. The answer to that is that the car is designed with some very specific aerodynamic goals in mind. Like reducing something called “dirty air,” a phenomenon when the wind flying off the back of an F1 car makes the car following it struggle to stay on the track.

Today’s F1 cars — we’re in the midst of the last season with the current generation of Formula One hardware; let’s go Lando! — generate lots of dirty air. Which makes for somewhat awkward racing as the cars on the track can’t get too close to one another for fear of losing their all-important downforce. You know, the stuff that keeps the cars on the tarmac and not in the wall.

To design a base car that will do what F1 wanted for its next era of competition, namely cut dirty air and allow for more close racing, a lot of computing effort had to go into computational fluid dynamics, or CFD. And it turns out that AWS handled the computing needs of the racing group.

The Exchange got on Amazon Chime — our first time on the platform, we might add — to chat with F1’s Rob Smedley, its director of Data Systems, to chat about how it all came together. Per the former Ferrari and Williams engineer, the racing org and Amazon have been working on the new car project since 2018. F1 has lots of in-house brains to handle its own side of the affair, while Amazon provided thousands of cores to do all the tricky math.

According to Smedley, if his team had used the same computing power that individual F1 teams are allowed — the sport of Formula One racing is replete with regulations designed to help keep teams on a somewhat equal footing, or to hold Mercedes back, depending on your perspective — it would have taken four days per compute cycle to model two of the new cars driving one behind the other.

But with Amazon providing 2,500 compute cores, Smedley and the data boffins at F1 could get the same work done in six or eight hours. That means that the group could run more simulations and design a better car. At times they absorbed even more compute, with the data director telling The Exchange that at one point last year his team was running simulations on more than a dozen iterations concurrently. That was made possible by around 7,500 cores powering the data work. The simulation runs took 30 hours.

This is all to say that yes, there is lots of tech money in Formula One helping the teams do their job and stay financially solvent. But there’s also a boatload of tech going into the real guts and bolts of F1 as well. And as an F1 dweeb, it brings me great joy to see a passion of mine intersect with work.

Now, back to our more regular fare.

The Midwest’s latest unicorn

M1 Finance is a company that keeps cropping up in my reporting life. Mostly because it keeps raising money and announcing new performance metrics. This week the company landed a $150 million round at a valuation of $1.45 billion. The consumer fintech superapp’s latest funding was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2.

So, why do we care? Well what’s super fun about M1 is that the company told us how to track its revenue growth over time. Early in my coverage of the startup its CEO said that it hopes to generate around 1% of its assets under management (AUM) as revenue. So, we can kinda back-of-the-envelope the company’s revenue growth by tracking how quickly it accretes AUM.

And the company keeps releasing AUM numbers. (PR folks, providing longitudinal data is a great way to keep us interested in a startup!)

Here’s a rundown of M1’s AUM over time:

At its 1% target, those work out to target run rates of $14.5 million, $20 million, $35 million and $45 million. Or the company effectively tripled its revenues since last June. That’s pretty good and is the sort of growth that investors want to back. Hence today’s round. And M1’s new unicorn price tag.

Truveta

Remember Truveta? We’ve talked about it before, back when it was taking the wraps off its plans. Former Microsoft exec Terry Myerson is part of the team, and since I used to cover Microsoft for a living I paid attention to the startup’s early days. Truveta, as a reminder, wants to “collect oodles of data from healthcare providers, anonymize it, aggregate it and make it available to third parties for research,” as we put it last time.

Well, this week the startup announced new partnerships and $95 million in funding. That’s a pretty big check! The startup now has 17 partner health groups to boot.

By bringing together lots more data in one place, the startup hopes to help make the medical world better and more equitable. And now it has a zillion bucks to go after that goal. Let’s see what it can get done.

Other important things

To save modestly on word count and avoid braking the c0py editng stiff here at TechCrunch [ed. note: done broke], here’s the rest of what’s important that we couldn’t get to in other pieces:

Cambridge Savings Bank (CSB) gets into fintech: Remember how Goldman launched Marcus, a digital bank for regular folks? It’s not alone in the effort. Now CSB has built and launched its own digital-first bank called Ivy. Frankly I kinda like this idea: Take a bank that has a long operating history and a classic tech stack and services suite. Then build something right next to it that is more modern. It’s probably a better solution than trying to force an old bank to learn new tricks. Also if more banks do this, it undercuts neobanks to some degree, right?

Code-X raises $5 million, proves that you can share your valuation and not burst into flame: A small note that Code-X, a Florida-based startup that has built a “lattice-based data protection platform,” is now worth $40 million thanks to its latest capital raise. No, I don’t know what a “lattice-based data protection platform” is. But I do know that Code-X announced its valuation as part of an early-stage round. That’s worth applauding. Good on Code-X.

Finally, data from DocSend: The document-sending company with a somewhat literal name dropped some new data this week that I’ve been chewing on. Here’s the core bit:

[N]ew Q2 2021 data from DocSend’s Startup Index shows a 41% year-over-year (YOY) increase in investor interest and engagement (a proxy for demand) with startup pitch decks. Links created by founders actively fundraising with their pitch decks (an indicator of supply) were up 36% YOY in Q2 2021.

Why is this fun? Demand went up more than supply! Ha! That really kinda says it all.

We’ve been digging into the venture world’s Q2 results for weeks now, and somehow failed to summarize succinctly. Why are startup valuations going up? Why are startups raising more, and faster? Because amongst venture-backable companies, investor demand is far greater than startup supply.

2021 in a nutshell.

You are amazing and delightful and look great today!

Next week we’ll have notes on two battery-focused SPACs, namely Evonix and SES. Lots to chat about there when it comes to battery tech, energy density and the future of well, everything. And money.

Your friend,

Alex

Daily Crunch: FedEx invests $100M in Indian logistics giant Delhivery

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 July 16, 2021. A PSA: A few of us at TechCrunch took some time this week to chat about funding rounds, covering them and how startups might stand out. If that’s your sort of thing, you can check out the chat here. OK, news time! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

Startups/VC

  • Blend is no longer a startup: Banking tech unicorn Blend went public this week. It’s now worth $4 billion or so, more than its final private round. So consider the company not only no longer a startup, but also no longer a private unicorn. Blend’s software powers the mortgage option in other apps, making it a company that you may not have heard of but may have used.
  • Halla raises $4.5M to help guess what you are going to eat: Buying groceries online is big business. Amazon is into it. It’s Instacart’s core remit. And European grocery delivery services have been raising oodles of money. Halla wants to help those companies sell more stuff by “using human behavior to steer shoppers to food items they want while also discovering new ones as they shop online.”
  • Rivian once again delays EV deliveries: The global chip shortage — see our earlier note regarding Intel — is showing up in a host of places, including Rivian’s ramp toward commercial production of its electric vehicles. Other issues are holding the company up, but this chip shortage is a real kettle of fish for companies of all shapes and sizes.
  • Yummy wants to build Venezuela’s superapp: Then there’s Yummy, which just raised a $4 million round. It has big aspirations: ride-hailing, delivery and more. The superapp model may have been spearheaded in Asia, but it’s going global. Yummy will need more than $4 million to build it, however. So if things go well, expect the company to raise again in short order.

From our recent Early Stage event, we have something new for your enjoyment: Cleo Capital’s Sarah Kunst explains how to get ready to raise your next round.

Outdoorsy co-founders detail how they expanded the sharing economy to RVs

Seven years ago, ad executive Jen Young and tech entrepreneur Jeff Cavins stepped away from the careers they’d built to launch Outdoorsy, an RV rental marketplace.

Last month, they announced a partnership with high-end camping company Collective Retreats and raised a $90 million Series D and $40 million in debt to speed up an already impressive rate of growth.

To learn more about their approach to building a transportation company that caters to people who crave a taste of nomadic existence, Rebecca Bellan interviewed Young and Cavins for Extra Crunch.

Their conversation explored the impacts of COVID-19, their business strategy and why they decided to take on $30 million in debt financing:

Jeff Cavins: We like to look at macro trends as a business and I think U.S. monetary policy is going to get us all in a little bit of trouble. So we wanted to lock in a credit facility for the company at advantageous terms.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • FedEx pours $100M into Delhivery: First, we love the name for the Indian logistics startup. It’s rumored to be heading for an IPO this year. The deal underscores how key the Indian market is proving to be not merely for its domestic investors and founders, but also for global brands.
  • Paytm is going public: Indian fintech giant Paytm has filed to go public. We’re including it in this section of the newsletter because, as we reported, the private company “plans to raise up to $2.2 billion in an initial public offering.” That’s a huge, huge amount of money. It’s hard to call Paytm a startup when it’s raising a few venture capital funds’ worth of capital in a single go.
  • Tumblr’s parent company buys Pocket Casts: Automattic, famous for WordPress and the owner of what’s left of Tumblr, is buying popular podcasting service Pocket Casts. It’s not impossible to see how a publishing platform might integrate with a podcasting service, yeah?

To close us off from the world of Big Tech backing money, this from Connie Loizos: Traditional VCs turn to emerging managers for deal flow and, in some cases, new partners.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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

We interviewed Kathleen Estreich, formerly of Intercom, Box, Facebook and Scalyr, and Emily Kramer, formerly of Asana, Carta, and Astro (acquired by Slack), as part of TechCrunch Experts. We’re taking this conversation to Twitter Spaces on Tuesday, July 20, at 5 p.m. EDT. Join TechCrunch’s Danny Crichton and the MKT1 team as they dive further into the growth marketing trends they’re seeing.

Daily Crunch: Gap year student secures last open seat for Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight

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 July 15, 2021. Good news from the TechCrunch front: The agenda is out for our big Disrupt conference coming this September. It’s going to be flat-out amazing, frankly, so take a peek. Also, the latest EC-1 just dropped. So if you want to get the inside scoop on CockroachDB, well, we have just the compendium for you. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Revolut is now worth $33B: U.K.-based neobank Revolut has put together an $800 million round that values the company at $33 billion. The company’s fresh valuation is a multiple of what it was worth in early 2020. Why is it worth so much today? TechCrunch did a little exploring on the matter.
  • Valve is making gaming hardware: Yes, the folks behind the Steam gaming store are getting into the hand-held gaming market. Their device, the Steam Deck, will cost $399 and will contain “a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, coupled with AMD RDNA 2 graphics and 16 GB of RAM,” per our own Brian Heater. If you want more storage, get ready to shell out up to $649 for the hand-held computer.
  • Autonomous vehicle unicorn Aurora is going public: As TechCrunch previously scooped, autonomous vehicle unicorn Aurora is going public via a SPAC. The company expects to sport a $13 billion valuation when it begins to trade. Recall that Aurora previously absorbed Uber’s self-driving vehicle unit at a roughly $10 billion valuation.

Startups/VC

The venture capital market has been on fire lately, leading to rapid-fire deal-making and more rounds than journalists can dream of covering. But if you are still in the market to raise capital, then you might want to listen to Norwest’s Lisa Wu, who has a few tips that might prove useful. Chief among them? Think like a VC when you head out to raise.

  • AmEx dips its toes into financial planning: Today news broke that credit giant American Express invested in BodesWell last year via its venture arm. Now the credit card company has “launched a pilot of its first self-service digital financial planning tool” in conjunction with the startup. Talk about an early customer for BodesWell.
  • Prefab construction tries again: That’s the word from a new $20 million round for Abodu — what we presume is a portmanteau of “abode” and “you.” Sure, prefab construction unicorn Katerra is kaput, but Abodu is taking a consumer-focused spin on the model. Norwest led the round, with participation from Initialized Capital.
  • Lightyear raises $13.1M for online network procurement: From the geekier side of tech today was news from Lightyear, a startup that its CEO says is the “the first tool for buying your telecom infrastructure on the web.” Ron Miller notes that everything is heading online, so why not network buying?
  • $20M for financial data extraction: Daloopa has closed an eight-figure Series A led by Credit Suisse Asset Management’s NEXT Investors to help financial types avoid “repetitive data extraction in order to gather insights for analysis and forecasts,” TechCrunch reports. The deal stood out to us given its obvious corporate venture capital (CVC) angle; CVCs have been more active than ever in recent quarters.

The CockroachDB EC-1

Ants and camels are famously resilient animals, but when it was time to select a name for a startup that offers open-source, cloud-based distributed database architecture, you can imagine why “Cockroach Labs” was the final candidate.

Database technology is fundamental infrastructure, which partially explains why it’s so resistant to innovation: Oracle Database was released in 1979, and MySQL didn’t reach the market until 1995.

Since hitting the market, CockroachDB has become “a next-generation, $2-billion-valued database contender,” writes enterprise reporter Bob Reselman, who interviewed the company’s founders to write a four-part series:

Part 1: Origin story: From the creation of the popular open-source image editor GIMP to some of Google’s most well-known infrastructure products.

Part 2: Technical design: Analyzes the key differentiation that CockroachDB offers, particularly its focus on geography and data storage.

Part 3: Developer relations and business: How CockroachDB engages with developers while pivoting to the cloud at a key inflection point.

Part 4: Competitive landscape and future: A look at the fierce competition, and what possible exit routes might look like.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Apple hearts fintech: News this week that Apple is considering jumping into the buy now, pay later sector rocked the share price of Affirm and Afterpay. But what about startups in the space? TechCrunch did a little noodling on the question.
  • Xiaomi snags Apple’s No. 2 handset mark: Apple’s handset shipments grew in the second quarter, but a huge 83% gain at Xiaomi put the Chinese hardware company above Cupertino and its iPhone line, per Canalys data. Samsung remains the world’s largest smartphone company by unit volume.
  • Be jealous of this 18-year-old: After the winning bidder for a space flight on Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin sold for $28 million to someone who couldn’t be bothered to make the first flight, an 18-year-old “high school graduate bound for the University of Utrecht” will go instead. Oliver Daemen, enjoy the trip, we’re jealous. (Yes, Daemen’s parents are rich.)

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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