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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 9, 2021. Today was TC Sessions: Mobility, a rollicking good time and one that we hoped you enjoyed. Looking ahead, we’re starting to announce some speakers for Disrupt — including Accel’s Arun Mathew. Mark your calendars, Disrupt is going to be epic this year. — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Biden tears down Trump’s Chinese app wall: After a very confusing episode in which the former U.S. president demanded that TikTok sell to an American company and that the U.S. government get a cut, things are mostly back to normal today after President Biden “signed an executive order revoking actions targeting TikTok and WeChat,” TechCrunch reports. Biden also signed a “new order requiring the Commerce Department to review apps with ties to ‘jurisdiction of foreign adversaries,’” so this story is not yet finished.
- Billions for battery tech: Northvolt has raised a $2.75 billion round to build its in-Europe battery manufacturing capacity to 150 GWh by 2030. While 2030 may sound far away, it’s under a decade from now. The news of Northvolt’s round underscores how many regions want to ensure that they can build core technology products like batteries, chips and AI on their own as a way to limit geopolitical risk.
- Everyone wants to fund AI startups: The era in which every startup claimed to be an AI company is behind us, leaving us with the era in which every VC wants to fund AI startups. That’s the gist of a recent TechCrunch dig into the hot and busy fundraising market for startups leveraging artificial intelligence.
Startups and VC
- Branch finds more backers for its insurtech service: Bundled home-and-auto insurtech startup Branch has raised a $50 million round led by Anthemis Group. The company’s pitch is that it starts customers off with a bundle, meaning that it doesn’t have to cross-sell them later on. VCs are still more than willing to pour capital into neo-insurance providers, despite some struggles from unicorns in the space after they went public.
- ShelfLife wants to help you source raw materials: Ever wanted to produce and sell your own version of White Claw? Lillian Cartwright and some fellow Harvard Business School folks had that idea, but ran into supply issues. Cartwright built ShelfLife, which helps brands by providing “a directory and marketplace of raw material suppliers based on what brands actually, specifically need, allowing them to secure quotes quickly.”
- If you are tired of insurtech rounds, how about an NFT round? Mythical Games announced a $75 million round despite fading near-term momentum in the market for blockchain-specific digital ownership writs. Regardless of what you think about NFTs, it’s clear that VCs are bullish and are willing to pay up to not miss a possible trend.
- American political luminary Stacey Abrams’ Now raises $9.5M: Now is a fintech company that buys corporate invoices for a fee, allowing companies to unlock revenue before they get paid. Provided that it can properly assess nonpayment risk, it’s a pretty business-friendly model.
- Behead your CMS: If you are not hip to headless CMS tools, imagine WordPress but without the bits that make it render in your browser. The headless model has attracted backers in a more fractured end-user device world, where users might access content on everything from smartwatches to tablets to desktops to VR helmets. And now Contentstack’s headless CMS service is $57.5 million richer after an investment led by Insight Partners.
To round out our startup news today, two things: The first is that Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra and his buddy Todd Goldberg, the founder of Eventjoy, have formalized their investing partnership in a new fund called Todd and Rahul’s Angel Fund. That name has big “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” vibes, albeit with a larger, $24 million budget.
And fresh on the heels of the Equity Podcast diving into hormonal health and the huge startup opportunity that it presents, there’s a new startup working on PCOS on the market. Check out our look at its early form.
Don’t panic: ‘Algorithm updates’ aren’t the end of the world for SEO managers
SEO expert and consultant Eli Schwartz will join Managing Editor Danny Crichton tomorrow to share his advice for everyone who gets nervous each time Google updates its algorithm.
To set a foundation for tomorrow’s chat on Twitter Spaces, Eli shared a guest post that should deflate some myths. For starters: A drop in search traffic isn’t necessarily hurting you.
Instead of chasing the algorithm, he advises companies that rely on organic search results to focus on the user experience instead: “If you are helpful to the user, you have nothing to fear.”
Just like you release product updates based on feedback and analytics, Google’s improving its products to offer a better user experience.
“If you see a drop, in many cases, your site might not have even lost real traffic,” says Eli. “Often, the losses represent only lost impressions already not converting into clicks.”
Tomorrow’s discussion is the latest in a series of chats with top Extra Crunch guest contributors. If you’ve worked with a talented growth marketer, please share a brief recommendation.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Google is building a huge fiber trunk to Argentina: Imagine you were a megacorp. And the internet was a bit slow between your headquarters, and, say, Argentina. Do you curse your luck? Stamp your feet? Or do you announce that you are going to “build a new subsea cable that will connect the East Coast of the U.S. and Las Toninas, Argentina — with additional landings in Brazil and Uruguay” as Google did? We hope it’s the final option.
- Did you know that it’s Facebook’s creator week? It is, as it turns out. Big Blue announced a “native affiliate tool” for Instagram that will allow “creators to recommend products available on checkout, share them with followers and earn commissions for sales their posts drive.” The idea may prove annoying for non-influencers, but for the folks with large followings it could be a boon.
- $270M for end-point security shop 1E: Rising acceptance of remote work means more and more end points for companies to secure. To see Carlyle pick up 1E for a quarter-billion, then, is not a surprise in substance. Crunchbase has no funding data from the London-based company, so perhaps this was a pretty big exit for its team.
Introducing TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
TechCrunch is back with our next category for our Experts project: We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices.
We’re excited to share the results we collect in the form of a database. The more responses we receive from our readers, the more robust our editorial coverage will be moving forward. To learn more, visit techcrunch.com/experts.
Join us for a conversation tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. PDT / 3:30 p.m. EDT on Twitter Spaces. Our own Danny Crichton will be discussing growth marketer Eli Schwartz’s guest column Don’t panic: ‘Algorithm updates’ aren’t the end of the world for SEO managers. Bring your questions and comments!