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.
We just secured Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to speak at our City Spotlight: Pittsburgh event. As Brian Heater said today, Pittsburgh currently has one of the world’s most vibrant robotic startup ecosystems, is at the center of much of the world’s autonomous vehicle research, and birthed successful companies like Duolingo.
Peduto will discuss the challenges and successes in building and nurturing this ecosystem with Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian at this great (and virtual) event. Register to attend here.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Solid Power is going public: The solid-state battery developer backed by Ford and BMW said Tuesday it would head to the Nasdaq via a merger with special purpose acquisition company Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp III at a post-deal implied market valuation of $1.2 billion.
- Andreessen Horowitz has launched its own media apparatus called Futre: The publication, funded by a16z funds, looks to provide content that doesn’t currently exist in the market and that can be created from the “unique, interesting perch” that the firm has, says Margit Wennmachers, the firm’s operating partner of marketing and Future. Good luck, a16z, and welcome to the jungle.
- We have a new FTC commissioner: The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Big Tech critic and prominent antitrust scholar Lina Khan as a commissioner to the Federal Trade Commission, signaling a new era of scrutiny for the tech industry. Khan was confirmed in a 69-28 vote, with Republicans joining Democrats in a rare show of bipartisan support for Khan’s ideas on reining in tech’s most powerful companies.
Startups and VC
- Solar funding: Heliogen raised $108 million in funding to test its 1,000-degree solar furnace at a few participating mines and refineries.
- In no one we trust: Elisity, a platform that looks to help organizations transition from legacy access approaches to zero trust — a security model based on maintaining strict access controls and not trusting anyone — raised $26 million for its efforts.
- From the mouths of authors: BookClub, which gives authors a chance to hold book groups, share exclusive video-based interviews and answer questions from readers, raised $20 million in a Series A round. If only Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Henry Miller and George Eliot were still alive.
- The unicorn social: IRL, a social calendar app that could have crashed during COVID, instead capitalized on finding virtual events for users to attend and leveraged that success into a fresh round of $170 million in funding and unicorn status, now valued at $1.17 billion.
- Home fires: Thumbtack, your favorite place to turn to when you don’t want to break anything in your house, raised $275 million at a $3.2 billion valuation.
- Life-saving raise: Carbyne raised $20 million to help coordinate calls to emergency response teams, ambulances, hospitals and other actors who need to work together to save a life.
- A sustainable fund: G2 Venture Partners raised $500 million to support entrepreneurs who aim to make existing industries more efficient, environmentally friendly and socially responsible.
How to identify unicorn founders when they’re still early-stage
What are investors looking for?
Founders often tie themselves in knots as they try to project qualities they hope investors are seeking. In reality, few entrepreneurs have the acting skills required to convince someone that they’re patient, dedicated or hard working.
Johan Brenner, general partner at Creandum, was an early backer of Klarna, Spotify and several other European startups. Over the last two decades, he’s identified five key traits shared by people who create billion-dollar companies.
“A true unicorn founder doesn’t need to have all of those capabilities on day one,” says Brenner, “but they should already be thinking big while executing small and demonstrating that they understand how to scale a company.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Apple Podcasts Subscriptions are live worldwide: The subscriptions will allow podcast enthusiasts to access additional benefits for their hot listens, including ad-free listening, early access to new episodes, bonus material, exclusives and anything else that creators think their fans will fork over money for. Subscriptions are now live in more than 170 countries.
- E-commerce platform Shopify said today that Shop Pay, its one-click checkout service, will become available to any U.S. merchant that sells on Facebook or Google, even if they don’t use Shopify’s software to power their online stores.
- Over in Europe, a group of 200 startup founders, investors, associations and government members are backing a manifesto and a set of recommendations in order to create the next wave of tech giants across the continent.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
We’re thrilled with the responses to our survey about top growth marketers. It’s not too late to weigh in: Fill out the survey here.
If you’re a growth marketer, pass on the survey to your clients — we’d love to hear from them!
To find out more details about this project and how we plan to use it to shape our editorial coverage, visit techcrunch.com/experts.