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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 22, 2021. We have startup product news, funding rounds and a roster of Big Tech updates for you today. But before we get into all of that do not forget to sign up for TechCrunch Spotlight: Pittsburgh startup Pitch-Off. Also the Equity podcast crew are hosting a live taping this Thursday that should be a lot of fun. I’ll be there! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Twitter starts rolling out Super Follows and ticketed Spaces: The great product push at Twitter continued today with an early rollout of its Super Follow feature. If you have 10,000 followers and tweet about once per day, you could be eligible to charge people from $2.99 to $9.99 per month for bonus tweets. The company is also rolling out ticketed Twitter Spaces, its live-audio product.
- Another startup taking on Google: While we await the launch of Neeva’s subscription search alternative, Brave has put its own search offering into the market. You can give it a test here, if you’d like. The short gist is that it’s a “nontracking search engine built on top of an independent index and touted as a privacy-safe alternative to surveillance tech products like Google search,” TechCrunch wrote.
- The early-stage startup funding market in focus: TechCrunch dug into the world of seed and early-stage venture capital rounds that startups are raising today. After a VC tipped us off to the concept of Series As coming late and Series Bs coming early, we asked a host of other investors about the idea. What did we learn? That some startups can start raising the moment they close their last round. Wild.
Everyone and their favorite pup raised money today, so we’re breaking our startup coverage into two chunks. The first is focused on product news. The second on funding rounds. Let’s go:
- Airbank is building a small and midsized fintech service to help aggregate all of a company’s bank accounts and financial data. Read the story here.
- Racial Inequity Drawdown is a framework that aims to “address racial inequity in startup investing and in the broader world,” TechCrunch reports.
- Squad launched a new mobile app that connects groups of friends through time-gated audio messages. You have 24 hours to hear what your friends said now that Squad has completed its focus-shift to more intimate collections of friends from interest groups.
Turning to the money world, there are more rounds than we can get to today. But here’s a selection of favorites:
- Mollie raises $800 million for its payment-integration service: Dutch startup Mollie is now worth $6.5 billion after raising nearly $1 billion in a single round. The startup “provides a way for businesses to integrate payments into sites, documents and other services by way of an API,” TechCrunch wrote. Its new round and valuation implies that there’s room yet in the payments space for more mega-unicorns. Still.
- Speaking of fintech, Australian startup Zeller just raised AUD$50 million at a AUD$400 million valuation. It provides POS and card services for SMBs.
- Lidar-focused Quanergy Systems is going public: Via a SPAC, of course. You can peruse its investor deck if you want all the gritty projections. What matters here is that the SPAC boom is not done, even if it appears to be slowing. And we’re hearing from Series-B-level founders that SPACs are already hitting them up. Expect more and weirder SPAC deals over time.
- Oyster is now a half-unicorn: That’s what we learned when the startup focused on supporting employees outside of a company’s home country raised a $50 million Series B that valued it at nearly $500 million.
- Vantage raises $4M to help folks manage their AWS spend: All that growth that Amazon’s AWS cloud service has managed in recent years was built on rising customer spend. And some AWS customers want to spend less. And Vantage is going to help.
- G2 raises $157 million to help companies choose software: Software is such a huge category that even niches can support a host of competitors. But all that spend means lots of companies making choices about what software to leverage. G2 wants to help. And it is now a unicorn after its investors poured nine-figures of capital into its coffers at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
- Transmit raises $543 million in a Series A to help kill passwords: The company is now worth $2.2 billion, with plans to use its new money to “expand its reach and investing in key global areas to grow the organization.” Any move to kill passwords is TechCrunch-approved.
How much to pay yourself as a SaaS founder
Anna Heim interviewed SaaS entrepreneurs and investors to find out how much early-stage founders should pay themselves.
Startups run by CEOs who take home a small salary tend to do better over the long run, but there are other points to consider, such as geography, marital status, and frankly, what quality of life you desire.
Waterly founder Chris Sosnowski raised his own pay to $14/hour last year; at his prior job, his salary topped $100,000.
“We had saved money up for over a year before we cut out my pay,” he told Anna. “I can live my life without entertainment … so that’s what we did for 2020.”
How much are you willing to sacrifice?
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Another day, another slew of headlines discussing the latest tech and government scrap. Today we learned that the U.S. government may review Amazon’s plan to buy a huge movie studio. There was also more from India today, with news breaking that the country is digging into Google over its smart TV market. On the same theme, the EU is now investigating Google’s adtech software from an antitrust perspective.
In related news, the push to unionize Amazon employees is not stopping in its home market.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
Today we’re featuring one of the recommendations that was submitted to our survey. Stay tuned throughout the week as we highlight more responses!
Name of Marketer: Ladder
Recommendation: “They really get what I need. By testing different messaging on different personas, we discover what works and what doesn’t to better understand our users and prospects. This is gold for a company at our stage. Showing those results to our investors blew their minds.”
Submit your own recommendation here.
Natasha Mascarenhas wondered out loud “what makes a great investor?” We asked you for your thoughts, and a lot of you have weighed in. Still time to vote and share your two cents.
Speaking of sharing, we put out our last call for startups to be included in our Pittsburgh Spotlight Pitch-Off. If you know of a great startup in the Pittsburgh ecosystem, share this far and wide and encourage folks to submit their company. While you’re at it, make sure you’re registered to attend on June 29th!