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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 23, 2021. The value of leading cryptocurrencies has rebounded some in the last day or so. Congrats to the hodlrs out there. If you are a nocoiner, don’t worry; stocks are also up. If you want more on the topic, the TechCrunch crew held a Twitter Space recently on the current state of crypto. Now, the news. — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Robotaxis are coming (slowly): Alphabet’s self-driving unit, Waymo, has been busy lately, but it’s not the only company in its market generating headlines. Chinese robotaxi player WeRide bagged $600 million in less than half a year, TechCrunch reports. The company is now worth $3.3 billion. Let’s hope that all the capital and activity in this particular market works out when the rubber hits the road.
- Soon, even regular folks can get in on the autonomous action: Love the idea of self-driving cars, but don’t have $100 million or more to pour into one of the industry’s leading private players? Good news! You can put your $100 into Embark soon, as the self-driving truck company is going public via a SPAC. You are welcome for this PSA.
- Tech’s cultural discussion continues: If you follow the tech industry, you’ve seen news about its evolving cultural discussion. From banning “politics” to public culture memos to private missives that became public, there’s a lot going on at both startups and public companies alike. A new document from the edtech sector takes a rather pointed stand in the larger conversation in favor of not backing down from controversial topics, Natasha wrote for the site. It won’t be the last memo we see on the matter.
- The exit market for growth-focused startups is still hot: That’s the lesson from recent IPO filings in the tech space. If you are an investor or startup employee, it’s good news. If you are a wealthy tech company looking to buy smaller firms, the news is less good because you will probably have to pay a large premium to snag startups.
- Snackpass scoops up $70M: You may have seen Snackpass signs at food spots in your city. The startup focuses on pickup orders inside of restaurants rather than delivery, and, per our reporting, has seen its growth explode in recent months as people have gone back outside. It’s now worth more than $400 million.
- PairTree raises $2.25M to make adoption easier: There are lots of tech deals with business problems. Sometimes startups build businesses to solve human problems. PairTree is one such company. Per Devin, it wants to make part of the adoption process easier with an “online matching platform where expectant mothers and hopeful adopters can find each other without the facilitation of an agency or other organization.” I love it.
- Drata raises $25M to make security compliance easier: If you run a company, you have to deal with security compliance. Drata wants to make securing SOC 2 compliance easier. That way, your startup won’t lose a deal over lack of compliance certification, a situation that might lead to you exclaiming “drata!” while smacking your own forehead.
- Vercel raises $102M for its next.js service: You’ve probably heard of next.js, a React framework for front-end development work. Vercel built it with Facebook and Google. Now the company has $102 million more in the bank thanks to a Series C that valued the company at more than $1 billion. Per TechCrunch, traffic to apps and websites on Vercel’s network doubled since October of last year. That’s the sort of usage growth that investors love to see.
Why Amazon should pay attention to Shein
In the last year, online apparel shopping app Shein grew active daily users by 130%, reports Apptopia.
Each day, thousands of new products arrive on the app’s virtual shelves. Items are rapidly designed and prototyped before Shein’s contractors put them into production in Guangzhou factories — two weeks later, those SKUs arrive in fulfillment centers around the globe.
TechCrunch reporter Rita Liao examined how the company’s agile supply chain has become hot talk among e-commerce experts, but beyond a strong logistics game and data-driven product development, Shein’s close relationships with suppliers are integral to its success.
She also tried to answer a question many are asking: Is Shein a Chinese company?
“It’s hard to pin down where Shein is from,” answered Richard Xu from Grand View Capital, a Chinese venture capital firm.
“It’s a company with operations and supply chains in China targeting the global market, with nearly no business in China.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
We’re taking a break from politics today, so if you wanted even more updates about how India is taking on one American tech company or another, we are sorry. A lot of other stuff happened, however, that is pretty neat:
- Ford is keeping scooter dreams alive: Remember when Ford bought Spin? It was a great moment for the micromobility space. Today, Spin launched its first in-house scooter. So, if you need two small wheels and a battery pack, Ford has you covered. Recall that Ford is investing heavily in electric cars and trucks as well.
- Amazon and Salesforce buddy up even more: The growing partnership between Amazon and Salesforce took a new step today, with the two major American tech companies announcing “a new set of integration capabilities to make it easier to share data and build applications that cross the two platforms.” Amazon competes with Microsoft in the public cloud world, and Salesforce competes with Microsoft in the CRM space. So to see the pair of them hold hands is not a huge surprise.
- TikTok has real competition: TikTok’s chief rival in China just hit the 1 billion monthly active user (MAU) mark. That’s a real accomplishment, given that the world only has 8 billion or so folks in it. Kuaishou, the app in question, has only 150 million non-Chinese MAUs, for what it’s worth, making it more of a giant domestic player in China than an international heavyweight. That may change, of course, if it keeps growing as it has been.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
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.
Here’s one of the recommendations we received:
Name of marketer: Karl Hughes, draft.dev.
Name of recommender: Joshua Shulman, Bitmovin.com.
Recommendation: “Karl is incredibly knowledgeable in the field of content and growth marketing to a large (and equally niche) target audience of developers. He and his team at Draft.dev are some of the best at ‘developer marketing,’ which is a greatly underrated target audience.”
Yo dawg, we heard you liked audio … so we put audio in your audio!
Yesterday, we had a super fun Twitter Spaces chat (with a few hundred of our closest friends) about Bitcoin and crypto in general. It was led by the Equity Podcast crew, but a few of our other writers joined in on the fun. Some of it even made its way into the latest episode of Equity, so have a listen (and keep an eye out for our next live chats).
It’s pretty simple — In a few short weeks, startup founders from around the world will join our bootcamp series TC Early Stage 2021: Marketing & Fundraising, happening on July 8 and 9. You’ll choose from a wide range of presentations that span the fundamentals of launching and growing your business, whether you are bootstrapping or have just secured your first investment funds. Register before this Friday and get 50% off with promo code DAILYCRUNCH50.