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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 27, 2021. Today is a good day not only because the U.S. women’s national soccer team is heading to the Olympics quarter finals (shoutout Gotham’s Carli Lloyd!), but also because Danny Crichton just published an incredibly interesting EC-1 digging into RapidSOS. Danny has previously written extensively about disaster tech, a growth industry of sorts given the changing climate. OK, now to tech news! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Edtech’s shifting center of gravity: The debris is still settling after China’s recent regulatory changes impacted edtech, on-demand and music-streaming businesses in the country. Natasha Mascarenhas dug into the edtech market, asking investors where they planned to invest in the future. The gist is that while China was once the center of the edtech universe, it may rapidly lose that crown to a more global set of edtech hotspots.
- Africa’s burgeoning startup ecosystem: TechCrunch’s long-running dive into the Q2 venture capital market is coming to a close this week, but not before we investigated the African startup market, a growing space that is attracting more and more investor and media attention. Some big exits certainly haven’t hurt. But while capital raised by African startups is growing rapidly, some blank spaces still exist. Let’s see if investors pounce.
- No-code is still super hot: If you want to have a weird day on Twitter, tweet that you don’t like no-code as a concept. You will get many notes from folks who disagree. That passion among the hoi polloi is also reflected in investor interest. This time ‘round the funding tree it’s Bubble, which just closed a $100 million round to help anyone “begin building modern web applications using a click-and-drag interface that can connect data sources and other software together in one fluid interface,” per our reporting.
Kicking off today’s startup notes, let’s talk about stock. Startup shares, to be precise. Mostly investors get preferred shares, because they can demand better equity as they are bringing capital to the table. Founders and staff tend to get common stock. Which, as the name implies, is not as good as preferred. But there’s a venture capital firm in Boston called Pillar VC that buys common stock in its investments. One of its investors, Jamie Goldstein, wrote an essay for TechCrunch sharing what he’s learned from the process. It’s worth reading.
Before we get into funding rounds, NowRx CEO and co-founder Cary Breese wrote an op-ed for TechCrunch discussing the delivery market. Given how much money is flowing into so-called instant grocery startups, it’s also worth your time.
- $200M for sensors as a service: That’s the news from Wiliot, which has just put a bunch of SoftBank Vision Fund 2 money into its pockets to turn its “ultra thin and light” processor that “runs on ambient power” into a service that it can sell to others. Very cool.
- Meet the latest crypto unicorn: It’s Fireblocks — with its new $310 million round, the company is now worth $2.2 billion. What does it do? According to our own reporting, Fireblocks “aims to offer financial institutions an all-in-one platform to run a digital asset business, providing them with infrastructure to store, transfer and issue digital assets.” Between this and the recent FTX deal, it’s clear that there is still ample investor appetite for continued crypto wagers.
- 1Password raises $100M more: Accel is at it again, putting big checks into largely self-sustaining businesses This time it’s a double down on 1Password, a software service that helps individuals and businesses alike create and manage supersecure passwords. The company competes with LastPass, among other companies. The company is now worth $2 billion and recently crossed the $120 million ARR milestone. That’s pretty darn good, even if the company’s revenue multiple implies that it is no longer growing at startup speeds. (How about an S-1? Anyone?)
- Oova wants to help people conceive: The startup just landed a $1.2 million round to help folks figure out their optimum fertility window and provide information that their healthcare provider may be able to use to confirm ovulation. There are two groups of people in the world. Those who have not dealt with fertility-related issues, and those who have. For the latter set, Oona’s newly released kit and goals are good news.
The RapidSOS EC-1
According to one estimate, Americans place 240 million 911 calls each year.
Sending emergency services to the right location sounds straightforward, but each call is routed through one of thousands of call centers known as public safety answering points (PSAPs).
“Every 911 center is very different and they are as diverse and unique as the communities that they serve,” said Karin Marquez, senior director of public safety at RapidSOS.
One PSAP that serves New York City is a 450,000-square-foot, blast-resistant cube set on nine acres, but “you have agencies in rural America that have one person working 24/7 and they’re there to answer three calls a day,” Marquez noted.
Founded eight years ago, RapidSOS processes more than 150 million emergencies each year across approximately 5,000 PSAPs. The company’s technology helps call centers integrate requests from cell phones, landlines and IoT devices.
“Its technology is almost certainly integrated into the smartphone you’re carrying and many of the devices you have lying around,” Managing Editor Danny Crichton writes in a four-part series that studies the company’s origins:
- Part 1: The early years and why a consumer app company turned to govtech and integrated services for technology and device companies.
- Part 2: How RapidSOS made its pivot and why its current business model has performed so well.
- Part 3: To transform 911 services, RapidSOS established dozens of corporate and individual partnerships.
- Part 4: Examines the future of 911 and RapidSOS in light of limited infrastructure funding.
“I’ve honestly never met a company like RapidSOS with so many signed partnerships,” says Danny, who initially wrote about the firm six years ago.
“It’s closed dozens of partnerships and business development deals, and with some of the biggest names in tech. How does it do it? This story is about how it built a successful BD engine.”
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Big Tech Inc.
TechCrunch is about to dive into a whole mess of Big Tech earnings in a moment, so we’ll be brief regarding Big Tech news today. Here’s a rapid-fire rundown:
- Shopify allows merchants to sell NFTs directly through their storefronts: The popular Canadian e-commerce platform supporting NFTs could be a boon to their broader adoption.
- Instagram now supports 60-second videos on Reels, its TikTok clone: Every major social network wants a piece of TikTok’s magic. Let’s see if Instagram can capture some of that sparkle.
- Google TV mobile app redesign adds new services and recommendations: Google TV is the updated Chromecast interface, if you were wondering. The redesign includes Rotten Tomatoes scores, just in case you want some extra input on what to watch.
- Pinterest rolls out new features that let creators make money from pins: More shoppable content at Pinterest? Not a surprise, but perhaps something that will allow the company to continue posting above-expectations revenue growth.
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