Extra Crunch roundup: Livestream e-commerce, growth marketing interviews, CEO for a day

This year, livestream viewers in China are projected to spend more than $60 billion on digital shopping experiences that let them interact with influencers in real time.

Promoting everything from cosmetics to food, social media stars use Taobao, TikTok and other platforms to livestream products and take questions from the audience.

On Taobao’s Singles Day in 2020, livestreams racked up $6 billion in sales, twice as much revenue as the year prior.

Sensing a trend, Western startups are getting in on the action, with companies like Whatnot and PopShop.Live raising rounds to build out their infrastructure. Looking forward, Alanna Gregory, senior global director at Afterpay, says she foresees four major trends:

  • Networks
  • SaaS streaming tools
  • Host discovery and outreach tools
  • Host marketplaces and agencies

“For brands, SaaS streaming tools will be the most impactful way to take advantage of livestream commerce trends,” Gregory writes in an Extra Crunch guest post. “All of this will be incredibly transformative.”

To help entrepreneurs take on the most fundamental challenge facing early-stage startups, our team is speaking to growth marketers to learn more about the advice they’re offering clients these days.

This week, Miranda Halpern and Anna Heim interviewed experts on growth marketing:

Growth is an existential issue, so these stories are free to read and share. If you’ve worked with an individual or an agency who helped your startup find and keep new users, please let us know.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week; have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson

Senior Editor, TechCrunch


Why Latin American venture capital is breaking records this year

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim’s global exploration of Q2 venture capital data wrapped up this week with an in-depth look at Latin America.

One investor told them that today’s LatAm startup market “is a story about talent, not about capital.”

“The union of talent and money is what startup markets need to thrive,” they write. “But there are other reasons why Latin American startups are so frequently in the news today, including structural factors, such as strong digital penetration and quick e-commerce growth.”

Dear Sophie: Should we sponsor international hires for H-1B transfers and green cards?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

My startup is desperately recruiting, and we see a lot of engineering candidates on H-1Bs.

They’re looking for H-1B transfers and green cards. What should we do?

— Baffled in the Bay Area

Why I make everyone in my company be the CEO for a day

Vincit runs a CEO of the Day program once a month

Image Credits: Blake Little (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In the reality TV series “Undercover Boss,” high-powered executives disguise themselves so they can work alongside everyday employees, ostensibly to learn from them.

Flipping that script, software company Vincit USA has a “CEO of the Day” program where staffers move into a metaphorical corner office for 24 hours and receive a very real unlimited budget. There’s just one requirement.

“The CEO must make one lasting decision that will help improve the working experience of Vincit employees,” said Ville Houttu, Vincit’s founder and CEO.

Since instituting the program, Vincit USA has received multiple awards for its workplace culture and sees reduced staff turnover.

“Though it may seem crazy, the initiative has paid off tenfold,” said Houttu.

What I’ve learned after 5 years of buying common stock in startups

Buying common stock can help align investor and founder incentives

Image Credits: Tim Robberts (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Instead of giving founders standard term sheets, Boston-based seed-stage venture capital firm Pillar VC offers to buy common stock.

“There are many terms and conditions in a preferred term sheet that can misalign investors and founders,” says founding partner Jamie Goldstein.

“As with any experiment, we have learned a few things that have surprised us and faced challenges we’ve had to overcome.”

China’s regulatory crackdown is good news for startups aligned with CCP goals

Alex Wilhelm takes stock of the wall of news out of China over the past week to see if there’s a silver lining for startups in the country as the Chinese Communist Party cracks down on everything from edtech companies to streaming platforms.

His take?

“The result may be concentrated effort and capital in sectors that Beijing favors and reduced capital and focus from entrepreneurs in sectors that have been deemed fit for strict control,” he writes. “Simply: Central planning is going to tilt business more toward centrally planned goals.”

Duolingo’s IPO pricing is great news for edtech startups

The Pittsburgh-based language-learning unicorn initially aimed for an $85 to $95 per share IPO price range, then bumped that up to $95 to $100 before it began to trade. It ultimately entered the public markets at $102 per share.

Alex Wilhelm notes that based on Duolingo’s expected Q2 revenues, the company has a run-rate multiple of nearly 16x. Compare that to the median multiple for public SaaS companies of 14x.

“Duolingo, a consumer edtech company, is now more valuable per revenue dollar than the median public enterprise SaaS business,” Alex writes.

Financial firms should leverage machine learning to make anomaly detection easier

Machine learning can make anolmaly detection easier

Image Credits: GOCMEN (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

“Anomaly detection is one of the more difficult and underserved operational areas in the asset-servicing sector of financial institutions,” EZOPS CEO Bikram Singh writes in a guest column.

But it’s critical to detect these anomalies amid a sea of data. That’s where unsupervised learning can offer a solution.

​​”With all eyes on data, it’s crucial that financial institutions find solutions to detect anomalies upfront, thereby preventing bad data from infecting downstream processes,” Singh writes.

“Machine learning can be applied to detect the data anomalies as well as identify the reasons for them, effectively reducing the time spent researching and rectifying executions.”

African startups join global funding boom as fintech shines

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim continued their global tour of Q2 2021 venture capital data, this week focusing on Africa.

“Early data indicates that Africa is set to trounce historical records in terms of venture capital raised in the year and that the first half of 2021 saw roughly twice the funds raised by African startups as was recorded in the first half of 2020,” they write.

“Startups across Africa have never had more access to capital than they do right now.”

True ‘shift left and extend right’ security requires empowered developers

Empowered developers will change the nature of true shift left and extend right security

Image Credits: kuritafsheen (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The intention of DevSecOps is to wedge security and compliance into DevOps. But that’s easier said than done, says Apiiro founder and CEO Idan Plotnik.

“Shifting left and extending right doesn’t mean that a scanning tool or security architect should detect a security risk earlier in the process — it means that a developer should have all the context to prevent the vulnerability before it even happens,” he writes.

4 key areas SaaS startups must address to scale infrastructure for the enterprise

bonsai tree with miniature scaffolding

Image Credits: Stewart Sutton (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Asana’s head of engineering, Prashant Pandey, rounds up four tips for SaaS startups looking to build up their infrastructure to meet customers’ growing needs.

“Startups and SMBs are usually the first to adopt many SaaS products. But as these customers grow in size and complexity — and as you rope in larger organizations — scaling your infrastructure for the enterprise becomes critical for success,” he writes.

He offers four areas to focus on:

  • Address your customers’ security and reliability needs
  • Give IT admins control over product usage
  • Build data isolation into your architecture
  • Support customers by interconnecting their data across applications