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Hello and welcome to Extra Crunch for August 5, 2021. What goes up must come down. Mostly. That’s the lesson from Robinhood’s stock this week. It shot higher yesterday. And today it fell sharply. Something something stonks. Regardless, we have big news from Apple, Facebook, a host of startups and even some drones for you today.
A quick reminder that tomorrow is the last day for early-bird Disrupt tickets. Be there or be a big lame! We’re also excited to announce that TechCrunch is launching another newsletter! This Week in Apps by Sarah Perez launches this Saturday morning, August 7, and is the place to go for all of your app news goodness. Be sure to sign up here. — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Apple to scan iPhones for abusive content involving children: Apple’s privacy push is running into its efforts to limit the sharing of known child sexual abuse material. Its plan, that it has yet to roll out, will work at the device level to “identify if a user uploads known child abuse imagery to iCloud without decrypting the images until a threshold is met and a sequence of checks to verify the content are cleared.”
- When a startup should leave a market: In the wake of news that Deliveroo may leave the Spanish market, TechCrunch wanted to learn more about when a startup should leave a particular city or country to its competitors. So we rounded up some smart VCs and got to asking questions. The short answer is that you want gold and silver medals to build a unicorn, not bronze.
- Facebook redesigns its privacy settings: And TechCrunch’s Devin Coldeway is not impressed, writing that Facebook has “taken the ‘privacy settings’ settings and scattered them mischievously among the other categories.” If you are a Facebook user, it’s always a good time to check your privacy setup on the social platform. It just may take a little longer now.
We have a strong batch of startup stories below, but to kick things off have a bite of the latest drone story from Brian Heater. It’s rather tasty. Heater dug into the warehouse drone space, a somewhat natural environment for the tech as large storage buildings aren’t bothered by buzzy sounds, and often boxes in those buildings feature bar codes and are stacked vertically.
Now, our usual rundown:
- Quora launches subscriptions to access certain answers: Creators who love answering questions, Quora would like your attention. Long-running Q&A site Quora is rolling out Quora+ — natch — that will cost $5 per month, and allow access to content that creators decide should cost money to access.
- When is a startup going to build the hub for all our subscriptions to digital content so that we can stop having to use password managers for everything? Someone build that, please.
- Allocations raises $4M to power small PE funds: This one is cool. Allocations has built tech that enables fund managers to quickly spin up new private equity funds and SPVs. And the startup’s tech handles boring things like paperwork and capital calls. The thesis here is that there will be many more smallish PE funds in the future. The solo GP movement indicates that Allocations might be barking up the correct money tree.
- Ad astra for Astra: That’s the news from space launch vehicle company Astra, which is targeting August 27 for its first commercial launch. Sure, Boeing is struggling to make its rocket go up, but seeing Astra chase better-known launch systems is good news. More competitors, more rockets in time. And then you and I can go to space.
- OffLimits raises $2.3M for healthy cereal: Here in America we like our breakfasts sweet. That means our cereals are often loaded with sugar, and are thus both killing us while also making us smile. OffLimits is making cereal that is healthy (alas) but tasty, as well as “organic, vegan [and] gluten-free.” That sounds less fun than Cap’n Crunch, but as I’d like to avoid eventual limb amputation, perhaps the startup is onto something.
- From the world of edtech, TechCrunch’s Natasha Mascarenhas has a big piece out today looking at two companies — Coderhouse and Crehana — that are working in the reskilling space in Latin America. Reskilling, the teaching of new tricks to workers already in the market, is a big market. And Latin America is becoming a pretty key market for edtech, so make sure you don’t miss this one.
- Cent raises 300,000,000 cents to help make sense of NFTs: Remember when @Jack sold his first tweet as an NFT? The platform that made that transaction possible just raised $3 million. Or as we noted before, 300 million cents. Regardless of how you prefer to write out monetary sums — 12,000,000 quarters! — the latest Cent deal indicates that VCs are still more than willing to bet on NFTs in particular, and the cryptoeconomy more broadly.
TechCrunch’s Ron Miller covered a huge $125 million Series E for Bluecore today. The new capital made the e-commerce personalization platform the world’s newest unicorn. At least for a few hours. I asked Miller why he covered the round. Here’s what he said:
Bluecore is part of the omnichannel personalization market. It’s an area that thrived during the pandemic as more commerce shifted online and it became more imperative to offer more targeted messaging. The round is a sign that investors see the value in this and are willing to bet big money on companies like Bluecore being successful long term.
There, a look behind the curtain!
A blueprint for building a great startup founding team
Assembling a startup’s team is harder than assembling 10 IKEA dressers and the stakes are much higher.
Starting with the assumption that 90% of startups will fail and the most successful ones take an average of six years to IPO, founders have to make careful decisions about who they invite to join the founding team.
Is a stellar engineer a great choice? Or a terrible choice? Should your product person be opinionated or a team player? Are you even the best choice for CEO?
ThoughtSpot CEO Sudheesh Nair shared some of his thoughts about building a sturdy leadership team and drafted a thorough checklist for entrepreneurs who are putting a crew together. His initial advice?
“Investors love founder-CEOs, and founders are often fantastic candidates for this role. But not everyone can do it well, and more importantly, not everyone wants to.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Twitter Spaces adds co-hosting capabilities: Now you can enlist your friends to help you manage your next live audio conversation on Twitter. Yes, Spaces, Big Tweet’s chatroom tool, is expanding its feature set. You can now have a host, two co-hosts and up to 10 speakers at once. Just don’t, because that would be more noise than signal.
- Qualcomm wants to buy Veoneer: Qualcomm is offering $800 million more than what Magna International offered for Swedish automotive tech company Veoneer. The chip company is willing to cough up $4.6 billion for the asset. Why? Because Veoneer builds “advanced driver assistance systems, decision-making vehicle hardware and software.” So consider this a long-term bet by Qualcomm that self-driving tech is going to be everywhere. Eventually.
- Automakers want more government money: Cars are going electric, and the U.S. government has big goals to boost their domestic market share and production volume. Automakers are like, hey, how about some help. To that end a group of automotive OEMs are asking for the “timely deployment of the full suite of electrification policies committed to by the Administration in the Build Back Better Plan.” That means money in the form of consumer incentives and a charging network.
- Which feels a bit odd given that GM is making oodles of money at the moment. Surely it can deploy some of that capital? Also I hear that money is cheap at the moment.
- Google refreshes its Nest lineup: Finally for the day, Google’s Nest division has refreshes ready for its Nest lineup of cameras and doorbells. Nest is a bit of a dark horse inside of Google, given that it’s a hardware division at what is nearly entirely a software business. Still, the new hardware looks quite nice.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
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If you’re curious about how these surveys are shaping our coverage, check out this interview Miranda Halpern did with Ward van Gasteren, founder of Grow with Ward, “Which person should you hire: A growth hacker or a digital marketer?”