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Hello from day one of Disrupt. I just hopped out of watching Battlefield companies pitch — more on them below! — to write this for you. Disrupt is looking smooth, impressive and very TechCrunch so far.
I know it’s cliche, but I’m incredibly proud of what the TechCrunch crew managed for this year’s Main Event. A big hug to the TechCrunch events team, the sales team, the tech crew, editors and everyone else that makes this publication work but that you don’t see.
Now, the news! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Matthew takes the new iPhone to Disneyland: If you were curious what the platonic ideal of a Matthew Panzarino post is, it’s this. Panz is our editor-in-chief, one of our Apple reviewers, a photog and a Disney fan. So, he brought all of that together to get some real-world testing done on the latest flagship iPhone. Enjoy!
- Gig workers protest Instacart: The history of leading boycotts of gig-work platforms is spotty in terms of impact, but that isn’t stopping thousands of Instacart shoppers from raising their voices as a collective. This time ‘round the Gig Workers Collective is asking “that customers refrain from reinstalling the app until five demands are met.” Those demands include a higher default tip and changes to commissions.
- PayPal rolls out financial “super app:” Super apps are like other apps, but more stuffed with features and capabilities. Perhaps best known as major players in various Asian economies’ digital realms, PayPal wants to bring the model to the United States. It’s new Super Duper Excellent App will include “direct deposit, bill pay, a digital wallet, peer-to-peer payments, shopping tools, crypto capabilities and more” TechCrunch reports.
Let’s start with a host of Battlefield companies, coming straight from pitching at Disrupt earlier today:
- Built by a refugee, Enlight’s edtech tool bets it can help students hope harder.
- Luos is building an API to help embedded engineers connect easily to any hardware component.
- Nigerian fintech Hervest wants to bring financial inclusion to more African women.
- Tatum lets you interact with blockchains using API calls.
- Happaning aims to be a “Google Street View” for video.
- Folio’s 24-year-old founder is bootstrapping a curated, online bookstore.
And then there was everything else:
- French marketplace startup Mirakl has landed a $555 million round at a $3.5 billion valuation — a huge check for its SaaS play. Silver Lake led.
- The foundation behind Raspberry Pi minicomputers has raised a $45 million round at a $500 million valuation. London-based Lansdowne Partners and The Ezrah Charitable Trust led the round.
- Just raised $8 million to make better car insurance, a model that takes lots of capital and patience. Thus we have learned from watching both Root and MetroMile.
- Korea-based Business Canvas raised $2.5 million in a seed round for its document management service called “Typed.” Mirae Asset Venture Investment led the deal.
- Bilt Rewards, a fintech that helps renters earn points while paying rent, snagged a $60 million round at a $350 million valuation. Wells Fargo and Mastercard led, which makes pretty good sense. Points for sharing the new valuation, Bilt.
- Pipe snags former Stripe, HubSpot execs, expands to the U.K. Selling recurring revenues for cash is big business, Pipe shows. The company deals with both recurring software incomes and DTC subscriptions.
- Finally, Sorare raised $680 million at a $4.3 billion valuation. The company has created a fantasy football program based on NFTs. People love fantasy sports. Some folks are also really into NFTs. Perhaps at the union of both there is a big business? SoftBank certainly thinks so, leading this particular Series B.
Seth Rogen explains how Houseplant promotes cannabis without breaking the rules
Many celebrities have turned their personal interests into thriving commercial concerns: Ryan Reynolds owns Aviation Gin, Jessica Alba founded nontoxic goods startup The Honest Company, and George Clooney will earn as much as $1 billion for selling his tequila company.
This year, actor Seth Rogen co-founded Houseplant, which sells pottery, cannabis and related accessories.
“We’ve sold house goods in all 50 states at this point,” Rogen explained. “That’s us, developing a relationship and trust with customers in places where weed is not legal yet.”
In a conversation with Managing Editor Matt Burns at TechCrunch Disrupt, Rogen, CEO Mike Mohr and chief commercial officer Haneen Davies discussed some of the challenges of brand-building within the confines of a strict regulatory environment.
“I think the merger of House and Plant is what’s going to help us establish a brand name that goes beyond the limiting restrictions you have to abide by to communicate cannabis,” said Davies.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Facebook’s product response to its very bad week is a battery-powered Portal: Sure, the WSJ is breaking news left and right that makes Facebook appear sneaky at best and downright mendacious at worst. But that isn’t stopping Facebook’s hardware team from releasing new gear.
- Roblox intros new age check: It’s optional, but the move is probably a little overdue and overall smart. Roblox is a gaming platform that kids love. Kids need protection. Here’s some!
- Former Yahoo company Tumblr moves subscription product to open beta: Ah, Yahoo. In a different life (iteration?), Yahoo was busy snapping up companies of all sorts. One such company it plunked down a mint for was Tumblr. Now Tumblr is owned by Automattic, after Verizon sold it. And then Verizon sold the rest of its media assets — TechCrunch included — to a private equity firm. Anyhoo, Tumblr’s push into the creator economy is now in open beta. Enjoy.
- Amazon refreshes the Kindle Paperwhite: This one took us by surprise, but Amazon’s Kindle lineup just got an updated SKU. The new Paperwhite has a larger screen, thinner bezels and USB-C charging.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
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