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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for November 17, 2021! The tech world was abuzz today with news that a crypto startup was buying the naming rights to a stadium that was previously named after an office supply company. You can read that as crypto getting mature or 2021 losing the plot. Regardless, we have lots to talk about! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Apple will now let you fix your own gadgets: We’re surprised but stoked by news that Apple announced a “new program designed to let users perform common repairs on devices at home.” It’s called Self Service Repair, and, frankly, it’s a bit weird to digest such consumer-friendly news from a megacorp.
- Waymo extrends freight partnership: Given how lovely it would be to live in a world where cars would drive us instead of the other way around, I am paying close attention to self-driving news of all sorts. Today’s update that parcel-delivery concern UPS and Alphabet’s Waymo division are extending their partnership was therefore right up my alley.
- Braze, UserTesting go public: There were two unicorn IPOs today. Braze, a customer engagement software company, and UserTesting, which does what it says on the tin. TechCrunch dug into their respective IPO prices and economics to celebrate. We also caught up with Braze’s CEO, but more on that later.
Before we get into startup news, let’s talk about some unicorns. Instacart’s growth rate is reportedly slowing, leading to TechCrunch wondering if its rivals are nibbling on its market share. Instacart, worth tens of billions of dollars, is an obvious 2022 IPO candidate.
- Tech company makes money on “outside:” Depending on where you are in the world today, going outside might sound like a lark or like sheer drudgery. But no matter, because the business of helping people get outside is booming. AllTrails just banked $150 million for its work in helping walkers and bikers and hikers get out and, well, about.
- Niche neobanks continue to raise: Building a neobank tuned for one part of the population or another is an increasingly popular activity. The gist is that building a basic banking service is not that hard in 2021, given the number of off-the-shelf parts. This means that we can have more — and more specific — digital banks. For example, Jiko is partnering with Euphoria, “a technology suite for the transgender community that helps alleviate the struggles associated with gender transition, to launch a banking app called Bliss.” I dig it.
- DiviGas raises $3.6M to clean up hydrogen production: With a new method of hydrogen diversion under its belt, DiviGas says that it has raised money to keep up with customer demand for its “hollow fiber polymeric membrane” technology. Keep an eye on this company in case it really has cracked a notable tech issue.
- Overwolf raises huge capital to help you make in-game content: If you play a game that has a serious modding community, you’re aware that not only big studios can make neat stuff for games. Regular folks can, too. Overwolf, which wants to help individuals make items for games, just raised $75 million for its work. The company’s round is a bet on gaming — and creators themselves.
- The group building the Anoma protocol raises $26M: Skipping all the technical details, the Anoma protocol will launch in around a year and will allow for individuals to trade digital assets without using money as an intermediary. It’s a ways off, but the tech sounds rather cool.
- Monarch crowns itself with second funding round in less than a year: It turns out that the market for autonomous electric agricultural tractors is booming. Monarch raised $20 million earlier this year and just added $61 million more to its accounts. With labor in short supply, the company may have found the perfect time for its four-wheeled creation.
4 strategies for setting marketplace take rates
E-commerce platform founders may be tempted to set transaction fees just a little higher than they initially planned, but greed isn’t always good.
Boosting take rates by a point or two could boost early revenue when it’s needed most, but there’s an opportunity cost, since “a higher take rate typically leads to lower transaction volume,” according to angel investor and product manager Tanay Jaipuria.
Take rates should directly reflect the stage of your business, he advises, since platforms with higher rates see lower transaction volumes. To learn how different companies use this lever, Jaipura studied take rates for more than 25 marketplaces, including Apple, Shutterstock and OpenSea.
“It’s important for founders to remember that maximizing the take rate of the platform is not the goal,” he says.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Instagram to shutter ‘Threads:’ Meta launched Threads after it killed Direct, the preceding, standalone Instagram messaging app. Now Threads is heading to the grave. Perhaps Meta is working to become a bit more like Google in its ability to whack existing messaging products.
- Spotify takes paid podcasts global: Music giant Spotify’s efforts to bring paid subscriptions to the podcast world took another step today with the European company announcing that it is bringing the tool to the world. I don’t know if paid shows will catch on, but last I checked my TechCrunch contract doesn’t provide me with a cut of revenues from Equity, so don’t expect us to jump aboard any time soon.
- The U.K. has questions concerning how Apple, Google determine app age ratings: Of late, it’s hard to find a week in which U.S. tech giants are not in some sort of European hot water. Perhaps they should take a trip to Bath to sort out their issues. I kid, but this time the U.K. really does seem quite curious.
- What if Amazon made an Echo, but HUGE? Well, it has. And you can buy the gigantic Show 15 with its nearly 16-inch screen for the holidays. I don’t know why you would want to give Amazon an even larger screen with which to harass you with toothpaste ads, but here we are.
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