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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 20, 2022! Today’s theme is more. Sure, the creator economy grew last year, but this year more major platforms are working to help power individual artists. And sure, last year was one of the best for crypto startups, but now even more big companies are getting into the mix. Oh and Peloton is having a terrible day. Let’s talk about it! – Alex
P.S. Early Stage is back in San Francisco this year, so see you there!
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Peloton reportedly halts production: Remember when you couldn’t buy a Peloton bike because there wasn’t enough supply? The company is having the opposite issue now, with more supply than demand. Shares of the 2019 IPO were down sharply today. It appears clear that the pandemic trade, once a key influencer of corporate value, is over.
- Twitter rolls out NFT support: If you’re a member of Twitter’s subscription service, you will soon have the ability to connect a crypto wallet and use an NFT that you own as your profile picture. This is going to make some of you happy and some of you angry. Regardless of what you think of the news, that Twitter took the time to build the feature is indicative of where the market is likely heading this year. Speaking of which, Facebook and Instagram are apparently also getting into the NFT game.
- Plaid buys Cognito: After the huge Plaid-Visa deal fell through over regulatory hurdles, the fintech API company has been busy. It raised more money, pushed its valuation above $13 billion, and has since been busy building and buying other companies. Today’s news is that the company bought Cognito for around a quarter billion dollars to layer more services atop its core API business.
Before the news deluge, a few notes. First, Anna Heim wrote something lovely about first-time founders and how market fetishization of serial founders could be leading to new entrepreneurs not getting their due. Given that a number of recent unicorns were founded by new builders instead of those going around the block for the second, third or 10th time, she may be onto something.
And after dodging drops in startup investment, the Chinese venture capital market could be facing new stress. Perhaps this time, really, we’ll see the declines that many anticipated.
And now, the newsroll:
- Cherry Ventures lands $340M: The German venture capital firm with an interest in early-stage tech has new capital for its third fund. It also invests in blockchain tech, Mike Butcher reports. With prior funds, the group put capital into Flink and SellerX, among other startups.
- How the Crypto.com hack went down: It turns out it was a 2FA compromise that caused the heavily advertised cryptocurrency firm to lose customer funds and temporarily halt withdrawals. This sort of hack might seem, well, standard at this point in time, but it’s still not? It’s still very bad? And perhaps even surprising given that bitcoin was first discussed back in 2008. I wonder what Matt Damon thinks.
- Sexual health is a growth industry: That’s our lesson from our writeup of TBD Health, which provides “ a fresh new approach with at-home [STI] testing made available for vagina-havers.” It reminds me of Juna, which means that the at-home STI testing market has a neat competitive landscape to track.
- Remember no-code? It’s everywhere again. When TechCrunch covered the Softr round the other day, we asked internally what had happened to all the no-code rounds. Well, here they are. Today it’s Prophecy raising $25 million for its “low-code data engineering platform.”
- Shazam for your thoughts: Startup Weavit wants to “offer people a different way to quickly capture their thoughts in a note-taking tool with the press of a button, which are then matched to other content in a broader knowledge base” TechCrunch writes. Does the world need another note-taking tool? Apparently, the answer is yes. I kid, my brain is a colander with extra-large holes; I need all the help I can get.
- CodeSee does what it says on the tin: There’s a startup in the market called CodeSee. What does it do? Help you see your code. Hell yeah obvious startup names. In this case, code visualization is the name of the game. Why does that matter? As Ron Miller explains, it helps folks see how code fits together. Given that my C++ never compiled I am not one to talk, but this does seem like a pretty neat idea.
- Green Labs raises $140M: Perhaps we need to hire a few agtech reporters. The space really does seem to be heating up. (Just like the planet! Heyo!) The company has now raised a total of $170 million for its digital services for the farming world, including, we write, “an app that aggregates reliable data using AI, giving more than 500,000 farmers insight into crop lifecycle.” Farming is hard, so 1.5 cheers for food growers getting new tools.
And to close us out, quantum computing. Very much akin to self-driving cars, quantum computing has always felt a little not quite yet. And yet, Terra Quantum, a Swiss company, is now offering quantum as a service in the market. Yes, you can access early quantum systems. I suppose our real question is when mainstreamization will occur. Terra, we bet, would answer that with a “soon.”
How to build a product advisory council for your startup
Whether it’s done informally via a Reddit AMA or a Twitter Space, it’s never a bad idea to directly engage with the people who use your products and services.
Customer personas are useful, but talking to a customer is better if you want to understand what delights them — and what they’re willing to pay for.
With a product advisory council (PAC), early-stage startups can tap into their customers’ hive mind. The benefits are many: PACs can validate everything from marketing campaigns to future product planning.
But to build one, founders must first define clear goals and create value for participants.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Twitter brings feature to Android: If you are a Twitter user on iOS you have had access to its new communities feature for a bit. I have no idea what it does, but have clicked on it. Now if you are on Android, you too can click on it. Have fun!
- The nerd helmet wars continue: Google has a new VR headset coming in a few years, the rumor mill reports. That’s good, as it means that there will be at least two different closed ecosystems for individual gamers to choose from.
And to close us out from a news perspective today, Meta’s new AI can learn equally well from written, spoken or visual material. Which is neat, I think. And Mercedes is working with Luminar on lidar work!