TechCrunch+ roundup: Zero-day exploits, breaking into Japan, algorithmic VC investing

We work with contributors to develop guest posts that will help TechCrunch+ readers solve actual problems, so it’s always a delight to present a comprehensive “how to” article.

In this case, Barnabas Birmacher, CEO of Platform as a Service company Bitrise, shared the lessons he learned as his team attempted to enter Japan.

Launching a product in a foreign market where you’re unfamiliar with the language and culture is a necessary step for growing companies, “but the barriers to entry are high” in Japan, Birrmacher notes, which is why building community was foundational to their expansion.

Instead of relying solely on strategic partners, his team visited Japan before ramping up to host events and engage directly with early adopters.

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Setting aside traditional media and marketing tactics, Bitrise hired a manga artist to create a comic featuring a mobile developer, developed “Japan-first” swag to hand out, and even crafted a full-sized mascot costume for conferences.

“We left the suit with one of our customers and now people wear it while they’re drinking,” he writes.

If your startup is at or near the point where you’re considering an international expansion, this post contains several tactics you can adapt and test.

“Whether or not these things make sense for you, the most important thing to do while you’re there is to show up and be a part of the community,” says Birmacher.

Thanks very much for reading TechCrunch+, and I hope you have a great week.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+

A CISO’s playbook for responding to zero-day exploits

Football play strategy drawn out on a chalk board

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

The Log4Shell exploit that gave bad actors the ability to execute malicious code on infiltrated servers made global headlines and ruined many cybersecurity professionals’ holidays.

Despite a series of high-profile attacks, many companies still lack a response plan, writes Jonathan Trull, SVP of customer solutions, architecture and engineering at Qualys.

Drawing on his experience as a CISO, Trull outlines three steps companies can take to develop a playbook:

  • Establish a standard operating procedure
  • Inventory, inventory, inventory
  • Information gathering, sharing and analysis

For the first time in 4 years, profitability beats growth

Origami Tortoise and the Hare

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

Venture capitalists pin their hopes and expectations on revenue because it’s a clear signal of how quickly their investment may grow.

But lately, profitability has quietly overtaken revenue growth as the metric of choice, according to Jeremy Abelson and Jacob Sonnenberg of Irving Investors.

“In 2021, profitability — measured by free cash flow (FCF) margins — not revenue growth, had the higher correlation to positive stock returns in the software sector. This broke a four-year trend of revenue growth being the more important driver of software company stock performance.”

Abelson and Sonnenberg unpack the factors that are pushing investors to sell high-growth stocks and share “some of our favorite metrics as the profitability versus growth dynamic continues to play out.”

2022 crypto predictions from Prime Trust CFO Rodrigo Vicuna

Full length of young woman looking back over shoulder while walking on pink currency symbols against white background

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

New York City Mayor Eric Adams converted his first paycheck into Ether and Bitcoin; Burger King is slapping QR codes on 6 million meal boxes that unlock NFTs.

Cryptocurrency is having a cultural moment, but we’ve yet to reach mass adoption, despite what marketing campaigns might have you believe.

Rodrigo Vicuna, CFO at fintech-focused bank Prime Trust, shares his predictions for this year’s crypto market, suggesting that tighter rules might bring more consumers into the fold:

“It might seem counterintuitive, but more regulation provides more guidance, which provides reassurance for institutional and mass use.”

Will the latest selloff finally shake up how investors value startups?

The public markets have gone downhill in the past few weeks, but early-stage investments in startups aren’t showing any signs of slowing.

It may be that investors are taking off their hype hats and valuing companies based on how profitable they are rather than how fast they’re growing their revenue, wrote Alex Wilhelm in the Exchange.

“A shift toward a more P/E world for tech companies over a P/S stance would make profit more, well, profitable for companies. More valuable, in other words. That, in turn, could change how companies — startups included — invest and what they prioritize.”

Is algorithmic VC investment compatible with due diligence?

Pole lifting rubber duck with hook in its head

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

Increasingly, investors are spending more time looking at the numbers and less on founders’ personalities before cutting a check.

“In practice, attempts to remove bias can create newer, blind spots that are harder to identify,” writes Natasha Mascarenhas, who interviewed people who use algorithmic investment to guide their decision-making.

“Every little while, we hear more rumblings that the industry will shift to lean in this direction, but candidly, it’s hard,” said Clearco co-founder Michele Romanow.

“It requires deep technical expertise and a product to match, so while it sounds nice on the surface, people generally revert to what they know, which is the traditional gated system with humans making decisions based on intangible factors.”

3 ways investors can assess the strength of an NFT opportunity

Choosing between Orange fruit and peeled orange skin without fruit.

Non-fungible tokens are highly speculative, but Clara Bullrich, co-founder of TheVentureCity, says green flags are just as easy to spot as red ones — if investors know what to look for.

“Investors need to know the basics of NFTs and their potential, but they don’t need deep technical knowledge,” writes Bullrich.

“That’s because the real value of any NFT project lies with the people building it.”