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The newsletter is a little later than usual today and for the next three days. Don’t worry, it’s for fun reasons: We want to be the first to tell you about the awesomeness that is our TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield companies. Find ’em in our special Battlefield section belooooow! And, this is the first time EVER, that we are writing Daily Crunch, sitting next to each other, IRL. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Someone’s having a good day: Jasper, which calls itself an “AI content” developer, raised its first round of funding ever — and a big one at that, at $125 million, to give it a $1.5 billion valuation, Kyle reports. It also comes as the company is in the process of acquiring a grammar- and style-checking platform, Outwrite.
- Turning renters into owners: Christine provides an update on Landis, which raised $40 million in Series B funding. The company buys homes on behalf of clients while also providing a patch for them to build up their credit and eventually get a mortgage on the home they rent.
- So, Apple had an event: Romain gives you a look at the new entry-level iPad that he says looks just like the iPad Pro. Alas, it’s also more expensive, but you get a larger screen. Priorities, amirite?
Startups and VC
Venture capital funds focusing on niche sectors are “in,” according to Connie, and Will Ventures is here for it. Christine reports that the low-flying, Boston-based venture outfit just tripled the size of its second fund to $150 million thanks to its approach of investing in sports technologies with the help of its community of athlete backers who help promote and grow the portfolio companies.
Turo, the peer-to-peer car-sharing platform that’s been described as the Airbnb for cars, will expand to Australia before the end of the year, Rebecca reports. Local car owners in all major cities, including Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, can join the waitlist on Turo’s website.
Okay, fine, have a few more:
- Giving birth to a new startup: “She Matters” is the name and mission of a BIPOC-focused postpartum-care startup, Andrew reports.
- For you, special price: Kyle reports that Enable lands $94 million to help B2B companies manage their rebate programs.
- At the P&L, turn left: Drivetrain is the “Google Maps for business growth,” writes Catherine.
- E-shopping for the win: Kenzz, an Egyptian e-commerce platform for the mass market, grabs $3.5 million seed funding, writes Tage.
- Tap to spark: Matt reports that Jane Technologies launches its first iOS app for cannabis shopping.
News Drops from Disrupt
Crypto accelerator: Andreessen Horowitz’s Chris Dixon dishes to Anita about a “Crypto Startup School,” an inaugural accelerator program that will kick off next year in Los Angeles. He also provided more info on the firm’s recent giant investment in our favorite controversial founder, Adam Neumann.
Stealthy startup: Both Harri and Tim sat in on Ingrid‘s interview with Marc Lore, who disclosed a new sports ticketing startup that he is working on called Jump Platforms and provided some insight on the Diapers.com sale to Amazon, calling it a “forced transaction.”
On cloud nine: Netflix VP of Gaming Mike Verdu spoke to Amanda about opening a new gaming studio in SoCal and getting into cloud gaming.
It’s Disruuuuuupt! We are so excited we can barely sit still. Here’s the first batch of Battlefield companies that pitched onstage on this fine California Tuesday — and if you’re curious, Neesha revealed the 20 companies that are presenting on the Disrupt Stage earlier today. Here’s the first batch that pitched today:
NXgenPort: A Saint Paul, Minnesota–based startup that’s looking to remotely monitor cancer patients in between doctor visits using a port catheter.
Omneky: Leverages OpenAI’s DALLE-2 and GPT-3 models to generate visuals and text that can be used in ads for social platforms.
Circular Genomics: Claims its new form of genetic testing can identify which medications will work for a patient in a fraction of that time.
Anthill: Connects frontline workers to company resources through text messaging.
AppMap: Was built on the simple idea that developers should be able to see the behavior of software as they write it so they can prevent problems when the software runs.
Mother Honestly: New commerce offering aims to give employees more freedom when it comes to caregiving spending.
Digest.ai: Beyond flash cards to create an AI dialogue assistant that we can all carry around on our phones.
Swap Robotics: Paving the way for electric solar vegetation cuts and sidewalk snow plowing.
Hormona: Hopes to encourage people with periods to do just that — add hormone-monitoring to their quantified health mix.
Staax: Thinks peer-to-peer payments can onboard a new generation of stock investors.
How to combine PLG and enterprise sales to improve the funnel and drive bottom-line growth
Products and services that sell themselves sound great, but product-led growth (PLG) startups still launch marketing campaigns and hire sales teams.
Combining PLG with traditional sales-led growth efforts can raise retention and acquisition to the next level, says Kate Ahlering, chief revenue officer at Calendly.
In this TC+ guest post, Ahlering lays out multiple strategies that will help teams implement a “hybrid GTM strategy,” which includes suggestions for leveraging PLG data and optimizing success metrics.
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Better fit, fewer returns: Advances in fit technology could minimize those onerous online returns, by Christine.
- Geez, Alex, downer much: Don’t let today’s software rally improve your mood, by Alex.
- Developers, developers, developers: Developers pour into crypto space despite stagnant markets, by Jacquelyn.
Big Tech Inc.
We have even more for you from Apple’s surprise October event. Brian takes a look at the company’s new M2 iPad Pro, which got a refresh and arrives October 26. He talks about chips and inches, and a pencil…you get the picture.
Even more Apple for you to bite into:
- Lauren reports on the new Apple TV 4K, which is also getting a refresh with a performance upgrade and lower price.
- Aisha has information on some other product drops for October 24, including iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura.
- Kirsten writes about Apple bringing its Spatial Audio to cars and will start with Mercedes-Benz.
Since we have all the Battlefield companies for your reading pleasure, here are just a few more:
- Sales block: UK’s competition watchdog is not playing around anymore. It issued a final order to Meta for it to sell Giphy. Natasha L has more.
- Turned off: Sometimes experiments fail. In this case, YouTube was testing a premium subscription to watch 4K videos, and as Ivan writes, “the company has now ended this test — probably because of uproar from users.”
- Easy button: Adobe is tapping into artificial intelligence to make selecting and deleting objects in Photoshop and Lightroom easier, Frederic writes.
- What’s going on with Do Kwon: Manish has the latest on Terra’s Do Kwon, who has charges against him related to the $40 billion wipeout of his blockchain. Kwon is saying South Korea’s charges against him are not legitimate and “politically motivated.”