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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for November 16, 2021! Today’s news includes mac and cheese, AI unicorns and a few items that detail just how popular audio is today. But before we get into all of that, if you are keeping up with TechCrunch on all the latest from launch to low Earth orbit, don’t forget that our upcoming Sessions: Space event is in less than a month! — Alex
P.S. TechCrunch has podcasts! Did you know? Come hang out!
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Upgrade upgrades valuation to $6B: Flush with $280 million in new funding, Upgrade’s credit card play — and expanding universe of fintech products — is keeping its foot to the floor. You may recall that Upgrade, which is focused on the U.S. market, last raised less than four months ago. Even for fintech, that is rapid-fire fundraising.
- VCs bet on stampede of AI unicorns: AI has evolved from buzzword to promising software technique to a cohort of startups raising tens of billions of dollars per quarter. And as AI startup rounds get bigger, and valuations ever greater, it appears that private-market inventors are anticipating a huge wave of liquidity — IPOs! — in coming quarters. (We’ve certainly moved past economic concerns regarding AI revenue quality!)
- Can you hear everyone looking to audio? Two items today from the realm of sound. First, Medium announced its third buy of the year, Knowable, which TechCrunch writes will “help [the publishing platform] cater to people seeking audio education.” And we took a look today at Racket, which thinks that short-form podcasts are the future. (Recall that Spotify, still digesting its podcast push, is also moving into audiobooks.)
- Remote IT startup AnyDesk raises $70M: AnyDesk’s software provides remote device access, control and collaboration tooling. Given the world’s shift to a more remote and hybrid working setup, it isn’t a surprise that the startup is doing well. Its latest round values AnyDesk at $660 million.
- How are there any e-commerce brands left to consolidate? It seems that every week we hear of yet another mega-round for a startup looking to consolidate e-commerce brands, often on the Amazon platform. This time ‘round it’s Heyday, which has raised $555 million — we don’t know what portion of the total is equity or debt — to continue to snap up and grow DTC brands. It has competition, including “Thrasio (which picked up a cool $1 billion in October) and Perch ($775 million in May).”
- Nirvana Health raises more to help therapists bill: You might think that the real issue in healthcare is getting the right treatment to the right people at the right time. Such a perspective may fit in some markets, but not in the United States. Hence the need for services like Nirvana Health, which can help make the money side of care flow correctly and quickly.
- SnapAttack snaps up $8M to attack cyberthreats: A recent spinout from Booz Allen — one of the better names in business — SnapAttack has raised new capital to power its cybersecurity business. The company claims the “largest library of labeled threat data in the world,” for what it’s worth.
- Luxury Presence raises $25.9M Series B: Making software to support particular industries or worker categories is big business. Call it vertical SaaS or whatever you prefer, segment-specific code is doing numbers. The latest example of that is Luxury Presence, which raised to keep building software for real estate agents. Notably, Bessemer was in this round, a firm that I have not seen as often in headlines lately as I had expected to.
- Conductor rides again: Remember when Conductor was bought by WeWork? Well, that didn’t work out. It bought itself out, and is now back to the work of raising its own capital to build its own business, $150 million to be exact. What does Conductor do? SEO and content marketing software. Again, WeWork bought it. That was a silly time.
- Insta-unicorns are a thing now: Sure, we might all be gawking at $100 million seed rounds, but what about startups that race from founding to a valuation of $1 billion or more in less than a year? Wild, right? Mensa Brands — yes, another DTC acquisition play, alas — has accomplished the feat, thanks to its recent $135 million raise.
- To close out our startup coverage, what do you get when you fuse startups, Gal Gadot and noodles? Goodles, it turns out. I will taste test this particular product as soon as I can find it in a store. You are welcome in advance.
5 critical pitch deck slides most founders get wrong
This is a fantastic time to found a startup, but unless you plan to bootstrap it, you’ll still need to go through the laborious exercise of crafting a pitch deck.
Most founders struggle with this task because it requires them to answer central questions for investors: Can you lay out your plan for tripling revenue YoY? What’s your ideal product use case?
According to Jose Cayasso, CEO and co-founder of pitch deck design agency Slidebean, there are five sides where pretty much all investors miss the mark:
- Use case/audience
- Possible outcomes
Using examples from decks by Airbnb, Uber and others, he shares several proven strategies for avoiding the most common pitfalls.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Kicking off today’s Big Tech news with two deals, our own Ron Miller has the latest on $25 billion worth of liquidity in the data center market. That’s a lot of coin in one day.
- Dang, Meta should really get ahold of its “Facebook” service: News from Down Under indicates that Facebook’s “announcement this summer when the tech giant claimed it would be limiting how advertisers could reach kids” might not be working out as some hoped. Researchers are accusing the social subsidiary of Meta of “still tracking teens for ad targeting on its social media platforms.”
- Slack has a fascinating take on no-code development: Slack is a neat company. You might use its service. I haven’t been able to not use Slack for years and years. But as the company matured, it became a platform as well as a workplace chat app. And now The House That Stewart Built is out with a method to allow users to remix apps in a workflow context. One more step toward a world where programming is not a high art, but something that anyone can do.
- Pinterest looks to recapture startup magic: Today social network and giant of the pinning economy Pinterest announced TwoTwenty, what TechCrunch described as a “an in-house, experimental products team.” Perhaps TwoTwenty will be able to boost the pace at which Pinterest adds new users in TwentyTwentyTwo.
- Jumia posts earnings showing revenue growth, steeper losses: The saga of Jumia, a leading e-commerce player in Africa is one of promise and regular losses. TechCrunch covers its earnings every quarter, not only because Jumia is an interesting company with a large fintech arm, but also because it provides a glimpse into the larger African e-commerce market.
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