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Former Seattle Sounders star Brad Evans has a new goal – to help charities with online auction startup

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Brad Evans during his days with the Seattle Sounders FC. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Brad Evans, the onetime Seattle Sounders FC star, said he never experienced any nerves in his years playing professional soccer. He went to bed at a normal time, slept well and woke without any worries. In front of 100,000 fans, he had a singular, calm focus.

In his first foray into running a tech startup, Evans is experiencing a range of new emotions.

“I’ve never had a problem sleeping until this past year and I think I know why,” Evans said. “Playing soccer for 12 years was great, I was just used to it. Now I’m in a space where I’m out of my element in everything that we’re doing. I’m learning completely on the fly. It’s been crazy to be honest.”

The tech and business aspects of launching his own company may be foreign, but Evans is working with producers and a product that he knows well — sports stars and their memorabilia. The startup is called Contrib, and the digital fundraising platform is another way to connect athletes and other influencers with their fans while raising money for charity.

While the auctioning of signed jerseys and other equipment is certainly not new, Evans wants to seize on the immediate hype around a particular game and social media to make a meaningful impact.

Traditionally, Evans would donate a jersey or some other item to a gala or other event being thrown by a charity he supports. The audience with access to that item would be limited to the in-person event. Through Contrib, and promotion on various social networks, Evans envisions a much broader audience, and more charitable bang for the memorabilia bucks.

Brad Evans during a rally following the Seattle Sounders FC first MLS Cup win in 2016. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Here’s how it might work, using the former Sounder as an example:

  • Evans scores two goals in a match against Portland.
  • In the locker room, he takes a video that says something like, “Brad Evans here and I just scored two goals in this jersey. For seven days it will be on auction and proceeds will go to Seattle Children’s Hospital.”
  • The athlete uploads to Contrib and clicks “share on all platforms.”
  • The video is also sent to the athlete’s social channels and fans who click the link are sent to Contrib where they can bid.
  • After seven days the winner’s payment is processed. Contrib takes 15% and the remaining 85% is sent to the charity that the athlete has chosen.

“What I like about this is it’s really powered by the athlete and they get control over where those funds are going,” Evans said. “Hopefully you get the full circle social experience where the winner can post on social media, the athlete can engage with that person. That’s where I think it all comes together.”

That experience is a little reminiscent of Cameo, the video-sharing platform that has attracted athletes, musicians, actors and more in a bid to monetize selfies for fans. Seattle sports legends such as Detlef Schrempf, Edgar Martinez and Steve Largent are using Cameo to offer up birthday wishes and much more.

Contrib soft-launched with an auction for a Sounders Jimi Hendrix scarf signed by Evans which sold for $400 last week after attracting 33 bids. Proceeds will benefit the RAVE Foundation, the charitable arm of the Sounders, to help build mini soccer pitches throughout the Seattle area.

Evans is initially turning to his friends and people he knows to help get Contrib rolling, so soccer gear will be popular in the early going. A Jordan Morris jersey is expected to hit the site this week, and signed goalie gloves from Stefan Frei or cleats from Cristian Roldan could follow. Evans wants to have a solid platform running when he reaches out to other stars, such as Sue Bird or Megan Rapinoe.

And he sees Contrib auctions going beyond sports memorabilia, with inclusion of such things as a popular band’s set list after a concert or experiential items such as dinner with someone like Seattle hip-hop star Macklemore or a round of golf with Evans and Morris.

“My brain goes a million different places,” Evans said.

Contrib got some initial backing from David Cantu and Rick Cantu, the co-founders of Redapt, the Seattle-area technology solutions provider. Jared Wray, co-founder and CTO at software and logistics platform Palmetto, is providing technical expertise to help Evans iron out any of Contrib’s kinks.

In the first couple months, Evans figures it’ll be a slow crawl to walk and then run as he onboards more personalities and generates buzz for what he’s building. He’s excited about his commitment to helping non-profits.

“Ultimately I wanted to get money to the people that needed it most. That was the main goal,” Evans said. “And as athletes, there’s no better way to do that than with memorabilia.”

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Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/former-seattle-sounders-star-brad-evans-new-goal-help-charities-online-auction-startup/

Start Ups

U.S lawmakers introduce bills to Undo big tech’s monopoly – Top Tech News

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Top Trending news from the world of technology….

1)

U.S lawmakers introduce bills to Undo big tech’s monopoly

In order to challenge & undo big tech’s monopoly, U.S lawmakers introduced not one but five bipartisan bills in the U.S congress on Friday. If these bills are passed and become acts then it will deep ramifications on the way big tech companies operate. Big tech companies include companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Facebook. To know more about this news, click here.

2)

Chinese Rover Zhurong Takes a historic selfie

China’s first ever rover on the red planet has probably done something that NASA’s rover has not done so far. Take a beautiful selfie on a Red Planet. Yes, Chinese Rover Zhurong has pulled off this unique act. By doing so, it has become the first rover to take a selfie on the red planet.

3)

Facebook makes another acquisition in the VR space

It is no secret that for several years Facebook has been investing quite heavily in the VR & AR space. Keeping up with this strategy, the social media giant has just acquired VR shooter game development studio. The name of the acquired company is BIG Box VR. Facebook hasn’t shed light on terms of the deal.

4)

Romania bans Huawei

Image Credits: Flickr Flavio Sartori

Romania has become the latest country to impose ban on Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei in participating in 5G trail. On Friday, Romanian President Klaus lohannis signed  a bill that call for ban on the Chinese company on security grounds. According to reports, this controversial bill has the backing of Washington Dc.

5)

Amazon will overtake Walmart by 2022

Image Credits: Flickr Алексей М

A JP Morgan survey has claimed that Amazon is on track to overtake Walmart to become America’s largest retailer by 2022. The report claims that Amazon’s GMV is already growing faster than the industry rate and this is sufficient to surpass Walmart by next two years.  Amazon is already the America’s largest  online retailer.

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Source: https://www.techpluto.com/u-s-lawmakers-introduce-bills-to-undo-big-techs-monopoly-top-tech-news/

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Start Ups

Facebook acquires Seattle virtual reality gaming company BigBox VR, makers of Population: One

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Big Box VR co-founders Chia Chin Lee (left) and Gabe Brown. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Seattle startup BigBox VR, the company behind multiplayer virtual reality game POPULATION: ONE, has been acquired by Facebook.

Facebook was drawn to BigBox due to the popularity of POP: ONE, which has been one of the top-performing titles on the Oculus platform since it launched last year and racked up $10 million in revenue within a few months. Facebook and its VR-focused subsidiary Oculus plan to help BigBox accelerate its vision for the game and also other projects.

“We continue to invest in content that fosters social connection, and we believe POP: ONE delivers this experience to the VR community in spades within a super fun gaming experience,” Mike Verdu, vice president of content for Facebook Reality Labs, wrote in a blog post.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This is Facebook’s third acquisition of a Seattle-area company — others include Rel8tion (2011) and Atlas Solutions (2013) — and represents another VR studio swooped up by the tech giant, adding to its purchases of Downpour Interactive, Ready at Dawn, Sanzaru Games, and Beat Games.

Facebook already has a large presence in the Seattle area with more than 7,000 employees. It has two Facebook Reality Labs offices in the region.

Founded in 2016, BigBox is led by co-founders Chia Chin Lee, a game industry vet who led teams at Sony and Disney, and Gabe Brown, who met Chin Lee while the two built a popular Facebook game — Marvel: Avengers Alliance — at Disney’s Seattle-area gaming studio.

POP: ONE borrows mechanics from popular battle royale games such as Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds that have been immensely popular among PC and console gamers over the past several years. It is unique given the game is built for virtual reality, allowing gamers to climb, fly, and shoot as if they were actually doing so in real life.

BigBox previously had a partnership with Oculus Studios. It plans to continue supporting non-Oculus platforms including SteamVR headsets such as HTC Vive and Valve Index, and POP:ONE will receive regular updates, according to a blog post.

“We are fully focused on POPULATION: ONE! We have a lot planned, but we’re not ready to share details yet,” the blog post reads.

BigBox has around 30 employees, according to LinkedIn. The entire team will join Oculus Studios, including the founders.

“BigBox VR may be small, but they are a mighty, nimble team of game industry vets who seamlessly nail the game development duality of craft and data-driven live service,” Verdu wrote in his post.

The company raised one investment round, reeling in $5 million three years ago in a seed round led by Bay Area venture capital firm Shasta Ventures that included participation from GSR Ventures and PSL Ventures.

BigBox’s first title was Smashbox Arena, a team-based action VR game once described as a “Counter-Strike meets Mario Kart” experience. It served as a test of sorts to see how online multiplayer would work in virtual reality.

Virtual and augmented reality have not yet reached mainstream as some predicted but large tech companies such as Facebook and Apple continue investing in the technology, and investors keep making bets.

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Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/facebook-acquires-seattle-virtual-reality-gaming-company-bigbox-vr-makers-population-one/

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Aerospace

The air taxi market prepares to take flight

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Twelve years ago, Joby Aviation consisted of a team of seven engineers working out of founder JoeBen Bevirt’s ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains. Today, the startup has swelled to 800 people and a $6.6 billion valuation, ranking itself as the highest-valued electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) company in the industry.

As in any disruptive industry, the forecast may be cloudier than the rosy picture painted by passionate founders and investors.

It’s not the only air taxi company to reach unicorn status. The field is now dotted with new or soon-to-be publicly traded companies courtesy of mergers and special purpose acquisition companies. Partnerships with major automakers and airlines are on the rise, and CEOs have promised commercialization as early as 2024.

As in any disruptive industry, the forecast may be cloudier than the rosy picture painted by passionate founders and investors. A quick peek at comments and posts on LinkedIn reveals squabbles among industry insiders and analysts about when this emerging technology will truly take off and which companies will come out ahead.

Other disagreements have higher stakes. Wisk Aero filed a lawsuit against Archer Aviation alleging trade secret misappropriation. Meanwhile, valuations for companies that have no revenue yet to speak of — and may not for the foreseeable future — are skyrocketing.

Electric air mobility is gaining elevation. But there’s going to be some turbulence ahead.

Big goals and bigger expenses

Taking an eVTOL from design through to manufacturing and certification will likely cost about $1 billion, Mark Moore, then-head of Uber Elevate, estimated in April 2020 during a conference held by the Air Force’s Agility Prime program.

That means in some sense, the companies that will come out on top will likely be the ones that have managed to raise enough money to pay for all the expenses associated with engineering, certification, manufacturing and infrastructure.

“The startups that have successfully raised or that will be able to raise significant amounts of capital to get them through the certification process … that’s the number one thing that’s going to separate the strong from the weak,” Asad Hussain, a senior analyst in mobility technology at PitchBook, told TechCrunch. “There’s over 100 startups in the space. Not all of them are going to be able to do that.”

Just consider some of the expenses accrued by the biggest eVTOLs last year: Joby Aviation spent a whopping $108 million on research and development, a $30 million increase from 2019. Archer spent $21 million in R&D in 2020, according to regulatory filings. Meanwhile, Joby’s net loss last year was $114.2 million and Archer’s was $24.8 million, though, of course, neither company has brought a product to market yet. Operating expenses will likely only continue to grow into the future as companies enter into manufacturing and deployment phases.

What that means for the future of the industry is likely two things: more SPAC deals and more acquisitions.

Mobility companies, including those working on electrified transport, are often pre-revenue and have capitally intensive business models — a combination that can make it difficult to find buyers in a traditional IPO. SPACs have become increasingly popular as a shorter, less expensive path to becoming a public company. SPACs have also historically received less scrutiny than IPOs. Should the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission start to take a closer look at SPAC mergers in the future, it may impair the ability of other air taxi companies to go public this way, Hussain said.

That means market consolidation is nearly guaranteed, as smaller companies may find it more advantageous to sell than continue to raise more capital. It’s already begun: At the end of April, eVTOL developer Astro Aerospace announced the acquisition of Horizon Aircraft.

Horizon cited “greater access to capital” as one of the many benefits of the transaction, and other companies will likely find the buy or sell route to be the most beneficial on the road to commercialization. And just last week, British eVTOL Vertical Aerospace, which has an order for 150 aircraft from Virgin Atlantic, said it would go public via a merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp. at an equity value of around $2.2 billion.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/11/the-air-taxi-market-prepares-to-take-flight/

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Fintech

Extra Crunch roundup: EU insurtech, 30 years of ‘Crossing the Chasm,’ embedded finance’s endgame

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This morning, Anna Heim and Alex Wilhelm dug into the EU insurtech market, interviewing European VCs and collating the biggest recent rounds to take the temperature of the waters across the pond:

  • Alex Timm, CEO, Root
  • Dan Preston, CEO, MetroMile
  • Luca Bocchio, partner, Accel
  • Florian Graillot, investor, Astorya.vc
  • Stephen Brittain, director and founder, Insurtech Gateway

Several European-based insurtech startups entered unicorn territory this year, such as Bought By Many, which offers pet insurance; London-based Zego; and Alan, a French startup that raised a $220 million round.

According to Brittain, EU startups in this sector are “still at the very early stages of innovation,” having only shown “a fraction of what’s possible” in a market that is “as large as banking.” Interestingly, he predicted that AI will play a larger role in the future as companies deploy it for fraud detection, improved customer experiences and processing claims more quickly.

“We are fully expecting the next generation of AI-driven business to unlock real-time risk analysis, pricing and claims resolution in the next few years,” he said.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch; I hope you have a safe, relaxing weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

What do these 4 IPOs tell us about the state of the market?

Earlier this week, The Exchange assessed the looming Monday.com IPO before reading the tea leaves about that flotation and three others to sum up the overall state of the market.

So what do the Marqeta, Monday.com, Zeta Global and 1stDibs debuts tell us? We may have been too conservative.

Toast’s Aman Narang and BVP’s Kent Bennett on how customer obsession is everything

Image Credits: Bessemer Venture Partners / Toast

On a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live, we spoke to Toast founder Aman Narang and Kent Bennett of Bessemer Venture Partners about how they came together for a deal, what makes the difference for both founders and investors when fundraising, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned so far.

The episode also featured the Extra Crunch Live Pitch-Off, where audience members pitched their products to Bennett and Narang and received live feedback.

Extra Crunch Live is open to everyone each Wednesday at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT, but only Extra Crunch members are able to stream these sessions afterward and watch previous shows on-demand in our episode library.

AI startup investment is on pace for a record year

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim solicited feedback from investors to get a temperature on the market for AI startup investments.

“The startup investing market is crowded, expensive and rapid-fire today as venture capitalists work to preempt one another, hoping to deploy funds into hot companies before their competitors,” they write. “The AI startup market may be even hotter than the average technology niche.”

But that’s not surprising. The Exchange was on it.

“In the wake of the Microsoft-Nuance deal, The Exchange reported that it would be reasonable to anticipate an even more active and competitive market for AI-powered startups,” Alex and Anna note. “Our thesis was that after Redmond dropped nearly $20 billion for the AI company, investors would have a fresh incentive to invest in upstarts with an AI focus or strong AI component; exits, especially large transactions, have a way of spurring investor interest in related companies.”

Their expectation is coming true: Investors reported a fierce market for AI startups.

Dear Sophie: What is a diversity green card and how do I apply for one?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I started a tech company about two years ago, and ever since I’ve dreamed of expanding my company in the United States.

I would love to have a green card. Someone mentioned that I should apply for a diversity green card. Would you please provide me with more details about it and how to apply?

— Technical in Tanzania

How to start a company in 4 days

Turtle (real) with a rocket on the back, a match (real flame) is about to ignite it. No turtles were harmed in the making of this stock image.

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

Pulley founder and three-time YC alum Yin Wu offers a tactical guide to getting a startup running in four days. Yes, just four days.

“The logistics of setting up a startup should be simple, because over the long run, complicated equity setups and cap tables cost more money in legal fees and administration time,” Wu notes.

Read on for guidance on how to get your business going in less than a week.

Health clouds are set to play a key role in healthcare innovation

Health clouds are important for innovation in healthcare

Image Credits: Natali_Mis / Getty Images

Innovaccer founder and CEO Abhinav Shashank and CTO Mike Sutten write in a guest column that the U.S. healthcare industry is in the middle of a massive transformation.

This shift, they write, “is being stimulated by federal mandates, technological innovation, and the need to improve clinical outcomes and communication between providers, patients and payers.”

Improving healthcare now means we need to process tremendous amounts of healthcare data. How do we do it? The cloud, which “plays a pivotal role in meeting the current needs of healthcare organizations.”

What SOSV’s Climate Tech 100 tells founders about investors in the space

Climate tech presents a trillion-dollar opportunity

Image Credits: MrJub / Getty Images

SOSV’s Benjamin Joffe and Meghan Hind round up a “who’s who” from the venture capital firm’s SOSV Climate Tech 100, a list of the best startups addressing climate change that SOSV has supported from the very beginning.

“What can founders learn from the list about climate tech investors? In other words, who invested in the Climate Tech 100?” they ask.

The fintech endgame: New supercompanies combine the best of software and financials

Image Credits: Donald Iain Smith (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Now that we can transact from anywhere, a new, hybrid class of software companies with embedded financial services are scooping up consumers — and investors are following the action.

Using data from a Battery Ventures report about “the intersection of software and financial services,” this post examines why these companies can be so hard to value and offers a framework for better understanding their business models and investor appeal.

After 30 years, ‘Crossing the Chasm’ is due for a refresh

Hoover Dam area, Mike O'Callaghan, Pat Tillman bridge.

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

Geoffrey Moore’s “Chasm,” a framework for marketing technology products that has been one of the canonical foundational concepts to product-market fit for three decades, needs a bit of an upgrade, Flybridge Capital’s Jeff Bussgang writes.

“I have been reflecting on why it is that we venture capitalists and founders keep making the same mistake over and over again — a mistake that has become even more glaring in recent years,” he writes.

Bussgang goes on to consider the Chasm — and propose tweaks for thinking about market size in the modern era.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/11/extra-crunch-roundup-eu-insurtech-30-years-of-crossing-the-chasm-embedded-finances-endgame/

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