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Hacking my way into analytics: A creative’s journey to design with data

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Growing up, did you ever wonder how many chairs you’d have to stack to reach the sky?

No? I guess that’s just me then.

As a child, I always asked a lot of “how many/much” questions. Some were legitimate (“How much is 1 USD in VND?”); some were absurd (“How tall is the sky and can it be measured in chairs?”). So far, I’ve managed to maintain my obnoxious statistical probing habit without making any mortal enemies in my 20s. As it turns out, that habit comes with its perks when working in product.

Growing up, did you ever wonder how many chairs you’d have to stack to reach the sky?

My first job as a product designer was at a small but energetic fintech startup whose engineers also dabbled in pulling data. I constantly bothered them with questions like, “How many exports did we have from that last feature launched?” and “How many admins created at least one rule on this page?” I was curious about quantitative analysis but did not know where to start.

I knew I wasn’t the only one. Even then, there was a growing need for basic data literacy in the tech industry, and it’s only getting more taxing by the year. Words like “data-driven,” “data-informed” and “data-powered” increasingly litter every tech organization’s product briefs. But where does this data come from? Who has access to it? How might I start digging into it myself? How might I leverage this data in my day-to-day design once I get my hands on it?

Data discovery for all: What’s in the way?

“Curiosity is our compass” is one of Kickstarter’s guiding principles. Powered by a desire for knowledge and information, curiosity is the enemy of many larger, older and more structured organizations — whether they admit it or not — because it hinders the production flow. Curiosity makes you pause and take time to explore and validate the “ask.” Asking as many what’s, how’s, why’s, who’s and how many’s as possible is important to help you learn if the work is worth your time.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/29/hacking-my-way-into-analytics-a-creatives-journey-to-design-with-data/

Start Ups

Auth0 CEO Eugenio Pace on the $6.5 billion deal with Okta and his advice for entrepreneurs

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Auth0 co-founders Matias Woloski (left) and Eugenio Pace. (Auth0 Photo)

Okta’s giant $6.5 billion acquisition of Seattle-area startup Auth0 officially closed on Monday. But for Eugenio Pace, the major milestone is just another marker — albeit a lucrative one — in the Auth0 journey.

“The word ‘exit’ is often used when somebody sells a company,” the Auth0 CEO and co-founder said this week. “That’s not how I see it. There’s still a lot to do. Our mission and purpose, the reason why we set up Auth0 to begin with — it’s not done yet.”

We caught up with Pace to talk about the all-stock deal, which brings together two leaders in the identity authentication software sector and is one of the largest acquisitions ever of a Seattle tech company. Pace will continue heading up Auth0 as an independent business unit of publicly-traded Okta.

Pace, a CEO of the Year finalist at the GeekWire Awards, spent 12 years at Microsoft before launching Auth0 with fellow Argentinian Matias Woloski in 2013. It was his second attempt at a startup — an earlier company he founded out of Argentina failed.

Auth0 certainly worked out a little better. Read on for more from our conversation, which was edited for clarity and brevity.

GeekWire: Thanks for chatting with us, Eugenio. The deal finally closed. Does it feel any different? 

Eugenio Pace: For the foreseeable future, everything pretty much stays the same. We still have our brand, our identity — our mission is not changing. This is about augmenting what we do independently, while operating as an entity with a much bigger scope. The deal has been a lot of work, and seeing this to completion, it’s very fulfilling. It’s a very positive milestone for the company. But a milestone is not a destination. It feels a little bit like starting again, as an entrepreneur and as a founder.

GeekWire: Okta had been targeting Auth0 for several years. What made this the right time?

Pace: When Okta CEO Todd McKinnon and I first had a conversation in 2013, we were a tiny company with a handful of employees and there were lots of things we hadn’t figured out and that we didn’t know. We were still figuring out the core principles of what made Auth0 successful.

Fast forward eight years later, and we’re on a path to being a public company — we were measuring that milestone in months, not years. We have demonstrated that we are solving something real, that product market fit exists, and we are able to execute and scale.

So joining forces with Okta now was absolutely the right thing to do, versus earlier. Some of our earlier fundamental mistakes would have been embedded into the combined entity, and it would have put us in a more difficult situation. But now it’s all about execution and scale, and bringing the future that we imagined to the present much faster than if we did it on our own.

Auth0 CEO Eugenio Pace at the GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

GeekWire: Auth0 was valued at $1.9 billion in July. Your business has accelerated amid the pandemic. Some say you shouldn’t have sold so soon. Why not keep waiting and sell later?

Pace: First of all, it’s a $6.5 billion deal. Our valuation was less than $2 billion six months ago. For someone who invested in our Series F round in July, this is a 3.5X increase in six months. I would call that a pretty good deal. And for our very early investors, this is more than a 200X return. Of course, people want more. But I don’t feel bad in terms of representing the interests of our shareholders.

It is also an all-stock deal. That was a little bit by design. The reason we’re doing this is because of growth. We can grow faster, better, and do more in the world together with Okta, rather than being separate.

My bet is the Okta stock that we’re now a part of is going to grow much faster than separate stocks on their own. And because we hold Okta stock, we’re able to get that upside.

If this was a cash acquisition made by a big company, I would have some reservations. We’re not cashing out. If we joined a much bigger organization, Auth0 would be a tiny piece of a much larger thing. Instead, we are roughly 20% of Okta. That’s not an insignificant part of Okta.

GeekWire: Salesforce Ventures led your last round. Were you getting interest from other potential acquirers? 

Pace: Okta is not the only company that showed interest over our lifetime. A company like ours, we’ve been very fortunate — we’ve grown and we’ve been successful in many dimensions. And so as you can imagine, there was a lot of interest, not just from companies, but also from investors, too.

GeekWire: Okta and Auth0 both sell identity authentication software but come at it from different sides. Okta serves companies and their workforces, while Auth0 is focused on developers and end-users. Will it be difficult to merge these two together in one entity? 

Pace: The odds might not be in our favor if you look at the statistics of M&A in general. Many of those transactions don’t end up well.

The causes of those failures can be incompatibility in vision, in culture, in leadership — but those have not happened to us. We have more in common than that divides us — our values, our convictions for the future, etc.

The common foundation is about a vision. We both believe that identity is an absolutely essential problem to be solved. It’s not going to go away, and it’s going to pretty much affect every company on the planet. We believe that an independent identity cloud is the right way to go for various reasons: security, privacy, etc. We also believe the challenges with identity are not going to get easier as the world becomes more digital. And we both are cloud-native companies born into the cloud revolution.

That’s what we have in common. But we also have things that are more complimentary with each other, and that’s what makes the union more interesting. We sell to more international markets; Okta is a majority in the U.S. We are a remote-first company; Okta is a more traditional office-based company. We sell to developers; they sell to CIOs and technology groups in companies. Their product is more centered in workforce identity; we are more centered on the consumer.

So even though we are in the same problem space, all of these elements make us not incompatible, but complimentary — we can fill in the gaps. Even from a product perspective, we can now cover a much larger set of use cases and we can give our customers more options. We can do more powerful things, which makes it really, really exciting.

Eugenio Pace inside the company’s offices. (Auth0 Photo)

GeekWire: What advice do you have for founders and entrepreneurs that are just starting out, like you and Matias were in 2013?

Pace: If you build a company for any specific outcome — like being acquired — that’s putting the cart before the horse a little bit. You should build something with the outcome of solving a problem for somebody and with the purpose of having a purpose. The odds are so much against you for any of these specific outcomes. When you put all your bets on that, you’re more likely to be disappointed. Instead, if you focus on the journey, then you never lose. Even if you survive only one year, your goal was a journey. It wasn’t a Series A or Series B or Series C. It’s about the process. And then it’s all upside for you.

GeekWire: And how would you describe that journey for you with Auth0?

Pace: I never imagined being here. I never thought about this day. Every day, I lived a little bit like if it was my last day. It’s living in the present, designing for a future, but also being mindful of the past as a stepping stone to what’s coming, a learning opportunity. That’s been more or less the recipe.

In a weird way, if we had not made it even two, three years, it would still have been positive for me, because every day we learn something new, we did something for somebody else, we created value. We thought and we learned every day. And that’s valuable in itself.

Now, all of this has been wonderful, too — don’t get me wrong. This has been awesome. But I think it’s more like a philosophy. How do you see your journey?

If you’re obsessed with somebody else’s journey, and you’re trying to find shortcuts for yourself, you’re missing the point. Everybody’s experience is different. There’s only one Auth0, and one journey of Auth0 that could have happened. The combination of context and timing and product and people — all of that happens only once.

So if you try to live somebody else’s life and not yours, then you’re doomed to not make much out of it. Nothing replaces your own doing. You can read all the books, you can listen to my words, but nothing will replace you being an entrepreneur, actually doing it on your own. It’s going to be unique.

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Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/auth0-ceo-eugenio-pace-6-5-billion-deal-okta-advice-entrepreneurs/

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Here’s Which VC-Backed Companies Are Going Public Via SPAC This Year (So Far)

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Going public through a special purpose acquisition company is officially mainstream. Special purpose acquisition companies, once looked down upon by Wall Street-types as a less respectable way to go public, have been forming and going public at an unprecedented pace this year.

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According to SPAC Insider, 298 SPACs have had an initial public offering so far this year, raising more than $97 billion in gross proceeds. While last year was considered a record year for SPACs, this year has already shattered that record.

And in the past year, the companies going public are no longer the under-the-radar types. Well-capitalized companies with brand-name recognition, like genetic testing company 23AndMe and online real estate buying platform Opendoor, are among the companies that have gone public or announced their intent to go public through a SPAC.

Here at Crunchbase News, we keep a running list of the companies that have gone public this year. In the past, it’s mostly been comprised of IPOs, although there have been direct listings here and there. This year, we began keeping track of SPACs that completed their mergers and began trading.

With SPACs forming and going public every day, it seemed wise to keep track of the companies that had announced they agreed to go public via SPAC as well. The announced SPAC targets, if you will. So, we scoured news reports and press releases and compiled a list of the venture-backed companies that have announced they will be merging with a SPAC. Companies that have been reported to be in talks to go public via SPAC aren’t included in the list, and it will be updated weekly.

This article was last updated on April 5, 2021.

SoFi
Date Announced: Jan. 7, 2021
Acquirer: Social Capital Hedosophia Corp. V
Valuation: $8.65 billion, per CNBC
Some Investors: Third Point Ventures, SoftBank

Achronix Semiconductor
Date Announced: Jan. 9, 2021
Acquirer: Ace Convergence Acquisition
Valuation: $2 billion, per Bloomberg
Some Investors: Battery Ventures, New Science Ventures

Bakkt
Date Announced: Jan. 11, 2021
Acquirer: VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings
Valuation: $2.1 billion
Some Investors: Goldfinch Partners, M12

Proterra
Date Announced: Jan. 12, 2021
Acquirer: ArcLight Clean Transition Corp.
Valuation: $1.6 billion
Some Investors: Tao Capital Partners, Daimler

Talkspace
Date Announced: Jan. 13, 2021
Acquirer: Hudson Executive Investment Corp.
Valuation: $1.4 billion
Some Investors: Spark Capital, Norwest Venture Partners

LiveVox
Date Announced: Jan. 14, 2021
Acquirer: Crescent Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $840 million
Some Investors: Lunsford Capital, R&D Bauer Ventures

EVGo
Date Announced: Jan. 22, 2021
Acquirer: Climate Change Crisis Real Impact I Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $2.6 billion
Some Investors: Vision Ridge Capital Partners

Latch
Date Announced: Jan. 25, 2021
Acquirer: TS Innovations Acquisitions Corp.
Valuation: $1.56 billion
Some Investors: Lux Capital, RRE Ventures

Taboola
Date Announced: Jan. 25, 2021
Acquirer: ION Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $2.6 billion
Some Investors: Evergreen Venture Partners, Pitango Venture Capital

Nerdy
Date Announced: Jan. 29, 2021
Acquirer: TPG Pace Tech Opportunities
Valuation: $1.7 billion
Some Investors: TCV, Learn Capital

Playstudios
Date Announced: Feb. 1, 2021
Acquirer: Acies Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $1.1 billion
Some Investors: Jafco Ventures

Otonomo
Date Announced: Feb. 1, 2021
Acquirer: Software Acquisition Group Inc. II
Valuation: $1.4 billion
Some Investors: Bessemer Venture Partners, SK Holdings

Microvast
Date Announced: Feb. 1, 2021
Acquirer: Tuscan Holdings Corp.
Valuation: $3 billion
Some Investors: IFC Venture Capital Group, CITIC Securities

Wheels Up
Date Announced: Feb. 1, 2021
Acquirer: Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle Corp.
Valuation: $2.1 billion
Some Investors: Blue Ivy Ventures, Alpaca VC

Astra
Date Announced: Feb. 2, 2021
Acquirer: Holicity Inc.
Valuation: $2.1 billion
Some Investors:  ACME Capital, Airbus Ventures

Payoneer
Date Announced: Feb. 3, 2021
Acquirer: FTAC Olympus Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $3.3 billion
Some Investors: TCV, Viola Ventures

Vintage Wine Estates
Date Announced: Feb. 4, 2021
Acquirer: Bespoke Capital Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $690 million
Some Investors: AGR Partners

23AndMe
Date Announced: Feb. 4, 2021
Acquirer: VG Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $3.5 billion
Some Investors: Sequoia Capital, NextView Capital

Hyzon Motors
Date Announced: Feb. 9, 2021
Acquirer: Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $2.1 billion
Some Investors: Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures

Matterport
Date Announced: Feb. 11, 2021
Acquirer: Gores Holdings VI
Valuation: $2.9 billion
Some Investors: DCM Ventures, Lux Capital

Rover
Date Announced: Feb. 11, 2021
Acquirer: Nebula Caravel Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $1.35 billion
Some Investors: Menlo Ventures, Spark Capital

Sharecare
Date Announced: Feb. 12, 2021
Acquirer: Falcon Capital Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $3.9 billion
Some Investors: Heritage Group, Aflac Corporate Ventures

Owlet Baby Care
Date Announced:  Feb. 16, 2021
Acquirer: Sandbridge Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $1 billion
Some Investors: Eclipse Ventures, Formation 8

AEye
Date Announced: Feb. 17, 2021
Acquirer: CF Finance Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $2 billion
Some Investors: BootstrapLabs, Taiwania Capital

Xos
Date Announced: Feb. 22, 2021
Acquirer: NextGen Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $2 billion
Some Investors: Build Capital Group, Proeza Ventures 

Lucid Motors
Date Announced: Feb. 22, 2021
Acquirer: Churchill Capital Corp. IV
Valuation: $11.75 billion
Some Investors: Venrock, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund

Berkshire Grey
Date Announced: Feb. 24, 2021
Acquirer: Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $2.7 billion
Some Investors: Khosla Ventures, SoftBank

Joby Aviation
Date Announced: Feb. 24, 2021
Acquirer: Reinvent Technology Partners
Valuation: $6.6 billion
Some Investors: Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group

Rocket Lab
Date Announced: March 1, 2021
Acquirer: Vector Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $4.1 billion
Some Investors: Khosla Ventures, DCVC

QOMPLX
Date Announced: March 1, 2021
Acquirer: Tailwind Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $1.4 billion
Some Investors: Exponential Partners, Motive Partners

Doma
Date Announced: March 2, 2021
Acquirer: Capital Investment Corp. V
Valuation: $3 billion
Some Investors: Foundation Capital, Greenspring Associates 

Hippo Insurance
Date Announced: March 4, 2021
Acquirer: Reinvent Technology Partners Z
Valuation: $5 billion
Some Investors: Comcast Ventures, Felicis Ventures

IonQ
Date Announced: March 8, 2021
Acquirer: dMY Technology Group Inc. III
Valuation: $2 billion
Some Investors: GV, New Enterprise Associates 

Evolv Technology
Date Announced: March 8, 2021
Acquirer: NewHold Investment Corp.
Valuation: $1.25 billion
Some Investors: Stanley Ventures, Lux Capital

Ambulnz (dba DocGo)
Date Announced: March 9, 2021
Acquirer: Motion Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $1.1 billion
Some Investors: N/A.

IronNet
Date Announced: March 15, 2021
Acquirer: LGL Systems Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $1.2 billion
Some Investors: ForgePoint Capital, C5 Capital

Offerpad
Date Announced: March 18, 2021
Acquirer: Supernova Partners Acquisition Co.
Valuation: $3 billion
Some Investors: LL Funds

Rockley Photonics
Date Announced: March 19, 2021
Acquirer: SC Health Corp.
Valuation: $1.2 billion
Some Investors: Kreos Capital, Morningside Venture Investments

ironSource 
Date Announced: March 21, 2021
Acquirer: Thoma Bravo Advantage
Valuation: $11.1 billion
Some Investors: Viola Ventures, Access Industries

Velo3D
Date Announced: March 23, 2021
Acquirer: JAWS Spitfire Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $1.6 billion
Some Investors: Khosla Ventures, Piva Capital

WeWork
Date Announced: March 26, 2021
Acquirer: BowX Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $9 billion
Some Investors: SoftBank Vision Fund, Hony Capital

SomaLogic
Date Announced: March 29, 2021
Acquirer: CM Life Sciences II
Valuation: $1.23 billion
Some Investors: Foresite Capital, Fiscus Ventures

Cazoo
Date Announced: March 29, 2021
Acquirer: AJAX I
Valuation: $7 billion
Some Investors: Stride.VC, General Catalyst

Lilium
Date Announced: March 30, 2021
Acquirer: Qell Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $3.3 billion
Some Investors: Tencent Holdings, Freigeist Capital

BetterTherapeutics
Date Announced: April 7, 2021
Acquirer: Mountain Crest Acquisition Corp. II
Valuation: $187 million
Some Investors: Not available.

Tango Therapeutics
Date Announced: April 14, 2021
Acquirer: BCTG Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $353 million
Some Investors: Casdin Capital, Boxer Capital

Vicarious Surgical
Date Announced: April 15
Acquirer: D8 Holdings Corp.
Valuation: $1.1 billion
Some Investors: Khosla Ventures, Gates Frontier Fund

SmartRent
Date Announced: April 22, 2021
Acquirer: Fifth Wall Acquisition Corp. I
Valuation: $2.2 billion
Some Investors: Spark Capital, Fifth Wall 

Enjoy Technology
Date Announced: April 28, 2021
Acquirer: Marquee Raine Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $1.2 billion
Some Investors: L Catterton, Highland Capital Partners

ShapeWays
Date Announced: April 28, 2021
Acquirer: Galileo Acquisition Corp.
Valuation: $410 million
Some Investors: Lux Capital, Andreessen Horowitz

Sonder
Date Announced: April 30, 2021
Acquirer: Gores Metropoulos II Inc.
Valuation: $2.2 billion
Some Investors: Greylock, Spark Capital

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/heres-which-vc-backed-companies-are-going-public-via-spac-this-year-so-far/

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Start Ups

Shauntel Garvey of Reach Capital will join us to judge this year’s Startup Battlefield

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TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield is one of the most popular parts of our annual TechCrunch Disrupt conference which is happening on September 21-23 this year. Now we’re very excited to reveal one of the fine people who will be judging Startup Battlefield at this year’s all-virtual event in September: Shauntel Garvey, a general partner at Reach Capital, a VC specializing in the world of education technology.

Startup Battlefield sees startups applying far and wide for a chance to pitch their ideas to a panel, and to all of us in the audience, giving the finalists a lot of exposure and a shot at winning the grand prize of $50,000. Startups: You can apply to be a part of the action here.

Edtech has seen a huge surge of interest in the last year of pandemic living, and that’s led to a pretty notable rise in education startups, more funding for education technology and a lot more attention paid to voices in edtech.

That’s because not only is edtech of huge importance to society and our economy, but those in the field have picked up a lot of learnings that apply well outside of edtech.

They know firsthand about engagement and how to get it; connecting with larger ecosystems of stakeholders; learning to work with public and private bodies; and the ins and outs of tapping into the latest innovations in areas like streaming, artificial intelligence and graphics to get the most out of a concept.

All of this makes Garvey a great person to have as a judge, someone with specific-area knowledge but very aware of how it relates to the wider challenges and opportunities in tech.

Garvey is a co-founder and general partner at Reach Capital, a Silicon Valley VC focused on the wider opportunity within the educational spectrum, backing the likes of ClassDojo, Springboard, Outschool, Handshake, Winnie and many more. Garvey herself currently sits on the boards of Riipen, FourthRev, Holberton School and Ellevation Education.

Her experience in edtech extends back years. Before Reach, she was a partner at the NewSchools Seed Fund and she has invested in more than 40 early-stage edtech companies, including Newsela, Nearpod and SchoolMint. She is also not all about edtech: Before turning to education and startups, Garvey trained and worked as a chemical engineer. We’re really looking forward to her input as a Startup Battlefield judge.

If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, TechCrunch Disrupt is coming up around the corner, September 21-23. This will be our second year of having the conference in an all-virtual format, and we have a lot of great speakers, networking opportunities and other things planned — free of physical constraints, we can fly! — and we really hope you’ll join us.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/06/shauntel-garvey-of-reach-capital-will-join-us-to-judge-this-years-startup-battlefield/

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BigBrain aims to bring live mobile trivia back to glory

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If you ask Nik Bonaddio why he wanted to build a new mobile trivia app, his answer is simple.

“In my life, I’ve got very few true passions: I love trivia and I love sports,” Bonaddio told me. “I’ve already started a sports company, so I’ve got to start a trivia company.”

He isn’t kidding about either part of the equation. Bonaddio actually won $100,000 on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”, which he used to start the sports analytics company numberFire (acquired by FanDuel in 2014).

And today, after a period of beta testing, Bonaddio is launching BigBrain. He’s also announcing that the startup has raised $4.5 million in seed funding from FirstRound Capital, Box Group, Ludlow Ventures, Golden Ventures and others.

Of course, you can’t mention mobile trivia without thinking of HQ Trivia, the trivia app that shut down last year after some high-profile drama and a spectacular final episode.

BigBrain

Image Credits: BigBrain

But Bonaddio said BigBrain is approaching things differently than HQ in a few key ways. For starters, although there will be a handful of free games, the majority will require users to pay to enter, with the cash rewards coming from the entry fees. (From a legal perspective, Bonaddio said this is distinct from gambling because trivia is recognized as a game of skill.)

“The free-to-play model doesn’t really work for trivia,” he argued.

In addition, there will be no live video with a live host — Bonaddio said this would “very, very difficult from a technical perspective and very cost ineffective.” Instead, he claimed the company has found a middle ground: “We have photos, we have different interactive elements, it’s not just a straight multiple choice quiz. We do try to keep it interactive.”

Plus, the simpler production means that where HQ was only hosting two quizzes a day, BigBrain will be hosting 20, with quizzes every 15 minutes at peak times.

Topics will range from old school hip hop to college football to ’90s movies, and Bonaddio said different quizzes will have different prize structures — some might be winner take all, while others might award prizes to the top 50% of participants. The average quiz will cost $2 to $3 to enter, but prices will range from free to “$20 or even $50.”

What kind of quiz might cost that much money to enter? As an example, Bonaddio said that in a survey of potential users, he found, “There are no casual ‘Rick and Morty’ fans … They’re almost completely price sensitive, and since they’ve seen every episode, they can’t fathom a world where someone knows more about ‘Rick and Morty’ than they do.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/06/bigbrain-launch-seed-funding/

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