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Stripe acquires Oakland based fraud detection startup Bouncer
Payment giant Stripe on Friday announced that it has acquired fraud detection startup Bouncer for undisclosed amount. Based in Oakland and started in 2018, Bouncer helps in detecting fraud in card based online transactions. Earlier this year, Stripe was crowned as the world’s most valued startup, after raising whopping $600 Mn from investors.
Goldman Sach Banker resigns after making millions in Crypto investment
Aziz McMohan will probably never to work for any employer, not at least for his former employer Goldman Sach. McMohan, which until few days back worked as a executive of Goldman Sach, has reportedly made millions via his investment in Ether and Dogecoin. McMohan’s story has already created ripples in the U.K press, with many claiming that his crypto investment has helped him fetch whopping $14 Mn euros.
Some Tesla Investors are happy with Elon Musk’s U turn on Bitcoin
Elon Musk’s short-lived bonhomie with Bitcoin earlier this week, with Telsa’s founder officially announced that his electric vehicle company will no longer Bitcoin as token of payment. The talismanic entrepreneur cited ‘environmental concerns’ for his decision as it is well-known that mining crypto does take toll on the environment. However, Musk’s sudden decision on Bitcoin seems to have made quite an impression on Tesla’s investor. According to Reuters, many Tesla investors have given a thumbs up to Musk withdrawing unconditional support to crypto.
Extra Crunch roundup: Selling SaaS to developers, cracking YC after 13 tries, all about Expensify
Before Twilio had a market cap approaching $56 billion and more than 200,000 customers, the cloud-communications platform developed a secret sauce to fuel its growth: a developer-focused model that dispensed with traditional marketing rules.
Software companies that sell directly to end users share a simple framework for managing growth that leverages discoverability, desirability and do-ability — the “aha!” moment where a consumer is able to incorporate a new product into their workflow.
Data show that traditional marketing doesn’t work on developers, and it’s not because they’re impervious to a sales pitch. Builders just want reliable tools that are easy to use.
As a result, companies that are looking to create and sell software to developers at scale must toss their B2B playbooks and meet their customers where they are.
Attorney Sophie Alcorn, our in-house immigration law expert, submitted two columns: On Monday, she analyzed a decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security not to cancel the International Entrepreneur Parole program, which potentially allows founders from other countries to stay in the U.S. for as long as 60 months.
On Wednesday, she responded to a question from an entrepreneur who asked whether it made sense to sponsor visas for workers who are working remotely inside the U.S.
Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week, and have a great weekend.
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
4 lessons I learned about getting into Y Combinator (after 13 applications)
Can you imagine making 13 attempts at something before attaining a successful outcome?
Alex Circei, CEO and co-founder of Git analytics tool Waydev, applied 13 times to Y Combinator before his team was accepted. Each year, the accelerator admits only about 5% of the startups that seek to join.
“Competition may be fierce, but it’s not impossible,” says Circei. “Jumping through some hoops is not only worth the potential payoff but is ultimately a valuable learning curve for any startup.”
In an exclusive exposé for TechCrunch, he shares four key lessons he learned while steering his startup through YC’s stringent selection process.
The first? “Put your business value before your personal vanity.”
The Expensify EC-1
In March, TechCrunch Daily Reporter Anna Heim was interviewing executives at Expensify to learn more about the company’s history and operations when they unexpectedly made themselves less available.
Our suspicions about their change of heart were confirmed on May 3 when the expense report management company confidentially filed to go public.
With a founding team comprised mainly of P2P hackers, it’s perhaps inevitable that Expensify doesn’t look and feel like something an MBA might envision.
“We hire in a super different way. We have a very unusual internal management structure,” said founder and CEO David Barrett. “Our business model itself is very unusual. We don’t have any salespeople, for example.”
Similar to the way companies must file a Form S-1 that describes their operations and how they plan to spend capital, TechCrunch EC-1s are part origin story, part X-ray. We published the first article in a series on Expensify on Monday:
We’ll publish the remainder of Anna’s series on Expensify in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
As Procore looks to nearly double its private valuation, the IPO market shows signs of life
Construction tech unicorn Procore Technologies this week set a price range for its impending public offering. The news comes after the company initially filed to go public in February of 2020, a move delayed by the pandemic.
In March 2021, Procore filed again for a public offering, but its second shot ran into a cooling IPO market. The company filed another S-1/A in April, and then another in early May. This week’s filing is the first that sets a price for the Carpinteria, California-based software upstart.
But Procore is not the only company that filed and later put on hold an IPO to get back to work on floating. Kaltura, a software company focused on video distribution, also recently got its IPO back on track. Are we seeing a reacceleration of the IPO market? Perhaps.
3 golden rules for health tech entrepreneurs
Family physician Bobbie Kumar lays out the golden rules to ensure your healthcare product, service or innovation is on the right track.
Rule 1: “It’s not enough to develop a ‘new tool’ to use in a health setting,” Dr. Kumar writes. “Maybe it has a purpose, but does it meaningfully address a need, or solve a problem, in a way that measurably improves outcomes? In other words: Does it have value?”
Dear Sophie: How does the International Entrepreneur Parole program work?
I’m the founder of an early-stage, two-year-old fintech startup. We really want to move to San Francisco to be near our lead investor.
I heard International Entrepreneur Parole is back. What is it, and how can I apply?
— Joyous in Johannesburg
Digging into digital mortgage lender Better.com’s huge SPAC
If you have heard of Better.com but really had no idea what it does before this moment, welcome to the club. Mortgage tech is like pre-kindergarten applications — it applies to a very specific set of folks at a very particular moment. And they care a lot about it. But the rest of us aren’t really aware of its existence.
Better.com, a venture-backed digital mortgage lender, announced this week that it will combine with a SPAC, taking itself public in the second half of 2021. The unicorn’s news comes as the American IPO market is showing signs of fresh life after a modest April.
As tech offices begin to reopen, the workplace could look very different
The pandemic forced many employees to begin working from home, and, in doing so, may have changed the way we think about work. While some businesses have slowly returned to the office, depending on where you live and what you do, many information workers remain at home.
That could change in the coming months as more people get vaccinated and the infection rate begins to drop in the U.S.
Many companies have discovered that their employees work just fine at home. And some workers don’t want to waste time stuck on congested highways or public transportation now that they’ve learned to work remotely. But other employees suffered in small spaces or with constant interruptions from family. Those folks may long to go back to the office.
On balance, it seems clear that whatever happens, for many companies, we probably aren’t going back whole-cloth to the prior model of commuting into the office five days a week.
For unicorns, how much does the route to going public really matter?
On a recent episode of TechCrunch’s Equity podcast, hosts Natasha Mascarenhas and Alex Wilhelm invited Yext CFO Steve Cakebread and Latch CFO Garth Mitchell on to discuss when companies should go public, the costs and benefits of the process and when a SPAC can make sense. Yext pursued a traditional IPO a few years back; Latch is now going public via a blank-check company combination.
The chat was more than illustrative, as we got to hear two CFOs share their views on delayed public offerings and when different types of debuts can make the most sense. While the TechCrunch crew has, at times, made light of certain SPAC-led deals, the pair argued that the transactions can make good sense.
Undergirding the conversation was Cakebread’s recent IPO-focused book, which not only posited that companies going public earlier rather than later is good for their internal operations but also because it can provide the public with a chance to participate in a company’s success.
In today’s hypercharged private markets and frothy public domain, his argument is worth considering.
The truth about SDK integrations and their impact on developers
Ken Harlan, the founder and CEO of Mobile Fuse, writes about the perks and pitfalls of software development kits.
“The digital media industry often talks about how much influence, dominance and power entities like Google and Facebook have,” Harlan writes. “Generally, the focus is on the vast troves of data and audience reach these companies tout. However, there’s more beneath the surface that strengthens the grip these companies have on both app developers and publishers alike.
“In reality, SDK integrations are a critical component of why these monolith companies have such a prominent presence.”
Don’t hate on low-code and no-code
The Exchange caught up with Appian CEO Matt Calkins after his enterprise app software company reported its first-quarter performance to discuss the low-code market and what he’s hearing in customer meetings. To round out our general thesis — and shore up our somewhat bratty headline — we’ve compiled a list of recent low-code and no-code venture capital rounds, of which there are many.
As we’ll show, the pace at which venture capitalists are putting funds into companies that fall into our two categories is pretty damn rapid, which implies that they are doing well as a cohort. We can infer as much because it has become clear in recent quarters that while today’s private capital market is stupendous for some startups, it’s harder than you’d think for others.
Bird’s SPAC filing shows scooter-nomics just don’t fly
Historically — and based on what we’re seeing in this fantastical filing — Bird proved to be a simply awful business. Its results from 2019 and 2020 describe a company with a huge cost structure and unprofitable revenue, per filings. After posting negative gross profit in both of the most recent full-year periods, Bird’s initial model appears to have been defeated by the market.
What drove the company’s hugely unprofitable revenues and resulting net losses? Unit economics that were nearly comically destructive.
Dear Sophie: Does it make sense to sponsor immigrant talent to work remotely?
My startup is in big-time hiring mode. All of our employees are currently working remotely and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future — even after the pandemic ends. We are considering individuals who are living outside of the U.S. for a few of the positions we are looking to fill.
Does it make sense to sponsor them for a visa to work remotely from somewhere in the United States?
— Selective in Silicon Valley
The hamburger model is a winning go-to-market strategy
“Today, we live in a world of product-led growth, where engineers (and the software they have built) are the biggest differentiator,” says Coatue Management general partner Caryn Marooney and investor David Cahn. “If your customers love what you’re building, you’re headed in the right direction. If they don’t, you’re not.
“However, even the most successful product-led growth companies will reach a tipping point, because no matter how good their product is, they’ll need to figure out how to expand their customer base and grow from a startup into a $1 billion+ revenue enterprise.
“The answer is the hamburger model. Why call it that? Because the best go-to-market (GTM) strategies for startups are like hamburgers:
- The bottom bun: Bottom-up GTM.
- The burger: Your product.
- The top bun: Enterprise sales.”
Software subscriptions are eating the world: Solving billing and cash flow woes simultaneously
Krish Subramanian, the co-founder and CEO of Chargebee, writes that while subscription business models are attractive, there are two major pitfalls: First, payment.
“Regardless of company size, there’s an ongoing need to convince customers to sign up long term,” Subramanian writes. “The second issue: How do businesses cover the funding gap between when customers sign up and when they pay?”
Is there a creed in venture capital?
Scott Lenet, the president of Touchdown Ventures, asks how deal-makers should think about how to handle themselves when counter-parties attempt to change an agreement. “When is it OK to modify terms, and when should deal-makers stand firm?” he asks.
“Entrepreneurs and investors should recognize that contracts are worth very little without the ongoing relationship management that keeps all parties aligned. Enforcement is so unusual in the world of startups that I consider it a mostly dead-end path. In my experience, good communication is the only reliable remedy. This is the way.”
Even startups on tight budgets can maximize their marketing impact
“Search engine optimization, PR, paid marketing, emails, social — marketing and communications is crowded with techniques, channels, solutions and acronyms,” writes Dominik Angerer, CEO and co-founder of Storyblok, which provides best practice guidance for startups on how to build a sustainable approach to marketing their content. “It’s little wonder that many startups strapped for time and money find defining and executing a sustainable marketing campaign a daunting prospect.
“The sheer number of options makes it difficult to determine an effective approach, and my view is that this complexity often obscures the obvious answer: A startup’s best marketing asset is its story.”
Opportunity knocks: Exhibit at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021
No matter what slice of the mobility market you’ve claimed as your own — AVs, EVs, data mining, AI, dockless scooters, robotics or the batteries that will charge and change the world — you won’t find a better place to showcase your extraordinary tech and talent than TC Sessions: Mobility 2021.
Buy a Startup Exhibitor Package and virtually plant your early-stage mobility startup in front of a global audience that’s focused exclusively on one of the most complex, rapidly evolving industries. TC Sessions: Mobility, which takes place on June 9, features the top minds and makers, draws thousands of attendees, fosters collaborative community and creates a networking environment ripe with opportunities.
Pro tip: This package is for pre-Series A, early-stage startups only.
The Startup Exhibitor Package costs $380, and it comes with four all-access passes to the event. But wait (insert infomercial voice here), there’s more!
Your virtual expo booth features lead-generation capabilities. You can highlight your pitch deck, run a video loop and/or host live demos. Network with CrunchMatch, our AI-powered platform, to find and connect with the people who can help move your business forward. CrunchMatch lets you host private video meetings — pitch investors, recruit new talent or grow your customer base.
You’ll have access to all the presentations, panel discussions and breakout sessions, too. And video-on-demand means you won’t miss out.
Here’s a peek at just some of the agenda’s great programming you and, thanks to those extra passes, your team can attend — or catch later with VOD:
- EV Founders in Focus: We sit down with the founders poised to take advantage of the rise in electric vehicle sales. This time, we will chat with Kameale Terry, co-founder and CEO of ChargerHelp! a startup that enables on-demand repair of electric vehicle charging stations.
- Will Venture Capital Drive the Future of Mobility? Clara Brenner, Quin Garcia and Rachel Holt will discuss how the pandemic changed their investment strategies, the hottest sectors within the mobility industry, the rise of SPACs as a financial instrument and where they plan to put their capital in 2021 and beyond.
- Driving Innovation at General Motors: GM is in the midst of sweeping changes that will eventually turn it into an EV-only producer of cars, trucks and SUVs. But the auto giant’s push to electrify passenger vehicles is just one of many efforts to be a leader in innovation and the future of transportation. We’ll talk with Pam Fletcher, vice president of innovation at GM, one of the key people behind the 113-year-old automaker’s push to become a nimble, tech-centric company.
Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.
Every early-stage startup must identify and evaluate a strategic advantage
Whether you’re building a company or thinking about investing, it’s important to understand your strategic advantage. In order to determine one, you should ask fundamental questions like: What’s the long-term, sustainable reason that the company will stay in business?
The most important elements for founders to consider when figuring out their strategic advantage(s) include one-sided or “direct” network effects (e.g., with social media sites like Facebook), marketplace network effects (e.g., with two-sided marketplaces like Uber), data moats, first mover and switching costs.
Let’s take a quick look at an example of one-sided network effects. At the very earliest stages of Facebook’s existence, it was just Mark Zuckerberg, a few friends and their basic profiles. The nascent social media platform wasn’t useful beyond a few dorm rooms. They needed a strategic advantage or the company would not make it beyond the edge of campus.
A successful startup without a strategic advantage is just a validated business model vulnerable to copycat companies looking for a market entry point.
In fact, Facebook only truly became a useful platform — and accelerated as a business — when more users came into the fold and more types of email addresses were accepted. Add to that the introduction of an ad marketplace revenue model and you have a clear strategic advantage — based on one-sided network effects — that gave Facebook a strategic edge over other early social media sites like MySpace.
These one-sided network effects are different from two-sided network effects.
Two-sided network effects are most common in marketplace business models. In a two-sided network, supply and demand are matched, like Uber riders (demand) being matched with Uber drivers (supply). The Uber product is not necessarily more valuable just because more users (riders) join, the way Facebook is more valuable when more users join.
In fact, when more users (riders) join the demand side of the Uber network, it might actually be worse for the user experience — it’s harder to find a driver and wait times get longer. The demand side (riders) gets value from more supply (drivers) joining the platform and vice-versa. That’s why it’s called a two-sided network, or a marketplace.
Regardless of industry, a successful startup without a strategic advantage is just a validated business model vulnerable to copycat companies looking for a market entry point. Copycats can range in size from startups with similar grit to large companies like Facebook or Google that have limitless resources to drive competition into the market, and potentially run the startup with the original idea out of business. This vulnerability can prove fatal unless a startup’s founding team explores and embraces one or more strategic advantages.
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