Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.
Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. It was yet another crazy week, but did our best to get through as much of it as we could. Here’s the rundown, in case you are reading along with us!
- Square is buying Tidal in a deal that some are skeptical of, but one about which we found quite a lot to like.
- How capital-as-a-service can get you your first check in 2021, and a nod to Indie.VC, a pioneer in alternative financing for startups that announced it is shutting down net new investments this year.
- Oscar Health priced its IPO above its raised range, which was good for it in terms of fundraising. However, since its debut the company has lost pricing altitude. Its declines mimic those of other public neo-insurance proivders in what could be a new trend.
- And sticking to the insurtech beat, Hippo is going public via a SPAC. Because everyone else is?
- Compass filed its S-1, which triggered a debate on how its different than OpenDoor.
- Coupang’s IPO is also coming, replete with huge growth, an improving profitability picture, and a massive valuation. This is one to watch.
- There was also a whole global news circuit around grocery delivery startups, with Instacart raising at a $39 billion valuation.
- And we wrapped with the Surreal seed round that we found to be more than a little spicy. As it turns out, commercialized deepfakes are not merely on the way; they are here.
And with that we are back on Monday. Have a rocking weekend!
Early Stage is the premier “how-to” event for startup entrepreneurs and investors. You’ll hear firsthand how some of the most successful founders and VCs build their businesses, raise money and manage their portfolios. We’ll cover every aspect of company building: Fundraising, recruiting, sales, product-market fit, PR, marketing and brand building. Each session also has audience participation built-in — there’s ample time included for audience questions and discussion.
Trade with the Official CFD Partners of AC Milan
The Easiest Way to Way To Trade Crypto.
Why is Cybersecurity Training Important for Startups?
Cybersecurity has become a significant threat to all businesses in 2021. Those startup owners who think they are safe are up for a disaster.
Around 6.85 million accounts are hacked daily. By this year (2021), the world is expected to lose 6 trillion dollars on cybersecurity alone.
So, cybersecurity is not the thing to be taken lightly—businesses who do so add more weight to the statistics mentioned above.
To maintain optimum security, employee cybersecurity training is one of the most significant factors. If your employees are not trained enough, you are always vulnerable to data theft.
Before we move on to tell you how you can train your employees, let us talk a bit about why startups are easy bait for cybercriminals.
Why are startups an attractive target to cybercriminals?
Here are a few reasons why cybercriminals feast on startups:
· Inability to allocate budget, provide extensive training, and lack of expertise for defense.
. Unavailability of full-time cybersecurity experts.
Employees aren’t trained in advance.
· Lack of up-gradation of security protocols.
· No risk management and awareness policy in place.
All these points contribute to a successful data breach that helps hackers get the better of startups every time.
Seven Tips that are Essential for Employee Training
1. Don’t go hard on your employees.
Employees are humans. They can make mistakes even if they are trained appropriately. As a startup, you should not expect them to be perfect; instead, invest in their training.
A standard security protocol must be established for employees so that everyone in the organization must know their duties and expectations.
Harassing them in front of their colleagues is as good as digging a ditch for your organization.
Moreover, the governments worldwide have now taken strict notice of employee treatment, so maintain a good relationship with your employee.
2. Train your employees often
Some businesses view cybersecurity measures as a formal protocol. They would allocate a small budget and invest it formally every year to check on their security.
Unfortunately for them, attacks don’t happen yearly, and hackers quite certainly do not follow a formal protocol to hack all devices.
Thus, abiding by a formal approach to train your employees every year and then expect them to work alongside obsolete knowledge for the entire year is not feasible.
You must invest in regular training drills to ensure that you are not being attacked and every employee is updated with the latest cybersecurity trends.
3. Educate your employees about the perks of an SSL certificate
SSL certificate is a security protocol that protects a website by encrypting data from both client and server-side.
SSL or Secure Socket Layer encrypts your data over a secure network so that hackers cannot see it.
Your employees must be well-aware of SSL functions so that they can identify an unwanted incoming request.
Knowledge of SSL is essential to know whether the site is legit to visit or not. A green padlock gives an indication of safety to employees.
4. Incorporate cybersecurity in your organization.
Cybersecurity might not be such a big concern back in 2010, but in 2021, it is a part of the cyber world.
Organizations nowadays need to embrace cybersecurity and integrate it into their work culture.
To do so, you can send out regular news regarding data hacks to your employees, keeping them updated with the latest trends.
However, please do not go overboard with it as it may divert employee attention from the actual task of taking care of cybercrime.
Moderation is the key here.
5. C-suite buy-in for employees
If you are not amongst the C-level employees or the top management, you have to prove your point to get your message across.
You need to make them understand the importance of employee training (if they haven’t already understood) by drafting a plan consisting of all the potential costs involved while working with an ill-trained workforce.
The costs may include the cost of data theft, system failure, and employee mistakes. Gather some numbers instead of theory to back your point.
C-suite buy-ins are essential for lower-level managers to ensure employees working under them are well-equipped with the latest trends.
6. Ensure strong password management
Passwords provide easy access to crucial accounts to cybercriminals. They do not need to spend time and effort in breaching if they can guess your password.
To maintain a culture of strong passwords, an organization must abide by the following tips:
· Use long passwords as they are hard to decrypt or guess.
· Ensure usage of uppercase and lowercase characters.
· Use incomplete words as complete words are easy to guess.
· Keep changing your passwords regularly.
· Do not share your password across all accounts.
Apart from these measures, you can even use a password manager to help you use different passwords each time.
7. Test your employee skill by dummy attacks
You have trained your employees and equip them with tools, but are you sure they will perform optimally when the attack happens?
If not, then the best way to test it is by running dummy attacks on your organization. They have intended attacks used by organizations to test how their employees perform.
Apart from employee security training, dummy tests are also essential to know whether the infrastructure (software, hardware, and tools) is working appropriately to repel an attack or not.
When you sweat in peace, you won’t bleed in war. In other words, if you train your employees to use the latest software, identify phishing attacks and safeguard their critical data, they will help repel a significant cyberattack.
Cybercrimes are inevitable, but if your workforce is well-prepared, it will be able to repel and get the better of hackers.
Whether you are a startup, an individual employee, or a big organization, maintaining optimum cybersecurity should be your top priority.
Moreover, tools like SSL certificate, password manager, and security software make website protection a much easier task.
So, invest in these tools to safeguard your startup from potential attacks.
After a $13 million fundraise, Chingari onboards Salman Khan as brand ambassador and investor
- Earlier this week, Chingari had raised $13 million in a funding round from mobile entertainment solution provider OnMobile.
- Meanwhile, Actor Salman Khan has joined the startup as a brand ambassador and an investor.
- The details of the investment were not disclosed.
After a $13 million fundraise, Homegrown short video app Chingari is again making news after announcing that it has onboarded actor Salman Khan as a brand ambassador and an investor. Although, the details of investment made by Salman Khan were not disclosed.
Earlier this week, Chingari had received $13 million (about Rs 95 crore) in a funding round from Bengaluru-based mobile entertainment solution provider OnMobile in exchange for a 10% stake. To date, the startup has raised over Rs 100 crore in its funding rounds.
Commenting on the development, Sumit Ghosh, co-founder & CEO, said, “This is a really significant partnership for Chingari, our ethos is to reach out to every state of Bharat and it’s our pleasure to have Salman Khan on board as one of our global brand ambassadors and investors.”
The founder believes that the association will help Chingari to scale greater heights in the near future. “We wanted a brand ambassador who is in tune with the pulse of the nation, and Salman Khan in many senses cut across all genres and geography and is the best choice to be the face of the brand,” said, Aditya Kothari, Co-Founder & CSO, Chingari.
Deepak Salvi, Co-Founder & COO, Chingari, said, “we believe that Salman’s mass appeal will help us attract more users onto the platform.”
“This engagement with Chingari will give an opportunity to a lot of users to showcase their unseen talent and give way to the next set of digital stars in India,” said, Vikram Tanwar, co-founder of UBT, Khan’s talent management firm.
Speaking on the association with Chingari, Actor Salman Khan, said, “I like how Chingari has shaped in such a short span of time, into a platform for millions from rural to urban to showcase their unique talents and be seen by another million in no time.”
Chingari, which currently has 56 million users on its platform, has already partnered with Bengali streaming service Hoichoi and Ekta Kapoor’s AltBalaji to provide more content clips accessible to its users.
It counts iSeed, FJ Labs, Village Global, Republic Labs, AngelList India, and angels Jasminder Gulati, Guy Lelouch, Fabrice Grinda, and Brian Norgard as investors.
Extra Crunch roundup: Tonal EC-1, Deliveroo’s rocky IPO, is Substack really worth $650M?
For this morning’s column, Alex Wilhelm looked back on the last few months, “a busy season for technology exits” that followed a hot Q4 2020.
We’re seeing signs of an IPO market that may be cooling, but even so, “there are sufficient SPACs to take the entire recent Y Combinator class public,” he notes.
Once we factor in private equity firms with pockets full of money, it’s evident that late-stage companies have three solid choices for leveling up.
Seeking more insight into these liquidity options, Alex interviewed:
- DigitalOcean CEO Yancey Spruill, whose company went public via IPO;
- Latch CFO Garth Mitchell, who discussed his startup’s merger with real estate SPAC $TSIA;
- Brian Cruver, founder and CEO of AlertMedia, which recently sold to a private equity firm.
After recapping their deals, each executive explains how their company determined which flashing red “EXIT” sign to follow. As Alex observed, “choosing which option is best from a buffet’s worth of possibilities is an interesting task.”
Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch! Have a great weekend.
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
Full Extra Crunch articles are only available to members
Use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription
The Tonal EC-1
On Tuesday, we published a four-part series on Tonal, a home fitness startup that has raised $200 million since it launched in 2018. The company’s patented hardware combines digital weights, coaching and AI in a wall-mounted system that sells for $2,995.
By any measure, it is poised for success — sales increased 800% between December 2019 and 2020, and by the end of this year, the company will have 60 retail locations. On Wednesday, Tonal reported a $250 million Series E that valued the company at $1.6 billion.
Our deep dive examines Tonal’s origins, product development timeline, its go-to-market strategy and other aspects that combined to spark investor interest and customer delight.
We call this format the “EC-1,” since these stories are as comprehensive and illuminating as the S-1 forms startups must file with the SEC before going public.
Here’s how the Tonal EC-1 breaks down:
We have more EC-1s in the works about other late-stage startups that are doing big things well and making news in the process.
What to make of Deliveroo’s rough IPO debut
Why did Deliveroo struggle when it began to trade? Is it suffering from cultural dissonance between its high-growth model and more conservative European investors?
Let’s peek at the numbers and find out.
Kaltura puts debut on hold. Is the tech IPO window closing?
The Exchange doubts many folks expected the IPO climate to get so chilly without warning. But we could be in for a Q2 pause in the formerly scorching climate for tech debuts.
Is Substack really worth $650M?
A $65 million Series B is remarkable, even by 2021 standards. But the fact that a16z is pouring more capital into the alt-media space is not a surprise.
Substack is a place where publications have bled some well-known talent, shifting the center of gravity in media. Let’s take a look at Substack’s historical growth.
RPA market surges as investors, vendors capitalize on pandemic-driven tech shift
Robotic process automation came to the fore during the pandemic as companies took steps to digitally transform. When employees couldn’t be in the same office together, it became crucial to cobble together more automated workflows that required fewer people in the loop.
RPA has enabled executives to provide a level of automation that essentially buys them time to update systems to more modern approaches while reducing the large number of mundane manual tasks that are part of every industry’s workflow.
E-commerce roll-ups are the next wave of disruption in consumer packaged goods
This year is all about the roll-ups, the aggregation of smaller companies into larger firms, creating a potentially compelling path for equity value. The interest in creating value through e-commerce brands is particularly striking.
Just a year ago, digitally native brands had fallen out of favor with venture capitalists after so many failed to create venture-scale returns. So what’s the roll-up hype about?
Hack takes: A CISO and a hacker detail how they’d respond to the Exchange breach
The cyber world has entered a new era in which attacks are becoming more frequent and happening on a larger scale than ever before. Massive hacks affecting thousands of high-level American companies and agencies have dominated the news recently. Chief among these are the December SolarWinds/FireEye breach and the more recent Microsoft Exchange server breach.
Everyone wants to know: If you’ve been hit with the Exchange breach, what should you do?
5 machine learning essentials nontechnical leaders need to understand
Machine learning has become the foundation of business and growth acceleration because of the incredible pace of change and development in this space.
But for engineering and team leaders without an ML background, this can also feel overwhelming and intimidating.
Here are best practices and must-know components broken down into five practical and easily applicable lessons.
Embedded procurement will make every company its own marketplace
Embedded procurement is the natural evolution of embedded fintech.
In this next wave, businesses will buy things they need through vertical B2B apps, rather than through sales reps, distributors or an individual merchant’s website.
Knowing when your startup should go all-in on business development
There’s a persistent fallacy swirling around that any startup growing pain or scaling problem can be solved with business development.
That’s frankly not true.
Dear Sophie: What should I know about prenups and getting a green card through marriage?
I’m a founder of a startup on an E-2 investor visa and just got engaged! My soon-to-be spouse will sponsor me for a green card.
Are there any minimum salary requirements for her to sponsor me? Is there anything I should keep in mind before starting the green card process?
— Betrothed in Belmont
Startups must curb bureaucracy to ensure agile data governance
Many organizations perceive data management as being akin to data governance, where responsibilities are centered around establishing controls and audit procedures, and things are viewed from a defensive lens.
That defensiveness is admittedly justified, particularly given the potential financial and reputational damages caused by data mismanagement and leakage.
Nonetheless, there’s an element of myopia here, and being excessively cautious can prevent organizations from realizing the benefits of data-driven collaboration, particularly when it comes to software and product development.
Bring CISOs into the C-suite to bake cybersecurity into company culture
Cyber strategy and company strategy are inextricably linked. Consequently, chief information security officers in the C-Suite will be just as common and influential as CFOs in maximizing shareholder value.
How is edtech spending its extra capital?
Edtech unicorns have boatloads of cash to spend following the capital boost to the sector in 2020. As a result, edtech M&A activity has continued to swell.
The idea of a well-capitalized startup buying competitors to complement its core business is nothing new, but exits in this sector are notable because the money used to buy startups can be seen as an effect of the pandemic’s impact on remote education.
But in the past week, the consolidation environment made a clear statement: Pandemic-proven startups are scooping up talent — and fast.
Tech in Mexico: A confluence of Latin America, the US and Asia
Knowledge transfer is not the only trend flowing in the U.S.-Asia-LatAm nexus. Competition is afoot as well.
Because of similar market conditions, Asian tech giants are directly expanding into Mexico and other LatAm countries.
How we improved net retention by 30+ points in 2 quarters
There’s certainly no shortage of SaaS performance metrics leaders focus on, but NRR (net revenue retention) is without question the most underrated metric out there.
NRR is simply total revenue minus any revenue churn plus any revenue expansion from upgrades, cross-sells or upsells. The greater the NRR, the quicker companies can scale.
5 mistakes creators make building new games on Roblox
Even the most experienced and talented game designers from the mobile F2P business usually fail to understand what features matter to Robloxians.
For those just starting their journey in Roblox game development, these are the most common mistakes gaming professionals make on Roblox.
CEO Manish Chandra, investor Navin Chaddha explain why Poshmark’s Series A deck sings
“Lead with love, and the money comes.” It’s one of the cornerstone values at Poshmark. On the latest episode of Extra Crunch Live, Chandra and Chaddha sat down with us and walked us through their original Series A pitch deck.
Will the pandemic spur a smart rebirth for cities?
Cities are bustling hubs where people live, work and play. When the pandemic hit, some people fled major metropolitan markets for smaller towns — raising questions about the future validity of cities.
But those who predicted that COVID-19 would destroy major urban communities might want to stop shorting the resilience of these municipalities and start going long on what the post-pandemic future looks like.
The NFT craze will be a boon for lawyers
There’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding copyright issues, fraud and adult content, and legal implications are the crux of the NFT trend.
Whether a court would protect the receipt-holder’s ownership over a given file depends on a variety of factors. All of these concerns mean artists may need to lawyer up.
Viewing Cazoo’s proposed SPAC debut through Carvana’s windshield
It’s a reasonable question: Why would anyone pay that much for Cazoo today if Carvana is more profitable and whatnot? Well, growth. That’s the argument anyway.
Want to take a road trip with Kevin Costner? Investors are betting you might
Woody Sears has long been interested in storytelling. After spending several years in sales after nabbing an MBA from Pepperdine — and following the debut in 2007 of the first iPhone — he founded a storytelling app called Zuuka that built up a library of narrated and illustrated kids’ books for the iPhone and iPad.
Sears later sold that company to a small New York-based outfit called Cupcake Digital. But Sears, who is based in Santa Barbara, Calif., isn’t done with stories yet. Instead, he just raised $1.6 million in seed funding for his second and newest storytelling startup, HearHere, a subscription-based audio road-trip app that, with users’ permission, pushes information to them as they’re driving, giving them informational tidbits in three- to five-minute-long segments about their surroundings, including points of interest they might not have been aware of at all.
The idea is to surface the unknown or forgotten history of regions, which makes sense in a world where more people have returned to road trips and parents have grown desperate to pull their kids’ attention away from TikTok. In fact, Sears’s neighbor, Kevin Costner, liked the idea so much that he recently joined its five-person team as a cofounder and narrator and investor, along with Snap Inc., the law firm Cooley, Camping World CEO and reality TV star Marcus Lemonis, AAA, and numerous other individual investors, including from NextGen Venture Partners.
Because we, too, like history and road trips (and okay, fine, Kevin Costner), we talk with Sears and Costner earlier today to learn why they think they’ll succeed with HearHere when other content-rich geo-location based apps have fallen short of meaningful adoption.
Excerpts from that chat follow, edited lightly for length.
TC: You’re creating an audio map of the U.S., so how many stories do you have banked as we speak?
WS: We’re up to 5,500 stories across 22 states, and we’ll be nationwide by summer. The mission is to connect people to the places that they’re traveling through, lending people stories about the history, the natural wonders, and the colorful characters who’ve lived in that area. We also do stories about sports and music and provide local insights.
TC: That’s a lot of content to gather up, edit down, then record. What does the process look like?
WS: At the end of the day, the content is king, and we take great care with these stories, producing them with a team of 22, researchers, writers, editors and narrators, most whom come from a travel journalism background. We really feel like we get the best end result through that team approach.
Eventually, we’ll open up to third-party content contributors, where we’re hosting both professional content and also user-generated content.
TC: Is there an AI component or will there be?
WS: We more see this as augmented reality in that these stories really do overlay the landscape and give you a different perspective while traveling. But AI and machine learning are things that we’ll incorporate as we start to move into foreign languages and better tailor the content for the end user.
TC: How do you prioritize which stories to tell as you’re building up this content library?
WS: The major historical markers are a big inspiration, but we’re looking for those lesser-known gems, too, and we look at travel patterns — the way that people move when they’re on leisure trips, meaning what interstate highways they’re taking and which scenic routes are most popular.
TC: How does the subscription piece work?
WS: You get five free free stories each month; for unlimited streaming, it’s $35.99 per year.
TC: Kevin, you must be approached a lot with startup ideas and investment opportunities. Why get so involved with this one?
KC: Obviously I’m story-oriented; that doesn’t come as a shock to anybody. But you’re right, a lot of ideas come to me.
Hearhere came through my wife, who said that Woody had something he wanted to talk about, and as she explained it to me, I got it, you know? That’s the shiny thing for me, storytelling and having the ability for a good story to come out, especially when it comes to our country.
So we had this meeting and he explained the concept to me, which is kind of equal to what I’d already been doing my whole life, which is stopping at the bronze plaques all over the country and reading about their historical significance — those [moments] that kind of interrupt everybody’s trip except mine. [Laughs.] You know, [it’s] getting out and stretching my legs and reading a little history and dreaming while the rest of the people in the car are kind of moaning because we stopped our progress.
This is an extension of that for me, without getting out of the car, and with stories that can evolve and perhaps get longer. And I can become more involved in what I was driving past and the people in the car can maybe sense what it was that interested me enough to stop.
TC: You love history.
KC: Hearhere is a lot more than history, but for me, it was the history [that I found so compelling]. And it’s how the foundation was set for me to become more involved in the company and understand it a lot better and then become somebody who wanted to be a part of the founding of it.
TC: AAA and Camping World are among the company’s strategic investors. How might they promote the app and what other partnerships have you struck to get Hearhere in front of people at the right time?
WS: Camping World also owns Good Sam Club, which is the largest organization of RV owners in the world, and AAA is a giant with 57 million members in the US, and they all see this as a way to fulfill something they’re aren’t currently doing for their audience; it’s making that bridge to digital, and we’re really excited to get this in front of their members and customers.
We also have partnerships with [the RV marketplaces] Outdoorsy and RVshare [and the RV rental and sales company] Cruise America. It’s a very hot market.
TC: There have been similar ideas. Caterina Fake’s Findery was an early app that aimed to help users discover much more about locations. Detour, a startup that provided walking audio tours of cities that was founded by Groupon cofounder Andrew Mason, seemed interesting but failed to take off with users. What makes you think this startup will click?
WS: I loved Detour. I ate up both of those.
I guess where I think [Detour] missed product market fit was the number of scenarios where you could use it and also, it was competing for people’s time. We chose to start with road trips because you have a captive audience; there’s only so much you can do when you’re driving in the car, unlike when you’re in a city, where there are all kind of options to explore its history, either through physical books or tour guides, and you had to carve out two hours of your time, and it’s easy to get distracted while you’re walking around.
We want to capture the places that are along the journey and lesser known and more untold and where people have the space to engage in it. Starting as short form helps. It’s also on-demand, so you don’t have to follow a pre-designated route. We’re not taking you on a specific tour, where you have to turn left or turn right. We’re going to surface stories for you no matter what route you take.
Dota 2 Patch 7.29 Will Reveal a New Hero
Best Warzone guns: the weapons you need to use in Black Ops Cold War Season 2
Novatti’s Ripple partnership live to The Philippines
Standard Chartered turbocharges digital payments proposition with investment and the merger of CurrencyFair with Assembly Payments
Evil Geniuses Partner With Cryptocurrency Exchange Platform Coinbase
Unternehmen gründen Crypto Council: Fidelity und Coinbase mit dabei
Overwatch Archives event 2021: new challenges, skins, and more
Bitcoin Preis Update: BTC fällt unter 59.500 USD
Fintechs are ransomware targets. Here are 9 ways to prevent it.
indiefoxx was just banned from Twitch again, but why?
Krypto-News Roundup 8. April
DFB bringt digitale Sammelkarten auf die Blockchain
Ripple Klage: CEO zeigt sich nach Anhörung positiv
Dota 2 Dawnbreaker Hero Guide
Astralis vs Gambit Esports: ESL Pro League betting analysis
Dallas Empire escape with a win against Minnesota at the Stage 2 Major
Krypto News Roundup 7. April 2021
WEF-Gipfel 2021: Zukunft der Wirtschaft ist tokenisiert
TrueLayer raises US$70m to build the world’s most valuable Open Banking network
Why did Twitch ban the word “obese” from its predictions?
Blockchain1 week ago
Bitcoin Cash Price Prediction: BCH/USD Price Turns Bearish; Can the $540 Support Hold?
Blockchain1 week ago
How Chainlink will help secure Polkadot’s environment
Blockchain1 week ago
Blockchain-based renewable energy marketplaces gain traction in 2021
Esports1 week ago
GeneRaL is replaced by RAMZES666 on Na’Vi
Aviation1 week ago
World2Fly gears up for July launch with roll-out of Airbus A350-900
Esports1 week ago
Amouranth becomes Twitch’s top female streamer, beats Pokimane
Blockchain1 week ago
Mark Cuban Thinks Dogecoin ($DOGE) Could Get to $1, but Could It Get to $10?
Coinpedia1 week ago
BitTorrent Token Price Analysis – BTT Poised to Hit $1 In April?
Blockchain1 week ago
Hardware Hacker Modifies Old School Game Boy To Mine Bitcoin
Blockchain1 week ago
‘Silent crash’ as price floors collapse across NFT space
Blockchain1 week ago
IRS gets access to crypto exchange Circle’s user data, targets Kraken next
Blockchain1 week ago
Bitcoin Miners Net Position Turns Positive: Is A Rally to New Highs Overdue?