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