Daily Crunch: Jeff Bezos and 3 guests share Blue Origin’s first crewed flight – TechCrunch

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 20, 2021. The markets have been active in the last few days, with stocks dropping yesterday before rebounding today. Cryptos have also been suffering from ups and downs. A bit like Jeff Bezos, though his were planned. More on that in a second. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Bezos blasts off: The billionaire space race reached its second stage today, as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos left the planet for a few minutes. There was a livestream, though the Blue Origin space company was a bit more salesy than I was comfortable with. Regardless, the humans went up and came down, and the rocket and everyone aboard survived. The crew was pretty stoked about it all.
  • European startups are thriving: Of all the startup markets in the world, Europe’s is among the very hottest. And according to venture capitalists that TechCrunch spoke with, the pace of investing activity on the continent is not set to slow much in the back half of 2021. This year will set all-time records in the European startup market for capital raised.
  • Square builds a business bank: What has lots of small-biz customers and big fintech aspirations? Well, a lot of tech companies, but also Square. The company has put together a business bank for its business customers. How long until Square is simply a bank for individuals and companies alike? A good rule of thumb for fintech: No matter where a startup starts in financial technology, it will end up doing all things. Or die trying.


Holy heck there were a lot of funding rounds announced today. TechCrunch covered a huge chunk of the total, so many that we can’t get to them all here. But after checking in on China, we have your speed-read all the same. Let’s go!

  • All about the Chinese startup scene: Are you a little behind on China’s technology regulatory crackdown? Don’t worry if so. Our own Rita Liao is on the case and has a brilliant roundup of what’s going on with Didi and other China-based companies that went public on the U.S. market. The gist is that data may not be the new oil, as some liked to say a few years back, but data is proving to be a geopolitical flashpoint. As it turns out, the Europeans were early on this one.

Now, the venture capital rundown, in brief format to allow for the inclusion of more items:

  • Taking on counterfeit drugs in Africa: That’s what RxAll is doing, and it has landed $3.15 million to pursue its vision. Launched in 2016, the company wants to combat fake drugs and the health problems that they cause.
  • Charging consolidation: TechCrunch covered the deal between ChargePoint and the frustratingly punctuated has·to·be, in which the first company spent $295 million to buy the latter. Our read is the deal will allow ChargePoint “a boost in its pursuit to gain market share beyond North America” in the EV charging market.
  • Titan raises $58M to bring active wealth management to the masses: If Robinhood did a good job making retail investing open to the masses by cutting fees to zero, Titan wants to pull a similar trick with the active-management world of wealth management. The company raised a $12.5 million Series A earlier this year.
  • $44M for Little Spoon’s baby food mission: Feeding children is a daily challenge. Finding good things for them to eat that they will actually consume is even harder. Little Spoon wants to solve the matter by helping parents of young kids subscribe to D2C baby foods while also selling vitamins and the like.
  • Path Robotics raises (again): The Ohio-based Path Robotics is back at the fundraising well this week, picking up a $100 million Series C. The round comes after the startup raised a $56 million Series B in May. What does it do? Welding robots!
  • More money raised to buy SaaS revenue: Capchase has put together a $280 million round of funding (debt and equity) to grow its business of buying future software revenues for present-day cash. It’s a big market that Pipe also plays in.

To close out our startup and venture capital news, some updates on venture capitalists that want to fund startups:

  • Hyper’s $60M concept: Part venture firm, part venture-funded media group, the Product Hunt sister company is looking to put capital and connections to work. TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino has the details.
  • New Boston funds: Pillar VC has raised new capital in two chunks, including $169 million for its Pillar III capital pool and a $23 million second fund. The VC firm intends to invest broadly, including into SaaS, hardware and other categories. The investing group is perhaps best known for buying common stock in companies it backs.

For the operators out there, TechCrunch has a chat with Maya Moufarek, the founder of Marketing Cube, who spent more than 15 years working for companies like Google and American Express before launching her own growth consultancy about startup marketing. Enjoy!

How we built an AI unicorn in 6 years

Few startups go to market with the exact product their founders first envisioned.

Today, Tractable is known for developing tech that allows drivers to upload photos of their vehicles after a collision so its AI can assess the damage. Its first paying customer, however, used Tractable to inspect plastic pipe welds.

As fate would have it, that customer also fired them just as the founders were raising their first round.

“We struck gold with car insurance,” says co-founder Alex Dalyac, as it was “a huge and inefficient market in desperate need of modernization.”

In an Extra Crunch guest post, he shares several takeaways from the last six years spent scaling a unicorn that have value founders of all stripes. Step one?

“Search for complementary co-founders who will become your best friends,” advises Dalyac.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Facebook is really doing the newsletter thing: The newsletter push is not slowing down, with Facebook’s Bulletin service bringing on 31 new writers. That’s a pretty big haul. Of course, Facebook is using the service as a way to drive Facebook Pay usage, among other goals. But as a writer, seeing major companies argue over my professional cohort is certainly a turn of the tables.
  • Venmo admits that its default-public feed was bad: Ah, the public Venmo activity feed. It never made sense, but Venmo stuck to it through thick and thin until now. Now you will merely see a more friend-focused feed. Progress!
  • YouTube embraces tips: Want to tip a YouTube creator for their work? You will be able to thanks to a new feature on the social video service called Super Thanks. It’s a one-time tip of between $2 and $50. Hopefully this helps musical groups that use the platform for distribution.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

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Read one of the testimonials we’ve received below!

Marketer: Illia Termeno, founder of Extrabrains

Recommended by: Anonymous

Testimonial: “T-shaped expertise with focus on strategy and long-term ROI.”

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