Brought to you by, TechCrunch, Natasha Mascarenhas, Alex Wilhelm, Grace Mendenhall, Maggie Stamets, Kell, Mary Ann Azevedo
Equity: A podcast about the business of startups. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Alex Wilhelm, Natasha Mascarenhas, and Mary Ann Azevedo unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. We wade through the hype to keep you up to date on the world of business, technology and venture capital.
If you are into web3, the biggest news of the week in tech was not the massive Figma-Adobe deal. No, the leading story of the last few days -- arguably even the last few weeks -- has been the Ethereum Merge. The Merge, an upgrade to the Ethereum blockchain that moved it from a proof of work (PoW) to a proof of stake (PoS) system of consensus was a long-awaited shift that finally took place this week. And as the change in technology is expected to reduce the carbon footprint of the popular blockchain by ~99%, we had lots to get into. https://techcrunch.com/2022/09/15/now-that-the-ethereum-merge-is-behind-us-whats-next/ But we didn't just want to riff on the startup angle, or the web3 perspective, because the Merge had huge implications for crypto as an industry and its place in the world of emerging tech. That's why we got together our startup and blockchain podcast teams for a collab episode to hit both angles: Anita and Jacquie from Chain Reaction, and Natasha and Alex from Equity. This also gave us a 50-50 TechCrunch-TechCrunch+ split, which was good fun. We started by setting the scene with how the anticipation around this monumental event in web3 has affected token prices and dug into what factors had been fueling optimism. Then we broke down the mechanics behind why proof-of-stake is greener, but may be less decentralized than proof-of-work (though each us had different takes on whether that's a fair assessment). Pulling off the Merge was an event requiring such technical coordination and rigor that it's been compared to the moon landing. Now that it's happened, what will be the impacts on web3 startups? What about the rest of the tech industry, or large financial institutions, or Chinese crypto miners? We walked through all these questions and more, trying to address both what the Merge is and why it matters through as holistic a lens as possible. Just as there are tons of different stakeholders affected by the Merge, who all think differently, so do we. This episode had lots of back-and-forth as the team unpacked some quirky pieces of crypto jargon like the term "baker" and what it means in a proof-of-stake ecosystem as well as the timeline of what comes after the Merge, which includes the Surge, Verge, Purge and Splurge. No joke -- we explain what those mean in this episode. We'll do more of this sort of thing as time goes along, thanks to some welcome resource bumps to our production crew (huge shoutout to Grace, Theresa and Maggie). For more on the Merge, required reading can be found here, here, and here. Onward! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts. Chain Reaction comes out every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:00 p.m. PDT, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast and Spotify to keep up with the action.
17 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann jumped on the mic, with Theresa on backup, to talk through the biggest headlines. We started with a look at the Figma-Adobe deal, worth some $20 billion. TechCrunch's news coverage is here, and Alex has more notes here. Deals of the Week: Maven, Patreon, and Modulous. We also spoke about the Launch House issue, and what to make of the model, and management of the company. The conversation naturally landed us on just what community is. From there, Europe! Which is seeing a wave a new venture funds, leading to some notable intra-continent competition. And then we wrapped with a short note on the latest on the Twitter-Musk deal. If you are coming to Disrupt, use the code “EQUITY” to save 15%. It makes us look good internally, and gets you a cheaper discount to our first Disrupt live show in the history of the podcast. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
16 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: How is YC evolving to meet a changed market? The question is fresh off of Demo Day last week, where Team TC and TC+ banded forces to cover the twice-a-year event that sees hundreds of startups launch to the public. These days, Seibel doesn't often do press -- and neither does YC -- so the interview was used to connect the dots on recent news from the accelerator, cross check top trends from this past batch and ask about some of the biggest critiques people have about the institution today. We went a bit long, but figured it was worth it given the way the conversation was going. Equity has a live show on Thursday, and lots more to come. Chat soon! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast,Spotifyand all the casts.
14 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Don't forget that the code "EQUITY" can save you money on Disrupt ticketsand TechCrunch+ access. And it makes us here on the show look good! Now, what did we get into today? Stocks are higher around the world, while major cryptos have risen sharply in the last week. The Ethereum update known as the 'Merge' is just around the corner. The change in consensus model at ETH is a big darn deal. How the tech change goes, and what the market reaction is to it, will be key events this week. And speaking of crypto, the SEC is getting even busier in its efforts to have more oversight of the space. From the startup front, Gotham Greens and Diveplane both raised money, $310 million and $25 million respectively. Each are a part of neat, growing sectors in startup-land, making their fundraising a bit more impactful than individual rounds tend to be. And then quick takes: Everyone's worried about TikTok, Amazon's content budget is bonkers, and EQT has a huge new fund. We are back Wednesday, and our Friday show will be taped live on Thursday! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us onApple Podcasts,Overcast,Spotifyand all the casts.
12 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. As you can tell by the headline of this episode, this is a bonus episode all about Y Combinator Demo Day (and the terms we heard most often during the two-day affair). Natasha and Alex jumped on Twitter Spaces to talk through our favorites of the batch, geography changes, and diversity shake-up that included less women getting funded batch over batch. Below are some of the posts we pulled from: The biggest moonshots in YC’s S22 batch Our 11 favorite companies from YC’s S22 Demo Day: Part 1 Our 10 favorite startups from YC’s S22 Demo Day: Part 2 Delving into YC’s diversity data following a category shakeup Where is Y Combinator startup-hunting in 2022? Y Combinator week is busy, but we made it through! Talk Monday! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
10 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. What. A. Week. Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann jumped on the mic, with Theresa on backup, to talk through the biggest headlines. For our Apple coverage, click here. For our YC coverage, click here. All that aside, here's what we got into on today's episode: Kim Kardashian surprised us all -- yet again -- with the news that she is co-founding a private equity firm. We also talked about how Userpilot raised $4.6 million to help SaaS companies offer a more personalized user experience and Varjo - an early mover in building XR headsets and software for enterprises - landing $40 million in new funding. We pivoted to riff on a couple of acquisitions in the grocery delivery space, both of which thought were pretty cool and made sense. Instacart acquired Rosie (gotta love the name) in an example of not putting all its eggs in one basket, and Misfit Markets announced it is buying Imperfect Foods. Next, we talked about a couple of venture firms -- Kapor Capital and Countdown Capital -- raising new, second funds. Notably, both firms are looking to back historically overlooked founders and industries, which we -- and their LPs -- are 100% here for. And lastly, we had a lively debate on AI and its impact on the creator economy -- discussing topics such as AI-generated porn and whether AI-driven art is truly art. If you are coming to Disrupt, use the code "EQUITY" to save 15%. It makes us look good internally, and gets you a cheaper discount to our first Disrupt live show in the history of the podcast. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
9 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic and unpack the rest. Today we asked: How is the economic downturn and startup slowdown impacting VCs, and the folks who finance venture capital funds? Unlike our usual mid-week episodes, Natasha was not at the helm. Instead, Alex stood in for her and brought along TechCrunch+ venture capital reporter Rebecca Szkutak in the co-hosting slot. Rebecca is an ace when it comes to the mechanics of venture capital, making her the perfect voice for the day. To start, Alex and Rebecca riffed on the state of startups in today's market -- and if things are as bad as some make them out to be. From there, the Equity crew talked through the venture capital response to changing market conditions. And the conversation wrapped with notes on what LPs are doing, whether they should be or not. While we largely focus on startups and founders on the pod, it's also good to step back once in a while and talk about the money behind the money. That's what we did today. Enjoy! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast,Spotify and all the casts.
7 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. We are back on a Tuesday instead of a Monday thanks to an American holiday, which means we are looking at a compressed week. But don't let the shorter window for news fool you -- it's going to be busy. Stocks are largely higher today, but off the back of some rough trading weeks so don't read too much into the bounce. The world of crypto appears pretty quiet, as it has for some time now. Y Combinator Demo Day is this week, which means a flood of startups and other news is in the offing. TechCrunch will be all over the news, naturally. Strap in. And there's an Apple event this week as well, possibly bringing new iPhones and other related consumer gear. How excited you are about that will depend on how old your current phone is. From there, it was time for economic concerns and worries about how a worse, or lesser macroeconomic picture could impact startups. We talk a lot about market size, and venture investment. But what about the macro-climate itself? And to close out, what is Binance doing? No live show this week, but we are back tomorrow and Friday! Hugs and talk soon. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast,Spotify and all the casts.
6 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This was a Live Week, meaning that Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann recorded the show on Twitter Spaces, hanging out with a bunch of the Equity family. Good times were had! We also disclosed that we are recording live at Disrupt this year! Yes, so come hang out as we tape the show on opening day, full of coffee and enthusiasm. Now, to the show notes. Here's what we have in store for you: Deals of the Week: Stacked, which is taking on Twitch with a web3 twist; Astro, which wants to help connect Latin American developers to American companies; Anchor, which is building a BaaS platform in Africa. From there we riffed on the big changes at Y Combinator, and what it means for an early-stage venture firm managing over $3.2 billion in assets. The executive shift touched down just in advance of next week's demo day. Next week is going to be busy. Then Mary Ann walked us through issues at real-estate focused fintech startups, namely that they are burning too much money. Naturally this meant that we had to mention Better.com, again. And we closed with layoff news from Snap, and Clearco. Both stories are vastly different but compare in the layoffs, retraction in international presence, and promise for more focus in the future. If you are coming to Disrupt, use the code 'EQUITY' to save 15%. It makes us look good internally, and gets you a cheaper discount to our first Disrupt live show in the history of the podcast. And, speaking of the pod, Equity is back next Tuesday, not Monday, due to the American holiday. Ok! Bye! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
2 September 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, along with Alex's help, Natasha asked: Who should be raising Party Rounds? The episode was inspired by Natasha’s recent Startups Weekly column, “When the party has confetti but no allergen-friendly appetizers" and the companion TechCrunch+ piece with Anita, “Investment clubs are cool again, and maybe community is, too.” Here's what we got into: The definition of party rounds, boundaries and the fact that we don't entirely agree on if there needs to be a lead or nah How has party round funding changed? What place do they hold in the ecosystem? Is this vehicle better for experienced founders versus first-time founders? The pros and cons of each side Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
31 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This week Alex was back with Grace and our new producer Theresa Loconsolo to kick off the week. This Monday morning we recorded right before Garry Tan announced that he was heading back to Y Combinator as its President. Dang. But we still had a good sheaf of things to talk about! Stocks are not having a good day around the world, after having a pretty tough last Friday. It's hardly bullish for the IPO market. Things weren't much better in crypto-land, where bitcoin and ether are off from their week-ago prices, and NFT volumes remain muted. And speaking of quiet, startup news -- Y Combinator apart! -- was modest over the weekend. It appears that the August slowdown is both real, and here. Frankly startups could use a shot in the arm to get venture back closer to 2021's level of insanity. Can the Instacart IPO that we expect be the needed catalyst? Another potential catalyst of Good Vibes that we are tracking is whether, and when Tether's audit finally does happen. Also in the news: Honda is going to spend big to build batteries in the United States; Indian mobile connectivity is set to improve in the next year; and Meta and Indian conglomerate Reliance are teaming up for ecommerce. Equity is back Wednesday Thursday for a live show! Chat soon! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
29 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Want to save some dosh on TechCrunch+? Use the code 'EQUITY' at checkout for a big discount on annual subscriptions! Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann are back and as a three were in good spirits with more than a bit of news to parse. Grace, Theresa, and Kell made the magic happen, for which we're thankful. Here's what we got into: Just what OrangeDAO is, and why it matters. Our deals of the week this time 'round had a particular flavor. See if you can spot it! Next up was Spectral's $23 million raise (web3 credit scores), and Mural's latest, a $6.5 million round for DAO treasury management. Scooting along, we looked into Alex's reporting on shrinking late-stage rounds, a surprisingly strong seed market, and what's good with the unicorn crew. Then it was time to talk Stripe layoffs before pivoting over to the latest issues stemming from Adam Neumann's latest startup, and the Musk-Twitter dustup. To close, we noted the latest from Instacart and the fact that Zoom is not having the best of times lately. That's our show! We are back Monday! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
26 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha asked: What happens when a Black founder was ousted? Alex was back on the mic after a week away, and we brought on Dominic-Madori Davis (follow her on Twitter and Instagram) to talk us through the topic. After all, the core question was inspired by her latest TC+ column. Here's what we got into: The growing tensions at Black Girls Code, which began last December with Bryant's "indefinite suspension." Bryant's eventual ouster, which happened earlier this month, and the outpouring of public support for the leader. That conversation brought us into the reality of who gets to speak up publicly, and who can only do so off the record and without attribution. Davis piece about the symbolism of a Black founder being removed from a position of leadership Inherent bias and how to navigate that in the stories we hear and tips we receive. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
24 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This week Alex was back with Grace and our new producer to kick off the week. Now that we are through earnings season, things are a little quieter on the forecast front, but that didn't mean that we were short on material: Stocks are down around the world, while crypto prices remain depressed in the last week; NFT volume continues its negative drift. CNBC got FTX revenue numbers! Only through the first quarter of 2022, sadly, meaning that we have a good idea of what the company did through March of this year. That is good, but not great. Why not? Q2 is really the turning point for crypto exchanges, Coinbase data indicates. So we got the stuff that makes FTX look good. We need more. The Socar IPO was kinda meh, in the end. While we welcome any and all IPOs at this point, hopes may have been for a stronger welcome on the South Korean stock market for the SoftBank-backed company. TechCrunch has more. And from the Quick Hit folder, Tesla is raising the price of its driver-assist system, Amazon is looking to buy more healthcare assets, NSO may reform, and SPACs are kaput. Equity is back Wednesday and Friday this week, as we do not have a live show. Chat soon! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts,Overcast,Spotify and all the casts.
22 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This week, Natasha was joined by TC+ reporter Rebecca Szkutak to wade through the news of the week. It was frantic, it was full, and forgettable it was not! Here's what we got into: Quick note from Becca on Neumann's return and if follow-on funding will be a possibility for Flow -- given some investors reactions. Our two deals of the week include an innovative step for hearing aid startups and a new take on international money transfer. For hearing loss tech, a new FDA ruling allows hearing aids to be sold over the counter. We dove in to how this regulatory change helps open the door for startups to innovate in the category. Speaking of regulatory pains, we spoke about how employee-benefits startups might escape cost cuts as companies seek to retain talent. Don't know about you but I'd prefer to lose free food over mental health support. We ended with notes on two geographies. Looking at the Midwest, we talked about how LPs aren't backing funds in the region this year despite many VCs considering it to be one of the safer areas to invest right now. Comparing the Southeast and Midwest, we spoke about how lower valuations are helping fuel both regions to have a good year. And that's all for now. We'll catch you next week, and in the meantime if you're feeling up to it, consider leaving us a great rating on Apple Podcasts. It goes a long way. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
19 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. And, I mean, are you surprised what we're working with this week? Of course we're talking about Flow, Adam Neumann's a16z-fueled return to real estate that is already reportedly valued above $1 billion. This week, Natasha asked: Is the return is a result of vision, track record, or Adam Neumann-privilege? She's joined by Anita Ramaswamy, the co-host of TechCrunch's crypto-focused podcast Chain Reaction. The duo wrote a piece about the tech community's reaction to Neumann's new startup, so consider this episode a mic'd up follow-up: The news, what we know, and what we still don't - including how much of that $350 million check is cash The reporter's notebook take on how to cover news that is sensationalist in nature. Do we give oxygen to something that is meant for a reaction? And when is something worth capturing versus worth waiting to see materialize? Why folks get checks, and Neumann's background in vision, track record and ability to raise money. After all, to succeed in becoming a venture-backed founder, all you need to be able to do is be good at getting venture backed. How this fits into the female founder takedown story - and why people need to stop comparing Neumann to Elizabeth Holmes. Fraud, my friend, is complicated. https://techcrunch.com/2022/08/15/tech-industry-reacts-to-adam-neumanns-a16z-backed-return-to-real-estate/ Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
17 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Natasha took over Equity Monday this week alongside Grace, as Alex enjoys some always-deserved vacation. Thankfully, there was way too much to get into. So much so that I recommend you listening to this podcast immediately before a whole news cycle breaks. Here's what we got into: Morning markets update, which is somewhat a story about reaction to China's slowing economy For our big tech news item to start the week, Amanda Silberling dropped in to talk to us about Unity saying 'thank you, next' to a $20B merger offer from Applovin. I'll add in that it's not the only billion-dollar+ merger that fell through recently. How's that for Unity? I talked about Adam Neumann's new startup, which just landed Andreessen Horowitz's largest check to date at a billion dollar valuation. Deep breaths, friends, the reaction is part of the point. https://techcrunch.com/2022/08/15/a16z-andreessen-horowitz-backs-adam-neumann-wework-new-venture-flow-real-estate/ Then I got into a WebMD alternate with quality as its differentiator. I end with bad news for Peloton employees, and good news for Atlanta's early stage entrepreneurs. https://techcrunch.com/2022/08/12/the-silicon-peach-is-still-ripe-atlantas-venture-ecosystem-stands-strong/ As always, you can follow Equity on Twitter @equitypod, and me at @nmasc_. We are back Wednesday! Chat soon! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
15 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann worked with Grace to record yet another weekly round up on all the tech news that may have flown past your radar. Or bumped into it so hard that you're still dizzy and looking for more information. Regardless of where you're at, here's what we got into: For our deals of the week, we spoke about QED making its first African investment, backing Nigerian fintech TeamApt in $50M+ deal and why Muon Space's custom Earth observation satellites remind us of Build-a-Bear. Plus, Founderpath secured $145M in debt and equity to help B2B SaaS startup founders avoid dilution - a reminder that non-dilutive capital is always in vogue. Then we got to a big theme all about bets. Yep, we're talking Axios gets scooped, Haus gets put up for sale and ByteDance gets... hospitals? We end with chatter about SoftBank's losses and redemption arc, as well as Coinbase's earnings. You're all the best, and if you're thinking, 'you know what, right back at you!' why not leave us a great rating on Apple Podcasts. If you disagree, erm, let's try again next week? Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
12 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: Despite all the dollars and deals out there, does a drop in activation energy change how many entrepreneurs we'll see in the early-stage market? But, we're not alone! Found co-hosts Jordan Crook and Darrell Etherington hopped on the mics to do a rare cross-over episode with us. They spend every week on Found talking to early-stage founders about everything from origin stories, to pivots, to some of the hardest decisions that leaders need to make these days. Big thanks to the duo for joining us, and without further ado, here's what us four got to: Who is succeeding right now, and what are the types of founders that we're seeing more often? Is there anything that can be done differently when it comes to activating unlikely founders? How do you square up a need for more business fundamentals, with an asset class designed for rocketships? Risk, luck and what the heck whales and fizzy water have to do with this Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
10 August 2022 •
Alex and Grace are back to cover the biggest and most interesting technology, startup and markets news. This morning was a fun mix of stuff that we don't always get to, so strap in for the following: Stocks and cryptos are mostly higher today, meaning that most listeners of the show are now richer than they were Friday. Congratulations! Coinbase earnings on the horizon, but we got word today from Palantir and SoftBank. Palantir's stock is off due to a guidance miss, while SoftBank reported massive losses from its Vision Fund efforts. Also, it turns out that SoftBank is of the perspective that startup founders are not yet willing to accept valuation cuts to bring the value of their startups in line with market conditions. That's not good. And there was a huge PE deal today, Avalara being taken over by Vista Equity Partners in a $8.4 billion deal. What else? Self-driving cars from Baidu are now taking passengers in China, Lyft is building a media business, and India is cutting back on buying Chinese smartphones. We are back Wednesday! Chat soon! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
8 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann got together with Maggie and Grace this week for our weekly roundup show, and per usual, there was a lot to talk about, including the fact that there were even more topics than usual to pick from as the summer slowdown seems to be fading away. What else did we get into? The following: To kick off our Deals of the Week, we discussed the fact that a startup which focuses on depression, suicidality and related mental health conditions is buying a company called KetaMD in an effort to extend its telehealth prowess and, in particular, to expand its tech-facilitated ketamine-based treatments. Don’t know what ketamine is? You’re not alone. From there, it was time to talk about a new $100 million fund, which boasts some high-profile LPs and partners, that is out to invest exclusively in Latino(a) startup founders. We then dug into the hows and whys of a fintech company that aims to get consumers to deduct everyday expenses directly from their paycheck – a concept that took us a bit to wrap our heads around. We then moved on to Robinhood and the news that the retail investment behemoth had laid off 23% of its staff – just 3 months after letting go of 9% of its workforce. The three of us had thoughts on CEO Vlad Tenev’s acceptance of responsibility for the layoffs, and of course, on just how much dang news has surrounded the company in the past 18 months or so. https://twitter.com/bayareawriter/status/1554598033756667905 Next up? We chatted about Y Combinator’s somewhat surprising decision to shrink its cohort by 40% – what that could mean for the early-stage venture scene. We also get into its increased check size and in-person return. So many variables! Only one experiment! Lastly, we riffed about Uber and how the company both reported positive free cash flow and yet was deeply unprofitable in the second quarter (thanks to Alex breaking that down for us). And we had a blast to boot! See you next time! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
5 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: Is it the bootstrapper’s time to jump on the venture treadmill? The episode was inspired by Natasha's recent Startups Weekly column, "The bootstrapped are coming, the bootstrapped are coming" and the companion TechCrunch+ piece, "Will once-bootstrapped startups turn to venture during a watershed moment?" But, of course in classic Equity style, we continued the conversation with nuance and numbers as a focus. Here's what we got into: The definition of bootstrapping, and our own additions and subtractions The trend of more bootstrapped companies taking on venture, or at least more venture capitalists being interested in bootstrapped companies What the heck is a venture treadmill, and what to drugs have to do with it? We ended by both agreeing that we are, indeed, the best. There's ample history when it comes to bootstrapping companies eventually raising money. We just want to know if it is going to happen more often today, and earlier. Let's chat! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
3 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Last week we said that you needed to pay attention to the public markets, and we weren't kidding. It was a huge week for earnings -- with notes from all over including the ad market and cloud spend. But this week's Monday show was more than just another entry in the series, it was an experimental live show! Natasha joined Alex for the fun, and this is what they got into: Stocks up, crypto mostly flat after a solid week of gains. Will Alibaba delist, or not? That question matters more than just what happens to the singular Chinese tech giant. The question really belies a larger query regarding the ability of Chinese tech companies to access foreign markets more generally, places where the capital can flow at a high clip. Given China's economic woes, cutting off that particular liquidity pipe might be risky. From there we went to Clearco layoffs, UiPath buying Refiner, and Oui's first close of its new fund. And then we wrapped with a dive into Big Tech earnings. The key gist? These companies are too big to summarize, and without the cloud they would be struggling. Amazon’s shares rise on earnings beat, despite $2B loss Apple’s services revenue growth slows to $19.6B in Q3, reaches 860M paid subscriptions Microsoft misses expectations, points to foreign exchange rates and weakened PC market Meta posts its first ever quarterly revenue decline And via CNBC, Alphabet misses on earnings and revenue for second quarter So, what'd you think? Should we go live again? Next time with Equity-themed espresso cups that no one can enjoy other than us? Let us know, and don't worry, the Equity team is back on Wednesday with a smashing bootstrapping show. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
1 August 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann got together with Grace once again this week for our weekly roundup show, and hot dang was there a lot to talk about. So much so that we actually had to cut one topic from our notes, any guesses what that may have been? Regardless, here's the rundown: We had a big fintech theme this week, kicking off with the huge news that Jack Ma is giving up control of Ant Financial. Two specific tidbits stood out around Ant's origin story and Ma's flex of an ownership hold. From there, it was time to talk Guava, Pogo, and TomoCredit, our Deals of the Week. The focus here was around just how inclusive certain fintechs can be, so thank you to founders who remind us to raise the bar constantly. Next up? A new solo fund that broke out of a16z. Why leave to do a scary thing when risk is high? We talk about that, fintech innovation, and Rex Salisbury's LP base. (Plus, more on solo founders coming soon on TechCrunch+). Then we dug into Mary Ann's behemoth investor survey, and closed with a look at the Coinbase-SEC situation. And we had a great time to boot! Chat soon! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
29 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Anita asked: When is a company taking internal valuation cut a good thing? Normally, when we hear about valuations going down, that's a red flag that things aren't going well at a given company or in the market at large. We wrote about Stripe's 28% internal valuation cut earlier this month and as we listened to different reactions to the news, we noticed some people had an unexpected take -- that this downward revision was actually a positive for the company's employees. That's because the cut came from an internal 409A valuation appraisal, which is totally different from the investor-led valuations we normally hear reported on in the news. So we brought on two experts -- Phil Haslett of EquityZen and Sumukh Sridhara of AngelList -- to help us unpack what this valuation cut actually means for startup employees and what else they need to know about their equity compensation heading into a market downturn. For more information, you can also check out our TechCrunch+ piece about the matter, "Stripe’s new and lower internal valuation, explained." Let us know if you want more Chain Reaction x Equity crossover episodes by tweeting at either of us or just sharing this episode with a friend. Numbers speak for themselves :) Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
27 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex and Grace are back to cover the biggest and most interesting technology, startup and markets news. Sitting as we are on the precipice of a huge data dump, we had lots to chat through! Stocks are mixed around the world, while crypto selloff modestly after some recovery gains. In general, the value of securities are down in recent weeks and months, and now, frankly, quarters. This is Earnings Week: Yes, friends, get ready to hear from Alphabet and Amazon and Meta and Microsoft and Apple. The Big Five are reporting this week, providing us a glimpse into the health of a host of businesses. Recall that we have seen the major slow hiring lately, perhaps a harbinger of the (meager) feast to come? Cartona is building something neat in Egypt, TechCrunch reports. And there is still venture capital money flowing in China, despite, you know, all the stuff going on there. Zomato is sinking, Voyager is biting the hand that wants to feed it at least a little, and it turns out that the grocery delivery war is only heating up. No live show this week, just three episodes! Hang in there we got you! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
25 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann got together with Grace once again this week for our weekly roundup show, and as often happens, news broke as we were gearing up to record. So we had to touch on the huge Amazon-One Medical deal to get started. Naturally we all had thoughts. What else did we get into? The following: Crunchbase raised $50 million! Yes, our former employer has raised a new, large round that had us all thinking about its health, our history thereof, and our love for its news team and other parts of the company we remember fondly. Just what is Arkive building, and are we in favor of its work to build a sort of NFT-powered, decentralized IRL library. There is a DAO involved as well. ForSight is building eye-surgery robots, just raised a stack itself, and we are hype about it. It reinforces a key learning from Natasha's recent robotics panel, which was part bullish, part bearish. From there, it was time to talk the bevy of new venture funds that came out, the end of Modsy -- or is it? -- and a few stories that touch on the Ukraine situation, including a huge Russian fine of Google, Preply's latest funding round, and how solar power can combat fascism. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
22 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: How do founders hold two ideas in their heads: both that there is an economic downturn, but also that things are looking up for many industries? After a series of episodes about the tensions within the downturn, this is a "good news, despite" episode. We started with a vibe check based on recent interviews with recently venture-backed founders, before getting into the bright spots from Q2 2022 data. Then we spent some time talking about specific sectors enjoying fresh cash right now, including climate and European edtech. Geographically, Africa continues to be one to watch. The continent is set to have its best year yet. In the second half of the show, lean back and enjoy the riffing: we talk VC vacation homes, good news, and somehow end with tater tots. We had a great time, and hope you like this show. We’re back Friday with our regular news roundup! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts,Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
20 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex and Grace are back to cover the biggest, and most interesting technology, startup, and markets news. Today was a fun day in that we didn't start off with just bad news -- what a change! Stocks are up around the world, and cryptos have rallied in the last week. The positive price movement in crypto-land, however, doesn't appear to be lighting a fire underneath the NFT market, for example. Robots! Yes, our robotics-themed event -- Free! And online! -- is this week, which means that I have robots on the brain. That made the Syrius round all the more interesting. It appears that ecommerce will remain a key driver of robotic innovation for some time to come. Podcast deals are still happening, kinda. Acast is buying Podchaser, which may or may not mean a lot to you. What does matter in this deal is that Spotify wasn't involved. That's a change! Quick Hits: India may ban crypto, at least if its leading bankers get there way, Missfresh's implosion got a small lifeline, and Modsy is no more -- and the way that it is going out leaves quite a lot to be desired. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
18 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome to a special edition of Equity! Today, Alex sat down Brian Heater, a long-tenured TechCrunch denizen, our hardware editor, podcast extraordinaire, and genial chap. He also put together a really neat robotics-focused event that we're hosting next week. The event is online, and free, which means that everyone can come and hang (that means you!) The confab was also a good excuse to snag time with Heater, and have a bit of a natter about robotics, how the self-driving hardware stack has an impact on more than just automobiles, and why we are going to need AGI for robotics to, you know, become the thing we know from the Jetsons. In short, robotics is improving rapidly, but we might continue to see more industrial applications than personal for some time. Still, there's still a lot of activity in the market, including labor policy, e-commerce applications, and a host of other topics. Enjoy! Equity is back Monday morning, and if you want to come hang at the TC Sessions: Robotics 2022, you can sign up here for free. See you there! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
16 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann enjoyed yet another edition of Equity Live this week, hopping on Twitter Spaces to chat everything from Musk’s meme suit to a new take on Wordle that landed Spotify’s attention. When we stopped recording the episode, news broke that Stripe is cutting its internal valuation by 28%. Luckily, we do this three times a week to stay tuned for our take soon. In the mean time, here’s what we got to in today’s episode: Spotify acquired Heardle, which felt like a throwback to trivia and of course a nod at its famous predecessor, NY Times-owned Wordle. Only one of us has played the music guessing game so far, so tweet @equitypod your thoughts on if it’s actually fun. We also spoke about a startup that is trying to address male infertility in a personalized, engaging way. It caught investors attention, and ours too. Our last deal of the week, Continuum, gave us a chance to talk about productizing one of the worst jobs in startups: laying folks off. The fractional work play feels even more important given the volatility of startups across all stages right now. Hopin, for example, conducted its second layoff within four months this week and parted ways with its COO, CFO and other executives. Medium had an executive shake up, with Ev Williams stepping down. The last two themes of the episode were built around Instacart and the future of grocery delivery, as well as the latest of the Twitter and Elon Musk saga. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
15 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha asked: How does Roe’s reversal impact the ways that companies are built? The question was inspired by a recent TechCrunch+ column, "Roe reversal weighs heavily on emerging tech cities in red states." The reporters behind the piece, Dominic-Madori Davis and Becca Szkutak, joined Equity to talk about the story and help us get more of the nuance behind this huge setback. We chatted about the reappearance of geographic boundaries, selective silence from the money behind the money, and how founders need to rethink their growth strategy if they're coming from red states. We also chatted about how some founders have already started to react to the overturn of Roe vs. Wade and their sentiments revolving the legality of what happens next. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts,Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
13 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex and Grace are back to cover the biggest, boldest and baddest technology news. After some holiday weeks, we are back on an actual Monday! What a treat. Here's what we got into: Stocks are off around the world, partially due to government action, partially due to the complex web of negative factors that we've discussed for months now. Cryptos are more staid; if you like bitcoin at $20,000 this is your moment. Tiger's slowdown is no mere blip, TechCrunch reports. The investing powerhouse is going to slow its roll for the rest of 2022, and is looking to raise a new fund. Unacademy is looking to cut costs, go public in two years per TechCrunch. And Kadamos raised more capital, marking a pretty quick reload after raising a few months ago. Quick Hits: The Uber Files are a mess, layoffs aren't solving a talent crunch in Southeast Asia, and fintech staffing cuts are starting to pile up. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
11 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. It doesn't feel like a short week, does it? Alex, Natasha and Mary Ann got on the mic to bring an especially packed episode full of big news, fire transitions and even a pun or three. Deals of the week: Maolac raises $3.2 million to bring breast milk nutrition to adults, Peakflo raises a few million to scale its billpay tech in South East Asia, and Cauldron raises $6.6 million for its web3-themed gaming push. Declining drama at Bolt? A major lawsuit involving Bolt, the online checkout service, has been settled. We chatted through the company's numbers, and noted one more challenge ahead of the company. The unicorns aren't alright: Layoffs at Outschool and Loft are cutting staff, just as some venture capitalists reload. It's going to be a fascinating year. And we closed with some notes on the Q2 venture capital cycle! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
8 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: Why is tech full of copycats, and what’s the next full circle moment we can expect? The question was inspired by Natasha's recent Startups Weekly column: "YC makes a Product Hunt, Product Hunt makes an a16z, a16z makes a YC." As you can tell by that headline and this week's episode title, we're talking about how tech is full of copycats and what that means for the bar of innovation. Expect to learn about the overlap in mission between three of tech's most well-known institutions, what Prologue means for Future (literally and figuratively), and how a rising tide can both confuse and complement the founder fundraising journey. Also it was a good excuse to chat through some of the competitive dynamics that we see play out across the startup landscape. We had a great time, and hope you like the show. We're back Friday with our regular news roundup! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
6 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex and Grace are back to cover the biggest, boldest and baddest technology news. We are back on Tuesday, as the United States was off yesterday. So a day late, but hopefully not a dollar short, here's what we got into today: Stocks are mixed around the world, and set to fall in the United States at the open. At the same time, the crypto market has been somewhat relaxed in the last day. Sequoia Capital China is raising $9 billion, a huge amount of money at a time in which we have seen venture capital activity in China slow. Speaking of slowing venture capital, Indian activity is falling. That deceleration comes as the country's crypto market is under pressure. At the same time, Twitter is pushing back against the Indian government bullying, which is good. But maybe less good for Elon Musk, who is buying the social network, and wants to sell imported cars in the country. Closing out, we touched on a potential database breach in China, struggles at Vauld, a new climatetech fund, and news from the quantum front. All that and we had a good time! We are back tomorrow morning, and Friday morning!
5 July 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This was a live week on the podcast, meaning that Mary Ann and Alex and Natasha and Grace teamed up with the fine audio and visual folks from our mothership Yahoo to not only record the show, but to do so in front of, well, all of you! It's fun to record live, and we'll do it again in two weeks! What did we get into? The following: Deals of the Week: HomeLister wants to make selling your home more of a DIY affair, and cheaper; Degreed's co-founder is coming back to the company he helped found, via a different company that he helped found; and can chat bots not suck in the future? Coalition: What happens when you cross a small venture capital fund, a large operator network, and shared upside? Coalition wants to find out. Layoffs: Backstage has cut its staff to the quick, while we saw smaller cuts at Substack this week in percentage terms. Both rounds of layoffs were launching points for questions, and discussion on the show. Robinhood: Will the company, beleaguered with a rock-bottom share price and slipping consumer mindshare, sell? Equity is off Monday for the holiday, but back three times in the following four days. Chat then! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
1 July 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha asked: What’s in the fine print for term sheets these days, and what does that tell us about who is going to be in control during the downturn? The question was inspired by a recent story by Becca Szkutak - one of TC's newest venture reporters - about how deal terms look different in a downturn. Of course that means we had to bring on Szkutak to talk about her story and dig into a further analysis of how founder friendliness is being challenged right now. Expect a tactical episode all about different terms that may start sneaking into term sheets, the cost benefit analysis of each, and why down rounds aren't the end of the world. https://techcrunch.com/2022/06/21/deal-terms-look-different-in-a-downturn-heres-what-to-watch-out-for/ Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
29 June 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex and Grace are back to cover the biggest, boldest and baddest technology news. This week we are not recording on a Tuesday as it's a regular week. Though we would add that Equity will be live on Thursday, when we record our Friday episode. So if you wanted to come hang, make sure that you are following the show on Twitter. Right, so what did we get into this morning? Stocks are generally up, major cryptos are not doing too much this morning, and a Coinbase downgrade caught our eye. Backstage Capital is laying off staff as it focuses on only investing into existing portfolio companies. With less capital than before going to Black founders, seeing a fund that focused on investing into underrepresented founders struggle is a bummer. The Strapi startup round was a fun one to look at, fusing open-source tech and CMSs, a tool that we use here at TechCrunch rather often. And then there is the mess at Digital World Acquisition Corp., the SPAC that wants to merge with former American President Trump's digital media company. It's in trouble with regulators. The chaos did not start there, however. 3AC is in default (like Russia!), the BlockFi rescue deal had internal pushback, Klarna may only be worth $10 billion, MilkRun loses lots of money, and we're learning more about how India's government is going after Twitter. So, a great way to start the week. We kid. Chat soon!
27 June 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Today Natasha and Alex were on the mics, kicking back and riffing through the biggest technology stories of the week. Our dear Mary Ann was off this week, but will be back in short order. What did we get into? A bevy of blistering bromides, naturally: Accel has a new $4 billion fund, focused on the late-stage, which is at once a pile of duckets and a fascinating timing for such a large capital vehicle. FalconX doubled its valuation in a new round, which was also a huge pile of money at an odd moment in time. Oh, and Suze Orman was also on the show today, in spirit and story. From there we noodled on the big changes at Brex, the latest in executive turnover, and why the metaverse actually had some good news this week? All in all it was a good time and we are back Monday! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts
24 June 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: After a multi-year fundraising boom, what is the current health of the fintech startup market? The episode was inspired by a rigamarole of news, including but not limited to Klarna's potential valuation haircut, Apple's BNPL announcement, Brex's partial market retreat and Wealthsimple's staffing cuts. The other reason that we're chatting fintech is that after attracting a simply huge chunk of venture capital in the last few years has gone into the sector. And that means that so very many startups are in play when we discuss the fintech niche. This is not just a few unicorns, and decacorns, but a flat-out fleet of companies that are now stuck waiting for the venture capital market to reignite. With Affirm and Klarna showing just how far prices for fintech revenues have fallen, what's ahead? How worried should founders be? We dug into all that and more! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
22 June 2022 •
Alex and Grace are back to cover the biggest, boldest and baddest technology news. This is our Monday show, coming to you this week on a Tuesday as, hey, yesterday was a holiday for many American workers, in honor of Juneteenth. So, we're doing our weekly kickoff one day later than usual. Here's what we got into: Stocks are higher globally, while the crypto market is somewhat quiet after a tumultuous few weeks. We're coming up on the end of Q2 2022, which means that we're at once heading into earnings season (woo!) and another venture capital data set to parse. Get excited. Musk has been busy around the world, helping keep Ukraine online, seeing his cars come under some censure in China, and still talking his way through buying twitter. In startup-land: LeadSquared raised a huge round, and is now a unicorn. Platform.sh raised a huge round, but we aren't sure what it is worth. And Stashfin also put a huge amount of capital and debt onto its own books. The fintech VC market is still alive, despite warning bells from, well, everywhere. Magic Eden just raised for an NFT marketplace, we note. (Though prices are, yes, coming down.) That's our show! We're back tomorrow and Friday! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
21 June 2022 •
Equity is back in the saddle this week, with Mary Ann and Alex and Grace powering through a busy week's news. And while much of the news in startup-land is a bit lacking these days -- you may have noticed a sentiment shift on Twitter! -- we did find some good tidings as well. Here's the rundown: Sesame, which operates an online medical care marketplace, raised $27 million to help people without insurance or those with high deductibles get affordable health care. Interestingly, its lead investor also previously put money in another startup in the space. Marc Lore's food creation, and delivery startup Wonder raised a huge stack of cash. We had mixed views on this particular deal. On one hand, we hate cooking. On the other, will the economics ever work? Investors really seem to think so. We're now waiting for the service to launch where we live so we can give it a try. Startups may be in better shape than you thought! That's the take that Index's Mike Volpi wrote in a letter that TechCrunch published. Alex dug into the matter as well. There are even more positive signs out there if you look. The real estate sector has taken a hit as of late, which led to Redfin and Compass laying off hundreds of employees. Yet one other proptech startup managed to raise capital and acquire a company this week. And to close, the crypto mess. Here's some layoff news. And here are some new problems. Finally, an attempt to find some understanding of what's going on. And that is a wrap! We will chat you all next week! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts
17 June 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex brought on TechCrunch reporter Haje Jan Kamps, who, prior to and in between his journalism careers, spent years as a founder and a venture capitalist. Together, the trio asked: How might companies use math in the coming months to make our lives harder, and complicate their finances, aka the truth? From the historical grievance folder, to more recent news from MainStreet, we had a lot of grist for the mill. But we had even bigger feelings about what's coming this year, and how important it will be to chase down the truth. And given our general view that numbers don't lie, we had strong opinions about how things should be counted, and disclosed. A big thank to Haje for coming out and bringing his multi-viewpoint perspective. Chat soon! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
15 June 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Alex and Grace are back to cover the biggest, best, and baddest technology news. We are back once again here with your weekly kickoff! Here’s what we got into: Stocks are down around the world, with nearly every major index that we checked falling 2% or more. Crypto prices are in the tank, with bitcoin and ether losing double-digit percentage points in the last day; the mess in crypto-land is deep this morning. Celcius network is falling apart, despite huge recent fundraises. Precisely what happens next is not clear, but it doesn't look good for the company, judging by its imploding token price. In better news, the Latin American startup scene re-upped its capital reserves right before the world went risk-off, implying that the region could be well capitalized heading into the rest of the year. The Coinbase CEO's Twitter rant after some of the company's employees expressed displeasure was notable, in tone, and also in terms of PR strategy. So, yeah, not the happiest show that we have ever recorded but one that matches the moment. As we stressed on the audio version, you are not your net worth. We will get through this. Finally, Equity is live this Thursday, so come hang on Hopin or Twitter Spaces! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
13 June 2022 •
The show is largely off this week, which means that we don't have our usual deluge of new startup news covered for you. But, we didn't want to leave you with nothing at all on this lovely Friday, so we went to the time machine to see what we could find. The episode in the feed today is the same episode we put out nearly exactly one year ago today (June 11, 2021) to give some flavor and context to what was going on a now a year past. The idea was that we've spent so much time talking about how 2022 is shaping up to be different than 2021, so why not go back and show the distinction? https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/11/the-huge-tam-of-fake-breaded-chicken-bits/ We hope you like our fun little experiment. The show returns to regular form Monday. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts
10 June 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. As the team takes a break this week, we decided to replay an old yet prescient episode from earlier this week. In February, Natasha and Alex asked: What can startups learn from the rise, and now struggles, of Hopin? For companies that grew like weeds, what’s next? Hopin was one of the first tech companies to conduct layoffs in 2022; and as we said then, while it is is perhaps a very visible canary, it is hardly the only startup that rode COVID-19’s economic disruptions to new heights. Tell us how the episode aged, and if you're on team reckoning or team re-correction? The market is changing. And while Hopin grew rapidly in 2021, a host of companies that thrived during COVID-19 are now resetting both internal, and external expectations. New year, new market.
8 June 2022 •
This was another live week from the Equity crew, meaning that the towering Mary Ann, the inimitable Natasha, and the somewhat fungible Alex were all chatting in real time, thanks to Grace and Julio having the script and tech in place to allow for it. And as we were live, we also wound up taking a little bit more time per story than usual, which was good fun. What did we get into? A lot: The end of an era: Sandberg steps down from Meta COO role. Deals of the Week: Affirm ties up with Stripe, Felt raises $15 million for maps, and Astro proves that quick grocery delivery is still a thing. A new fund is coming from an alum of Precursor Ventures, a firm that we have covered extensively on the podcast. The latest from Substack, a startup that we nearly all use, but wonder about from a valuations perspective. And we wrapped with notes from our recent spotlight on Columbus, Ohio! Equity is mostly off next week, meaning no Monday show, and some pre-taped stuff the rest of the week. We're going to breathe, and come back recharged. Hugs, and chat soon!
3 June 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, we're trying something new. Natasha spent a good chunk of last week at the All Raise VC summit, an annual off-the-record event that brings together some of the best and brightest in the investment community. After the summit, she sat down with Mandela SH Dixon -- All Raise's new CEO -- to unpack what happened, and discuss how today's changing venture capital market will impact diverse founders. The first half of this episode is a conversation between Natasha and Mandela, and then we'll bring on Alex and turn to some on-the-ground clips from the summit. Sound bytes from Freestyle's Jenny Lefcourt, January Ventures' Jennifer Neundorfer, Rethink Impact's Heidi Patel and Union Square Ventures' Rebecca Kaden will get the classic Equity treatment. Or, put differently, Alex and Natasha will react to top investors talking about their game plans for the next market cycle. It's fun!
1 June 2022 •
It’s Monday, which means that Alex and Grace were back as a team to cover the biggest, boldest and baddest technology news. We are once again back with your weekly kickoff! Here’s what we got into: More on the potential M&A boom this week, in light of this recent CNBC piece that got my mind turning. Sure, this is kinda like the CVC story we've been tracking but a bit more focused. China's venture capital market is taking body-blows, albeit from recent highs. Still, it is more than easy to track the country's regulatory crackdown to falling venture capital activity. Strong Compute raised money, highlighting the fact that early-stage companies can still raise, and that there could be huge unlocks coming in ML model training. Which would be good for all of us. And is on-demand pricing on the way out? Things aren't looking good for the model that once challenged the incumbency of SaaS. Woo! Equity is live this Thursday, so come hang with us on Twitter Spaces or Hopin, yeah? Chat then!
31 May 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Happily we were once again at full strength this week, with Alex Wilhelm, Natasha Mascarenhas and Mary Ann Azevedo chatting, and Grace handling production. You can tell from the topic list today that we are in an odd time. There are myriad signals that the startup market is slowing down. And there are some counter-narrative data points that paint a more complex picture. Where do you stand in your own viewpoint? Well, read on for some data to consider: Natasha gave us a brief update on All Raise's annual VC summit, but she'll get into more on an upcoming Wednesday show (stay tuned!) Monte Carlo just raised a unicorn round, worth $135 million at a $1.6 billion valuation. On the other hand, Bolt is laying off staff amidst a correction in the larger startup market, and perhaps its own space. If startup news is pointing in two directions, so too are data from the venture capital world. While Sequoia is warning founders about a downturn, a16z just raised a king's ransom to pour into the web3 market. Parse that as you will. There were other bits of news to consider as we work to understand where the startup world truly is today, including news from Zip and Nowports -- two newly-minted unicorns that Mary Ann recently profiled. And we closed on, what else, drama in fintech. As Stripe and Plaid gear up to battle, Finix is either in the fray, or about to jump in, depending on your perspective. What's clear is that increasingly overlapping fintech giants are going to rub up against one another. You can read more about that in The Interchange, out on Sunday. Hugs from us to you, and we will talk to you next week! Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
27 May 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha asked: How are early-stage founders thinking about this downturn? The inimitable Alex teamed up with her to interview Joshua Ogundu, the founder and CEO of Heart to Heart about this timely topic. The question comes after Natasha’s recent Startups Weekly column, "Everyone is drafting their own startup Black Swan memo." The column looked at a series of memos that venture capitalist firms sent to portfolio companies about the market downturn. Some were hopeful, some were simple, and others were a vibe check as straightforward as, Can you tell us your ARR and cash-burn in writing? Pretty please? To flip the script, as we do here on Equity, we're bringing in the founder perspective to fact check these memos and tell us what it's really like to be a founder. Ogundu told us what he's rethinking, the importance of honesty, and what to do before considering a layoff. It's not too often that we have guests on the show, so when we do, you know it's going to be a good one.
25 May 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. It's Monday, which means that Alex and Grace were back as a team to cover the biggest, boldest, and baddest technology news. We are once again back with your weekly kickoff! Here's what we got into: The stock market may not vomit all over itself today, which would be a nice break from recent weeks. Broadcom is working on buying VMware in what would prove to be a mega-deal. Shares of Broadcom are off on the news, while VMware stock is up sharply. The transaction would be worth tens and tens of billions of dollars, if consummated. Paytm earnings had lots to like, and some elements that were less salubrious. Shares of the Indian unicorn have recovered somewhat in recent days, but remains sharply depressed from its IPO price. In the startup world: BUD raised $36.8 million, SyIndr raised $12.6 million, and 1K Kirana put $25 million onto its balance sheet. And we closed out with the fact that there is no free lunch, even in the crypto world. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
23 May 2022 •
The whole team was back together this week, which was pretty darn good as there was a lot to get through. Alex Wilhelm, Natasha Mascarenhas and Mary Ann Azevedo were on the mic, with Grace handling production. What did we get into? A better question might be what did we not get into: We started with an update from the TechCrunch Mobility event, thanks to Natasha who is on-site and up in the air. From there it was time to talk deals, with the crew parsing Arrived's latest round, and why Kolkata Chai took some external capital, but very much on its own terms. Then it was time to chat Zenly's new mapping news, and why startups are critical when it comes to taking on incumbents. From there we had to ask if Elon Musk really wants to buy Twitter (seemingly no?), and how tired we are about the topic itself. Then we chatted through the recent unicorn vibe check that the market got, and the fact that most unicorns are not true IPO candidates. (Along with news from SpotOn, and Unit!) And to close, we asked about the responsibilities of tech platforms in the wake of a number of mass shootings in the United States; where should our expectations for content moderation on platforms start, and end? Hugs from us to you, and we will talk to you Monday!
20 May 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha asked: How do digital health startups build in a post-Roe world? The question comes after Natasha’s recent Startups Weekly column, "When your startup’s core mission is set to be overturned." The piece explores the ripple effects of the looming Roe v. Wade overturn, specifically in how it impacts startups. But, let's not hypothesize. We brought on Kiki Freedman, the CEO and co-founder of Hey Jane, to answer our big questions about building, raising, and existing when so much regulatory scrutiny is weighing on your business. A direct-to-consumer health company that specializes in the delivery of abortion pills, Hey Jane about to kick off its fundraising process which makes for an interesting tension. The startup - especially today - really sits in the middle of two intense moments: an overturn to Roe v. Wade would threaten all of its work, and a toughening, risk-averse VC market could be a hurdle toward next financing. Enjoy the show, and let us know if you like this interview format. Also, here's the Found interview that we referenced during the show as well!
18 May 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. What was on our minds this morning? The following: Global markets are generally down, albeit nothing too terrifying. The American stock market is trying to regain its footing after weeks of selling. What's ahead for crypto startups in the wake of the Terra/Luna meltdown? Bloomberg wonders about a general slowdown, and we look at the Crunchbase data of who backed the ill-fated stablecoin. Startup layoffs are accelerating -- not as bad as before, but enough to warrant our attention. Layoffs.FYI is back, y'all! The Topship round, invested in by Y Combinator and Flexport, has our recent look at CVC hitting just right. It was an awful weekend in America, which leaked into the show somewhat. Take care of one another. A few housekeeping notes before we go: This is not a live-show week, so Equity will simply come out on Wednesday and Friday mornings. And this week is our TC Sessions: Mobility event, which you can learn more about here.
16 May 2022 •
This week we recorded live, which is always good fun, meaning that we took some questions from the audience. If you want that version of the show, we have a YouTube archive of it here. For those of you more into audio, we have you covered here. Natasha, Alex, and Grace teamed up with Julio and Yashad to host the shindig, allowing us to cover the following: The end of iPod, a time to reflect on technology trends. The exit of a Modern Fertility co-founder, and the MARA round bringing more money to Africa's fintech scene. From there it was onto the Terra crash, Coinbase's earnings, and the general sentiment shift in the crypto scene. Next up was Tiger and the downturn in startup valuations. And we closed on some personal notes. All told we had a blast. Mary Ann is back with us next week! Chat soon!
13 May 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: What does the most recent wave of layoffs mean for tech workers? The question comes after Natasha’s recent Startups Weekly column, "The Great Resignation, meet the Great Reset." In the piece, which included a round up of recent tech layoffs, she explored the idea of employee whiplash, and why this moment in pullback is different than what we saw in March 2020. The goal of the episode was to humanize the tech layoffs we've seen ripple across the startup ecosystem, from buzzy, big names like Cameo, On Deck and Robinhood, to B2B platforms like Workrise and Thrasio. As our piece last week notes, the common thread between most of these layoffs, according to founders, is that there’s been a shift in the market and a serious pivot in business is required. A pivot, that is, that hurts the employees that built your product up after high demand. Let us know how we did? If you or a friend has recently been laid off, tip Natasha Mascarenhas or Alex Wilhelm on Twitter @nmasc_ and @alex. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
11 May 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. Happily once again we did not start the day by talking about Elon Musk and Twitter, though the news was not really very good: Stocks are down sharply around the world. And crypto prices, which track larger asset prices, are also sharply lower in the last day, and week. Uber's CEO told his company that things are changing. Adjusted EBITDA is out, FCF is in. Hiring? Going to slow. Capital expenses? Those will get harder looks, and so on. During the show, we asked about the slowdown, and how it may, or may not impact the bouyant crypto startup market. Neat funding rounds from Pyramid, which raised $120 million, and Paymob, which raised $50 million. We are recording live this weekend, so catch the show on Thursday as we record our Friday episode! Chat soon!
9 May 2022 •
The crew was back at full-speed, and maybe even full excitement meets exhaustion, this week. Alex Wilhelm, Natasha Mascarenhas and Mary Ann Azevedo were on the mic with moral and edit support from the wonderful Grace. If we had to give this episode it's own autobiography we'd call it: "Drama, tech twitter and therapeutic moments in between." We got into a whole ton of news including: Musk's new best friends back his $44 billion bid for Twitter - and why one of them are probably experiencing deja vu. For deals of the week, Natasha spoke about Line's play for more inclusive fintech, Mary Ann got into Truist paying attention (and money) to a fintech startup and Alex took us to the music world with the latest on SoundCloud's thought bubbles. Then we talked about how digital health startups are bracing for a Post-Roe world, and which companies to pay attention to. (Insider tip: We're taking about this topic in more depth on Equity Wednesday, coming up next week!) Next up, how early can early stage investor go? Recent news from Backstage Capital includes a milestone and a pause - and has us scratching our heads on what other pivots we may see from investment firms. Finally, we ended with our favorite part of the show and spoke about the latest Stripe and Plaid drama. The two companies went from partners to competitors this week, and we talk about the tensions that result. Equity drops every Monday at 7 a.m. PDT and Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. PDT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotifyand all the casts.
6 May 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: What do the crypto-curious need to know to be more savvy about the space? Better than our question, though, was our company: we brought on Anita Ramaswamy and Lucas Matney, the minds behind TechCrunch's newest podcast Chain Reaction. The crypto-focused pod launched a few weeks ago and already has a lot of folks' attention. We highly recommend a listen, and maybe start with the one that will glow up your retirement savings strategy. Back to today, though, us four chatted through some of the largest questions that entrants into crypto may be thinking about, including untangling web3's complex jargon around decentralization to examine whether it really is different from what other tech companies are already doing. We also took a reporter's notebook lens to crypto coverage, asking if journalists need to be investors in order to report and understanding just how hard conflicts of interests can be to extract. Super light topics, you know us! https://techcrunch.com/2022/03/24/techcrunch-debuts-chain-reaction-a-new-podcast-about-the-wild-world-of-web3/ Thanks again to our favorite duo for joining us and don’t forget that Equity is very present on Twitter these days, so follow us there for other mid-week musings.
4 May 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. Thankfully we did not start this episode by talking about Elon Musk and Twitter! You are welcome! Instead we started with bleak Chinese economic news, that segued into falling venture capital totals for a key startup sector in that country. It turns out that a massive regulatory crackdown will have in-market impacts! From there it was time to chat Yuga Labs and its recent minting chaos. Bloomberg has more. Then it was time to chat neobanks, in particular the recent rounds from Open ($50 million) and Cogni ($23 million). This is not a live show week, so Equity will simply come out on Friday as usual. That said, we do have a Twitter space scheduled for today with our own Kirsten Korosec, so follow us on Twitter and we will see you there.
2 May 2022 •
This was a live week! Which meant that Mary Ann Azevedo was on the mic with Alex Wilhelm, and Grace Mendenhall, our ever-trusty producer, helped us power through. A big shoutout to Dennis, Julio, and Yashad for getting all the tech working well. Right, what did we dive into during our live taping? A lot! The latest from the Elon Musk-Twitter saga, including the social media company's earnings and how it is somewhat sensitive to market sentiment; Musk won't have infinite room with which to maneuver once he owns Twitter. For rounds of the week, Mary Ann chatted through the recent Umaro raise -- who doesn't love talking about bacon? -- and Alex picked the latest from the self-driving front. From there it was time to talk layoffs at Robinhood and other companies, focused around how some companies that did well in the pandemic are now suffering from what could be described as at least a hangover. And we closed with notes on Copper and Step and the ethics of teens investing in crypto. Which led us to question putting crypto in your 401k. Views vary! Equity is back Monday! Chat then!
29 April 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha was out due to a family matter, so Alex and Amanda came together to chat through the larger Elon Musk-Twitter saga. Yes, the TechCrunch crew got together on Tuesday for a very long, fun, and relaxed Twitter Space when the news broke. However, instead of going back through all that audio to just pull out the key bits, we decided to focus ourselves down to the core elements of that team chat and produce something a bit tighter. Here's our question set: How much of an active participant will Elon really be? What does the deal mean for Twitter employees? What impact will the sale have on security, and algorithmic transparency? The free speech question What does the transaction mean for users? In case you need more, our coverage of locked code changes is here, more on the privacy question here, and our larger tick-tock can be read here. Ok, we are live on Thursday for the live show! Chat then!
27 April 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. Stocks are down, and cryptos not looking too impressive as the world gears up for a packed week of mega-tech earnings. The Twitter-Elon Musk deal could happen soon? As soon as today? It appears that after Musk dropped a filing indicating that he actually had the funds to buy the deal, talks shook loose. What's ahead? I have precisely and exactly no idea. Hopin is perhaps enduring some turbulence, per the FT. The company, once riding a torrid wave of market demand, is seeing its business molt into a more steady form. That meant layoffs earlier in the year, and a decline in its share price on secondary exchanges. Startups! From the startup-realm this morning, new rounds for Zenda and Rooser. Not Rooster, mind, just Rooser. And there's a general climate of fear out there, which won't do much for market sentiment. Alas, 2022 is not 2021 when it comes to investor excitement. And we have a live show coming this week! Get stoked, details to follow.
25 April 2022 •
This week was a good week because we had the full team back together. Natasha Mascarenhas was on hand, Mary Ann Azevedo was on the mic, and Alex Wilhelm was around as well. Grace, our ever-trusty producer and lead on the Friday show, was on the dials. As with nearly every week this year, we had to cut and cut to make the show fit into its allotted time. This is what we got into: Brief updates on SoftBank, Better.com, and Elon's quest to buy Twitter. On the deals front, we talked about Mary Ann's coverage of Kindred, the latest from the Indian crypto scene and Chipotle. Why Chipotle? Because it turns out that it is cooking up more than lunch! From there we dug into Natasha's coverage of the latest early-stage effort from a16z, and what it could mean for competition with Y Combinator, among other entities. The theme of large funds going earlier and earlier-stage will be with us forever, it seems. Shares of Netflix took a hammering this week. Why? Growth at the company is on hold, at least from a user perspective. We took the chance to chat about the pandemic's tailwinds tailing off. This impacts a host of startups, both big and small. From there we kept the cheery note afloat by talking about live audio apps and their future. There's some tremors afoot, even if everyone likes to talk. And with that we are back next week!
22 April 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, fresh off of a reunion that included pasta and green rooms, Natasha and Alex asked: What are some startup assumptions that get it wrong? The question comes after one of Natasha’s recent Startups Weekly column, "Let’s stop pretending there are silos in startup land." In the piece, which was teased out in her newsletter, she talked about how separations between late-stage and early-stage companies aren't as iron as investors may try to sell. Of course, that spiraled into an op-ed about what other startup notions we have, and the difference between a silo and a semblance of one. Here's an excerpt from the piece: You don’t need to be a web3 company to benefit from the growing mindshare around decentralization and alternative assets; just like you don’t need to be an angel investor to adopt the idea that your advice is worthy of equity in a company; and, as I’ve hopefully shown above, you don’t need to be a late-stage company to refocus on and prioritize profitability. Our podcast continues the conversation, getting into five specific myths that we're about ready to bust. I won't ruin what we specifically get into, but phrases like "Web 2.5" and "IPO pricing" and "poetry magazines" certainly make an appearance. It's the perfect episode for people starting out in tech, or folks who are in the mood to unlearn some of their assumptions. Don’t forget that Equity is very present on Twitter these days so follow us there for other mid-week musings.
20 April 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. We are sitting on the precipice of a very busy few weeks, so let's get right to work! Stocks are mixed around the world to start the day, cryptos are off a little more but nothing too scary. Didi will vote on leaving the US public markets this May, and has promised to not list anywhere else in the interim. This saga is nearly behind us, but what a mess it will leave in its wake. The Beanstalk exploit was bad news this weekend, but my hunch is that so long as votes are tied to economic might, many neat ideas in crypto-land will remain open to exploit. Zambian fintech startup Union54 raised a $12 million Seed extension, led by Tiger, that caught our eye. And over in India, food-delivery rivals Swiggy and Zomato are both backing UrbanPiper. Finally, it seems that some private-market investors are not stoked about poison pills, a defensive setup by public companies to prevent a hostile takeover. Which makes me laugh, as dual-class shares that many VCs either back, or at least help fund amongst hot startups are similar in that they are also designed to prevent changes of control. To close, we have a live show this week! Yes, a live show. So come hang out with us on Thursday as we record our Friday episode!
18 April 2022 •
This week was TechCrunch Early Stage, so Natasha and Alex got together - in person - to record the episode for the very first time. Shout out to Grace for somehow helping us figure out a tech set up in the middle of a sold out event. We started with a recap of TechCrunch Early Stage so far, but check out TechCrunch+ for posts about every single panel next week. Pro listener tip: use code "EQUITY" for a solid discount, for your TechCrunch+ subscription. Then we of course pivoted to Elon, who is still making news about his newest fixation Twitter. This time, we led with the fact that he's trying to buy the whole darn thing. Deel made news with an ARR number that actually had some weight behind it, which got us thinking more about remote work bets. We had to talk about Braid, a new social fintech startup that wants to make shared wallets easier. We got into crypto culture without the coins, and then it took a turn when we started getting into Love is Blind and The Ultimatum. Finally, we ended the show with SoftBank's latest pivot: a spin out of its early-stage LatAm fund into a new firm called Upload Ventures. And with that, we are back Monday morning. Chat soon!
15 April 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, given a parade of headlines and news that Fast shut down, Natasha and Alex brought on our new senior TechCrunch+ reporter Jacquelyn Melinek to ask: How is ‘Web3’ blowing up venture’s traditional playbook? The question comes after Jacquelyn and Natasha looked into how crypto companies are altering the investing landscape for even the most disciplined VCs. Use code "EQUITY" for a sweet, sweet discount. Here's an excerpt from that post: The main difference between web3 cap tables and traditional startup cap tables is the structure of a company, because the way a C-corp would provide investors with equity would differ from the way a decentralized organization or DAO would, Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky said. Today, Celsius owns half of its CEL tokens and only sold investors tokens in its initial coin offering (ICO) in 2017 when the company first launched, he added. “We don’t need to give tokens anymore,” he said. “If you can raise money through equity, you want them as equity investors because they’ll stick with the company for a long time. Sometimes when you give tokens they sell them quickly because it’s like easy money, it’s not like equity.” In today's episode, we walked through fresh PitchBook data on crypto funding, a crash course in web3 vernacular, and what crypto cap tables are the loudest about. Don’t forget that TechCrunch Early Stage is happening this Thursday, so snag some last minute tickets here. Natasha and Alex will be there recording a live episode and hopefully meeting some listeners in real life!
13 April 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. This week was big-tech heavy, as the startup market had a slow start to the week. Sign of the times or one day fluke? We'll see in time, I suppose. Here's what we got into on the show today: Stocks are down today, and cryptos are doing even worse in recent days. Elon Musk's flirtation with becoming a Twitter board member is over, the company said. Precisely why Musk backed out is not entirely clear, though the social media company's statement might hold some clues. Shopify is splitting its stock, and changing up its corporate governance structure; crypto volumes are tanking in India following a legal change -- and Coinbase is struggling in the country; SailPoint is selling to private equity for $6.9 billion. Turning the clock back, the Ellevest round is very cool. And to close things out, NIO's production is on hold in China due to COVID issues. Such much for supply chain recovery. This week is TechCrunch: Early Stage, which is going to be good fun. See you there!
11 April 2022 •
This was our live show week! Yes, Mary Ann and Natasha and Alex got together with Grace for our Friday recording on Thursday, meaning that we gathered on Hopin and Twitter Spaces to yammer through the week's news. It was a very busy week, with breaking news up to the minute before we recorded -- including this piece from the Better.com saga. Square’s Better.com name Block is Butter-y smooth Failure is a choose-your-own adventure for startups Will rising interest rates decimate startup valuations? Is today's market sad or sane? So! What did we get into? A lot: How Conceive is helping people manage the matter of infertility, Cottage raising $15 million to make ADUs more common, and how Tandem is taking on the hybrid work future. Next up was Austin, Mary Ann's home turf. We held an event there this week that we touched on, but the main thrust of our chat circled around this piece. From there it was time for the bad news -- including layoffs at Workrise, Better.com, and the implosion of Fast. The startup market is changing, and not every company is going to make it out the other end of 2022 it appears. And we closed out with our take on all things Elon and Twitter, including this three views piece and why it's hard to build a single-person social network. And with that, we are back Monday morning. Chat soon!
8 April 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, given a parade of headlines and news that Fast shut down, Natasha and Alex asked: What are we missing when we talk about startup failure? The question comes after one of Natasha’s recent Startups Weekly columns, where she looked into the complexity of startup failure, fallacy of takedown stories, and importance of diversity in newsrooms. Here's an excerpt: "There’s the argument that startup tensions are inevitable and common, so should we spotlight every time something bubbles to the surface, especially at the cost of an underrepresented founder who may just be doing their best? There’s also an argument that the business is messy, so we should report on the issues as we hear about them; and there’s the narrative of the female takedown story, in which people believe that women are targeted by the press more than men due to unreasonably high standards." In today's episode we discussed our own definitions of failure past Theranos and WeWork, current examples of rising tensions, and what this means for early-stage startups and historically overlooked founders. There's been more layoffs recently, some notable valuation cuts, and the implosion of Fast to weigh against 2021's strident startup optimism. That makes this the perfect time to dig into the topic of failure, and how to cover it from a startup perspective. Finally, as promised, here's a look at our artsy depictions of the startup failure cycle: https://twitter.com/nmasc\_/status/1511365442249580548 Don't forget that Equity is live this Thursday, and you can you come hang out with us on Hopin (free, and you can ask questions) or Twitter Spaces (free, but you cannot ask questions) if you'd like! See you then!
6 April 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. After last weeks super startup-heavy show, we were back to our regular Monday grab-bag of news! Here's what we got into: A strong start to the week from global stocks, and a general updraft to crypto prices in recent days. Elon Musk buying a huge stake in Twitter, the popular American social network. The move comes after the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted that Twitter was not allowing enough free discourse. Naturally we look forward to yet another idealist learning about content moderation, but we're also tracking Twitter rivals, making the situation both complex, and entertaining. PrimeBlock is going public via a SPAC! The deck hadn't dropped in time for the show, but the initial release is here. From the rest: Tesla deliveries were hot, lemon.markets raised $17 million, and Jumia is working with UPS. Equity is live this week, so swing by to hang out if you want to this Thursday. Else we are back on a regular cadence!
4 April 2022 •
Welcome to our Friday show! Our regular co-host Natasha was off this time, so Mary Ann and Alex linked arms with our producer Grace to blast our way through the news of the week. As always, we had to pick and choose what seemed to matter the most. Here's what we got into: All Things Y Combinator: Here's our first set of favs, and our second. Here's a rundown of fintech companies from the batch, and our look at the Indian participants, and those hailing from Africa. Instacart as trendsetter: The well-known grocery delivery company has lowered the price at which it will value employee equity comp, something that could become a trend. It seems so, with Instacart leading a potential vanguard of similar actions from other companies in time. Also we're thinking about how startup valuations could regain their shine. Gaming: With the huge Axie Infinity hack making headlines, we talked about the matter and how other startups are tinkering with the play-to-earn market. And we closed with the topic of social networks, what Elon Musk is up to, and how Facebook managed to confirm everyone's suspicions about its ethics. Whew! What a week, y'all. Chat Monday!
1 April 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, in light of Y Combinator's bi-annual demo day, Natasha and Alex asked about the utility of the parade of pitches. Our big question: Are demo days outdated? The question comes after Natasha’s latest Startups Weekly column, where she looked into the trend of everyone constantly trying to re-invent startup accelerators. We've seen everything from in-person events, to virtual pitch-a-thons, to record efforts, and more. Name it, it's been tried. Today's show is a continuation of that conversation, specifically digging into how demo days served founders in the past, and how they amplify in the present. There's a good bit of factors that jolted things up, including the proliferation of accelerators, a boom in pre-seed funding and the pandemic forcing programming to go remote. We also ask for whom are demo days really for? Listen in to hear what we landed on, disagreed with and picked for founders to focus on today.
30 March 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex and Kell scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. This week had a theme. Which was startups. Lots and lots of startups. Here’s the rundown: Markets are mixed this morning, with strong crypto trading results and big news from Tesla. The weekend’s leading conversation in the tech and startup world was about this analysis regarding crypto upstarts not giving out board seats to investors. Call it peak founder-friendliness? It’s also a huge risk, as investors have taken board seats for a reason, historically. All the same, you gotta win those deals. Y Combinator Demo Day is this week: We are going to see hundreds of startups make their pitch in rapid-fire fashion. Sure, many will have already raised capital, but the capitalist confab is still worth watching. I am looking for API-led startups and any hints about where DAOs are heading, personally. Zepto raised, which TechCrunch covered here, and I had a few thoughts about. The big tech landscape is quiet this week thus far, which means we can focus in on startups. See you at demo day tomorrow!
28 March 2022 •
It was a live recording this week, which was good fun. Our co-host Natasha was off, so Mary Ann and Alex teamed up with Grace to hammer our way through the news of the week live, with friends on Hopin, Twitter Spaces, and other locations on deck to hang out and ask questions. Down a co-host or not, we tackled a whole slew of topics, including: Katie Haun's new mega crypto fund, and why the blockchain world seems to be so capital hungry. The simply bonkers pace at which Jeeves, a fintech startup, has accreted value in successive funding rounds. Ramp's latest round brought up the question of fintech vs. the world, and how startup commentary can at times miss the mark slightly. From there we pivoted to CEO changes at Kickstarter (here) and Cityblock Health (here). The changes were a jumping off point to the never-ending question of when startups should think about replacing their founders as CEOs. And we closed with a look at Forge's neat SPAC launch, and what its positive debut could mean for unicorns more generally. Also you can snag Mary Ann's fintech newsletter here, which is going to launch in short order. Get hype!
25 March 2022 •
We had an illness on the team, so instead of recording our usual Wednesday deep-dive, we reached into our recent archives and pulled the audio from a Twitter space we did the other week. In short, it's a Friday-style episode covering a host of topics, but just a little bit late, and on a different day. The Equity team -- Natasha, Mary Ann, Maggie, Grace, and Alex -- were not about to cut back on feeding you the latest and greatest from the startup world. (Oh, and we have a live show on Thursday, see you there!) What did we talk about? The following: Venture capital rounds for WorkWhile ($13 million) and Alloy Automation ($20 million). Mary Ann's reporting on Forage, focused around where its founders worked before building the fintech startup. Hint: Grocery delivery. Then we dug into the changes at Clearco, and what happens when founder dynamics shift. And we used the story to chat a bit about how the growth focus amongst young tech companies is changing. It was a very good time. Back soon, so chat then!
23 March 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. Markets! The stock market is a bit up and down around the world, but nothing to cause too much concern. Crypto is neutral as well, but with some gains made in the last week. Big news! Anaplan is selling to PE for more than $10 billion. Notably the deal is not cheap, which means that we're seeing private equity get its checkbook out as software company prices come down and become, well, targets. Unicorns! FTX is heading to Australia, more indication that some crypto trading platforms are going to every market that they can. What will happen to smaller crypto platforms? And when does that consolidation land? Startups! Powered by People raises $5 million, CommerceIQ raises $115 million, and Sequoia debuts Arc, which is a non-accelerator accelerator. Our live show is this week! Which means you can come hang out while we record our Friday episode on Thursday. Snag a free ticket here, or tune in on Twitter spaces!
21 March 2022 •
This week our comrade Mary Ann was off, so Natasha and Alex teamed up with Grace on the dials to chat through the week's biggest news. Here's what our dynamic got into: Webflow's new round: Nine-figures of capital at a revenue multiple north of 40x? What is this, 2021? Nope, just the latest capital infusion for the no-code website company. All Raise's new CEO: The work of diversifying the venture capital market is far from over, and one group working to move the needle not only has plans to change the industry -- but also her own team. Funds: Natasha's coverage of fund-of-funds fit into news that SoftBank is turning one if its funds into an evergreen-vehicle, and Alex chatted through the numbers about Series A, B, and C rounds in the United States. Funds are maturing, experimenting and evolving into interesting vehicles. Maybe it's time we start covering them more on the show again (and check out our latest Wednesday episode for a Tiger Global-themed chat) What to know about China: From crashing stock prices to rocketing stock prices, it's been a week for Chinese equities. And startups appear increasingly caught in the crossfire. And then, crypto: From news about a hot new crypto deal to NFTs coming to Instagram, it feels impossible to avoid the blockchain world these days. We are back next week with our full team, and a live show. So, chat you Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday live!
18 March 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: Will Tiger's second act live up to its first? The question comes after Natasha's latest Startups Weekly column, where she looked into one example of how Tiger Global's stamp of approval is coming for the early stage. Today's conversation is a continuation of that topic, but broadened with examples, context, and of course, some jokes as well. Before digging into the question, we walked through some historical venture shakeups, looking specifically at Andreessen Horowitz, SoftBank and ultimately Tiger Global's own jolt to the startup ecosystem. Remember when we weren't numb to mega-funds, and due diligence was contrarian? Then we get into why Tiger is turning to invest in early-stage companies, now of all times (hack: listen to our episode on market re-correction for some background). We spoke about Tiger cutting a new check into AngelList, and the resulting window it gets. A new-ish AngelList fund has hella Tiger vibes, notably. There's also a conversation to be had about how Tiger's late-stage playbook scales to the early-stage, which made us talk about due diligence, ownership, and fund structures. And speaking of evergreen funds, here's an evergreen reminder to take advantage of code “EQUITY” when subscribing to TechCrunch+ for a hefty discount, and gratitude from your favorite trio of tech nerds. We somehow fit YC in too, because why not. All told the 2022 venture capital market is shaping up to be a very different beast than what we saw in 2021, and not only because Tiger is changing up its own posture. What we saw last year might prove a high-water mark for venture for a long time to come. So, stay tuned.
16 March 2022 •
This week, Natasha is running the show, which means we're returning to our private market focus and, for the fun of it, reminding you all that Pete Davidson is getting high soon. This is going to be a busy week for the team, so expect our sassiness to only increase as the days roll forward. Here's what I got into today: Markets have mixed feelings, thanks to the war in Ukraine, COVID-19, supply chain delays, inflation, and all around high tensions. This includes crypto, mind you. Instead of big tech, I talked about a big idea: Everyone is launching a fund to fund other funds, which is a reminder just how much relationships in VC have changed (and how much the appetite for emerging fund managers is growing). Experiments aren't just fun, they could bring big returns. I got into two top of mind deals: Sayso, which wants to change your accent, and Moove, which wants to bring car ownership from luxury to reality across the entire continent of Africa. And of course we have to end with the fact that it is Mary Ann's birthday, so follow her on Twitter but definitely don't e-mail her. We are so thankful to have you as part of the show, and a go-to friend for all things fintech and existential. You can find me on Twitter @nmasc_ and the show @equitypod.
14 March 2022 •
This was saw Equity back on the live-taping game, with Mary Ann, Natasha, and Alex gathering with Grace and the TechCrunch video team (shoutout Julio and Yashad!) to chat through the week's news. Naturally we had to cut like all hell, but we had a simply terrific time traipsing through the following items: AngelList Ventures raising a $100 million round, and what the deal seems to mean. Mara snagging $6 million for a business that had us all hype, and the Public-Otis tie-up from earlier in the week were also on the docket. Then we worked through the history of the Better.com rolling fiasco, which took a fresh turn through well-trod ground this week by messing up layoffs. Can Better.com get better at being a dotcom? We wrote up a whole thread of what went down on our Twitter. Then we nattered on the recent Acorns and Kin Insurance rounds, following what happens when a company decides that a SPAC is no longer the proper fit for its fundraising and exit plans. Alex has more here. It reminded us of our recent Wednesday episode, when we asked if fintech is playing offense or defense these days. And we closed on a grip of news from Africa, where startups are raising more money, more quickly, and taking part in more accelerators than ever before. Make sure you follow Tage Kene-Okafor and Annie Njanja for fresh reporting on startups across the continent. We do live tapings every two weeks, so come to the next one! This time, we gave away a SXSW ticket, next time, who knows!
11 March 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex connected a slew of seemingly-unrelated news items to answer a big question: How do we balance community and capitalism? The original question we sought to explore was "can you buy a community?" The answer to that question, after further exploration, felt obvious enough: no, so no what? Combining Epic Games' recent acquisition of Bandcamp, Commsor's latest raise, and Lolita Taub's new venture firm, community has a set of sharper standards around it. And nobody wants to let the buzzword go unchecked. Evergreen reminder to take advantage of code “EQUITY” when subscribing to TechCrunch+ for a hefty discount, and gratitude from your favorite trio of tech nerds. We're really enjoying using our Wednesday show to chat through trends and major topics. Tweet us with things you want us to hit on, if you have a particular bee in your bonnet!
9 March 2022 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. As before, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was top of mind, but lots of other things were going on so we had more than plenty to yammer about: The global stock market is taking more body-blows in the wake of rising oil prices and geopolitical instability. EA and Epic are pulling titles from Russia, as other companies have made similar moves; the tech industry has made its stance clear that doing business in Russia is off-limits for some time. FTX is moving into Europe, which struck me as big news, while Klarna reported earnings (more to come on that front). Circular.io raised $10 million for tech talent recruiting, and Founders Fund put together $5 billion for new funds. Closing out, there's an Apple event tomorrow! So, yeah, it's busy out there. Our live show is this Thursday, mind, and if you want to hang out with us while we record, head here to get a free ticket.
7 March 2022 •
Since the birth of Equity in mid-March of 2017, Chris Gates has been part of the team. Indeed, he helped found the show, and over the next half-decade produced and edited hundreds of episodes. He was, in short, a pillar of the team, and a key driver of how show operated day to day. Which is to say that he brought kindness, and warmth, and care to our work. As one of our colleagues put it, TechCrunch's podcast history can't be written without his name as a huge part of it. Sadly for the Equity team, but equally good news for his new employer, Chris's last day was last Friday. So we gathered to record a special episode of sorts. Natasha, Alex, and Chris sat down and played back a number of clips from the show, including our first-every episode, the first time that Natasha was on the podcast. That sort of thing. And we said some nice things about Chris at the same time. Technically Equity's birthday isn't for a week or two, but we decided to hybridize our look-back with Chris's exit. After all, we're an earnest team that needed a minute (or 30) to sit and be earnest. If you are an Equity listener, don't worry too much. We still have Grace Mendenhall on the production team, so we are in good hands. And we've added Maggie Stamets in recent weeks as well, who has been doing an ace job thus far helping us write and record. Finally, Kell is helping edit our babble down into usable content. So as with prior Equity exits -- Matthew Lynley, Katie Roof, Connie Loizos, Kate Clark, Danny Crichton -- we are hugging it out, and getting back to work. More to come! We're not going anywhere! But we will miss Chris. A lot.
4 March 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex brought on Mary Ann for a special fintech episode, perhaps our spiciest of the year so far. We asked: Are fintech startups playing offense or defense today? To start, we spoke about Ramp and Pipe's latest moves (here, here), which include moving into the travel space and branching out into media and entertainment, respectively, and how they reflect the broader fintech competitive landscape. We even played out a scenario in which we decide if two of the buzziest fintechs will ever compete with each other. (Answer: Yes.) Before you go, make sure you subscribe to Mary Ann's new fintech newsletter and check out her recent TechCrunch+ investor survey from top investors in this noisy sector. Evergreen reminder to take advantage of code "EQUITY" when subscribing to TechCrunch+ for a hefty discount, and gratitude from your favorite trio of tech nerds. Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
2 March 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. This weekend was yet another that was full of news from Ukraine, which meant that the tech market was slightly quieter than usual. But not so quiet that we didn't have lots to chat about, so here's the latest: The Russian startup market isn't huge -- data here -- but when we consider the number of startups in Ukraine as well, the impact of Russia's war and the world's sanctions will bite. Russia is also tangling with American tech giants, which isn't going well. Over the weekend, the American Republican Party bashed large American tech companies. Gone are the days when the GOP was a reliable simp for corporate power. Today it's more fashionable to pump SPACs like TMTG, or Rumble. Weee! raised a huge sum from the second Vision Fund, we report, and OneCard is set to raise a massive round in short order, despite how recently it announced its preceding round. (Oh, and this looks very neat.) And Zip is buying Sezzle, in more BNPL market consolidation. A sign of the times, we decide. That is our show! Lots more to come this week, so get ready!
28 February 2022 •
Today we gathered to do our live show, something that was scheduled a long time ago. Obviously, the world's condition has changed since. So, we sat down and tore up our notes doc and put most of the show on hold. What we wound up recording was short, and frankly a little bit raw and from the gut. But it just didn't feel right for us to sit and chit chat about funding rounds and executive shuffles when Russia is busy invading a democracy under false pretenses. TechCrunch has some notes on the situation for the tech world in Ukraine, which is worth a read. That's it from us. Equity will return in short order when we have our heads on straight. Hugs, and godspeed. Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
24 February 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: How has the great resignation changed the way startups hire? The conversation started with defining the Great Resignation and sharing numbers to back the sentiment that everyone can't stop talking about. As always, the flowed to naturally care more about the employees within startups, and their feelings, than employers and the power they've traditionally sat atop. To check our 'what about VC' box, we talked through what startups are facing today in terms of a labor market, how it has changed, and how they might be able to compete with big-tech's big dollars. After all, is any company going to be able to beat Meta on comp? Probably not. Alex thinks VCs are the new recruiters, which will help startups some. From the other angle -- putting labor in our remit and not capital, for once -- Natasha wants to ditch her 9-5 to represent Shopify employees, it seems. We won't let her, naturally. Closing, it appears that the forces driving more venture capital into early-stage companies are not too far from the causes of the labor shortage. Everyone is looking for return, either on their labor, or their capital. And that means a tight hiring market, and picky workers. https://techcrunch.com/2022/02/19/arlan-hamilton-wants-to-reroute-how-startups-hire/ Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PST, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
23 February 2022 •
Every Monday, or Tuesday, Grace and Alex scour the news and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. We are a day late here thanks to the American holiday, which means that it's going to be a short week -- here at least. But that doesn't mean that things are slow. In fact, the opposite: Russian military aggression in Ukraine is hammering the global stock market, although not everywhere it's worth noting. Crypto prices are also flat to down, generally. Most crypto tokens are off sharply in the last week. SoFi is buying Technisys for $1.1 billion. The deal isn't receiving rave reviews from Wall Street, but for the consumer fintech the concept of bringing its own infra in-house does make pretty good sense. TRUTH Social launched, and struggled to handle early demand. Which is funny given how long it took to build. TechCrunch has more here. FTX.us wants to bring crypto to a game near you. The Verge has the key quote here, I will not, but it failed to lift my general skepticism. And we have so much more here, regarding startups. It's going to be a busy, hectic week. And one full of stress, given the state of the world. So, no rest! More coffee! We can do this!
22 February 2022 •
This is Saturday, which means it's not a usual day for us to drop an episode. But what are we if not try-hards at heart? So, we're back today. What do we have on store for you? I brought Anshu Sharma onto the podcast -- and a Twitter space, so make sure you are following the podcast, yeah? -- to chat interest rates, technology growth, startup valuations, and how they all tie together. Sharma was the right person to have on the show because he's been a big tech employee (Oracle, Salesforce), an investor (Storm Ventures, and as an angel), and he's a founder to boot. So he's been around not just the block, but several in the world of technology over time. TechCrunch has covered SkyFlow, his startup, a few times including its most recent fundraise. https://techcrunch.com/2022/02/16/welcome-to-the-post-pandemic-economy-startups/ Sharma finds some of the in-market worry about rising rates harming tech stocks silly. His thesis boils down to the value of growth on a longer time-horizon than what a DCF-tuned spreadsheet might tell you. That said, rising rates will impact some startup inputs, like venture funds in the medium-term, so there was a lot to chew on. We try to keep Equity pretty high-level, and focused on discrete events. But why have a show if you can't use it to scratch your own itches from time to time? The pod is back on Tuesday due to an American holiday this Monday. Chat soon!
19 February 2022 •
This week, Natasha and Alex and Mary Ann got together with Chris and Grace to rock our regular Friday news roundup. This time, however, with extra zip as we're staring down a long weekend that, let's be clear, everyone needs. Regardless, here's the show rundown: Don't call us your metamate, friend. Startups news of the week: Ro raises even more, Airbase partners with Amex, and Deel wants to give employers a way to fund their payroll in crypto, no matter where their employees are based. The crypto regulatory world is heating up, with news from both India and the United States to chew on. Our read is that some regulation is good, but not every loss can be spun as a win. We also took a look at the mental health market for people of color through the lens of MindFi in the APAC region, and She Matters here in the United States. We had some startup-style questions, but are generally bullish about the companies. And we closed with the cannabis market of both Germany, and the United States. Alex and Natasha are bullish on, well, all of it while Mary Ann nurses a hemp allergy. Woot! We're off Monday, but back Tuesday. Hugs!
18 February 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex asked: What can startups learn from the rise, and now struggles, of Hopin? For companies that grew like weed, what’s next? In the show, we talked through Hopin's meteoric rise and why we called them the fastest growth story of the era, comparable or better than what Slack and other well-known growth stories managed during their own ascent. However, with Hopin now cutting staff after raising mountains of cash and buying a half-dozen smaller companies, it's clear that hyper-scaling has limits. The economy is changing, again, which is also going to shake up which startups have tailwinds, and which have headwinds. Just like it did before. Hopin is perhaps a very visible canary, but it is hardly the only startup that rode COVID-19's economic disruptions to new heights, which means it won't be the only company left to navigate a changed world when the winds shift. https://techcrunch.com/2022/02/12/its-not-a-startup-reckoning-its-a-recorrection/
16 February 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news, and record notes on what’s going on to kick off the week. Today we had were reeling in the wake of the American football championship, and the fact that is once again snowing where Alex lives. Alas. But snow or not, the news was fascinating: We chewed on the Just Eat delisting situation, which appears to be a cost-cutting move. Delivery Hero is also struggling, and the value of Deliveroo is in the toilet. So it's not clear that European food delivery will wind up being the business that many expected it to be. What about in America? We get DoorDash earnings in due time, so we'll learn more but the news doesn't augur well. And shares of Splunk are set to rise sharply this morning in the wake of late Friday news that Cisco is interested in buying Splunk for around $20 billion. Normally such a deal wouldn't excite us much as Splunk hasn't been a startup for a long time, but the deal possibility does say that anti-trust concerns aren't stopping some major firms from pursuing big deals. From the startup world, two rounds: $20 million for Gaia, which Alex thinks has a brilliant idea, and TripleDot, which raised $116 million for its causal games. Don't sleep on the gaming market. It's just flat huge. And to close we yammered about crypto ads in the football game, which were expensive, but appear to be having a nice effect for the companies in question. More soon!
14 February 2022 •
We had the full crew aboard today for our live taping, headed by our killer production team Grace and Chris, and hosting crew Mary Ann, Natasha and Alex. Overall, it was a success? Our streaming tech took us to various Internet platforms, and people came to Hopin and asked questions. Thank you! It's always a risk to do something new, so thank you for making it a win. But enough of all that, what did we talk about? Here's the rundown: Funding rounds from Mos (edtech + fintech), Alchemy (blockchain infra), and Cooks Venture (patented chickens). The last round got the most attention during the recording, leading to questions about the ethics of eating meat. Peloton's news, and the pandemic effect on companies was up next. Or more specifically, the changing impact of the pandemic on companies. Peloton is suffering in the pandemic's wake (although some argue that is due more to mismanagement than the pandemic), but other companies are coming out of the dip in reasonable form. From there we dug into the ethics of venture capitalists having side hustles as consultants. Our read is that the setup is possible to be done ethically, and as the investing market grow a cohort of check-writers with smaller AUMs, some additional work to pay the bills can be unavoidable. The drama was illustrative, if more rude than it needed to be. And we closed with insurtech. After insurtech stocks got hammered, there's some optimism that better days are up ahead. Whew! We're back with another live show in two weeks. Until then, we're back to normal!
11 February 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex crawled through the Metaverse, leaning on Facebook's latest earnings and Microsoft's newest appetite as somewhat of a map. Our question, after much thinking, gets into the heart of what the Metaverse is built for: Will the metaverse be for work, or for play? We’re not picking sides, necessarily, but exploring how two companies within Big Tech are staking bets in the digital world, and how we think those bets will shake out long term for them and the startups that look up to them. Facebook seems to be taking a work-styled approach, Microsoft is big in games, and startups are trying a host of different methods for building our digital next. Who is right? Who will win? And how will we get here? That's what we wanted to dive into. The Satya Nadella interview that we mentioned is here, as well as Natasha's piece on virtual HQs.
9 February 2022 •
Every Monday, Grace and Alex scour the news, and record notes on what's going on to kick off the week. Today we had a fun mix of news, and things that made us laugh. The Spotify-Rogan situation continued as last week ended, with more episodes of the show coming down. More apologies. And more of Spotify trying to straddle the difference between platform and publisher, while hoping to reap the rewards of both while not fully owning up to the responsibility. Wag is going public, and my body is ready. From the funding round front, we had quick notes on Swing, which raised a $24 million Series B, and Reliance Health, which raised a $40 million Series B. And to close us out, an analogy about Facebook through the lens of Alphabet's Other Bets line item. Lots of Equity is coming this week, including our first live show of the year. It's free and you can come hang out, watch us flub, and ask questions! See you Thursday!
7 February 2022 •
Hello and happy weekend from the Equity crew! We had a busy week, including a Twitter Space with Natasha and Alex taking to the mics to dig into some tasty public-market news. Naturally our show is more startup-focused than public-market centered. But! We can learn a lot from the world of public companies that have a wide footprint inside particular tech niches that matter for younger companies. So when we digest PayPal's results and what investors did to its value this week, we are not super interested in PayPal per se, but more what its results can tell us about the fintech world more generally. After all, around a fifth of all venture capital dollars invested last year went to fintech startups. And Alphabet, it has deep ties to the public cloud space, and the advertising market, both places where startups live and play. https://techcrunch.com/2022/01/31/come-hang-with-us-for-live-recordings-of-techcrunch-podcasts-equity-and-found/ We do the occasional live taping on Twitter, so make sure you are following us on the Big Blue Bird App. Hugs! We are back Monday morning!
5 February 2022 •
We had the full crew aboard today, headed by our killer production team Grace and Chris, and hosting crew Mary Ann, Natasha and Alex. Last week we promised Cute Farming Robots, and this week we delivered, along with a lot more. But first, the Equity team along with our sister podcast Found are doing live recordings starting soon. You can find out more here, but Equity will be live-taped on Hopin next Thursday. Come hang out, it should be fun! https://techcrunch.com/2022/01/31/come-hang-with-us-for-live-recordings-of-techcrunch-podcasts-equity-and-found/ Now, the show rundown: Funding rounds from Pluto (corporate spend in the Middle East), Free Agency (agents for tech talent), and Metafy (video game coaching) got us started. From a host of rounds this week, we chose the most interesting for your delectation. If you want more on gaming, check out our Wednesday show where we niche down into the universe, or in this case, the metaverse. The new Seven Seven Six fund got us into the crypto investing beat, which Alex explored here earlier in the week. In short: Expect more crypto deals. We also touched on the Indian crypto tax rule, which is a revelation of a regulation. From there we dove into the fintech realm through the lens of the Bolt fiasco/drama/truth-telling saga. More tweets, please. And then, we end with a section on autonomous vehicles, that has nothing to do with cars. Yep, we're talkinig Cute Farming Robots, including rounds from Vecna, Electric Sheep, and MongoDB founder doing this, which reminds us that the AWS of robots isn't too far away. So far, 2022 is feeling good. Along with our soon to be standing live show circuit, we're working hard on making the show more focused on tension and nuance, while still sticking to our love for numbers and nerdy networks. Let's annoy some people this year, and teach you something in the meantime.
4 February 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex brought on the Most Online™ reporter at TechCrunch, Amanda Silberling to talk about one of her recent pieces, "maybe creator funds are bad." The column, mixed with the recent saga between Spotify and Joe Rogan, helped us ask a bigger question for this week's episode: What makes a platform economically viable for creators? It's no small question. Creators are a key plank in every platform's success, from TikTok to YouTube to Instagram to, well, wherever you watch or listen to stuff made outside of major studios. But the financial relationship between platform and provider -- creator, in other words -- is often fraught and broken. Creator funds are some proposed fix to the situation, but we find the to be more band-aid than holistic solution. Rev splits are good, and seemingly more sustainable, but with YouTube's ad load reaching truly epic proportions, they may not be a fix-all. So we sat down to chew the fat and try to work towards a solution. Which we mostly did, except for Alex, who decided that a return to feudalism is the only way forward. We're back Friday! Talk soon!
2 February 2022 •
This Monday show actually felt a bit old-school, in that the weekend controversy in tech has spilled over into the working morning, meaning that we need to talk about it. But first, markets: After the somewhat punishing start to last week, today's trading is somewhat more staid. Global equities are moving, but nothing suicidal, and cryptos are off a bit in the last 24 hours, but up in the last seven days. Naturally, given what has happened in recent trading sessions, all that could change in a moment but at least we're starting in un-choppy waters. The Joe Rogan furor continued. After several musicians decided to take their music off the service in protest of Spotify's decision to pay for material that those artists viewed as undercutting public health, Spotify made some of its rules public and said that it will append COVID-19 notes to podcasts that discuss the pandemic. We talk about why. In startup-land, FTX has raised another huge round, TCV is putting more late-stage money into early-stage rounds, and Bamboo raised. Closing out, changes are afoot in China's venture capital market. So yes, there's going to be a lot of Twitter drama this week. But don't worry! You can compensate for that by hating on people posting Wordle scores, as that appears to be the latest way to lose friends online.
31 January 2022 •
What did we get into? Well, a host of pretty awesome stuff, even if we had to leave Cute Farming Robots in the tank for another few days: We had funding rounds from Anyplace, which is building a way to make the digital nomad life work in a WFH world, notes on Frost Giant's Series A, which Alex really needs to finish writing up, and Parthean, which Natasha covered and did a great job explaining. Here's to better financial literacy in general. We need it. Then we chatted through what Mark Cuban is doing with his generic drug play, which we think is at once great (cheaper meds for the folks who need them!) and somewhat sad (how did we get here as a society?). Which of course led us into a conversation about public and private money, and the role that billionaires play in reshaping society. Next up was a YC credit union DAO that is collecting money from graduates of the accelerator to invest in cyrpto startups. So its a founder rolling fund, right? Kinda. MENTOR COLLECTIVE And that's a wrap on another busy week. Good luck in the snow if it's coming your way!
28 January 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex brought on Bessemer partner Mary D'Onofrio to chat about the public market slump, but more importantly, its trickle down impact on private companies. Our big question was a broad and important one, built off of our most recent three views column for TechCrunch+. How is this change in market conditions going to affect startups? As a trio, we chatted about the obvious and non-obvious impact on startups as companies like Peloton, Netflix and indexes like the BVP Nasdaq Cloud Index, flash warning signs. We asked questions like what is ahead for startups that raised at premium valuations during the market peak and how the exit market may shape up in the coming quarters. D'Onofrio gave two particularly hot takes on the future of due diligence and the nearly-shuttered IPO window, so make sure to tune in. We don't do too many guests on the show these days due in part to our all-virtual recording setup thanks to COVID. But D'Onofrio was a blast to have on, so we'll be asking her back before too long. Enjoy!
26 January 2022 •
If you own stuff, I am sorry to report that you are probably poorer today than you were on Friday, and even less wealthy than you were the Friday before. Things are selling off and we had to talk about it: Stocks are down, and cryptos are getting utterly hammered. It's a bad time to own equities, but worse if you are invested in digital assets. Bitcoin, ether, and Solana are taking body-blows while the stock market wilts. I guess this means that all our 401k contributions will be cheaper in February? Small wins, but still. Swiggy raised a huge round at a simply enormous price, which is good for the company but has us asking questions. OfficeSpace raised $150 million, which caught our eye, and the recent Spectrum Labs appears to make good sense. And to close out we asked is the party over? This MG Siegler piece was in our brain as we chewed over the situation. The dissonance between the public and private markets feels peak, and we aren't sure how quickly their diverging velocities can keep up the tension. Regardless of how the selloff is impacting you, we hope that you have a lovely week and stay warm. Hugs!
24 January 2022 •
Despite the fact that it is a holiday week here in the United States, tech news was, well, as nuts as it usually is. At this point anything else would be a shock. So what did we get to? All of this and more: Rebundle's incredibly neat startup idea, and funding round. We love a Midwest startup here on the show thanks to Alex's roots, which means that when we got to talk about banana fiber, hair extensions, venture capital, and St. Louis all at once, we were hype. Wheel reinvented itself again with a $150 million Series C, while Gale Health played matchmaker with understaffed shifts and nurses. Plaid's buy of Cognito, a fintech startup, for around $250 million. The deal had us thinking about the power of APIs, the future of fintech, and why we don't hear about more startup M&A. Part of the why to that question could be anti-trust pressures, the sort of which that Microsoft is going to hit with its purchase attempt of Activision Blizzard, a gaming company. Microsoft already owns several gaming studios (Mojang, Bethesda), its own gaming platform (Xbox), and has long owned and operated the key PC gaming operating system (Windows). How much more does it need to own? We also touched on Wordle, free gaming, and the open web in our gaming chat, so lots to unpack there, frankly! Send us your go-to starter word. Finally, no time like the present to return to no code. At times tech is a bunch of shiny rebrands, but at other times, basic angles become non-negotiable strategies. No code, like AI and ML, is one of them. And companies like Walnut and Softr are snapping up the resulting rewards. Whew! What a week. If you are tired already, do not look at the calendar. It will only terrify you.
21 January 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic, think about a question and unpack the rest. This week, Natasha and Alex dared to refresh perhaps the most common conversation in startups these days: the ubiquity, and resulting irrelevance, of unicorns. Our big question wasn't a simple one: Do we care that the meaning of unicorns has been hollowed out? The conversation ran the gamut, starting with information on unicorn creation rates, startup hit success and of course, funding booms leading to aforementioned ripple effects. The majority of our time was spent asking more meta questions about the moniker, like how the quality bar has changed for $1 billion dollar companies and why late-stage thinks it needs to act like early stage? On TC+, we've recently written about the changing characteristics of unicorns, and how public markets may bring a not-so-private reckoning to tech's stars. (For more on the software valuation thing, head here.)
19 January 2022 •
This is our Monday (Tuesday) show, our short ramp into the week where we talk about the larger picture to get our feet wet. We're a day late due to an American holiday, and I can say later in the day with this thanks to my schedule. But, better late than never, here's what we got into: Yet another bad day for assets: Stocks around the world were broadly lower, with software shares taking yet another hit in the key US market. Microsoft wants to buy Activision Blizzard for nearly $69 billion dollars. It's a lot of money for a gaming studio that was so recently covered in, well, scandal? And really, does Microsoft need to get any bigger? Come on. It has already consumed several gaming companies, and is worth north of $2 trillion. At what point will regulators, you know, regulate? Clockwise raises $45 million! This is a very neat round from a very cool company, which Aisha Malik covered for TechCrunch earlier today. Her post is here if you need more. We're back to our normal schedule starting tomorrow, now that the new year and holidays are behind us. To work!
18 January 2022 •
Happily this week, we did not talk about NFTs, and I don’t think that we even said “token” a single time. Instead, Mary Ann and Natasha and Alex got back to what we might consider the roots of Equity. Here’s what we got into: We started with a look at the recent Fertilis round. Fertilis is an Australian startup working to make the IVF process more reliable. We are big fans of the concept, though the startup has lots of work ahead of it before it moves the needle for couples hoping to conceive. Mary Ann brought together two very Equity topics: Fintech and SaaS, but more interestingly, fintech that only wants to serve SaaS startups. Even though we tried to define Arc’s relationship with the startups it serves, Alex landed on it being a friends with benefits for the financial world. Speaking of fintech, Brex made headlines (again) with its new raise and new executive – thanks to Meta. We keep returning to the hiring conversation, and that’s for good reason. Career Karma (news here) and SeekOut (news here) have two different strategies when it comes to empowering employees at companies -- and all of us agreed that retention, versus placement, is the future of hiring tech. We ended with a conversation on accelerators thanks to Y Combinator’s news, and venture reaction thereof. Plus, new AngelList and Dorm Room Fund remind us that staying niche in strategy continues to be the way that early-stage venture operations are winning deals. A big hug to you all for surviving the start to the working year during a COVID surge. We can do this! We’ll get through it as a big team, ok?
14 January 2022 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic and dive deep. This week Natasha and Mary Ann and Alex came together to talk about the changing nature of due diligence in the startup market. The chat was loosely centered around a piece that the three of us wrote as 2021 was coming to a close, but the conversation quickly broadened to include a host of factors that are impacting how startups fundraise, and build today. Mary Ann talked about the power of FOMO, and how that particular social factor is impacting how startups raise. Natasha brought up the importance of back-channeling, and how founders talk to one another. And Alex tried to tease out the difference in how funds of various sizes will approach doing their own diligence, or letting others take on the work. It was all very good fun! You can read the original backing piece on TC+ here, and we're back Friday!
12 January 2022 •
This is our Monday show, our short ramp into the week. Yes, it's Monday again. No, you can't stay in bed. Things are already happening! Take-Two is buying Zynga: In a cash and stock deal worth around $12.7 billion (enterprise value), the transaction has delighted Zynga shareholders and bummed out Take-Two's own. Paytm is taking shots, as other 2021 IPOs slim down. The macro environment that startups exist in is about to change for the first time, from a monetary perspective. Pine Labs is looking to go public in the United States, China venture capital data is looking pretty strong, Assent Compliance raised a huge round, and Arive is apparently a thing. All that and we are just getting ready for earnings season, so stay hype as there is a lot of data coming in short order. Welcome to the week! The Equity team is entirely back from vacation now, and we are ready to freaking rock this year. Let's kick some ass!
10 January 2022 •
We're getting back up to full speed this week, so Mary Ann and Alex along with Grace behind the scenes took on our Friday show. Next week Natasha and Chris are back, and we'll do our regular three-show lineup. Today, however, despite a smaller team we had just as much as always go chew through: OpenSea's epic new fundraise: Alex did a little Fun Math on the company's trading volume and possible revenue totals. The gist is that OpenSea is a big business. But with NFTs as volatile as they are, charting regular growth will prove difficult. During our crypto chat, we also dug into the Web 2.0 vs. web3 debate that has been raging. From there we pivoted to fintech, with notes on Petal's funding round, Ribbit's new fund, and how Mexican fintech Bankaya is going after its target customers via offline methods. Then it was notes on the private and public markets' dissonance, and a few moments to complain about COVID. We are back Monday morning! Chat you then!
7 January 2022 •
It's the new year! Yes, welcome to 2022 from the Equity team. We hope that our holiday episodes kept you entertained, and warm. But it's now back to work, so let's get into the news: Global stocks are generally higher today, while cryptos are mostly flat. In the last week, major cryptocurrencies have lost value. Twitter banned Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene for "repeated violations of [its] COVID-19 misinformation policy." India is investigating Apple's payment system for iOS. Tesla Q4 deliveries came in above expectations, leading to the company's stock surging in pre-market trading. NIO also saw a bump, which means that EV startups are also having a good day. The Sensetime IPO happened while Equity was on break. Despite raising far less than it had once wanted, the company's Hong Kong IPO is now in the books, and doing well as a trading equity. And AIMMO raised $12 million in a Series A. The company provides data labeling tooling for enterprise customers building AI models. Whoo! The year is underway! The great gears of work have once again begun to spin. Let's get it!
3 January 2022 •
As is tradition on the show, we used the last episode of the year to make predictions about the next year. To continue an annual tradition, Grace and Chris joined Natasha and Mary Ann and Alex on the mic, a rare treat and one simply for your enjoyment. Expectedly, they had a lot to say. So what did we manifest for 2022? Here's a sampling: We're bullish on climate-focused startups: A notable theme from a number of us was the importance of climate startups, and how many types of startups are going to have a climate-flavor. In short, as the planet changes, it's going to touch just about everything. And if sustainability is not your entire pitch, it's going to be at least a strategy soon enough. We had a lot to say about crypto: Sure, we're all a bit tired of talking crypto, but there's also no chance that we could get away from the topic when considering next year. The classic tension between reinvention and regulation continues to be a dynamic we all care about, and predict will be full force over the next twelve months. We're not nearly as bullish on media: The Buzzfeed SPAC had some of us bummed out, but when it came to creators and not just writers, we were a bit more positive. Everything is media, even if everything doesn't make money. Space is controversial: We won't spoil it, but the space chat got a bit spicy. The argument wound up showing an interesting issue in the tech space, namely is all the money going to where it will have the greatest impact? A big hug from the Equity team for your continued listenership this year. Thanks for sticking with us, and we're back in a heartbeat with another year's shows - some of which may even be in person!
31 December 2021 •
It's just about Christmas, which means you may be stuck with family at the moment. Regardless of what, if any, holidays you may celebrate, there's good chance that there are more people around you than normal. We're here to distract you from that. To ensure that you get respite from Actual Human Interaction, the Equity team has prepared a look-back at the year. Big numbers? Check. Big themes? You know it. Big moments of 'wait, that happened this year?!' Well, we'd have it no other way. Here's what we have in store for you: High-level venture capital stats from the year, from around the world including India, Latin America, and the United States. The rise of memes and money: Remember the Gamestop/stonk saga? That was this year, amazingly. So too was the Robinhood IPO, the Coinbase direct listing, and a host of other related stories. Sure, by the end of the year we had moved on to other pieces of key news, but don't forget how wild the start of 2021 was from a trading perspective. The crypto boom: Love it or hate it, crypto was one of the key startup themes this year. Capital raced into NFT marketplaces, crypto infra projects, new blockchains, and more. It was a gold rush, but all the gold was digital. A changing creator economy: We had little choice but to talk talking, to chat chatting, to yammer about yammering. Yes, we riffed on the rise and fall of Clubhouse, and the larger live-audio market. Podcasts, videos, and the creator economy as a whole were pretty big narratives this year, so we talked through what went down. We also touched on remote work, fintech, insurtech mistakes, media startups, and a grip of topics that you, the Equity family, sent in via Twitter. Did we get to everything? Heck no. We didn't even get close. But that's because 2021 was a busy damn year. It started busy and never slowed down. What do we expect in 2022? Well, just wait for next week's episode!
24 December 2021 •
To close out the year, Natasha and Mary Ann and Alex headed to the mic with Grace and Chris behind the scenes. We got to our favorite topics, and honestly, got a chance to just laugh our way through the final innings of the year. Here's what we got to: Factor raised a Seed round for up-chain logistics work, Phylagen is working to track airborne illness, and Notus wants to help you find the right influencer to buy. We also dove into the How Big Can Y Combinator Really Get discussion that Haje kicked off. We don't all agree on this one, so talk it through with us. Then we chatted about Course Hero, edtech, and when it can -- and may not! -- make sense to raise venture capital. To close we dove into Alex's SPAC story about the metaverse, touched on the Reddit IPO, and made fun of whatever garbage this is. And that's our last news round up of the year. Stay tuned for our 2021 look back episode that comes out on Friday, December 24 and our 2022 predictions-meets-manifestations episode that comes out on Friday, December 31st. You can check out our Twitter account for when they go live.Happy Holidays from the Equity family to you and yours. May your days be merry, even if they're in the metaverse.
17 December 2021 •
It finally happened, ladies and gentleman and our non-binary friends. The Holiday News Slowdown has arrived. Late, I might add, but still here at last. But that did not stop Grace and Alex from making you your weekly kickoff show! Welcome to the final Equity Monday of the year. Here's what we got into: The Indian PM's Twitter account was hacked, and used to promote bitcoin. Not a great look for the crypto world. The SenseTime IPO is on hold after the US government "added SenseTime Group Limited to the Non-SDN Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies List," per the company. The AI listing's delay is not a great look for Chinese tech market liquidity. Fuse added $25 million to its Series B, helping bring insurance products to Southeast Asia. Thirdweb raised $5 million to bring together no-code and Web3, which we think is pretty cool. Don't forget that Equity is back Friday for a final news roundup, and that we have two holiday eps coming during the last two weeks of the year! Talk soon!
13 December 2021 •
Friends, we're almost there: the end of the year that felt like a decade. This week, Mary Ann, Natasha and Alex put aside their 2021 fatigue and talked through a week full of news - and candidly, tensions. As always, shout out to Grace and Chris for producing the show and making us sound a whole lot better. We got into the Lyft mafia, garbage, and why our local truckers are giving us creator economy vibes. Or more specifically: Kenya’s Pariti raised $2.85M led by Harlem Capital to develop startup ecosystems in emerging markets, proving yet again how Africa's entrepreneurial scene is one not to miss. The empowerment trend continued with TrueNorth's $50 million fundraise to help biz-savvy independent truckers, and freshly-anointed unicorn AgentSync with news, as Alex reminds us, that insurtech is very much alive. Opensea got a new CFO from Lyft, which led to IPO rumors, denial, and rumors about why there's denial about going public. Plus, as Natasha notes, if you're not leaving Lyft to join crypto, you're leaving Lyft to join climate. The Trump Media SPAC is a mess, as we anticipated, frankly. Mary Ann is all over the Better.com saga as its comm, marketing, PR heads all submitted their resignations this week and CEO Vishal Garg issued a poorly-received apology for how badly he effed up the mass layoffs last week -- and as she hints, there's a lot more to come. We disagreed more than usual this episode, which is refreshing. So cheers to more of that next year, and we'll see you back here on Monday.
10 December 2021 •
Despite the advanced week, news is still coming in in hot and heavy, so strap in for today's busy episode: Cryptos have failed to recover from their weekend swoon, leading to most major crypto assets suffering from a double-digit decline in their value over the last week. Sensetime's Hong Kong IPO is set to raise less money than the AI company had hoped. BitMart got hacked, showing that even this deep into the crypto era we are still seeing embarrassing security lapses that deliver material consumer pain. Alibaba is reshuffling its leadership, though we are not sure at this juncture what the changes mean. Not to get speculative, but we're keeping an eye on the new leadership. A number of investors are considering pouring capital into Polygon, TradeDepot raised $110 million, and Stacked raised $35 million for its crypto-investing system. I would normally say that it's a holiday week, so let's relax, but instead I wonder if we're going to see a final push of news this week before things do calm down for the holiday period.
6 December 2021 •
It's Friday, which means the whole crew was aboard for this particular episode. We had Grace and Chris behind the scenes, and Mary Ann, Natasha, and Alex on the mics. And, frankly, we needed the full team because the holidays aren't slowing any news down. First up? Square becoming Block, which we wanted to make fun of but mostly found to be reasonable given the company's disparate interests. From there we chatted about Inpathy's neat take on social networking, Massive's $11 million funding round, and why Butter could help grease the skids of many a subscription business. Then it was time to trade startups for bigger companies, as we had to riff on Bret Taylor's quasi-ascension to the top of Salesforce along with a host of other executive exits. Alex calls it cold resignation winter, but Meta clearly has put some people on the hot seat. Better.com was also in our remit this week, due to its fundraising and layoffs. We debate if you should raise if it comes at the cost of your employees, and the morality of a Zoom layoff. And, finally, Sounding Board's Series B reminded us that executive coaching, even and especially for the folks above, isn't just a services business. It's a SaaS business. See you here next week, unless Jack shaves off his beard and we're forced to do a shot.
3 December 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday episode when we niche down to a single topic, looking to expand our understanding of one particular technology trend or another. Today? We discussed if the era of founder-led companies is coming to a close, and if we have reached the peak of founder friendliness. The decision to abdicate the CEO role by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey got us onto the topic. You can read our first take on the matter here, or listen to us geek out about it on an earlier Twitter Spaces. But Natasha and Alex decided that they didn't want to walk alone, so we got Floodgate's Iris Choi back on the show, along with recently venture-backed Fractional founder Stella Han to help us dig through the issue. Choi doesn't see a rapid change in the current market dynamic that has led to increased founder influence, and therefore control. Even more, she noted that as the public markets are willing to accept founder-friendly mechanics like dual-class shares, there's even less incentive to shake up the current dynamic. Han, meanwhile, spoke to the evolution of a founder's role over the lifetime of her company - as well as how she tries to build in decentralized authority (as the central source of authority) We end with the importance of being explicit about different roles, and how they are subject to change as a company hits different scale milestones. Equity is back on Friday with our news roundup. Chat soon!
1 December 2021 •
Well, so much for a relaxed post-holiday week on Monday. News broke this morning that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down from the company entirely. The company's CTO, Parag Agrawal, will be taking over at the helm. Saleforce exec Bret Taylor will take over as board chairman. So, Amanda and Natasha and Alex jumped into onto the mics -- and, ironically, a Twitter space -- to riff on all things Jack and future of Twitter. From the show: Crypto and the CTO, what can we read from the tea leaves? Jack's dual role, and its detractors. The fact that Twitter's product work has been great lately, which we don't want to stop. When is a good time to leave a company, is it on the up and up or when things are quiet? And, finally, Jack's somewhat biting words regarding founder-led companies, which are, frankly, a bit at odds with his own behavior until now. The show is back on Wednesday, unless some other major CEO resigns.
29 November 2021 •
With a holiday-impacted week behind us, we hope that you are ready for the next few weeks of busy news. Because starting in the back-half of December, the world is going to slow down dramatically. Make sure that you are following the show on Twitter, and let's get into it! No tech IPOs this week, though we will see earnings from select SaaS companies. That means that our information flow will slow over the next few days. India is irked at Starlink, telling the Elon Musk company to get its regulatory paperwork in order. Raspberry Pi is going public, it's expected. The micro-computer company could debut in Spring of 2022 on the London exchanges. And black Friday online sales dipped, though we have a guess as to why. Two acquisitions took place recently that caught our eye, including Booking Holdings buying Etraveli Group for $1.8 billion, and Clearlake buying Quest from Francisco Partners. From the startup world, two deals: Slice is now a unicorn thanks to Tiger Global, while Thought Machine is also now a unicorn thanks to its own six-figure round. Two new unicorns to start the week? Why not. And, finally, this essay on crypto. The show is back Wednesday! We'll see you then!
29 November 2021 •
Find the Found feed here: https://pod.link/found Not only is this week's guest the TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 Battlefield winner, but Nabiha Saklayen is also democratizing access to life-saving cell therapies by using—you guessed it—lasers. Nabiha is the co-founder and CEO of Cellino which is a company developing the tech to automate stem cell production that will lower the cost of cell therapies and increase the yield of viable cells. In this episode, Nabiha tells Jordan and Darrell how she built a start-up beginning with the tech and finding a business fit, her evolving leadership style, and why this work is crucial to the biomedical field. Take our listener survey and let us know a bit about yourself and what you think of FOUND. Connect with us: On Twitter On Instagram Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Call us and leave a voicemail at (510) 936-1618
26 November 2021 •
This is our Wednesday episode when we niche down to a single topic, looking to expand our understanding of one particular technology trend or another. And this week, it was all about the ConstitutionDAO. For those who weren't online last week, here's what you missed: a not-so-subtle group of strangers on the internet banded together to try to buy one of the remaining thirteen copies for the constitution. With crypto. The bold bid eventually fell short, but many saw it as an inspiring onramp into how communities can mobilize around a shared goal in a Web3 world. The whole movement, from its meme start to its poetic, and billionaire Ken Griffin-themed, end, was just too interesting for Equity to not dedicate an entire episode to. So, Natasha and Alex brought on Lucas Matney and Anita Ramaswamy to unpack, decompress, and bond over our shared experience of witnessing this 'financial flash mob.' We talked about what a DAO is, and what they might be used for. We dug into the question of just how many folks the effort really brought to the larger "Web3" space. And, of course, we had to talk about gas fees, NFTs, and the pace of innovation in crypto more broadly. Lucas even broke out an excellent analogy to explain level-two chains! The crew were generally bullish on the blockchain economy, if skeptical of some of its current uses. In short, the potential remains potent in crypto even if some of its projects, today at least, are a bit more boring than breakthrough. Crypto, we're told, is going to shake up the world. More of that, we reckon, and less of the meme-wars wouldn't be amiss.
24 November 2021 •
Happy Monday everyone, and welcome to a holiday week here in the United States. Yes, we here in the good ol' States will be off the second half of this week. TechCrunch won't grind to a halt, but we will certainly slow down a little bit. But, that doesn't mean that we didn't have a lot to talk about this morning: Shares of Indian fintech giant Paytm fell further today, after a very disappointing first-days trading last Thursday. The company now has lot of ground to make up just to get back to zero. Facebook is delaying the rollout of E2E encryption until 2023, which has us a bit bummed. Also in big tech news, ByteDance is calling it quits on edtech in India. Turning the page to startups, we chatted through three news items this morning: Jina.ai raised $30 million, Deliverr raised $250 million, and Lydia added equity and crypto trading to its French financial superapp. And we closed on the just what the point of a DAO is. Woo! We are back Wednesday morning. Chat soon!
22 November 2021 •
Good news, everyone: Mary Ann is back! Yes, after a short absence we have our third Friday host back where she belongs. Namely right in front of a microphone, talking to us. And it was good to have her back, as we had a small mountain of news to talk through: OpenSea could be worth $10 billion: Right before we recorded, news broke that OpenSea could raise new capital at a far-greater valuation than it did earlier this year. While we had some jokes, we also did a little math on why OpenSea could really be worth so much money. Other rapid-fire funding rounds: If OpenSea does raise again, it will join good company in putting together several rounds in under a year. Facily has done the same, as has Justt. In short, the old 18-month cycle for raising capital is so dated it might as well get delivered by telegram. Lambda School rebrands: Casper goes private: After a tough time as a public concern, DTC mattress company Casper is going private. Notably its issues have not dampened market interest in taking other DTC companies public. What makes a founder, a founder: We're entering the holiday period, so expect the usual disruptions to Equity's production calendar. We'll be taking short breaks as per usual, but will be recharging some ahead of what should prove to be a very, very busy 2022.
19 November 2021 •
This is our Wednesday episode when we niche down to a single topic, looking to expand our understanding of one particular technology trend or another. This week? iBuying. Zillow made a decision to get out of the iBuying market, with huge costs hanging over its head and a grip of layoffs to manage. Natasha and Alex were curious what went wrong. So we brought along Ryan Lawler, one of TechCrunch+'s reporting team, who has covered the space for a chat. Ryan helped us use Opendoor earnings as a comparison point -- it turns out that the iBuying model can work, even if Zillow itself struggled with the model. (Opendoor went public via a SPAC, recall.) We also talked about what the situation could mean for startups in the real estate market more broadly. It turns out that merely having data is not enough to make money in the housing space. Equity is back Friday morning with our weekly news roundup, and if all goes well, also back on Saturday with something both special and fun. And if you haven't given our sister podcast, Found, a listen, check it out!
17 November 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds, and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. Tesla shares are off further this morning in the wake of declines following stock sales by Elon Musk. The company retains its $1 trillion market cap, per Yahoo Finance data, but is at risk of losing a comma if it keeps slipping. Elsewhere in Big Tech, Microsoft is making Windows worse, while bitcoin gets an upgrade On the startup front, we took a look at Writer.com, Zoomo and Rsquared. Up ahead, we have the Braze, Usertesting and Sweetgreen IPOs. Nubank and Paytm are also in the queue.
15 November 2021 •
Friday afternoon the Equity team took to a Twitter Space to hit on a topic that we had to cut from our regular end-of-week show, namely crypto earnings and how Wall Street is digesting the results. And to bring in extra mental horsepower, Natasha and Alex lassoed new TechCruncher Anita Ramaswamy to help. We touched on Coinbase's Q3 financial results and what they tell us about trading incomes, and the company itself. Robinhood's own Q3 results were part of the chat as well, as they showed a similar pattern to what Coinbase disclosed. More companies than just those two, newly-public entities are reporting crypto trading declines. Square did as well, after its bitcoin revenues slipped in Q3. Simply put, consumers traded less crypto in Q3 than they did in Q2, and a number of companies that were recently riding high on that particular volatility cycle had to deal with a down-cycle period. We talked about what the results mean for the noisy world of crypto startups, many of which are looking to the highly-visible Coinbase as an indicator of what they can expect as they attempt to scale in a volatile market. Equity is back Monday!
13 November 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines! This is our Friday show, a roundup of the week's biggest and most fascinating stories from startups, venture capital and technology. Natasha and Alex along with Grace and Chris had to cut and cut and cut to get the show to fit this week, so if we didn't get to your favorite story, we wanted to. We just ran out of space! Here's the rundown: Twitter Blue: Natasha is not sold, but Alex is all-in on Twitter's new subscription service. What does it include? What do we hope it adds? We have it all for you. Seasoned raised $18.7 million for its frontline worker app and matching service, You.com raised $20 million to continue taking on Google's search hegemony, and Helsing.ai raised a huge pile of money for reasons that we like, even if the details of what it intends to do are still a little vague. INDIAN EDTECH Tiger Global's investing rush. Thanks to an act of journalism by our Twitter friend Sar Haribhakti, we had fresh perspective on just how the startup investing community is handling Tiger's race to win growth-stage investing. The Information has more, as does FT and Crunchbase News, And then we were out of minutes! Don't worry, however, Equity is back Monday morning!
12 November 2021 •
This is our Wednesday show, the time of the week when we niche down to a single topic. Today we spoke about the revolution within agriculture otherwise known as vertical farming. Alex and Natasha spoke to Hardware editor Brian Heater, who recently wrote a TC-1 about Bowery Farming spanning over 11,000 words and topics such as the taste of sustainable turnips and produce sections at grocery stores. The core of his multi-part exploration, though, was built around a question: Can Bowery Farms bring the newest and most innovative technologies to bear on civilization’s oldest and most optimized industry? As a result, our episode went down a lot of tasty rabbit holes. We spoke about the current state of vertical farming, the challenges that come with commercialization and our struggling climate, and if your local dairy farm is actually thinking about adding a robot to their staff. There was more to chew on, including the balance between sustainability and profit, how to think about carbon footprints, the commercialization of vertical farming today, and how some folks are spending $30 on a strawberry. We had lovely time and will have Brian back on the pod. Here's the TC-1 if you're interested: Bowery Farming is forcing us all to look up at the future of vertical agriculture (3,500 words/14 minutes) — explores the evolution of vertical farming, it’s expansion in Japan and how Bowery Farming was started to bring indoor farming to the masses in the United States. Hacking lettuce for taste and profit (2,500 words/10 minutes) — evaluates how Bowery collects data from its farms in order to optimize flavor while also potentially expanding its produce line into new categories like strawberries and turnips. Can LEDs ultimately replace the sun? (2,100 words/8 minutes) — investigates two of the most important questions about Bowery Farming: Can it develop a competitive moat with its technology (which it dubs BoweryOS) and just how much environmental benefit can the company derive from its farms? The voracious fight for your salad bowl (3,000 words/12 minutes) — looks at the extremely competitive nature of the produce section at the grocery store and how Bowery intends to build a brand with consumers while finding a route to profitability. The Equity team will be back Friday morning with our weekly roundup. Our hearts go out to Mary Ann who will return to us in due time, and our general ire is reserved for Danny. Because we are still smarting from his divorcing of us for Lux.
10 November 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. The stock market wasn't incredibly dramatic this morning, from an index-viewpoint. Crytpos were slightly more exciting but only moderately. A host of earnings results this week should provide us with fireworks, however. And on the subject of crypto regulation, news from Congress isn't great for fans of coins and chains. And the rising popularity of NFT games could put consumers in bad tax territory. The SoftBank Vision Fund 1 posted poor results, harming SoftBank's earnings, and leading to the company promising a huge share buyback. And Elon Musk made news not only for tweeting some sort of dick joke at an American Senator, but also for polling Twitter regarding whether or not he should sell 10% worth of Tesla shares. That's one way to do corporate governance, I suppose. Matter Labs raised $50 million, while H2O.ai raised $100 million. And weekend chat concerning this piece detailing Google's history with AMP underscores just how much trust is being lost between major American tech companies and their communities. We are back Wednesday! Hugs!
8 November 2021 •
Equity, a podcast about the business of startups where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. And have fun! This week our very own Mary Ann was off -- we send her our best, as she is a living saint -- so Natasha and Alex and Grace and Chris got together to compile our news roundup. And oh boy was there a lot to corral. Up top this week, news from Indiegogo that the crowdfunding service is tightening up who gets to post projects on its platform. We view this as a general good, and one that could prove helpful to the long-term viability of crowdfunding. From the funding round rodeo, we riffed on the musical and potentially exciting Mictic (which raised $2.5 million), female-health focused illumigyn and what it might do for care access (it raised $33 million), and Martie, which wants to prevent food waste and perhaps provide low-cost foodstuffs to folks in need ($3 million in fresh capital). FEMALE FOUNDERS VSC And then we chatted for a minute on alternative investing. Namely what Aqua is building, and why Alex is writing columns on NFTs. Hugs and love from the team, we will chat with you bright and early Monday morning!
5 November 2021 •
This is our Wednesday show, the time of the week when we niche down to a single topic. Today? The issue of venture capital expectations in certain sectors where startups may not be the best fit. And what happens when they raise a mountain of capital. Natasha and Alex had former founder and present-day indie journalist Vincent Woo to come on the show with us. Why? Because he's written extensively about Lambda School, one of our subjects of the day. We started with Ro, and Natasha's excellent piece on the matter: Employees detail rising tensions at Ro as healthcare unicorn struggles to grow beyond first win. Next we chatted Lambda School, which has a well-documented history of raising venture capital and attracting controversy. Most recently, Woo published a piece about the coding bootcamp's misleading claims on job placement. The company is perhaps a cautionary tale of how venture-level growth can struggle in certain sectors. Education is hard and may not scale like software. At the heart of conversation was a question: In this time of high valuations and easy access to large amounts of capital, how can VC incentives lead some startups into a cycle of pain? We didn't land on a single conclusion, and that was kind of the point of the episode. Venture capital isn't inherently bad or good, but the money can come with a list of demands (and pressures) that cause risk-taking founders to make mistakes. A recalibration is necessary, but, as we talk about every week, the "up and to the right" market will take its time getting there. It was good fun to focus on a single topic, but we're back with our news roundup Friday morning! Chat soon!
3 November 2021 •
Today we had a goodly bag of things to dig into, including: The FT finds that major social platforms are taking a bath thanks to Apple’s new privacy rules. But is that such a bad thing? The Chinese labor standard of ‘996’ is losing its dominance in its domestic market. The Dell-VMware spinoff has finally happened. At last. Digital Currency Group raises $700 million, Mosaic Building Group raises $44 million, and When I Work locked down $200 million of its own. Looking ahead, we have AllBirds and NerdWallet IPOs this week! Sorry that the show was late! Chat soon!
1 November 2021 •
This week Mary Ann and Natasha and Alex (along with our amazing production team Grace, Chris, and Kell) took on a host of topics from the public and private markets alike. In our wheelhouse this week: An IPO rush: Sure, IPOs are still not keeping up with unicorn births, but the current pace of public offerings has us nattering. Paytm is coming. Sweetgreen as well. NerdWallet and Backblaze to boot. It's a crowd! Alchemy raised $250 million for its blockchain-infra work, reminding us that A16z has all of its eggs in the same ol' crypto basket. Heart to Heart raised $0.75 million for audio-focused dating. And even though we're not the targeted customer base, we were excited about the founder and his big bet on intention. Built by a student, Tasseled wants to help college students get their lives, and credits, together. More on the great Sequoia business model shakeup, building from our comments earlier in the week. We dig into exit timings, and other potential impacts of the change. And we got to riff on the Midwest startup-boom, which is a region near and dear to Alex's heart. And it turns out that Denver is not a Midwest city. While we're sad about Danny's exit, it's also edifying to have our new crew in place for 2022. Expect nothing less than more Equity than ever.
29 October 2021 •
This is a special, if somewhat bittersweet episode. It marks the final official podcast with our own Danny Crichton, who is off to other pastures in short order. Danny stepped in when we lost a host a few years back, and has been both a staple and a pillar of the show since. We're going to miss the ever-loving heck out of him. But the show must go on, so we spent this episode discussing issues core to our remit: The venture capital market, startups, and the interplay between each. Natasha and Danny and Alex and Chris got together for this particular Wednesday edition of Equity, the part of the week when we niche down to a single topic and discuss it at length. This time 'round we tackled the very small of whether today's pace of venture capital investment is sustainable, and whether the current structure of venture capital funds will survive. It was the right time to do so, given that: Tiger is reloading with even more capital. Danny noted that its rising asset base is a good indicator of just where things are today. Venture capital is at all-time highs. Natasha and Alex riffed through the numbers, noting just how crazy things have become. And as we were collecting our notes, Sequoia announced (after Primack scooped them) that they are revolutionizing their firm into a new sort of vehicle. We also discussed the unicorn traffic jam, which gave Alex a chance to jump atop his favorite hobby horse one more time. With more money than ever bouncing around startup-land, the question of whether the sums, and their resulting valuations, make any sense is a conversation that we are not done with. But we hope that after this short podcast, you are at least up to speed. Bon voyage, Danny. We love you. And a regular shoutout to the folks who have helped host Equity in the past: Kate Clark, Katie Roof, Matthew Lynley, and Connie Loizos. You are very much still in our hearts. Here's the next few million downloads!
27 October 2021 •
Hark, all ye who pay attention to the stock market, for Elon Musk's wheels-focused company broached the $1 trillion market cap threshold today. Yeah, it finally happened, so the Equity team quickly scrambled for the microphones. Chris put together the show, allowing Alex and Kirsten to dive into the matter. Kirsten, in case you aren't familiar with her, is TechCrunch's transportation editor -- her crew handles everything that moves under its own power for the team. She's tremendous. Aside from the obvious market cap point, we got into: What news drove Tesla higher today, leading to its new valuation record? How is Tesla's overall financial performance looking? Has the model mix at the company changed over time? And, because Alex was curious, why Telsa cars all look the same when will the Cybertruck will come to market? In short, it was a very fun Twitter shot. Cheers, and Equity is back Wednesday with our regular programming.
25 October 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. Taking a look around the world, stocks were largely higher in Asia and Europe and are looking somewhat mixed in the United States. There are a host of technology earnings coming this week, mind. Facebook is taking all sorts of incoming fire from media reporting on a trove of documents that a whistleblower leaked. The company is not having a good month, let along quarter from a PR perspective. It reports earnings later today. Here's the NYTimes piece we noted, the Bloomberg article, the CNN piece, and the Verge entry. The PayPal-Pinterest deals is done for now. PayPal said so this morning. Its shares are up, while Pinterest shares are sharply lower. And from startup-land: Routine is a new app that looks slick, Billie raised $100 million, Tier raised a huge bloc of cash, and Groww just tripled its valuation. It's going to be a busy one, so strap in and get hype because it is earnings week.
25 October 2021 •
This week Mary Ann and Natasha and Alex (along with our amazing production team Grace, Chris, and Kell) took on a bevy of topics from around the world of startups and technology more broadly. We naturally kicked off with news that Facebook intends to rebrand itself. Which we don't think will do much to detract from its various crises. But the news does underscore that Facebook is, in fact, serious about writing its next chapter. From there it was time to talk funding rounds. This week we picked Vertical Oceans and its fishy plans, Superplastic and its stable of rude digital critters, and Modern Age and its plan to help us all age a bit more gracefully. Vibe Capital, founded by Teachable's Ankur Nagpal, is a $60 million fund for international, scrappy founders. We spoke about the founder to investor pipeline, and why everyone wants eachother's jobs. And then Alex ran us through some data from the Chinese venture capital market, information that was far more positive than we anticipated. Given, you know, the country's regulatory crackdown on technology companies. We closed with a number of major fintech rounds, including new capital for Deel and a funding scoop on Brex. While we're in a bubble, it's easy to get lost in the same narrative: everything is booming! This week's episode was a good reminder of how diverse, and nuanced, this ever-lasting startup summer truly is.
22 October 2021 •
Look, we don't get it either. Taking some time as a group to sit around and chat through the possibly impending PayPal-Pinterest deal, Natasha and Alex didn't wind up cracking the story. Which makes some sense, as investors sent PayPal stock down 5% on the news, implying that they didn't really get it either. Recall that PayPal has made a few other deals in recent years, including buying Honey ($4 billion) and Paidy (less than $4 billion). Regardless, the transaction -- worth potentially dozens of billions -- could scoot the social giant into the welcoming arms of PayPal, an American consumer and business fintech giant. Here's what we tried to sort out: Does Pinterest have a big enough ecommerce story to make the deal line up with our first expectations? We talked about Pinterest's historical stock performance, as well as a number of culture controversies it has been embroiled in. Why doesn't PayPal just buy Etsy instead? Here we dug into why a shop-able, searchable mood-board may satisfy customer demands, thus Pinterest's lag on fintech infrastructure - in comparison to Etsy - has been somewhat surprising. And if technology is all bundling, and unbundling, does it make some sort of sense for PayPal to join forces with a more e-commerce content focused business, now more than a half-decade removed from its eBay divorce? We ended with jokes about fintech's expected (and unexpected) consolidation, and we want your best guesses for what's next on Twitter. Frankly we had a good time. Mary Ann was going to join up but was thwarted by Apple's iPhone headphone design, while Danny was slightly busy trying to figure out why his spouse beat him at Settlers of Catan, his favorite board game. We are back Friday with our regularly scheduled programming!
20 October 2021 •
Natasha and Danny and Alex got together to dig into the recent NerdWallet IPO filing, and what it can tell us about how the written word -- in its digital form -- can still be worth quite a lot. Here's an outline of the chat: NerdWallet shows the financial power of the written word, even if it isn't the precise form of writing that we know and love. Automattic is a large, startup bet on the written word, amongst other things. Danny had notes for us on the scale of its business, thanks to a new TC-1 all about the publishing empire. Here we talked about the importance of proving value internally, before going external with word power. And from Kindle Vella to Substack to Memberful from Patreon, there are more and more models for getting paid to write these days. Hell, you can charge for your tweets now. We were left with questions about if the return of text is inevitable, in an everyone-runs-to-video world. As Natasha notes, distribution is still a bottleneck and human attention is not entirely predisposed to sitting around reading things. But with Gen Z perhaps a little over screentime, perhaps there's good news ahead for writers of all stripes.
20 October 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. This week, the week of October 18, 2021, kicked off with a mixed markets picture. Asian stocks were mixed, down in Europe, and set to fall in the United States. China remains a concern. There are hardware events this week from Apple, Samsung and Google. Along with earnings from Netflix, IBM, and Qualtrics. Amazon is in hot water with American regulators, China may force its tech giants to allow for cross-platform search, and Facebook wants to hire lots of Europeans. From startup-land, Enpal landed a huge dollop of cash for its solar work, while OfficeRnD made bets on a hybrid working future. Notes to come shortly on the Expensify IPO filing. The show is back on Wednesday! Chat then!
18 October 2021 •
In today's episode, talk our way through some big breaking news from the technology world so that we can better understand just what is going on. Danny and Alex got together late Friday on a Twitter Space to discuss Microsoft's decision to pull LinkedIn from the Chinese market, a move that lit up headlines around the world. That LinkedIn was still in China in 2021 may feel more surprising than the news that it will exit that particular market, but the moment matters all the same as it marks the end of an experiment -- could a mega-tech company have a US HQ and a first-party service live in China? Er, no, it turns out. Not really. Microsoft found itself jammed between its own ethics, and governmental censure. It was a lose-lose for the company, so pulling the plug was the smart move. The company isn't going to miss the revenue. For startups, the Microsoft decision is a good reminder that doing business in China is at a minimum very hard for non-Chinese companies, and perhaps impossible. Recall that Microsoft had to work with a Chinese company (21Vianet) to get Azure into the country at all, and that the Chinese government is using a few companies to build a new OS for the country so that it can replace Windows. Precisely how good that OS will prove is not yet clear, at least from a consumer perspective. And then we riffed on GitLab's IPO. My favorite topic of the week. You'll see why it came up when you hit play. Chat Monday!
16 October 2021 •
This week was one of our strongest shows yet, with a wide diversity of news items that were genuinely fun (and complicated) to chew through. And even though we started off kind of grumpy, we laughed through tech difficulties, crypto puns, and fintech CAC. It's called coping. Here's what we got into: Magic Leap raised $500 million about which we have thoughts, Mindbody's acquisition of ClassPass caught our eye for obvious reasons (and the fact that it also raised $500 million), and we dug into SoWork's fascinating business proposition. mPharma and the race to horizontal, holistic mental health: Telehealth is great and useful but no panacea. However, in the realm of mental health it's potentially life-changing for millions. OpenSea went from being one of the main characters in our fraud show, to being the underdog that we're rooting for - now that Coinbase is building a copycat. Since we tried to keep the show tight, a ton of news was left on the cutting room floor. The good news, though, is that we're back tomorrow with a spicy bonus episode about Microsoft pulling LinkedIn from the Chinese market. Oof.
15 October 2021 •
This is our Wednesday show, the time of the week when we niche down to a single topic. Today? Fashion. Natasha and Danny and Alex got together to dig into the world of fashion resale and rental. It's no small market, giving birth to both public companies, unicorns, and startups. Most recently, well-known fashion rental player Rent the Runway filed to go public, giving us a window in its own numbers. Those figures led us to a few questions about how best to go about making money from clothes in a retail context. From our chat: Selling vs. Renting vs. Reselling: To start, we wanted to help you group startups into three buckets: those who sell customers to people, those who rent goods to customers, and those who resell pre-owned goods to customers. Rent the Runway's numbers: We had some issues with Rent the Runway's business model given that it appears that the company is simply underpricing its clothing items given its cost structure. How Wall Street will price the company, or whether Rent the Runway is hoping to sell to a larger company came into the conversation. Who else should we have an eye on: To close, Natasha detailed a number of startups including Queenly, Curtsy and Rebag. Oh, and Depop (which recently sold to Etsy $1.6 billion). Startups are tearing up old retail models, which we are here for. We are less here for adjusted EBITDA that reads like magical realism.
13 October 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. Markets were busy, with Chinese tech stocks rallying and the rest of the world posting a mix of gains and losses. If you are bullish on public markets, excellent. But if you are bearish, don't worry -- there are diverse enough signals out this morning to satisfy any investing thesis. Facebook goes on American political TV: To talk about changes it is going to make to its product. A product that it built. It wants point for fixing the thing it made broken. Sure. And Tesla, after delaying the roll-out of a beta for Full Self Driving, is also being asked by some in India to build cars in that country. CRED is raising even more money, at an even higher valuation. Mono gets the Tiger imprimatur, which matters as the startup could prove that the Plaid model will spawn regional players. French mobile gaming company Homa Games raised $50 million on the back of huge download numbers. And ahead we have the GitLab direct listing, and AvidExchange IPO. Chat you on Wednesday!
11 October 2021 •
Natasha and Mary Ann and Alex were all aboard this week with Grace on the dials, which meant that we had a flat lovely time recording Equity for you. Of course, Equity is TechCrunch's venture capital focused podcast where we dig into the most critical funding rounds, and natter about the key news items impacting startups. Before we hop into this week's topics, you can follow the show on Twitter, where we rather often host impromptu Twitter spaces that sometimes become episodes. Come hang! Here's the rundown for this week: Chalo raises $40M to improve bus transit in India: This startup wins name (and startup) of the week. Chalo wants to tackle inefficiencies in India's bus system, so we noodle over why that makes sense and what challenges could be ahead. Masterworks raises $110M for fractional art ownership: Call it a Series A if you must, but the megaround that Masterworks just raised helps underscore the global shift towards alternative investing, and fractional ownership. How long until we get Masterworks on the blockchain? That would be the real IRL-NFT crossover we are kinda waiting for. CostCertified wants to save your next home reno project: CostCertified, which just participated in Y Combinator's summer cohort, raised $8.45M in seed funding. The Canadian company's end goal is to build the “Amazon for construction.” CostCertified allows contractors to send a shoppable interactive estimate to homeowners so that they can choose their selections during a project, and see the effect on price instantly. All about community: Community has been watered down, there's no doubt about it. But, there is still arguments for why it works - and we make them (often). Google invests in Africa: American tech giant Google is putting capital to work in Africa, but in the form of infra investment and early-stage investing. Frankly both make good sense given the advertising giant's business model. Edtech goes B2B: Udemy is going public! We have dug through the numbers already, but thankfully with Natasha on the show we got to go a level deeper on where edtech revenues may come from next. And that's our show! We are back bright and early on Monday!
8 October 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch's venture capital focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, the time of the week when we niche down to a single topic. Today? Gaming. Natasha and Danny and Alex got together to discuss the gaming world from a few perspectives, including those of startups and the largest platform players in tech. Alex is a gamer. Danny is a board gamer. And Natasha isn't big on digital games. So, we had a good array of viewpoints. The goal of our episode was to understand why gaming is garnering more interest from Big Tech and startups alike, and how the business model and environment has evolved over the years. Here's what we got into: A new gaming fund from a16z, and recent venture capital totals, as compiled by our friends over at Crunchbase News. Amazon's new hit game, and Apple's epic gaming profits. It appears, by our read, that the gaming industry has evolved from single-sale titles to games with recurring incomes that studios have become venture-backable; this is testament to both business model evolution and general gaming popularity, as much as it is indicative of how much money it is possible to earn supporting the games industry as a tech shop as well. Still, we wanted to spend a few minutes on the challenges that still await those trying to spin up a game overnight. After we talked through the context and challenges, we riffed on the why! It includes just what a metaverse is, how NFTs can slot into the conversation, and more. All we need now is a release date for Royal Court, Paradox.
6 October 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. Sorry that the show is so delayed today, it's utterly my fault. Regular service returns Wednesday, and we'll make to not be late on a Monday again this year! Here's what we got into on the show: Tech shares are falling in America in a larger domestic selloff -- but once again we're seeing high-valued technology stocks lose the most ground. Software companies are having a particularly rough morning. The Facebook whistleblower situation remains the biggest news item in the technology world this morning, dominating aggregators and conversation. Precisely what comes next isn't clear, I reckon, but Facebook shares haven't lost enough ground yet to be a worry for the firm; that could change with another few days' declines, however. What else was on our mind? Apple's epic gaming profits, new AI guidelines from China, and data concerning just how much money semiconductor startups are raising. It's more, but is it enough? Byju's raised $300 million, this time at an $18 billion valuation. Its upcoming IPO will help set the tone for global edtech valuations. Ladder raised $100 million, proving that the insurtech market is still active. Sure, shares of public insurtech startups have taken a pounding in recent quarters, but there's still plenty of private capital ready to make bets on the market. And the Vision Fund 2 is even more Vision Fund-y than we anticipated! Chat soon!
4 October 2021 •
To cap the week off, Danny and Alex and Chris got together live on Twitter to chat through the demise of the Zoom-Five9 deal. Those of you who remember how recently the deal was announced are likely a little surprised -- how did it fall apart so quickly? Well, a few reasons: There could be inherent risk in all-stock transactions provided a rapidly-changing market. It may be the case that Zoom simply did not bid enough for Five9. And there's a mix of anti-trust and national regulatory issues to the deal that never got fully hammered out. So, you can pick your poison, even though the answer appears to be some of each above point. https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/19/the-zoom-five9-deal-is-a-big-bet-for-the-video-conferencing-company/ Those of you who caught the Friday episode will wonder, and fairly, what the end of the Zoom-Five9 deal will have on other M&A activity. We talked about it. That's enough for now. Hit play and have a laugh with us. Thanks for sticking with the show!
2 October 2021 •
Natasha and Mary Ann and Alex were all aboard this week under the guidance of Chris and Grace, meaning that we were running full-strength for our roundup of this super busy week. Before we hop into the topics, you can follow the show on Twitter -- all the cool kids do! -- and keep in mind that on Mondays Equity provides a short kickoff to the week, we chat a single topic on Wednesdays, and Fridays are when we go through the full week. Make sense? Hell yeah: Fiveable Cobalt raised $2.8 million to help creators build and sell more stuff. As part of our continuing focus on creators more broadly, we had a few questions! Found came out of stealth with $32 million in total funding from GV, Atomic and Define Ventures. The startup is focused on "weight care management" and it's notable that the co-founder of Atomic, which incubated this company, also co-founded hims and hers -- which also has a telehealth component. Found's new CEO is the former COO of Bumble, who drafted its S-1 while getting chemo treatment for stage 3 breast cancer. From there we dug into trends! First up was the trend of startups going full-stack, which we kicked off with a look at AngelList's new Stack -- har har -- product. It's a bit like what Carta and Stripe offer, which gave us some good angles to chat about the news from. Next up was consolidation, which echoed our first conversation. Discussing a recent deal in the RPA space, the Equity team made predictions about which sectors in the startup world are the most likely to see consolidation in the coming quarters. And we closed with climate tech, a startup niche that could bring a small sliver of hope to our heating planet. WITTY CONCLUSION
1 October 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We got the crew together — Natasha and Danny and Alex — this time 'round to talk fraud, one of our favorite topics. Sure, we've riffed on the ups and downs at Luckin, and we've spent more time talking about WeWork's implosion than we want to admit. But that's not the most recent stuff. There's been a raft of fraud lately which caught our eye. The heart of today's episode is a question about fraud, and what more of it might mean: Does more fraud indicate that we're in a growing bubble, or that we're in the later-stages of a bubble about to burst? Here's what we got into to help us understand our question: OpenSea admits incident as top exec is accused of trading NFTs on insider information -- NFTs are good fun until the market for them is bent in the favor of insiders! Goldman Sachs, Ozy Media and a $40 Million Conference Call Gone Wrong -- How to not get money from Goldman Sachs and possibly sink your company at the same time! App Annie and co-founder charged with securities fraud, will pay $10M+ settlement -- If you tell your customers that you won't use their data in a particular manner, and then you do, and possibly commit something akin to securities fraud at the same time, what happens? This! Turning to historical examples, we also brought up Nikola and Luckin and Theranos to help us draw a line around what its fraud, and what is not. With definitions out of the way, we ended this episode by trying to answer our complex, core question. We won't spoil the eventual conclusion, but here's a hint: checks are flying fast into startups with minimal due diligence, and it looks like there's much more money is coming.
29 September 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. A few things this morning: Instagram is pausing work on the kids-focused version of its social service. It claims that the product is the right thing to build, but that it wants to talk to folks about why, first. TechCrunch has more here. Shares of Box are up this morning, after the company endured a period of time in the wilderness. Google is cutting its cloud app marketplace take rate as marketplaces more broadly lose their ability to accrete economic value as middlepeople. Spotify is spending to advertise its advertising solution so that others can spend more money on Spotify. Swiss startup Frontify raises $50 million, more than double its previous round's size. And from Sweden, EV company Polestar may go public via a SPAC, as EV company Cake raises $60 million. Nice to see Sweden do so well in a key business category. Tesla is doing FSD stuff, which confuses us. And looking ahead, Amplitude will set a reference price this evening and direct list tomorrow. Warby Parker will set an IPO price tomorrow evening, and trade on Wednesday. And that's that! Chat Wednesday!
27 September 2021 •
And the winner of TC's Startup Battlefield is.... gonna have to listen to find out
24 September 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Today we got the gang together -- Natasha and Danny and Alex -- to chat about the most recent IPOs in tech-land, namely debuts from Freshworks and Toast. TechCrunch has covered their pair of firms somewhat closely during their IPO run, as they each have some notable characteristics: Freshworks' IPO provided a fresh window into how public market investors are willing to value growth-oriented software companies out the gate. The news is good. Which means that we could see more unicorns looking to list in coming months. Toast's IPO provided a lens by which we could gauge public-market sentiment for hybrid software-and-payments companies. The answer? That the stock market is pretty dang enthused about the companies in question. So it's a good news day for unicorns, for tech startups, and for Boston, a city that Danny has many thoughts about. Please send him your complaints, and not the show. We take no responsibility. It's Disrupt week, so we'll have more in a few days but until then we'll see you at the event!
22 September 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. A few things this morning: I shook up the show format a little, including how the script came together and how it was organized. Hit me up on Twitter if you have notes. Disrupt is this week, so strap thyself in for the best tech event of the year, coming to your living room. The Equity team is hosting -- between the group of us -- a zillion panels and one of the two stages. Come hang out with us. It's going to be on heck of a show. On the news front, the global stock market is taking a whacking. US stocks are set to fall after European stocks went lower thanks to concerns that the Chinese property developer Evergrande and its constituent debt issues could spread to other parts of the market, possibly leading to contagion. Cryptos are also off sharply in the last 24 hours, so there sems to be little refuge in today's markets. A French hosting company is going public, an Indian used-car marketplace raised a boatload of cash, and Amazon is investigating a bribe. And we are expecting IPOs from both Freshworks and Toast this week. It's going to be a very busy few days. Pour some extra coffee, and get hype.
20 September 2021 •
Natasha and Mary Ann and Alex were all aboard this week under the guidance of Chris and Grace, which meant we had the full team. And speaking of teams, Mary Ann is joining the Friday show on a weekly basis now. She's been a friend for years, and a colleague now twice-over for Natasha and Alex and we could not be more excited. That personal news aside, here's the rundown for today's show! Funding rounds in the logistics and infra markets: We went physical-world with our funding round roundup this week. BridgeLinx put together the largest Seed round in Pakistan's history, Releaf is doing incredibly interesting agtech work in Nigeria, and Stord's huge round from earlier in the week brought us to Atlanta. And oh boy has Atlanta had a week. TechCrunch did a deep dive into the city's superlative startup fundraising in recent quarters, and, of course, one of its home-grown startups sold to Intuit for $12 billion just a few days ago. We had a few thoughts on the Intuit-Mailchimp transaction, even if we tried to steer clear of territory that we've already tread. For more about the controversy, Business Insider wrote about how some Mailchimp employees are reacting to the deal. From there we turned to a layoff story. Casper, the DTC mattress company that is now public, had another round of layoffs that cut three C-suite executives. It brought us into a conversation about how Apple's tracking updates are impacting startups in this category more broadly, and if more layoffs are on the horizon. And then there were IPOs to discuss. Natasha talked us through the news that Quizlet may go public soon, which meant we had to chat edtech for a minute. Rounding out the Going Public conversation was notes on both Toast and Freshworks. Alex does not apologize for his lame joke, we hasten to add. Disrupt is next week, so expect some possible changes to the regular Equity show lineup if the news cycle gets dicey. Hugs!
17 September 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic. This time 'round we took a look into the world of on-demand delivery in Europe, with an especial focus on the so-called "instant" grocery sector, and delivered convenience items. To help Natasha and Danny and Alex get through the subject, we lassoed TechCrunch alum and present-day VP at Zapp, a company in the sector under discussion, Steve O'Hear to chat with us. We spent time chatting through the following: Recent news from the sector, including that Turkey's Getir has just raised a bucket of new capital, and that Weezy is looking to exit; the latter item wound up being important we got around to discussing consolidation in the space. Steve gave us an overview of Zapp, and how its approach to infra could help its economics. We chatted about GoPuff and its economic fortunes, which in fundraising terms are solid, even if questions regarding future profitability are still in play. And regarding the ever-present pandemic question, Steve was bullish on consumer behavior staying where it is if -- when? -- the COVID-19 pandemic eventually leaves us. We are back on Friday! Chat then!
15 September 2021 •
We are back! From this morning, I suppose. But the news cycle doesn't wait for our publishing schedule, so the Equity crew got together to yammer all about the Intuit-Mailchimp acquisition. A $12 billion deal comprised of stock and cash, it's a big on. And as Mailchimp has both a history of boostrapping and a founding story in a non-Silicon Valley city we had lots to chat about. As a general reminder, if you do listen to the show, hit us up on Twitter as we are doing more and more of these Spaces. They are good and relaxed fun, so don't take them too seriously. We like to have fun. Alright, Equity is back on Wednesday with our regularly scheduled programming. Chat then!
13 September 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. Vacation was good, and a big thanks to Mary Ann and Natasha -- not to mention Grace and Chris! -- for keeping things flowing while I mostly sat around reading books and playing video games. But enough being maudlin! To the news! Investors are kinda thinking that the run-up in stocks needs to take a breather. And that the reset could land between 5% and 10%, with another 10% of respondents expecting a correction of more than 10%. Yowza. China may break up Ant, keeping the pace of its regulatory deluge going as this week starts. And the Chinese government thinks that its country has too many EV companies. If the market or central planning will wind up taking point on solving the "problem" is not clear. The Apple v. Epic decision is still driving conversation. Here's TechCrunch's coverage, and here's the MG piece I mentioned. Toast and Freshworks have new filings up. Which is good news if you want to dig into new S-1/A reports. Forge is going public via a SPAC. And Babyscripts and Commercetools raised rounds, while Jungle Ventures raised a fund. Got all that? Ok good. Chat you Wednesday!
13 September 2021 •
Natasha and Mary Ann took over this week's show with Chris and Grace, which meant that our overdeveloped senses of curiosity filled up the script just fine (even on a somewhat short week). Unintentionally, today's episode was built around a theme of inclusion - from auto-insurance to women's health, and from payments to knowledge. But here are some more specifics on what we got into: For our funding round section, we discussed UK’s Marshmallow getting unicorn status for its more inclusive, big-data take on car insurance, Women’s health tech brand, Elvie, topping up its Series C to $97M, and an ambitious fintech play from Leap, which wants to give gig workers access to financial products by partnering directly to marketplaces. After getting past the dollars and the deals, I indulged by bringing up my latest piece: Edtech leans into the creator economy with cohort-based classes. The core of the story gets into a ton of tensions, the biggest of which I'd pose as a question to you: should anyone be allowed to be a teacher? Then we headed into Mary Ann's world of fintech to understand what I dubbed feels like national BNPL week. If I may, I'd argue that this is the can't miss segment of the entire show, as we made sense of why it's a global phenomenon, which markets are popping off, and what this means for the credit card industry. Below is a smattering of headlines we walked through. PayPal acquires Japan’s Paidy for $2.7B to crack the buy-now, pay-later market in Asia Zip acquisition of Payflex means Africa is ripe for BNPL disruption Addi raises $75M to advance ‘buy now, pay later’ in LatAm, nearly triples valuation And then we ended by talking about an adorable, but potentially dangerous robot unicorn. Yep. You read that right. Remember when we were all thinking about what 'the new normal' would look like? Well, I guess it's here.
10 September 2021 •
Alex is on a well-deserved vacation this week, so for the Equity Wednesday deep dive, we took the conversation to Twitter Spaces. Danny, Mary Ann, and Jonathan Metrick, Chief Growth Officer at Portage Ventures, dove into growth marketing. You can listen to the full episode on the Equity Podcast feed. This conversation was spurred by the TechCrunch Experts project, where we're looking for the best growth marketers for startups. Metrick had been recommended to us in July (you can read his featured recommendation in our growth roundup) and we were eager to have the opportunity to learn from his experience. Help TechCrunch find the best growth marketers for startups. Provide a recommendation in this quick survey and we'll share the results with everybody. In this conversation, we cover: Influencers take on the marketing world Challenges marketers face with iOS 14 How Metrick sees trends develop geographically New capabilities with attribute in the past year What holiday advertising might look like in 2021
8 September 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff to catch up on weekend news and prep for the days ahead. We're here on Tuesday this week since us folks in the United States had off for labor day. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and while you're at it, throw me a follow too. Jobs report: Over the weekend, the US government posted the Jobs Report. It wasn't ideal, with a sharp drop in percentage of women rejoining the workforce. I give you the startup angle, and talk about a somewhat poetic unicorn. Instacart, meet Instagram: WSJ reports that new Instacart CEO Fidji Simo is expanding the grocery delivery store's consumer-product advertising business, with a goal of hitting $1 billion in revenue next year. I riff on why this makes sense and what challenges the business make come up against. Behemoths, beware: The largest Series A within Africa just closed, and it's not even close. Wave is taking on telecom-led mobile money, now with four-big name backers. It's not the only startup trying to take on a behemoth. I also gave a shout out to Glass, which wants to take on Instagram as a new go-to destination for photographers to share their content. And that's a wrap. I have a fun edtech piece coming out on Extra Crunch this week, so keep your eyes out for it.
7 September 2021 •
Natasha and Alex and Grace and Chris gathered to dig through the week's biggest happenings, including some news of our own. As a note, Equity's Monday episode will be landing next Tuesday, thanks to a national holiday here in the United States. And we have something special planned for Wednesday, so stay tuned. Ok! Here's the rundown from the show: Apollo completed its takeover of Verizon Media Group Yahoo: Yep, we have new bosses, and we have feelings about it. But mostly the TechCrunch news was a useful segue to Drift's majority exit to Vista Equity Partners at a price that made the Boston-based startup a unicorn. Terms were not disclosed, sadly, but Drift's revenues looked strong going into the transaction. That left us with questions. Then we chatted about Databricks, which raised a small country's GDP in a single funding round this week, valuing the data-and-ML company at a staggering $38 billion valuation. Why isn't Databricks going public? Because it doesn't have to, mostly. Hum Capital believes the future of startup fundraising requires a return to old school Wall Street. The startup helps founders and investors navigate the overly fragmented market these days, and just raised millions to scale this service. Form there we dug into two IPOs, including the very interesting story of Toast, another Boston-based company, and AllBirds. The AllBirds offering was less exciting from a numerical perspective, though Natasha and Alex both like their shoes from the company. And to close out, we discussed how Compound Foods wants to save the planet by making coffee sans beans. Which we are willing to try as soon as we can. That's a wrap from us for the week! Keep your head atop your shoulders and have a great weekend!
3 September 2021 •
After a 17-hour marathon through nearly 200 startup pitches, the Equity team was fired up to get back on Twitter and chat through some early trends and favorites from the first day of Y Combinator's demo party. We'll be back on the air tomorrow, so make sure you're following the show on Twitter so you don't miss out. What did Natasha and Alex chat about? The following: First Impressions: We started by going through top-line numbers, geographic breakdown, and how the accelerator is doing when it comes to the representation of diverse founders. The last bit had a tiny bit of progress, but diversity continues to be an issue in YC's batches - even as cohort size grows. We also chatted about what startups pitching can work on: like better mics, which are cheap and good. Our early favorites: Metaphor, Lumify, Alex's favorite duo Indian real estate plays, Akudo, Reframe, and Playhouse. And some hmmm moments, including our thoughts on Writesonic, which Natasha has a potentially paranoid theory on. TechCrunch has extensive coverage of the day on the site, so there's lots to dig into if you are in the mood. More tomorrow!
31 August 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. We are heading into a simply crazy week, so make sure that you keep Twitter pulled up as often as you can. Why? This is Y Combinator Demo Day week, which means a zillion startups are going to be doing their best to make noise, stand out from their peers, and raise capital on uncapped notes sans discount. TechCrunch is going to be busy as bees tracking the accelerator cohort, and bringing our favorites to your ears and eyes. The Chinese regulatory story continues, with new gaming restrictions and fresh warnings about anti-monopoly action coming this morning. As before, the news is moving stocks. And the gaming news underscores that the Chinese state is not too bothered about directly undercutting its private sector to meet government goals. All that regulatory work is harming venture capital investment, it appears. Despite a rapid-fire July for Chinese startups, August is looking thinner from a foreign-investor perspective. Vietcetera has raised new capital, along with Urbanbase. In India, Ola Electric is looking to raise a huge amount of capital, we report. In public market news, Astra's rocket didn't go up high enough, so its shares are falling. And we are heading back into an IPO cycle, so get ready. Alright! That's our show! Let's get to work!
30 August 2021 •
After news broke that meditation app Headspace and on-demand mental health care platform Ginger were merging, we couldn't resist hopping on the mics to do a bonus episode. And, because we were in the mood for hot takes, Natasha and Alex held the conversation on Twitter Spaces. The special guests we had on, who we'll get to down below, did not disappoint. It's a quick show, but the tl;dr is that you want to listen if you're curious why a meditation app would get into therapy, the precedent by Lyra Health and Calm, and how consolidation looks for the sector going forward. Here's who helped us understand and contextualize the news: Lux Capital partner Deena Shakir (who is also coming to Disrupt, incidentally) Chrissy Farr of OMERS Ventures (who you may also know as a former CNBC reporter in the healthech space) 7WireVentures' Alyssa Jaffee (who needs her own podcast because she was shining during the Spaces) And, special shout out to Ginger CEO Russell Glass, who joined the Space but wasn't able to come up on stage due to technical difficulties. Twitter Spaces are fun, but the platform is still a bit nascent so goofs can bedevil live production. However, we managed to get some notes from him via email, so let's take a quick look at those: Glass said that he agreed with "what Chrissy Farr and others said about there simply not being enough therapists in the market today to meet the overwhelming demand," adding that there's "real global need today for what Headspace Health can offer - a scaled, comprehensive platform that can truly democratize mental healthcare." He also doubleclicked on the discussing regarding future "meaningful market consolidation," noting that he expects to see it "especially" happen in "areas that address higher acuity care for severe mental illness.” Make sure you are following the podcast on Twitter so that you catch us when we go live. These are meant to be spontaneous pop up shows, so your best bet is to turn on notifications to never miss our Spaces. Ok that's all. Thanks everyone!
28 August 2021 •
Natasha and Alex and Grace and Chris were joined by none other than TechCrunch's own Mary Ann Azevedo, in her first-ever appearance on the show. She's pretty much the best person and we're stoked to have her on the pod. And it was good that Mary Ann was on the show this week as she wrote about half the dang site. Which meant that we got to include all sorts of her work in the rundown. Here's the agenda: Funding rounds from: Ramp, which raised $300 million at a $3.9 billion valuation; NoRedInk which put together an impressive $50 million Series B; and Playbook, which is building a sort of Dropbox for designers. Each company gave us something different to noodle on, be it the diverging strategies at Ramp and Brex, how NoRedInk is different from Grammarly, and why Dropbox is not the Dropbox for designers. Then we spun the globe to narrow our focus to Latin America, a booming startup scene that Mary Ann recently profiled for Extra Crunch. In a nutshell, venture capital is helping drive an enormous wave of startup activity in the region -- or perhaps a wave of startup activity is driving a boom in venture investment? -- leading to huge companies, and perhaps some tech-powered inclusion of more folks into the modern banking, and digital economy. (For more, here are notes on the Brazilian market's rising exit tally! And Flink raised, which was worth chewing on as well.) We quickly pivoted to the hot button issue of the moment for every startup (and business): hiring. Natasha noted how startups used to focus on runway, and now they are looking to fill empty seats amid the great resignation. Finally, we nattered about huge venture results from Boston, big numbers from Austin, and what increasingly feels like an everything bubble. Chicago is doing well, too. Pick a city, it's putting up big numbers. And that's a wrap, for, well, at least the next 5 seconds.
27 August 2021 •
The Equity crew felt that there was enough media news out recently that we simply had no choice but to fire up a Twitter Space and have a chat. The above episode is a discussion of a few things, in a loose and relaxed manner, so don't take any of the Verizon jokes too seriously, Verizon, as we still work for you. For a few more days. Regardless, here's what Danny and Alex got into: Politico sells for $1 billion: Its new parent company Axel Springer also buying the rest of Politico Europe and all of Protocol at the same time. This deal exploded everyone's Twitter feed due to its scale, and the fact that it was one heck of an exit for a media company. One billion dollars? For media? In this economy? Yes! Forbes is going public via a SPAC: Yep, the venerable Forbes magazing and its enormous digital arm are taking the blank-check route to the public markets, which means that we got its numbers and time to stroll through them. Our take is that Forbes has done massive work to take its IRL brand and extend it into the digital world. The company has big plans to boot, and will be worth more than $800 million when it combines. Layoffs hit Vice: As Vice turns its focus to video content — you've heard this story before — it is shedding some of its editorial staff. The layoffs were a stinkbomb on Media Twitter after the other news of the week, but were sadly not a huge surprise. The company's union decried them as something of a yearly recurrance. Not good, not good at all. And there's more media news to come. Our parent company Verizon Media is expected to close its sale to Apollo on September 1 or sometime soon after, which means we will either be hosting Equity regularly as always, or we'll be hosting the RUDE (Recently Unemployed Due to (Private) Equity) podcast.
26 August 2021 •
For our Wednesday show this week, Natasha and Alex and Danny had colleague Amanda Silberling on the show to help us parse through OnlyFans' precedent-setting move to ban sexually-explicit content on its service. The decision was a bolt from the blue for many of its creators, a great portion of whom created and monetized adult videos and images through the subscription service. It also stirred up a ton of debate around fintech, crypto, venture capital, and the morality of decision-makers. We put all the facts in context for you, hitting the following points: OnlyFans' recently leaked financials. Of course, the company's historical, and projected revenues are now dated thanks to the platform's planned content changes, but all the same the numbers help put into context just how much money OnlyFans' adult creators were earning on its platform. The leaked financials were part of a pitch deck that the company was using on its plight to raise more capital - an endeavor that has apparently been challenging for the startup. This tension made us think about the role that venture capital plays in funding vice startups, and why a tiny clause may stop many from getting into the game. Let's just say, the money behind the money has a way of having weight. And finally, we wondered what might be ahead for adult-content creators. Per Silberling, the world of adult content has ever been in flux, with creators and other sex workers moving from platform to platform as corporate policies, and national laws evolved. To see OnlyFans wind up where Patreon and Tumblr previously tread is not a complete surprise.
25 August 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. Today's show was good fun to put together. Here's what we got to: Global stocks are up to kick off the week. It's a great way to start Monday, frankly. Thinking broadly, the latest regulatory news from China regarding ByteDance is not super bullish for the nation's tech industry. And what the Indian government is doing to its own technology industry is not encouraging. But all of that and tension between the two countries, is not stopping deals. You can't stop deals! Facebook bowed to pressure, and released a content report that it had previously shelved. Zetwerk raised a $150 million Series E. The Indian startup scene is trucking right along, perhaps acting a bit as-if its government wasn't increasingly authoritarian. Shelf.io raised a $52.5 million Series B in what we're somewhat considering a classic Tiger-led deal. And the SPAC boom is not over yet, with yet another Virgin space company headed for the public markets. Woo! And that's the start to the week. Hugs from here, and we'll chat you on Wednesday!
23 August 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Danny was back, joining Natasha and Alex and Grace and Chris to chat through the week's coming and goings. But, before we get to the official news, here's some personal news: Danny is stepping back from his role as co-host of the Friday show! Yes, Mr. Crichton will still take part in our mid-week, deep dive episodes, but this is the conclusion of his run as part of the news roundup. We will miss him, glad that his transitions and wit will continue to be part of the Equity universe. Who will take the third chair? Well, stay tuned. We have some neat things planned. Now, the rundown: Funding rounds: Maven has built a women's health unicorn, Monte Carlo raised $60 million for data observability, and Launch House wants to scale venture community with a fresh $3 million in its accounts. The last round is probably the most controversial one of them all, so each of us took a side and discussed what's new and old about hacker homes. The next crop of key IPOs: Please say hello to the rising seniors of the startup world, companies that are the next IPOs that we are excited about. The list includes Discord, Databricks, Chime and Carta, which made headlines this week after setting its own valuation with its own tool. Will investors and startups turn to a third-party to value companies? What happens if secondary investors aren't as into your product as you are? We had a ton of questions. Brazil's burgeoning startup and exit market: In the wake of Nuvemshop raising a zillion dollars, it was time to sit down and talk about Brazil. Alex and Anna Heim have been rigorous in their reporting on the fascinating exit market. Who knew dual-listings were so dramatic? After traveling overseas, we went very close to home to speak about the news industry. Danny had a piece about informed., which a trio of media veterans believe could fix the economics that plague subscription-based publications. The nuts and bolts are in the episode, but prepare to debate if you're the kind of reader that likes a snack, or the whole lip smackin' meal. Finally, we discuss the wack reality that YikYak is indeed back.
20 August 2021 •
For our Wednesday show this week, Natasha and Alex and Danny had colleague Tage Kene-Okafor on the show to chat about the burgeoning African startup scene. Tage has become TechCrunch's key correspondent in the area, chronicling the continents expanding venture capital totals, public company performance, and startup ecosystem. Given that we've paid attention to just how much money African startups are raising, we wanted to have Tage on to give us a better, deeper understanding of the continent's technology activity. Here's what we got into: The power of Y Combinator in Africa: Is the well-known American accelerator a kingmaker in Africa? Or are we merely seeing more of its activity thanks to our own information biases? Fintech as core focus: As in many markets, fintech investment and startup activity stand out in Africa. We wanted to better understand why that's the case in Africa, and what startups are building in the realm of financial technology. African ecommerce: The continent's ecommerce market is perhaps best known through the lens of Jumia, a public tech company that works in the sale of goods online, and their delivery. How quickly is ecommerce growing in Africa, and which startups could be the next breakouts? We asked Tage. Equity is back on Friday with our weekly news roundup! Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT, Wednesday, and Friday
18 August 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here. I also tweet. It's a surreal day to talk about technology, but here we are. If you can pull your eyes away from the greater geopolitical tragedy that is our world today, here's what we talked about: T Mobile may have suffered a material breach. If this bears out, it could be a leading tech story for the week. Vice has confirmed that at least some of the data in the leak appears genuine. Indian travel service ixigo is going public. The company's IPO follows Zomato's own domestic debut. And speaking of IPOs, the Tencent Music offering in Hong Kong could be on hold until next year. And a trio of American tech companies raised a raft of capital as last week concluded. Carta put together $500 million in a huge deal, as Chime raised $750 million. And as the week closed, Discord was reported to be hunting up a new round at a $15 billion price tag. And stocks are set to open lower this morning. That's the morning report. Equity is back on Wednesday.
16 August 2021 •
This week Danny and Alex and Chris took to Twitter Spaces to chat about the current state of the crypto economy, and hang out with friends in a live Twitter Space. We're doing more of these, so make sure that you are following the show on Twitter. As a small programming note, I forgot to tell the folks who chimed in during the chat that we were recording it, so we had to cut most the Q&A portion of the show. We got Ezra's permission, thankfully. The mixup was a bummer as we learned a lot. In the future, we'll not make that mistake and keep all the voices. So, what did we talk about? The following: The current state of crypto regulation in America, and how the government may screw everything up. In short, tech moves fast, and government moves slow. This creates friction. Coinbase kicked the ever-loving shit out of its Q2 earnings. But as it turns out the future for trading-powered companies could include a few quarters of slower results. And everyone wants to fund the next Coinbase. You can understand why. The company is printing cash lately, helping drive more investment into localized exchanges in different markets.
14 August 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Our beloved Danny was back, joining Natasha and Alex and Grace and Chris to chat through yet another incredibly busy week. As a window into our process, every week we tell one another that the next week we'll cut the show down to size. Then the week is so interesting that we end up cutting a lot of news, but also keeping a lot of news. The chaotic process is a work in progress, but it means that the end result is always what we decided we can't not talk about. Here's what we got into: A little URL to IRL update from Natasha, who just got back from an edtech conference. How one VC got hit by ransomware, and why stolen LP data could be a wake up call for investors. The crew chatted through some Cloud 100 numbers, and riffed for a minute on Figma, Gusto, and Mailchimp, companies all reportedly worth around the $10 billion mark. From the early-stage funding round side of things, we noodled on Surfside's $4 million raise, and the capital that Pave recently attracted. Felt also raised money to make maps more mainstream, which had us thinking about use cases galore. In unicorn-land, Trendyol raised a mountain of cash, while UpGrad became India's newest unicorn. Climate change is going to mean lots more companies needed to handle disaster prep, Danny argues. His recent EC-1 here about RapidSOS got into the deep and complex world of three simple numbers: 911. And we ended the show with a riff on Salesforce+, which we had fun with but also tried to take seriously because we are journalists after all.
13 August 2021 •
This week we were back to full strength, with Danny Natasha and Alex joined by Chris to chat through the latest venture capital brouhaha. Namely whether or not venture capital is about to get shaken to its core, or if we're really parsing some long-term economic trends that will eventually revert. Here's a rundown: Sam Lessin kicked off the Twitter conversation by positing that venture capital as we know it is kaput, with software and later-stage investing possibly seeing the most disruption. Both Alex and Crunchbase News posted responses to the concept, which could best be summarized as yeah, but. However, the point that there is a lot of non-venture money flooding into startups is both real and material, and worth chewing on. So, masticate we did, parsing which areas of startup investing might be the most winsome for the VCs we spend so very much time talking to, The direction and future of the venture capital world has largely been lost amidst a sea of large numbers. New megarounds. New unicorns. That sort of thing. But inside the rising tide of capital available to private companies has been a mix-shift of sorts. The question is where that goes long-term. We tried to posit a few things that could happen next.
11 August 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and me here. It's going to be a busy week, with a Samsung event and a host of earnings reports that we'll have to pay attention to. But more important there are a few stories still dominating the news cycle: Apple's privacy choices: The American hardware company's plans to scan iPhones for some illegal material is once again raising the issue of privacy versus safety. China's tech crackdown: The continued clampdown by regulators continued this weekend with Tencent once again under the spotlight. The American crypto regulatory push: This is still causing waves this morning as Congress works to pass a major bill that could include crypto regulations that are opposed by industry leaders. All that and we also riffed on the Siemens-Sqills deal, Cornerstone OnDemand going private, and Delivery Hero buying a piece of Deliveroo. And, for added flavor and fun, Canopy Servicing just raised a $15 million Series A, while Siga OT Solutions raised a $8.1 million Series B. All that, and we got to talk stocks! Hugs and love from the Equity crew — chat Wednesday!
9 August 2021 •
Sara Spangelo's startup Swarm now has nearly 100 of its satellites in orbit, but the journey to get here has had plenty of challenges. After a track record that included working at Google X, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and plenty more, Sara realized with her co-founder Ben that including low-bandwidth network capabilities on tiny satellites was not only possible, but offered massive cost-savings vs. the usual way of doing things. But our talk focuses on the challenges of being a first-time founder and CEO, and creating a whole new business model. Links for this episode: Swarm Swarm’s low-cost satellite data network is now available to commercial clients Connect with us: On Twitter On Instagram Via email: email@example.com
6 August 2021 •
For our Wednesday show this week, Natasha and Alex hosted a PR roundtable. Yep, our promise back when Alex Konrad came on the program to chat funding rounds is being fulfilled. Here's who joined us: Amy Widdowson, VP Corporate Communications at Zeno Group and newsletter writer extraordinaire Kelsey Cheng, PR Director at Walker Sands Creighton Vance, Media Strategist at Mission North and maker of music We had a few things to chat about, so we broke the show into a few sections: Today's PR world: The impact of COVID-19, burnout, what their work entails, and some tips for startups. The sheer pace of news today: The evolution of client expectations, managing clients themselves, and burnout. Tech vs. Media: We chatted content marketing, sharing details with the press, and why the media never shares drafts of stories before they go out. Frankly it was a very good time and a fun chat. Shoutout to our guests for arriving early and being very put together. May all podcast guests in the future learn from such efforts. One guest was even wearing a shirt with a collar! In 2021! We were impressed. Recall that Equity is off the rest of the week so that we can recharge and retool a bit. Hugs!
4 August 2021 •
Last week, Natasha and Alex jumped on Twitter Spaces to discuss the tale of two edtech IPOs: Duolingo, the consumer language learning company, and Powerschool, the enterprise K-12 software platform. It was a rare moment in the sun for the recently-revitalized sector, which saw two companies list on the NASDAQ on the same dang day. Special shout out to our producer Chris Gates for handling this impromptu live chat, tech difficulties and all, and bringing it to your ears on this lovely Monday. Don't forget that Equity is largely on break this week! Here's what we got into, featuring some edtech entrepreneurs nice enough to drop on by: China's edtech crackdown and how it is impacting startups both internationally and domestically. The regulations, one of which will force for-profit tutoring companies to turn into non-profits, are also getting the cold shoulder from U.S. edtech VCs, it seems. As Lightspeed Ventures investor Mercedes Bent so aptly put it, the news is somewhat ironic: "[T]he US edtech IPO market is on fire (after being dormant for so long) and the China edtech market is crumbling (after being on fire for so long)." Evidence of that can be found in the Duolingo IPO pricing arc. The company first posted a strong estimate of its worth, raised its range, priced above that raised interval, and still managed to trade higher. The company is still up more than $30 from its IPO price. Powerschool was a bit different. It priced at $18 per share, the low-end of its $18 to $20 range. The company is up from its IPO price, albeit a much more modest two, or three percent in today's early trading. In the second half of the show, we brought on the following host of edtech founders to share their hot takes about the current state of edtech: Philip Cutler, the founder & CEO of PAPER gave us an enterprise perspective. The startup recently raised $100 million in a Series C round led by IVP. Taylor Nieman, the founder & CEO of Toucan spoke language learning -- and how she's using Duolingo's S-1 as a competitive advantage. Anada Lakra, the founder & CEO of BoldVoice, a startup that wants to help non-native English speakers hone their accents. TechCrunch covered the company here. Yeva Hyusyan, the founder of Sololearn, a Duolingo-like company that wants to teach coding instead of languages. The company recently raised $24 million. Before we go, Equity is on a "break" this week, as we do some soul searching and refresh before our next run of shows. Obviously we still had to shaare this episode, and um, are recording another episode this week too, but you, my dear friend, will hear from us again next Monday.
2 August 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We were a smaller team this week, with Natasha and Alex together with Grace and Chris to sort through a week that brought together both this quarter's earnings cycle, and the Q3 IPO rush. So, it was just a little busy! Before we get to topics, however, a note that we are having a lot of fun recording these live on Twitter Spaces. We've found a hacky way to capture local audio and also share the chats live. So, hit us up on Twitter so you can hang out with us. It's fun - and we may even bring you up on stage to play guest host. Ok, now, to the Great List of Subjects: Robinhood went public! Yep, at long last, it is done. The company priced at $38 per share, the low end of its range, and had a medium-weak day of trading once it started to float. In short, Robinhood seems to have deftly priced its IPO, leaving zero fat on the table. So, it is now richer than ever, and public. More here. Earnings! We took a moment to chat about earnings reports from Alphabet, and Microsoft, and Shopify. Why? Because we care lots about the cloud and platform companies. So, we took a minute to chat about public cloud results, and what Shopify got up to. Batteries! Tesla is moving towards iron-based batteries, and is looking to source other materials direct. At the same time battery recycling is raising lots of cash, and Nikola is Not Dead. We call it two truths and a lie. Unicorns and soon-to-be's: Contentful raised $175M at a $3B valuation from Tiger for its content delivery service, Squire, a barbershop tech platform, tripled its valuation (again) with Tiger Global (again), and Class squashed acquisition rumors with SoftBank Vision Fund II funding, More venture rounds! To cap off our venture roundup, two neat healthtech investments stood out, namely rounds from both Oova and Peppy. Both startups agree with the idea that hormonal health is a massive yet nascent opportunity. (We did an entire show about the imbalanced world of hormone startups if you're interested). We ended on a musical note, which lucky for you all, didn't include us singing: meet a quartet of early-stage music startups
30 July 2021 •
For our Wednesday show this week, Natasha and Alex Chris had prior Equity guest Phil Libin back for a chat. Libin was first on our show a while back to chat about his startup studio. But since then, he's been a little busy. You may recall that mmhmm, Libin's project to build a better video communication service, raised $100 million the other week. And we here on the Equity pod made a little bit of fun at the number. It was just so very much money for a roughly one year old company. What was the company going to use it for? Well, Libin's folks got in touch and so we decided to just have him on to chat. And we wanted him back because he was one of the most memorable guests on the show, frankly, thanks to his candor the last time around. So, what did we get into? A refresh on the mmhmm story, and notes from Libin about what's ahead for his company. It certainly has the cash to pursue its vision. But as we learned, building software for a variety of platforms comes with challenges. Challenges that are ameliorated by having lots of smart staff. So, that's where the money is going. Regardless, it was good sporting of Libin to come back for another chat. Equity is back Friday morning with our news roundup. Make sure to follow the show on Twitter, as we're doing the odd Twitter space that you won't want to miss.
28 July 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. Ever wake up to just a massive wall of news? That was us this morning, so we had to pick and choose. But since this show is about getting you caught up, we decided to focus on the largest, broadest new information that we could: Asian stocks were down, European shares are lower, and American equities are set to open underwater. Bitcoin had a great weekend, however. China's edtech crackdown continued over the weekend, with the country's ruling party setting new rules for online tutoring companies; they can no longer go public and will be forced to become non-profit entities. Chinese edtech stocks around the world fell. China's larger tech crackdown continued over the weekend and into the week, with new moves against the present-day business models of both food delivery companies, and Tencent Music. The former must ensure minimum incomes, while the latter must give up exclusive rights deals. Shares fell. The Jam City SPAC is kaput. It will not be the last similar deal to fall apart. And we chatted about this bit of Rivian news, as it stood out to us. All that and we had a good time. Hugs and love from the Equity crew, chat Wednesday!
26 July 2021 •
We were smaller team this week, with Natasha and Alex together with Chris to sort through yet another summer frenzy of a week. This time around we actually recorded live on Twitter Spaces, which was a first for the podcast. If you missed it, it's probably because we didn't promote the taping since it was just an experiment. Good news, though, is that it went well, and we're going to some more live tapings of the show with the entire crew on the mics. Make sure to follow the show on the Big Tweet to ensure that you can come hang with us next week. We'll also do some Q&A at the end, if we're in good moods. Until then, let's live in the present. Here's what we got into in today's show: The blisteringly-hot EU startup market: You can raise money anywhere, but you might want to do it in Europe where VCs are putting a acre-feet of capital to work this year. Hours before the taping, Index Ventures announced a $3 billion trio of funds (and TikTok strategy?), basically solidifying our earlier reporting. The huge round for crypto trading house FTX, and OpenSea raising again: Regardless of whether or not you are paying attention to the crypt market today, investors are still firing capital at startups in the space at an eye-catching pace. Duolingo's first IPO price range: It's a good-news week for consumer-focused, edtech startups, since the public markets will finally get a taste of an non-enterprise sector startup. Plus, Duolingo's upcoming finance event could lead to them finally bolstering areas like speech, cultural norms, and fluency. From the world of funding rounds, we had notes on Sololearn, Numerade, NewCampus, Mural, Spreadsheet.com, and Bolt. The conversation ran into some fresh corners, such as how a company raised less than its preceding round but 4x'd its valuation and if we should bite-size all learning.
23 July 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Natasha took a trip down memory lane to the great WeWork saga. We had WSJ reporter and author Eliot Brown on the show to chat about his new book, The Cult of We, written with his colleague Maureen Farrell. You can snag it here if you haven't already. Brown and Farrell were key reporting voices during WeWork's rise, and fall, covering the company's growth, hijinks, and demise. Recently, WeWork has filed to go public via a SPAC, bringing the co-working startup to the public markets years after it initially tried for an IPO. It will debut at a fraction of the value that it once commanded on the private markets. For fun, you can read the original WeWork S-1 filing here. The WeWork-SPAC deck is here. While we had Brown on the show, we took the time to dive into how he handled reporting the WeWork story, what his take is on today's startup market, and how the tech media in general can do a better job. It felt like a masterclass for journalists and founders alike, which we'd argue is Equity's sweet spot. What lessons can we take away from WeWork's rise and fall? At a very basic level, that companies with slim gross margins are not software companies and should not be valued as such. And that allowing founders to have monarchical control of their company goes against historical norms of good corporate governance, which isn't so smart.
21 July 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. It was a big damn morning, so we had to cut some stuff. Here's what we got into: Stocks and cryptos are off this morning, as inflation and COVID-19 concerns rise. Zoom is buying Five9. The deal is not super expensive, nor is it cheap. But given the huge percentage of Zoom's market cap that it represents, it's a serious wager from the video conferencing startup. Carlyle is buying LiveU for around $400 million. TechCrunch broke this news. The deal shows that private equity interest in startups that aren't unicorns. Robinhood dropped a new SEC filing this morning! That means we have a price range and valuation target to play with. More from TechCrunch on the matter shortly. From India: A huge round for Lenskart, and a big Series A for GlobalBees. And we covered this round from Nigeria. A smaller transaction, but one that could prove to be quite neat, we reckon. Ok! Chat Wednesday!
19 July 2021 •
The whole crew was here this week, with Danny and Natasha and Alex together with Grace and Chris to sort through a very, very busy week. Yep, somehow it is Friday again which means it's time for our weekly news roundup. Here's what we got to in our short window of time: The Jianzhi Education IPO: We have questions. The Chinese edtech company is looking to list in the United States after Chinese regulators clamped down on Didi and other China-based, American public offerings. Bravery? Stupidity? Brilliance? It's hard to say, but we'll be watching. Zomato's IPO and the Indian tech scene: As Zomato puts the final touches on its impending public offering, we chatted about the listing and what it may mean for the larger, red-hot Indian startup market. The AI conversation: ZoomInfo bought Chorus.ai this week, which we had lots of say about especially in light of Gong's epic valuation. And Discord bought Sentropy, which also uses AI, albeit for a very different purpose. The great AI startup marketing push of years' past has finally led to a few neat exits. Apple vs. Startups: That's the gist of our chat about the BNPL space and Apple's possible invasion of the hot startup market. In short, who's at risk? We have a few ideas. The TechCrunch List is dead — long live commodity capital: We get into how a list that separates VCs by sector and stage makes no sense into today's lawless investing world. Which brings us to a series of new funds. As Natasha pointed out, the scene for emerging fund managers has never looked more diverse. Nooks raised a seed round, which turned us back into the world of virtual HQs. And we closed with a quick digest of the latest morsels from the fake-meat startup smorgasbord, including what Gourmey is cooking, what Next Gen Foods is whipping up, and how Beyond Meat plans to keep its market cap sizzling. Like we said, a busy week! Chat you all on Monday morning, early.
16 July 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Natasha and Danny decided it was time to chat about funding rounds. Yep, everyone's favorite topic, just in time for the return of our wonderful producer Chris. To help us navigate these particular waters, we had our friend and friendly competitor Alex Konrad on the show. Konrad is a senior editor over at Forbes, and part of the founding duo behind the Midas Touch newsletter. We like him - and his puppy! With four of us around the Zoom table, here's what we got into: An overview of the venture capital market in Q2. You can read TechCrunch's coverage of the global numbers here, and our further exploration of the US market here. TechCrunch has more coming on the matter, so stay tuned. While the show includes the staggering statistics on the current funding frenzy, we soon broadened the conversation to why it all matters. Consider this a peek into the reporter's notebook! We spoke about the supply and demand for covering funding rounds, the imbalance in who receives what money, and how an overall reader ad writer numbness to that $2 million pre-seed impacts the headlines. Which landed us into our final section: how to stand out in the overall deluge of funding rounds. Here we all had a take, because all reporters find different things interesting. Here we answer questions about what metrics to pay attention to, how to be more than a number in your pitch, and the value of talking about topics other than your startup's success. Thanks again to Alex K. for joining the show! Find him on Twitter,https://twitter.com/alexrkonrad and check out his work at Forbes. Chat with everyone on Friday, a show that is already coming together to be a scorcher. A bit like the weather. Except in San Francisco. Natasha is cold!
14 July 2021 •
This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. It was a busy weekend for everyone, regardless of whether you were watching the technology, what Branson was up to, or the footie. I won't take sides on the match, but I will say that it was gripping unto the very end and a great example of sport. Now, the news: Microsoft is said to be hunting up the purchase of RiskIQ, a cybersecurity firm. The deal is reported to be worth around $500 million. And this weekend, Twitter began to conform with new regulations in India, moves that come after it lost some legal protections during a scrap with the Indian government. China's tech market has been busy: News is out concerning ByteDance's IPO delay, Tencent is being forced to drop some music label exclusivity, and the Chinese government recently blocked a merger of streaming giants in the country. There's big news out from Flipkart this morning, thanks to its recent and huge new funding round worth $3.6 billion. And returning to the cybersecurity theme from earlier, startups in the sector are having a lovely time raising capital in recent months, it turns out. And don't forget that earnings season is just around the corner. It's a pretty important cycle. Why? Because startup valuations are hot, and could take a hit if earnings come up short. And the IPO market is pretty freaking active; poor earnings from major tech companies could crimp exit-prices for mature startups. Ok! Talk to you on Wednesday!
12 July 2021 •
Danny and Alex were on deck this week, with Grace on the recording and edit. Natasha will be back with us starting next week. So, it was old times on the show with just two of our team to vamp on the news. And oh boy was there a lot of news to get into. Like, loads. What's going on with Didi? Didi's woes have continued this week, with the company seeing its share price continue to fall. The Equity team's view is that the era of Chinese companies listing in the United States is over. What's going on with facial recognition tech? With AnyVision raising a $235 million round, Danny and Alex tangled over the future of privacy, and what counts as good enough when it comes to keeping ourselves to ourselves. Nextdoor is going public: Via a SPAC, mind, but the transaction had our tongues wagging about its history, growth, and how hard it can be to build a social network. Dataminr buys WatchKeeper: In its first-ever acquisition, Dataminr bought a smaller company to help it better visualize the data it collects. It's a neat deal, and especially fun given taht Dataminr should go public sooner rather than later. Planet and Satellogic are going public: One week, two satellite SPACs. You can read more about Planet here, and Satellogic here. FabricNano and Cloverly raise capital: Satellites had us into the concept of climate change, so we also dug into recent funding rounds from FabricNano and Cloverly. It's beyond neat to see for-profit companies tackle our warming planet. Two new venture capital funds: Acrylic has put together a $55 million fund for moonshot crypto work, while Renegade Partners has a $100 million fund for early-and-mid-stage generalist investments. Mmhmm is big time: And then there was mmhmm. Which now has $100 million more, and some big plans. Our question is what it will do with the money. We'll have to wait and find out, we suppose.
9 July 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Natasha and Danny decided that it was time to talk about drugs. No, not like drugs for fun, but instead drugs that you might have considered fun, but are now being redirected to help bolster your health. Yep, that's our theme today. As it turns out, there are a number of startups and even nascently public companies that are pursing using drugs that we might consider recreational for serious health purposes. Which is neat, as our habit of decrying any drug that makes you feel better as immoral has likely held us back from learning quite a lot about them. Venture capital investment in psychedelic start-ups, per CB Insights, rose from sub-$100 million results in 2018 and 2019 to $346 million last year. Vice clauses, however, can pause a legitimate issue for investors who might want to cut a check in the space. From the startup angle, NUE Life Health recently raised $3.3 million, and Osmind is up to some neat stuff regarding mental health. From the public markets, Atai Life Sciences, Compass Pathways, and MindMed are the companies worth watching. Frankly this was a fun one to record, even if the topic at hand is actually rather serious. Chat Friday morning!
7 July 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Tuesday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. What a busy weekend we missed while mostly hearing distant explosions and hugging our dogs close. Here's a sampling of what we tried to recap on the show: Didi vs. China: The Chinese government's crackdown on Didi continued over the weekend, after announcing a cybersecurity review of the company on Friday. That decision blocked new user signups. Now Didi has had its app removed from pertinent app marketplaces. That's going to hit revenue. Shares of the company are sharply lower in pre-marketing trading here in the United States. The company went public last week. Twitter vs. India: India's attempts to cow Twitter into not enacting its own content moderation policies continues. Now India has taken away legal protections from the well-known American company. It's not great news for India's growing technology sector, or the investors backing the upstarts. Funding rounds: Lots of companies raised money, including Byrd, with $19 million in a Series B, Pleo with a huge $150 million unicorn round, and Obviously AI, which just extended its Seed round. It's going to be a busy week! Chat tomorrow.
6 July 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Danny, Natasha, and Alex were on-deck this week, with Grace on the recording and edit. But, if you want to hear more about Robinhood, this is not the episode for you. If you want to learn more about the consumer fintech company's IPO filing this is the episode you want. Basically, Robinhood filed after we had wrapped taping, so we had to do a special pod for the news. So, this is the everything-but-Robinhood episode. And here's what's inside of it: Startup and investor tensions at Bessemer and Hinge Health. Natasha has the latest. Didi's IPO, and what's going on with Chinese IPOs more generally. Also SentinelOne's expensive and notable debut. And then all things Duolingo, including TechCrunch's overview and more in-depth look. From the venture capital side of things, Zipline raised $250 million, Daylight raised $5 million, Articulate raised $1.5 billion, Acceleprise rebranded to Forum Ventures, and Peanut put together a micro-fund. We closed with Neeva, Brave, and other alternative search tools. Alex has a piece coming on the subject, once he gets around to finishing it. A four-episode week! With only Grace handling production! She's amazing.
2 July 2021 •
It's a sweltering day here in New York City, and that means Wall Street is on fire, and so is Robinhood, apparently. The popular stock trading app officially filed its Form S-1 with the SEC a few hours ago to go public, where it will trade under the ticker "HOOD." The Equity crew has been yammering about Robinhood for years now, and we have been chomping on the bit to see those S-1 results for what feels like ages. Well, we finally got the numbers, we chomped that bit (or at least Alex and Danny did, since Natasha went on vacation about 15 minutes before the IPO hit the wires), and so here's a special Equity Shot to talk about all the highlights. We talked about so much in an itsy-bitsy 15-minute episode: crazy revenue growth, crazy revenue concentration from two major sources, regulatory hurdles that the company has been clearing up, better financials with a bit of nuance on the company's Q1 finances, and the company's special plan for its IPO. Wowza. Here's what we got up to: Historical growth and profitability. Revenue mix and revenue concentration, along with constituent concerns. The importance of options-related incomes for the company. Dogecoin. Why the company's adjusted income may help it assuage investors who have their eyes pop out of their skulls when they see its GAAP Q1 2021 results. And a lot more. Of course, if you hate Robinhood, we will be back with our normally-scheduled Friday episode of Equity tomorrow.
1 July 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Natasha brought on Alexis Gay, a former operator at Patreon who now makes her living as comedian and podcast host, to talk about the creator economy - including our disdain for that horrid phrasing. You may know her from her cheeky, on point shorts about tech culture (and tech Twitter). https://twitter.com/yayalexisgay/status/1369346460911734784 Gay gave us an honest look into the life of creator helper turned creator actual, admitting that her current job path wasn't possible in 2018. Somewhere, somehow, a VC in the distance heard that admittance as an opportunity to back a creator economy startup. Here's what we got into: Gay's experience at Patreon, and why she left. Alex had some thoughts on the theme. It appears that growing list of creator-focused tools could increase the vapor pressure of folks who write, talk, art, and otherwise create, regarding their present-day employment. Why one size doesn't fit all when it comes to the diverse world of folks engaged in creative work. We also dipped our toes into the issue of indie creators needing to be CEOs as well as artists. We chatted on Vibely, a startup that wants to make interactions with creators ~ multi-directional~ and what it says about scaling time. We also got into what an average day looks like for a full-time creator-comedian-podcaster, why she's annoyed with how creators are discussed by founders and investors, and the tooling she hopes to see in the future. And, well, we had to ask her if she's starting a rolling fund too. All told, if you care about the economics of the creative world and want to add some nuance to your theories about it, it's a fun episode.
30 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. First, happy belated birthday to Chris Gates, one of the founding members of the show. His birthday was yesterday, and while he's on vacation for two weeks, we still wanted to give him a shoutout. Chris is a very good person, a good friend, a good father, a good partner. He's kind, supportive, and hilarious. And he has a very good beard. But Equity waits for no single person, regardless of their merit, so on we went! Here's today's show: Stocks are a bit blah this morning, though set to rise in the United States. Cryptos are up a little. From the weekend, Venmo is getting into ecommerce, and Apple loves Surface. From this morning: Binance is beefing with the United Kingdom, and appears to be winning, which is somewhat humorous. On the funding round beat, Slice raised $20 million, Botrista raised $10 million, and Thursday raised $3.5 million. We wrapped with this. The Equity crew is back on Wednesday for our deep-dive, this week focusing on the creator economy which should be good fun. Chat then!
28 June 2021 •
Hey Equity fam, we have a small clip of extra for you today. After our live show - listen to the recording here, it was good fun - we got to take a few questions from the audience, audio that was not included in the main episode as we didn't have the time. But we've cut it out, given it a short polish, and have it for you today. If you wanted even more Equity, here you go! As a small note from the team, we know that this week's Wednesday episode didn't have the best audio quality. And to do a Twitter Spaces experiment the same week as a live show might have felt like a lot of change. Don't worry, it just worked out that way. Equity will keep tinkering and having fun, but we're back to normal next week. Enjoy the Q&A, and we'll see you at our next live show! - Grace, Chris, Natasha, Danny, and Alex
26 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week we did something fun and different and good: a live show! A good number of people came, and asked questions, and altogether, it was a blast. Danny, Natasha, and Alex had a lovely time with the regular work, while Grace and Chris and Kevin made the whole operation function. We'll likely post a bonus episode of the Q&A on Saturday if people are interested in Equity After Hours. That aside, what did we talk about in a longer-than-usual episode? Here's the rundown: Buzzfeed is going public! Alex wrote about the news here, but the gist is that the media company is merging with a SPAC, buying Complex, and raising some capital at the same time. We have thoughts about it. Maybe neobanks will break even? We dug into some fintech news through the perspective of some recent news from the neobank market. MAJORITY raised MONEY for migrants to the United States, while MFast, a Vietnamese financial services app, got some funding of its own amid the neobank boom. Alex interviewed a leading venture capitalist. So, we talked about that. What's going on with the early-stage venture capital market? That's something we tried to parse. The gist is that the rapidly-evolving world of investing in startups is in the midst of a few trends that are worth understanding. Even if they are slightly contradictory. A16z tripled down on crypto with a new $2.2 billion fund, giving it a total of $18.8 billion in assets under management. Edtech leaders rallied around a memo of their own this past week. And then to close, we raced through some of our recent reporting on a new fund that will invest in American military institute graduates, Figma's huge new round of capital, and WaitWhat? It's always fun to play around with our show, and thank you to everyone who came out and supported us in our first-ever, but probably not last-ever, virtual live show. We are back to regular, however, starting Monday.
25 June 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive Danny, Alex, and a bunch of the TechCrunch crew took on the recent happenings in the world of bitcoin. In a break from our regular format, we recorded live from a Twitter Space -- it's like a Clubhouse, but closer to where your social network is -- so the audio quality is not going to be Utterly Perfect. But we think the conversation will more than make up for it! Before we get into the show notes, do not forget that we're recording Equity live on Hopin Thursday the 24th. Come hang with us and have some fun. It's free, of course, and should be a good time. Details here, sign up here! So what did we get into? A lot! Recent price changes to the value of major coins The impact of China on the larger crypto ecosystem What's the latest from the NFT craze? Are DAOs, you know, actually a thing? And more. A big thanks to Romain Dillet and Lucas Matney for hanging with us, Drew Olanoff for hosting, and Chris Gates for snagging the audio and making it all work. See you tomorrow!
23 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. Our live show is this week! And we're very excited about it! Details here, and you can register here. It's free, of course, so swing by and hang with us. Back on theme, we had a lot to get through this morning, so inside the show you can find the following and more: The Chinese cryptocurrency clampdown is a big damn deal: With lots of the nation's mining capacity heading offline, there's a scramble to relocate rigs and generally figure out what a crypto market sans China might look like. In the wake of the news, the value of cryptocurrencies fell. As did shares of Coinbase this morning in pre-market trading. Facebook's Clubhouse rival is out. The American social giant follows Spotify into the live-audio market. You have to give it to modern software companies, who thought that they could be both leading tech shops and Kinko's clones at the same time? Revolut is unprofitable as hell but increasingly less so. That could be good news for fintech as a whole. Amber Group raised $100 million; Forto raised $240 million. See you this Thursday at the live show!
21 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week, Natasha and Danny, otherwise known as your two new favorite Book influencers (inside joke, you'll get if you listen to the show), hopped on the mics to take everyone threw the news, with Grace and Chris in the background. Here's what we got into: Wise announced plans to go public via direct listing, making it the biggest company to use this route to debut on the London Stock Exchange. Andreessen Horowitz goes into publishing with Future, so Danny and Natasha took turns fawning over why everyone has hot takes about a blog, and what could be in the future for Future. Harry Stebbings turned up the volume on 20VC with new $140M fund. Natasha broke down why it matters for emerging fund managers, and why it might quiet some concerns about the growth potential of micro-funds. After we left our usually programmed media and venture conversation, we turned to community. Commsor bought Meetsy to build community tools for all for an undisclosed price. Danny found hobby-market fit with BookClub, a startup that just raised $20 million to make reading experiences more engaging with author-led discussions. Then, the edtech convo continued with Formative's $70 million financing event from this week. Danny had the scoop on Gusto's first-ever acquisition as well as Clair, a tool that is skipping the direct deposit and heading straight for the paycheck. To close out the funding round section, we spoke about Carbyne making emergencies more streamlined, and what Natasha argued is the headline o' the week: Neo4j raises Neo$325m as graph-based data analysis takes hold in enterprise. To close, we spoke to HBCUvc's $1 million fund to back overlooked founders, and onramp aspiring investors. Well, as you can tell, it's been a busy writing and speaking week for your humble hosts. We're grateful for the opportunity, and will be back in your ears on Monday.
18 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. For this week’s deep dive, Natasha and Danny unpacked the Expensify EC-1, which includes a ton of surprises, building tips, and, as we discuss in the show, some life lessons as well. This is our largest EC-1 to date, and is the result of six months of prodigious work from the inimitable Anna Heim. Of course, we had to add our Equity spin on the feature and boiled down our favorite musings into a succinct episode. Here's what we got into: Expensify's silent period as a fun dynamic to deal with as reporters There's always an Uber angle, and Expensify is no different when you realize its early roots are tied to entrepreneur Travis Kalanick's persuasion How Expensify manages to stay slim, focus in a rural town in Michigan, and achieve profitability Natasha asked if lack of structure negatively or positive impacts minorities and underrepresented folk, while Danny explained a nifty way that the company deals with promotions and raises. Danny explained how re-writing the playbook might positively impact recruitment, and how joining Expensify doesn't come with your classic SaaS pitch. And we end with a meta conversation on how society views work, and why neither of us went to spend the next 50 years with predictability. Once you're done listening to the episode, make sure to check out Heim's EC-1 below: Part 1: Origin story “How a band of P2P hackers planted the seeds of a unique expense management giant” (2,400 words/10 minutes Part 2: Culture: “How Expensify got to $100M in revenue by hiring ‘stem cells’ and not ‘cogs in a wheel’” (3,120 words/12.5 minutes) Part 3: Expansion and remote work: “How Expensify shed Silicon Valley arrogance to realize its global ambitions” (3,250 words/13 minutes) Part 4: Engineering and technology: “How Expensify hacked its way to a robust, scalable tech stack” (3,300 words/13 minutes) Part 5: Business model: “How bottom-up sales helped Expensify blaze the path for SaaS” (4,200 words/17 minutes) And that's the show! Make sure to register for a seat at our FREE Equity live show next week, and follow us on Twitter @equitypod. Until Friday!
16 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our morning coffee chat with you that is all about the weekend, what to expect this week, and some funding rounds you may have missed. I'm subbing in for Alex Wilhelm today, who is deservedly out on vacation. You can find me on Twitter @nmasc_, and Equity on Twitter (turn on those notifications!) @equitypod. Biden and world leaders are congregating at the NATO summit, which kicks off this week. Also, the Dublin Tech Summit is happening on Thursday with yours truly, other TC folks, and many entrepreneurs making a virtual appearance. Now, onto the news! The weekend: The seat next to Jeff Bezos as he launches into space just got filled for $28 million. Also, Elon Musk tweeted about how Tesla might start accepting Bitcoin as a payment once at least half of it can be mined using clean energy. The comment sent Bitcoin up more than a few percentage points, hovering at $39,173 at the time of the recording. This morning: The FT reports that Flagship Pioneering, which is responsible for incubating and launching Moderna, has raised a new venture capital fund at $3.4 billion. Flagship isn't your traditional VC. It forms teams around problem areas and brainstorms solutions, incubates the most promising ones, and then eventually spins out and finances those companies. Funding rounds: Byju's got a check from UBS and Zoom founder Eric Yuan, making it the most valuable startup in India. The company is now valued at $16.5 billion post-money. Plus, The Pill Club has raised an extension Series B round with former Uber exec Liz Meyerdirk newly at the helm of the company. Finally, please take the Equity Listener Survey. We want to make the show better for you, so spending a few seconds filling out our survey and we will be very grateful. And that's all. Be kind with yourself this week, and take more than a 5-minute lunch because true glamour is being present and chewing slowly.
14 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We're closing our survey soon, so this is your last chance (probably) to get your voice heard! Despite it being a short week, as always, it was a busy, busy time. We had Grace on the dials today, and Danny, Natasha, and Alex making chit-chat about the tech world. As with every week this year, we had to cut and cut and cut to get the show down to size. Here's what made it in in the end: Medium saw more employees depart the company after CEO Ev Williams published a 'culture memo.' While the Medium memo doesn’t wholly ban politics, some allege that the undertone of the statement, timed weeks after a failed unionization attempt, created an unsafe environment. A week later, Natasha covered another controversy, this time at Y Combinator. We riff on the takeaway, and what this story looks like three months from now. The issue of company culture is attracting companies. Or more precisely startups, with Blendoor dropping a new report this week that TechCrunch covered, and Vault raising $8.2 million to provide a software solution to aid employees in reporting misconduct. On the funding round beat, we explored ChartHop's new $35 million round that Danny had many thoughts about, fake-chicken nuggets startup Nuggs raising $50 million, and Faculty's latest deal that will help power its vision for the future of male grooming. We also got into Lifted's elder-care focused round, a startup in the larger healthtech beat that Natasha is giving some of her attention to. And we wrapped with the ExtraHop exit. We spent a minute trying to figure out why the company was valued at $900 million in its exit. The number, while large, felt light based on what we knew about the company. Thanks for hopping along with us this week and every week. Quick programming note: Natasha will take Alex's spot on the Monday show for next week since he's out, so be nice, and send her stuff to mention.
11 June 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive, Alex, Natasha, and Chris dug into the world of hormonal health, a sub-sector within the massive (and booming) world of digital health. The show was inspired by Natasha's latest Extra Crunch piece: "Hormonal Health is a massive opportunity: Where are the unicorns?". To round out the show, we asked one of the featured founders, Dr. Elizabeth Ruzzo, to hop on the mic and help us understand if hormonal health is at its infancy, or at an inflection point, in tech. The tl;dr before we hop into the show is that hormones -- while constantly evolving and changing -- are center node for a ton of health conditions that disproportionately impact women. These can include mental health issues, infertility, diabetes, and more. If you're someone interested in the world of digital health and always read about the Ro's and Hinge Health's of the ecosystem, this episode will teach you what else there is that deserves equal - if not more - attention. Here's what we got into: We started with landscaping! We defined the term "hormonal health" and got a sense of market size, as to show the opportunity there is to innovate here right now. Ruzzo walked us through the opportunity in pro-active medicine, as well as how investors reacted to her pitch when she was first raising her seed round. We ping-ponged around different reasons as to why hormonal health is an underserved category, starting with stigma and ending with stigma. This post from a set of venture capital investors discussing the market opportunity that women's health may have for founders and VCs alike. Then we got into Modern Fertility's acquisition by Ro, and why Ruzzo and many in the digital health community were surprised at the outcome. That said, it’s still one of the rare exits, and as far as unicorns go, there are virtually no companies valued at over $1 billion that focus explicitly on women’s hormonal health. Shifting gears, the trio turned to startups working on PCOS, one of the most common hormonal conditions out there that impacts one in ten women. Former Ro director Rachel Blank announced today that she is starting a company in this world, Allara. To round out the conversation we touched on the recent Veera venture capital round, and closed with a short discussion concerning the the term "femtech" and why it's not so good. Don't forget to take the Equity survey, and we'll chat you on Friday morning!
9 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. It's WWDC week, so expect a deluge of Apple news to overtake your Twitter feed here and there over the next few days. But there's a lot more going on, so let's dig in: The Weekend: A supercharged, supercharged Model S Tesla car is not coming out. Instead, a merely supercharged version will come out. It's still stupid fast and expensive. And Nigeria's war with Twitter continued, with new efforts from the African nation to limit access to the social media service within its borders. This Morning: Flipkart is raising $3 billion at a roughly $40 billion valuation The deal underscores not just how big the Indian tech scene is, but also how much investor interest there is in ecommerce bets more generally. And Jeff Bezos is going to space. Soon! Funding Rounds: Trulioo raised a $394 million Series D. The Canadian startup is now worth far more than $1 billion. And Chinese company Kanzhun is going public in the United States, which raised an eyebrow here amongst the Equity Morning Crew. Take The Damn Equity Survey: Take it! All the cools kids are taking it! And that's your start to the week. More to come from your friends here on Wednesday, and Friday. Chat soon!
7 June 2021 •
Despite it being a short week, as always, it was a busy busy time. Our regular Friday producer Grace was under the weather today, so Chris stepped in to help out. And as noted at the top of the episode, we're running a survey. The survey is here, dear Equity family. Please fill it out so that we can keep making the show better. That aside, here's what Danny and Natasha and Alex got into: Stack Overflow has a new owner, and a $1.8 billion sale price that is minting 61 new millionaires in the process. Katerra is dying, as in going to zero. As the company has been a regular feature of TechCrunch coverage, we had to discuss its end. You can also catch up on Greensill here if that's your jam. Back on the acquisition front, Etsy is buying Depop for $1.625 billion. Our take is that the deal makes good sense, even if it is not cheap. Amazon is now open to being sued after an overwhelming number of arbiration claims were filed. Also we get to talk about everyone's favorite judge's writing style. Unit raised money to help teams unionize; Chipper Cash raised a huge round for its fintech product; and One Concern underscores Danny's larger disaster tech thesis by raising $45 million. That's all we got! If you have heard Equity before, take the survey. Thank you!
4 June 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Natasha dug into the burgeoning of sports media, sports gaming, and fantasy sports world today through the lens of some early-stage startups. Naturally, the Equity team is what comes to mind when you consider the correct and right people to discuss sports. We are here to back up your priors. Jokes aside, we had a good time digging into the following: THE GIST raised $1 million. Both Natasha and Alex were very bullish on the company's product, focus, and market. Especially in light of some recent media deals that have kept our hearts aflutter over the last few quarters. Blaseball raised $3 million. Whether it is blah-ZAY-ball, or BLACE-ball, the Equity team thinks that having fantasy fantasy sports is meta, good fun, and perhaps appeal-broadening the larger, somewhat hoary world of baseball. Also baseball could use more whimsy in general. And the fantasy talk continued as we got to cricket, which is a massively adored and obsessed over sport in India especially. Earlier this year, Dream11's parent firm raised $225 million at an over $2.5 billion valuation to build an end-to-end sports tech company around the sport. We'd venture out to say we are probably the only tech podcast this week that found an angle to riff on within sports and donuts, which is why we love our jobs and why we hope you love the show. Surprises keep things fun, and much love to our producers, Chris and Grace, for constantly sourcing creative material that may have flown under the radar otherwise. Back Friday!
2 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Tuesday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. We are back from a long weekend here in America. But not break here in the States can stop the flow of global tech news. So, here's the rundown: The Weekend: Tata bought BigBasket, setting up a fascinating ecommerce war in India. China is cracking down on edtech companies, leading to an IPO freeze. And Wejo is going public via a SPAC. You can read its investor deck here. This Morning: The are a zillion funding rounds in Europe and globally this morning, the start of what could be a super busy week's cycle. Private Equity is buying Cloudera, which is a surprise. Nio had chip shortage issues that impacted its delivery cadence. The Chinese EV company does expect to meet its Q2 delivery goal, however. Funding Rounds: Truebill raised $45 million. Chipper Cash raised $100 million. Zenyum raised $40 million. WeFox raised $650 million. Malt raised $97 million. Sennder raised $80 million. idwall raised $38 million. Belvo raised $43 million. And that was not even close to all the big ones. Riff: Late last week we missed the Sprinklr filing. You can read it here. Quite a number of VCs have money riding on the IPO. Welcome back, America, to the week. It's nice to see you, everyone else. Maybe Robinhood will file this week.
1 June 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week had the whole crew aboard to record: Grace and Chris making us sound good, Danny to provide levity, Natasha to actually recall facts, and Alex to divert us from staying on topic. It's teamwork, people - and our transitions are proof of it. And it's good that we had everyone around the virtual table as there was quite a lot to get through: Team felt all kinds of ways about the Amazon-MGM deal. Some of us are more positive about than the rest, but what gists out from the transaction is that for Amazon, the purchase price is modest and the company is famously playing a supposedly long-game. Let's see how James Bond fits into it. Alex receives four points for not bringing up F1 thanks to the Bond-Aston Martin connection. Turning to the SPAC game, we chatted through the recent Lordstown Motors earnings results, and what we can parse from them regarding blank-check companies, promises, and reality. After launching last June with just $2 million, Collab Capital has closed its debut fund at its target goal: $50 million. The Black-led firm invests exclusively in Black-led startups, and got checks from Apple, PayPal, and Mailchimp to name a few. We talk about this feat, and note a few other Black-led venture capital firms making waves in the industry lately. We Resolved our transition puns and eventually spoke about the Affirm spin-out, which raised $60 million in a funding round for BNPL for businesses. There's bigger questions there around the accessibility and point of BNPL, and if its really re-inventing the wheel or just repackaging it with simpler UX. Next up, we got into a can of worms about the future of meetings thanks to Rewatch, which raised a $20 million Series A this week led by Andreessen Horowitz. The startup helps other startups create internal, private Youtubes to archive their meetings and any video-based comms. We could only spend a second on this, so if you want our longer thoughts in the form of text, check out our 3 views on the topic on Extra Crunch! (Discount Code: Equity) From there we had Interactio and Fireflies.ai, two more startups that are tackling the complexities of meetings in the COVID-19 era, and whatever comes next. Both recently raised new funding, and Alex brought up Kudo to add one more upstart to the mix. Noom, a weight loss platform, bulked up with $540 million in funding after nearly doubling its revenue from 2019 to 2020. The pandemic has made many people gain weight, but we chew into why Noom's moment might be right now after a decade in the works. Thanks for hanging out this week, Equity is back on Tuesday with our usual weekly kickoff, thanks to the American holiday on Monday. Chat then, unless you want to follow us on Twitter and get a first-look at all of Chris' meme work.
28 May 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Natasha dug into Danny's latest mega-project: A long, fascinating, and deeply-reported series into the world of disaster tech. It's all about the market, startups, and their backers, so it was perfect fare for our Wednesday episode, in which we dive deep into a single topic. Part 1: The most disastrous sales cycle in the world Part 2: Data was the new oil, until the oil caught fire Part 3: When the Earth is gone, at least the internet will still be working Part 4: The human-focused startups of the hellfire We were super curious why Danny had picked disaster tech to niche into, as we hadn't heard that much about it, frankly. But past the fact that it's a world where sales cycles can last as long as House Congressional tenures, there was quite a lot to get into: Consumer: Dorothy wants to to provide bridge loans to folks who get rekt by a hurricane. As government, and insurance money can take ages to arrive, the startup could be onto something. and Perimeter wants to take data, and help folks actually know where to go when there is am emergency. Data: Danny's deep dive into the world of data in the disaster space came with a provocative headline, but the market backs him up. In this space we took a look at Cornea, which just raised $15 million to help firefighters better understand conflagrations, and Gridware raised $5.3 million to install boxes on power lines. Very smart boxes, we should add. Mental health: We end with a riff on how companies are preparing humans to better handle disaster before and after it strikes. Alto Neuroscience, which is a stealthy startup founded by Amit Etkin, is looking to solve PTSD with brain-wave data, while NeuroFlow uses polling, and savvy collabs with practitioners to monitor emerging symptoms. Psychedelic therapeutics also might have some opportunity to shine thanks to Osmind. The series was fun to mine through, and expect Danny's byline to be all over the topic in the coming weeks. Talk soon, unless - actually especially, if - all of hell breaks loose!
26 May 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. After a somewhat quiet weekend, things are kicking off in rapid-fire fashion this week. Here's what you need to know: The cryptocurrency selloff that was in full-swing on Friday continued over the weekend. Though bitcoin and ether managed to recoup some of their losses since they set new local minima, the value of popular cryptos is vastly depressed compared to recent highs. Looking ahead, it's the final day of arguments at the Epic Games vs. Apple trial. And we're seeing a smaller company try to crack some of the hold that a major tech incumbent enjoys over a huge piece of the digital economy. So, if you like startups, you might want to put aside your Apple fandom for a minute. More than a few funding rounds are cracking off this morning, including neat rounds from African fintech Mono, India-and-UAE-based Zeta, Emitwise raising $3.2 million, and Aurora Solar raising $250 million. With a busy funding market and a yet-busy IPO cycle, it should be yet another busy week. Strap in!
24 May 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week was good fun not only because we had the whole team together to record, but also because we are still basking in the endless glory of our winning a Webby earlier this week. Frankly we are still shocked. But happy-shocked, like when you get a new toy and it is covered in static electricity. Anyhoo, we had a packed show with much, much left on the floor as we tried to shoehorn the week into our time slot. Here's what we got into: The world of connections: Fave raised $2.2 million to connect fandoms, Somewhere Good raised $3.75 million to build feedless micro-communities, and both Spokn ($4 million) and Spot ($5 million) are hoping to use the spoken word to connect companies and their staffs. Honestly we think that the overall connection-community world is super exciting. Piano, one of those startups we actually have the luck of using, raised $88 million for analytics, subscription, and personalization tools. We get into why the round makes sense, and why one investor stood out more than the others. Corporate media: Coinbase is building out a media-ish org (Alex wrote about it here on his personal blog; Scrawler.co has more on the matter), and with TheSkimm hoping to find a corporate home and The Hustle doing the same, we had to dig into the matter. Our take is that content marketing is a response to expensive social advertising. And that it's fine. And that it is not news. Shoutout Forbes and its new union effort. Well done. Uptrust raised $2M, which let us talk about the venture-sized opportunity in fighting the billions of dollars wasted on useless mass incarceration. And then we chatted about the public markets. Monday.com's IPO is filed, Marqeta's IPO is filed, Squarespace's direct listing is done, and more. It's hectic out there for late-stage startups. The show flew by, much like our days recently, simply because it was so fun and jam-packed with news. And we got to make jokes about our listeners and Monday.com PR timing, so what else could we ask for? Talk soon!
21 May 2021 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single topic and go deep. This time Natasha and Alex corralled TechCrunch transportation editor Kirsten Korosec to talk to us about the endless parade of EV SPACs, and more. Before we get into the show notes, you can follow Equity on Twitter here. https://twitter.com/kirstenkorosec/status/1394726967203667969 And, because we are proud, we won a Webby! Our show! How cool is that? Thank you for love listening, hate listening, all of it. We are so thankful. Ok, here's what we talked about: Why is every electric vehicle company going public via a SPAC, and why is there so much potential fraud in the space? Kirsten has some notes on the matter, but it boils down to money in both cases. The Bird-SPAC deal in all its glory. You can read Alex and Kirsten's dive into the Bird investor deck here. We had questions like why was the shared scooter model ever considered viable, and, how did the company improve its economics during a pandemic? The SPAC world never, ever disappoints. Of course, we couldn't resist talking about the scooter barrage of news from years ago and how things have changed since. We end with her latest scoop, a series of exits at Waymo, and what that means for the future of the autonomous vehicle company. Plus, we didn't get to make a joke about it in the show but let's just say: Waymo has a waymore to go before it has driverless tech all over the streets. And one more thing: Kirsten gives a look at some of the speakers at our upcoming mobility event. Snag tickets here, and subscribe to her newsletter, The Station, for all things mobility every week. And that's that! We are back with our regular weekly news rundown Friday morning. Chat you all then!
19 May 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. There was lots to get through today, so, in order, here's the rundown: Early-stage founders can still apply for the impending Disrupt Battlefield even. You can sign up here if that's you. It's going to be a lot of fun tbh. From the weekend: San Francisco real estate is a mess; Twitter Blue is coming and I am hype about it; Elon Musk roiled crypto markets by being himself, which doesn't speak too highly of the asset class. AT&T is getting out of the TV game to some degree, selling media assets to help pay down debt. Just like Verizon did by selling TechCrunch and family to Apollo. We also chatted about two Indian mega-rounds: Pine Labs raising $285 million and Moglix raising $120 million. From the early-stage front, two rounds this morning for your pleasure: Telda's super-cool pre-seed round, and recent Y Combinator-grad Houm's latest investment, which explains why the accelerator program is still so popular. Extra Crunch Live this week is Shaun Maguire (Sequoia) + Samir Vasavada (Vise) on Wednesday, May 19th, at 11:30AM PST / 2:30PM EST.
17 May 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. The fully-vaxxed and officially fully-immune took over the podcast this week, with Natasha and Danny co-hosting the show while the inimitable Alex is out from Shot #2. Grace and Chris, as always, were behind the scenes making sure we sound pretty and don't fall down too many punny board game rabbit holes after vacation. Here's the rundown of what we got into: Crypto crashed - thanks to either Elon or the guy who created Ethereum and then donated some to relief efforts for COVID-19. We debated how signal gets lost and rediscovered and lost again in this news cycle, and what that means for anyone in tech trying to get a pulse of. what's actually happening. One symptom of market craze and disconnected booms? A startup named Caplight that wants more people to buy and sell short positions on private startups. We then pivoted into the last bit of our 'The World Is Melting' section to talk about home ownership and the slow stink of real estate stocks right now. Ontop of that, Better.com, a digital mortgage lender, decided to SPAC after reportedly tabling an IPO. A mention of SPACs obviously opened up a can of worms, or should I say, oasis of woods. The world might be melting, but Softbank could be having the last word. The Japanese conglomerate shut us up with its recent profits - proving Danny's point in an old EC piece (use code EQUITY for a discount). We switched gears and talked about a neat new $20 million fund coming out of the Midwest, Sixty8 Capital, and its plan to invest in underrepresented founders. The show ended as chaotically focused as it began with a round robin of the most interesting funding rounds of the last week, not limited to but including Blind's $37 million raise, The Last Gameboard's $4 million check, Just Women's Sports, and Morressier's $18 million Series A. And that's where we break! Follow the podcast on Twitter, be kind to your humans, and be the kindest to yourself. Back sooner than you can raise a $25 million pre-seed round for an audio app for Dogecoin lovers.
14 May 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive, Alex and Danny unpacked Natasha's latest project: The Duolingo EC-1. The 12,000 word four-part series was published last week and is worth a read. But, until you get to it, enjoy our podcast that doubles-clicks into its most interesting bits. [caption id="attachment_2146587" align="aligncenter" width="482"] Duo, Duolingo's mascot, flying around. Image Credits: Duolingo [/caption] Here's how it went, after we got our morning allergy banter out of the way: What's an EC-1? A TechCrunch-style deep-dive into one of the startup world's most promising, and interesting companies. What's with the flying vermin up above? That's Duolingo's mascot. Which is a combination of hypercutness and modest menace. (You will have fun learning a language. Or the owl will visit.) Why did we write about Duolingo? No, it wasn't only because Duolingo is edtech. Natasha dug into the company's product-led growth mode, and its views on gamification, which were fascinating. What's up with today's show name? As it turns out, Duolingo has a Tinder angle. In fact, Duolingo leaned on some of the biggest companies out there when it came to design and monetization. And as with all edtech companies, we talked monetization and outcomes! The Duolingo EC-1 comprises four main articles numbering 12,200 words and a reading time of 48 minutes. Here’s what’s in store: Part 1: Origin story “How a bot-fighting test turned into edtech’s most iconic brand, Duolingo” (3,300 words/13 minutes) — looks at how Guatemalan immigrant entrepreneur Luis von Ahn pivoted from fighting bot attacks on login screens with squiggly text to building one of edtech’s great success stories. Part 2: Product-led growth strategy “The product-led growth behind edtech’s most downloaded app” (3,000 words/12 minutes) — analyzes the tactics and tradeoffs that an edtech company has to evaluate as it grows from thousands to 500 million registered learners. Part 3: Monetization “How Duolingo became fluent in monetization” (2,800 words/11 minutes) — examines how Duolingo experimented with a variety of different business models to match its unique community, and why it chose subscription in the end. Part 4: New initiatives and future outlook “Duolingo can’t teach you how to speak a language, but now it wants to try” (3,100 words/12 minutes) — explores how Duolingo is launching new business lines, their chances for success, and how the company is attempting to expand its main product from basic language fluency to mastery while adding speaking skills to the mix. And of course, use code Extra Crunch "Equity" for a sweet, and perhaps the best, discount to access this story and all of our best stuff. Until Friday!
12 May 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. This weekend was all about memecoins. And I am sorry about that. But Equity doesn't run the world, sadly, it merely notes what is going on: Dogecoin dropped during Elon Musk's SNL appearance. Which was somewhat ironic. Also there's another memecoin that is skyrocketing. Palantir, DoorDash, Airbnb, Alibaba will report earnings this week, amongst others. Clubhouse is finally coming to Android. In the United States. By invite. So, if that's you, congrats, welcome to the app. A major cyberattack and ransom situation in the United States is a data point, yet again, that we're woefully unprepared for cyber risk. StuDocu raised $50 million which was cool, while Gojek raised another $300 million, which was the very opposite of surprising. This week's Extra Crunch Live is going to be really good. I will see you there! It is going to be a busy week! Already since we recorded this show there's more drama from Box, and more. Strap in!
10 May 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. The whole team was aboard for this recording, with Grace and Chris behind the scenes, and Danny, Alex, and Natasha on the mics. We had to cut more than we included this week, which should give you a good idea of how busy the startup and VC worlds are of late. Make sure that you are following the podcast on Twitter, where we post all sorts of memes and cuts and, perhaps, the occasional video here and there. That aside, here's the rundown: Investing legend David Swenson passed away. Twitter is buying Scroll (neat, very cool) as part of its subscription push, but also killing Nuzzel in the process (bad, very uncool). Natasha and Danny fill us in on why Nuzzel will be missed. Alex has thoughts on why Twitter-Scroll is good. Epic bought ArtStation and cut its marketplace take rate. This is the future, says Danny, who throws his own estimates in, too. Sony and Discord are tying up after the Microsoft-Discord deal fell apart. Edtech is doing the edtech thing in which it raises money and consolidates, as shown by Kahoot's latest scoop. A friend of the pod, Jomayra Herrera, is joining Reach Capital as its first ever outside-partner hire. Uber is teaming up with Arrival for ride-hailing designed electric vehicles. We're pretty bullish on the idea. Also Alex likes to say "microfactories." IVF startups are raising venture capital, and this time its Alife Health that we're talking about. WorkBoard raised again. Alex once again made us talk about OKR-focused startups. He needs to get a life, and so does the rest of the Equity team which fought to do the transition into this segment. To end, we spoke about Leda Health, a new startup focused on at-home rape kits for sexual assault survivors. It's a controversial company, and we discuss critiques and opportunities, And that's our show! No private equity deal can slow the Equity team down, so we'll see you Monday!
7 May 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive Natasha and Alex and Chris dug into the world of the IPO. Not just the numbers and the metrics and the calculations of valuations at diluted, and non-diluted share counts. No. We wanted to talk about the morality and efficacy of going public. So to round out our conversation we enlisted Steve Cakebread, the CFO of Yext and Garth Mitchell, the CFO of Latch. Cakebread is known for being aboard the Salesforce, Pandora, and Yext's IPOs. Mitchell has sat on both sides of the table during the IPO process, and is currently helming the money equations as Latch approaches the public markets via a SPAC. For more context, Yext, a company that first launched at a Techcrunch event back in 2009, provides data tooling and search software to businesses, while Latch builds software and hardware for rental-focused buildings. Yext is public. Latch will be in a few months. Back to our topic, we asked Cakebread to talk about his thesis on why going public earlier than later can help a company's maturity process and can help provide greater returns to the general public. The CFO has written a rather good book about the IPO process more generally and what it means for a company's internal processes, but his morality notes especially stood out because its an argument far less noisy than the POP critics. Baked beans comes up, somehow! We also asked Mitchell to talk about Latch's choice to go public, and what opportunities and challenges the SPAC route brings for the company. Of course, there's a SPAC joke in there (or two), but we get into broader "what's next" debates about if more companies will start to leave the private world, venture capital's role in this whole mess, and the financial lift of going to the public market. Hope you enjoyed the show, and get excited: Equity is going to have more guests on from time to time, and we welcome any suggestions you want to throw at us.
5 May 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. This morning was a notable one in the life of TechCrunch the publication, as our parent company's parent company decided to sell our parent company to a different parent company. And now we're to have to get new corporate IDs, again, as it appears that our new parent company's parent company wants to rebrand our parent company. As Yahoo. Cool. Anyway, a bunch of other stuff happened as well: Flywire, a Boston-based payments company filed to go public. More on the site about this shortly. Earnings this week are coming from Uber and Lyft and PayPal and Square and more. Dell is offloading Boomi to private equity as it wants to de-lever. Again. Cloud market share numbers are out, but what matters is that the growth of the cloud market helps explain the growth that we're seeing in the startup game. (Our own Ron Miller dug into some rival cloud metrics here.) The Chinese government's crackdown on its tech giants continues. And it's impacting valuations. And Wealthsimple raised an epic CAD$750 million round, while Ohio-based Path Robotics just raised a $56 million Series B. Super cool. We're back Wednesday with something special. Chat then!
3 May 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. First and foremost, Equity was nominated for a Webby for “Best Technology Podcast”! Drop everything and go Vote for Equity! We’d appreciate it. A lot. And even if we lose, well, we’ll keep doing our thing and making each other laugh. (Note: we are in last place, which is, well, something.) Regardless, the Equity team got together once again this week to not only go over the news of the week, but also to do a little soul searching. You see, some news broke yesterday, so we figured that we had to talk about it in our usual style. So, here's the rundown: Do you want to buy TechCrunch? Apparently you can? Albeit probably along with a few billion dollars worth of other assets -- whatever is left of Yahoo and AOL -- you can now own an NFT. A non-fungible TechCrunch. What is ahead for us? We don't know. So if you do know, tell us. Until then we'll just yo-yo gently between panic and optimism, as per usual. We also dug into the latest All Raise venture capital data, and the results were abysmal. Next up was the news that fintech startups are setting records in 2021, raising more capital than ever before. That brought us to the latest from Brex. And then there was a suspicious trend when three fintech companies focused on teen banking raised in one exhale. We talk Step, Greenlight, and Current. Natasha talked about her last Startups Weekly post, in which she unpacked The MasterClass effect's impact on edtech. And to close, we discussed the latest cool-kid venture capital funds. Sure memes are cool, but did you know that they can help you raise a $10 million fund? They can! We are back Monday morning with our weekly kick-off show. Have a great weekend!
30 April 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive Natasha and Alex and Danny and Chris dove into the world of audio. Sure, you've heard of Clubhouse, but there's lots more going on than just a single app's cultural rise. So from the biggest companies to niche startups, we compiled all the recent audio news into a single show for all our delectation. Here's the rundown: Facebook is building a number of audio products, including a Clubhouse clone and a short-form audio service that we think could be neat. Reddit is also building a Clubhouse-like service, and Alex is excited about it. It's not just the established social networks that are trying out live audio. Peanut, a social networking app for women, added live audio "Pods" to its platform. It kicked off a conversation on what it takes to win this market, and what's a smart versus silly bet. While a drop in downloads doesn't necessarily mean a drop in active users, it's worth pointing out that Clubhouse's monthly downloads dropped 72% in March. Where is that gosh darn Android app? And Alex explained why the Clubhouse-NFL deal matters for the company, as it could molt into something more akin to a platform over time. Danny explained how Apple and Spotify are building paid podcast services -- more here, and here, respectively -- and we have thoughts about which service is being more fair with the money. Natasha tied in how sentiment around the creator economy might be driving some of these individual-friendly business models. Alex brought up TWiT's new business model. All told there's quite a lot of excitement around the spoken word. Which is good as Equity is a podcast? Right?
28 April 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. This weekend had a key story, earnings are on the way, and there is a huge number of funding rounds to talk about. Ready? The Indian government's move to remove a number of social media posts critical of its handling of COVID-19 was the key news item this weekend. As the country's healthcare system buckles, and deaths spike, the move by the current administration to censor the Internet was just about as bad a look you could imagine. At least in terms of a tech response. Also this weekend conversation continued about Substack's recent push to hire away well-known writers from traditionally-respected publications continued, with Insider reporting that six-figure offers to join the paid newsletter platform are the norm. This morning we're focused on the impending earnings deluge. Major American tech companies, along with some key social media and ecommerce names will report, giving us a look into how tech companies performed in the first quarter of 2021. We already know that the venture market was hot during the period. How business fared, however, is less clear. On the funding round beat, Mighty Networks raised $50 million, LEAD School raised $30 million, Kidato raised $1.4 million, StashAway stashed away $25 million, and Kyligence put together a $70 million Series D of its own. The Honest Company also set an early IPO price range after we stopped recording. More to come on the IPO front. Chat Wednesday!
26 April 2021 •
First and foremost, Equity was nominated a Webby for "Best Technology Podcast"!!! Drop everything and go Vote for Equity! We'd appreciate. A lot. And even if we lose, well, we'll keep doing our thing and making each other laugh. Natasha and Danny and Alex and Chris got together to chat through the week's biggest news. And like every other week in recent memory, it was a busy one. But we did our best to hit some M&A news, some unicorn news, and some funding news from smaller startups. Now, onto the show rundown, here's what we discussed: The Discord-Microsoft deal is done, and Danny has a hot take. Namely, in his view, the deal was mostly banker chatter more than a real possibility. More chaff than wheat, in other words. Agree or not, we're stoked for the Discord IPO in a few years (quarters?) time. Mastercard bought Erkata, and Danny was on hand to hand to explain why we care about the deal. Sure, it was $825 million in value, but some venture data from Finledger helped explain just how much capital is flowing into similar companies. Let's see how that math works out. Clearbanc rebranded itself into a fintech unicorn, providing services along with sweet, sweet capital. The UiPath IPO finally priced and started to trade. It had a good first day, and you can check out what we learned talking to its CFO here. Over in China, a country that we've not covered enough lately, Laiye raised $50 million more. Like UiPath it competes in the RPA world. Deel, for one, had a good 2020. It hit 20x growth in revenue last year, and recently raised at a $1.25 billion valuation. And then we closed with two seed rounds raised by recent Y Combinator grads: Here's the Queenly round, and here's the Albedo deal! We'll see you on Monday.
23 April 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive Natasha and Alex and Danny wanted to chat crypto. No, not cryptography, but cryptocurrency. The topic has been hot in recent months thanks to Coinbase, recent weeks thanks to the rapid price appreciation in the value of many coins, and in recent days because dogecoin went crazy. Vote for Equity to win a Webby so that our parents are proud! So with our minds tuned to the future of money, and commerce, and content, here's the show's rundown: Recent crypto news has been more than busy, with Venmo adding crypto support, Brian Brooks joining Binance, and the Coinbase direct listing. But that's not all, there have been a host of NFT marketplaces that have raised millions in the past week. We talk about Rarible, SuperRare, OpenSea, and Dapper Labs. We talk about differentiation, UX, and if more than one marketplace can win. Dogecoin's to the moon moment had reached a new price high and come down some before our show recorded, but the cryptocurrency's joke apparently is still funny after all these years. Here's a tweet and an article about it. And the idea that Coinbase's successful direct listing will matter for investors betting on crypto-focused startups is true, at least according to investors. More on that here, and hit us up if you want a sweet discount code to get past that paywall. Equity is back on Friday with our weekly news roundup. It's going to be a treat. Chat soon!
21 April 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. First, our news roundup from last week was probably the most fun I've had in a few months, so make sure to catch up on that if you haven't. That said, here's a rundown of what we got into on the show this morning: The new Clubhouse round has us thinking about what is a good venture-style bet, and what isn't. At least you can't fault the Clubhouse crew for not having conviction. UiPath raised its IPO range, as expected. There's an Apple event this week, which caused us to wonder why more startups aren't competing with the giant. Cryptos have recovered from the flash crash, which had us thinking. Druva raised $147 million as TechCrunch will report later today, and Razorpay raised even more capital at a newly refreshed valuation. Finally, DoNotPay had some news, but it's corporate ethos proved even more interesting. The week is here, everyone! It's Monday! We can do this!
19 April 2021 •
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 busy week, but that just means we had a great time putting the show together and recording it. Honestly we have a lot of fun this week, and we hope that you crack a smile while we dig through the latest as a team. Ready? Here's the rundown: The Coinbase direct listing! Here's our notes on its S-1, its direct listing reference price, and its results. And we even wrote about the impact that it might have on other startup verticals! Grab's impending SPAC! As it turns out Natasha loves SPACs now, and even Danny and Alex had very little to say that was rude about this one. Degreed became a unicorn, proving yet again that education for the enterprise is a booming sub-sector. Outschool also became an edtech unicorn, thanks to a new round led by Coatue and everyone's rich cousin, Tiger Global. The conversation soon devolved into how Tiger Global is impacting the broader VC ecosystem, thanks to a fantastic analysis piece that you have to read here. Papa raised $60 million, also from Tiger Global. What do you call tech aimed at old folks? Don't call it elder tech, we have a brand new phrase in store. Let's see if it catches on. AI chips! Danny talks the team through grokking Groq, so that we can talk about TPUs without losing our minds. He's a good egg. And, finally, Slice raised more money. Not from Tiger Global. We have good things to say about it. And that is our show! We are back on Monday morning!
16 April 2021 •
For this week's deep dive Natasha and Alex wanted to dig into the Tonal EC-1, a huge document spread across a number of posts. Our goals were pretty simple: To better understand Tonal's journey, and also to get into the mind of its author. So we corralled JP Mangalindan into firing up his computer, microphone, and recording software for a chat. Here's what we covered: What is Tonal, why is it interesting, and why did JP spend so much time learning about the company? What did he have to leave out of the final report? His views on fitness gear, and the Peloton effect more broadly What was it like to write something so gosh darn long? The Tonal EC-1 comprises four main articles representing about 10,600 words and a reading time of about 43 minutes: How a homegrown experiment became one of the fastest-growing companies in fitness tech Millions of dollars and 3.5 years, and it all came down to this Building online communities for fun, profit and product Can Tonal become the luxury fitness market champion? As Natasha is currently -- shh, it's a secret -- working on an EC-1 of her own, we had more than a usual amount of interest in the project. Use code Equity for a super sweet discount to access this story and all of our premium content.
14 April 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. It is good to be back! There was a lot to get through, so, in order that we discussed the topics on the show, here's our rundown: Microsoft is buying Nuance Communications today. The deal is worth around $19.7 billion. The transaction could be viewed as pretty good news for AI startups and the broader private healthtech space. That said, how much bigger should Microsoft be allowed to get by absorbing rival public companies? Tiger Global is making a wave of bets on Indian startups. And from the political realms, read this Buzzfeed News story on India and its tech ecosystem, this piece on what's happening with Alibaba, and, finally, this entry discussing the growing divide between the American business and regressive politics. This morning's headlines: Uber isn't dead! Senator Josh Hawley has an idea. And Darktrace is going public. On the funding round front, make sure to read about The Zebra's latest, and this neat investment from Africa. Don't forget that Coinbase is listing this week, yeah? Chat soon!
12 April 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Natasha and Danny and and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s rigamarole of news. Alex took some well-deserved time off, but that meant we got to poke a little fun at him and create a Special Edition segment to start off the show. Jokes aside, this week was yet another spree of creator economy, edtech, and new fund announcements, with fresh and unexpected news hailing from Natasha's home state, New Jersey. Here's what we got into: Box got a lifeline in the form of a $500 million check from KKR, and as Danny mentions, Box CEO Aaron Levie shifts his role a bit, too. Patreon, an early startup in the creator economy space, has tripled its valuation to $4 billion. Another, not-so-old startup with the same reported valuation? Clubhouse. We threaded the line between the two, and gave some color on a new monetization feature rolled out. As an aside, looks like Clubhouse is everyone's favorite app to tweet about so much so that even Twitter is reportedly considering an acquisition. MasterClass raising new funding at $2.5 billion valuation. That is up from a $800 million valuation just last year, and shows that aspirational teaching packaged as celebrity-taught Youtube-like videos with Netflix-like quality is enough to be considered edtech. Speaking of edtech, a series of exits have caught our attention. The consolidation has begun! We spoke about two new funds. First, New Jersey is proposing a $10 million fund that would go to Black and LatinX founders. Second, Index raised nine-figures for seed startups, beating Sequoia's seed fund by a measly $5 million. The show closed with two early-stage funding rounds you don't want to miss - Walnut and Real - as well as a conversation on the future of telehealth. What a show! We'll be back with the full trio next week, and until then, stay safe and thank you for listening.
9 April 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive, the Equity team sat down not with external investors or founders, but with two of our own. Yes, this week, for the first time Natasha and Alex got to break a little internal news instead of focusing on the world outside. Why did we have Jordan Crook and Darrell Etherington on the show? Because we're jazzed to add a second startups-focused podcast to a slowly but surely growing TC podcast network: Found. Found lands April 9, so tune in! The show will focus on talking to early-stage founders about building their company, from the emotional rollercoaster moments to tactical insights no one tells you until you've raised your first dollar. Equity will keep its eyes on the news, with extra attention to all the dollar signs that are to be found in startup-land and the venture capital world. At the same time, Found will bring a number of startup founders aboard to talk about the more human, and procedural work of building the next great tech company. We hope you love a new show from our friends as much as we do, and remember Equity will be back on Friday with news, banter, and fun soon. In the meantime, here's where you can find Found: Spotify @Found on twitter Chat soon!
7 April 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. This morning we took a global look at the news, trying to take in the latest from around our little planet: American stocks are set to rise as much of the world had the day off from trading; Indian stocks fell on the back of poor COVID-19 news. The biggest tech news was this bit of bad news from Facebook, if you are a fan of privacy. And the FT has data on the Chinese tech liquidity market that isn't great news. Amazon is in trouble after it illegally retaliated against workers. And there's more reporting on how low the company was willing to stoop to try and block union activity. Corporations, they're always letting us down. And edtech giant Byju's buying an IRL tutoring service for a billion dollars. On the funding front, Meesho is now worth $2.1 billion thanks to SoftBank Vision Fund 2, while Cresta now has $50 million more in its own coffers. And we wrapped with a peek at the Alkami Technology IPO, which was good fun thanks to where the company was founded. It's going to be a blast of a week. Talk to you Wednesday!
5 April 2021 •
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 a busy week on the IPO front, Danny was buried in getting the Tonal EC-1 out, and Natasha took some time off. But the host trio managed to prep and record a show that was honestly a kick to record, and we think, a pleasure to listen to! So, for your morning walk, here's what we have for you: The Substack conversation: Does the new $65 million check make sense? What is Substack? Does it have a moat? Why is Natasha's URL so much better than Alex's? Cameo raised $100 million and none of us really have a bone to pick with that. Danny actually argues in favor of it. The Clubhouse conversation: Does every single product need to feature live audio? The answers appears to be yes, oddly enough. Discord comes up along with Spotify, as does LinkedIn. And somehow, Microsoft Excel and Miami? TechCrunch scooped that Pipe is raising more money at a huge new valuation, and we argue about what a derivative really is. Harlem Capital raises $134 million for its new fund. MaC VC raises $103 million for its new fund. It was a mix of laughs, 'aha' moments, and honest conversations about how complex ambition in startups should be. One listener the other day mentioned to us that the pandemic made it harder to carve out time for podcasts, since listening was often reserved for commutes. We get it, and in true scrappy fashion, we're curious how you've adapted to remote work and podcasts. Let us know how you tune into Equity via Twitter and remember that we're thankful for your ears!
2 April 2021 •
For this week’s deep dive, the Equity team got ahold of three founders from the recent Y Combinator batch (more here, and here) to chat through their experiences with a remote accelerator. TechCrunch was curious if the program lived up to founder expectations, how extreme timezone differentials were handled, and how easy it was to build camaraderie during a digital program. Oh, and how their demo day went. Here's who is on the show: Benjamin Croc, a founder at BrioHR (TechCrunch coverage here) Trisha Bantigue, a founder at Queenly (TechCrunch coverage here) Adam Alpert, a founder at Pangea (TechCrunch coverage here) The short version is that the founders were generally happy with Y Combinator being remote, and that the setup allowing them to stay in their normal location was plus. We also asked the founders for learnings regarding how to best handle remote accelerators in the future. More from Equity on Friday, at which point we'll put Y Combinator aside for a good while.
31 March 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. This morning was a fun mix of news, including some early-stage and late-stage startups entries, along with the latest from the public markets and the great IPO game. Here's the rundown: ServiceTitan's vertical SaaS success was enshrined in its recent funding round and valuation. Both of which were predicated on its revenue growth. The software market is just gigantic. It's kinda crazy. Deliveroo's IPO has hit market chop as it looks to price. Governance and how it treats workers were among the concerns that investors have raised. And then Chinese company BiliBili struggled during its Hong Kong IPO, while Chinese company Zhihu fell after debuting in the United States -- could the public markets bet ratcheting back their interest in tech stocks? On the funding round side of things, Ajaib extended its Series A, Singular announced its fund, and Cazoo is going public via a SPAC. It was a lot, but when have we started the week anything less than fully behind? Chat Wednesday!
29 March 2021 •
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. News was right back up to a dull roar this week, so we did our best to trim and hone and just bring you the most important things. Here's the rundown: David Dobrik stepped down from Dispo, the photo-sharing app he co-created, this past week after allegations came out about him. We talked about the venture capital angle, since early-stage investors in the app reactively distanced from their investments. Could this set precedent or have a chilling effect on celebrity-startups? Robinhood filed privately to go public! So, it's happening everyone. At long last, one of Silicon Valley's hottest companies is kicking off its IPO process. We're hype, you're hype, and we had some jokes. And in other mega-unicorn news, it appears that Microsoft is tempted to plonk down $10 billion for Discord. Why, you ask? Well why not. It's just $10 billion from Microsoft's $1,780 billion valuation. Or around half a percent. Sticking to the $10 billion-and-greater category, Plaid could be raising $600 million at a valuation of $10 billion to $15 billion. That's a lot of money. Danny, however, has some doubts. Also, Plaid has announced the inaugural cohort of its FinRise accelerator, a program focused on helping fintech startups led by underrepresented founders. And then there were a few rounds to chat about. Namely the intensely interesting Bevy deal, and Ro raising $500 million at a $5 billion valuation. And to wrap, Natasha and Alex shared their favs from TechCrunch's massive Y Combinator demo day coverage. Which you can read here, and here. Let's all get some rest!
26 March 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. For this week’s deep dive, the Equity team brought on Gumroad CEO Sahil Lavingia and Hustle Fund General Partner Elizabeth Yin to talk about equity crowdfunding. It’s been about a week since the SEC increased the equity crowdfunding cap from $1.07 million to $5 million, creating the perfect opportunity to go beyond the dollar amount and understand how the change impacts founders, venture capitalists, retail investors, and future fund managers. Here’s a brief rundown of the show: We talk about the basics of this new SEC regulation, and understand which platforms might be leading the pack for these bootstrapped campaigns. Indiegogo’s founder wrote an op-ed grading the new regulations on the site. Some banter on Gumroad’s 12-hour campaign that led to a successfully crowdsourced $5 million for the company. Lavingia talks about his decision to crowdfund a round in his company, why it made sense for the company, and what it will take to make this raise mainstream. Of course, Yin shared a ton of helpful nuggets around crowdfunding, providing a venture capital perspective that was still bullish on growing the amount of check-writers in the ecosystem. Some recent equity crowdfunding campaigns have shown that there are thousands of individuals willing to fund the enterprises they want to see succeed. Juked.gg is one such example. There are also notes on the Testing the Waters dynamic that could usher some wiggle room to early-stage founders thinking about this. Will equity crowdfunding supplant venture capital, or will it merely augment it? Our discussion leads us to ponder both possibilities. What seems clear is that equity crowdfunding could widen the band of companies that are "backable," if not the band of companies that traditional venture capital players find enticing. And we end with a whole bunch of meta debates, from the role of the platform in vetting campaigns. As with every innovation, including crowdfunding itself, there will be fraud and failure. But if there will be enough bad news to limit consumer interest is far from certain. This is one of those nerdy topics that gets us really excited about the future of dollar allocation and startup creation. We hope you love the show and leave with a better understanding of what’s ahead.
24 March 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here. If you are paying attention to Y Combinator's demo day this week, our primer is here. And our Friday news roundup is here. With that, let's get into the news: Ironsource is going public via a SPAC. It's worth even more than eToro, which is also going public via a SPAC. It's a big quarter for Israeli tech. Sivo is a hot startup that you're going to hear more about. Also a lesson here for founders, if you want attention, share numbers. Deliveroo has a price for its IPO, and the company could be worth as much as £8.8 billion. Even more, the European delivery giant has seen huge demand gains thus far in 2021. On the month front, Nuvemshop has raised $90 million, M Capital Management has raised $30.85 million for a new fund, and Aldea Ventures has raised a €60 million investment vehicle. Remember Dispo? The hot photo-taking service? Read this. And finally. Happify Health has raised a $73 million Series D, while Clarify Health has put together a $115 million round of its own. Coming Wednesday we are digging into equity crowdfunding. Which is going to be hot shit. Get ready.
22 March 2021 •
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. This time around we had whatever passes for a quiet week as far as news volume. But that still meant we had to cut stuff and move the rest around. But, once we got done editing the notes doc down, here's what was leftover: Snap acquires Fit Analytics, a fitting technology startup: A far-past TechCrunch Disrupt alone has found a new home inside of the LA's social leader. No price on this one, but a fun thing to talk about all the same. eToro is going public via a SPAC (cool), and as it competes with Robinhood it gave us a chance to dig into the market. And frankly there's a lot to like about eToro. And thus Robinhood? Probably. The co-founder of Siri and a scientist have teamed up to create Riva Health, a software solution that hopes to turn your phone into a blood pressure monitor accurate enough for clinical use. Copy.ai raised $2.9 million, a round that Alex would not shut up about because of GPT-3. More on that tech here. The future of cannabis is in the hands of retail shops, or at least thats what Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon-based startup, believes. The cannabis management startup raised $200 million at a $1.7 billion valuation this past week. Airtable raised another round. A huge one. Again. This time it was $270 million at a $5.77 billion valuation. How much more money could it need? Who knows! Squarespace, everyone's favorite podcast sponsor, has raised $300 million at a steep, $10 billion valuation. The news broke nearly two months since Squarespace filed confidentially for IPO. And we closed on how unequal the venture capital world really is. It's super embarrassing to report on, but knowing the numbers is better than not. So we wrote about it. The show wraps with a teaser for next week that we won't spoil here.
19 March 2021 •
This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down and focus on a single topic, or theme. This is our sweet spot: going beyond definitions and into the dirty and deep impact of how a phenomenon could impact startups and tech. We are hoping to explore more than answer, and debate more than agree. This week we're riffing on the impending Y Combinator demo day class, all hailing from the Winter 2021 cohort. As we stated on the show, we're not saying that these are the only startups worth looking at. They're simply the startups from the batch that TechCrunch has already covered, and some other favs from our eyes and those of a few investors.
17 March 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and make sure to check out Friday's news-roundup with Danny and Natasha that included some neat notes on search startups. And their chances against Google. So, what did we chat about this morning? Here's the rough rundown: Stripe! Stripe raised new money at a new price and both were rather large. Would you believe that Stripe is still not public? It isn't! But it should be. Perhaps this is the last time it will raise before listing. Also from the recent past, Megvii filed to go public, and Nimble Robotics raised. The Deliveroo IPO is happening, and the £1 billion raise could value the company at £5 billion, Reuters reckons. Oh, and TechCrunch has the most recent WeWork numbers. DeepSee.ai raised a Series A, and we have questions about its product -- and hopes. Centrical also raised for its hybrid working software, which could come in demand after COVID ends. Extra Crunch Live this week is Emmalyn Shaw from Flourish Ventures and Adam Roseman from Steady. That's March 17th at 12 p.m. PDT and 3 p.m. EDT. See you there!
15 March 2021 •
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. Like every week, we had to leave a lot of great stuff on the cutting-room floor. But, we did get to touch on a bunch of news that we feel really matters. Also we do wind up talking about a few Extra Crunch pieces, which is where our deeper analysis on news items lives. If the paywall is a bother, you can get access while saving 50% with the code "EQUITY." Here's what we got into: Crypto-art and the NFT boom continue. Check out what Beeple just did. Danny has an opinion on the matter. The Roblox direct-listing does very little actually solve the IPO pricing issue. That said, well done Bloxburg. We talked about the Coursera S-1, which gave us the first financial peek into an education company revitalized by the pandemic. The numbers needed context, so our follow up coverage gives readers 5 takeaways from the Coursera IPO. Language learning has a market, and it's big. We talked about Preply's $35 million raise and why tutoring marketplaces make sense. Dropbox is buying DocSend, which makes pretty good sense. Even if the exit price won't matter much for bigger funds. We're still witnessing Dropbox and Box add more features to their product via acquisitions. Let's see how it impacts their revenue growth. Zapier buys Makerpad. We struggled to pronounce Zapier, but did have some notes on the deal and what it might mean for the no-code space. Sticking the acquisition theme, PayPal bought Curv. If you were looking for more evidence that big companies are taking crypto seriously, well, here it is. And to close we nerded out about Neeva. Can a Google-competitor take on Google if it was founded by ex-Googlers? The show is back Monday morning. Stay cool!
12 March 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down and focus on a single topic, or theme. This is our sweet spot: going beyond definitions and into the dirty and deep impact of how a phenomenon could impact startups and tech. We are hoping to explore more than answer, and debate more than agree. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, is this week's topic! This is something that you have nearly certainly heard of in the past few weeks but probably don't understand with perfect clarity. While we've all seen the Twitter threads of basic definitions, consider this episode the appetizer to your aperitif understanding. The Equity team put on our research caps, dug in, and found quite a lot to like. But we did not tread alone: our EIC Matthew Panzarino joined Chris and Alex and Danny and Natasha to help us out. Panzer was early to the NFT world and has contributed some of TechCrunch’s reporting on the matter. So, what did we get into? More than a little: We spent a few minutes on the NFT basics, including historical examples and how NFTs are minted, as well as some examples of how they have been used recently. From there we riffed on use-cases more broadly, and where we might find NFTs in the wild. Sure, we talked about visual art, but also music, tickets and sports moments. The NFT world has the possibility of a large remit if it plays its, ahem, tokens correctly. Then we talked culture. What could it mean that NFTs are in the market? Could residual incomes from the reselling of NFTs constitute a material revenue base for future artists, and how broad can the value-experiment go? Depending on which side of the NFT hype-cynicism divide you land, there’s plenty of room for discussion. A point made by Panzer: NFT's and the architecture of smart contracts and the way that social tokens work, these are all opportunities for the creators and originators of culture, to finally take part and participate in their rewards of the platforms of that culture -- you know, that hosts that culture. Because we've seen it over and over again: Artist blows up on TikTok, and you know, somebody does a dance to them, and then that video blows up. What does the artist get out of it? Sometimes they get a recording deal. Many times they get nothing. Right? In Vine, famously built on Black creators and brown creators and Latino creators and Latino creators. You know, TikTok, very much the same. Black Twitter one of the early driving forces of engagement on Twitter and culture on Twitter -- how many of them were actually able to participate in the economic rewards of Twitter as a platform selling advertising and making millions of dollars and their stock going bonkers? Besides, of course, you know, maybe they were able to purchase stock, right? So the, the remapping of how creators can participate in that economy directly by saying, “Hey, I've created something of value, and I'd love to connect directly with the people that enjoy that and they can provide me value back” -- that’s what’s so exciting about this. And we chatted just a minute about the weight, or carbon footprint, of different blockchains. There’s real nuance to this point of argument, but it was also something we couldn’t avoid. Panzer again: And this is probably the biggest negative blowback on Ethereum and NFTs is that Ethereum is by nature a very heavy chain, which means that it takes a lot of work to prove that a block has been written to the chain. Not quite as heavy as Bitcoin, but it's up there. And that energy usage that was used to mine that Ethereum that's being spent on the chain to confirm a new transaction is being sort of credited forwards in-- for lack of a better term to the artists minting on it. I don't think that's absolutely fair. But it's absolutely fair to acknowledge that it does have an ecological impact. Every week Equity will bring you something special on Wednesdays, adding to our regular Monday (weekly kickoff!) and Friday (news roundup!) shows. The world of tech is large, diverse, and variously dangerous and delightful. We're excited to keep talking through it with you.
10 March 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and make sure to check out our Friday show that featured the Square-Tidal deal, some recent IPOs, and some super-neat rounds. Much like today's show, if I am being honest. Here's the rundown: Coursera filed to go public, which could help set the tone for edtech founders and startups regarding their own valuations and fundraising prospects. Bay Area startups did not leave. And the world of AI venture-capital funding shows that while there's plenty of capital, the number of startups being founded in the space is dipping. Starling raised a huge new round in the fintech space, and Deliveroo dropped some financial numbers on its path to going public in short-order. Postscript raised $35 million for its Shopify-SMS service; Praava Health raised $10.6 million to bring better healthcare to Bangladesh. A packed kickoff to what promises to be a packed week!
8 March 2021 •
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!
5 March 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the number behind the headlines. This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down and focus on a single topic, or theme. This week we're talking agtech, a surprisingly cool bit of the technology startup world. But Chris and Danny and Natasha and Alex were not alone in their quest to take a look into agtech, we brought alone TechCrunch climate editor Jon Shieber for the ride. With his help we got through a number of pretty damn interesting things, including: SESO Labor raising $4.5 million to help farms secure the labor they need, and navigate the American immigration system. Future Acres looking to raise $3 million for its farming robots. And Farmwise, which last raised $14.5 million and has an idea regarding how to rent robot labor to farms. We also chatted about Anuvia's epic $103 million raise that could help boost farm yields while cutting carbon emissions. And Better Origin, which wants to help farmers raise flies to feed to chickens. Which we had a few ideas about. And that's that! We're back on Friday with our long-form, newsy episode. Thanks to everyone checking out our newest show. Oh, and don't forget about TechCrunch Early Stage and TechCrunch Justice. They are going to rock.
3 March 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and be sure to check out our most recent Friday episode, which featured news on Finix and Coinbase and Reddit, among others. (Also don't forget that Equity is growing! And TechCrunch events are about to kick off and kick some butt.) Here's what we got into this fine Monday morning: Skydio raises $170 million, a huge sum for the drone company. Will its market prove large enough, quickly enough for the company to stay VC-ready? The UK government is putting together a venture fund of sorts? That's mostly cool. Klarna raises lots of money at a new, bigger valuation. More here on its industry. Space SPAC one, space SPAC two And then on the funding round side of things, here's Axonius' very interesting round, and this fun pre-seed deal from Europe! And finally we chat Oscar Health, a company whose IPO is all sorts of confusing.
1 March 2021 •
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. Before we get into this week's show, make sure to check out all the news here about how Equity is expanding, and becoming even more of a thing in 2021! We are beyond hyped about it. Coming on the back of such a wild news week, we had to cut and cut from the notes doc to get the show to size. So, here's what made the cut: Coinbase filed to go public. Alex wrote about its S-1 filing here, and Danny riffed on a fascinating nuance regarding its cap table here. Hopin is raising more money, at an even larger valuation. Every time we cover the latest version of this story, we think it must be the last time. And then it happens again. So, check back here in October for when Hopin raises again. Reddit also picked up more money. Again. Our take is that the capital must mean that Reddit is a better business than we anticipated. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian backed a new community tool proving the monetary value of the community. That led us into a conversation about a professional network for independent workers, and a collaborative workspace for interior design fans. Toast is said to be on the road to an IPO, and so we riffed on what Olo's IPO can tell us about the Boston-based unicorn. Shippo raised more money after a big 2020; can the company double again in 2021? Finix raised $3 million through an SPV filled with over 80 Black and LatinX investors.
26 February 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is our first-ever Wednesday episode. If you want to learn more about the latest edition of the podcast, head here for more. This week we talked about space, an increasingly active part of the global economy, and a place where we're seeing more and more young tech companies place their focus. We were lucky to have TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington join us for the show. He's our resident expert, so we had to have him on to chat about the space startup ecosystem. Here's the rundown: SpaceX has raised a bunch more money, at a far higher valuation. We chat about why it didn't raise more, and how much capital there is available for the famous rocket company. Starlink came up as well, as the satellite array just put another 60 units into orbit. What is it good for? We have a few ideas. The second crew member of first all-civilian SpaceX mission revealed, and of course there is an IPO and startup angle involved. Which brought us to a side conversation on which one of us are most interested in going to space commercially. It's the raised hands feature no one asked for, but take your guesses on who wants to go first and see if you're right. Regardless, Axiom Space raises $130 million for its commercial space station ambitions And then there was the Astra SPAC. You can read its deck here. What matters is that we get a look into how fast it plans to ramp future launches. And the answer is fast. As we get more comfortable in our Wednesday episodes, we'll tinker with the format and the like. As we do, we're always taking feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org, or over on Twitter. Hit us up, we're having a lot of fun but are always looking for ways to sharpen the show!
24 February 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and be sure to check out our last main ep, in which Natasha coins a slogan for a16z that I both hate, and became the headline of the show! But enough of all of that, we have a lot to get through this morning. Here's what we talked about: The Weekend: Coinbase at $100 billion? More on that to come. Toast is going public! Probably! Wait Toast the company that laid off staff last year? Yep that Toast! It's not toast! And new rules on online lending in China. This Morning: Oscar Health put together an IPO price range that is interesting, and Apex Clearing is going public via a SPAC. Funding Rounds: Gophr raises money! Ageras Group raises money! Promise raises money! It was hard to pick just three, but each of those rounds has something notable about it. Enjoy! Deeper Dive/Riff: If the public markets will float even the most leaden of startup via a SPAC-balloon, any late-stage startup that doesn't take the ride out of the private markets must either be perfect or too heavy to lift. And if it's the second, we can write it off? Maybe? And, finally, this is precisely what I feel like this Monday morning. Chat soon and stay safe!
22 February 2021 •
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. In very good Show News™, Chris is back! He's working on the next iteration of the show, something that you will be able to see starting Very Soon. Get hype! Today though, we had a delectable dish of dynamic doings, namely news items of the following persuasion: Bitcoin broke the $50,000 barrier, something that we wanted to talk about. Especially in light of Coinbase's $77 billion valuation. Natasha walked us through some growth metrics, and Alex was sad that he isn't already retired. Danny remains a full-on crypto bull. And on the blockchain thing, Blockchain.com raised $120 million, proving that there is huge amounts of capital available for the guts-and-bolts tooling of the bitcoin world. Li Jin, who coined the term 'passion economy', has closed her debut $13 million fund for startups within the same category. She joined other investors in our latest survey on the creator economy's changing tides. Off of $1 million in ARR, Circle has brought on $4 million in funding at a valuation north of $40 million. A16z invested in Stir, which helps creators manage and view their various income streams. The funding total was not disclosed, but is reportedly valuing the company, still in beta, at $100 million. TalkShopLive brought on new cash for live video shopping. Pipe17 closed an $8 million round that caught our eye. By building a service to help smaller ecommerce operations connect their tooling to one another, the company is betting on smaller ecommerce needing pipes to link up their various software services. This reminded us of Alloy, another neat company in ecommerce automation that also recently raised money. From there we riffed on the software market itself, its size, and the potential for investors to loosen their rules of intra-portfolio competition. Public raised $220 million, OutSystems raised $150 million, and Ally.io raised $50 million. Finally, a wave of edtech startups is over Zoom University and hopes to create much, much better. alternative. And that's our show! We are back early Monday morning for a packed week. So keep your podcast app warm, we're coming for it.
18 February 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and be sure to check out our riff on whether SoftBank has another 20 DoorDashes waiting in the wings. This morning was a more relaxed Monday than I can recall in months, thanks to a holiday in many parts of the world. But that didn't stop us from parsing the news: The Weekend: This investigation into Clubhouse's data security is getting results, while over the weekend Dispo got huge in a hurry, and the Apple-Facebook dynamic got a better explaining. Increasingly the tech giant world feels like ad engines (Facebook, Alphabet) in opposition to software-and-hardware shops (Microsoft, Apple). This morning: GM has new electric cars, TechCrunch reports. VW isn't worried about Apple. And every EV company in the world is going public via a SPAC. Who will win? You can place your own bets. And India is loosening some tech regulation. The American stock market is closed. Funding Rounds: We chatted about the recent Libeo round, and the latest on Nymbus, both of which are more than cool. And, finally, read this if you want feel let down by American VCs. (American media, to be clear, has similar issues.)
15 February 2021 •
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. This week felt oddly comforting from a tech news perspective: Facebook is copying something, early-stage startup data is flawed enough to talk about, and sweet DoorDash is buying robots for undisclosed sums. So, here's a rundown of the tech news we got into (as always, jokes aren't previewed so you'll have to listen to the actual show to get our critique and Award Winning Analysis*): Ethena raising $2 million more for corporate training that is not awful, and Zeta raising $1.5 million for couples' banking. Natasha has been killing the early-stage beat lately. How Seed data could be getting harder and harder to parse from Alex's desk, and why VC data in general is dicey, from Danny's. We discuss if directional data is useful, and why the limited numbers could have a cultural impact on signal. Reddit raises $250 million, but doesn't tell us who the investors are and what the money is precisely going to. Still, the company has had quite a year so far so the capital comes at an interesting time. Justo, an online grocery based in Mexico, raises $65 million as the pandemic continues to shake up the way we live and shop. DoorDash buys a salad robot, which brings Natasha nostalgia and Danny anger. The inverted SoftBank J-Curve thesis is a must-listen and read. And from the world of dating, a big M&A deal that caught our attention, and the latest from the Bumble IPO. In good news, long-time Equity producer Chris Gates is back starting next week, which means we'll have our biggest crew ever helping get the show put together. And, in other good news, there's going to be more Equity than ever for you to hear. Coming soon.
12 February 2021 •
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 noticed last week that we had a bevy of software-as-a-service (SaaS) stories that we wanted to chat about. So we decided to break them out into their own episode. What came out of the conversation is a mix of optimism, sarcasm, and healthy doubt regarding what's next for SaaS. SaaS matters as it is an incredibly popular business model for startups, a way to generate high-margin recurring incomes. Indeed, it's almost the default method for revenue generation amongst startups today. But precisely what SaaS is, and how it works, appear to be moving targets. This piece by our own Danny Crichton, for example, digs into a trend that he has noticed in the broader software space, namely startups taking a single task, or feature, and providing it in a manner that ascribes to best practices. For example, online checkout tech has been around since the dawn of the Internet. And yet Rapyd and Fast and Checkout.com and others are raising oceans of capital to provide checkout solutions to other companies. Why? They offer best practices-like services. From there we talked about the inclusion of humans into software, which isn't a radical concept but has new weight considering the information overload world we live in. The whole concept of having an Airtable hotline to answer each and every random question we have seems like music to our ears, what about yours? And finally we discussed the growing use of on-demand pricing over traditional SaaS. Danny asked if this is really something new, which we discussed. Perhaps we're seeing more on-demand pricing in modern software companies thanks to not only the success of companies like Snowflake, but also growing ranks of API-delivered startups. Overall it was fun to niche down to a single theme, something we rarely get to do on the main show. Expect more of this from us in the following months!
10 February 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and be sure to check out last week's main ep that dug into Robinhood, Miami, and a host of other topics. This morning we had a pile of news to get through. Here's the rundown: Pony.ai raised another $100 million, which underscores our growing thesis that there is no amount of money yet that will produce the tech required for self-driving cars to work. Perhaps we will get there, but it is going to cost a pretty penny or two. Sticking to cars, the Apple-Kia tieup is kaput, which we should have known the moment it became known. Apple previously bought startup Drive.ai back in 2019, of course. Vroom, a 2020 IPO, bought a Super Bowl ad. Who would have expected that? Its shares are up, however, after the ad. Still on the car beat, Tesla bought $1.50 billion in bitcoin, and may accept the stuff as tender to buy its vehicles in the future. The move sent the price of bitcoin higher. Clubhouse got banned in China. Phable raised $12 million, Nexthink raised $180 million, and Bumble is targeting a higher share price in its impending IPO. And we may have figured out the ∆ between what investors are saying about the Seed market, and what data has largely said.
8 February 2021 •
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. The good news is that we managed to fit it all into a single episode this week. The bad news is that that means the show is pretty long. Sorry about that! So, what took us so much time to get through? All of this: Robinhood raised $3.4 billion after its trading hiccups, and we also chatted over what we know about the company's Q4 2020 numbers. In short, the company is growing nicely. RPA is big and UiPath is cashing in on the trend, raising $750 million at a $35 billion valuation. That's a lot of cash for very little dilution. Databricks raised $1 billion at a $28 billion valuation, after reaching $425 million in ARR. The company's growth is hot, but its valuation may be even hotter. Bumble is going public, so we chatted about its results, and how founder- and venture-friendly the dating market may be in the future. In a big exit for the Boston startup ecosystem, alcohol delivery platform Drizly has sold to Uber for $1.1 billion. Sticking to the alcohol beat, Danny talked us through the Vivino news, describing himself as a wine sophisticate with a distaste for sommeliers, which is just about the most Danny thing he has ever said. But the company really is neat. Divvy homes raised a $110 million Series C to make it easier to buy a home, after financing five times as many homes in 2020 as it did in pre-pandemic times. And then there were some neat early-stage rounds to chat about: Balance raising $5.5 million to bring B2B payments to the modern world, Alloy Automation raising $4 million for ecommerce automation, and Beam raising $9.5 million to build a new browser. Make sure to read Natasha's profile of the new Expectul CEO here. And, we closed on some Miami news. And somehow we still have another entire day before the weeks is up! So much for 2021 calming down after 2020's storms.
4 February 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and make sure to check out last week’s main episode and companion chat about Robinhood. This morning we ran into quite a lot of the same material, with Robinhood back in the news and the stock market looming large. Here's what we talked about: American stocks are set to rise, bitcoin is flat, and meme-stocks are mixed. In India, news is out that a new law could ban bitcoin (whatever that means), and this morning India forced Twitter to take down some accounts that had been critical of government policy. That's a pretty bad look. And it comes as we see a coup in Myanmar leading to a decline in internet connectivity; there is a clear link between authoritarianism and a desire for Internet control. Robinhood's CEO went on Clubhouse, where he was interviewed by Elon Musk about last week's mess; it turns out the National Securities Clearing Corporation, or NSCC, had asked Robinhood for $3 billion in deposit requirements. That number was reduced to $700 million, with Robinhood limiting some consumer behavior, allowing the company to open Friday morning. This morning the key news stories include the mess that is Facebook Groups, and the EU is appealing a tax decision that could impact tech company structure for years to come. Ben raised $2.5 million Phocas Software raised $34 million DesignCrowd raised $7.6 million And, finally, we are heading into earnings season, so strap in and get ready for a deluge of results. All that and we are back Thursday, if not before. Hugs and hellos from the Equity crew!
1 February 2021 •
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 hopped online for our weekly show, sans Gamestop news (which you can find here) to talk about all the other busy news happening in startup world right now. Here's a taste of what we got into: Qualtrics IPO pricing, and the future of major acquisition pricing schemes. This company's path to the public markets has been a long-time coming, so we had plenty to say. How Atlanta's Calendly turned a scheduling nightmare into a $3 billion company. This story was not only neat, but also operated as a sort of palate cleanser for the team. Rhino's interesting insurtech play, and how it is pre-IPO pretty damn early. Revenue questions, the power of insurtech, and public markets impacting startups? This story had it all! Alex talks about how Fast is raising fast money ($102 million to be exact). Even more, the Fast story fits into a broader narrative of online checkout startups raising a zillion dollars in recent weeks. A boom in food delivery and restaurant startups, and why Danny is bearish on a plastic-free play. Natasha is in favor. Alex gets a company's model mixed up with Spoon Rocket. Natasha explains how Clubhouse isn't the first company to raise millions off of millions of users with no known near-term monetization plan. Her piece on ClassDojo illustrates how a quiet edtech giant finally turned its 51 million users into a profitable base. There's also an investor survey for you to check out (Discount code: EQUITY). TCV's record fund, and a female-focused angel fund coming out of Africa. As always, it was a ton to get through because there is just so much going on. More Monday morning, until then stay cool!
28 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week the team — Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace — recorded a bonus Equity Shot to help our listeners make sense out of the Gamestop trading bonanza happening all over the internet. The story is fast-moving, and news continues to break (twice during our recording, in fact) about how trading apps such as Robinhood are responding to the tear. Still, this type of story is worth a temperature check and timestamp because it feels like it's a pivotal moment in many ways. Here's our coverage on the site so far for people playing catch up: How Trading Apps are responding to the Gamestop fustercluck - This piece from yesterday started our coverage of the response from trading apps concerning GameStop Gamestop, meme stocks, and the revenge of the retail trader - This piece dug into what the initial story was about, with some jokes Could meme stocks like gamestop kill bitcoin’s rise? - This piece looks at what the other side of the stonk coin could be Robinhood restricts trading in GameStop after retail brouhaha shakes markets - This piece looked into Robinhood's moves from this morning, as the larger story went from huge to tectonic And, we gave a shout out to a good post by The Margins, which gave perspective on how the unescapable Gamestop stock crash will have tough, and not meme-y consequences. Back later in the day with our usual weekly episode, which will not include any of the following phrases: stonks, retail traders, Robinhood, and r/Wallstreetbets. We promise. Talk soon!
28 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and make sure to check out last week’s main ep, which was super-packed and a real treat. This morning the news was heavy, so here's your rundown to get you into the show: New funds for Clubhouse! TechCrunch has the story here, but I wonder why the app needs more money this soon. You can lay your own bets on how it performs, but at least it's fun to see consumer stuff get funded. Postmates staff are heading for the exits, and there's an IPO coming up that is both huge and under your radar. Chamath is doing the SPAC thing again. Again. And Taboola is also going public via a SPAC. IMVU raised $35 million Pula raised $6 million Wolt raised $530 million And the hungry SPAC market is only going to get more busy in the coming months. Brace yourself, we are merely a boat on the waves of the news. And this is the latest squall. Hugs, and we are back Thursday, if not before. Stay safe!
25 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week we — Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace -- had more than a little to noodle over, but not so much that we blocked out a second episode. We try to stick to our current format, but, may do more shows in the future. Have a thought about that? email@example.com is your friend and we are listening. Now! We took a broad approach this week, so there is a little of something for everything down below. Enjoy! Hims is going to SPAC itself onto the public markets, which should prove interesting for other D2C startups eyeing the same move. The final quarter of 2020 and the full year brought an ocean of capital to bear on US startups, something that we delighted in chewing on. Fintech is also hot as all heck. Plaid is building a fintech accelerator, which we thought was cool. An edtech startup based in Nigeria raised a $7.5 million Series A on the back of a really neat distribution model. The march of live, tech-powered tutoring lives on! TripActions raised a pallet of new capital despite having had a somewhat rough 2020 due to the pandemic. It's a fascinating wager, and one that we will track as it earns out. There was lots of news in the movement space, including Microsoft helping put $2 billion into self-driving startup Cruise, electric vehicle startup Rivian raising $2.65 billion from Amazon and others, and Bolt Mobility expanding to new markets. Danny's GPS story. Wattpad exits for $600 million, leading to Alex detailing his love of science fiction. a16z is doubling-down on its in-house media project, and Forbes is building out a paid newsletter service that we think is very neat. Like we said, it's a lot, but all of it worth getting into before the weekend. Hugs from the team, we are back early Monday.
21 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity (Monday) Tuesday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and make sure to check out last week's two episodes, covering all the news sans ecommerce, and then all the ecommerce news. We're here on a Tuesday due to an American holiday, but that short break did not mean that the world's news volume slowed down in the slightest. Here's the rundown: From the weekend: The story of a fired GitHub employee ended as you expected it would, with a small twist; the Microsoft company's head of HR is leaving. Not sure from this remove is this is a firing, or merely finding someone to axe over the error, but the fact that they are leaving stood out. Auto1 Group is going public, and Sequoia wants a piece. In more news from German, Personio has put together a $125 million round at a $1.7 billion valuation. And Grab, the Southeast Asian food delivery and ride-hailing goliath could raise $2 billion in a 2021 US IPO. Turning to this morning: The WhatsApp-India saga continues, Citrix is buying Wrike for $2.25 billion, and American stocks are looking up this morning. On the funding round front: LeoCare raised €15 million from Felix Capital, Ventech and Daphni. PPRO raised $180 million at a valuation of more than $1 billion. And Darwinbox raised from Salesforce Ventures, something that we did not know that the American corporate VC did. Finally, read this crypto piece. And that's that for today, we are back in short order on Thursday afternoon!
19 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We’re back on this lovely Saturday with a bonus episode! Again! There is enough going on that to avoid failing to bring you stuff that we think matters, we are back yet again for more. This time around we are not talking Roblox, we're talking about ecommerce, and a number of rounds -- big and small -- that have been raised in the space. Honest question: do y'all plan to release news on the same week? Are trends a social construct? From Natasha, Grace, Danny, and your humble servant, here's your run-down: Webflow raised $140 million in a round that it says it did not need. This is not a new thing. Some startups are doing well, and don't burn much. So investors offer them more at a nice price. In this case $2.1 billion. (Webflow does no-code Checkout.com raised $450 million. The rich really do get richer. In this case the founders of Checkout.com, whose company is now worth around $15 billion Checkout.com does, you guessed, online checkout work. Which as Danny explains is complicated and critical. We also talked about this Bolt round, for context. And sticking to the ecommerce theme, Rapyd raised $300 million at around a $2.5 billion valuation. There is infinte money available for late-stage fintech. Early stage as well, it turns out, with Tradeswell raising $15.5 million to help businesses improve their net margins. Finally, ending with a chat on infrastructure, Nacelle closed an $18 million Series A. And now we're going back to bed.
16 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week we -- Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace -- had a lot to get through, as the news volume in early 2021 has been rapid, and serious. Sadly this means that some early-stage rounds missed the cut, though we did make sure to have some Series A material in the show. So, what did we the assembled crew get to? Here's your cheat-sheet: The demise of the Plaid-Visa deal, our chat with the CEO of the fintech unicorn, and what the failed transaction could mean for startup valuations more broady. Why the $1.4 billion Nuvia exit to Qualcomm is impressive in scale, and puzzling. This topic also gave Danny a chance to talk about chips, his favorite thing. Auto-insurance rates can often depend on highly variable demographic data like marital status, income, and education. Loop is a new seed-stage startup that wants to make the process more equitable. It landed millions this week, underscoring a broader insurtech wave. SuperCharger Ventures pivoted its fintech accelerator into an edtech accelerator! We discuss why the shift and its surprising focus on B2B makes a ton of sense. Crypto's going up and down, ahead of the anticipated Coinbase IPO and the known Bakkt SPAC. More on that here. Sticking to the SPAC front, SoFi joined the list of companies using black-check companies to approach the public markets. As is Talkspace, the tele-therapy startup that you've heard of. And then there was SoftBank, of course, which has its own SPAC in the market now, confirming earlier reports. Which makes perfect sense. There are so many SPACs and bits of IPO news and funding rounds to pick through and cover that we're already straining the time limits of the show to even cover half of the material. This week that meant that we excised a chunk of the show to a forthcoming Saturday episode that is focused on e-commerce. So, we will talk to you again soon!
14 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here —and don't forget to check out the extra episode we dropped on Saturday, as there was just too much to talk about last week. So, what's on the docket for today? A great host of things: Trump was broadly deplatformed, which is controversial not only amongst his political allies and acolytes, but also amongst those worried that fringe-yet-not-wrong views could suffer in the future. Parler, a Twitter clone that tried to claim the mantle of free speech -- despite having posting rules -- was cut off by major tech companies over its inability to censor calls for violence. It had recently hit #1 in the App Store. Bitcoin and other cryptos are in correction, as the stock market preps to give back some recent gains. All this while the electric car market keeps getting hotter and hotter as Chinese tech companies link up with auto makers to get their own vehicles into the market. On the funding round front, Ajaib Group raised $25 million as the low-cost trading boom grows around the world. And, Keep, a Chinese fitness app, raised a megaround. Closing, I am befuddled by how dissonant the global economy feels, with seemingly two different eras going on at once. It's not clear if I have finally become the softy I have always threatened to become, or merely that the inequality of outcomes in the 2020-2021 economy are merely as heartbreaking as I imagine them to be.
11 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We're back on this lovely Saturday with a bonus episode! The normal crew assembled, including Alex, Natasha, Danny, and Chris, to chatter about a chunk of creator and gamer news. And some big numbers, the sorts that we always find fun to chat about. A sneak peek at what we discussed during this second-ever Equity Leftovers: Roblox's epic pre-IPO raise, and its decision to go public through direct listing instead of the IPO that it had previously planned. Niantic buying a gaming platform with an esports-focus. Nintendo buying a gaming studio, leading the crew to declare that the famous company is the Disney of video games. Cameo, which allows fans to pay celebrities for personalized messages, is on a hiring spree after bringing in $100 million in transactions last year. The Information says that the company is seeking funding, which isn't entirely surprising. Axios reports that it has brought in a couple high-profile hires, as well. Back to our regular schedule Monday! Chat then!
9 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Happy 2021, or as our own Danny Crichton aptly names it, December 38, 2020. Equity crew is back to start the new year in full force, with Alex, Natasha, and Danny on the mics and Chris behind the scenes. The reunion led to extreme Dad joke energy from all of us, which helped get through the mountain of tech news that we had in front of us. In fact, there was so much to talk about that we have a bonus episode coming out Saturday dealing with Roblox and the gaming environment. Stay tuned. For now, here's what's in today's episode: The remote work space is rushing to cure your Zoom fatigue, or at least give you new ways to handle it. This week, we saw GitHub alumni raise millions for a video repository tool, and Teamflow raise more for a virtual platform meant to mimic the serendipity (and productivity) of your currently-shuttered office. WeLink raised a $185 million Series A round and, while we could have made financial nomenclature jokes, there was much to unpack on the opportunity of 5G and wireless. Divvy locked down $165 million, making itself a unicorn in the process. Consider this one another win for Utah, and a big moment for the company itself, which is working in a very competitive space. We also noted a series of new VC funds that closed in the final days of 2020, including One Way, USV, Learn Capital, and Madrona. Hopin went shoppin', picking up StreamYard for a quarter-billion because they thought it was boppin'. Please forgive our attempt at poetry. Regardless, Hopin spent $250 million for StreamYard, a livestreaming technology platform that it intends to operate independently. The combined company has around $65 million in annual recurring revenue, with the purchased-entity bringing $30 million of that on its own. A big deal. Twitter is also out in the market with a checkbook, picking up a podcasting app and a design studio. And on the podcast front, Amazon is also in the market. This brings up the question, what really is Amazon Prime, anyways? Finally, we had few words on why P&G backing off from buying Billie impacts DTC startups everywhere. As you can tell by our laughs and jokes this week, it is really good to be back. Enjoy the show, and don't forget the Saturday extra!
7 January 2021 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out the second of our two holiday eps, the most recent looking at what we think might happen this year. What did we get into today? A great question. Here's the rundown: Tesla reported pretty strong deliveries, as did smaller electric vehicle companies. What the strong figures could mean for startups, however, remains to be seen. Bitcoin had a pretty good end to the year, which could bolster Coinbase's impending IPO. Hundreds of workers at Alphabet want to unionize. Didi could go public this year, which means we could see a third ride-hailing company provide us access to its numbers. Please! CRED raised $81 million in a huge Series C. Our reporting indicates that the company is now worth more than $800 million. Disco, a legaltech startup, has raised $40 million in debt to cap off a $100 million round. And here's the Seed link, as promised. Mostly we're still making sure that our brains still work and that the return of work really is here. Taking a break was nice. Now the news is coming back, so we are as well. Hugs, and chat Thursday.
4 January 2021 •
What could go wrong? Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. As you can see, this is our yearly predictions episode. Our behind-the-scenes guru Chris Gates joins us on the mic, we take shots at our prior prognostications, and nosh on what we feel is positively persaged. As always, this episode is in good fun. If you don't agree with we think is up ahead, that's fine. You're probably right. But we're nothing if not up for a challenge, so we kept the tradition alive this year. This is the last Equity episode of 2020. And while we can't tell you yet what our plans are for 2021, we can say -- nay, project -- that there are a lot of fun and big things coming for Equity. We're planning our busiest year ever, by far. And with that, we're out of here. Thanks for several million downloads this year, our biggest annum to date.
31 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out the first of our two holiday eps, the last one talking to VCs about what surprised them in 2020. Anyhoo, from vacation, here's what Chris and I got up to: A report looking at how ecommerce changed during 2020. The epic carnage surrounding the Chinese government's clamping down on its tech sector (more here, and here from TechCrunch). Lalamove raised $515 million in a Series E. Yuanfudao raised another $300 million. Indian startups did not have the strongest year of venture fundraising, which felt a bit surprising. And it doesn't appear that Japan did either. But here in the United States, holy shit things were bonkers. Tune in Thursday for one more fun episode, and then we're back to regular programming the week after! Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on
28 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture-capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Today is our holiday look-back at the year, bringing not only our own Danny and Natasha and Chris and Alex into the mix, but also five venture capitalists who we got to leave us their notes as well. The goal for this episode was to reflect on a year that no one could have ever predicted, but with a specific angle, as always, on venture capital and startups. We asked about the biggest surprise, non-portfolio companies to watch, and trends they got wrong and right. There was also banter on Zoom investing (Alex came up with Zesting, but taking suggestions if anyone come up with a better moniker), and startup pricing. Here's who we asked to call into our super Fancy Equity Hotline: Sarah Kunst, Cleo Capital Turner Novak, Gelt Lolita Taub, The Community Fund Garry Tan, Initialized Iris Choi, Floodgate Thanks to them all for participating, and of course you, our dear Equity listeners, for a blockbuster year for the podcast.
24 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds, and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out our latest main episode, which spent a good bit of time talking about OnlyFans. The weekend was busy, as always, so there was a lot of chew over this morning. Here's a partial list: SoftBank is going to put together a number of SPACs. Indian fintech Pine Labs has raised $75 million to $100 million at a valuation of around $2 billion RealPage is selling to private equity for $9.6 billion Zoom is under fresh scrutiny here in the US Bolt has raised $75 million more in a Series C1. We talk about why that's fun, and its current competition. Group14 has raised a $17 million Series B that has us thinking about the future. And WorkWhile wants to help hourly workers and employers get along better. Closing, here's the Owen Thomas piece that I mentioned at the very end of the show.
21 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. For the first time in donkey's years, we didn't have our full crew this week. Instead, we had just Natasha and Chris and myself -- we had to survive without Danny while he took the week "off" to "relax." But our depleted ranks did not mean that news was waiting for us to reassemble. Indeed, there was a mass of stuff to get through: Atlanta-based Presso raised $1.6 million for its in-unit dry cleaning tech, which we thought was neat. OpenSensors raised $4 million for its air-monitoring tech after a history of bootstrapping. Lantern, which helps folks plan for their death, is having a big year. It raised $1.4 million. Public raised $65 million, the same week that Robinhood came under fire by the Massachusetts securities group, and the SEC. Robinhood will pay $65 million to settle the SEC's charges without admitting wrongdoing. And then in the world of product, we chatted about Substack's new Reader service, which we seem like. (We also chatted about this Taylor Lorenz piece.) It was also prime season to chat a little about what's new in the bitcoin world, and take a peek at the stock market's recent over-success. Roblox, see you in 2021. And for everyone who made it to the end, here are the pieces from Axios and The Information that we mentioned. Before we say goodbye, our very own Natasha is taking on Startups Weekly, a long-time TechCrunch Newsletter. Subscribe to it for her debut issue, and while you're at it, check out Alex's The Exchange which goes out the same day and means the Equity conversation can continue well into your weekends.
17 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds, and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Thursday’s episode that dug into the impact of celebrity endorsement, and investment. This morning we had a lot to get through, so here are the headlines: Stocks are set to rise as the COVID-19 vaccine is initially rolled out. Vista Equity Partners will purchase Pluralsight for $3.5 billion. Good news for edtech? Kinda. Reddit is buying Dubsmash, causing us to ask just what the message board unicorn is building. EA is buying Codemasters. Appboxo has raised $1.1 million, IntellectoKids has raised $3 million, and Cledara has raised $3.4 million. We were also in love with this startup's funding news. And, finally, in light of the Roblox IPO delay, we wonder who else might be on track to cut loose their 2020 plans for an early 2021 re-jigger. Not that such a delay is really that bad, but with 2021 expected to be a hot year for debuts, kicking off with delays and pricing worries would be a real bummer. We didn't get to the Google story or the huge hack news. So, there's more to read if you are so inclined. And that is the show! Hugs and good vibes from the Equity crew!
14 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. What a week, yeah? Instead of the news cycle slowing as the year races to a close, things are still as hot as ever. We have funding rounds big and small, IPOs, first-day extravaganza and more. Luckily we had the whole crew around -- Chris and Danny and Natasha and I. Here’s the rundown: Career Karma raised $10 million, and we have thoughts and concerns. Skyflow raised $17.5 million in an effort to try to get the Equity team to understand the nuances of different encryption types. Calm raised $75 million, which felt pretty reasonable given reports and its fundraising history. Squire tripled its valuation in a new round that included $45 million in equity capital along with some debt.' We also talked about the DoorDash and C3.ai IPO pops, where Airbnb priced, and who is coming next And we rounded off with what's up with TikTok stars investing in tech startups. Danny was not a fan. And that's that! If you aren't tired, have you even been paying attention?
10 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Thursday's epic run of early-stage rounds. It was busy this morning. So, in blocs, here's what the show got to: This COVID news made me smile, even if the markets are set to open lower this morning after a big end to last week. So much for bad labor data mattering, I suppose. Airbnb's IPO range is set to rise, boosting the company's valuation to as much as $36 billion, and $41.8 billion on a fully-diluted basis. Bloomberg got its hands on some Sequoia returns data. Shockingly the data is good. Who could have imagined. Sourcegraph raised even more capital, raising both our eyebrows and its valuation. Luko added $60 million to its coffers, showing that the insurtech boom is not merely a United States-phenomenon. And in short-form: Highland Europe has a new fund, and Wonder raised. Here's the Extra Crunch piece that I helped write with Danny and Natasha. And that was our show. Hugs from here, and chat Thursday at the latest.
7 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We're back with not an Equity Shot or Dive of Monday, this is just the regular show! So, we got back to our roots by looking at a huge number of early stage rounds. And a few other things that we were just too excited about to not mention. So from Chris and Danny and Natasha and I, here's the rundown: A hacker house aimed at college-age women and non-binary individuals. What Sketchy is and why it just raised north of $30 million. AgentSync's rapid-fire funding news, and what we can discern from it. Pave's round, Welcome's second this year, and what's up with helping startup employees navigate equity compensation. What Heru is building in Mexico with its new round. How BuildBuddy managed to raise double what it had originally targeted. Then we touched on AI: The new Scale AI round, what happened to Element AI, and Danny's take on some big news from the technology itself. Finally, Lightspeed bought Upserve, Facebook bought Kustomer, Vista bought Gainsight, and Amazon wants to get into paid podcasting. That was a lot, but how could we leave any of it out? We're back Monday with more!
3 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Welcome to an Equity Shot all about the huge, and hugely interesting Salesforce-Slack deal, in which the enterprise social company will be subsumed for the mere price of $27.7 billion. TechCrunch has notes on the deal here, and on what Salesforce expects the acquisition will do for its growth rate here. Some of the drama, we admit, was removed when the deal was presaged several days ago, but that didn't stop the Equity crew from having a lot to say on the matter. Here are some of the topics we discuss: How big is this deal, both literally and figuratively? We talk about the market reception and if the rumors correctly valued the deal Does Slack deserve snaps or just a simple pat on the back? What does the deal tells us about vertical SaaS tools? The COVID-19 effect on remote tools What does SoftBank have to do with this (and why does SoftBank always have something to do with everything)? And whole lot of conversation and discussion on Microsoft and its competitor We are back in two days' time, so don't wander too far. Chat soon!
1 December 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Thursday's edtech deep dive from our own Natasha Mascarenhas. Right, now through the first of America's national Q4 feast days, it's time to get back to business. Namely, the business of VC and startups. Here's what we got into this morning: It's Cyber Monday, which means that the Internet is going to be annoying today, but the fake-holiday is boosting ecommerce players like Etsy. That should be good news for payments processors incumbent and startup, as well as other ecommerce businesses, again large, small, and even platform-focused. Zappos founder Tony Hsieh passed away this weekend. It was a surprise. He was loved. The UK is banning China's Huawei 5G gear next year as Australia condemns China over a different matter. So if you are keeping tally of countries where Chinese tech may no longer be welcome, the list is certainly longer than merely India, which has banned all popular China-built apps from its mobile phones. These broader tensions are changing where VCs are investing their money, notably. Primer, the fintech helping merchants consolidate the payments stack, raises £14M Series A HungryPanda raises $70M for a food delivery app aimed at overseas Chinese consumers Firstminute Capital launches second $111M fund, featuring a who’s-who of founders as LPs And finally, we are heading into a deluge of IPOs over the next few weeks. So strap in, it's going to be messy and fun.
30 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week, we're doing a first-ever for the show and taking a deep dive into one specific sector: Edtech. Natasha Mascarenhas has covered education technology since Stanford first closed down classes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In the wake of the historic shuttering of much of the United States' traditional institutions of education, the sector has formed new unicorns, attracted record-breaking venture capital totals, and most of all, enjoyed time in a long-overdue spotlight. For this Equity Dive, we zero into one part of that conversation: Edtech's impact on higher education. We brought together Udacity co-founder and Kitty Hawk CEO Sebastian Thrun, Eschaton founder and college drop-out Ian Dilick, and Cowboy Ventures investor Jomayra Herrera to answer our biggest questions. Here's what we got into: How the state of remote school is leading to gap years among students A framework for how to think of higher education's main three products (including which is most defensible over time) What learnings we can take from this COVID-19 experiment on remote schooling to apply to the future Why ed-tech is flocking to the notion of life-long learning And the reality of who self-paced learning serves -- and who it leaves out And much, much more. If you celebrate, thank you for spending part of your Thanksgiving with the Equity crew. We're so thankful to have this platform and audience, and it means a ton that y'all tune in each week. Finally, if you liked this format and want to see more, feel free to tweet us your thoughts or leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Talk soon!
26 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Thursday's main ep, and our bonus episode that went out on Saturday. If you like Equity, your cup runeth over. So, what did we get into this morning? A grip of things, which I've listed below in order: American Thanksgiving is this week, so news may slow as we move towards Thursday. New, good vaccine news is boosting stocks and hopes that the pandemic could be brought under control next year. Bitcoin is racing towards new records. LA-based Credit Key raises $33 million for its business-to-business payments platform -- in light of the Affirm IPO this round is no surprise. Digital freight forwarder Forto raises another $50M in round led by Inven Capital -- the pandemic is messing around with supply chains, perhaps leaving room for startups in the space to aggressively grow. Digital electricity supplier Tibber closes $65M Series B led by Eight Roads, Balderton -- of our three rounds, this one took me the longest to understand. This essay from Tomasz Tunguz, which is good. Please stay safe this week, America. Do something boring and unfun, so that we can keep more of us alive into next year. Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
23 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is an all-time first for the show, it's an Equity Leftovers. Which means that we're not focusing on a single topic like we would in an Equity Shot. This is just, well, more Equity. Danny and I and Chris got together to chat about a few things that we could not leave out: Our piece looking at which venture capital firms are expected to make the most bank from the recent IPO deluge. Roblox's IPO filing, and our take on its impending debut. All things Wish IPO, including what's up with its revenue costs, and the broader ecommerce market. DoorDash's epic financials, and how COVID helped propel the food delivery giant into the business hall of fame. The exit of one of Robinhood's co-CEOs from the role. The HuffPo-Buzzfeed tie-up. And what is up with media companies in general. And with this, our fourth episode in six days, we shall pause until Monday. Hugs from the Equity crew.
21 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week wound being incredibly busy. What else would a week that included both the Airbnb and Affirm IPO filings, a host of mega-rounds for new unicorns, some fascinating smaller funding events, and some new funds? So we had a lot to get through, but with Chris and Danny and Natasha and your humble servant, we dove in headfirst: Affirm has filed to go public! The fintech unicorn is big, growing, and losing less money over time. We were pretty impressed in our first look. Then, with a bit more time, we dug deeper and found a weakness or two. Still, Affirm is heading public and not in poor shape. Airbnb filed, and we jumped into an Equity Shot as fast as we could on Tuesday to get our minds around the news. Since then, Danny dug through the venture capital winners circle -- a surprisingly small subset of firms! -- and we also got into some questions that I had about the company's finances. Robinhood is said to have an IPO in the books, so we talked a bit about what we know concerning its Q3 growth. And then there was edtech, as always. This week we talked about Tencent backing Udemy, Duolingo raising again, and Transfr picking up a Series A that we thought was super interesting. Danny wanted to talk about the Trust & Will Series A. We tried to not make that many jokes. ZenBusiness raised $55 million as well, in an outsized Series B. Financial Venture Studio put together a new fund to cut small checks into Seed-stage fintech startups. We think that's great. Especially given what we know about what is going on in the fintech venture world. And Natasha walked us through her latest deep-dive, a look into the world of virtual headquarters. This led to the worst joke of the show. What a week! Three episodes, some new records, and a very tired us after all the action. More on Monday!
19 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Today we have an Equity Shot for you about Airbnb's S-1 filing, as it looks to go public before the year is out. First we get into Airbnb's macro performance, which shows a stable picture historical revenue growth. There is a ton of numbers to get to so get ready for a quick dive into net revenue, gross margins, and losses. Then we discuss the dramatic drop in bookings, the promising comeback, and if short-term travel is Airbnb's future. There's a weird quarter of profitability that you should all know about, and a heads up on what to look for in Q4 numbers. Finally, we talk about the bullish and bearish case on Airbnb, which poetically filed the same day that Moderna announced a promising vaccine trial. All that, and our trusty other host Danny Crichton was busy filing a post about the winners and losers of the Airbnb IPO. Ownership, you quiet, billionaire beast. There's more coming from TechCrunch on the company's IPO, and from the Equity crew on everything else we ferret out on Thursday. Stay tuned! https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/16/airbnb-files-to-go-public/
16 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode that we wound up titling “Th O’s r ptinal, th dllrs r mndtry," a joke that if we observe the weekend's podcast analytics, was a mistake. Lesson learned! But in better news there was lots to get to this morning, so here's a digest of what we talked about: More good vaccine news is scrambling the stock market yet again, dinging tech stocks and bolstering non-tech shares. This also happened last Monday, but was swallowed up by terrible COVID-19 numbers by Friday. ProfitWell data on SaaS and the pandemic proves to be largely good news. C3.AI filed to go public, more on that shortly on the main site. UIPath could go public early next year at a $20 billion valuation. SpaceX pulled off its latest rocket launch, sending four humans into space. Parler is partially living off ultraconservative cash. MindTickle raised $100 million from the second Vision Fund. Its revenue growth is impressive, at 170%. Thoughtexchange wrapped its Series B at a total size of $34 million. Pharmapacks raised $250 million from Carlyle. That's a big check. Catch up on our DoorDash IPO coverage, if you need to. Here's our overview, here's the VC winners' list, and here's what COVID-19 did for the delivery company. Do not sleep on the fact that our own Chris Gates is posting Equity videos from every main episode over on YouTube. He does a great job and it’s fun to be on video, as well as audio platforms. We hope you are rested and ready to go for the rest of the week. Chat as soon as Airbnb files.
16 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. The full Equity crew was on hand to debate the current venture capital market, curious about how risk-on, or risk-off things really are today. Danny, Natasha and I framed the conversation around a number of news items from the week, including: Wrkfrce has launched, and we wanted to chat more about the future of niche media, bringing The Juggernaut's own recent round, and the Quartz shakeup into the conversation. And on the media front -- always a risky venture capital investing domain -- Spotify has snapped up another podcasting company, this time paying $235 for Megaphone. Our take? A string of small exits probably won't encourage VCs to take on more risk in the space (Hunter Walk said the same thing here.) Turning to risk more generally, I asked Natasha to weigh in on the earlier-stages of the venture market, and Danny on its later tranches. There's still lots of money, but it appears more focused on chasing winners than bolstering or supporting less-obvious startups. That market is not slowing a risk-on move towards more venture capital players, as the Spearhead news showed a new focus for the firm to invest in emerging fund managers. And there's still plenty of risk tolerance in remote-work solutions like Hopin, which just raised $125 million at a $2+ billion valuation. We're torn on the round, but Danny likes it and he's a former VC. And we wrapped with a chat about upcoming IPOs, and the recent SoftBank results. If DoorDash, Airbnb and others are going to go this year, they need to go soon. So far, no dice. It was a busy week, despite the month. Expect more of the same next week. https://techcrunch.com/2020/11/12/how-softbanks-vision-fund-turned-losses-into-gold-this-summer/ Finally, don't forget that our own Chris Gates is cutting Equity videos out of every episode that you can find over on YouTube. He does a great job and it's great to be on video, as well as audio platforms.
12 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode that we wound up titling "Fortnite is actually a SaaS company." It makes sense in context, I promise. Anyway, here's what's on today's show: Joe Biden was elected President and the stock market is not mad about divided government. Positive vaccine news sent many stocks sharply higher this morning, but not all. Some pandemic-favored tech companies instantly dropped double-digit percentage points of value. Esign raised $151 million, showing strength in the Chinese startup market, and the esignature space. And this neat Series B for Cellwize caught our attention this morning. Finally, a warning. The stuff that is changing lately may begin to change a bit less. We've lived in the pandemic economy long enough now that it's hard to recall what life was like before. But, we'd best start remembering as there's a lot that is going to change in the next few quarters. This has been a wild to start the week, but with good news. I suppose a vaccine was always going to eventually make it to this step, but, that said, the United States is seeing record COVID-19 cases today. So mask up and let's get as many of us across the line as we can. Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
9 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. What a week from us here in the United States, where the election is still being tabulated and precisely zero people are stressed at all. But, no matter what, the wheels of Equity spin on and so Danny and Natasha and Alex and Chris got together once again to chat all things startups and venture capital. Up top there was breaking news aplenty, including a suit from the US government to try and block the huge Plaid-Visa deal. And, it was reported that Airbnb will drop its public S-1 filing early next week. That IPO is a go. Next we turned to the gaming world, riffing off of this piece digging into the venture mechanics of making and selling video games. Our hosting crew had a few differences of opinion, but were able to agree that Doom 3 was a masterpiece before moving on. Then it was time to talk Ant, and what the hell happened to its IPO. Luckily with Danny on deck we were in good hands. What a mess. Prop 22 was passed, which effectively allows Uber, Instacart, and Lyft to keep their gig workers labeled as independent contractors, instead of employees. As a result, Uber and Lyft stocks soared, while gig worker collectives said that the fight is still on. Natasha scooped a series of Election Day filings from venture capital firms. In the mix: Precursor Ventures Fund III, Hustle Fund II, and Insight Partner's first Opportunity Fund. And finally, despite Election Day turning into an entire week, the public markets are rallying. Will we see a boom of IPOs? And, as a special treat, we didn't even mention Maricopa county for the entire episode. Take care all!
5 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode that was honestly very good fun. This morning was a somewhat odd episode of our Monday show, in that the American election is tomorrow. Still, some things happened. So, here they are: Match, Uber, Alibaba, Square, Dropbox, EA, and Roku are expected to report earnings this week. The UK's venture capital industry is even less focused on investing in diverse founders than you thought, with our own Natasha Lomas reporting that "all-ethnic teams received an average of just 1.7% of the venture capital investments made at seed, early and late stage" between 2009 and 2019. The edtech boom is lifting all boats, it seems, not just those that belong to startups. Chegg's growth is picking up media attention. Marshmallow raised $30 million for its auto-insurtech product. The insurtech market is super hot these days, after the Lemonade and Root IPOs. Tencent led $50 million into Zego, another company that wants to provide video communications services to other companies. Warren raised $1.4 million to help regional cloud providers sell globally. The American election reaches its zenith tomorrow, before a period of vote counting begins. It's going to blot out the sun this week, news-wise. But then it will be over. Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts. https://techcrunch.com/2020/10/31/equity-shot-boo-its-the-halloween-earnings-special/
2 November 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. As promised, the whole gang is back, this time to chew on the biggest, baddest, worstest, and most troubling earnings reports from the current cycle. This week saw Amazon and Alphabet and Microsoft and Apple and Facebook report, along with a host of smaller companies. Spoiler alert: there were more tricks than treats. Danny, Natasha and Alex wanted to get to the bottom of the big tech results, asking what really mattered from each of them? Then it was time to dig into themes. We saw plan price increases coming from Netflix and Spotify, advertising getting a boo-st from politics and 2020's overall meltdown, and boo-ming billions of consumer interest in...desktops. After that, a dive into the results of smaller SaaS and cloud companies, picking out trends that might help us see around the corner a bit; is the tech boom slowing, or is corporate growth merely failing to keep up with inflated investor expectations? This week felt like a shudder ran through the spine of our economy. The earnings paint a neutral picture, which isn't exactly an exhale to rejoice over. The coronavirus continues to be a threat that poses a risk to public businesses. For startups, that could mean a less frothy exit market nad lower valuations. And for the public, it means that the uncertain is still ahead of us. So wear a mask. And with that, the show is back Monday morning. Have a good weekend, everyone. Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PDT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
31 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. A few notes before we get into this. One, we have a bonus episode coming this Saturday focused on this week's earnings reports. And, second, we did not record video this week. So, if you like watching the show on YouTube, this is not the week for that! Right, here's what Natasha, Danny, and your humble servant got into this week: The huge COVID-related hit that public markets took this week, with tech getting hit extra hard. An antitrust brouhaha! As the Vista-Plaid deal and others gets a hard look, we wondered what it could all mean for startups were a bit more suited for M&A than an IPO. Up next we dug into how founders are raising money before they even quit their jobs, a trend that Natasha is digging into. From there it was a Danny segment, riffing on his 2020s piece, and dive into where he sees the most ripe chances for startups to truly change the world. We just hope the capital follows the opportunities. Then it was time to talk accelerators, with Natasha detailing on the Indie Bio class, and my taking of the show through some recent Techstars companies. VCs raised too, with the three of us talking about The Engine and Impact America raising fresh new funds. And then we chatted about the Yuanfudao round, and a Series B that The Wanderlust Group just put together. We capped off with the latest from R2c, and then got the hell off the mics. Catch you all Saturday, and then back to regular programming on Monday morning.
29 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode that includes some high-quality Quibi jokes, if I recall correctly. This was a busy morning, with lots to talk about it. Here's what we got into: Headlines this morning that caught our eye included falling global stock markets in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases; SAP torched tens of billions of market cap by missing earnings expectations and cutting its forecast; and Ant Group will raise a bajillion dollars in its impending IPO. In unicorn news, Databricks is prepping an IPO that we already know a lot about. And Airbnb's shares are splitting ahead of its own IPO, a deal that we are expecting any day now. The PrimaryBid round was super cool, with TechCrunch covering the $50 million deal. I spoke with the company's CEO last week about the deal, sharing some of those notes on the show. And VSPN raised nearly $100 million in an esports round that was more than cool. On the SAP front, here's the question: Is the earnings miss and forecast miss a one-off, or something that a number of tech companies are going to suffer from? If the former, it's not that big of a deal. If the latter, SAP could be the harbinger of a reset in tech valuations. Shoutout Lewis Hamilton and that G2 series. Ok, chat Thursday!
26 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Myself, along with Danny and Natasha had a lot to get through, and more to say than expected. A big thanks to Chris for cutting the show down to size. Now, what did we get to? Aside from a little of everything, we ran through: The fall of Quibi, and who lost money in the mix. TechCrunch has a bit more on the video service's downfall here. The Netflix quarter, and why its shares lost ground after its report. The Quibi-Netflix stories show that it's not smooth sailing in the market for online video. If Netflix stumbled, Snap soared with stronger-than-expected growth. The company still loses lots of money, but it's getting closer to reasonable results, and has lots of cash. Then we turned to a few media startups that raised, including $4 million for Stir and $2.5 million for Quake. Quake the podcasting company, mind, not the excellent FPS. Next was a handful of housing rounds, including the very neat Abodu and the somewhat controversial RVshare, which split the three of us about whether or not it was going to work out. Then we had some great reporting from Natasha to parse through, including her piece on startup hacker houses, and her report on a new women-focused accelerator class. Whew! It was a lot, but also very good fun. Look for clips on YouTube if you'd like, and we'll chat you all next Monday.
22 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. It's a big day in tech because the US Federal Government is going after Google on anti-competitive grounds. Sure, the timing appears crassly political and the case is not picking up huge plaudits thus far for its air-tightness, but that doesn't mean we can ignore it. So Danny and I got on the horn to chat it up for about 10 minutes to fill you in. For reference, you can read the full filing here, in case you want to get your nails in. It's not a complicated read. Get in there. As a pair we dug into what stood out from the suit, what we think about the historical context, and also noodled at the end about what the whole situation could mean for startups; it's not all good news, but adding lots of competitive space to the market would be a net-good for upstart tech companies in the long-run. And consumers. Competition is good. You can read TechCrunch's early coverage of the suit here, and our look at the market's reaction here. Let's go!
20 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. American equities are set to rise, which is good news for the startup-VC world as it means that the current up-cycle will continue. But the good public market is not landing evenly, as Europe sees its VC-backed IPO tally lag the rest of the world. The biggest recent news stories in tech and venture were Alibaba's enormous Sun Art deal that echoes the Amazon-Whole Foods deal at first blush, and SpaceX's latest success. The quiet weekend could herald the return of a slower, holiday news cycle as we close in on November. On the funding front, we found three super cool startups: AiFi raised $14.5 million in a round that Crunchbase News covered. Autonomous, checkout-free stores? Count us in. Lawmatics raised a $2.5 million Seed round. The startup does vertical SaaS (CRM, marketing) for lawyers. That just sounds lucrative. And then there was Chiper, which put together a $12 million round to help build out its ecommerce service in Latin America. Investors Monashees, Kaszek Ventures, and WIND Ventures put the money up. And to close we took a look at some Q3 2020 data from CBInsights and Crunchbase News. That's all we got. The show is back in just a few days. Hugs!
19 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. The whole crew was back today, with Natasha and Danny and I gathered to parse over what was really a blast of news. Lots of startups are raising. Lots of VCs are raising. And some unicorns are shooting to go public. It's a lot to get through, but we're here to catch you up. Here's what we got into: A Media Roundup: The Juggernaut raised $2 million in a round that we found to be both cool and timely. The news of a media startup raising money was paired with rumors of an exit for email media darling Morning Brew for a price-tag of up to $75 million. Undergirding each story was recent reporting concerning the revenue success that Axios is enjoying. It's nice to report on some media news that isn't fresh layoffs. A cluster of wellness startups raising capital: If you like to work out your mind and body, it was a good week of news for you. Calm is looking for new funds at a frewh, higher valuation. TechCrunch has coverage here. Coa did raise, adding $3 million to its coffers for mental health group classes. And Playbook put together $9.3 million for its fitness instructor platform. VCs raised lots: It's a hot time for VCs themselves to raise money, with OpenView, Canaan, True Ventures, Lead Edge Capital, First Round, and Khosla either closing rounds or announcing new fundraises. Also on the VC beat: Terri Burns was made an investing partner at GV. Finally, we got into the recent GetAround funding and turnaround story, which segued us into Airbnb's own recovery. TechCrunch has more here. And with that, we're off until Monday morning. Chat soon, and stay safe.
15 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. So, what was on our minds this morning? Headlines: The Twilio-Segment deal is real, happening, and is priced about where we expected. Big names in the ex-China Internet want to make encryption worse. And, how the United States government would break up Google is becoming clearer by the week. On the Twilio Segment deal, as TechCrunch and Forbes anticipated, the transaction came in around $3.2 billion, forming something of a API monster from their combined form. As we noted on the show, a lot of investors made a mint from the transaction. Airkit has raised $28 million while in stealth since 2017. What does it do? Per Forbes, it's a "low-code platform" that wants to "improve customer engagement." That's notably similar to what Segment does. Flash Express raised $200 million, as the on-demand and delivery spaces stay hot. And Razorpay raised $100 million at a valuation of $1 billion, meaning that we have just witnessed the birth of yet another fintech unicorn. And, finally, warm public markets mean that the startup and VC game will stay afoot, even if we see a pre-election dip in IPOs. We hope that you are well and warm and fully of good spirits. Back soon!
12 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week Natasha was on vacation, so Danny and your humble servant had to endeavour alone. She's back next week, so we'll be back to full strength as a collective soon enough. But even with a depleted hosting crew, we had a mountain of news to get through. And to joke about, as Danny was in the mood for a laugh. Here's the rundown: Reddit Co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s New Venture Fund Invests in Disposable Camera App: Danny and I are arbiters of what is cool, so we were the perfect pair to discuss influencers and new social applications. This one is actually neat, and Ohanian's inclusion in the investment viz his new fund was noteworthy. Zira raises $3.1M for its shift-scheduling service that helps manage hourly workers: This is a round that I covered, looking into Zira.ai and its product. Our take? It's neat, but operates in a competitive market. Shogun raises $35M to help brands take on Amazon with faster and better sites of their own: This is a similar story. A neat company with a neat product in a space where the is proven demand (TAM, in other words), and competition. Unqork's $207M Series C underscores growing enterprise demand for no-code apps: Another round worth mentioning is the Unqork deal. Unqork is a no-code service that helps other businesses create apps for their companies. It's growing like a weed, and is thus something worth knowing a bit about. Mmhmm, Five-Month-Old Video Startup Making Virtual Meetings More Fun, Raises $31 Million Pre-Launch: Yes, mmhmm has raised more money, and, we're excited to learn, could be launching this very month. Remotion raises $13M to create a workplace video platform for short, spontaneous conversations: Following the Slack news, this round stood out to us. Who will build the remote work comms platform of the future that people like to use? And then there was a host of other stuff to get through, like the FirstMark SPAC news, Root's impending IPO, and more on Airbnb's impending public offering. That was a lot. We did our best. Hugs and chat with you next week!
8 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. Starting the day American stocks are set to rise despite the country's president spending the weekend in a military hospital to combat his COVID-19 infection. The weekend itself was marked with national turmoil as information was incomplete, and shifting when it came to the health of the current administration. Over the weekend a few stories caught our eyes: The Ola-London dustup that shows what regulatory risk remains for ride-hailing companies. This DappRadar report on the boom in DeFi that is boosting ethereum. Facebook's leaked plan to combat a push by government to break it up into smaller pieces. And there were a number of interesting funding rounds to look into. We selected two for your pleasure this morning: Einride raised $10 million for its autonomous freight system. The company has a big reveal coming on the 8th. Cooler Screens raised $80 million for a technology that I already hate. What else was on our mind? We're getting mentally ready for Q3 earnings. Now that it is Q4 that's what's coming up. What will the cycle bring? A clearer image of what happened in the quarter to companies that are not COVID-accelerated. What has happened to them, and can their results match investor expectations? The v-shaped recovery is actually a k-shaped recovery and, in time, it's going to show. So, buckle up for one hell of an earnings cycle.
5 October 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s VC-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week, Alex is on a much deserved vacation (but not from Twitter, it seems) so Danny Crichton and I chatted through the news and happenings of the week. Somehow we winded our way through the latest tech controversies, gave Chris Wallace a shout out, and ended with some funding rounds. I'll be out next week so don't miss me too much, but expect the entire Equity team to be back full-speed in mid-October. Thanks, as always, to our producer Chris Gates for his patience and diligence. Now, onto a sneak peak of what we got into: Moderation continues to be the root of all problems. We got into the the anti-semitic comments that were spewed on Clubhouse, and what that means for the future of the audio-only platform. As Danny so eloquently put it: if Clubhouse is having moderation problems even with an exclusive invite-only user base, the problem will grow. We also talked about Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong's blog post, which triggered a debate between us on whether tech companies can even choose to not be political. For the record, Black Lives Matter is not a political statement. It's a human statement. Read this op-ed for more. I wrote a piece about how a new program wants to be the Y Combinator for emerging fund managers. The whole "YC for X" model usually makes me roll my eyes, but listen to hear why I'm actually optimistic and bullish on programs like these taking off within tech. Silver Lake added a $2 billion 'long-term' hedge fund backed by Abu Dhabi to its tech finance toolkit. The strategy is a signal to privately-backed startups, and potentially a slap in the face to SoftBank. For a quick edtech note, I caught up with Duolingo's CEO this week in one of his rare press interviews. Luis Von Ahn explained the app's surge in bookings, and there's one key metric we pull out to noodle over. Danny explained Gusto's latest product launch with, wait for it, Gusto. In all seriousness, he brings up interesting points about the future of fin-tech feeling more full-suite, and free. Funding round chatter continued when we unpacked Lee Fixel's latest investment in India's Inshorts Finally, we ended with LiquidDeath, which is not the name of a drinking game, but instead the name of a startup that has succesfully attracted millions in venture capital for mountain water. And with that, we will be back next week. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.
1 October 2020 •
Two direct listings in one day. Lots to talk about. Asana started trading just a bit after noon Eastern today, quickly zooming to roughly about $29 a share in early trading this afternoon. Meanwhile, Palantir is running like a herd of bulls straight out of the gate, jumping to almost $11 a share in the first trades — a first day jump of nearly 50%. Asana’s reference price was revealed yesterday by the NYSE, and it was set for $21 a share. The company had roughly 150 million shares of stock outstanding on a fully diluted basis, which gave it a pre-market reference value of $3.2 billion. Palantir for its part was assigned a reference price of $7.25 a share, giving it a $16 billion implied valuation. At its current share price, Asana is valued at roughly $4.4 billion, and Palantir comes out to about $24 billion give or take. The two companies trade on the NYSE, with Asana under ticker ASAN and Palantir under the ticker PLTR. Early trading is heavy according to Yahoo Finance, with 156 million shares of Palantir and nearly 32 million shares of Asana already changing hands.
30 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. I subbed in for Alex this week, so send your love over to the show on Twitter here and fan mail to me right here. Also, don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. This week, we couldn't help but weigh into the latest TikTok drama, but we got into why it's worth following these budgets and moves (and a whole host of other fascinating news): Reminder that life makes 0% sense right now, so give yourself grace if you don't feel 10/10 every single day always. TikTok's latest is that it's not (yet) getting banned in the States. The New York Times has published data on Donald Trump's tax returns. Register to vote. Alexis Ohanian has filed paperwork for his new fund, 776, eyeing a $150 million close. The name is fun to noodle over. Poshmark confidentially filed its S-1. Bill Gurley fans can put their party pants on because Palantir and Asana are direct listing this week, both potentially with a Wednesday debut. Chinese fitness tech startup Fiture got a $65 million Series A, Philippines payment processing API startup PayMongo landed $12 million, and another API startup, Noyo, raised the same plus $500,000 to focus on healthcare. All that, and we didn't even get to make fun of LinkedIn stories.
28 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week Natasha Mascarenhas, Danny Crichton and your humble servant gathered to chat through a host of rounds and venture capital news for your enjoyment. As a programming note, I am off next week effectively, so look for Natasha to lead on Equity Monday and the both her and Danny to rock the Thursday show. I will miss everyone. But onto the show itself, here's what we got into: Zoom's earliest investors are betting millions on a better Zoom for schools: Built on Natasha's reporting, we took a look at a neat company that wants to make Zoom better for the educational environments where it had suddenly taken the center stage. Teachers need more. The first rule of BookClub? No boring book clubs. Another Natasha story this week, this time about a startup that we somewhat like but can't decide how its market will be. Still, the biblophiles in your life should read this piece and get hype about rising access to authors. Robinhood raised $460 million more, extending its preceding $200 million Series G to a $660 million total investment. Chime also added $485 million at a new, $14.5 billion valuation. We dug into what's up with the pair and why they are raising so much money. The short answer is hella growth, leading us to a question and this week's headline: Why isn't Robinhood a verb yet? Willow, the startup making the wearable breast pump, raises $55 million: Natasha talked us through some of the issues with the phrase femtech, before Danny explained to us the need for what Willow offers. Here's to more tech being used to help more folks at more stages of life. Then we turned to VC media, namely our notes on a new venture capital gameshow, and, a16z launching a podcast network. We also worked what Casey Newton is up to into the same conversation. Bon voyage for a week, please stay safe and don't forget to register to vote.
24 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. What a busy morning. We had to cover TikTok. We had to talk VC rounds. So, this is what we got up to: US tech stocks are poised to sell off further this morning. The Oracle-TikTok-Walmart-ByteDance deal is either coming into focus, or a period of even less clarity. It's hard to tell. Nikola founder Trevor Milton is leaving the board of his own company in the wake of fraud allegations. Shares of the company are sharply lower in pre-market trading. Turning to TikTok, this primer represents the best over-the-weekend roundup that we could find. But, of course, things are still breaking as we come to print. Since recording, Oracle has said that "upon creation of TikTok Global, Oracle/Walmart will make their investment and the TikTok Global shares will be distributed to their owners, Americans will be the majority and ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global." And, President Trump said this morning that China has to give up control of TikTok or the deal is off. ByteDance has said that it will retain control. You figure that out. But there was some good stuff to chat about. Including the super-neat Mobile Premier League round worth $90 million, growth news from EU-based Babbel, a new London-based Seed fund that got raised, and a Swedish healthtech Series B. As you guessed from today's title, it was fun to see such a concentration of EU VC activity. Finally, will the Nikola mess discourage more SPACs from taking companies public? If the rest of the stock market wasn't selling off, we would have said no. But today? Is the answer maybe?
21 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week Natasha Mascarenhas, Danny Crichton and myself hosted a live taping at Disrupt for a digital reception. It was good fun, though of course we're looking forward to bringing the live show back to the conference next year, vaccine allowing. Thankfully we had Chris Gates behind the scenes tweaking the dials, Alexandra Ames fitting us into the program, and some folks to watch live. What did we talk about? All of this (and some very, very bad jokes): The Great American SPAC-Off: As both Opendoor and Desktop Metal approach the public markets on the wings of SPACs, we ask why. And why we have to keep talking about SPACs, which we do not want to do. But the public markets are hot and active, with companies like JFrog and Snowflake going public to great effect. JFrog had a great IPO. Snowflake had an insane IPO. But there was a lot of action from the private markets as well, including Airtable raising $185 million, ApplyBoard raised a $55 million extension, and Tonal raised $110 million, because connected fitness is hotter than SaaS at the moment. We also riffed on Natasha's venture trends' piece, digging into how to get to conviction in a remote-only world. As it turns out, we have notes on video games. And there were two new funds, including one from the Chainsmokers (hot, fun, great) and another from Greylock (traditional, Victorian, and huge). In more serious commentary, the Greylock raise continues the mega-fund era. And then we tried to play a game that may or may not make it into the final cut. Either way, it was great to have Equity back at Disrupt. More to come. Hugs from us! Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts.
17 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here — and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. What a weekend behind us, and what a week ahead. Disrupt kicks off today, so the TechCrunch crew is busy as heck getting all the final touches put on. Snag a ticket here and we will see you soon. On the podcast this morning: Stocks are set to open sharply higher as we hit record, a good and welcome comeback for investors in both private and public tech companies. The NVIDIA-ARM deal is finally a go, so we can put the entire saga to rest at last. All things TikTok: Microsoft losing the deal, Oracle possibly winning the deal, the Chinese government saying no to the whole affair, and the Chinese government only saying no to part of the deal? What is clear is that the deal is under pressure to happen and not to happen. We'll know more soon. Descartes Underwriting raised $18.5 million for its insurtech solution, while Xometry raised $75 million in a Series E for offshore manufacturing in factories with spare capacity. GoJek and Grab may merge. And, finally, the CBP is a huge mess and an embarrassment. Ok, that's all we have time for today. See you at Disrupt in a few hours!
14 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. The whole crew was back, with Natasha Mascarenhas and Danny Crichton and myself chattering, and Chris Gates behind the scenes tweaking the dials as always. This week was a real team effort as we are heading into the maw of Disrupt -- more here, see you there -- but there was a lot of news all the same. So, here's what we got to: AngelList is doubling down on rolling funds, driving that SaaS revenue into the firm that is also investing in the rolling funds. So that's neat. (Really!) Edtech stayed hot this week with Byju's raising $500 million from Silver Lake. Founded back in 2011, Byju's is the highest-valued edtech company that we can think of, now worth $10.8 billion. And speaking of Silver Lake, the group just poured $1 billion into a part of the Reliance empire, this time Reliance Retail. And we talked about JioMart, which is taking on both Flipkart and Amazon in the country. Next there were two companies with names that start with "S" that raised $100 million in the last week, namely Snyk -- more here -- and Sprinklr -- more here. Sticking to our "S" theme, Slack's earnings were incredibly interesting. The company's quarter didn't get plaudits from investors, and it did note some negative COVID impacts that could impact startups as well. And, one more S-company to get through: Snowflake. We were all a-twitter about the company's new valuation range and fact that fucking Berkshire Hathaway is going to invest in it. That's wild! What a thing! Finally on the IPO front, we did a quick Palantir update. Danny has all the latest here. We wrapped with whatever this is, which was at least good for a laugh. We are back next week at Disrupt, so see you all there!
10 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. Headline roundup: TikTok's parent will pay an irregular bonus to staff, a move that is causing ripples as Bytedance's social service finds itself an international political football. Reed Hastings is not big on working from home. And China's fight with Australia is escalating, again showing how willing China is to become an ostracized internationally; in business terms this makes the India market more important to tech companies. New IPO filings are out from both JFrog and Sumo Logic. We're going for a dive soon, but the short riff is that JFrog wants up to $37 per share, valuing it at more than $3 billion while Sumo Logic wants $21 per share, valuing it at more than $2 billion. (More here on Sumo Logic and here on JFrog.) Big rounds: Byju has put together a half-billion dollars at a $10.8 billion valuation, while Mollie has stacked on $106 million at a valuation that makes it a unicorn. Small rounds: Fashionphile has raised $38.5 million, Cloudentity raised $13 million, and Sarbacane has raised $27 million. And as we recorded, tech shares were set to sell off yet again.
8 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. The whole crew was back, with Natasha Mascarenhas and Danny Crichton and myself chattering with Chris Gates behind the scenes making it all work. An extra shoutout to Natasha this week as we spent a lot of time talking about edtech, a category that she spearheads for us and has brought to the show. It's a big deal! We're on YouTube now, don't forget, and with that, let's get into the news: Climax Foods raised $7.5 million to help fuel its work to develop alt-foods that are not animal-based. The Equity crew votes that this is a tasty deal. And, Capchase has raised $4.6 million to help cash-out SaaS contracts ahead of their real revenue accrual. Our read is that more financing options for SaaS companies will lead to lower costs of capital for those startups that want it. And, the Envision Accelerator made it through batch one and is on to batch two. Then we chatted about edtech, with Natasha talking us through Owl Ventures raising huge new funds, Course Hero extending its Series B, Juni hitting $10M ARR and raising about as much, and Unacademy raising tons of cash from Vision Fund 2. Next up, Patreon also got a new check, which means that it eventually has to go public at some point given that it is now a fancy unicorn. And speaking of IPOs, Bumble is thinking about going public in 2021, Wish has filed, albeit privately, and GoodRX is going public as well. And it makes money. What else? This a16z post on IPOs that we fangirl/fanboy'd over as it is good. And we forgot to mention this Fred Wilson post, but it is also good. And with that, we are nearly at the weekend which is a long one thanks to a holiday, so expect Equity Monday to be, in fact, Equity Tuesday next week. Hugs and good vibes from the Equity Crew!
4 September 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. This weekend was a welcome reprieve from last week's insane news cycle inside the world of technology and money. If you are still catching your breath from the Great IPO Wave of last Monday, we feel you. Here's what we got into this morning: The TikTok sale could be in trouble, this time due to China changing its rules on sales of tech firms that have certain algorithms. TikTok parent company Bytedance intends to comply with the rules, but what impact the news could have the sale of the social service is unclear as of yet, though the developments are not good if you were in favor of a deal. American tech shares are set to rise once again after setting records last week. Equity is back on YouTube, hell yeah! From the weekend: Medium's growth in both traffic (pageviews) and income (paying subscribers) is super impressive according to its latest reporting. And the publishing platform and media company is doubling-down on product to fend off upstarts like the popular Substack. Per a Bloomberg report, tech IPO fundraising could set a record in 2020. And, to ground us in a macro-economic sense, Chinese banks are being forced to take a profit hit to support other companies. In the funding round domain, Semalytix raised €4.3 million in Series A funding according to TechCrunch for its pharmaceutical-AI service. And India-based Eruditus raised $113 million for its executive-focused education service. That's a lot of money, but like we've been saying, edtech is hot. And, finally, will there be enough horns for all these hot SaaS rounds that are getting done in a blur today? What if SaaS revenue multiples slip by 20%? Then what? When deals go so fast that due diligence suffers, the hangover can last a bit. And that is the week's Monday ep, thanks for sticking with through our super-busy week last week. Whew!
31 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is the fourth episode of the week, pushing our production calendar to the test. Happily we've managed to hold it together amidst the news deluge that the last few days have brought. It was a good week for our scheduling change, with the main episode of the show coming to you on Thursday afternoon versus Friday morning. Change is good. But unchanging this time around was our hosting lineup, with Natasha Mascarenhas and Danny Crichton and myself yammering with Chris Gates on the mix. Here's what we got into: The CEO of TikTok is out, bids are swirling, and whom will wind up owning a piece of all of TikTok's global operations is not clear. Walmart is in the mix, apparently, which feels very 2020. The New York Stock Exchange has gotten approval from the SEC for a new type of direct listing, one in which the company going public can sell a bloc of shares during the normal price discovery process. This means that all the banker-faff of setting a price and roadshowing to various investor groups could be going the way of the buffalo. About time, maybe? That was our take after reading this Bill Gurley note and the latest SEC news. But while the direct listing world is getting more interesting, the SPAC world is taking flight. Desktop Metal is going public via a SPAC which is all sorts of fascinating. A younger, Boston-based unicorn going public in this manner is eye catching! And then two funding rounds, the first from Finix, which can't stop adding to its Series B. And Mural, which raised the largest Series B we can recall. And with that, we're all going to bed. We're tired. No more news, thanks!
27 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Yep, it's another Equity Shot. We're back. And then we're going to be back on Friday. Because we can't stop talking about the biggest news week in the world of startups and venture capital in some time. Before we start, shoutout to the NBA for the growing, wildcat strike to protest racist police violence in America. Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming. This time 'round Natasha and your humble servant were joined by Lucas Matney, a member of the TechCrunch reporting team and a first-timer on Equity. Where's he been all this time? Covering all sorts of things, including VR startups for the publication. He was also a big part of our coverage of both days of Demo Day, making him a perfect fit for this episode. Danny was given a break to sit at home, play board games, and iron his favorite sweatshirt. He's back Friday morning. In case you've missed the words, here's what we wrote this week on the subject: All the Day One Y Combinator startups Our favorite Day One Y Combinator startups All the Day Two Y Combinator startups Our favorite Day Two Y Combinator startups Those entries should be pretty exhaustive, so dig into them when you can. And make sure to read Natasha's great piece on a super-hot startup from the batch, which comes up in the show. Peep that we are back on YouTube and we'll be right back. Stay cool!
26 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We're back out of sequence, because literally every company you can name (well, almost) dropped an S-1 yesterday so we had to sit down and parse them out a bit. That so many filings dropped during the same two days when we had Y Combinator's two-day Demo Day at the same time meant that we were all a bit punchdrunk, but we rallied. Natasha and Danny and Chris and myself all piled back onto the mics to dig through all the numbers. Here's a rundown of the companies we went through: Palantir, which filed its formal S-1 during our recording session. Danny covered most of the news last Friday, but the public doc is now live, so happy sleuthing. Unity's huge IPO that shows how big gaming is. Natasha connected it to the broader Apple-Epic dustup, and we all reviled in its growth results. Snowflake had Danny so excited he was conjuring scripted segues, and we were all impressed at its historical growth. Sure, it lost a lot of money last year, but, hey, Snowflake has dialed that back as well. And then there was Asana, a company I've covered quite a lot over the years. Our general take is that the company's growth has been good, if it is losing more money than we anticipated. Still, Asana could set a neat new precedent of raising debt ahead of a direct listing. This is one to watch. And then we spent a little time on JFrog and Sumo Logic (more here), because we are nothing if not completionists. Got all of that? It was a lot of facts to get through, but we did our best and we hope this helps. More tomorrow as we talk Y Combinator with a special guest host. Chat tomorrow!
25 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. What was on the docket this morning? All sorts of good stuff, though the Sumo Logic S-1 did drop just after we wrapped. Here's today's rundown: YC Demo day is this week, so make sure to stick around TechCrunch and Extra Crunch for all our coverage. SPACs continue, with more automotive companies looking at alt-routes to the public markets. This time it's Luminar. And, here's the Bill Gurley post that we promised to link to. E-commerce and on-demand are booming in China after we saw similar results via Uber and domestic e-commerce players. The Fortnite-Apple brouhaha continues with more filings and even Microsoft weighing in. At the same time TikTok v. The United States appears set to go to court. (Zuck is behind some anti-TikTok Washington sentiment, it appears.) The Palantir S-1 has gone missing. Where is it? Give it to us! Dataiku has raised $100 million for its enterprise AI platform. Forbes has more. Datasembly has raised $10.3 million in new capital for its IRL store data service. TechCrunch has more. The Anti-Antitrust Club is live and you can read it here. We're trying to find out who is taking on the biggest names in tech on purpose. Who would be so garishly bold? The Anti-Antitrust club! Whew, with YC and Palantir this week and a chat with Twilio's CEO it's going to be an active few days. Ready?
24 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. What happens when the entire podcast crew is a bit tired from, you know, everything, and does its very best? This episode, apparently. A big thanks to Chris Gates for helping us trim the fat and make something good for you. Before we get into the topics of the week, don't forget that Equity is not back on YouTube most weeks, so if you wanted to see us do the talking with some fun extra from the production team, you can do so here. More to come once I get my new external camera to work. That done, here's what Natasha and Danny and I got into this week: The public markets are afire these days with Apple reaching $2 trillion in market cap, and Tesla's stock doing all sorts of odd things. In short, stocks have only gone up for a while and that means that there's warm, nigh-stuffy temperatures around assets of all types. This is leading to a surge in liquidity, unsurprisingly, as asset managers of all types look to take advantage of the times. So, Asana is prepping a direct listing, Airbnb has filed privately, And ThredUp is eyeing an early-2021 IPO. Around the same time as Coinbase, we'd reckon. Airbnb banned parties as well, which wound up being the title of the show. And SPACs are still happening in rapid-fire fashion. The Equity crew is not super impressed about the whole affair, but I'll say that with Paul "Fucking" Ryan involved, it's probably a sign of the top. And capping the liquidity chat, Natasha ran us through what Chamath is up to now, and Danny rabbited on about Kabbage. Funding rounds! Welcome raised a $1.4 million check that I covered, Labster raised $9 million that Natasha wrote about, Carrot Fertility picked up $24 million that we all thought was pretty smart, and our friends at Crunchbase News wrote about PadSplit, which is honestly neat but we ran low on time after spending too much time on SPACs. Check them out here. Whew! We're doing a lot over at TechCrunch.com, so, stay tuned and know that if we were a bit frazzled this week it's because we're working our backends off to bring you neat things. You will dig 'em. Ok, chat Monday, a show that we're already planning. Stay cool!
21 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. This morning we had a bit of a detour, wandering into the world of BigTech to wonder what is going on with those megacorps. Too big for their own good, or too big to be good, here's what's up with the incumbents: Germany is taking on Amazon at the very same time that Canada is taking on Amazon, meaning that the Seattle giant is taking shots from two key markets at the same time. Google is having a war of words with Australia, after a ruling in the country didn't go its way. Walled gardens are seeing their walls come under heavy fire, which means that Apple and Google are fighting both sides of their marketplaces (producers, consumers) at once at the moment, which isn't great. And Microsoft might buy TikTok. All told it seems that the biggest tech companies are busy defending their market position instead of re-earning it with great products. A good time for startups? I think so. When incumbents are busy fighting with governments, themselves, and each other, it's a great time to show up, steal a march, and build neat products that take away their momentum. On the funding front, we peeked at the neat Help Lightning round, the Agiloft investment, and the Vertafore exit. And then there was this report concerning Asana, which is growing nicely for a company of its size and could actually be cheap at its current price? Anyway, we want the company to get on with getting public so that we can read its S-1 filing. Give it to us! All that and we had some fun, chat soon!
17 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week we had the full crew around once again, Natasha Mascarenhas, Danny Crichton, Chris Gates, and myself. And as always, it was key to have the full crew as there was an ocean of news to get through. Before we get into the show, make sure you've checked out Danny's latest work on the TechCrunch List and let's get into it: The TikTok saga continues: This week we spent a few minutes discussing why bankers are incentivized to make the proposed TikTok-Microsoft deal as competitive as possible. Or at least make it look as competitive as possible. And, there's some data from inside Microsoft about how the deal is being viewed. Airbnb could file to go public this month! It might go public before the year is out! That's way better than we expected. (Bloomberg got its Q2 finances.) Palantir could file for a direct listing next month! That's great. We wanted to know what Palantir really is, namely a consultancy or a tech company. And then we played valuation bingo so that we can look back later and mock ourselves. I was very excited about the Duck Creek IPO. Few of my friends joined me in being excited. The three of us also took a minute to riff on the latest Pinterest news, namely that it's poorly run and is sexist per its now-former COO. We'd love to stop covering these stories, but they keep happening so, on we go. Danny had some neat SPAC data to share, helping illustrate that SPACs are not merely a meme, they are a real, driving force of public company action this year. As was Tesla's announced stock split, which led us to ask why a few times. Next up, Natasha walked us through her latest work digging into how GenZ is shaking up the funding world. We framed the changes in some historical context, and decided that really in the end the kids are alright. Danny brought us to a close, with a note on Conduit (connecting founders and early-stage investors) and Circle (creator software). Both are worth your time. And that was our show! We are back Monday morning. Stay cool!
14 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. This morning was a bit of a grab-bag of news, but of course we had to start off with the biggest story from the past few weeks: It's TikTok around the clock: News broke recently that Twitter could be interested in TikTok after Apple came and somewhat went as a possible suitor. What matters is that Microsoft is not a full-lock on TikTok's exit. No word lately on whether the Trump administration's decision to try to extort a chunk of the sale price will go through. (It won't.) TikTok may sue the Trump administration as early as this week over its possible forced sale. Do startup culture, venture capital, and mental health mix well? Amazon is talking about turning some malls into fulfillment centers, TechCrunch has more. The huge wealth of major tech companies is only growing, meaning that a rising share of the public market run is based on a handful of big-tech results. Flipkart is building an accelerator. Expert System has raised $29.4 million, while Palmetto has raised $29 million, and Silverfort put together a $30 million round. How's that for three rounds of the same size? All that and earnings season is largely behind us, leaving tech companies generally unscathed. So, the good times will persist for a while yet. Have a great week!
10 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. As ever I was joined by TechCrunch managing editor Danny Crichton and our early-stage venture capital reporter Natasha Mascarenhas. We had Chris on the dials and a pile of news to get through, so we were pretty hype heading into the show. But before we could truly get started we had to discuss Cincinnati, and TikTok. Pleasantries and extortion out of the way, we got busy: Ecommerce and fintech stay hot as Square reported big earnings, Shopify and Etsy do well, and more. We tied this to recent VC results in the fintech space, which saw a record number of $100 million rounds in Q2. There were some signs of weakness elsewhere, but the general state of things in tech is surprisingly hot, given the pandemic and recession. Gumroad founder Sahil Lavingia has a new seed fund that he built in collaboration with AngelList. D2C women's-health startup Stix raised a $1.3 million Seed round. Quantum-computing startup Rigetti raised a $79 million Series C. Rippling raised $145 million at an eye-popping $1.35 billion valuation; the company's last value, set a year ago, was $270 million. AgentSync put together a $4.4 million Seed round to help bring APIs to insurtech. Turning away from funding to some neat product news, India-based Statiq is building a bootstrapped EV-charging network. And as we wrapped, the Byju-WhiteHat Jr. deal was neat, JIO is soaking up a huge amount of Indian VC, and Natasha's latest piece on learning pods had us arguing about what things are worth. It was another fun week! As always we appreciate you sticking with and supporting the show!
7 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. As you probably expected, we had a lot to say about the TikTok-Microsoft tie-up that is somehow still afoot. Other things happened too, don't worry. Here's the rundown: The TikTok-Microsoft deal is back on. Lordstown Motors is looking to go public via a SPAC. To which we have to say that the EV boom and SPAC crush are going to fuse and lose some people a lot of money. Not this deal, necessarily, mind. Google is dumping money into ADT as part of a Nest deal. And Zoom's latest move regarding the Chinese market feels like a harbinger of times to come. On the TikTok front, Microsoft never really fully abandoned consumer hardware and software, it just pruned deeply under its current CEO Satya Nadella. Windows Phone? Gone. Surface? Bigger than ever. Mixer? No. Bing? Yep. That sort of thing. And Microsoft, like any modern super-platform, doesn't just want to own your time when you are at work. It wants to burn your eyes out around the clock. For a host of ByteDance backers like Yuri Milner, Sequoia Capital China, General Atlantic, SoftBank, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the deal could be rather lucrative, we presume. Rounds for Wejo (coverage here), Lezzoo (coverage here), and Feather (coverage here). Finally, why does Microsoft want to buy TikTok? We had a number of ideas that all sort of summed to maybe, but when we ran through the big tech companies that were possible suitors -- ports in the Trump storm -- maybe Microsoft makes more sense than we would have guessed? Whatever the case, we can't wait until Satya announces the deal by dancing and pointing at text on a screen while wearing something silly.
3 August 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We had the full team this week: Myself, Danny, and Natasha on the mics, with Chris running skipper as always. Sadly this week we had to kick off with a correction as I am 1. Dumb, and, 2. See point one. But after we got past SPAC nuances (shoutout David Ethridge), we had a full show of good stuff, including: Y Combinator Demo Day is going virtual, as before, and its coming iteration will also be live. The Equity crew all agree that this is the right thing to do, and probably more fun to boot. And now the founders can sweat a live event, too! What fun. Speaking of live events going digital, Disrupt is coming up. And it is going to be great. Read more here. A group of Stanford business school students are putting together and investment vehicle to invest money into themselves, which is a good idea and something that is highly risible. Luckily, Danny and Natasha had good things to say about the effort. Ro raised $200 million, and any jokes that were inappropriate are Danny's fault. The company's $200 million valuation makes the news that its competitor Hims could go public via a SPAC all the more exciting. I covered a neat round: $20 million for Instrumental, a super neat startup that has me hype. Facebook is still hunting up ways to get a better look into growing startups -- this time via investments in venture capital funds. And, finally, there were some hearings this week, you might have heard. We're working on something neat that you are going to love on just that topic, so stay tuned. And that's Equity for this week. We are back Monday morning early, so make sure you are keeping tabs on our socials. Hugs, talk soon!
31 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. After the morning show went out, the Equity crew could not shut up about the Qualtrics-SAP deal, so we had no choice but to jump back into recording mode for an off-the-cuff Equity Shot. As always, Shots are short-form Equity episodes that focus on a single, news topic. https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/27/why-is-sap-spinning-qualtrics-out-via-an-ipo/ Building off of Danny's SAP knowledge, Natasha's curiosity about the future Qualtrics S-1, and my own recent dive into the SAP and Qualtrics numbers, we managed to cover quite a lot of ground. So, if you wanted to know: Why did SAP have to pay so much for Qualtrics back in the day? Why is SAP willing to part with Qualtrics so soon after buying it? How much might Qualtrics be worth? And, of course, did the Equity team expect to see this news in 2020? Then you are probably going to like what we have in store for you. Spoiler on that last as the answer is a firm no, but, all the same, what fun. That's about it for this Equity Shot, hit play, have fun, and we are back Friday morning unless something else happens, like a Palantir S-1.
27 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. Here's what we talked about today: Headlines: SAP is spinning out part of Qualtrics, Dave leaked customer data, Asian markets were mixed while US shared opened green. Cryptos and gold are up at the same time, marking the moment as a melt-up. The Qualtrics news was the loudest note from the weekend's jam, coming a few years after SAP bought the Utah-based tech giant. SAP will retain a majority stake even after the debut, but the plan should give Qualtrics more freedom, and SAP a better valuation for the piece of the smaller company that it retains. That's if the spin-out goes well, of course. Dave's leak looks bad, and will test what happens to more nascent fintech properties when they endure this sort of breach. Looking ahead, this is a huge earnings week. We'll see results from Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, and others. And, finally, rounds from StashAway, cargo.one, and Blueheart. Closing, we're in exciting territory on the public markets given that high share prices are giving big companies more ammunition than ever. Let's see what they can get done with it before the window closes.
27 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Up top the crew this week was the regular contingent: Danny Crichton, Natasha Mascarenhas, and myself. As a tiny programming note, we're going back to posting some videos on YouTube in a few weeks, so make sure to peep the TechCrunch channel if that's your jam. And we did a special episode on the SPAC boom, if you are into financial arcana. For more on SPAC's --> here The Equity crew tried something new this week, namely centering our main conversation around a theme that we're keeping tabs on: The resilience of tech during the current pandemic-led recession. Starting with the recent economic news, it's surprising that tech's layoffs have slowed to a crawl. And, as we've recently seen, there's still plenty of money flowing into startups, even if there are some dips present on a year-over-year basis. Why are things still pretty good for startups, and pretty good for major tech companies? We have a few ideas, like the acceleration of the digital transformation (more here, and here), and software eating the world. The latter concept, of course, is related to the former. After that it was time to go through some neat funding rounds from the week, including: Dumpling raising $6.5 million to help individual shoppers build their own Instacart; Kibbo's shot at making the #vanlife happen for more folks, something that we think is a good fit for the pandemic and the mobile professional. Sora's $5.3 million raise for no-code HR connective tissue, something that I was rather bullish on but drew some chat about no-code itself, and if the trend is more hype than substance. All that and I have a newsletter launching this weekend that if you read, you will automatically be 100% cooler. It's called the TechCrunch Exchange, and you can snag it for free here.
24 July 2020 •
Hello everyone, it's a busy week with TechCrunch Early Stage underway and a slew of tech earnings to parse through. But that didn't stop the Equity crew from sitting down to chat about the recent wave of SPAC commentary Danny and I wanted to talk about what a SPAC is -- the acronym stands for special purpose acquisition company -- and why everyone seems to be chatting them up. Why do you care? Here's some context, in simple bullet-point format: Yesterday, after raising its IPO price range, Jamf priced at $26 per share, selling more shares than it had previously anticipated. Today it opened trading around $48, and is currently worth $40.18 per share, far above its IPO price. Recent first-day gains, like Jamf's own, have peeved elements of the venture classes who think that the gap between an IPO price and where a company first trades is money that Wall Street bankers, and the IPO process itself, have stolen. Enter SPACs, which could offer a way for unicorns and other venture-backed companies to go public through a different pricing mechanism. If that alternative method of pricing the company would be better is not clear, but we tried to talk it through. Equity is back Friday morning, of course. And please bear in mind that when I referred to "Robinhood dipshits," I was talking about all retail investors as a cohort, not merely the folks at any one particular trading platform. Thanks to the in-market prestige of Robinhood, however, I did use it as short-hand for retail investors more broadly. Oh, and follow the show on Twitter.
22 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest big news, chats about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds, and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, and don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode. Got all that? Great, let's talk about what we went over today: Chinese stocks were up, Ant is going public in both Hong Kong and Shanghai, and eBay is looking to offload its classified-ads unit for $8 billion. The efforts to make TikTok appear apolitical are struggling after its parent company does something very political. Xpeng, a Chinese EV company, added $500 million to its Series C round. Coming up: TechCrunch Early Stage, which is going to rule, and a host of earnings results from companies like Microsoft, Snap, Intel, among others. Funding rounds from Vestr, Mori, Soterea, and Burn To Give. More notes on the Vestr round here, Mori here, Soterea here, and Burn To Give here. And we closed the show with a short thought-bubble on manias. What constitutes a bubble? I don't know precisely, but the electric car (EV) industry has certainly seen its fair share of ups and downs. China's EV market has see its booms and busts, with the IPO of Nio operating as a good example of enthusiasm (its IPO), declining faith (its later cratering share price), and the rebirth of optimism (its recent return-to-form) in its industry. Xpeng's huge new Series C+ round and the huge valuation that Tesla has managed as a public company in recent months add currency to the idea that the EV market has once again swung towards too much optimism. We'll see.
20 July 2020 •
llo and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week was full of news of all sorts, but as we recorded both Danny and Natasha were still locked out of their Twitter accounts after a proletariat revolution on the social platform saw the ruling Blue Checkmark Class forced into silence. That's not really what happened, but it sounds better than actually went down at Big Social. Anyway, Twitter accounts or not, the three of us gathered to parse through a wave of news: The new TechCrunch List that Danny spent a very long time compiling has arrived! It's live! You can find it here. It is good. And, if you want to know which VCs were even more fêted by founders, head here. (If you are irked that you did not make either list, please email Danny, not the show!) Moving on, Google is putting billions into Reliance Jio after every other company in the world did the same. Google is buying a bit less of the Indian telecom than the search giant, but between the two of them it's been more than $10 billion in dealmaking. Perhaps Reliance Jio is done raising money? At last? Udemy is hunting up more capital at a higher valuation, reports say, providing Natasha with the perfect moment to let us know what is going with edtech. Turning to funding rounds, I was hype about the Macro round that TechCrunch covered this week, Danny wanted to chat about The Browser Company's similarly-sized $5 million round, and Natasha talked us through LiteBoxer's combined $6 million in new capital. Closing, we talked about IPOs for a hot second. The IPO window is open, and now that nCino and GoHealth have gone public, we want to know who is next. It was a lovely time and there is a bit of show news. Namely that Equity is coming back to YouTube either this week or the next. So if you want to see us talk, soon you will be able to! Again! Oh, and follow the show on Twitter. If you can, that is.
17 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our week-starting primer in which we go over the latest news, dig into the week ahead, talk about some neat funding rounds and dive into the latest big news from the startup world. (You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, if you are so inclined! Don’t forget to check out last Friday’s episode as well. All the cool kids are doing it.) Some weekends are slow. This weekend was not. Here's the round-up of news that we had to talk about: Qualcomm pours capital into India's Reliance Jio, which has now raised $15.7 billion in the past three months. Google intends to invest $10 billion into India over the next five to seven years, looking to put capital to work in through a mix of "a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments" via a new "Google for India Digitization Fund." And, Google has education plans in India. India! It's a big deal! WeWork might turn cash flow positive in 2021. That's still a ways from now, but it does go to show that deep under the flesh of whatever WeWork claimed to be during its 2019 IPO process, there was a real company somewhere in its bones. How large a company is not clear. UIPath raised $225 million in a Series E that values it at over $10 billion. The company's ARR has quadrupled to $400 million in the past few years. Finally, US tech's response to the Hong Kong "security" law that isn't. Up ahead we have a fascinating earnings season, one that the media doesn't expect to go very well. Stocks were up as we wrote the show, so it appears that Wall Street is more bullish than worried. We'll see. Netflix reports later this week. Then, next week, we really get underway with Snap, IBM, Microsoft, and others. We also touched on three funding rounds: More money for cancer-focusedAI startup Paige, $6.3 million for FitXR to keep working on its fitness VR work, and this small round from Russia, which reminded us that you can build a startup even in a failing democracy. https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/10/what-do-investors-bidding-up-tech-shares-know-that-the-rest-of-us-dont/ Wrapping, this earnings season is a big deal. Lots of tech investors are betting that an accelerated digital transformation is going to push most tech shops into a growth curve that makes their equity attractive, even at elevated prices. Quite a lot of capital has been sunk in this idea. We'll see what happens when the numbers come in.
13 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. We wound up having more to talk about than we had time for but we packed as much as we could into 34 minutes. So, climb aboard with Danny, Natasha, and myself for another episode of Equity. Before we get into topics, a reminder that if you are signing up for Extra Crunch and want to save some money, the code "equity" is your friend. Alright, let's get into it: Robinhood is back in the news this week after a New York Times piece dug into its history, product decisions, and more. Tidbits galore are to be had, but the Equity crew wanted to debate the morality of providing exotic financial tooling to less-experienced users. We followed that debate with a dive into immigration, the latest news from the government, and our takes on the matter. TechCrunch has covered the recent news, and provided some context on the broader concept. Our takeaway is that doing self-defeating things for no reason isn't brilliant for the country as a whole. Postmates has a home! After winding up somewhere in the middle of the pack of the on-demand cohort a few years back, the rise of DoorDash put Postmates in a pickle. Happily, Uber was on hand to de-brine the unicorn for $2.65 billion in stock. That's a bit more money than Postmates' last valuation. What we want to know next is how the sale price impacted common stockholders. Email us if you know. Palantir has filed to go public, but privately, so that's really all there is to say about that. Unless you need a history lesson. Finally, funding rounds. We had three this week: MonkeyLearn raising $2.2 million for no-code AI, Quaestor raising $5.8 million for startup financial tooling, and $4.5 million for Mmhmm which is both timely and neat. Whew! Past all that we had some fun, and, hopefully, were of some use. Hugs and chat Monday!
10 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our week-starting primer in which we go over the latest news, dig into the week ahead, talk about some neat funding rounds, and dive into the latest big news from the startup world. (You can follow the show on Twitter here, and myself here, if you are so inclined! Don't forget to check out last Friday's episode as well. All the cool kids are doing it.) What a weekend! After some quiet, somewhat dull off-week periods, this weekend brought us twists and turns that were good fun. Most dealt with a possible Uber-Postmates tie up, so we wrote the show to talk about the transaction's unconfirmed nature. Then, it got confirmed. So, here's the second edition of today's Equity Monday, recast due to the deal's official nature: Uber will buy Postmates for $2.65 billion in an all-stock transaction. Uber shares were up this morning ahead of the open on the wings of the rumor -- wings that beat even harder after the deal was confirmed. Uber investors seem pleased, for now, that after losing out on GrubHub their company has managed to buy a smaller player. Doing so may give Uber more leverage over restaurants and drivers, and boost Uber's H2 2020 revenue numbers that will still be impacted by COVID-19 and its resulting economic impacts. Q3 earnings don't kick off for tech and other VC-backed companies for a bit, and heading into the week the public markets are up. Despite all the bad news. The inverse correlation between bad news (short-term, economic), and stock market gains is slowly moving from joke to sordid reality. This week we're keeping tabs on US and Chinese economic data, the geopolitical situation in Hong Kong and the India-China border, and Q2 VC data as it comes out. We also dug into three funding rounds this morning, detailing Scalefast raising $22 million, DigniFi raising $14 million, and AirVet raising $14 million as well. More international rounds to come, we promise. We wrapped this morning wondering if Postmates can provide a narrative boost to Uber, a company that isn't going to have the best Q2 numbers in its history. With Postmates tucked under its arm going into the earnings call, Uber can double-down on its Uber Eats narrative, flash Postmates around the room, and promise that Rides data will get better as well.
6 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Before we dive in, don't forget that the show is on Twitter now, so follow us there if you want to see discarded headline ideas, outtakes from the that got cut, and more. It's fun! Back to task, listen, we're tired too. But we didn't let that stop us from packing this week's Equity to the very gills with news and notes and jokes and fun. Hopefully you can chuckle along with myself and Natasha and Danny and Chris on the dials as we riffed through all of this: Journalism, venture capitalists, and not being a colossal jerk: Listen in for more, but there's once again a brouhaha in the world of technology twitter and media twitter concerning whether journalists should write more positive things about tech companies (no), and if venture capitalists are a bit too thin-skinned for their net worth (yes). Lemonade's IPO went kaboom out of the gate, more than doubling in value. But the CEO isn't too worried. I spoke with him before we recorded and he was more interested in getting a bedrock of solid, long-term investors than extracting every possible dollar in their raise. And Lemonade had a bunch of money already, so it wasn't a huge concern. We also spent a minute on the possible Uber-Postmates deal, that could get announced early next week. That or Postmates really is serious about going public. We'll see. Next up we had to talk about Mirror, Lululemon, and what's up with home fitness. Is the trend here to stay? Natasha thinks so, and the rest of the crew are pretty bullish as well. Especially as it is not like we are going to get back to life anytime soon. After that it was time to get to a few funding rounds, including the latest from Neo.Tax, and a check-in on the early-stage Lessonbee, which sounds really cool. We also crammed in a quick word on Contrary Capital and startup mafias, the Envision accelerator, Discord's latest $100 million round, and we closed with the Final Luckin Letdown. Whew! Right, that's our ep. Hugs from the team and have a lovely weekend. You are all tremendous and we appreciate you spending part of your day with the four of us.
3 July 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our week-starting primer, in which we go over the latest, look to the week ahead, talk about some neat funding rounds, and dig into the latest on the health of the startup market. Don't forget that you can follow Equity on Twitter, and, as explained in the show, you can sign up for Alex's new TechCrunch newsletter "The Exchange" here. Ok, let's get into what we talked about this morning: The Rothenberg VC scandal is moving towards what feels like a conclusion, with the Department of Justice filing criminal charges against its founder. As TechCrunch reported, "the U.S. Department of Justice has brought two criminal wire fraud charges against him, charges that he made two false statements to a bank, and money laundering charges, all of which could result in a very long time in prison depending on how things play out." Q2 is coming to a close this week, and many American companies are taking Friday off. Expect news to slow into the end of the week. But, this week, South Korean gaming company DoubleDown Interactive is looking to raise $200 million by going public this week in the United States. That's going to be exciting to watch. Instead of picking individual funding rounds, we covered some notes on the Indian startup market. LiveMint, Times of India, and Entrackr all covered recent venture data, showing a booming India edtech market amidst a weaker VC landscape. If it turns out that rest of the world's VC scenes are in similar straits, we could be entering something similar to a VC recession. Finally, Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal is writing about how the stock market actually is tracking the economy. This is counter to the cliche that the stock market isn't the economy. But his argument helps explain something about the startup market that has stuck out for a while, namely why did startup layoffs drop sharply and churn decline quickly in Q2? Well, maybe things got better? And that's Equity for today. We're back Friday morning!
29 June 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week was a bit feisty, but that's only because Danny Crichton and Natasha Mascarenhas and I were all in pretty good spirits. It would have been hard to not be, given how much good stuff there was to chew over. We kicked off with two funding rounds from companies that had received a headwind from COVID-19: Away raises new capital, reported to be $30 million to $40 million after revenue declines Sonder raises $170 million at a higher $1.3 billion valuation after seeing its hospitality business recover Those two rounds, however, represented just one side of the COVID coin. There were also companies busy riding a COVID-tailwind to the tune of new funds: Hopin raised a $40 million Series A as its virtual events business accelerated DoNotPay raised an $18 million round at an $80 million valuation But we had room for one more story. So, we talked a bit about Robinhood, its business model, and the recent suicide of one of its users. It's an awful moment for the family of the human we lost, but also a good moment for Robinhood to batten the hatches a bit on how its service works. https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/23/amidst-robinhoods-planned-service-changes-a-tension-between-growth-and-safety/ How far the company will go, however, in limiting access to certain financial tooling, will be interesting to see. The company generates lots of revenue from its order-flow business, and options are a key part of those incomes. Robinhood is therefore balancing the need to protect its users, and make money from their actions. How they thread this needle will be quite interesting. All that we had a lot of fun. Thanks for tuning in, and follow the show on Twitter!
26 June 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our short-form week-starter in which we go over the weekend, look to the week ahead, talk about some neat funding rounds and dig into what is stuck on our minds. This morning, here's what we talked about: Equity is on Twitter! You can follow us on @EquityPod The COVID-19 pandemic hit a new, worse milestone over the weekend. What is ahead for the global economy is not clear, but the horizon is not clear for startups big and small. Many tech firms in the US took Juneteenth off, limiting recent news, and with WWDC starting today there's going to be something akin to a Cupertino takeover for the next few days. If you don't care about Apple, you can just take some time off. Stocks are heading up this morning, with tech shares testing new records. Mexico's Heartbest raised a $2 million Series A to help develop plant-based dairy replacements, and San Francisco's Acquire raised a $6.4 million Series A to help with its customer success service. Blue Horizon Ventures and Base10 led the rounds, respectively. And, finally, the Hey-Apple drama reaches WWDC today. Apple has signaled that no changes are coming, but the company is in water that feels fractionally hotter with each passing day. What Apple can do to repair relations with developers who are more than a little worried about the megacorp isn't clear. But for startups, the final results of this scrap could really matter. And that is that. Equity is back Friday with more. Have a great week!
22 June 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Your humble Equity team is pretty tired but in good spirits, as there was a lot to talk about this week. But, first, three things to start us off: First: Read this piece from TechCrunch's Megan Rose Dickey about Juneteenth and tech companies. This podcast is going out on Juneteenth, so before you hit play, please take a minute to learn more about the day and its significance. Second: Danny and Arman from the TechCrunch team have finally launched TechCrunch List, a huge effort to determine which investors are really willing to write early checks. You can find out more here. Third: Equity is now on Twitter. Follow us here or understand that you are not cool. All that said, here's what we talked about on the show: Epic Games is looking to raise a huge stack of cash (Bloomberg, VentureBeat) at a new, higher valuation. We were curious about how its lower-cut store could help it gain inroads with developers big and small. That part of the chat, the take-rate of the Fortnite parent company on the work of others was very cogent to the other main topic of the day: Apple vs. DHH. So Hey launched this week, and the new spin on email quickly overshadowed its product launch by getting into a spat with Apple about whether it needs to add the ability to sign up for the paid service on iOS, thus giving Apple a cut of its revenue. DHH and crew do not agree. Apple is under fire for anti-competitive practices at home and abroad -- of varying intensity, and from different sources -- making this all the more spicy. Upgrade raises $40 million for its credit-focused neobank. Degreed raises $32 million for its upskilling platform. And, at the end, our take on the current health of the startup market. There have been a sheaf of reports lately about what is going on in startup land. We gave our take. And that's that. Have a lovely weekend and catch up on some sleep.
19 June 2020 •
Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our short-form week-starter in which we go over the weekend, look to the week ahead, talk about some neat funding rounds, and dig into what is stuck on our minds. So, by section then: The Weekend: The market narrative seems to have changed from optimism to pessimism, impacting stock prices and possibly closing the IPO window some, after it had unexpectedly opened. Quibi news is out that isn't great: The mobile-first launch that came during a lockdown hasn't helped the hugely-funded service that had to convince th