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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 29, 2021. Have you ever wanted to ditch civilization and move to the woods, but still be able to work? We have good news if that’s you. Below you’ll find lots more, including Facebook’s latest product offering and how one startup wants to save bees. Enjoy! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Duolingo is going public! Well-known edtech unicorn Duolingo is going public. TechCrunch has an overview of the IPO and a deeper dive into the company’s business health. Based on traffic to our coverage on the matter since last night, ya’ll are really into learning languages. Also make sure to check out the Duolingo EC-1.
- Facebook launches newsletters: Say hello to Bulletin, Facebook’s new newsletter service. Competing with Substack, Twitter’s Revu and other services, Facebook signed up a Boomer-friendly list of initial authors including Malcolm Gladwell. The social giant has a history of testing in-house versions of products that are successful externally. We’ll have to wait and see if Bulletin manages to survive on its own merit.
- SpaceX plans to spend billions on Starlink: According to Elon Musk, SpaceX is losing money on early Starlink connector kits. Starlink is the space company’s low-orbit satellite network that could bring about global internet connectivity. Per TechCrunch reporting of Musk’s comments, “SpaceX’s overall investment in the project could be between $5 billion-$10 billion initially and as much as $30 billion over time.” For the sake of freelancers everywhere, let’s hope the tech shakes out to match the investment.
Up top today in our roundup of recent startup news is Beeflow. We’re putting it at the top of the list because (1) It’s about bees and (2) It’s called Beeflow. What’s not to love? Per Jordan Crook, the startup may have an answer to the decimation of the global bee population. And it might make money to boot.
Now, the rest of the news:
- Europe’s early-stage market is on fire: That’s the takeaway from a recent TechCrunch dig into the continent’s venture capital trade. So is Latin America’s and the United States’. In brief, the regional startup zones of the world are becoming increasingly blurred thanks to Zoom deal-making; what was once true in one place may now be the case in every hub.
- Zomato to drop $100M on Grofer: The Indian tech scene is busy these days, with Manish Singh reporting that IPO-headed food-delivery giant Zomato intends to invest $100 million in online grocer Grofer. Grofer would become a unicorn in the transaction.
- SentinelOne could be worth $10 billion in its IPO: That’s the latest on the SentinelOne public debut, which we’ve looked at here and dug into the pricing of here. The cybersecurity company’s IPO could help kick off a hot third quarter for IPOs more generally, especially at the prices at which it is set to debut.
- $10M to teach soft skills with VR: That’s the latest on Virti, which wants to turn “a lot of subjectively assessed skills into more objective and measurable” outputs. VR is cool, and soft skills matter. Let’s see what their union can bring. Please, no “Black Mirror” jokes.
- Givingli raises $3M for greeting card tech: Not every venture capital round is large. Some are small enough to fit into an envelope. That’s the case with Givingli’s latest round, which should give the digital card and gifting app more room to build out its service.
How VCs can get the most out of co-investing alongside LPs
In a recent private equity survey, 80% of respondents said their co-investments with people outside traditional VC firms outperformed their PE fund investments.
Alternative investors are highly motivated, and because they’re seeking higher returns than are generally available in public markets, they are less daunted by risk. In return, they benefit from less expensive fee structures and develop close ties with VCs, enlarging the talent pool as they build investment skills.
These relationships have direct benefits for VCs as well, such as more flexibility with diversification and consolidated decision-making power.
“With the right deal structure, deal selection and deal investigation, co-investors can significantly increase their returns,” says C5 Capital Managing Partner William Kilmer, who wrote an Extra Crunch post for VCs considering an alternative path.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Turning from the smaller upstarts to the megagiants, it’s been a good week to be a Big Tech company. Facebook crossed the $1 trillion market cap threshold, though it dipped back under the magic number this afternoon. Here’s what else is going on from the Bigs:
- Shopify cuts its cut to 0%: Shopify will charge zero for developers’ first million in revenue that they make on its application marketplace. The move fits into a larger trend of app stores lowering their cuts as Apple fights tooth and nail to avoid doing the same with its own application emporium. The Shopify news is probably more aimed at e-commerce rival Amazon than Apple, but the move still gently undercuts Cupertino’s argument that it deserves around a third of all commerce that happens on iOS.
- AI developers are coming: News out today from Microsoft’s GitHub product is notable, with the sub-org announcing an AI-powered tool that “suggests code as you type.” GitHub teamed up with OpenAI to build the tool. For beginners, the coding service could prove to be super freaking neat.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
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If you’re curious about how these surveys are shaping our coverage, check out this interview Extra Crunch Managing Editor Eric Eldon did with Scott Tong, “The pandemic showed why product and brand design need to sit together.”