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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 15, 2021. Today we have everything in the newsletter. Bad behavior in the crypto world? Yep. Why the Mailchimp deal might make good sense? You bet.
But before we get into the mix, a few TechCrunch notes. First, Jordan Crook’s regular series of streamed chats with investors and founders is now called TechCrunch Live. And Chamath Palihapitiya is coming to Disrupt. Which is in less than a week!
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Today in bad actors: Want to know if you are living in overheated times? Check for a rise in fraud and related bad behavior. And oh boy has there been news in the last day. Startup App Annie will pay $10 million in SEC fines for securities fraud. Which is Not Good. And NFT marketplace OpenSea ate a buffet of crow earlier today when it admitted that an executive at the concern was front-running NFT sales.
Maybe the Intuit-Mailchimp deal is not dumb? Sure, TechCrunch’s first reaction to the news that TurboTax parent company Intuit wants to spend $12 billion on Mailchimp was skeptical. But Ron Miller hit up a bunch of smart folks, and there was more positive sentiment to be recorded than we might have guessed.
Tech companies are still going public: We’re waiting for Toast and Freshworks and Warby Parker to get their debuts launched, but other companies aren’t waiting for a clear news cycle. Secondary share marketplace Forge is going public via a SPAC, so we had to take a look.
First things first, more news from the BNPL beat. Yes, the method of paying for a transaction in installments is still making news. This time it’s Ascend raising $5.5 million to bring BNPL services to the commercial insurance world. Recent liquidity in the fintech market could help drive fresh venture interest in coming quarters.
Sendcloud raises $177M for SaaS: No, not that SaaS. Shipping as a service, in Sendcloud’s space. The Dutch startup now flush with SoftBank cash “has built a service [that provides] a cloud-based platform to easily organize and carry out shipping services by choosing from a wide range of carriers and other options.” It sounds a bit like a European Shippo?
Rivian proves it’s not vaporware: After raising dump trucks worth of capital, Rivian’s first production R1T electric pickup has rolled off the line. It’s a big moment for the company and sets Rivian apart from a host of other EV companies that hope to match its new milestone. Also apparently there is a color called Rivian Blue, and I am here for it.
Clubhouse hires head of news: NPR vet Nina Gregory has taken on the role of Clubhouse’s head of News and Media Publishers, TechCrunch reports. Her role will be to work with both the social platform and news orgs. Perhaps her job would be a smidgen easier if Clubhouse backer a16z wasn’t so antagonistic toward the media. But, hey, the hire still makes good sense.
Speaking of news, SmartNews is now worth $2 billion: Sure, media is a trash business — mostly — but perhaps media aggregation is the golden ticket. Investors just put $230 million into news aggregator SmartNews, giving it a shiny new valuation. I have a soft spot for SmartNews as we partnered with them back in the Crunchbase News days, but past that, I am impressed and curious how it is going to generate the revenue needed to surpass its new price tag.
Airbase further differentiates itself from Brex, Ramp: The corporate spend wars are good fun because there are a number of startups in the space that are growing quickly, raising money and making deals. And they are increasingly carving up their market. Airbase just built some new capabilities that may help it attack larger customers than what some of its rivals appear to have their eyes on.
Finally today, Inspired Capital has raised a second fund just two years after its first.
5 things you need to win your first customer
Congratulations on shipping your product, but how much do you know about your target customers?
Companies that haven’t created an ideal customer profile and performed a SWOT analysis are making big bets on guesswork and intuition. Sometimes that works out, but more frequently, it leads to tears.
In a guest post that walks readers through the fundamentals of creating customer personals that map to your company’s goals, Grammarly product marketing lead Bryan Dsouza shares five basic requirements for customer acquisition.
“Understanding and executing on these things can guarantee you that first customer win, provided you do them well and with sincerity,” he says. “Your investors will also see the fruits of your labor and be comforted knowing their dollars are at good work.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Want some government news? Yes, you do. Trust me. This stuff matters:
Semiconductor sovereignty is a phrase that you should get used to reading: Back in the day, the ability for a nation to feed itself was pretty dang important. It’s less so today thanks to global trade. Taking its place in the Maslowian hierarchy of national needs is semiconductor The ability for a nation or bloc to make all the chips that it needs. Why? Because we’re in a global semiconductor crunch, and China is making waves — literally — about Taiwan, where much of the world’s silicon is manufactured. And Europe is looking to get its own processor hour in order.
Sticking to Europe, Ireland is looking into how TikTok handles data. Why? Because it has questions about data from children and about what sort of transfers might happen with China.
The founder and CEO of social media app Dispo, Daniel Liss, thinks that “the FDA should regulate Instagram’s algorithm as a drug.”
Finally, in less controversial news, Walmart wants to work with Ford and Argo AI on autonomous deliveries. Which I am in favor of as it sounds like a way to get closer to self-driving cars.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
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We’re excited to read more responses as they come in! Fill out the survey here.
Our editorial coverage about growth marketing includes articles from the TechCrunch team, guest columns and posts like “In growth marketing, signal determines success” by Jonathan Martinez.
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