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Happy Wednesday, friends! It was another super-busy day in the tech world. I had my sights on Squarespace’s public debut, as well as the value of Coinbase’s stock, which may be tracking the price of bitcoin a bit more literally than some folks expected. And if you are a long-term crypto holder, congrats on the buying opportunity. If you are a short-term crypto holder, yes, you can have a drink now regardless of what time it is. -- Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Whatsapp v. India: The scrap between Facebook’s Whatsapp service and the Indian government continued today as the nation-state “once again directed the Facebook-owned company to withdraw the planned update.”
Telehealth + fertility: Famous for its initial men’s health products, Ro (née Roman) purchased Modern Fertility today, a fertility-focused startup founded in 2017. Our question is how Ro’s telehealth approach will fit with reproductive health.
Squarespace flops: Squarespace’s direct listing set a reference price of $50, valuing the company sharply lower than its final private price ($10 billion, set earlier this year). Then its stock fell further.
From the TechCrunch Events side of things, Tess Hatch, a vice president and partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, is coming to Disrupt. Which is very hype.
Startups and VC
We’re shaking things up today and talking about product first and venture capital rounds second. Sound good?
First up is Otter.ai’s new product: Otter Assistant. It can transcribe your Zoom calls. For reporters, this is huge as a note-taking tool. But it will likely find even broader remit in the business world. Don’t forget that Otter raised $50 million just a few months ago. (For more on the voice transcription space, check out Deepgram’s 2020-era funding round.)
Second in the product category, Liquid Instruments has raised $13.7 million to bring its Moku:Go product to classrooms and labs everywhere. What does the Go do? It “combines several commonly used tools into one compact package, saving room on your workbench or classroom while also providing a modern, software-configurable interface,” TechCrunch reported.
Moving onto some purely financial coverage from startup-land, here are four neat rounds we dug into more deeply:
$20M for Assignar: Construction tech is a busy sector, not merely because the construction sector is itself rather active; the digital transformation push that we’ve seen around the business is also touching down in the world of mortar and bricks. Its software helps contractors and subcontractors “connect to the field and vice versa,” according to its CEO Sean McCreanor.
Why do we care? Fellow construction tech player Procore is going public as we speak. So the market that Assignar is playing in is active in both early- and late-stage terms.
$150M for Formlabs: 3D printing has come of age, it appears, as Massachusetts-based Formlabs closed a nine-figure round for its printing tech. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led the round, which values the company at around $2 billion.
Why do we care? Formlabs wants to improve 3D printing machines while also making them cheaper. If it can pull that off, whole sectors could be shaken up.
$50M for Super: If you own a home, you are familiar with how rapidly entropy will ensure that you have a regular stream of repair bills. Why not convert those into a monthly subscription? That’s what Super is working to do, and now it has cash to pursue its vision after growing 7x since last April.
Why do we care? The subscription push is far more than merely an enterprise-software affair, or something related to consumer entertainment. Anything as a service is where we are in 2021.
$250M for Pipe: Pipe is a platform that allows companies to sell their future, predictable revenue streams to investors. It’s best known for working with SaaS companies, but is expanding into other business types as well.
Why do we care? Pipe has been growing at a torrid pace, and raising capital at a similar clip. It’s either onto something super huge, or the market for financial products is just bonkers for now. Either way, it’s an interesting option for software startups hunting for cash.
5 innovative fundraising methods for emerging VCs and PEs
According to David Teten, founder of Versatile VC, five new strategies are gaining traction among fund managers looking to raise capital from family offices and high-net-worth individuals:
Online communities and virtual events.
Platforms that help other investors access your fund.
Soliciting under the 506(c) designation.
Launching a rolling fund.
Crowdfunding from retail investors into a general partnership.
In a summary of a class he taught for the Oper8r VC fund accelerator, Teten offers actionable advice for anyone who wants to connect with pre-qualified investors.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
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Big Tech Inc.
Today from the world of Big Tech, we’re pausing to listen to our own Editor in Chief Matthew Panzarino discuss the new iPad Pro, which he thinks has amazing hardware:
Screen: “The mini-LED-driven Liquid Retina XDR display is probably the best display that’s ever shipped on a mobile computer. It’s just fantastic.”
Speed: “The M1 chip is absolutely blistering.”
Imaging: “The new iPad Pro cameras are pretty fantastic; both front and back are now very usable and the new front camera especially benefits from an increase in resolution and new wide-angle optics.”
Keyboard: “The overall feel of the keyboard is still great, a really nice typing experience.”
But then there’s the software. Which Panzarino is not stoked about. It’s aging, he argues:
The other side of this coin that isn’t so shiny is the iPad’s aging software. It’s just as good as it was when I wrote my review of the iPad Pro in 2020 — at which point my conclusions were “you can adapt to it but it could be better.” That was a year ago. As someone who has used it as my only portable machine for the last two and a half years, I can tell you that this is a very long time to wait for a big leap forward in capability.
I have a very simple ask for the iPad’s software: I want to feel the same energy, vivacity and pure performance for the sake of peak performance that the hardware side exhibits.
Apple has now come to the crossroad that Microsoft tried to meet with Windows 8 and failed; how do you build an OS that serves either two form factors (touch and mobile, and desktop) well, or two OSs that can share enough third-party software so that neither is neglected? We’ll know more at WWDC.
Turns out nothing announced this week will get you to move over to Android from iOS. Fair enough. Now we ask … what do you think is going on with cryptocurrency?
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