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Extra Crunch roundup: StockX EC-1, Early Stage recaps, unpacking Alkami’s IPO, more

Over the last few days, we’ve published several articles recapping panels from last week’s TechCrunch Early Stage virtual conference.
Each story is based on an interview with a founder or investor who addressed some of the most common startup dilemmas. Predictably, they’re mostly focused on the how and why:
How do I get into an accelerator? When should I hire a sales team? What’s the best way to earn attention from investors?
TechCrunch reporter Natasha Mascarenhas interviewed Kleiner Perkins partner Bucky Moore to get sector-agnostic advice for founders who are ready to raise a Series A.

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Scale CEO Alex Wang and Accel’s Dan Levine explain why sometimes unconventional VC deals are best

Few companies have done better than Scale at spotting a need in the AI gold rush early on and filling that gap. The startup rightly identified that one of the tasks most important to building effective AI at scale — the laborious exercise of tagging data sets to make them usable in properly training new AI agents — was one that companies focused on that area of tech would also be most willing to outsource. CEO and co-founder Alex Wang credits their success since founding, which includes raising over $277 million and achieving break-even status in terms of revenue, to early support from …

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Mortgage is suddenly sexy as SoftBank pumps $500M in Better.com at $6B valuation

Digital mortgage lender Better.com has raised a $500 million round from Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank that values the company at $6 billion.
The financing is notable for a few reasons. For one, that new $6 billion valuation,  is up 50% from the $4 billion it was valued at last November when it raised $200 million in Series D financing. It’s also up tenfold from its $600 million valuation at the time of its Series C raise in August 2019.
Secondly, it’s further proof that mortgage – a traditionally “unsexy” industry that has long been in need of disruption – is officially hot. For all its controversy, when …

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Extra Crunch roundup: Tonal EC-1, Deliveroo’s rocky IPO, is Substack really worth $650M?

For this morning’s column, Alex Wilhelm looked back on the last few months, “a busy season for technology exits” that followed a hot Q4 2020.
We’re seeing signs of an IPO market that may be cooling, but even so, “there are sufficient SPACs to take the entire recent Y Combinator class public,” he notes.
Once we factor in private equity firms with pockets full of money, it’s evident that late-stage companies have three solid choices for leveling up.
Seeking more insight into these liquidity options, Alex interviewed:

DigitalOcean CEO Yancey Spruill, whose company went public via IPO.
Latch …

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Want to take a road trip with Kevin Costner? Investors are betting you will

Woody Sears has long been interested in storytelling. Following the debut in 2007 of the first iPhone, he founded a storytelling app called Zuuka that built up a library of narrated and illustrated kids’ books for the iPhone and iPad.
Sears later sold that company to a small New York-based outfit. But Sears, who is based in Santa Barbara, California, isn’t done with stories yet. Instead, he just raised $1.6 million in seed funding for his second and newest storytelling startup, HearHere, a subscription-based audio road-trip app that, with users’ permission, pushes information to them as they’re driving, giving them …

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Three ways VC firms can construct sustainably diverse portfolios

Leslie Feinzaig
Contributor

Venture capital has a diversity problem: Data show that Black and Latinx founders received just 2.6% of overall funding in 2020. Women-founded teams received nearly 30% less funding in 2020 than they did in 2019.
For decades, a close-knit community of brilliant but like-minded individuals built a system of pattern recognition. It produced high-growth companies with homogenous leadership teams. They called it meritocracy. Those of us who didn’t fit the profile were told, or were left to assume, that we didn’t have what it takes.
When a founder needs funding but investors don’t think they “have what it takes,” …

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Tech in Mexico: A confluence of Latin America, the US and Asia

Kevin Xu
Contributor

Kevin Xu is an early-stage investor and founder of Interconnected, a bilingual newsletter covering tech, business and U.S.-Asia relations.

Mexico has been known as an up-and-coming tech hub and a gateway to the Latin American market. As an investor focused on developer-centered products, open-source startups and infrastructure technology companies with a particular interest in emerging market innovation, I have been wanting to do some firsthand learning there.
So, despite the ongoing pandemic, I took all the necessary precautions and spent roughly seven weeks in Mexico from January to March. I spent most of my time …

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Daily Crunch: Tiger Global raises one of the biggest venture funds ever

Tiger Global closes a $6.65 billion fund, Facebook gives users more tools to encourage COVID vaccination and iPhone app spending continues to grow. This is your Daily Crunch for April 1, 2021.
The big story: Tiger Global raises one of the biggest venture funds ever
Investment giant Tiger Global had already announced that it was raising $3.75 billion for its thirteenth venture fund, but a new SEC filing showed that it ended up raising much more than that — $6.65 billion.
Perhaps that’s no surprise, given how active the firm has been. Just this week, it’s been announced as the lead or co-lead in …

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For VC Hans Tung, the personal becomes public in a growing campaign to ‘stop Asian hate’

Longtime venture capitalist Hans Tung is a big guy. His size might just be lifesaving.
A first-generation Taiwanese-American who came to the U.S. and to LA specifically in 1984, it was a fraught time for the then 14-year-old. Two years earlier, a 27-year-old, Chinese-American draftsman named Vincent Chin was beaten to death in Detroit by a Chrysler plant supervisor and his stepson, a laid-off autoworker, who reportedly believed that Chin was of Japanese descent and were angry over the growing success of Japan’s auto industry. He was killed the night of his own bachelor party.
Anti-Asian sentiment may have …

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Sarah Kunst will outline how to get ready to fundraise at Early Stage

Sarah Kunst, founding partner at Cleo Capital, has worn many hats. She’s been an entrepreneur, served on plenty of boards, is a contributing author at Marie Clare, has been a senior advisor to Bumble and worked as a consultant in marketing, business development and more.
With all that experience, she knows all too well that the process of fundraising starts well before your first pitch meeting. That’s why we’re so excited to have Kunst join us at Early Stage in July to discuss how to get ready to fundraise.
This isn’t the first time Kunst has …

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