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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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PingPong is a video chat app for product teams working across multiple time zones

From the earliest days of the pandemic, it was no secret that video chat was about to become a very hot space.
Over the past several months investors have bankrolled a handful of video startups with specific niches, ranging from always-on office surveillance to platforms that encouraged plenty of mini calls to avoid the need for more lengthy team-wide meetings. As the pandemic wanes and plenty of startups begin to look toward hybrid office models, there are others who have decided to lean into embracing a fully remote workforce, a strategy that may require new tools.
PingPong, a recent launch …

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Well that was a crazy week

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading.
Well that was a crazy week
I may be getting older, but it does seem that the pace of tech news has gotten stuck in top-gear. It’s bonkers. Think about how small a splash the news that WeWork is going public via a SPAC made. It was small potatoes in the broader rush of happenings that blasted past us over the last seven days.
Y Comabinator’s Demo …

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The disconnect between Y Combinator Demo Day and due diligence

Within 48 hours, the startup world experienced two momentous events: Y Combinator’s largest Demo Day ever, and the early investor exodus of Dispo, a photo-sharing app. Both events, while seemingly unrelated, taught us a lot about the importance, and difficulty, of due diligence in our current world.
For background, early investors in Dispo distanced from the startup after a key investigation unearthed allegations around co-creator and popular YouTuber, David Dobrik. Per venture capitalists I spoke to, the move to “sever all ties” with Dispo was unprecedented.

So what’s the impact here? It’s a rude awakening on the importance …

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Extra Crunch roundup: Clubhouse UX teardown, YC Demo Day favorites, proptech VC survey, more

Since the pandemic began, I have been pushing the limits of my imagination to try to picture what cities will look and feel like in the coming years.
If your town looks like San Francisco, where I live, it’s a pressing question: Our once-bustling financial district is a ghost town, but even in outer neighborhoods, the number of vacant storefronts is unsettling. People are starting to emerge after sheltering in place for a year, but we are a long way from fully restoring our shared spaces.
What’s going to happen to those semi-vacant office towers, some of which …

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Our favorite companies from Y Combinator’s W21 Demo Day: Part 2

We’ve reached the end of Y Combinator’s biggest Demo Day, which saw more than 300 companies pitching back-to-back over eight hours.
Earlier, we highlighted some of the companies that caught our eye in the first half of the day. Now we’re back with our favorite companies from the second half. From a marketplace to help you resell formalwear to a startup that offers self-driving street cleaners, it’s quite the mix.

If you’d like to browse all of the companies from this batch YC has a catalog of publicly-launched W21 companies here.
Terra
Heading into this particular …

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Y Combinator widens its bet in edtech in latest batch

Y Combinator is slowly growing its stake in education companies, as the sector balloons with newfound demand from remote learners. In its latest batch, the famed accelerator had its highest number of edtech startups yet: 14 companies from around the world, working on everything from teacher monetization to homework apps to ways to train software engineers in an affordable fashion.
While Y Combinator isn’t the definitive source on what success in early-stage startups looks like — it quite literally has a post-mortem dinner after Demo Day to celebrate failure — it does serve well in providing an illustrative glance of how entrepreneurs …

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Sivo, a young “Stripe for debt” led by a veteran operator, seems to have investors clamoring

Kate Hiscox is having a moment. Her company, Sivo, founded eight months ago, has already raised $5 million from investors at a post-money valuation of $100 million, and she is in active talks with others who would like her to consider accepting Series A funding from them.
Partly, the attention owes to the fact that Hiscox is part of the newest graduating class of the popular accelerator Y Combinator, along with roughly 350 other companies, and if there’s anything venture capitalists like, it’s freshly minted YC grads. Partly, fintech continues to be seen as a hugely lucrative area of investment.
But …

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Arist adds $2M to its seed round to grow its SMS-based training service

This morning Arist, a startup that sells software allowing other organizations to offer SMS-based training to staff, announced that it has extended its seed round to $3.9 million after adding $2 million to its prior raise.
TechCrunch has covered the company modestly before this seed-extension, noting that it was part of the CRV-backed Liftoff List, and reporting on some of its business details when it took part in a recent Y Combinator demo day.
Something that stood out in our notes on the company when it presented at the accelerator’s graduation event was its economics, with our piece noting that the …

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