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Daily Crunch: Amazon Web Services stumble - techcrunch

Daily Crunch: Amazon Web Services stumble

An Amazon Web Services outage has a wide effect, Salesforce might be buying Slack and Pinterest tests new support for virtual events. This is your Daily Crunch for November 25, 2020. And for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving: Enjoy! There will be no newsletter tomorrow, and then Darrell Etherington will be filling in for […]
techcrunch - 2 hours ago
Flexible expressions could lift 3D-generated faces out of the uncanny valley - techcrunch

Flexible expressions could lift 3D-generated faces out of the uncanny valley

3D-rendered faces are a big part of any major movie or game now, but the task of capturing and animated them in a natural way can be a tough one. Disney Research is working on ways to smooth out this process, among them a machine learning tool that makes it much easier to generate and […]
techcrunch - 4 hours ago
Remote-controlled delivery carts are now working for the local Los Angeles grocer - techcrunch

Remote-controlled delivery carts are now working for the local Los Angeles grocer

Robots are no longer the high-tech tools reserved for university labs, e-commerce giants and buzzy Silicon Valley startups. The local grocer now has access too. Tortoise, the one-year-old Silicon Valley startup known for its remote repositioning electric scooters, has taken its tech and adapted it to delivery carts. The company recently partnered with online grocery […]
techcrunch - 5 hours ago
France starts collecting tax on tech giants - techcrunch

France starts collecting tax on tech giants

France is going forward with its plan to tax big tech companies. The government has sent out notices to tech giants, as reported by the Financial Times, Reuters and AFP. There could be retaliation tariffs on French goods in the U.S. For the past couple of years, France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has been […]
techcrunch - 6 hours ago
As IBM shifts to hybrid cloud, reports have them laying off 10,000 in EU - techcrunch

As IBM shifts to hybrid cloud, reports have them laying off 10,000 in EU

As IBM makes a broad shift in strategy, Bloomberg reported this morning that the company would be cutting around 10,000 jobs in Europe. This comes on the heels of last month’s announcement that the organization will be spinning out its infrastructure services business next year. While IBM wouldn’t confirm the layoffs, a spokesperson suggested that […]
techcrunch - 6 hours ago
Insurtech’s big year gets bigger as Metromile looks to go public - techcrunch

Insurtech’s big year gets bigger as Metromile looks to go public

In the wake of insurtech unicorn Root’s IPO, it felt safe to say that the big transactions for the insurance technology startup space were done for the year. After all, 2020 had been a big one for the broad category, with insurtech marketplaces raising lots, rental insurance startup Lemonade going public, Root itself debuting even […]
techcrunch - 7 hours ago
Amazon Web Services outage takes a portion of the internet down with it - techcrunch

Amazon Web Services outage takes a portion of the internet down with it

Amazon Web Services is currently having an outage, taking a chunk of the internet down with it. Several AWS services were experiencing problems as of early Wednesday, according to its status page. That means any app, site or service that relies on AWS might also be down, too. (As I found out the hard way […]
techcrunch - 8 hours ago
Slack’s stock climbs on possible Salesforce acquisition - techcrunch

Slack’s stock climbs on possible Salesforce acquisition

News that Salesforce is interested in buying Slack, the popular workplace chat company, sent shares of the smaller firm sharply higher today. Slack shares are up just under 25% at the moment, according to Yahoo Finance data. Slack is worth $36.95 per share as of the time of writing, valuing it at around $20.8 billion. […]
techcrunch - 8 hours ago
Instead of Yule log, watch this interactive dumpster fire because 2020 - techcrunch

Instead of Yule log, watch this interactive dumpster fire because 2020

The holiday seasons is upon us and with that comes stress, anxiety, and the airing of grievances. And this year is worse. Instead of watching a yule log smolder in a warm hearth, we’re all stuck in our homes watching the world burn. Instead of yelling into the void, try this interactive dumpster fire instead. […]
techcrunch - 9 hours ago
Join us for a live Q&A with Sapphire’s Jai Das on Tuesday at 2 pm ET/11 am PT - techcrunch

Join us for a live Q&A with Sapphire’s Jai Das on Tuesday at 2 pm ET/11 am PT

Sure, we’re heading into a holiday weekend here in America, but that doesn’t mean that the good ship TechCrunch is going to slow down. We’re diving right back in next week with another installment in season two of Extra Crunch Live, our regular interview series with startup founders, venture capitalists, and other leaders from the […]
techcrunch - 10 hours ago
Cast.ai nabs $7.7M seed to remove barriers between public clouds - techcrunch

Cast.ai nabs $7.7M seed to remove barriers between public clouds

When you launch an application in the public cloud, you usually put everything on one provider, but what if you could choose the components based on cost and technology and have your database one place and your storage another? That’s what Cast.ai says that it can provide, and today it announced a healthy $7.7 million […]
techcrunch - 10 hours ago
Amazon expands IP Accelerator to Europe after US SMBs register 6,000 trademarks - techcrunch

Amazon expands IP Accelerator to Europe after US SMBs register 6,000 trademarks

As we head into the biggest shopping period of the year — which this year may well have an even stronger online component than usual because of Covid-19 — Amazon has launched its latest effort to combat the sale of counterfeit goods on its site. The e-commerce giant today announced that its free IP Accelerator […]
techcrunch - 12 hours ago
Tiger Global invests in India’s Unacademy at $2 billion valuation - techcrunch

Tiger Global invests in India’s Unacademy at $2 billion valuation

Unacademy, an online learning platform in India, has added two more marquee investors to its cap table. The Bangalore-based startup, which focuses on K-12 online education, said on Wednesday it has raised new funds from Tiger Global Management and Dragoneer Investment Group. The funding round, the size of which was not disclosed, valued the four-and-a-half-year-old […]
techcrunch - 12 hours ago
Coinbase disables margin trading following guidance from Commodity Futures Trading Commission - techcrunch

Coinbase disables margin trading following guidance from Commodity Futures Trading Commission

Just a few months after launching margin trading on Coinbase Pro, the company is disabling the feature. Margin trading lets you trade on leverage. But it works both ways — margin trading lets you multiply your gains and your losses. Starting on November 25, 2pm PT, users won’t be able to place new margin trades. […]
techcrunch - 15 hours ago
WeGift, the ‘incentive marketing’ platform, collects $8M in new funding - techcrunch

WeGift, the ‘incentive marketing’ platform, collects $8M in new funding

WeGift, the London-based startup that has built an “incentive marketing” platform that lets businesses easily issue e-gift cards and other digital rewards to customers, has raised $8 million in new funding. Dubbed a Series A extension, the round is led by AlbionVC. Existing investors including Stride.vc, SAP.iO fund and Unilever Ventures also followed on. Following […]
techcrunch - 16 hours ago
As e-bikes boom, FuroSystems raises its first venture funding round ahead of a new model launch - techcrunch

As e-bikes boom, FuroSystems raises its first venture funding round ahead of a new model launch

With COVID-19 making commuters switch to bikes, and cities wanting cleaner air, the e-bike revolution is only just getting started. Further evidence of this is the news that today British e-bike manufacturer FuroSystems has closed its first institutional venture funding round of £750,000 with participation by TSP Ventures and European impact investment bank, ClearlySo, as […]
techcrunch - 16 hours ago
The FCC rejects ZTE’s petition to stop designating it a “national security threat” - techcrunch

The FCC rejects ZTE’s petition to stop designating it a “national security threat”

The Federal Communications Commission has rejected ZTE’s petition to remove its designation as a “national security threat.” This means that American companies will continue to be barred from using the FCC’s $8.3 billion Universal Service Fund to buy equipment and services from ZTE . The Universal Service Fund includes subsidies to build telecommunication infrastructure across […]
techcrunch - 20 hours ago
SpaceX successfully launches a Falcon 9 booster for a record seventh time - techcrunch

SpaceX successfully launches a Falcon 9 booster for a record seventh time

SpaceX has launched yet another Starlink mission, adding 60 more Starlink satellites to its low-Earth orbit constellation. That’s good news for its efforts to blanket the globe in high-speed broadband, and today’s flight is even better news for its equally important ambition of developing more reusable rocket systems, since the first-stage booster that helped launch […]
techcrunch - 22 hours ago
Pinterest tests online events with dedicated ‘class communities’ - techcrunch

Pinterest tests online events with dedicated ‘class communities’

Pinterest is getting into online events. The company has been spotted testing a new feature that allows users to sign up for Zoom classes through Pinterest, while creators use Pinterest’s class boards to organize class materials, notes, and other resources, or even connect with attendees through a group chat option. The company confirmed the test […]
techcrunch - 1 day ago
Police case filed against Netflix executives in India over ‘A Suitable Boy’ kissing scene - techcrunch

Police case filed against Netflix executives in India over ‘A Suitable Boy’ kissing scene

Netflix, which has invested more than $500 million to gain a foothold in India in recent years, is slowly finding out just about what all could upset some people in the world’s second-largest internet market: Apparently everything. A police case has been filed this week against two top executives of the American streaming service in […]
techcrunch - 1 day ago
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techcrunch
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the inventory
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help
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techcrunch
Political strategist turned tech investor Bradley Tusk on SPACs as a tool for VCs

Political strategist turned tech investor Bradley Tusk on SPACs as a tool for VCs

techcrunch - 1 month ago

Bradley Tusk has become known in recent years for being involved in what’s about to get hot, from his early days advising Uber, to writing one of the first checks to the insurance startup Lemonade, to pushing forward the idea that we should be using the smart devices in our pockets to vote.

Indeed, because he’s often at the vanguard, it wasn’t hugely surprising when Tusk, like a growing number of other investors, formed a $300 million SPAC or special acquisition company, one that he and a partner plan to use to target businesses in the leisure, gaming, and hospitality industries.

Because Tusk — a former political operative who ran the successful third mayoral campaign for Michael Bloomberg —  seems adept at seeing around corners, we called him up late last week to ask whether SPACs are here to stay, how a Biden administration might impact the startup investing landscape, and how worried (or not) big tech should be about this election. You can hear the full conversation here. Owing to length, we are featuring solely the part of our conversation that centered on SPACs.

TC: Lemonade went public this summer and its shares, priced at $29, now trade at $70. 

BT: They are down today last I checked. When you only check once in a blue moon, you’re like, ‘Hey, look at how great this is,’ whereas if, like me, you check me every day, you’re like, ‘It lost 4%. Where’s my money?’

We got really lucky; Lemonade was our second deal that we did out of our first fund, and the fact that it IPO’d within four years of the company’s founding is pretty amazing.

TC: Is it amazing? I wonder what it says about the common complaint that the traditional IPO process is bad — is it just an excuse that founders and investors use to keep a company private longer?

BT: [CEO] Daniel Schrieber was very clear that he and [cofounder] Shai Wininger had a strategy from day one to go public as quickly as they possibly could, because in his view, an IPO is supposed to represent kind of the the beginning. It’s the ‘Okay, we’ve proven that there’s product market fit, we’ve proven that there’s customer demand; now let’s see what we can really do with this thing.’ And it’s supposed to be about hope and promise and future and excitement. And if you’ve been a private company for 10 years, and you’re worth tens of billions of dollars and your growth is already starting to flatten out a little bit, it’s just much less exciting for public investors.

The question now for everyone in our business is what happens with Airbnb in a few weeks or whenever they are [staging an IPO]. Will that pixie dust be there, or will they have been around so long that the market is kind of indifferent?

TC: Is that why we’re seeing so many SPACs? Some of that pixie dust is gone. No one knows when the IPO window might shut. Let’s get some of these companies out into the public market while we still can?

BT: No, I don’t I don’t think so. I think SPACs have become a way to raise a lot of money very quickly. It took me two years to raise $37 million for my first venture fund, and three months was the entire process for me to raise $300 million for my SPAC. So it’s a mechanism that that is highly efficient and right now, is popular with public market investors, that there’s just a lot of opportunity out there, and people are grabbing it. In fact, now you’re hearing about people who are planning SPACs having to pull [them] back because there’s a ton of competition right now.

At the end of the day, the fundamentals still rule. If you take a really bad company public through a SPAC, maybe the excitement of the SPAC get you an early pop. But if the company has neither good unit economics nor high growth, there’s no real reason to believe it will be successful. And especially for the people in the SPAC, where they have to hold on to it for a little while, by the time the lockup ends, the world has probably figured out that this is not the greatest IPO of all time. You can’t put lipstick on a pig.

TC: You say you raised the SPAC very quickly. How is the investor profile different than that of a typical venture fund investor?

BT:  The investors for this SPAC — at least when I did the roadshow, and I think I did 28 meetings over a couple of days — is mainly hedge funds and people who don’t really invest in venture at all, so there was no overlap between my [venture fund] LP base and the people who invested in our SPAC that I’m aware of. These are public market investors who are used to moving very quickly. There’s a lot more liquidity in a SPAC. We have two years to acquire something, but ultimately, it’s a public property, so investors can come in and out as they see fit.

TC: So it’s mostly hedge funds that are getting paid management fees to deploy their capital in this comparatively safe way and that are getting interest on the money invested, too, while it’s sitting around in a trust while [the SPAC managers] look for a target company.

BT: Why it kind of does make sense for [them to back] VCs is they are basically making the bet to say: does this person running the SPAC have enough deal flow, enough of a public profile, enough going on that they are going to come across the right target? And venture investors in many ways fit that profile because we just look at so many companies before deploying capital.

TC: Do you have to demonstrate some kind of public markets expertise in order to convince some of these investors that you know what it takes to take a company public and grow it in the public markets?

BT: I guess. We raised the money, so I guess I passed the test. But I did spend a little under two years on Wall Street; I created the lottery privatization group of Lehman Brothers. And my partner [in the SPAC], Christian Goode, has a lot of experience with big gaming companies. But overall, I think that if you are a venture investor with a ton of deal flow and a good track record but very little or no public market experience, I don’t know that that would disqualify you from being able to rate a SPAC.

sauce: techcrunch
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