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Today — December 1st 2020Your RSS feeds

Join us for a live Q&A with Sapphire’s Jai Das right now!

By Alex Wilhelm

We’re live! Check the links below!

Today’s the day! In just a few hours I am chatting with with Jai Das, a managing director at Sapphire Ventures.

The conversation is part of the second season of our Extra Crunch Live series that has seen all sorts of investors and founders join TechCrunch for a dig into their work.

Das’ participation comes at the perfect moment: He invested early in MuleSoft, which sold to Salesforce for $6.5 billion back in 2018. Salesforce is expected to announce its purchase of Slack later today, perhaps before our chat. Either way, we’ll ask Das about selling companies, selling them to Salesforce in particular and what we should take away concerning the enterprise software M&A market from the deal.

Here are notes from the last episode of Extra Crunch Live with Bessemer’s Byron Deeter.

And as we noted last week, we will also dig into the role of corporate venture capital in 2020 and beyond, the state of early-to-growth stage investing as Sapphire leads rounds from Series A to Series C, API-led startups, along with the importance of geographic location in the pandemic for founding teams and more.

It’s going to be fun! And it’s in just a few hours. So make sure that your Extra Crunch login works, hit the jump, save the time to your calendar and submit a question ahead of time if you want me to see your notes before we start. In the meantime, I’m going to find my most Zoom-friendly shirt and run through my intro a few times.

We’re live in mere hours! See you soon.

Details

Below are links to add the event to your calendar and to save the Zoom link. We’ll share the YouTube link shortly before the discussion:

Yesterday — November 30th 2020Your RSS feeds

Reminder: Last chance to save 25% on Extra Crunch membership

By Travis Bernard

Today is the final day of the Green Days Sale. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to save 25% on annual Extra Crunch membership.

You can claim the deal here.

Extra Crunch helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups, get ahead at your job and stay connected to a growing community of founders, investors and startup teams. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily market analysis and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization and other work topics.

Find answers to your burning questions about startups and investing through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletters. Other benefits include an improved TechCrunch.com experience, 20% off future TechCrunch  events and savings on software services from DocSend, Crunchbase and more.

Join our growing community at a discounted rate here.

The Green Days sale is our biggest discount of the year, so don’t snooze on the savings. The sale ends on November 30. If you have questions about the sale or Extra Crunch membership, please contact our customer support team at extracrunch@techcrunch.com.

Before yesterdayYour RSS feeds

Save 25% on annual Extra Crunch membership with the Green Days sale

By Travis Bernard

The holiday season is upon us, and that means big savings on Extra Crunch membership with the Green Days sale. From now until November 30, TechCrunch readers can save 25% on an annual plan for Extra Crunch. 

You can claim the deal here.

Extra Crunch helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups, get ahead at your job, and stay connected to a growing community of founders, investors, and startup teams. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily market analysis, and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization, and other work topics. 

You can also find answers to your burning questions about startups and investing through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletters. Other benefits include an improved TechCrunch.com experience, 20% off future TechCrunch events, and savings on software services from AWS, Crunchbase, and more.

Join our growing community of founders, investors, and startup teams at a discounted rate here.

The Green Days sale is our biggest discount of the year, so don’t snooze on the savings. The sale ends on November 30. If you have questions about the sale or Extra Crunch membership, please contact our customer support team at extracrunch@techcrunch.com.

Get a free Extra Crunch membership when you buy TC Sessions: Space 2020 tickets

By Travis Bernard

TC Sessions: Space is coming up soon, and we’ve decided to sweeten the deal for what’s included with your event pass. Buy your ticket now and you’ll get a free annual membership to Extra Crunch, our membership program focused on startups, founders and investors with more than 100 exclusive articles published per month.

Extra Crunch unlocks access to our weekly investor surveys, private market analysis, and in-depth interviews with experts on fundraising, growth, monetization and other core startup topics. Find answers to your burning questions about startups and investing through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletter. Other benefits include an improved TechCrunch.com experience, 20% off discounts to future TechCrunch events, and savings on software services from AWS, Crunchbase, and more.

Learn more about Extra Crunch benefits here, and buy your TC Sessions: Space tickets here.  

What is TC Sessions: Space? 

TC Sessions: Space is a two-day online event featuring the most important people in the space industry, across public, private and defense. TechCrunch’s editors will break through the hype to help attendees understand the current state of the space and try to see which technologies and players will own the future.

The event will take place December 16-17, and we’d love to have you join. 

View the event agenda here, and purchase tickets here

Once you buy your TC Sessions: Space pass, you will be emailed a link and unique code you can use to claim the free year of Extra Crunch.

Already bought your TC Sessions: Space ticket?

Existing pass holders will be emailed with information on how to claim the free year of Extra Crunch membership. All new ticket purchases will receive information over email immediately after the purchase is complete.

Already an Extra Crunch member?

If you are already an existing annual or two-year Extra Crunch member and have not yet bought a ticket to TC Sessions: Space, you can reach out to extracrunch@techcrunch.com to request a 20% off discount. If you are an annual or two-year member and purchased a TC Sessions: Space ticket without the 20% off discount, we’re happy to extend the length of your existing membership by 12 months for free by contacting extracrunch@techcrunch.com.

Alternatively, if you are an existing monthly Extra Crunch member, we’re happy to extend the length of your membership by a year for free; however, you won’t be able to claim the 20% off for an event ticket for TC Sessions: Space. You will be eligible for the 20% off event tickets for other future TechCrunch events.

If you are an existing monthly customer and want to take advantage of the membership extension, please contact extracrunch@techcrunch.com.

Why some VCs prefer to work with first-time founders

By Natasha Mascarenhas

Repeat founders who have a proven track record, good references, and in the best cases, an exit to point to will have an easy time making inroads with venture capitalists. Earlier this week, for example, the former founders of Udemy and altMBA raised more than $4 million for a startup with no name or final product.

However, broad strokes in an environment as nuanced and dynamic as VC never make sense. As early stage evolves and more capital flows into the sector, some investors actually prefer first-time founders; it all depends on the type of venture capitalist you ask.

Last week, TMV co-founder Soraya Darabi joined the Extra Crunch Live stage to discuss her firm and investment theory.

“We look for founders who have not had a demonstrable exit before because we think that it can actually taint your perspective,” Darabi said during an Extra Crunch Live. “We look for, instead, founders [who] have had a front row seat of success, or had some product experience where you’re watching from third base but not necessarily the person that takes the whole show home.”

The preference comes directly because of TMV’s investment cadence. TMV invests between $500,000 to $1.5 million into startups that have valuations between $10 million to $15 million. Startups that have heavy market signals or hype will likely exceed that range, and thus become out of reach. For example, a Y Combinator company raised $16 million in a seed round at a $75 million valuation before Demo Day.

As a result, TMV sources founders who have not yet made the leap and want an institutional investor to help them start their first company.

Extra Crunch roundup: Inside DoorDash’s IPO, first-person founder stories, the latest in fintech VC and more

By Walter Thompson

One of my favorite series of Monty Python sketches is built around the concept of surprise:

Chapman: I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

[JARRING CHORD]

[Three cardinals burst in]

Cardinal Ximénez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!

I was reminded of this today when I needed to reschedule a few stories so we could cover DoorDash’s S-1 filing from multiple angles. First, Managing Editor Danny Crichton looked at how well the company’s co-founders and many investors stand to make out. Alex Wilhelm covered the IPO announcement in depth on TechCrunch before writing an Extra Crunch column that studied the role the COVID-19 pandemic played in the home-delivery platform’s recent growth.

Our all-hands-on-deck coverage of DoorDash’s S-1 is a good illustration of Extra Crunch’s mission: timely analysis of current and future technology trends that serves founders and investors. We have a talented team, and as today’s coverage shows, they’re just as good as they are fast.

The stories that follow are an overview of Extra Crunch from the last five days. The full articles are only available to members, but you can use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one or two-year subscription. Details here.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week. I hope you have a great weekend!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist


What I wish I’d known about venture capital when I was a founder

Why I left edtech and got into gaming

Image Credits: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

We frequently run posts by guest contributors, but two stories we published this week were written in the first person, which is a bit of a departure.

In Why I left edtech and got into gaming, Darshan Somashekar brought us inside his decision to pivot away from a sector that’s been growing hotter in 2020.

His post is a unique take on two oft-discussed categories, but it also examines one founder/investor’s thought process when it comes to evaluating new opportunities.

Andy Areitio, a partner at early-stage fund TheVentureCity, wrote What I wish I’d known about venture capital when I was a founder, a reflection on the “classic mistakes” founders tend to make when it’s time to fundraise.

“Error number one (and two) is to raise the wrong amount of money and to do it at the wrong time,” he says. “They can also put all their eggs in one basket too early. I made that mistake.”

You can find business writing that explores best practices anywhere, which is why we hunt down stories that are firmly rooted in data or personal experience (which includes success and failure).

How COVID-19 accelerated DoorDash’s business

doordash dasher bicycle delivery person

Image Credits: DoorDash

The coronavirus pandemic looms large in DoorDash’s S-1 filing.

According to the food-delivery platform, “58% of all adults and 70% of millennials say that they are more likely to have restaurant food delivered than they were two years ago,” and “the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated these trends.”

As in other sectors, the pandemic didn’t wave a magic wand — instead, it hastened trends that were already in play: consumers love convenience, which means DoorDash’s gross order volume and revenue were tracking well before the virus started to shape our lives.

“It’s your call on how to balance the factors and decide whether or not to buy into the IPO, but this one is going to be big,” writes Alex Wilhelm in a supplemental edition of today’s The Exchange.

 

The VC and founder winners of DoorDash’s IPO

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – SEPTEMBER 05: DoorDash CEO Tony Xu speaks onstage during Day 1 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018 at Moscone Center on September 5, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

None of us knew DoorDash would release its S-1 filing today, but Danny Crichton jumped on the story “so we can see who is raking in the returns on the country’s delivery startup champion.”

After estimating the value of the respective ownership stakes held by DoorDash’s four co-founders, he turned to the investors who participated in rounds seed through Series H.

Some growth funds are about to look very good after this IPO, and each founder is looking at hundreds of millions, he found.

But even so, their diminished haul of about $1.3 billion is “a sign of just how much dilution the co-founders took given the sheer amount of capital the company fundraised over its life.”

 

Fintech VC keeps getting later, larger and more expensive

Investors sent stacks of cash to late-stage fintech companies in Q3 2020, but these sizable rounds may also point to shrinking opportunities for early-stage firms, reports Alex Wilhelm in this morning’s edition of The Exchange.

2020 could be a record year for fintech VC in Europe and North America, but are these “huge late-stage dollars” actually “a dampener for new fintech startups trying to get off the ground?”

 

Accelerators embrace change forced by pandemic

Devin Coldewey interviewed the leaders of three startup accelerators to learn more about the adaptations they’ve made in recent months:

  • David Brown, founder and CEO, Techstars
  • Cyril Ebersweiler, founder HAX, venture partner at SOSV
  • Daniela Fernandez, founder, Ocean Solutions Accelerator

Due to travel bans, shelter-in-place orders and other unknowns, they’ve all shifted to virtual. But accelerators are intensive programs designed to indoctrinate founders and elicit brutally honest feedback in real time.

Despite the sudden shift, that boot-camp mindset is still in effect, Devin reports.

“Cutting out the commute time in a busy city leaves founders with more time for workshops, mentor matchmaking, pitch practice and other important sessions,” said Fernandez. “Everybody just has more flexibility and tranquility.”

Said Ebersweiler: “People are for some reason more participative and have more feedback than physically — it’s pretty strange.”

Greylock’s Asheem Chandna on ‘shifting left’ in cybersecurity and the future of enterprise startups

Asheem Chandna

Image Credits: Greylock

In a recent interview with Greylock partner Asheem Chandna, Managing Editor Danny Crichton asked him about the buzz around no-code platforms and what’s happening in early-stage enterprise startups before segueing into a discussion about “shift left” security:

“Every organization today wants to bring software to market faster, but they also want to make software more secure,” said Chandna.

“There is a genuine interest today in making the software more secure, so there’s this concept of shift left — bake security into the software.”

 

Square and PayPal earnings bring good (and bad) news for fintech startups

If you missed Wednesday’s The Exchange, Alex scoured earnings reports from PayPal and Square to see what the near future might hold for several fintech startups currently waiting in the wings.

Using Square and PayPal’s recent numbers for stock purchases, card usage and consumer payment activity as a proxy, he attempts to “see what we can learn, and to which unicorns it might apply.”

 

Conflicts in California’s trade secret laws on customer lists create uncertainty

Concept of knowledge, data and protection. Paper human head with pad lock.

Image Credits: jayk7 (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images

In California, non-competition agreements can’t be enforced and a court has ruled that customer contact lists aren’t trade secrets.

That doesn’t mean salespeople who switch jobs can start soliciting their former customers on their first day at the new gig, however.

Before you jump ship — or hire a salesperson who already has — read this overview of California’s trade secret laws.

“Even without litigation, a former employer can significantly hamper a departing salesperson’s career,” says Nick Saenz, a partner at Lewis & Llewellyn LLP, who focuses on employment and trade secret issues.

As public investors reprice edtech bets, what’s ahead for the hot startup sector?

light bulb flickering on and off

Image: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

News of a highly effective COVID-19 vaccine appeared to drive down prices of the three best-known publicly traded edtech companies: 2U, Chegg and Kahoot saw declines of about 20%, 10% and 9%, respectively after the report.

Are COVID-19 tailwinds dissipating, or did the market make a correction because “edtech has been categorically overhyped in recent months?”

 

Dear Sophie: What does a Biden win for tech immigration?

Image Credits: Sophie Alcorn

What does President-elect Biden’s victory mean for U.S. immigration and immigration reform?

I’m in tech in SF and have a lot of friends who are immigrant founders, along with many international teammates at my tech company. What can we look forward to?

— Anticipation in Albany

 

Join us for a live Q&A with Bessemer’s Byron Deeter next Tuesday at 3 p.m ET, noon PT

By Alex Wilhelm

The Extra Crunch Live series rolls along with a big new installment next week as Jordan Crook and Alex Wilhelm will welcome Bessemer Venture PartnersByron Deeter to the conversation.

Deeter is an obvious addition to the collection of investors, founders and tech luminaries that TechCrunch has interviewed so far in the Live series — for a taste, here’s a look at our discussion with Unusual Ventures’ John Vrionis and Sarah Leary, and our chat with Plaid co-founder Zach Perret.

Why talk to a Bessemer partner in the current moment? The firm is well-known for its investments into SaaS and cloud companies, a key startup cohort that has performed well. Recent days have shaken that narrative as Q4 races to the halfway mark, with public investors seeming to rotate into other equities, punishing software firms that had been the market’s favored bet for most of the year.

We’ll dig into what’s changing on the private side of that coin, looking to understand today’s software venture capital dynamics, and what Deeter sees happening in 2021.

But there’s more to Bessemer’s active portfolio than SaaS. The venture group has also dropped dollars into Discord, which is seeing both revenue and usage explode, and Betterment, which plays in the active fintech savings and investing space. There’s lots to get into.

If you are an Extra Crunch Live veteran — you rock star, you! — or a brand-new participant — make sure your Extra Crunch membership is live! — bring a question or two as we’ll try to work in a few from the audience as we go.

Chat with you next Tuesday afternoon! (Oh, and you can now pre-submit questions down below, which is a great improvement over the old system which only allowed for live submissions!)

Details

Greylock’s Asheem Chandna on ‘shifting left’ in cybersecurity and the future of enterprise startups

By Danny Crichton

Last week was a busy week, what with an election in Myanmar and all (well, and the United States, I guess). So perhaps you were glued to your TV or smartphone, and missed out on our conversation with Asheem Chandna, a long-time partner at Greylock who has invested in enterprise and cybersecurity startups for nearly two decades now, backing such notable companies as Palo Alto Networks, AppDynamics and Sumo Logic. We have more Extra Crunch Live shows coming up.

Enterprise software is changing faster this year than it has in a decade. Coronavirus, remote work, collaboration and new cybersecurity threats have combined to force companies to rethink their IT strategies, and that means more opportunities — and challenges — for enterprise founders than ever before. In some cases, we are seeing an acceleration of existing trends, and in others, we are seeing all new trends come to the forefront.

All that is to say that there was so much on the docket to talk about last week. Chandna and I discussed what’s happening in early-stage enterprise startups, whether vertical SaaS is the future of enterprise investing, data and no-code platforms, and then this rise of “shift left” security.

The following interview has been edited and condensed from our original Extra Crunch Live conversation.

What’s happening today in the early-stage startup world?

Chandna has been a long-time backer of startups at their earliest stages, with some of his investments being literally birthed in Greylock’s offices. So I was curious how he saw the landscape today given all that prior experience.

TechCrunch: What sort of companies are exciting for you today? Are there particular markets you’re particularly attuned to?

Asheem Chandna: One is digital transformation. Every company is trying to figure out how to become more digital, and this has been accelerated by COVID-19. Second is information technology today and its journey to the cloud. I would say we might be about 10% or 15% of the way there. Some of the trends are clear, but the journey is actually still relatively early, and so there’s just a ton of opportunity ahead.

The third one is leveraging data for better predictability along with analytics. Every CEO is looking to make better decisions. And you know, most leaders make decisions based on gut instinct and a combination of data. If the data can tell a story, if the data can help you better predict, there’s a lot of potential here.

I view these as three macro trends, and then if one was to add to that, I would say cybersecurity has never been more important than it is today. I’ve been around cyber for over two decades, and just the prominence and importance and priority has never been more important than today. So that’s kind of another key area.

I want to dive into your first category, digital transformation. This is a phrase that I feel like I’ve heard for a decade now, with “Data is the new oil” and all these sorts of buzzwords and marketing phrases. Where are we in that process? Are we at the beginning? Are we at the end? What’s next from a startup perspective?

Due to COVID-19 and because of the way people are working today, digital’s become the primary medium. I would still say we’re early, and you can literally look sector by sector to see how much more work there is to do here.

Take enterprise sales itself, which is early in what I consider digitalization. It’s even more important today than it was a year ago. I’m using video to basically communicate, and then the next piece would basically be trialing of software. Can I allow even complex software to be self trials and can I measure the customer journey through that trial? Then there’s the contracting of the software, and we go to the sale process, can all that be done digitally?

So even when you take something as very mundane as enterprise sales, it’s being transformed. Winning teams, winning software entrepreneurs, they understand this well, and they’d be wise to examine every step of this process, and instrument it and digitize it.

Vertical versus horizontal plays in enterprise

Extra Crunch Partner Perk: Get 6 months free of Zendesk Support and Sales CRM

By J.M. Donaldson

We’re excited to announce an update to the Extra Crunch Partner Perk from Zendesk. Starting today, annual and two-year Extra Crunch members that are new to Zendesk, and meet their startup qualifications, can now receive six months of free access to Zendesk’s Sales CRM, in addition to Zendesk Support Suite, Zendesk Explore and Zendesk Sunshine.

Here is an overview of the program.

Zendesk is a service-first CRM company with support, sales and customer engagement products designed to improve customer relationships. This offer is only available for startups that are new to Zendesk, have fewer than 100 employees and are funded but have not raised beyond a Series B.

The Zendesk Partner Perk from Extra Crunch is inclusive of subscription fees, free for six months, after which you will be responsible for payment. Any downgrades to your Zendesk subscription will result in the forfeiture of the promotion, so please check with Zendesk first regarding any changes (startups@zendesk.com). Some add-ons such as Zendesk Talk and Zendesk Sell minutes are not included. Complete details of what’s included can be found here.

Founders don’t need to be full-time to start raising venture capital

By Natasha Mascarenhas

“More than 50% of our founders still are in their current jobs,” said John Vrionis, co-founder of seed-stage fund Unusual Ventures.

The fund, which closed a $400 million investment vehicle in November 2019, has noticed that more and more startup employees are thinking about entrepreneurship as the pandemic has shown how much room there is for new innovation. To gain a competitive advantage, Unusual is investing small checks into founders before they’re full-time.

Unusual, which cuts an average of eight checks per year into seed-stage companies, isn’t doling out millions to every employee who decides to leave Stripe. The firm is conservative with its spending and takes a more focused approach, often embedding a member from the firm into a portfolio company. It’s not meant to scale to dozens of portfolio companies a year, but instead requires a methodical approach.

One with a healthy pipeline of companies to choose from.

In an Extra Crunch Live chat, Vrionis and Sarah Leary, co-founder of Nextdoor and the firm’s newest partner, said lightweight investing matters in the early days of a company.

“There were a lot of teams that needed capital to start the journey, but frankly, it would have been over burdensome if they took on $2 or $3 million,” Leary said. “[New founders] want to be in a place where they have enough money to get going but not too much money that they get locked into a ladder in terms of expectations that they’re not ready to take advantage of.” The checks that Unusual cuts in pre-seed often range between $100,000 to half a million dollars.

Leary chalks up the boom to the disruption in consumer behavior, which opens up the opportunity for new companies to win.

How Yext reinvented itself on its way to going public

By Alex Wilhelm

Last week, Yext CEO Howard Lerman dropped by Extra Crunch Live for a chat about his former startup, pivoting and becoming the CEO of a public company.

Yext, which focuses on business information and enterprise search products, went public in 2017, making it one of the first companies to demo at a TechCrunch event and eventually list.

The full recording is embedded below, along with a number of at-length quotes if you prefer to read. But here, above the paywall, I wanted to share my favorite bit from the conversation.

It’s about how Yext got into the business information game — what it calls PowerListings — from its product roots from around the time it raised a $25 million Series C.

Back at the TechCrunch50 event, Yext demoed a service that could record and transcribe phone calls and provide some extra analysis. Here’s how Lerman described the moment (quotes tidied up for readability):

I launched this at TechCrunch50 in 2009, we actually had a really cool technology. We figured out a way […] where we could put a tracked phone number on a business listing, record it, transcribe it [and] then run a semantic analysis on the call to determine ‘was it a good call or not?’

That demoed product worked well for Yext, as Lerman explained:

Within nine days of this launch, of actually putting this out there, we had a $25 million round from IVP.

At the time Yext put together a $20 million business that Lerman said was built “very quickly.” But, he continued, things went sideways from there:

At the same time, it turned out that that was not a very good business model to scale to 100 million of revenue — and beyond. And I learned that probably six months after [and] you’ve got to be intellectually honest with yourself. You see this happening: you see the churn, you see the customer acquisition costs happening, and I was faced with the choice. And one of the things that I think we did that was commendable was we started an entirely new business within the existing cap table of this company. And to this very day, we have some of the same shareholders that were with us in 2008.

What happened next was “a little complicated” in Lerman’s own words, but Yext started a new company “under the old company,” sold the old company to IAC (TechCrunch coverage here). That money went to “the balance sheet of NewCo,” and Yext built “this whole new idea to synchronize information across the web. And that was the PowerListings franchise [which] was the foundation of what we have to this very day.”

Yext has a big focus on search today, but PowerListings is still part of its product family.

What’s fascinating about the Yext story is how the company has reinvented itself a few times, all while scaling before and after its IPO. Usually we read about business stories that are oversimplified. The Yext story makes it clear that even a few changes don’t mean that something is wrong. You can shake up your startup and still go public.

If you need some help getting past the paywall, head here. Else, carry on and hit play on the video and enjoy the quotes.

Extra Crunch Live continues this week, with more VCs and founders swinging by for long, in-depth chats.

Howard Lerman

Unusual Ventures’ Sarah Leary and John Vrionis join us Extra Crunch Live now

By Natasha Mascarenhas

Today at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT, Unusual Ventures’ Sarah Leary and John Vrionis are joining us over at the Extra Crunch Live stage!

The Unusual Ventures team has investments spanning the consumer and enterprise space, including Robinhood, AppDynamics, Mulesoft, Winnie and more. That short list could be the basis for a fascinating chat, but I also want to hear their thoughts on the democratization of venture capital, their appetite ahead of the election and the future of remote work. A big goal of mine is to squash some of the buzzwords we hear on tech Twitter so we can get an honest take on where one VC firm is sitting right now in a chaotic year.

As we wrote last week, this year has been everything but business as usual for the venture and tech community. And we still have an election ahead of us! I’ll ask Leary and Vrionis to share their framework for working through a looming event such as a presidential election and get their ideas on how early-stage is working more broadly.

Thanks to all of you who have joined us for our ongoing live chat series, which has brought on big names in tech such as Sydney SykesAlexia von TobelMark Cuban and more (all recordings are still accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers to watch and learn from).

If you’re new, welcome! You’ll be able to ask our experts questions live as long as you’re an EC member (sign up for Extra Crunch here).

Come hang, bring snacks and prep some good questions. We’d love to have you.

Details

Below are links so you can make it:

Fall sale: Get 10% off an annual Extra Crunch membership

By Travis Bernard

From now until October 25, TechCrunch readers in the U.S. can save 10% on an annual plan for Extra Crunch. If you aren’t familiar, Extra Crunch is our membership program focused on startups, founders and investors with more than 100 exclusive articles published per month.

You can claim the deal here.

Extra Crunch helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups and stay connected. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily market analysis and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization and other work topics. 

You can also find answers to your burning questions about startups and investing through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletter. Other benefits include an improved TechCrunch.com experience, 20% off discounts to future TechCrunch events and savings on software services from DocSend, Canva, Crunchbase and more.

Join our growing community of founders, investors and startup teams here.

Discuss the unbundling of early-stage VC with Unusual Ventures’ Sarah Leary & John Vrionis

By Natasha Mascarenhas

This year has been everything but business as usual for the venture and tech community. And we still have a presidential election ahead of us.

So, why not listen to the aptly-named experts over at Unusual Ventures? Partners Sarah Leary (co-founder of Nextdoor) and John Vrionis, formerly of Lightspeed Ventures Partners, will join us on Tuesday, October 20 on the Extra Crunch Live virtual stage.

Thanks to all of you who have joined us for our series of live discussions that has included tech leaders like Sydney Sykes, Alexia von Tobel, Mark Cuban and many others (all recordings are still accessible for Extra Crunch subscribers to watch and learn from).

If you’re new, welcome! You’ll have a chance to participate in the live discussion if you have an Extra Crunch subscription.

Unusual Ventures’ investments span the consumer and enterprise space, including companies like Robinhood, AppDynamics, Mulesoft and Winnie.

For this chat, I plan to spend some time talking to Leary and Vrionis about how early-stage venture capital has changed with the rise of rolling funds, community funds and syndicates. Unusual Ventures claims “there’s an enormous opportunity to raise the bar on what seed-stage investors provide for early-stage founders,” so we’ll get into that opportunity as well.

And if we have time, we’ll discuss remote work, building in public and the U.S. presidential election.

So, what are you waiting for? Add the deets to your calendar (below the jump!) and join me next Tuesday.

Details

Join Yext’s Howard Lerman for a Q&A October 13 at 2 pm ET/11 am PT

By Alex Wilhelm

Heading into the third quarter and earnings season, TechCrunch is excited to announce that Yext CEO Howard Lerman will join us for a live Q&A next Tuesday as part of our continuing Extra Crunch Live series.

The series recently hosted pairs of investors from Accel and Index Ventures and has hosted business leaders from Mark Cuban to Roelof Botha. Lerman will be one of the few guests who is the CEO of a public company.

But Lerman is no regular public CEO — his company debuted at a TechCrunch event back in 2009, quickly raising capital after the pitch. Yext’s 2017 IPO was therefore an event of interest here at TechCrunch.

What will we talk about? There’s a number of things that come to mind, but we’ll certainly get into the impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and how Yext is handling an uneven market. We’ll dig into search, a rising product and revenue area for the company, and how Yext has managed to broaden its product mix without diluting its focus.

We’ll also discuss what changes for a tech CEO heading into the public markets and what advice he might have for companies either considering, or actively going public in 2020. It has been a busy year for startup liquidity, pushing a great number of startups into the public sphere with varying results.

And we’ll riff on where Lerman is seeing the most interesting startups being built, along with your questions. As with all Extra Crunch Live sessions, we’ll snag a few questions from the audience. So make sure your Extra Crunch Live subscription is live and prep your thoughts.

Details follow after the jump. See everyone Tuesday!

Details

Below are links to add the event to your calendar and to save the Zoom link. We’ll share the YouTube link on the day of the discussion:

Extra Crunch Live: Join us today at 2pm EDT/11am PDT to discuss the future of startup investing with Index Ventures VCs Nina Achadjian and Sarah Cannon

By Danny Crichton

The venture capital world is rapidly changing, and thank heavens we have two of the smartest VCs on the future of investing, productivity tools and remote work joining us today to make sense of all the noise.

On Extra Crunch Live today, Sarah Cannon and Nina Achadjian, two VC partners based in Index Ventures’ SF office, will talk about these subjects and more. Plus, we will be taking questions from the audience, so come prepared. Login details are below the fold for EC members, and if you don’t have an Extra Crunch membership, click through to sign up.

As I wrote when we announced the slate last week:

First, we have Nina Achadjian, who officially joined Index Ventures several years ago out of the firm’s SF office and was promoted to partner earlier this year. Achadjian has been searching for and investing into some of the most interesting new collaborative companies that are rebuilding the enterprise from the ground up (which happens to have been a brilliant move given our remote-work world this year). Her investments include such companies as product-management service productboard, sales performance platform Gong, executive assistant marketplace Double and real estate services platform ServiceTitan.

Second, we have Sarah Cannon, who joined Index in 2018 from CapitalG, and who is also based officially out of SF. Cannon made a splash earlier this year with her bullish bet on note-taking and team productivity wunderkind Notion, and has also invested in productivity tools like collaborative presentation software Pitch and smart team messaging app Quill.

Join us today at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT/6 p.m. GMT.

Event Details

Join Accel’s Andrew Braccia and Sonali De Rycker for a live Q&A on September 22 at 2 pm EDT/11 am PDT

By Alex Wilhelm

In the midst of Disrupt 2020, we’re busy keeping tabs on all the panels, chats, demos and battling startups, but we’re also prepping for what comes next. Next Tuesday, the Extra Crunch Live series of Q&As with founders and investors resumes, this time with guests Andrew Braccia and Sonali De Rycker from Accel.

If you are just catching up to Extra Crunch Live, we’ve been hosting live discussions since the early COVID-19 days here in the United States with folks like Mark Cuban, Plaid founder Zach Perret and Sequoia’s Roelof Botha taking part.

The Accel chat is going to be interesting for a few reasons, one of which is that Braccia is the opposite of loud — TechCrunch has noted his general reticence to public comment in prior reporting. But Braccia was early money into Slack, which means he’ll have good perspective into the direct listing market, the IPO market writ large, SaaS and the remote-work boom. We’ll make sure to get the latest.

De Rycker is a bit more active in the public sphere and has lead deals into companies like Sennder (which recently did a deal with Uber), Shift Technology and Avito, which sold to Naspers for north of $1 billion last year. As you can tell from that string of deals, De Rycker will be able to give us a working dig into what’s up in the European startup scene.

And as De Rycker worked as an investment banker before VC, we’ll see what she has to say regarding today’s M&A and IPO climes.

All in all, it’s going to be a good time that I am looking forward to hosting. Login details follow for Extra Crunch folks, and you can snag a cheap trial here if you need access.

Until then, enjoy Disrupt and we’ll see you on Tuesday. Don’t forget to bring your best questions, and we might get to one of them!

Details

Extra Crunch Partner Perk: Discount on Dell XPS laptop and Dell for Entrepreneurs program

By Travis Bernard

We’re excited to announce a new Partner Perk from Dell for Extra Crunch members. Starting today, annual and two-year Extra Crunch members can get a discount on a Dell XPS laptop as well as a discount on membership to the Dell for Entrepreneurs program.

What is the Dell for Entrepreneurs program?

The Dell for Entrepreneurs program is committed to empowering others by being an end-to-end solution provider to help entrepreneurs grow and scale. The program includes IT consultation (from accessories, to systems, to cloud/ software solutions), access to capital for technology needs, and rewards, discounts, and more. Discounts on membership will vary.

What’s the discount on the laptop? 

The discount on the Dell XPS Laptop is 5%, but if purchased before September 23 the discount is 10%.

What is Extra Crunch?

Extra Crunch is a membership program from TechCrunch that helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups and stay connected. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily market analysis and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization and other work topics.

Extra Crunch also features Extra Crunch Live Q&A sessions with startup experts, a 20% discount on TechCrunch events, access to Partner Perks and better ways to use and navigate TechCrunch.com.

Join our growing community of founders, investors and startup teams here.

What are Partner Perks?

The Extra Crunch Partner Perks program is a great way for our annual members to save a few bucks on software costs. Since launching the program last fall, we’ve added more than a dozen new perks, including discounts on Crunchbase, DocSend and more. To see a full list of Partner Perks, head here.

How do I claim the discount on the Dell XPS laptop?

Head here, and enter your email address. Click submit. The discount on the laptop will be emailed to you immediately after your email address has been submitted.

How do I get the discount on the Dell for Entrepreneurs program?

Head here, and then scroll down to the section “How to Apply.” Click the button “apply now,” and fill out the form. A Dell representative will follow up within a few business days. 

Extra Crunch Friday roundup: Edtech funding surges, Poland VC survey, inside Shift’s SPAC plan, more

By Walter Thompson

I live in San Francisco, but I work an East Coast schedule to get a jump on the news day. So I’d already been at my desk for a couple of hours on Wednesday morning when I looked up and saw this:

What color is the sky this morning pic.twitter.com/nt5dZp5wWc

— Walter Thompson (@YourProtagonist) September 9, 2020

As unsettling as it was to see the natural environment so transformed, I still got my work done. This is not to boast: I have a desk job and a working air filter. (People who make deliveries in the toxic air or are homeschooling their children while working from home during a global pandemic, however, impress the hell out of me.)

Not coincidentally, two of the Extra Crunch stories that ran since our Tuesday newsletter tie directly into what’s going on outside my window:

As this guest post predicted, a suboptimal attempt I made to track a delayed package using interactive voice response (IVR) indeed poisoned my customer experience, and;

Sheltering in place to avoid the novel coronavirus — and wildfire smoke — is fueling growth in the video-game industry, perhaps one factor in Unity Software Inc.’s plan to go public ahead of competitor Epic Games. In a two-part series, we looked at how the company has expanded beyond games and shared a detailed financial breakdown.

We covered a lot of ground this week, so scroll down or visit the recently redesigned Extra Crunch home page. If you’d like to receive this roundup via email each Tuesday and Friday, please click here.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch; I hope you have a relaxing and safe weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor
@yourprotagonist


Bear and bull cases for Unity’s IPO

In a two-part series that ran on TechCrunch and Extra Crunch, former media columnist Eric Peckham returned to share his analysis of Unity Software Inc.’s S-1 filing.

Part one is a deep dive that explains how the company has grown beyond gaming to develop multiple revenue streams and where it’s headed.

For part two on Extra Crunch, he studied the company’s numbers to offer some context for its approximately $11 billion valuation.


10 Poland-based investors discuss trends, opportunities and the road ahead

The Palace of Culture and Science is standing reminder of communism in Warsaw, Masovian Voivodeship, Poland.

Image Credits: Edwin Remsberg (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

As we’ve covered previously, the COVID-19 pandemic is making the world a lot smaller.

Investors who focus on their own backyards still have an advantage, but the ability to set up a quick coffee meeting with a promising investor is no longer one of them.

Even though some VCs are cutting first checks after Zoom calls, regional investors’ personal networks are still a trump card. Tourists will always rely on guide books, however, which is why we continue to survey investors around the world.

A Dealroom report issued this summer determined that 97 VC funds backed more than 1,600 funding rounds in Poland last year. With over 2,400 early- and late-stage startups and 400,000 engineers in the country, it’s easy to see why foreign investors are taking notice.

Editor-at-large Mike Butcher reached out to several investors who focus on Warsaw and Poland in general to learn more about the startups fueling their interest across fintech, gaming, security and other sectors:

  • Bryony Cooper, managing partner, Arkley Brinc VC
  • Anna Wnuk-Błażejczyk, investor relations manager, Experior.vc
  • Rafał Roszak, investment director, YouNick Mint
  • Michal Mroczkowski, partner, Market One Capital
  • Marcus Erken, partner, Sunfish Partners
  • Borys Musielak, partner, SMOK Ventures
  • Mathias Åsberg, partner, Nextgrid
  • Kuba Dudek, SpeedUp Venture Capital Group
  • Marcin Laczynski, partner, Next Road Ventures
  • Michał Rokosz, partner, Inovo Venture Partners

We’ll run the conclusion of his survey next Tuesday.


Brands that hyper-personalize will win the next decade

Customer Relationship Management and Leader Concepts on Whiteboard

Image Credits: cnythzl (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Even for fledgling startups, creating a robust customer service channel — or at least one that doesn’t annoy people — is a reliable way to keep users in the sales funnel.

Using AI and automation is fine, but now that consumers have grown used to asking phones and smart speakers to predict the weather and read recipe instructions, their expectations are higher than ever.

If you’re trying to figure out what people want from hyper-personalized customer experiences and how you can operationalize AI to give them what they’re after, start here.


VCs pour funding into edtech startups as COVID-19 shakes up the market

For today’s edition of The Exchange, Natasha Mascarenhas joined Alex Wilhelm to examine how the pandemic-fueled surge of interest in edtech is manifesting on the funding front.

The numbers suggest that funding will far surpass the sector’s high-water mark set in 2018, so the duo studied the numbers through August 31, which included a number of mega-rounds that exceeded $100 million.

“Now the challenge for the sector will be keeping its growth alive in 2021, showing investors that their 2020 bets were not merely wagers made during a single, overheated year,” they conclude.


How to respond to a data breach

Digital Binary Code on Red Background. Cybercrime Concept

Image Credits: WhataWin (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The odds are low that someone’s going to enter my home and steal my belongings. I still lock my door when I leave the house, however, and my valuables are insured. I’m an optimist, not a fool.

Similarly: Is your startup’s cybersecurity strategy based on optimism, or do you have an actual response plan in case of a data breach?

Security reporter Zack Whittaker has seen some shambolic reactions to security lapses, which is why he turned in a post-mortem about a corporation that got it right.

“Once in a while, a company’s response almost makes up for the daily deluge of hypocrisy, obfuscation and downright lies,” says Zack.


Shift’s George Arison shares 6 tips for taking your company public via a SPAC

Number 6 By Railroad Tracks During Sunset

Image Credits: Eric Burger/EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

There’s a lot of buzz about special purpose acquisition companies these days.

Used-car marketplace Shift announced its SPAC in June 2020, and is on track to complete the process in the next few months, so co-founder/co-CEO George Arison wrote an Extra Crunch guest post to share what he has learned.

Step one: “If you go the SPAC route, you’ll need to become an expert at financial engineering.”


Dear Sophie: What is a J-1 visa and how can we use it?

Image Credits: Sophie Alcorn

Dear Sophie:

I am a software engineer and have been looking at job postings in the U.S. I’ve heard from my friends about J-1 Visa Training or J-1 Research.

What is a J-1 status? What are the requirements to qualify? Do I need to find a U.S. employer willing to sponsor me before I apply for one? Can I get a visa? How long could I stay?

— Determined in Delhi


As direct listing looms, Palantir insiders are accelerating stock sales

While we count down to the September 23 premiere of NYSE: PLTR, Danny Crichton looked at the “robust secondary market” that has allowed some investors to acquire shares early.

“Given the number of people involved and the number of shares bought and sold over the past 18 months, we can get some insight regarding how insiders perceive Palantir’s value,” he writes.


Use ‘productive paranoia’ to build cybersecurity culture at your startup

Vector illustration of padlocks and keys in a repeating pattern against a blue background.

Image Credits: JakeOlimb / Getty Images

Zack Whittaker interviewed Bugcrowd CTO, founder and chairman Casey Ellis about the best practices he recommends for creating a startup culture that takes security seriously.

“It’s an everyone problem,” said Ellis, who encouraged founders to promote the notion of “productive paranoia.”

Now that the threat envelope includes everyone from marketing to engineering, employees need to “internalize the fact that bad stuff can and does happen if you do it wrong,” Ellis said.

Reminder: $1,000 in AWS Activate credits available for Extra Crunch members

By Travis Bernard

Calling all Extra Crunch members! We’ve partnered with Amazon Web Services for an Extra Crunch Partner Perk, and now eligible members can get $1,000 in AWS Activate credits as a part of an annual Extra Crunch membership plan.

If you are already an Extra Crunch member, scroll down to the bottom of the post for directions on how to claim the credits. If you are not yet a member, keep reading.

What is AWS?

AWS (Amazon Web Services) is the premier service for your application hosting needs, and we want to make sure our community is well-resourced to build. We understand that hosting and infrastructure costs can be a major hurdle for tech startups, and we’re hoping that this offer will help better support your team.

What’s included in the perk?

  • $1,000 in AWS Activate credit valid for one year
  • Two months of AWS Business Support
  • 80 credits for self-paced labs

How do I know if my startup is eligible?

Not all companies are eligible for AWS Activate credits. To apply to AWS Activate Founders, your startup must meet the following criteria:

  • New to AWS Activate Founders
  • Have not previously received credits from AWS Activate Portfolio
  • Have an active AWS Account
  • Startup must be self-funded, unbacked or bootstrapped — no institutional funding or affiliation with an Activate Provider
  • Have a LinkedIn profile (applicant)
  • Have a company website or web profile
  • Be an annual or two-year Extra Crunch member

Applications are processed in 7-10 days.

What is Extra Crunch?

Extra Crunch is a membership program from TechCrunch that helps you spot technology trends and opportunities, build better startups and stay connected. It features thousands of articles, including weekly investor surveys, daily market analysis and expert interviews on fundraising, growth, monetization and other work topics.

Extra Crunch also features Extra Crunch Live Q&A sessions with startup experts, a 20% discount on TechCrunch events, access to Partner Perks and better ways to use and navigate TechCrunch.com.

Join our growing community of founders, investors and startup teams here.

What are Partner Perks?

The Extra Crunch Partner Perks program is a great way for our annual members to save a few bucks on software costs. Since launching the program last fall, we’ve added more than a dozen new perks, including discounts on Crunchbase, DocSend and more. To see a full list of Partner Perks, head here.

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