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Extra Crunch roundup: Guest posts wanted, ‘mango’ seed rounds, Expensify’s tech stack

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Prospective contributors regularly ask us about which topics Extra Crunch subscribers would like to hear more about, and the answer is always the same:

  • Actionable advice that is backed up by data and/or experience.
  • Strategic insights that go beyond best practices and offer specific recommendations readers can try out for themselves.
  • Industry analysis that paints a clear picture of the companies, products and services that characterize individual tech sectors.

Our submission guidelines haven’t changed, but Managing Editor Eric Eldon and I wrote a short post that identifies the topics we’re prioritizing at the moment:

  • How-to articles for early-stage founders.
  • Market analysis of different tech sectors.
  • Growth marketing strategies.
  • Alternative fundraising.
  • Quality of life (personal hälsa, sustainability, proptech, transportation).

If you’re a skillful entrepreneur, founder or investor who’s interested in helping someone else build their business, please read our latest guidelines, then send your ideas to guestcolumns@techcrunch.com.

Thanks for reading; I hope you have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist


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Opting for a debt round can take you from Series A startup to Series B unicorn

Image of a tree in a field, with half barren to represent debt and half flush with cash to represent success.

Bildkrediter: olegkalina (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Debt is a tool, and like any other — be it a hammer or handsaw — it’s extremely valuable when used skillfully but can cause a lot of pain when mismanaged. This is a story about how it can go right.

Mario Ciabarra, the founder and CEO of Quantum Metric, breaks down how his company was on a “tremendous growth curve” — and then the pandemic hit.

“As the weeks following the initial shelter-in-place orders ticked by, the rush toward digital grew exponentially, and opportunities to secure new customers started piling up,” Ciabarra writes. “A solution to our money problems, perhaps? Not so fast — it was a classic case of needing to spend in order to make.”

If companies want to preserve equity, debt can be an advantageous choice. Here’s how Quantum Metric did it.

4 proven approaches to CX strategy that make customers feel loved

CX is the hottest acronym in business

Bildkrediter: mucahiddin / Getty Images

People have been working to optimize customer experiences (CX) since we began selling things to each other.

A famous San Francisco bakery has an exhaust fan at street level; each morning, its neighbors awake to the scent of orange-cinnamon morning buns wafting down the block. Similarly, savvy hairstylists know to greet returning customers by asking if they want a repeat or something new.

Online, CX may encompass anything from recommending the right shoes to AI that knows when to send a frustrated traveler an upgrade for a delayed flight.

In light of Qualtrics’ spinout and IPO and Sprinklr’s recent S-1, Rebecca Liu-Doyle, principal at Insight Partners, describes four key attributes shared by “companies that have upped their CX game.”

Twitters förvärvsstrategi: Ät det offentliga samtalet

woman talking with megaphone

Bildkrediter: We Are (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

What is a microblogging service doing buying a social podcasting company and a newsletter tool while also building a live broadcasting sub-app? Is there even a strategy at all?

Yes. Twitter is trying to revitalize itself by adding more contexts for discourse to its repertoire. The result, if everything goes right, will be an influence superapp that hasn’t existed anywhere before. The alternative is nothing less than the destruction of Twitter into a link-forwarding service.

Let’s talk about how Twitter is trying to eat the public conversation.

Reading the IPO market’s tea leaves

Although it was a truncated holiday week here in the United States, there was a bushel of IPO news. We sorted through the updates and came up with a series of sentiment calls regarding these public offerings.

Earlier this week, we took a look at:

  • Marqeta‘s first IPO price range (fintech).
  • 1st Dibs‘ first IPO price range (e-commerce).
  • Zeta Global‘s IPO pricing (martech).
  • The start of SoFi trading post-SPAC (fintech).
  • The latest from BarkBox (e-commerce).

How Expensify hacked its way to a robust, scalable tech stack

Bildkrediter: Nigel Sussman

Part 4 of Expensify’s EC-1 digs into the company’s engineering and technology, with Anna Heim noting that the group of P2P pirates/hackers set out to build an expense management app by sticking to their gut and making their own rules.

They asked questions few considered, like: Why have lots of employees when you can find a way to get work done and reach impressive profitability with a few? Why work from an office in San Francisco when the internet lets you work from anywhere, even a sailboat in the Caribbean?

It makes sense in a way: If you’re a pirate, to hell with the rules, right?

With that in mind, one could assume Expensify decided to ask itself: Why not build our own totally custom tech stack?

Indeed, Expensify has made several tech decisions that were met with disbelief, but its belief in its own choices has paid off over the years, and the company is ready to IPO any day now.

How much of a tech advantage Expensify enjoys owing to such choices is an open question, but one thing is clear: These choices are key to understanding Expensify and its roadmap. Let’s take a look.

Etsy asks, ‘How do you do, fellow kids?’ with $1.6B Depop purchase

GettyImages 969952548

Bildkrediter: Getty Images

The news this week that e-commerce marketplace Etsy will buy Depop, a startup that provides a secondhand e-commerce marketplace, for more than $1.6 billion may not have made a large impact on the acquiring company’s share price thus far, but it provides a fascinating look into what brands may be willing to pay for access to the Gen Z market.

Etsy is buying Gen Z love. Think about it — Gen Z is probably not the first demographic that comes to mind when you consider Etsy, so you can see why the deal may pencil out in the larger company’s mind.

But it isn’t cheap. The lesson from the Etsy-Depop deal appears to be that large e-commerce players are willing to splash out for youth-approved marketplaces. That’s good news for yet-private companies that are popular with the budding generation.

Confluent’s IPO brings a high-growth, high-burn SaaS model to the public markets

Bildkrediter: Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images

Confluent became the latest company to announce its intent to take the IPO route, officially filing its S-1 paperwork this week.

The company, which has raised over $455 million since it launched in 2014, was most recently valued at just over $4.5 billion when it raised $250 million last April.

What does Confluent do? It built a streaming data platform on top of the open-source Apache Kafka project. In addition to its open-source roots, Confluent has a free tier of its commercial cloud offering to complement its paid products, helping generate top-of-funnel inflows that it converts to sales.

What we can see in Confluent is nearly an old-school, high-burn SaaS business. It has taken on oodles of capital and used it in an increasingly expensive sales model.

How to win consulting, board and deal roles with PE and VC funds

Jumping to the highest level - goldfish jumping in a bigger bowl - aspiration and achievement concept. This is a 3d render illustration

Bildkrediter: Orla (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Would you like to work with private equity and venture capital funds?

There are relatively few jobs directly inside private equity and venture capital funds, and those jobs are highly competitive.

However, there are many other ways you can work and earn money within the industry — as a consultant, an interim executive, a board member, a deal executive partnering to buy a company, an executive in residence or as an entrepreneur in residence.

Let’s take a look at the different ways you can work with the investment community.

The existential cost of decelerated growth

Even among the most valuable tech shops, shareholder return is concentrated in share price appreciation, and buybacks, which is the same thing to a degree.

Slowly growing tech companies worth single-digit billions can’t play the buyback game to the same degree as the majors. And they are growing more slowly, so even a similar buyback program in relative scale would excite less.

Grow or die, in other words. Or at least grow or come under heavy fire from external investors who want to oust the founder-CEO and “reform” the company. But if you can grow quickly, welcome to the land of milk and honey.

Even among the most valuable tech shops, shareholder return is concentrated in share price appreciation, and buybacks, which is the same thing to a degree.

Slowly growing tech companies worth single-digit billions can’t play the buyback game to the same degree as the majors. And they are growing more slowly, so even a similar buyback program in relative scale would excite less.

Grow or die, in other words. Or at least grow or come under heavy fire from external investors who want to oust the founder-CEO and “reform” the company. But if you can grow quickly, welcome to the land of milk and honey.

Hormonal health is a massive opportunity: Where are the unicorns?

uterus un paper work.Pink backgroundArt concept of female reproductive health

Bildkrediter: Carol Yepes (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

There is a growing group of entrepreneurs who are betting that hormonal health is the key wedge into the digital health boom.

Hormones are fluctuating, ever-evolving, and diverse — but these founders say they’re also key to solving many health conditions that disproportionately impact kvinnor, from diabetes to infertility to mental health challenges.

Many believe it’s that complexity that underscores the opportunity. Hormonal health sits at the center of conversations around personalized medicine and kvinnor’s health: By 2025, kvinnor’s health could be a $50 billion industry, and by 2026, digital health more broadly is estimated to hit $221 billion.

Still, as funding for women’s health startups drops and stigma continues to impact where venture dollars go, it’s unclear whether the sector will remain in its infancy or hit a true inflection point.

3 lessons we learned after raising $6.3M from 50 investors

Image of businesspeople climbing ladders up an arrow toward three increasingly tall piles of cash.

Bildkrediter: sorbetto (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images

Two years ago, founders of calendar assistant platform Reclaim were looking for a “mango” seed round — a boodle of cash large enough to help them transition from the prototype phase to staffing up for a public launch.

Although the team received offers, co-founder Henry Shapiro says the few that materialized were poor options, partially because Reclaim was still pre-product.

“So one summer morning, my co-founder and I sat down in his garage — where we’d been prototyping, pitching and iterating for the past year — and realized that as hard as it was, we would have to walk away entirely and do a full reset on our fundraising strategy,” he writes.

Shapiro shares what he learned from embracing failure and offers three conclusions “every founder should consider before they decide to go out and pitch investors.”

For SaaS startups, differentiation is an iterative process

For SaaS success, differentiation is crucial

Bildkrediter: Kevin Schafer / Getty Images

Although software as a service has been thriving as a sector for years, it has gone into overdrive in the past year as businesses responded to the pandemic by speeding up the migration of important functions to the cloud, ActiveCampaign founder and CEO Jason VandeBoom writes in a guest column.

“We’ve all seen the news of SaaS startups raising large funding rounds, with deal sizes and valuations steadily climbing. But as tech industry watchers know only too well, large funding rounds and valuations are not foolproof indicators of sustainable growth and longevity.”

VandeBoom notes that to scale sustainably, SaaS startups need to “stand apart from the herd at every phase of development. Failure to do so means a poor outcome for founders and investors.”

“As a founder who pivoted from on-premise to SaaS back in 2016, I have focused on scaling my company (most recently crossing 145,000 customers) and in the process, learned quite a bit about making a mark,” VandeBoom writes. “Here is some advice on differentiation at the various stages in the life of a SaaS startup.”

TechCrunch

NYHETER

Google December Produktrecensioner Uppdatering påverkar mer än engelska webbplatser? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Förbi

Googles produktrecensioner uppdatering tillkännagavs att rulla ut till det engelska språket. Inget nämndes om eller när det skulle rullas ut till andra språk. Mueller svarade på en fråga om huruvida det rullar ut till andra språk.

Uppdatering för produktrecensioner från Google december 2021

Den 1 december 2021, Google meddelade den Twitter att en produktrecensionsuppdatering skulle rullas ut som skulle fokusera på engelska webbsidor.

Fokus för uppdateringen var att förbättra kvaliteten på recensioner som visas i Googles sökning, särskilt inriktade på recensionswebbplatser.

En Googler twittrade en beskrivning av de typer av webbplatser som skulle vara inriktade på degradering i sökrankingen:

"Främst relevant för webbplatser som publicerar artiklar som recenserar produkter.

Tänk på sajter som "bästa TV-apparater under $200″.com.

Målet är att förbättra kvaliteten och användbarheten av recensioner som vi visar användare.”

Annons

Fortsätt läsa nedan

Google publicerade också en blogginlägg med mer vägledning om produktrecensionsuppdateringen som introducerade två nya bästa praxis som Googles algoritm skulle leta efter.

Den första bästa praxisen var ett krav på bevis för att en produkt faktiskt hanterades och granskades.

Den näst bästa praxis var att tillhandahålla länkar till mer än en plats där en användare kan köpa produkten.

De Twitter tillkännagivandet uppgav att det rullas ut till engelska webbplatser. Blogginlägget nämnde inte vilka språk det rullades ut till och inte heller specificerade blogginlägget att uppdateringen av produktrecensionen var begränsad till det engelska språket.

Uppdatering för Googles Mueller Thinking About Produktrecensioner

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Produktrecension Uppdatering inriktad på fler språk?

Personen som ställde frågan hade med rätta intrycket att uppdateringen av produktrecensionen endast påverkade sökresultat på engelska.

Annons

Fortsätt läsa nedan

Men han påstod att han såg volatilitet i sökningar på det tyska språket som verkar vara relaterat till Googles Produktrecensionsuppdatering december 2021.

Detta är hans fråga:

"Jag såg några rörelser i tyska sök också.

Så jag undrade om det också kunde bli en effekt på webbplatser på andra språk av den här produktrecensionsuppdateringen... eftersom vi hade mycket rörelse och volatilitet under de senaste veckorna.

…Min fråga är, är det möjligt att uppdateringen av produktrecensioner också påverkar andra webbplatser?”

John Mueller svarade:

"Jag vet inte... som andra språk?

Mitt antagande var att detta var globalt och över alla språk.

Men jag vet inte vad vi tillkännagav i blogginlägget specifikt.

Men vanligtvis försöker vi pressa ingenjörsteamet att fatta ett beslut om det så att vi kan dokumentera det ordentligt i blogginlägget.

Jag vet inte om det hände med uppdateringen av produktrecensioner. Jag kommer inte ihåg hela blogginlägget.

Men det är... ur min synvinkel verkar det som något som vi skulle kunna göra på flera språk och inte skulle vara knutet till engelska.

Och även om det var engelska från början så känns det som något som är relevant över hela linjen, och vi bör försöka hitta sätt att rulla ut det till andra språk med tiden också.

Så jag är inte särskilt förvånad över att man ser förändringar i Tyskland.

Men jag vet inte heller vad vi faktiskt tillkännagav när det gäller de platser och språk som är inblandade.”

Påverkar uppdateringen av produktrecensioner fler språk?

Även om det tweetade tillkännagivandet specificerade att produktrecensioners uppdatering var begränsad till engelska språket nämnde det officiella blogginlägget inga sådana begränsningar.

Googles John Mueller erbjöd sin åsikt att uppdateringen av produktrecensioner är något som Google skulle kunna göra på flera språk.

Man måste undra om tweeten var tänkt att kommunicera att uppdateringen rullades ut först på engelska och sedan till andra språk.

Det är oklart om uppdateringen av produktrecensioner rullades ut globalt till fler språk. Förhoppningsvis kommer Google att klargöra detta snart.

Citat

Google blogginlägg om produktrecensioner Uppdatering

Uppdatering av produktrecensioner och din webbplats

Googles riktlinjer för nya produktrecensioner

Skriv produktrecensioner av hög kvalitet

John Mueller diskuterar om uppdateringen av produktrecensioner är global

Se Mueller svara på frågan vid 14:00 Minute Mark

[inbäddat innehåll]

Searchenginejournal.com

Fortsätt läsa

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