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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for October 18, 2021. Yes, it was an Apple event day, so we have a pile of coverage for you to enjoy down below. But we also have a mess of startup stories and some IPO notes to boot. Let’s go! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Here’s everything Apple announced today: Apple’s event included new AirPods, new MacBook Pros, new chips — the lot. If you are in the market for a new Apple laptop and don’t want something as light as possible, it was a pretty good day. Unless you hate notches. Meanwhile, Wall Street was bored by the whole affair.
- Amazon in hot water over congressional testimony: After testifying that Amazon didn’t use third-party marketplace data to guide its own first-party product decisions, the company is in the soup after the press disclosed that it did just that. Amazon reiterated its policy against such actions, despite former employees claiming that breaking the rule was standard practice. Congress is peeved. And Amazon is under fire for allegedly preferring its own products, despite saying that it doesn’t. As an aside, if Amazon is unable to enforce its own policies due to its size, it’s not really doing itself or any of its fellow technology giants much of a favor as they fend off regulatory scrutiny.
- Inside Expensify’s IPO filing: Another week, another S-1 filing to enjoy. This time it’s Expensify’s turn to go public. The Portland, Oregon-based company is bouncing back from COVID impacts to its business, with growing revenues and historical profitability. It’s a neat IPO, though we’re not entirely sure yet where it will price.
Kicking off today’s startup digest, a note for startups building in the MENA region: We want to chat.
- What you should know about going public: Are you a startup founder with hopes of eventually taking your company public? Good news: We recently sat down with a group of experts on the matter, including investor and operator perspectives. So if you want to get a leg up on your own future, this is for you.
- TripleBlind raises $24M for corporate data encryption: Data privacy is an increasingly key concept for global companies loath to run afoul of regulators — or consumers. TripleBlind is building a service that has “devised a way to encrypt data so that it can be shared without ever being decrypted or even leaving the data owner’s firewall and keeping the whole process compliant with data protection regulations,” which we quite like the sound of. Notably, the company is based in Kansas City, Missouri.
- Deel shows that remote hiring is hot: Talk to an early-stage startup today, and you’ll be regaled with tales of how they are eight people in four time zones across five countries. But supporting remote employees in different locales is not easy. Taxes alone can get messy. Deel manages that headache for other companies, and it just raised $425 million at a $5.5 billion valuation. That’s one hell of a load of cash wagered on remote hiring not just sticking around, but growing.
- Allplants wants to make all-plant TV dinners: If it comes in a box and goes in the microwave, it’s probably not that good for you. That’s been a reasonable sentiment for ages. Allplants wants to shake that up with vegan meals that come in a box. Draper Esprit led its Series B, putting £38 million into the company. Frankly, that’s a metric tonne of sterling. If I can find an Allplants meal to buy and try, I will report back.
- African startups take more accelerator spots: As the African startup market accelerates — data here — we’re seeing more startups from the continent take part in the global accelerator market.
- And because I cannot help but mention it, the company that sailed a drone sailboat into a hurricane the other week just raised $100 million.
Leveraging customer feedback and data to iterate on your product
Very few startups go to market with the product they first envisioned.
Iteration is a key process for early-stage companies, but it’s also an acquired skill. To learn more about how operators can lean on data to accelerate the product development process and segment users into useful cohorts, Anna Heim spoke to:
- Jean-Denis Grèze, CTO, Plaid
- Stephanie Mencarelli, VP, Product Design at InVision
- Pete Thompson, SVP & Chief Product Officer, eBay
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Amazon to expand Zoox trial to Seattle: Recall that Amazon owns Zoox. The news today that Zoox is expanding autonomous driving trials to the Seattle area now makes more sense. Providence next, please.
- Toyota earmarks $3.4B for battery production: How big is the battery game going to get? Much, much bigger. Aside from what that means for certain mining operations, news is out today that Toyota plans to pour billions into “battery development and production in the United States through the end of the decade.” The days of internal combustion are numbered.
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Next Week! TC Sessions: SaaS Kicks Off
Join TechCrunch on October 27 for TC Sessions: SaaS, where we will delve into all things software as a service. From talks with big names like SAP and Databricks to pitch sessions with up-and-coming SaaS startups, it’s going to be a conference to remember. Tickets start at just $35 — book yours today.