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Welcome back to the Daily Crunch on June 15, 2021. Henry here while your regular writer enjoys hard earned R&R.
We just got Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto to speak at our City Spotlight: Pittsburgh event. As Brian Heater said today, Pittsburgh currently has one of the most dynamic robotic startup ecosystems in the world, is at the center of much of the world’s research on autonomous vehicles, and has produced successful companies like Duolingo.
Peduto will discuss the challenges and successes in building and maintaining this ecosystem at this great (and virtual) event with Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian. Register here to participate.
The TechCrunch top 3
Solid performance goes public: The solid-state battery developer, backed by Ford and BMW, said Tuesday it would go public on Nasdaq via a merger with the special purpose vehicle Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp III at an implied market value of $ 1.2 billion after the deal.
Andreessen Horowitz has launched its own media apparatus called Futre: The publication, financed by a16z fund, wants to provide content that is not currently on the market and that can be created from the company’s “unique, interesting rod”, says Margit Wennmachers, operative partner for marketing and future. Good luck, a16z, and welcome to the jungle.
We have a new FTC commissioner: The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Big Tech critic and prominent antitrust scientist Lina Khan as commissioner for the Federal Trade Commission, signaling a new era of control for the tech industry. Khan was affirmed by 69-28 votes, with Republicans joining Democrats in a rare display of bipartisan support for Khan’s ideas to contain the most powerful tech companies.
Startups and VC
Solar funding: Heliogen raised $ 108 million in funding to test its 1,000-degree solar oven at a number of participating mines and refineries.
We don’t trust anyone: Elisity, a platform designed to help organizations transition from legacy access approaches to zero trust – a security model based on maintaining tight access controls that doesn’t trust anyone – has raised $ 26 million for its efforts.
From the mouth of the authors: BookClub, which gives authors the ability to host book groups, share exclusive video-based interviews, and answer questions from readers, raised $ 20 million in a Series A round. If only Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Henry Miller and George Eliot were still alive.
The social unicorn: IRL, a social calendar app that could have crashed during COVID, instead profited from finding virtual events for users to attend, and leveraged that success for a new $ 170 million round of funding and unicorn status that is now estimated at $ 1.17 billion.
House fires: Thumbtack, your favorite place to go if you don’t want to break anything in your home, raised $ 275 million on a valuation of $ 3.2 billion.
Life saving increase: Carbyne raised $ 20 million to coordinate calls to emergency teams, ambulances, hospitals, and other actors who need to work together to save a life.
A sustainable fund: G2 Venture Partners has raised $ 500 million to support entrepreneurs who want to make existing industries more efficient, greener and more socially responsible.
How to identify unicorn founders when they’re just starting out
The story goes on
What are investors looking for?
Founders often get tangled trying to project qualities that they hope investors will seek. In reality, few entrepreneurs have the acting skills necessary to convince someone that they are patient, dedicated, or working hard.
Johan Brenner, General Partner at Creandum, was an early supporter of Klarna, Spotify and several other European startups. Over the past two decades, he has identified five key traits that are shared by people who start billion dollar businesses.
“A true Unicorn founder doesn’t have to have all of these skills on day one,” says Brenner, “but he should think big while acting small and show that he understands how to scale a company.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams move forward. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Apple Podcasts subscriptions are live worldwide: The subscriptions allow podcast enthusiasts to access additional perks for their hot lists, including ad-free listening, early access to new episodes, bonus material, exclusive content, and everything else that the creators believe their fans will spend their money on. Subscriptions are now available in more than 170 countries.
Shopify ecommerce platform said today that Shop Pay, its one-click checkout service, will be available to every US retailer selling on Facebook or Googleeven if they don’t use Shopify’s software to run their online stores.
Over in Europe, a group of 200 startup founders, investors, associations and government officials are supporting a manifesto and a series of recommendations to create the next wave of technology giants across the continent.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
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We love the responses to our survey of top growth marketers. It’s not too late to weigh up: fill out the survey here.
If you’re a growth marketer, share the survey with your customers – we’d love to hear from them!
To find out more about this project and how we plan to use it to shape our editorial coverage, visit techcrunch.com/experts.