Author: Kate Clark

Startups Weekly: Is Y Combinator’s latest cohort too big?

TECHCRUNCH Greetings from Chittorgarh, one of my stops on a two-week excursion through Goa and Rajasthan, India. I’ve been a little too busy exploring, photographing cows and monkeys and eating a lot of delicious food to keep up with *all* the tech news, but I’ve still got the highlights. For starters, if you haven’t heard yet, TechCrunch launched Extra Crunch, a paid premium subscription offering full of amazing content. As part of Extra Crunch, we’ll be doing deep dives on select businesses, beginning with Patreon. Read Patreon’s founding story here and learn how two college roommates built the world’s leading creator platform. Plus, we’ve got insights on Patreon’s product, business strategy, competitors and more. Sign up for Extra Crunch membership here. On to other news… Y Combinator’s latest batch of startups is huge So huge the Silicon Valley accelerator had to move locations and set up two stages at its upcoming demo days (March 18-19) to accommodate the more than 200 startups ready to pitch investors (who will have to hop between stages at the event). There will also be a virtual demo day live-streamed for some investors to watch “because there are so few seats.” Here’s what I’m wondering… At what point is a YC cohort too big? If investors aren’t even able to view all the companies at Demo Day, what exactly is the point? Send me your thoughts. Deal of the...

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Startups Weekly: Spotify gets acquisitive and Instacart screws up

TECHCRUNCH Did anyone else listen to season one of StartUp, Alex Blumberg’s OG Gimlet podcast? I did, and I felt like a proud mom this week reading stories of the major, first-of-its-kind Spotify acquisition of his podcast production company, Gimlet. Spotify also bought Anchor, a podcast monetization platform, signaling a new era for the podcasting industry. On top of that, Himalaya, a free podcast app I’d never heard of until this week, raised a whopping $100 million in venture capital funding to “establish itself as a new force in the podcast distribution space,” per Variety. The podcasting business definitely took center stage, but Lime and Bird made headlines, as usual, a new unicorn emerged in the mental health space and Instacart, it turns out, has been screwing its independent contractors. As mentioned, Spotify, or shall we say Spodify, gobbled up Gimlet and Anchor. More on that here and a full analysis of the deal here. Key takeaway: it’s the dawn of podcasting; expect a whole lot more venture investment and M&A activity in the next few years. This week’s biggest “yikes” moment was when reports emerged that Instacart was offsetting its wages with tips from customers. An independent contractor has filed a class-action lawsuit against the food delivery business, claiming it “intentionally and maliciously misappropriated gratuities in order to pay plaintiff’s wages even though Instacart maintained that 100 percent of...

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Extend Fertility banks $15M Series A to help women freeze their eggs

TECHCRUNCH Fertility services are raising venture cash left and right. Last week, it was Dadi, a sperm storage startup that nabbed a $2 million seed round. This week, it’s Extend Fertility, which helps women preserve their fertility through egg freezing. Headquartered in New York, the business has secured a $15 million Series A investment from Regal Healthcare Capital Partners to expand its fertility services, which also include infertility treatments, such as in vitro and intrauterine insemination. The company has also appointed Anne Hogarty, the former chief business officer at Prelude Fertility and vice president of international business at BuzzFeed, to...

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Hired buys Y Combinator grad Py, launches assessment tool

TECHCRUNCH To better measure aptitude of applicants, online job search engine Hired has acquired Py, which helps companies like Opendoor and Niantic identify talent with app-based interactive courses on Python, iOS development and more. As part of the deal, Hired will launch a new feature called Hired Assessments, leveraging tools from the Py platform, as well as a tiered subscription model. The base-level package, called Hired Essential, will provide enhanced search functionality, tools to help candidates arrive to interviews as prepared as possible and more. A spokesperson for Py declined to disclose terms of the deal but did say...

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Food delivery service Postmates confidentially files to go public

TECHCRUNCH Shortly after closing a $100 million pre-IPO round, food delivery business Postmates has confidentially filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an upcoming public offering, Bloomberg is reporting. We’ve reached out to Postmates for confirmation. The company will debut on the stock exchange at a more than $1.85 billion valuation — the valuation it garnered with its $100 million in January. In total, Postmates has raised $681 million in venture capital funding from investors including Spark Capital, Founders Fund, Uncork Capital and Slow Ventures. The 8-year-old company has tapped JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America to lead its upcoming float. Postmates,...

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Airbnb hires a global head of transportation

TECHCRUNCH Airbnb made it easier for travelers to find a place to crash. Now it wants to make it easier for them to get around. The $31 billion home-sharing giant has hired Fred Reid as its first-ever global head of transportation. Reid served as the founding chief executive officer of Virgin America from 2004 to 2007 after a three-year stint as the president of Delta Airlines. Most recently, Reid was president of the Cora Aircraft Program, a division of Kitty Hawk focused on the development of an autonomous electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. The hire suggests Airbnb has broad...

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Investigation finds e-scooters a cause of 1,500+ accidents

TECHCRUNCH An investigation by Consumer Reports may force electric scooter businesses to double back on safety measures. The magazine found electric scooters caused 1,545 injuries in the U.S. since late 2017, according to data collected from 110 hospitals and five public agencies in 47 cities where Bird or Lime, the leading tech-enabled scooter-sharing platforms, operate. The news comes shortly after UCLA published a study finding that 249 people required medical care following scooter accidents, with one-third of that group arriving at the hospital in an ambulance. “These injuries can be severe,” Tarak Trivedi, an emergency physician at UCLA and the study’s lead author, told...

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Uber Freight co-founders and top dealmakers join logistics startup Turvo

TECHCRUNCH Last year, Charlie Bergevin and Brian Cristol, co-founders of Uber’s trucking logistics business Uber Freight, heard Reid Hoffman say Turvo had some of the best technology he had ever seen. Frustrated with the direction Uber Freight had taken, they called up Turvo’s founder and chief executive officer Eric Gilmore. It wasn’t long before offers were on the table and now, they’ve joined Turvo full-time. Cristol as head of enterprise partnerships and Bergevin as an enterprise partnerships executive. Bin Chang, a founding engineer at Uber Freight, is joining Turvo, too, a move I’m told Cristol and Bergevin were unaware of until they’d already accepted roles at the venture-funded startup. Chang begins Feb. 11. “Brian and Charlie … have contributed so much to incubate this business and scale it to where we are today,” Uber Freight chief Lior Ron wrote in an internal email to employees shared with TechCrunch. “They were always on the forefront of exploration and innovation and were able to constantly push themselves, and all of us, to the next frontier.” Cristol and Bergevin were Uber’s first B2B sales hires when they joined the ride-hailing firm in 2016. Tasked with finding product market fit for Uber’s final-mile businesses under the ‘Uber Everything’ initiative, they began learning about the truckload transportation and logistics industry. That’s when they linked up with Curtis Chambers, Uber’s long-time director of engineering. Together, the trio pitched their...

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