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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for November 19, 2021. It’s a welcome Friday today, heading into a holiday week here in the United States. TechCrunch is a global team, but we’ll be a touch slower starting next Thursday. Still, there’s more than a little to get into today! – Alex
P.S. Tickets to our upcoming space-themed event are on sale for the next few days!
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Bring on drone deliveries: An Israeli drone company (Flytrex) is teaming up with U.S. chains (Walmart, Chili’s) to test deliveries in one state (North Carolina). Amazon has worked on drone deliveries, as have other companies. Flytrex just raised $40 million for its efforts. Given how little interest we have in driving to get things, here’s hoping the experiment works this time.
- The changing structure of venture capital: News that U.S. venture giant Sequoia was shaking up its operating model was big news when it landed. But after looking at a few examples from other markets, there’s precedent for a more permanent capital model. Our next question is which venture capital firm is next.
- Crypto unicorns multiply: It’s no surprise that with more and more venture funds built to invest in them, crypto-focused startups are having a busy year. But you might be surprised regarding just how many new crypto unicorns were born this year and where they are based. A new data set also details where the crypto unicorns are focused, and, yes, NFTs do come up.
- Speaking of crypto startups, Nym raises $13M: Based in Switzerland — quickly becoming a domiciling hub for crypto projects — Nym has raised fresh capital from the a16z crypto fund to, in TechCrunch’s words, “commercialize an old idea for privacy-centric infrastructure (mixnets) by combining it with buzzy crypto incentives.”
- Mmhmm buys Macro: Video-focused startup mmhmm has made a purchase, snagging video-chat filter service Macro. Given that both work in making video-based communications a bit more snazzy, they fit together well on paper.
- Sudowrite will help you write a zillion words: Our own Haje Jan Kamps has a fascinating look at a writing tool that leverages GPT-3 to attack writer’s block. It’s not the first writing-focused service built atop GPT-3 that we’ve covered, and we doubt that it will be the last. But this does appear to be the most, ahem, wordy. Sudowrite recently raised $3 million.
- Amara’s high-density baby food attracts $12M Series A: Feeding your little kiddo isn’t easy. Between picky eating and a plethora of foods on offer that are less than winsome for their growing bodies, it can be hard to get the right foodstuffs into your pantry. Amara is taking on the issue with a Series A that values its healthy kid food business at $100 million.
- Startups are taking on reinsurance, too: By now we’re familiar with a number of insurtech models. Root, Metromile, Hippo and others are taking on familiar insurance products. Zebra and its rivals are building insurance marketplaces. But reinsurance? That’s rarer. Kettle just raised $25 million to take on the business of insuring the insurers. Let’s see how its economics play out.
- VC focused on Korean startups raises $127M: Thanks to the sharp eyes of our own Kate Park, TechCrunch has news up today discussing Primer Sazze Partners, a San Jose-based venture capital firm that wants to “invest in startups founded by Korean entrepreneurs in Asia and North America.” It’s not the biggest fund we’ve heard of, but we don’t know of that many venture firms taking on its exact remit, so it stood out from the mix.
- If you need a little something to take your mind off the weekend, Equity has a fun episode out taking on the week’s news, from OpenSea to edtech. If that’s not enough, the other flagship TechCrunch podcast Found has a great episode out this week with recent TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield winner Nabiha Saklayen that I cannot recommend enough.
Making the case for IVP: Initial viable product
The goal is to keep shipping until you reach product-market fit, but there’s a catch: “Minimal is a sliding scale that will always slide onto you,” according to Aron Solomon, head of strategy at Esquire Digital.
Instead of putting MVP on a pedestal, he proposes adding an initial viable product (IVP) to the roadmap.
“If your IVP is your presentation of an unbaked pepperoni pizza, your MVP is when you present a can of sauce, a package of cheese, a Slim Jim, and a pencil sketch of an oven.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- The EU is not done tinkering with adtech: The European Data Protection Board, or EDPB, is warning EU lawmakers that an upcoming collection of digital rules “risks damaging people’s fundamental rights” unless it is amended. One suggestion? That ad-tracking be phased out. That would be, ahem, a change in how the internet works.
- Flipkart moves into healthcare: Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart is buying a majority stake in SastaSundar, another Indian company, and one that “works with more than 490 pharmacies,” per TechCrunch reporting. American e-commerce giant Amazon is also making moves into healthcare work, perhaps giving us a trend to watch for in other markets.
- Twitter brings tipping to Android: Another day, another mote of Twitter product news. Frankly, these are dropping so frequently I might have to stop including as many of these in Daily Crunch as I do. Regardless, if you are on Android you can now access Twitter’s tipping feature, in case you were waiting.