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One week only: Score 4th of July discounts on Disrupt 2020 passes

Startup News - 2020, June 30 - 2:44am

Here’s a Fourth of July event that doesn’t require a mask or social distancing. This week only you can save an extra $50 when you buy Disrupt Digital Pro passes or a Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package for Disrupt 2020.

Buy the pass or package you want and save $50 at checkout when you use this promo code: 50JULY4. The discount remains in play until Sunday, July 5 at 11:59 p.m. (PDT).

Our first virtual Disrupt spans five programming-packed days from Sept 14-18. Both types of Digital Pro pass holders enjoy live and on-demand access to the full breadth of content across all Disrupt stages. For starters, don’t miss TechCrunch editors interviewing some of the biggest names in tech and watch the always-epic Startup Battlefield pitch competition on the Disrupt Stage.

The Extra Crunch Stage features interactive, moderated discussions with top experts — growth marketers, lawyers, investors, technologists, recruiters — on topics critical to founders’ success. Submit questions and get answers in real time.

Check out early-stage startups in Digital Startup Alley. Browse hundreds of exhibiting startups, organized by category, and watch their product demos on demand. See something you like? Arrange a 1:1 video conference right then and there with the founders.

And that brings us to the Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package. You get all the access benefits of a Digital Pro pass for up to three people in your company and will be able to exhibit and promote your product from wherever you are in the world. It includes a custom landing page to collect leads, post a marketing video or promote your pitch deck among several other benefits and tools to help you get in front of the right audience.

Whether you buy an individual pass or a package, CrunchMatch will keep your networking organized and on track. The AI-powered platform features a new-and-improved algorithm for faster and more precise matching, and it makes connecting with people who can help grow your business easier than ever. Schedule 1:1 video meetings with prospective investors, customers, collaborators — or recruit talent. CrunchMatch launches weeks before Disrupt begins so you can disrupt longer.

There’s so much more to do at Disrupt 2020, and all of it’s designed to help you keep your business moving forward. Take advantage of the July Fourth discount. Buy a Disrupt Digital Pro pass or a Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package and plug in promo code 50JULY4 — before July 6 at 11:59 p.m. (PDT), save an extra $50 and disrupt for less. No mask or social distancing required.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact the sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

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Categories: Business News

How $20 billion health care behemoth Blue Shield of California sees startups

Startup News - 2020, June 30 - 2:39am

In the two years since Jeff Semenchuk took the reins in the newly created position of chief innovation officer for Blue Shield of California, the nonprofit health insurer with $20 billion in revenues has stepped up its investments in startup companies.

As one of California’s largest insurance providers with more than four million members, Blue Shield plays an outsized role in technology adoption among physicians, hospital networks and patients. With that in mind, and with the acceleration of entrepreneurial activity around the multitrillion health care market, Semenchuk was brought on board after serving as chief executive of Yaro (now Virgin Plus) and CIO of Hyatt Hotels and co-founder of Citi Ventures.

Semenchuk said he sees Blue Shield as working to create a new health care system: “It’s not to perpetuate the health care system we have today.” Increasingly, startups have a role to play in that revisioning of health care services in America, according to Semenchuk.

“What I would say has happened over the last two years is that we have really focused on transformational innovation,” he added.

Investing in those transformational technologies involves taking cash directly from Blue Shield’s balance sheet for investments. The company doesn’t operate a corporate venture capital fund in the traditional sense, instead making strategic investments under the auspices of Semenchuk or Chief Financial Officer Sandra Clarke.*

Categories: Business News

Startups are poised to disrupt the $14B title insurance industry

Startup News - 2020, June 30 - 1:50am
Ashley Paston Contributor Share on Twitter Ashley Paston is an investor at Bain Capital Ventures, where she invests primarily in financial technology and services companies. 

If you have bought a house in the last decade, you likely started the process online. Perhaps you browsed for your future dream home on a website like Zillow or Realtor, and you may have been surprised by how quickly things moved from seeing a property to making an offer.

When you reached the closing stage, however, things slowed to a crawl. Some of those roadblocks were anticipated, such as the process of getting a mortgage, but one likely wasn’t: the tedious and time-consuming process of obtaining title insurance — that is, insurance that protects your claim to home ownership should any claims arise against it after sale.

For a product that is all but required to purchase a home, title insurance isn’t something many people know about until they have to pay for it and then wait up to two months to get.

Now, finally, a handful of startups are taking on the title insurance industry, hoping to make the process of buying a policy easier, cheaper and more transparent. These startups, including Spruce, States Title, JetClosing, Qualia, Modus and Endpoint, enable part or all of the title insurance buying process. Whether these startups can finally topple the title insurance monopoly remains to be seen, but they are already causing cracks in the system.

To that end, we’ve outlined what’s broken about today’s title industry; recent developments in technology and government that are priming the industry for change; and a synthesis of some key trends we’ve observed in the space, as entrepreneurs begin to capitalize on a tipping point in a century-old, $14 billion business.

Title insurance 101

To understand how startups are beginning to challenge title insurance incumbents, we need to first understand what title insurance is and what title companies do.

Title insurance is unique from other types of insurance, which require ongoing payments and protect a buyer against future incidents. Instead, title insurance is a one-time payment that protects a buyer from what has already happened — namely errors in the public record, liens against the property, claims of inheritance and fraud. When you buy a home, title insurance companies research your property’s history, contained in public archives, to make sure no such claims are attached to it, then correct any issues before granting a title insurance policy.

Categories: Business News

Personal Capital sells to Empower Retirement in deal worth up to $1B

Startup News - 2020, June 30 - 1:44am

Today Personal Capital, a fintech company that had attracted more than $265 million in private funding, announced that it is selling itself to Empower Retirement, a company that provides retirement services to other companies. The deal is worth $825 million upon closing, with another $175 million in what are described as “planned growth” incentives, according to a release.

The deal is a likely win for Personal Capital . According to Forbes, the firm was worth $660 million around the time of its Series F round of funds, which it raised in February of 2019. The company was valued at around $500 million in December of 2016, meaning that investors who put capital in at that point, or before, likely did well on their investment.

Venture groups who put capital in later, unless they had ratchets in place, likely didn’t make as much from the deal as they originally hoped. Regardless, a $1 billion all-inclusive exit is nothing to scoff at; Facebook once bought Instagram for that much money, and the sheer cheek of the transaction at the time nearly broke the internet.

Saving, not spending, is the new hotness in fintech

During its life as a private company, Crosslink Capital, IGM Financial, Venrock, IVP and Corsair each led rounds into the company according to Crunchbase data.

Personal Capital is a consumer service that helps folks plan for retirement, and invest their capital. The company offers free financial tools, and a higher-cost wealth management option for accounts of at least $100,000. The company doesn’t like being called a robo-advisor, instead claiming to exist in the space between old-fashioned in-person wealth management relationships and fully automated options.

Regardless, the company’s sale price should help market rivals price themselves. Here are Personal Capital’s core stats (data via Personal Capital, accurate as a May 31, 2020):

  • AUM: $12.3 billion
  • Users: 2.5 million

So, Wealthfront and M1 Finance and others, there are some metrics for you to weigh yourselves against. Of course, other, competing companies have different monetization methods, so the comparison won’t be 100% direct.

The Personal Capital exit fits into the theme that TechCrunch has tracked lately, in which savings and investing applications have seen demand surge for their wares. This is a trend not merely in the United States where Personal Capital is based, but also abroad.

Aside from Personal Capital’s exit today, we’ve also seen huge deals in 2020 from Plaid, which sold to Visa for over $5 billion, Galileo’s exit for over $1 billion and Credit Karma’s sale for north of $7 billion. In response to this particular news item, TechCrunch’s Danny Crichton noted that fintech is “probably the hottest exit market right now.” He’s right.

Categories: Business News

DoubleDown is going public: Why isn’t its IPO worth more?

Startup News - 2020, June 30 - 12:02am

Agora isn’t the only company headquartered outside the United States aiming to go public domestically this quarter. After catching up on Agora’s F-1 filing, the China-and-U.S.-based, API-powered tech company that went public last week, today we’re parsing DoubleDown Interactive’s IPO document.

The Exchange is a daily look at startups and the private markets for Extra Crunch subscribers; use code EXCHANGE to get full access and take 25% off your subscription.

The mobile gaming company is targeting the NASDAQ and wants to trade under the ticker symbol “DDI.”

As with Agora, DoubleDown filed an F-1, instead of an S-1. That’s because it’s based in South Korea, but it’s slightly more complicated than that. DoubleDown was founded in Seattle, according to Crunchbase, before selling itself to DoubleU Games, which is based in South Korea. So, yes, the company is filing an F-1 and will remain majority-held by its South Korean parent company post-IPO, but this offering is more a local affair than it might at first seem.

Even more, with a $17 to $19 per-share IPO price range, the company could be worth up to nearly $1 billion when it debuts. Does that pricing make sense? We want to find out.

So let’s quickly explore the company this morning. We’ll see what this mobile, social gaming company looks like under the hood in an effort to understand why it is being sent to the public markets right now. Let’s go!

Fundamentals

Any gaming company has to have its fun-damentals in place so that it can have solid financial results, right? Right?

Anyway, DoubleDown is a nicely profitable company. In 2019 its revenue only grew a hair to $273.6 million from $266.9 million the year before (a mere 2.5% gain), but the company’s net income rose from $25.1 million to $36.3 million, and its adjusted EBITDA rose from $85.1 million to $101.7 million over the same period.

Categories: Business News

Mobile developer Tru Luv enlists investors to help build a more inclusive alternative to gaming

Startup News - 2020, June 29 - 10:53pm

Developer and programmer Brie Code has worked at the peak of the video game industry — she was responsible for many of the AI systems that powered non-player character (NPC) behavior in the extremely popular Assassin’s Creed series created by Ubisoft. It’s obvious that gaming isn’t for everyone, but Code became more and more interested in why that maxim seemed to play out along predictable gender lines, leading her ultimately to develop and launch #SelfCare through her own independent development studio TRU LUV.

#SelfCare went on to win accolades, including a spot of Apple’s App Store Best of 2018 list, and Code and TRU LUV was also the first Canadian startup to attend Apple’s Entrepreneur Camp program. Now, with more than 2 million downloads of #SelfCare (without any advertising at all), Code and TRU LUV have brought on a number of investors for their first outside funding, including Real Ventures, Evolve Ventures, Bridge Builders Collaborative and Artesian Venture Partners.

I spoke to Code about how she came up with and created #SelfCare, what’s next for TRU LUV and how the current COVID-19 crisis actually emphasizes the need for an alternative to gaming that serves many similar functions, but for previously underserved groups of people for whom the challenges and rewards structures of traditional gaming just don’t prove very satisfying.

“I became very, very interested in why video games don’t interest about half of people, including all of my friends,” Code told me. “And at that point, tablets were becoming popular, and everyone had a phone. So if there was something universal about this medium, it should be being more widely adopted, yet I was seeing really clear patterns that it wasn’t. The last time I checked, which was maybe a couple years ago, there were 5 billion mobile users and around 2.2 billion mobile gamers.”

Her curiosity piqued by the discrepancy, especially as an industry insider herself, Code began to do her own research to figure out potential causes of the divide — the reason why games only seemed to consistently appeal to about half of the general computer user population, at best.

“I started doing a lot of focus groups and research and I saw really clear patterns, and I knew that if there is a clear pattern, there must be an explanation,” Code said. “What I discovered after I read Sheri Graner Ray’s book ‘Gender Inclusive Game Design,’ which she wrote in 2004, in a chapter on stimulation was how, and these are admittedly gross generalizations, but men tend to be stimulated by the sense of danger and things flashing on screen. And women, in her research, tended to be stimulated by something mentioned called a ‘mutually-beneficial outcome to a socially significant situation.’ That’s when you help an NPC and they help you, for instance. In some way, that’s more significant, in the rules of the world than just the score going up.”

TRU LUV founder and CEO Brie Code (Image Credits: Brie Code)

Code then dug in further, using consumer research and further study, and found a potential cause behind this divide that then provided a way forward for developing a new alternative to a traditional gaming paradigm that might prove more appealing to the large group of people who weren’t served by what the industry has traditionally produced.

“I started to read about the psychology of stimulation, and from there I was reading about the psychology of defense, and I found a very simple and clear explanation for this divide, which is that there are two human stress responses,” she said. “One of them, which is much more commonly known, is called the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. When we experience the fight-or-flight response, in the face of challenge or pressure or danger, you have adrenaline released in your body, and that makes you instinctively want to win. So what a game designer does is create these situations of challenge, and then give you opportunities to win and that leverages the fight-or-flight response to stress: That’s the gamification curve. But there is another human stress response discovered at the UCLA Social Cognitive Neuroscience lab in 2000, by Dr. Shelly Taylor and her colleagues. It’s very prevalent, probably about half of stress responses that humans experience, and it’s called tend-and-befriend.”

Instead of generating an adrenaline surge, it releases oxytocin in the brain, and instead of seeking a victory over a rival, people who experience this want to take care of those who are more vulnerable, connect with friends and allies and find mutually beneficial solutions to problems jointly faced. Seeking to generate that kind of response led to what Code and TRU LUV call AI companions, a gaming alternative that is non-zero sum and based on the tend-and-befriend principal. Code’s background as an AI programmer working on some of the most sophisticated virtual character interactions available in modern games obviously came in handy here.

Code thought she might be on to something, but didn’t anticipate the level of #SelfCare’s success, which included 500,00 downloads in just six weeks, and more than 2 million today. And most of the feedback she received from users backed up her hypotheses about what the experience provided, and what users were looking for in an alternative to a mobile gaming experience.

Fast forward to now, and TRU LUV is growing its team, and focused on iterating and developing new products to capitalize on the clear vein of interest they’ve tapped among that underserved half of mobile users. Code and her team have brought on investors whose views and portfolios align with their product vision and company ethos, including Evolve Ventures, which has backed a number of socially progressive ventures, and whose managing director, Julius Mokrauer, actually teaches a course on the subject at Columbia Business School.

#SelfCare was already showing a promising new path forward for mobile experience development before COVID-19 struck, but the product and TRU LUV are focused on “resilience and psychological development,” so it proved well-suited to a market in which mobile users were looking for ways to make sustained isolation more pleasant. Obviously we’re just at the beginning of feeling whatever impacts come out of the COVID-19 crisis, but it seems reasonable to expect that different kinds of mobile apps that trigger responses more aligned with personal well-being will be sought after.

Code says that COVID-19 hasn’t really changed TRU LUV’s vision or approach, but that it has led to the team moving more quickly on in-progress feature production, and on some parts of their roadmap, including building social features that allow players to connect with one another as well as with virtual companions.

“We want to move our production forward a bit faster than planned in order to respond to the need,” Code said.”Also we’re looking at being able to create social experiences a little bit earlier than planned, and also to attend to the need of people to be able to connect, above and beyond people who connect through video games.”

Categories: Business News

Equity Monday: Scandal, one IPO and the Indian startup market

Startup News - 2020, June 29 - 10:49pm

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This is Equity Monday, our week-starting primer, in which we go over the latest, look to the week ahead, talk about some neat funding rounds and dig into the latest on the health of the startup market.

Don’t forget that you can follow Equity on Twitter, and, as explained in the show, you can sign up for Alex’s new TechCrunch newsletter “The Exchange” here.

OK, let’s get into what we talked about this morning:

  • The Rothenberg VC scandal is moving toward what feels like a conclusion, with the Department of Justice filing criminal charges against its founder. As TechCrunch reported, “the U.S. Department of Justice has brought two criminal wire fraud charges against him, charges that he made two false statements to a bank and money laundering charges, all of which could result in a very long time in prison depending on how things play out.”
  • Q2 is coming to a close this week, and many American companies are taking Friday off. Expect news to slow into the end of the week.
  • But, this week, South Korean gaming company DoubleDown Interactive is looking to raise $200 million by going public this week in the United States. That’s going to be exciting to watch.
  • Instead of picking individual funding rounds, we covered some notes on the Indian startup market. LiveMint, Times of India and Entrackr all covered recent venture data, showing a booming India edtech market amidst a weaker VC landscape. If it turns out that the rest of the world’s VC scenes are in similar straits, we could be entering something similar to a VC recession.
  • Finally, Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal is writing about how the stock market actually is tracking the economy. This is counter to the cliche that the stock market isn’t the economy. But his argument helps explain something about the startup market that has stuck out for a while, namely why did startup layoffs drop sharply and churn decline quickly in Q2? Well, maybe things got better?

And that’s Equity for today. We’re back Friday morning!

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Categories: Business News

Exclusive: Survey finds startups drifting away from offices, post COVID-19

Startup News - 2020, June 29 - 10:30pm

Early-stage startups are confident of re-opening their offices in the wake of the COVID-19 within the next six months. But there will be changes.

An exclusive survey compiled by Founders Forum, with TechCrunch, found 63% of those surveyed said they would only re-open in either 1-3 months or 3-6 months — even if the government advises that it is safe to do so before then. A minority have re-opened their offices, while 10% have closed their office permanently.

However, there will clearly be long-term impact on the model of office working, with a majority of those surveyed saying they would now move to either a flexible remote working model (some with permanent offices, some without), but only a small number plan a “normal” return to work. A very small number plan to go fully “remote.” Many cited the continuing benefits of face-to-face interaction when trying to build the team culture so crucial with early-stage companies.

Massive office closures during pandemic
Of the 328 that answered the survey, 84% said they had closed their office during the COVID-19 pandemic; 5% said they had not; and 8% said it was not applicable (i.e. no office to close). The majority of those answering were at seed or pre-seed stage, with a minority past Series A stage.

Crucially, a clear majority of respondents (66%) said the need to return to the office was not “business critical,” while 33% thought it was. Right now, startups are closely divided over feeling the need to return to the office, with 46% saying they did feel a need, while 53% said they did not.

The survey was launched by TechCrunch and U.K. nonprofit Founders Forum in order to assess how startups will work in the future, in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on office working and the shift to “Work From Home” policies. Of the 328 answers, 61% were from the U.K., 20% from the U.S. and the rest from other countries.

“Missing the power of face to face problem solving and building teams”

Founders Forum’s Brent Hoberman, who initiated the study, commented on the results: “The results prove both that early-stage tech founders are adaptable and that entrepreneurship is one of the best-suited professions to remote work. The majority of early-stage founders haven’t seen productivity take a hit during this period, but it remains to be seen what happens to creative output, team culture and training over the longer term. Furthermore, there are clearly opportunities for new types of even more flexible shared social workspaces with a vast majority of those surveyed still seeing value in face-to-face interaction.”

Remote working ups productivity, but impacts culture
Remote working during COVID-19 appears not to have impacted output, with 55% of startups saying they had worked more than normal, 30% the same hours, and 13% fewer hours.

In answer to the question: “Are you going to permanently change how and where your team works together?”: 48% said they would adopt a more flexible working arrangement (e.g. remote work days); 33% will adopt a remote-first setup (e.g. rented space for key meetings/workshops); 13% plan a normal return to work; and just 4% will adopt a fully remote configuration.

In terms of plans to re-open offices, 36% planned to re-open in 1-3 months “as soon as government advises that it is safe to do so”; 27% in 3-6 months “even if the government advises that it is safe to do so before then”; 16% answered “It’s already open – employees have been visiting if they feel comfortable”; 10% said “We have closed the office permanently”; and 9% said they planned to re-open in 6-12 months “even if the government advises that it is safe to do so before then.”

Given a full choice in the matter, 81% of those surveyed said they would prefer a hybrid of office and remote work, with only 11% wanting to go remote full time and 8% returning to an office full time. And 83% wanted to have set days when the whole team is in the office together.

Commenting on why they thought re-opening an office — in some form — was business-critical, comments from respondents included:

• “My employees are looking to return to work given wanting space from home confinement”

• “Need for top management sessions where in-person is much more productive than remote video calls”

• “Missing the power of face to face problem solving and building teams”

• “Ability to support early-career employees and bring on new ones”

• “I believe either fully remote or fully in-person setups are effective. A halfway house is ineffective.”

• “Too difficult to achieve the cross-pollination and high-velocity communication needed at our early stage.”

• “Culture. Younger team members can’t work from home all the time (shared accommodation). Some parents need the office to focus.”

• “We’re a biotech company and need to work from our labs”

• “We do order fulfillment from our warehouse.”

• “Team members ask for it as they cannot stand anymore working alone in their apartment”

Most startups are offering remote work options either to “some” employees (52%) or to all employees (31%). Some 16% offered no remote working at all, especially in areas like biotech where remote working from a lab is not possible.

Office spaces still adapting
There were mixed results when startups were asked if they had renegotiated their lease as a result of COVID-19, with 16% of those on a short lease saying they had and were successful, but 16% saying they had, but had not been able to renegotiate. Some 14% on a long lease were successful in the renegotiation, 14% said they were still in negotiation and 11% had canceled the membership of their co-working space.

Some 41% of startups or their landlords had not performed a workplace risk assessment, 25% had, while 33% still planned to.

Offices appear to be responding well, with either 40% having already introduced measures to improve the safety of workplaces or 34% planning to, while 25% had not, probably because they do not have an office or use co-working spaces.

Most people (58%) said they felt the work they perform remotely is “trusted and respected equally to the work I perform in the workplace.” Most (50%) said their home setup was “OK, but not ideal.”

WFH impacts working practices
When asked “What remote productivity tools or processes have become your secret weapon during COVID-19?” notable answers included:

• Miro, trello, zoom, Asana, Airtable, Slack, Microsoft Teams (among many others).

• “Two screens.”

• “Dedicated office space at home”

• “Routine. Shutting off at 5.30pm and going for a run/walk”

• “Saying hello and prioritizing chit chat on video calls every time, even though we all have work to do, observing social graciousness remotely is even more important. “

• “Company instituted ‘Summer Fridays’ urging to not work after 1pm on Fridays – less pressure to be ‘always-on’ ”

• “Being able to step away and recharge through engaging with the family when needed during the day.”

• “Old school phone calls”

Mental health impact 
Almost 80% said there had been no significant change to their mental health as a result of working remotely during COVID-19, with a slim number experiencing either a negative impact or positive.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Business News

Chinese online learning app Zuoyebang raises $750M

Startup News - 2020, June 29 - 6:26pm

Zuoyebang, a Beijing-headquartered startup that runs an online learning app, said on Monday it has raised $750 million in a new financing round as investors demonstrate their continued trust in — and focus on — Asia’s booming edtech market.

U.S. investment firm Tiger Global and Hong Kong-based private equity firm FountainVest Partners led the six-year-old startup’s Series E financing round. Existing investors — including SoftBank’s Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital China, Xiang He Capital and Qatar Investment Authority — also participated in the round, which brings the startup’s to-date raise to $1.33 billion.

As we have previously noted in our coverage, Zuoyebang’s app helps students — ranging from kindergarten to 12th-grade — solve problems and understand complex concepts.

The app, which offers online courses and runs live lessons, also allows students to take a picture of a problem, upload it to the app and get its solution. The startup claims it uses artificial intelligence to identify the question and its answer.

Zuoyebang, which targets K-12 students enrolled in the national compulsory education system, has amassed 170 million monthly active users, about 50 million of whom use the service each day, the startup said in a post (in Chinese). More than 12 million of these users are paid subscribers, it said. For comparison, China had about 200 million K-12 students in 2019, according to the Ministry of Education (in Chinese).

The announcement today further illustrates the opportunities investors are seeing in the online education sector in Asia. Last week, Indian edtech giant Byju’s announced it had received fresh funds from Mary Meeker’s fund, Bond.

SoftBank counts Zuoyebang among its 88 portfolio startups that have demonstrated growth in recent quarters. Zuoyebang was founded by Baidu in 2015. A year later the Chinese search giant spun off Zuoyebang into an independent startup.

Zuoyebang competes with a handful of startups in China, including Yuanfudao, which offers a similar service. In March, Yuanfudao said it had secured $1 billion in a financing round led by Tencent and Hillhouse Capital. The startup was valued at $7.8 billion at the time. Reuters reported earlier this month that Zuoyebang could be valued at $6.5 billion in the new financing round.

According to research firm iResearch, the online education market in China could be worth $81 billion in two years.

Categories: Business News

Extra Crunch expands into Romania

Startup News - 2020, June 29 - 5:31pm

Extra Crunch is now live in Romania. That adds to our existing support in Europe in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and U.K..

There’s been reason to be bullish on Romania’s technology sector for some time. A TechCrunch op-ed called the country the “Silicon Valley of Transylvania” in 2016, noting that the number of startups in the country had grown by 20% from 250 to 300 in a year. 

The country’s rich pool of developer talent (bullish notes on that matter here) has also led to rising investor interest. Crunchbase data, for example, said that known venture round counts rose by 26% in the country in 2019, compared to 2018. And from a 2015-era trough, the country’s GDP has risen sharply, along with its GDP per-capita

It’s no surprise, then, that Romania has been one of the most requested countries for Extra Crunch support in recent months. We’re happy to add the country to the list.

You can sign up here.

Extra Crunch is a membership program from TechCrunch that features market analysis, weekly investor surveys and how-tos and interviews on growth, fundraising, monetization and other work topics. Members can save time with access to an exclusive newsletter, no banner ads or video pre-rolls on TechCrunch.com, Rapid Read mode and our List Builder tool.

Committing to an annual and two-year plan will save you a few bucks on the membership price and unlock access to TechCrunch event discounts and Partner Perks. The Partner Perks program features discounts and savings on services from AWS, DocSend, Typeform, Zoom and more.

Thanks to everyone that voted on where to expand next. If you haven’t voted and you want to see Extra Crunch in your local country, let us know here.

You can sign up or learn more about Extra Crunch here.

Categories: Business News

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