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I was going to skip any mention of Quibi because, like me, you have heard more than enough already. But this week its shutdown announcement turned into a debate on Twitter about the nature of startup failure and whether this was still the right kind. Many in the startup world said it was still good, basically because most any ambitious startup effort leads to progress. Danny Crichton, in turn, argues that the negativity was fully justified in this case.Lets be honest: Most startups fail. Most ideas turn out wrong. Most entrepreneurs are never going to make it. That doesnt mean no one should build a startup, or pursue their passions and dreams. When success happens, we like to talk about it, report on it and try to explain why it happens because ultimately, more entrepreneurial success is good for all of us and helps to drive progress in our world. But lets also be clear that there are bad ideas, and then there are flagrantly bad ideas with billions in funding from smart people who otherwise should know better. Quibi wasnt the spark of the proverbial college dropout with a passion for entertainment trying to invent a new format for mobile phones with ramen money from friends and family. Quibi was run by two of the most powerful and influential executives in the United States today, who raised more money for their project thanother female founders have raised collectively this year. Ouch. However, I think this still misses the bigger dynamic happening. Quibi was so easy to criticize that it created an opportunity to plausibly defend for anyone who wants to show that they are here for the startups no matter how crazy. When you defend Quibi, youre defending your own process, and making it clear to the next generation of startups that youre personally not scared off from other people with crazy ideas and have the will to try even if the result is a big mess. Which is who founders want to hire in the early days, and who investors want to bet on. I support both sides of this mass-signaling game. Analysts and journalists have provided a broad range of valuable insights about how Quibi was doing it wrong, that are no doubt being internalized by founders of all types. Meanwhile, Quibi defenders are no doubt sorting through their inbound admirers for great new deals. All in all, Quibi and the debate around it might ultimately make future companies a little better. Which is what we all wanted in the first place, right? Image Credits: Larry Knupp (opens in a new window) Shutterstock (opens in a new window)Root Insurance plans pricing as Datto goes public The IPO market has not shut down (yet) for election turmoil and whatnot. First up, managed service provider Datto went out on Wednesday and has inched up since then a strong outcome for the company and its private equity owner, even if third parties did not benefit from an additional pop. A few more notes from Alex Wilhelm:Dattos CEOTim WellertoldTechCrunchin a call that the company will still be well-capitalized after the public offering, saying that it will have a very strong cash position. The company should have places to deploy its remaining cash. Inits S-1 filings, Datto highlighted a COVID-19 tailwind stemming from companies accelerating their digital transformation efforts. TechCrunch asked the companys CEO whether there was an international component to that story, and whether digital transformation efforts are accelerating globally and not merely domestically. In a good omen for startups not based in the United States, the executive said that they were. Next to market,Root Insurance released its stock pricing set this week, raising the goal to a valuation above $6 billion. Its definitely on track to be Ohios biggest tech IPO to date. Heres Alex again, with a comparison against Lemonade, another recently IPOed insurance tech provider for Extra Crunch: [I]t appears that Root at around $6 billion is cheap compared to Lemonades pricing today. So, if youd like to anticipate that Root raises its IPO price range to bring it closer to the multiples that Lemonade enjoys, feel free as you are probably not wrong. Are we saying that Root will doubleits valuation to match Lemonades current metrics? No. But closing the gap a bit? Sure. For insurtech startups, evenRootscurrentpricing is strong. Recall that Root wasworth $3.65 billion just last August. At $6.34 billion, the company has appreciated massively in just the last year and change. A small repricing could boost Roots valuation differential to a flat 100% rather easily. So, forMetroMile and ClearCover and the rest of the related players, do enjoy these good times as long as they last. Image Credits: Dong Wenjie (opens in a new window) Getty ImagesAR VR is coming (sooner than expected) A year ago, the market looked quite young. But now, the pandemic has made the value of augmented and virtual reality clearer to the world. Lucas Matney, who has been covering the topic here for years, just conducted a survey of seven top investors in the space. While they mostly continue to see the vertical as a bit early, they see it getting relevant fast. Heres one key response, from Brianne Kimmel of Work Life Ventures, on Extra Crunch: Most investors I chat with seem to be long-term bullish on AR, but are reticent to invest in an explicitly AR-focused startup today. What do you want to see before you make a play here? I think it all comes down to a unique insight and a competitive advantage when it comes to distribution. And so, Ill use these new [Zoom] apps as an example, I think that theyre a great example where there are certain aspects of roles and certain highly specialized skills where teaching educating and doing your daily job on Zoom wont actually cut it. I do foresee AR applications becoming an integral part of certain types of work. I also think that now that as a lot of the larger platforms such as Zoom are more open, people will start building on the platforms and there will be AR-specific use cases that can help industries where, you know, a traditional video conferencing experience doesnt quite cut it. Zurich startup scene loaded with talent In other survey news, Mike Butcher continues his (sadly virtual) tour across European startup hubs for EC, this week checking in with investors in Zurich, Switzerland. Heres a tidy explanation of the city and countrys deep technical experience, from Michael Blank of investiere: Which industries in your city and region seem well-positioned to thrive, or not, long term? What are companies you are excited about (your portfolio or not), which founders? Switzerland has always been at the forefront of technological innovation in areas such as precision engineering or life sciences. We strongly believe that Switzerland will also thrive in the long run in those areas. Thinking for example about additive manufacturing startups such as 9T Labs or Scrona, drone companies such as Verity or Wingtra or health tech startups such as Aktiia or Versantis. Brussels investors, Mike is headed your way next. You can reach him here.Around TechCrunch Announcing the agenda for TC Sessions: Space 2020 Rocket Labs Peter Beck is coming to TC Sessions: Space 2020 Extra Crunch Partner Perk: Get 6 months free of Zendesk Support and Sales CRMAcross the week TechCrunch This serial founder is taking on Carta with cap table management software she says is better for founders Equity Monday: Three neat venture rounds, and Alibabas latest The smart speaker market is expected to grow 21% next year Financial institutions can support COVID-19 crowdfunding campaigns Ready Set Raise, an accelerator for women built by women, announces third class Extra Crunch Heres how fast a few dozen startups grew in Q3 2020 Late-stage deals made Q3 2020 a standout VC quarter for US-based startups Founders dont need to be full-time to start raising venture capital Three views on the future of media startups Dear Sophie: What visa options exist for a grad co-founding a startup?EquityPod From Alex: Hello and welcome back toEquity, TechCrunchs venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. Myself, along withDannyandNatashahad a lot to get through, and more to say than expected. A big thanks to Chris for cutting the show down to size. Now, what did we get to? Aside from a little of everything, we ran through:Thefall of Quibi, andwho lost money in the mix. TechCrunch has a bit more on the video services downfallhere.TheNetflix quarter, andwhy its shares lost ground after its report. The Quibi-Netflix stories show that its not smooth sailing in the market for online video.If Netflix stumbled, Snapsoared with stronger-than-expected growth. The company still loses lots of money, but its getting closer to reasonable results, and has lots of cash.Then we turned to a few media startups that raised,including $4 million for Stirand$2.5 million for Quake. Quake the podcasting company, mind, not the excellent FPS.Next was a handful of housing rounds, includingthe very neat Aboduand thesomewhat controversial RVshare, which split the three of us about whether or not it was going to work out.Then we had some great reporting from Natasha to parse through, includingher piece on startup hacker houses, andher report on a new women-focused accelerator class. Whew! It was a lot, but also very good fun. Look forclips on YouTubeif youd like, and well chat you all next Monday.protectedexcerptrendered Startup failure is easy to hold up as a type of martyrdom for progress, especially if the founders are starting out scrappy in the first place and trying to save the world. For Whitman and Katzenberg best known for their respective reigns at HP and Disney money was key to success in an already crowded marketplace. Indeed, $1 billion was a drop in the bucket compared to the $17.3 billion Netflix was expected to spend on original content in 2020, but it was a start. Following in the footsteps of Apple, who had also recently announced plans tospend $1 billion to launch its own fledgling streaming service, the company was enlisting A-List talent, from Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro and Ridley Scott to Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez and LeBron James. If your name carried any sort of clout in Hollywood boardrooms, Quibi would happily cut you a check, seemingly regardless of content specifics. Quibis strategy primarily defined itself by its constraints. In hopes of attracting younger millennial and Gen Z viewers, the companys content would be not just mobile-first, but mobile-only. There would be no smart TV app, no Chromecast or AirPlay compatibility. Pricing, while low compared to the competition, was similarly off-putting. After a 90-day free trial, $4.99 got you an ad-supported subscription. And boy howdy, were there ads. Ads upon ads. Ads all the way down. Paying another $3 a month would make them go away. Technological constraints and Terms of Service fine print forbade screen shots a fundamental understanding of how content goes viral in 2020 (though, to be fair, one shared with other competing streaming services). Amusingly, the inability to share content led to videos like this one of director Sam Raimis perplexingly earnest The Golden Arm. It features a built-on laugh track from viewers as Emmy winner Rachel Brosnahan lies in a hospital bed after refusing to remove a golden prosthetic. Its an allegory, surely, but not one intentionally played for laughs. Many of the videos that did ultimately make the rounds on social media were regarded as a curiosity strange artifacts from a nascent streaming service that made little sense on paper. Most notable of all, however, were the quick bites that gave the service its confusingly pronounced name. Each program would be served in 5-10 minute chunks. The list included films acquired by the service, sliced up into chapters. Notably, the service didnt actually purchase the content outright; instead, rights were set to revert to their creators after seven years. Meanwhile, after two years, content partners were able to reassemble the chunks back into a movie for distribution.protectedexcerptrendered All that is left now is to offer a profound apology for disappointing you and, ultimately, for letting you down, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman wrote, closing out an open letter posted to Medium. We cannot thank you enough for being there with us, and for us, every step of the way. With that, the Q3 total looks to be only the fourth-biggest VC quarter in Indias startup history since at least 2013 and, perhaps, ever. But it was a good bounce-back during a crippling pandemic all the same. The countrys VC deal count also rebounded a bit in the third quarter, with some of that money landing in big chunks, including a $500 million investment into Byjus this September. Smaller startups are also seeing strong results. Bikayi is one such startup. TechCrunch caught up with the company via email, digging into its post-Demo Day results. Its monthly recurring revenue (MRR) grew 60% in August from its July results, it said. And in late August the company told TechCrunch that it was on track to reach $1 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) by the end of the year. Bikayi said more recently that it recorded 100% growth in the number of merchants it supports, and 100% revenue growth in September. So the WhatsApp-focused Shopify-for-India is racing ahead. October results, Bikayi CEO Sonakshi Nathani added, are looking promising as well. To get a better handle on the Indian startup market more broadly, The Exchange got ahold of Accel investors Arun Mathew (based in the United States), and Prayank Swaroop (based in India), for a bit of digging. Historically, falling bandwidth and smartphone costs along with improved Internet reliability helped lay the foundation for the recent Indian startup wave, according to Swaroop. Mathew added that some high-profile successes like Flipkart made startups a more attractive option, with the ecommerce companys success helping to change the tenor of the conversation around founding tech firms in recent years. It also helps, Swaroop added, that seasoned folks from existing Indian tech companies are branching out and starting companies of their own, recycling knowledge into new, smaller companies. This is a key method by which Silicon Valley has managed to create an outsized number of hits over time; a concentration of operators who have built big startups are key grist in the unicorn mill. And theres more money being raised to help power new Indian tech companies. All told, 2019 was a huge year for the Indian startup market in venture capital terms, and 2020s recovery is underway. Lets see what gets built.Market Notes The Exchange spent a lot of this week digging into venture capital data and trends, something that we love to do. If you need to catch up, heres our look at the U.S. venture capital scene in Q3, and here are our notes on the more global picture. And we touched on India above. What more could there be? Well, some data on healthcare-focused companies is just what we need. Per a new report from CB Insights, there are 41 healthcare-focused unicorns today. More importantly, startups focused on health-related matters (telemedicine, mental health, AI, etc.) just had a record quarter. Even for a pandemic, $21.8 billion went into the space across 1,539 global rounds in the third quarter. Thats far more activity than I would have guessed.Moving on, The Exchange compiled a look at how quickly a few dozen startups grew in Q3, which was very good fun.The Equity crew also covered a number of media-and-housing-related startup rounds here if that is your jam. There were also some jokes.Datto went public this week, giving the market a look at what slower, more profitable software companies are worth in revenue-multiple terms. The news was mostly good.On the insurtech beat, New Front announced that it has raised $100 million, most recently at a $500 million valuation. And we noted in our growth-rate piece that Next Insurance raised $250 million last month, which has missed our attention. Oh, and Chicago-based Clearcover has news out this week, which we care about given the impending Root Insurance IPO (notes on its valuation here). The two companies both insure drivers. And with that, were cutting Market Notes short this week for some important TechCrunch news: Hey yall. Its Megan Rose Dickey busting into Alexs newsletter for a couple of quick news items. First, I officially launched my newsletter, Human Capital! It covers labor and diversity and inclusion in tech. Also, I relaunched the Mixtape podcast with my colleague Henry Pickavet. You can check out our first episode of Season 3 about Californias gig worker ballot measure Prop 22 here. Megan is amazing and you should check out her pod and newsletter.Various and Sundry As always, there was more good stuff to share here than I can possibly fit, so lets get right into the data, takes, links and other delicacies.Data collected on by a Midwest-focused group concerning its region makes the case for VCs to look more closely at the center of the United States. Why? Its cheaper to build there, which, combined with lower startup prices, means investors get a bigger bang for their buck. And return multiples for VCs (MOICs, if you care) look strong in Chicago.Everyone is burned out.Netflix and Intel took stick after their earnings failed to excite investors, in what could be a small warning sign ahead of next weeks earnings-palooza.The SPAC boom is precisely as ludicrous as you imagined it to be.And while there are loads of late-stage money, first financings are worth an ever-smaller fraction of the VC pie.What are the youngest VCs in the world focused on? Well, according to a survey of Gen Z VCs, their top three focuses are the creator economy, edtech and social gaming.How Yext evolved on its path to going public, and beyond. Wrapping, a survey from Salesforce shows that enterprise cloud CEOs are reporting better-than-anticipated revenue growth and lower-than-anticipated churn, when compared to their March estimates. That is probably why earnings havent been a disaster and so many unicorns were able to go public in Q3. That and valuations in the public sphere are higher than what private investors are dishing up, inverting the markets last few years. See you Monday, Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange. Data shows that Indias venture capital scene has grown sharply in recent years. Lets dig in. Though Yales endowment saw atypically poor performance last year, Swensen, at 66, is among the most highly regarded money managers in the world, growing Yales endowment from $1 billion when he joined as a 31-year-old former grad student of the school, to the second-largest school endowment in the country after Harvard, which currently manages $40 billion. For more equitable startup funding, the money behind the money needs to be accountable, too Credited for developing the so-called Yale Model, which is short on public equities and long on commitments to venture shops, private equity funds, hedge funds, and international investments, Swensen has inspired legions of other endowment managers, many of whom worked for him previously, including the current endowment heads of Princeton, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania. It isnt a stretch to imagine these managers and many others will again follow Swensens lead, one that was inspired by the growing diversity with Yale itself. Should such metrics become standard, they could dramatically change the stubbornly intractable world of money management, which remains mostly white and mostly male. Indeed, while the dearth of woman and minorities within the ranks of venture firms may not be news to readers, a 2019 study commissioned by the Knight Foundation and cited by the WSJ underscores how big an issue it remains across asset classes. According to its findings, women- and minority-owned firms held less than 1% of assets managed by mutual funds, hedge funds, private-equity funds and real-estate funds in 2017, even though their performance was on a par with such firms. As for why Swensen didnt write this letter much sooner to the universe of fund managers backed by Yale, Swensen tells that WSJ that he has long talked about diversity with them but says he held off on asking for systematic changes owing to a belief, in part, that there were not enough diverse candidates entering into asset management. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement that gained momentum this spring, he decided it was time to take the leap anyway. As for that perceived pipeline concern, fund managers will have to figure it out. For his part, Swensen reportedly offered a suggestion to those same U.S. managers. He proposed that they forget the same resumes for which theyve long looked and consider recruiting directly from college campuses.protectedexcerptrendered It could be the long-awaited turning point in the world of venture capital and beyond. Yale, whose $32 billion endowment has been led since 1985 by the legendary investor David Swensen, just let its 70 U.S. money managers across a variety of asset classes know that for the school, diversity has now moved front and the Republican-led committee is chaired by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who set the agenda to include the platforms censorship and suppression of New York Post articles. According to a new press release from the committee, lawmakers also plan to use the proceedings as a high-profile port-mortem on how Twitter and Facebook fared on and after election day an issue that lawmakers on both sides will undoubtedly be happy to dig into. Section 230 will be on the chopping block at the next big tech hearing Republicans are eager to press the tech CEOs on how their respective platforms handled a dubious story from the New York Post purporting to report on hacked materials from presidential candidate Joe Bidens son, Hunter Biden. They view the incident as evidence of their ongoing claims of anti-conservative political bias in platform policy decisions. While Republicans on the Senate committee led the decision to pressure Zuckerberg and Dorsey into testifying, the committees Democrats, who sat out the vote on the subpoenas, will likely bring to the table their own questions about content moderation, as well. Senate subpoenas could force Zuckerberg and Dorsey to testify on New York Post controversy protectedexcerptrendered Shortly after voting to move forward with a pair of subpoenas, the Senate Judiciary Committee has reached an agreement that will see the CEOs of two major social platforms testify voluntarily in November. The hearing will be the second major congressional appearance by tech CEOs arranged this month. Twitters Jack Dorsey and Facebooks Mark Zuckerberg

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