There’s always a boot angle (even with ‘Squid Game’) – TechCrunch
Welcome to Startups Weekly, a new human look at news and trends from this week’s startups. To receive it in your inbox, subscribe here.
This week on Equity, we discussed why the Metaverse inevitably arrives for “Squid Game”. Specifically, we explored how the gaming world is evolving through the prism of startups and Big Techs.
For example, Netflix recently bought its first game studio. While I had a few questions about the quality of the streaming, I became convinced of the synergies after realizing that Netflix could turn its original content – ahem, Squid Game – into highly produced video games. We also discussed how Apple is the biggest gaming giant among all and a 30% App Store discount may have something to do with it. Finally, in the startup world, we riffed on the rise of the metaverse and how Andressen Horowitz has a new fund focused on games, without a partner to run it, but in addition to many fascinating initial investments.
I am not a gamer. And that’s part of why this episode was fun to record. I’ve learned how an industry has gone from rambling indie games with momentary popularity to full-length productions that recurrently sneak in to stay fresh (and make money).
The industry is lowering its risks for creators and venture capitalists, meaning that increased funding will launch a wave of new studios and services. Expect to see the industry collaborating with other tech trends right now, from NFTs to edtech to cloud infrastructure games.
In the rest of this newsletter, I will tell you about my startup of the week, S-1s and the community as a buzzword.
And the startup of the week is …
Chalon! Besides having a cute name which means “Let’s go” in Hindi, Chalo is a startup that wants to fight bus inefficiency in India. The startup, which deploys GPS devices on buses and offers a nifty app, raised $ 40 million in Series C this week.
Here’s what you need to know: Sometimes stocks count more than numbers. As part of the new funding round, the startup said it will use $ 10 million of the proceeds to buy back stock options to reward its current and former employees as well as some of the early angel investors. This founding movement is a flex and is proof that India is maturing as a startup ecosystem.
My other nominees:
Rivian IPO filing
We like a regulatory filing late on Friday, and that’s exactly what Rivian did last week when he filed his S-1. Through numbers and strategy, the EV company has helped us understand how expensive it is to grow your business, why the market size estimates are BS, and whether Tesla and Amazon are primary or secondary characters.
There are 81 mentions of Amazon in the Rivian S-1 file. The number is high because Amazon is both an investor in the business and a customer. According to the file, Amazon owns at least 5% of Rivian, although the final number is not yet available. Ford also owns a greater than 5% stake, as well as a number of investors.
So a bet on the Rivian IPO is largely a bet that Amazon actually buys the 100,000 vehicles it expects, and we would add a schedule and price that works for Rivian. There’s plenty of room for things to go pear-shaped between 10 vehicles in December 2021 and the delivery of the remaining 99,990 vehicles Rivian plans to deliver to one of its major shareholders.
And the wheels are turning:
Is it the community or the customers?
There is a fine line between cultivating a nuanced and diverse community and crafting a fancy term to describe your most loyal customers. We talked about the weakening of the term “community” on Equity this week. The whole conversation was sparked because Contrary Capital, which funds student entrepreneurs and star employees within companies, shut down its second fund.
Here’s what you need to know: Contrary has brought together a student community of 350 people, aka investment partners, that they want to help advise (and possibly invest). About 45% of the cohort identifies as female and 65% identifies as non-white. But, as Contrary founder Eric Tarczynski said, he’s not disappointed if none of these students have found the next Stripe. He wants the community to be full of talented individuals; and even if they don’t start their own projects, he gathers a database of a few useful potential recruits for his own poaching portfolio.
Click, click, click:
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Here is the full final agenda for TC sessions: SaaS. As a kicker, those who are interested can still win $ 75 in early bird tickets. Reserve yours and save $ 100 before the prices go up!
All week long
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