Daily Crunch: Virgin Orbit rockets up to $3.2B in valuation SPAC merger

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Daily Crunch, August 23rd 2021 – Hello! We’ve got a simply lovely bunch of news items for you below, but before we get into the mix, do note that Pfizer’s vaccine has been fully approved. This is fantastic news! The agenda for the October SaaS conference is available. This is sure to be a great event. We hope to see you there. — Alex

TechCrunch Top 3

  • Do you want to travel to the stars?Good news for small satellites heading to low-Earth orbit! Virgin Orbit has raised a lot of money through a SPAC-led partnership that will immediately make it publicly available and give it a large amount of cash. Virgin Galactic is a sister company to Virgin Orbit, which takes people on a joyful ride. Orbit employs a similar launch method to place more hardware into space.
  • It’s the global crypto race:U.S. fintech firms are now offering domestic customers the opportunity to buy crypto through their services. PayPal has plans to make it possible for U.K. citizens to purchase cryptocurrency using its services. Local providers of cryptocurrency services will be in high demand to reach new markets to avoid losing market share globally and to stay relevant.
  • Is this why investors are falling out of love with insurtech?TechCrunch is a long-standing insurtech journalist. We have been trying to understand why some of the formerly popular insurtech startups went public over the past year and saw their valuations drop once they started to float. It may be possible.

Start-ups/VC

  • Do you want to turn that coupon into a donation?Givz hopes so. Givz provides an API which allows businesses to give coupons to charities. Mary Ann Azevedo explained that Tervis was an example of a Givz-using company. It offered its customers a $15 donation to charity if they spend $50 in their store. Just recently, the startup closed for $3 million.
  • Shelf.io raises huge $52M Series B:A $50 million Series B is a striking feature even in 2021. Shelf’s new round is not what’s most interesting, it’s the fact that Shelf saw a 4x increase in ARR from July 2020 through July 2021. That’s quick. Software that helps companies to ingest their knowledge and offers suggestions for employees, such as customer service reps.
  • What are your customers using the API?Moesif is trying to answer that question, and just raised $12M to continue its efforts. TechCrunch has noticed that startups are switching from SaaS services to API-delivered solutions. This is all well and good but it doesn’t provide the best way to monitor customer usage or patterns. Moesif might make it simpler to invoice for excess charges.
  • SoftBank is looking to AfricaSoftBank’s Vision Fund franchise made noise in Latin America, and now the Vision Fund franchise is making a big bet on Africa. This led to a $400m round for OPay, a fintech startup. Tage Kene-Okafor, our own Tage Kene-Okafor wrote that the company’s “mobile money and payment arm is” its best effort.
  • Revery, the most recent YC batchTechCrunch has learned that Revery.ai is a startup which aims to use computer vision and artificial Intelligence to enhance online shopping. Similar efforts have been reported in the past. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t a few other players in online shopping.
  • As demo day approaches, expect to hear from more YC businesses.

Zum CEO Ritu Narayan discusses why equity and access work for mobility services

Zum was founded by Ritu Narayan and her brothers to disrupt student transport. This space hasn’t seen any innovation since the time that students started finding ways to get to little red schools.

Zum formed partnerships with schools districts across the country in order to improve efficiency and decrease vehicle emissions.

Narayan claims that her company will be equipped with 10,000 electric school buses by 2025. She also plans to use the power generated to feed the grid.

Continue reading to learn about the development of the company, the immediate future plans and the impact that the pandemic had on operations.

Extra Crunch (our membership program that helps entrepreneurs and startups get ahead) can be signed up here. You can sign up here.

Big Tech Inc.

  • TikTok invests in AR:TikTok, a social phenom and snap-and-facebook guru wants to join the AR studio games. TechCrunch has learned that the company recently “launched TikTok Effect Studios, which is currently in private beta test, and will enable its own developers to create AR effects for TikTok’s short-form videos app.” How do you get along, kids? But in AR! This is going to be a hit with brands.
  • We had a smaller Big Tech section today so here is one from the startup beat.Future tech exits will have much to live up too.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Did you catch up with last week’s growth marketing coverage? If not, read it here.

TechCrunch asks you to suggest growth marketers with expertise in SEO, social media, content writing, and other areas. If you’re a growth marketer, pass this survey along to your clients; we’d like to hear about why they loved working with you.

The Community

The cover of "After Cooling On Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort"

Images CreditsSimon and Schuster

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 24th, at 3:00 p.m. PDT/6:00 p.m. ET, Danny Crichton will host a Twitter Spaces interview featuring Eric Dean Wilson (author of “After Cooling”: Freon, Global Warming and the Terrible Price of Comfort).

TechCrunch Disrupt 2021

It’s almost that time when startup followers from around the world gather at our annual conference, Disrupt, which will be held virtually again this year. Join the community September 21-23 to expand your horizons and your network with founders and CEOs of Coinbase, Dapper Labs, GitLab, Canva and more. Attend for less than $100, or you can get a free Innovator Pass if you are one of the first 10 people to register with promo code DAILYCRUNCHFREE. You’ll need to act quickly, as they are limited and will be gone soon!

Publiated at Mon, 23 August 2021 23.06:03 +0000

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