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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for December 21, 2021. This is my final Daily Crunch with you for the year. So, let me just say thanks for reading since I took over writing the newsy bits of this newsletter. It could have gone horribly, frankly, given how much folks hate change in their inboxes. But, with open rates at an all-time high, y'all have welcomed the New Daily Crunch Crew with open arms, and we’re grateful. Here’s to an even better 2022 — and more jokes. —Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Bitcoin is religion; web3 is greed: After Jack Dorsey kicked up a firestorm by inveighing against web3 and the current wave of crypto projects, TechCrunch dug into the debate because how could we not. Whether you are a bitcoin maximalist or a big NFT stan, we have something that will annoy you!
EU clears the Microsoft-Nuance deal: The $19.7 billion deal in which the Redmond tech giant will buy the medical transcription company has a green light from the European market. See, not all major tech deals are getting cut down to the nubbin with regulatory concerns and then canceled!
Via shuttles toward the public markets: Public transit software and shuttle company Via is going public in early 2022. The company announced today that it has filed privately for its IPO. We’ll know a lot more when we actually get the S-1 document, but the company joins Reddit on our list of public debuts that we anticipate in Q1 of next year.
But wait, there’s even more public market news! Yes, Snapdeal filed to go public, and our own Manish Singh (follow him; he’s amazing!) has the details. SoftBank is a backer of the New Delhi-based startup. Per its prospectus, the company anticipates raising around $165 million in its public-market debut. Recall that Snapdeal “once competed with Amazon and Flipkart in India [but] has lost considerable market share in recent years,” we wrote.
And speaking of companies going public, remember the Better.com fiasco in which the company’s CEO went viral for firing a bunch of staff on Zoom? And then a bunch of whacko stuff from the company came out? Well, we’re curious why Vishal Garg still has a job, so we did a little digging. There’s more to come on this story.
Next, a few new funds:
Array Ventures raises $56M to back really hard enterprise tech: Shruti Gandhi’s fund intends to invest its new capital pool on 30 startups “working on technical, back-bone enterprise tech.” Given the fund size and number of checks, we’re talking very early money in the case of Array.
Targeting AI automation, Calibrate Ventures raises $97M: With 25% more capital than in its first fund, Calibrate has reloaded its wallet. The firm previously invested in Built Robotics, Embodied, FarmWise, Soft Robotics, Talage and TruckLabs, TechCrunch reports.
Chapter One raises capital to invest in web3: Don’t tell Jack, but there’s even more money on tap for web3 projects. The $40 million fund will be joined by a $20 million “opportunity” fund, provided that that latter vehicle closes on target. Notably, Chapter One’s Jeff Morris Jr. is a solo investor.
And a few rapid-fire pieces of startup news:
Justin Kan’s NFT platform suffers rocky debut as scammer makes off with $150K in user funds — Not a good look for crypto is our $0.02.
Patreon CPO says the company will double in size in 2022 — The creator economy is still hot, we reckon.
The eVTOL take-off: Four trends that shaped 2021 — Sadly, none of these contraptions are currently on tap to fly us home for the holidays.
The Ubiquitous platform brings all the influencers to the yard — Haje loses 10 points for the headline, but the startup here seems cool.
Ampla raises $40M Series A for its business of providing credit to commerce brands — Providing credit is a big game for startups, as banks have long been too stingy with funds.
Airtable acqui-hires Walrus.ai’s founding team — Remember when acqui-hires were the jam? That was a fun time. I miss it.
Newly minted unicorn Tackle plans to use $100 million Series C to accelerate the future of software sales — Tackle will take down its market! It will tackle the competition! It has the software game on the run!
Demand Curve: How Ahrefs’ homepage educates prospects to purchase
Image Credits: PM images (opens in a new window) / Getty Images
If you're building a homepage, the goal should be to increase desire while eliminating labor and confusion in order to increase conversions.
"People have short attention spans, so if your homepage is confusing, they’re going to leave," Demand Curve’s Joey Noble writes in a guest post.
He tears down SEO platform Ahrefs' homepage, providing actionable strategies you can use at your startup, including how to handle objections, use social proof to build urgency and establish credibility, and catering to your audience.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Tracking Microsoft’s retreat from China: Managing to simultaneously keep the Chinese Communist Party happy and your international business in good standing is increasingly difficult. Microsoft struggled to make it work, TechCrunch notes by tracing both LinkedIn and Bing’s histories in the country.
Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL / Getty Images
We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices. Fill out the survey here.
Read one of the testimonials we’ve received below!
Marketer: Brent Payne, Loud Interactive SEO
Recommended by: Brad Schnitzer, Techstars Chicago
Testimonial: “He's the best SEO in the Midwest. He ran SEO for the Tribune and has now taken those skills to help early-stage founders achieve the same success. He's honestly changed the trajectory of so many of the ~42 startups I have invested in at Techstars Chicago over the past four years.”