Apple Pay promo nets discounts on summer clothing, Spin scooter rentals

Apple’s latest Apple Pay promotion includes discounts on popular beach brands Roxy and Reef, eyewear and athletic apparel, and a special offer for Spin scooter rentals.

Detailed in an email to existing Apple Pay users on Tuesday, the deals start with a $15 off a purchase of $100 or more from Fanatics when using the payment service with the promo code “APPLEPAY.”

Ray-Ban is offering 35% off any Custom lab order when using Apple’s code at checkout. Customers can select from a variety of frames, lenses, temples and engravings to create a unique pair of glasses.

Apple Pay users can score 20% off sandals, shoes, and apparel at Reef, while Roxy and RVCA are both offering 30% off a single item with promo code. Tommy Hilfiger customers can take 30% off an order of $100 or more.

Finally, Apple Pay users can get $5 off a ride when renting a scooter through Spin.

All deals are valid through July 1, and can be redeemed through a participating company’s website or app.

Apple routinely partners with retailers, brands, service providers and app makers to boost Apple Pay engagement. In April, the company offered Mother’s Day discounts on flowers, clothes and more.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast — and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, “Hey, Siri,” to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.

If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple’s Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.

AppleInsider is also bringing you the best Apple-related deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021. There are bargains before, during, and even after Prime Day on June 21 and 22 — with every deal at your fingertips throughout the event.

Apple's Tim Cook called Nancy Pelosi, others to warn of antitrust legislation pitfalls

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently called U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers in an outreach effort to sway opinion against the ratification of a set of sweeping antitrust bills that aim to rein in Big Tech, a new report claims.

Citing sources familiar with Cook’s calls, The New York Times reports Apple’s chief executive phoned Pelosi and other members of Congress to warn them of potential pitfalls baked in to a set of five proposals announced earlier this month.

Cook cautioned that the bills were rushed, would stifle innovation, and would hurt consumers by wreaking havoc on Apple services, according to the report. He also requested that the Judiciary Committee delay its process of consideration which, if approved, would send the legislation to the full House. From there, the bills would need to pass the Senate before reaching the desk of the President.

Pelosi pushed back on Cook’s ask, the report says, pressing him to name specific policy objections on the proposed material.

Cook is not the only tech figure to voice opposition to the batch of antitrust laws. Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, also made calls to lawmakers, while lobbyists and representatives for Amazon and Facebook have issued statements critical of the proposed measures.

On Monday, a group of think tanks and nonprofits, many of which receive backing from Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, issued a condemnatory letter to the Judiciary Committee. In it, the groups decry policies that could result in lasting repercussions for the tech industry.

“We believe that voters want Congress to fix things that are broken — not break or ban things that they feel are working well,” the letter reads. “We strongly encourage you to reject these proposals.”

The package of bipartisan bills aims to redefine how Big Tech operates and could mean a potential breakup of sector leaders. Issues targeted in the legislation include conflicts of interest, acquisitions, and outsized power enjoyed by top companies like Apple. One bill, for example, would prohibit Apple from selling devices with first-party apps preinstalled. Another provides more funding for the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, the latter of which named prominent antitrust scholar Lina Khan as its chair.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast — and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, “Hey, Siri,” to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.

If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple’s Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.

AppleInsider is also bringing you the best Apple-related deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021. There are bargains before, during, and even after Prime Day on June 21 and 22 — with every deal at your fingertips throughout the event.

These Forge cofounders just raised $5 million to work on a new, still-stealth investing startup

Sohail Prasad and Samvit Ramadurgam are cofounders who met during Y Combinator’s 2012 summer batch and went on to cofound Forge, which helps accredited investors and institutions buy and sell private company shares and which most recently raised $150 million in new funding in May.

Forge — originally known as Equidate —  has taken off as demand for private company shares has ballooned. The company, launched in 2014, has now raised $250 million altogether, including from, Deutsche Börse, Temasek, Wells Fargo, BNP Paribas, and Munich Re. It acquired rival SharesPost last year for $160 million in cash and stock. According to the company, it now has more than $14 billion in assets under custody.

Prasad and Ramadurgam — who helped hire Forge CEO Kelly Rodriques back in 2018 — say they’re excited about that success. They still own a stake in the company; they’re non-voting board members.
But after spending 18 months as co-president of Forge at the outset of Rodrigues’s tenure, they left last year to begin tinkering on a new idea, one that Prasad says is centered around giving a much wider pool of people access to private company shares. Called D/XYZ (pronounced “Destiny”), the idea is to enable any investor — not just the 1% —  to invest in startups whose services they use and love.

Unfortunately, the two aren’t offering much more of a curtain raiser than that right now, though Prasad suggests D/XYZ is neither a new fund nor a crowdfunding vehicle. It’s also not selling any tokens, we gather. Instead, Prasad hints at a new product — the likes of which the public hasn’t seen before — saying the company is being cautious in how much it shares publicly because it first wants to “get the go-ahead from regulators, as well as to ensure we have a clear path to market,” he says.

In the meantime, the two have raised $5 million in seed funding from numerous founders who like the idea of making private company shares easier for their parents, friends, customers, partners, and everyone else who likes what they’re building. Among the round’s participants is Coinbase cofounder Fred Ehrsam; Plaid cofounder and CEO Zach Perret; Quora and Expo cofounder Charlie Cheever; Superhuman founder and CEO Rahul Vohra; and serial entrepreneur Siqi Chen, who most recently founded a finance software company called Runway.

As for some of the nascent startup’s most obvious competition, Prasad doesn’t sound concerned. Asked, for example, about Carta, a well-funded company that helps private companies and their employees manage and sell their stock and options and that has long talked about democratizing access to private company shares, Prasad says it remains very much a direct competitor instead to Forge given that both cater first and foremost to companies, not individuals.

And what of SPACs, the special purpose acquisition companies that are moving private companies onto the public market faster, allowing (at least in theory) more people to access high-growth companies at earlier stages? It’s a partial solution, says Prasad. But the way he sees it, “SPACs are more a reflection that people want late-stage access to private tech and their best option right now is giving money to a SPAC manager who will hopefully find a promising company to merge with in two years or less.” He calls them a “layer of abstraction.”

Of course, there’s also the question of whether Forge will be a friend of foe if whatever Prasad and Ramadurgam are building succeeds. Could their tech be sold back to their first company? Could Forge come to see them as a rival to its business?

“What we’re doing now is not competitive,” insists Prasad. “It’s more picking up the mantle where we left off. Forge is focused on trading, custody, company solutions and data. It has built what some call boring plumbing.” Now that the plumbing has been erected, it has “enabled a lot of other interesting things to be built, too.”

So is D/XYZ working with Forge in some capacity? Prasad demurs. “Potentially,” he says.

In other words, stay tuned.

Apple partners with Virginia Union University to launch 'smart campus' initiative

Virginia Union University, a historically Black college/university, on Tuesday announced an initiative that will put Apple products in the hands of incoming freshmen and offer the tech giant’s coding curriculum to all students.

Dubbed “Mobile Learning, Mobile Life,” the new program equips first-year students with an Apple device package consisting of an iPad Air, Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard Folio, Apple Watch, and AirPods Pro, the university said. The bundle is designed to prepare graduates for the “digital lifestyle” and workplace they will enter after leaving VUU.

Apple products were selected to give students a “significant leg up in their success.”

It appears that Apple is assisting in the program, though its exact role was not divulged in today’s announcement.

“At Apple, we believe education is a powerful force for equity and opportunity, and we’re excited to work with Virginia Union University to support their new Mobile Learning, Mobile Life initiative,” said Susan Prescott, VP of Worldwide Developer Relations and Enterprise & Education Marketing. “We’re proud that Apple products will be an integral part of student life for VUU Panthers, and can’t wait to see where the future takes them.”

The incoming class of 2025 will be able to use iPad Air and Apple Pencil during class sessions. Students can provision their ID into Wallet and use Apple Watch to access facilities, pay for food and more via Core NFC technology. AirPods are expected to help students focus during online classes.

In addition to the hardware bundles, VUU will offer Apple’s coding and app development curriculum to all students in an effort to diversify the STEM workforce.

“Creating a Smart Campus at VUU is critical to the academic learning environment of a 21st Century student. Apple has the products, apps, and professional learning support that will allow our students to access books, classes and research materials at their fingertips,” said Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, President and CEO of Virginia Union University. “Our collaboration goes much further than technology; Smart Campus will help as we prepare students to enter the workforce, putting them on the path to generational wealth.”

Today’s announcement arrives days after Apple allotted $5 million of its $100 million Racial Equity and Injustice Initiative fund to four HBCUs. Alabama A&M University, Howard University, Morgan State University, and Prairie View A&M University are set to receive three-year grants designed to boost their respective engineering programs.

Apple regularly partners with educational institutions — especially those focused on underserved communities — to assist with funding and forward computer literacy initiatives.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast — and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, “Hey, Siri,” to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.

If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple’s Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.

AppleInsider is also bringing you the best Apple-related deals for Amazon Prime Day 2021. There are bargains before, during, and even after Prime Day on June 21 and 22 — with every deal at your fingertips throughout the event.

Despite Heightened Cyber-Risks, Few Security Leaders Report to CEO

Despite mounting concerns over data breaches and the growing sophistication of the threat landscape, top management at most organizations still don’t appear to view cybersecurity as a business-critical function.

A survey of 1,426 security professionals recently conducted by the Ponemon Institute for LogRhythm found just 7% of organizations represented in the survey had security leaders reporting directly to the CEO. The remaining 93% have their security leaders reporting to other executives, including the chief information officer (24%), director or manager of IT (19%), chief technology officer (12%), vice president of IT (11%), or chief revenue officer (9%).

Far from being close to the CEO, the survey shows the average security leader is, in fact, three levels removed from the chief executive, making it challenging for them to clearly articulate enterprise security risks to top leadership. Most security leaders don’t have a direct relationship with the CEO and the board, even though they have complete ownership or significant influence over their organizations’ cybersecurity budgets. Respondents to the LogRhythm/Ponemon survey reported an annual security budget of $38 million, or roughly 24% of their organization’s average IT budget of $159 million.

“Cybersecurity leaders have assumed more accountability and risk but struggle to achieve the desired security posture because they are not as influential as other members of their peer group,” says Mark Logan, CEO of LogRhythm.

Going into the survey, LogRhythm expected to find many CEOs were still failing to recognize the importance of the cybersecurity function, Logan says. Even so, the fact that only 7% of security leaders report directly to the CEO was surprising, he says.

“That is an extremely low percentage considering cybersecurity is a critical business function,” he says.

The issue of top management not giving the cybersecurity function and CISOs/CSOs enough attention has been long-standing. Security experts have long noted how the C-suite and boards of directors have often tended to view cybersecurity as a cost center and tactical firefighting operation rather than as a strategic business enabler. Security leaders themselves have often taken the blame for being overly technical and unable to articulate security challenges to the C-suite in terms of business risk and risk management.

The LogRhythm/Ponemon report shows the current reporting structure for CISOs and CSOs at most organizations is doing little to alleviate the situation. Just 37% of respondents, for instance, said they or someone within the security function reports to the board on cybersecurity matters. Of this number, 41% said they report to the board only when a security incident happens, and 13% said they report to the board just once a year. Only 30% of respondents said someone from the security function reports to the board on a quarterly basis. While workplace disruptions tied to the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly elevated security risks at most organizations, 63% of respondents said they had not briefed the board on these risks.

“The level of board awareness of the state of security within an organization must therefore be remarkably low,” Logan says. “Not only does leadership not have a clear picture of the program and risks, but risk is also amplified due to this lack of executive visibility when it comes to strategic planning and budgeting.”

The Filtering Impact
One reason why security leaders are still not getting enough attention in the C-suite is a continued lack of understanding about their role among top leadership. Logan describes the situation as resulting from a sort of “filtering” that occurs when security issues are reported to the CEO through multiple layers.

“For example, let’s say a CSO reports to a CIO, who then reports to the CFO,” he says. “The CFO would be the one to ultimately deliver the message to the CEO.”

This sort of a reporting structure can create bottlenecks and result in less budgetary and organizational support because the security message can get diluted through the drawn-out channels of communication, he says.

Significantly, though, most CISOs and other security leaders don’t have direct access to the CEO — and therefore are limited in their ability to affect significant change yet are likely to take the fall if something goes wrong. When respondents were asked who should be held accountable for a cyberattack, 42% pointed to the security leader compared with 15% who felt the buck stops with the CEO.

The report shows that leadership attitudes toward the cybersecurity function and reporting structures have remained largely static, though risks have increased sharply. Fifty-five percent of the respondents said their organizations had experienced a data breach in the past two years. The shift to a remote workforce caused by the pandemic has exacerbated the issues and left most organizations feeling more vulnerable to attack than before.

“To be successful in gaining visibility and influence, security leaders must first understand their audience — specifically what they care about and what their goals are,” Logan notes.

To dispel notions about security being a cost center, security leaders need to make the conversation about cost efficiencies and impact to the organization’s bottom line.

“To be effective, the security leader must have a deep understanding of the organization’s culture, customers, models, drivers, and overarching goals,” he says.

Holy Grail raises $2.7M seed fund to create modular carbon capture devices

The founders of Holy Grail, a two-year old startup based in Cupertino, California, are taking a micro approach to solving the outsized problem of capturing carbon.

The startup is prototyping a direct air carbon capture device that it is modular and small — a departure from the dozens of projects in the U.S. and abroad that aim to capture CO2 from large, centralized emitters, like power plants or industrial facilities. Holy Grail co-founder Nuno Pereira told TechCrunch that this approach will reduce costs and eliminate the need for permits or project financing.

While Holy Grail has a long development and testing phase ahead, the idea has captured the attention and capital from well-known investors and Silicon Valley founders. Holy Grail recently raised raised $2.7 million in seed funding from LowerCarbon Capital, Goat Capital, Stripe founder Patrick Collison, Charlie Songhurst, Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt, Songkick co-founder Ian Hogarth, Starlight Ventures and 35 Ventures. Existing investors Deep Science Ventures, Y Combinator and Oliver Cameron, who co-founded Voyage, the autonomous vehicle acquired by Cruise, also participated.

The carbon capture device is still in the prototype stage, Pereira said, with many specifics – such as the anticipated size of the end product and how long it will likely function – still to be worked out. Cost-effectively separating CO2 from the air is an extremely difficult problem to solve. The company is in the process of filing patents for the technology, so he declined to be too specific about many characteristics of the device, including what it will be made out of. But he did stress that the company is taking a fundamentally different technical approach to carbon capture.

“The current technologies, they are very complex. They are basically either [using] temperature or pressure [to capture carbon],” he said. “There is a lot of things that go into it, compressors, calciners and all these things.” Pereira said the company will instead use electricity to control a chemical reaction that bind to the CO2. He added that Holy Grail’s devices are not dependent on scale to achieve cost reductions, either. And they will be modular, so they can be stacked or configured depending on a customer’s requirements.

The scrubbers, as Pereira calls them, will focus on raw capture of CO2 rather than conversion (converting the CO2 into fuels, for example). Pereira instead explained – with a heavy caveat that much about the end product still needs to be figured out – that once a Holy Grail unit is full, it could be collected by the company, though where the carbon will end up is still an open question.

The company will start by selling carbon credits, using its devices as the carbon reducing project. The end goal is selling the scrubbers to commercial customers and eventually even individual consumers. That’s right: Holy Grail wants you to have your own carbon capture device, possibly even right in your backyard. But the company still likely has a long road ahead of it.

“We’re essentially shifting the scaling factor from building a very large mega-ton plant and having the project management and all that stuff to building scrubbers in an assembly line, like a consumer product to be manufactured.”

Pereira said many approaches will be needed to tackle the mammoth problem of reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. “The problem is just too big,” he said.

Extra Crunch roundup: SaaS founder salaries, break-even neobanks, Google Search tips

Usually, a teacher who grades students on a curve is boosting the efforts of those who didn’t perform well on the test. In the case of cloud companies, however, it’s the other way around.

As of Q1 2021, startups in this sector have median Series A rounds around $8 million, reports PitchBook. With $100+ million Series D rounds becoming more common, company valuations are regularly boosted into the billions.

Andy Stinnes, a general partner at Cloud Apps Capital Partners, says founders who are between angel and Series A should seek out investors who are satisfied with $200,000 to $500,000 in ARR.


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Usually a specialist firm, these VCs are open to betting on startups that haven’t yet found product-market fit.

“At this phase of development, you need a committed partner who has both the time and the experience to guide you,” says Stinnes.

These observations aren’t just for active investors: This post is also a framework for new and seasoned founders who are getting ready to knock on doors and ask strangers for money.

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch this week!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Maybe neobanks will break even after all

Alex returned from a week of vacation with a dispatch about the profitability of neobanks Revolut, Chime and Monzo.

“In short, while American consumer fintech Chime has disclosed positive EBITDA — an adjusted profitability metric — many neobanks that we’ve seen numbers from have demonstrated a stark inability to paint a path to profitability,” he writes.

“That could be changing.”

How to land the top spot in Google Search with featured snippets in 2021

Image of colorful scraps of torn paper to represent snippets.

Image Credits: IngaNielsen / Getty Images

“Google search is not what it used to be,” Ryan Sammy, the director of strategy at growth-marketing agency Fractl, writes in a guest post. “We all want to be No. 1 on the search results page, but these days, getting to that position isn’t enough. It might be worth your while to instead go after the top featured snippet position.”

Sammy writes that earning the featured snippet spot is “one of the best things you can do for your SEO.” But how do you land your page in the coveted snippet perch?

What does Red Hat’s sale to IBM tell us about Couchbase’s valuation?

Image Credits: Getty Images

After noSQL provider Couchbase filed to go public, joining the ranks of the Great IPO Rush of 2021, Alex Wilhelm looked into its business model and financial performance, with a goal of better understanding the company — and market comps.

Alex used Red Hat, which recently sold to IBM for around $34 billion, as a comp, determining Couchbase “is worth around $900 million” if you use the Red Hat math.

“The Red Hat-Couchbase comparison is not perfect; 2019 is ages ago in technology time, the database company is smaller and other differences exist between the two companies,” Alex notes. “But Red Hat does allow us the confidence to state that Couchbase will be able to best its final private valuation in its public debut.”

How much to pay yourself as a SaaS founder

Piggy bank With a Money Carrot stick

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

Anna Heim interviewed SaaS entrepreneurs and investors to find out how much early-stage founders should pay themselves.

Startups run by CEOs who take home a small salary tend to do better over the long run, but there are other points to consider, such as geography, marital status, and frankly, what quality of life you desire.

Waterly founder Chris Sosnowski raised his own pay to $14/hour last year; at his prior job, his salary topped $100,000.

“We had saved money up for over a year before we cut out my pay,” he told Anna. “I can live my life without entertainment … so that’s what we did for 2020.”

How much are you willing to sacrifice?

The early-stage venture capital market is weird and chaotic

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim had been hearing that Series A raises were coming later, while Series Bs were coming in quick succession after startups landed an A.

That piqued their curiosity, so they put feelers out to a bunch of investors to understand what’s going on in early-stage venture capital markets.

In the first of a two-part series, Alex and Anna examine why seed stage is so chaotic, why As are slow, and why Bs are fast. In their first dispatch, they looked at the U.S. market.

Have you worked with a talented individual or agency who helped you find and keep more users? Respond to our survey and help us find the best startup growth marketers!

Daily Crunch: Transmit Security’s $543M Series A is one for the record books

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 22, 2021. We have startup product news, funding rounds and a roster of Big Tech updates for you today. But before we get into all of that do not forget to sign up for TechCrunch Spotlight: Pittsburgh startup Pitch-Off. Also the Equity podcast crew are hosting a live taping this Thursday that should be a lot of fun. I’ll be there! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Twitter starts rolling out Super Follows and ticketed Spaces: The great product push at Twitter continued today with an early rollout of its Super Follow feature. If you have 10,000 followers and tweet about once per day, you could be eligible to charge people from $2.99 to $9.99 per month for bonus tweets. The company is also rolling out ticketed Twitter Spaces, its live-audio product.
  • Another startup taking on Google: While we await the launch of Neeva’s subscription search alternative, Brave has put its own search offering into the market. You can give it a test here, if you’d like. The short gist is that it’s a “nontracking search engine built on top of an independent index and touted as a privacy-safe alternative to surveillance tech products like Google search,” TechCrunch wrote.
  • The early-stage startup funding market in focus: TechCrunch dug into the world of seed and early-stage venture capital rounds that startups are raising today. After a VC tipped us off to the concept of Series As coming late and Series Bs coming early, we asked a host of other investors about the idea. What did we learn? That some startups can start raising the moment they close their last round. Wild.

Startups

Everyone and their favorite pup raised money today, so we’re breaking our startup coverage into two chunks. The first is focused on product news. The second on funding rounds. Let’s go:

  • Airbank is building a small and midsized fintech service to help aggregate all of a company’s bank accounts and financial data. Read the story here.
  • Racial Inequity Drawdown is a framework that aims to “address racial inequity in startup investing and in the broader world,” TechCrunch reports.
  • Squad launched a new mobile app that connects groups of friends through time-gated audio messages. You have 24 hours to hear what your friends said now that Squad has completed its focus-shift to more intimate collections of friends from interest groups.

Turning to the money world, there are more rounds than we can get to today. But here’s a selection of favorites:

  • Mollie raises $800 million for its payment-integration service: Dutch startup Mollie is now worth $6.5 billion after raising nearly $1 billion in a single round. The startup “provides a way for businesses to integrate payments into sites, documents and other services by way of an API,” TechCrunch wrote. Its new round and valuation implies that there’s room yet in the payments space for more mega-unicorns. Still.
  • Speaking of fintech, Australian startup Zeller just raised AUD$50 million at a AUD$400 million valuation. It provides POS and card services for SMBs.
  • Lidar-focused Quanergy Systems is going public: Via a SPAC, of course. You can peruse its investor deck if you want all the gritty projections. What matters here is that the SPAC boom is not done, even if it appears to be slowing. And we’re hearing from Series-B-level founders that SPACs are already hitting them up. Expect more and weirder SPAC deals over time.
  • Oyster is now a half-unicorn: That’s what we learned when the startup focused on supporting employees outside of a company’s home country raised a $50 million Series B that valued it at nearly $500 million.
  • Vantage raises $4M to help folks manage their AWS spend: All that growth that Amazon’s AWS cloud service has managed in recent years was built on rising customer spend. And some AWS customers want to spend less. And Vantage is going to help.
  • G2 raises $157 million to help companies choose software: Software is such a huge category that even niches can support a host of competitors. But all that spend means lots of companies making choices about what software to leverage. G2 wants to help. And it is now a unicorn after its investors poured nine-figures of capital into its coffers at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
  • Transmit raises $543 million in a Series A to help kill passwords: The company is now worth $2.2 billion, with plans to use its new money to “expand its reach and investing in key global areas to grow the organization.” Any move to kill passwords is TechCrunch-approved.

How much to pay yourself as a SaaS founder

Anna Heim interviewed SaaS entrepreneurs and investors to find out how much early-stage founders should pay themselves.

Startups run by CEOs who take home a small salary tend to do better over the long run, but there are other points to consider, such as geography, marital status, and frankly, what quality of life you desire.

Waterly founder Chris Sosnowski raised his own pay to $14/hour last year; at his prior job, his salary topped $100,000.

“We had saved money up for over a year before we cut out my pay,” he told Anna. “I can live my life without entertainment … so that’s what we did for 2020.”

How much are you willing to sacrifice?

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Another day, another slew of headlines discussing the latest tech and government scrap. Today we learned that the U.S. government may review Amazon’s plan to buy a huge movie studio. There was also more from India today, with news breaking that the country is digging into Google over its smart TV market. On the same theme, the EU is now investigating Google’s adtech software from an antitrust perspective.

In related news, the push to unionize Amazon employees is not stopping in its home market.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

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

Today we’re featuring one of the recommendations that was submitted to our survey. Stay tuned throughout the week as we highlight more responses!

Name of Marketer: Ladder

Recommendation: “They really get what I need. By testing different messaging on different personas, we discover what works and what doesn’t to better understand our users and prospects. This is gold for a company at our stage. Showing those results to our investors blew their minds.”

Submit your own recommendation here.

Community

TC City Spotlight: Pittsburgh. Background is black and yellow city skyline.

Natasha Mascarenhas wondered out loud “what makes a great investor?” We asked you for your thoughts, and a lot of you have weighed in. Still time to vote and share your two cents.

Speaking of sharing, we put out our last call for startups to be included in our Pittsburgh Spotlight Pitch-Off. If you know of a great startup in the Pittsburgh ecosystem, share this far and wide and encourage folks to submit their company. While you’re at it, make sure you’re registered to attend on June 29th!

Investor Marlon Nichols and Wonderschool’s Chris Bennett on getting to the point with a pitch deck

Before our conversation on Extra Crunch Live, Marlon Nichols dropped a bomb on me. The MaC Venture Capital founding managing partner hadn’t actually seen Wonderschool’s original pitch deck before investing in the remote education startup. Our conversation with the company’s CEO, Chris Bennett was the first time he’d been through the seed-stage deck.

Their partnership was a bit of Silicon Valley luck, good timing and some old fashioned networking.

“He was a part of an organization that was helping to bring more diverse founders in touch with investors,” says Nichols. “That was happening when I first moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011. We started to build a casual relationship then. Fast forward to 2016. At my first fund, Cross Culture [Ventures], we were interested in investing in early childhood care. We were actually looking at a number of different companies and one of my partners, Suzy [Ryoo] was like, ‘Have you heard of this company Wonderschool that Chris Bennett was starting, and I was like, ‘Holy shit, I know Chris.’ ”

According to Bennet, Nichols reached out about the opportunity on Facebook Messenger. After the initial conversation and assessing some direct competitors, Nichols says Wonderschool was ultimately the right fit for Cross Culture’s portfolio.

Fittingly, the startup’s origin also has its roots in SV networking.

“I used to go the TED conference every year,” says Bennett. “I met a woman who told me that early childhood education was really important [ … ] She said, ‘A lot of the skills I use today as a CEO, a lot of those seeds were planted before the age of five.’ I thought that was a really wild idea. I started doing research and realized there was a shortage of childcare in America.”

Bennett cringed slightly when we started the process of showing off the company’s early deck. The first thing that jumped out at all of us was just how bare bones the presentation is: white text on a blue background, largely made up of bullet points. There’s not flash — or even graphics — to be found in the entire thing. And the CEO adds that honestly, not much changed aesthetically between that first pitch and the Series A deck.

“It aligned with what we were valuing at the time,” says Bennett. “We were really focused on getting the product-market fit and really trying to understand what our customers needed. And we’re really focused on building the team.”

Perhaps there was something to it, however, as Wonderschool managed to raise $20 million for the latter.

Apple TV+ shares behind-the-scenes look at dark comedy 'Physical'

Apple TV+ on Tuesday shared a new video giving a behind-the-scenes look at its 1980s dark comedy show “Physical,” which stars Rose Byrne.

The clip, published to the official Apple TV+ YouTube channel, features commentary and insights from series showrunner Annie Weisman, as well as actors like Rory Scovel, Della Saba, Dierdre Friel, and Byrne.

“Physical” follows Sheila Rubin, “a quietly tormented housewife” in 1980s San Diego whose discovery of aerobics kick-starts a journey toward empowerment and success.

In addition to detailing the setting of ’80s Southern California, the video also gives insight on some of the characters of the show — including Sheila’s struggles with body dysmorphia and bulimia.

“Physical” is directed by Liza Johnson, Stephanie Laing, and Craig Gillespie. In addition to Scovel, Saba, and Friel, other co-stars include Lou Taylor Pucci, Paul Sparks, and Ashley Liao.

The series debuted on Apple TV+ on June 18. New episodes premiere each Friday.

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