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This week at Equity, we talked about why the metaverse will inevitably come for “Squid Game.” More specifically, we explore how the gaming world is changing through the lens of startups and big tech.
For example, Netflix recently acquired its first game studio. While I had some questions about the quality of the stream, I became convinced of the synergies after realizing that Netflix could turn its original content, ahem, Squid Game, into high-production video games. We also addressed how Apple is the biggest gaming giant among them all and a 30% cut in the app store may have something to do with that. Finally, in the startup world, we talk about the emergence of the metaverse and how Andressen Horowitz has a new fund focused on games, without a partner to lead it, but in addition to many fascinating initial investments.
I am not a gamer. And that’s part of the reason why this episode was fun to shoot. I learned how an industry has evolved from rudimentary indie games with momentary popularity to full-length productions that sneak away in recurring ways to stay cool (and make money).
The sector is reducing risks for creators and venture capitalists, which means that increased funding will kick off a wave of new studios and services. Expect to see the industry collaborate with other trends in technology right now, from NFT to edtech to cloud infrastructure games.
In the rest of this newsletter, I’ll tell you about my start to the week, the S-1s, and community as a buzzword.
And the start of the week is …
Chalo! Besides having a lovable name that means “let’s go” in Hindi, Chalo is a startup that wants to tackle the inefficiencies of buses in India. The startup, which implements GPS machines on buses and offers a nifty app, raised a $ 40 million Series C this week.
This is what you need to know: Sometimes actions matter more than numbers. As part of the new round of funding, 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 early angel investors. This founding movement is flexible and is proof that India is maturing as a startup ecosystem.
My other nominees:
Rivian IPO Presentation
We love a regulatory filing on Friday night, and that’s exactly what Rivian did last week when he filed his S-1. Through numbers and strategy, the electric vehicle company helped us understand how expensive it is to build its business, why estimates of market size are silly, and whether Tesla and Amazon are major or minor characters.
There are 81 mentions of Amazon in the Rivian S-1 submission. The number is high as Amazon is both an investor in the company and a customer. According to the filing, Amazon owns at least 5% of Rivian, although the final number is not yet available. Ford also has a stake of more than 5%, along with several investors.
A bet on Rivian’s IPO, then, is largely a bet that Amazon actually buys the 100,000 vehicles it is expected to, and we’d add a timeline 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 that Rivian hopes to deliver to one of its key shareholders.
And the wheels turn:
Is it community or customers?
There is a fine line between cultivating a diverse and nuanced community and coming up with a fancy term to describe your most loyal customers. We talked about the dilution of the term “community” in Equity this week. The whole conversation was sparked because Contrary Capital, which finances entrepreneurial students and star employees within companies, closed its second fund.
This is what you need to know: Contrario brought together a 350-person student community, also known as investment partners, who want to help advise (and eventually invest). Approximately 45% of the cohort identifies as female and 65% identifies as non-white. But, as Contrary founder Eric Tarczynski said, it doesn’t bother him that none of those students found the next Stripe. You want the community to be full of talented people; And even if they don’t start their own projects, he’s putting together a database of some useful potential hires for his own project portfolio.
Click, click, click:
TechCrunch Sessions is back and we’re starting with SaaS! Join us on October 27 as we explore, debate, and challenge the competitive field of software development as a service. My colleagues have brought together some of the biggest names in the industry, from Sarah Guo at Greylock to Kathy Baxter at Salesforce and Daniel Dines at UiPath.
Here is the full final agenda for the TC: SaaS sessions. As a trick, those who are interested can still get $ 75 early bird tickets. Reserve yours and save $ 100 before prices go up!
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