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They say business needs certainty to succeed, but new tech startups are still getting funded aggressively despite the pandemic, recession, trade wars and various large disasters created by nature or humans. But before we get to the positive data, let’s spend some time reviewing the hard news — there is a lot of it to process.
TikTok is on track to get banned if it doesn’t get sold first, and leading internet company Tencent’s WeChat is on the list as well, plus Trump administration has a bigger “Clean Network” plan in the works. The TikTok headlines are the least significant part, even if they are dominating the media cycle. The video-sharing social network is just now emerging as an intriguing marketing channel, for example. And if it goes, few see any real opening in the short-form video space that market leaders aren’t already deep into. Indeed, TikTok wasn’t a startup story since the Musical.ly acquisition. It was actually part of an emerging global market battle between giant internet companies, that is being prematurely ended by political forces. We’ll never know if TikTok could have continued leveraging ByteDance’s vast resources and protected market in China to take on Facebook directly on its home turf.
Instead of quasi-monopolies trying to finish taking over the world, those with a monopoly on violence have scrambled the map. WeChat is mainly used by the Chinese diaspora in the US, including many US startups with friends, family and colleagues in China. And the Clean Network plan would potentially split the Chinese mobile ecosystem from iOS and Android globally.
Let’s not forget that Europe has also been busy regulating foreign tech companies, including from both the US and China. Now every founder has to wonder how big their TAM is going to be in a world cleaved back the leading nation-states and their various allies.
“It’s not about the chilling effect [in Hong Kong],” an American executive in China told Rita Liao this week about the view in China’s startup world. “The problem is there won’t be opportunities in the U.S., Canada, Australia or India any more. The chance of succeeding in Europe is also becoming smaller, and the risks are increasing a lot. From now on, Chinese companies going global can only look to Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.”
The silver lining, I hope, is that tech companies from everywhere are still going to be competing in regions of the world that will appreciate the interest.
Startup fundraising activity is booming and set to boom more
A fresh analysis from our friends over at Docsend reveals that startup investment activity has actually sped up this year, at least by the measure of pitchdeck activity on its document management platform used by thousands of companies in Silicon Valley and globally (which makes it a key indicator of this hard-to-see action).
Founders are sending out more links than before and VCs are racing through more decks faster, despite the gyrations of the pandemic and other shocks. Meanwhile, many startups shared that they had cut back hard in March and now have more room to wait or raise on good terms. Docsend CEO Russ Heddleston concludes that the rest of the year could actually see activity increase further as companies finish adjusting to the latest challenges and are ready to go back out to market.
All this should shape how you approach your pitchdeck, he writes separately for Extra Crunch. Additional data shows that decks should be on the short side, must include a “why now” slide that addresses the COVID-19 era, and show big growth opportunities in the financials.
SaaS founders could transcend VC fundraising via securitized debt
“In one decade, we went from buying licenses for software to paying monthly for services and in the process, revolutionized the hundreds of billions spent on enterprise IT,” Danny Crichton observes. “There is no reason why in another decade, SaaS founders with the metrics to prove it shouldn’t have access to less dilutive capital through significantly more sophisticated debt underwriting. That’s going to be a boon for their own returns, but a huge challenge for VC firms that have been doubling down on SaaS.”
Sure, the market is sort of providing this with various existing venture debt vehicles, and by other routes like private equity (which has acquired a taste for SaaS metrics this past decade). Danny sees a more sophisticated world evolving, as he details on Extra Crunch this week. First, he sees underwriters tying loans to recurring revenues, even to the point that your customers could be your assets that the bank takes if you go bust. The trend could then build from there:
Part two is to take all those individual loans and package them together into a security… Imagine being an investor who believes that the world is going to digitize payroll. Maybe you don’t know which of the 30 SaaS providers on the market are going to win. Rather than trying your luck at the VC lottery, you could instead buy “2018 SaaS payroll debt” securities, which would give you exposure to this market that’s safer, if without the sort of exponential upside typical of VC investments. You could imagine grouping debt by market sector, or by customer type, or by geography, or by some other characteristic.
Help the startup scene in Beirut
Beirut is home to a vibrant startup scene but like the rest of Lebanon it is reeling from a massive explosion at its main port this week. Mike Butcher, who has helped connect TechCrunch with the city over the years, has put together a guide to local people and organizations that you can help out, along with stories from local founders about what they are overcoming. Here’s Cherif Massoud, a dental surgeon turned founder of invisible-braces startup Basma:
We are a team of 25 people and were all in our office in Beirut when it happened. Thankfully we all survived. No words can describe my anger. Five of us were badly injured with glass shattered on their bodies. The fear we lived was traumatizing. The next morning day, we went back to the office to clean all the mess, took measurements of all the broken windows and started rebuilding it. It’s a miracle we are alive. Our markets are mainly KSA and UAE, so customers were still buying our treatments online, but the team needed to recover so we decided to take a break, stop the operations for a few days and rest until next Monday.
How to build a great “revenue stack”
Every business has been scrambling to figure out online sales and marketing during the pandemic. Fortunately the Cambrian explosion of SaaS products began years ago and now there are many powerful options for revenue teams of all shapes and sizes. The problem is how to put everything together right for your company’s needs. Tim Porter and Erica La Cava of Madrona Venture Group have created a framework for how to build what they call the “revenue stack.” While most companies are already using some form of CRM, communications and agreement management software generally, each one needs to figure out four new “capabilities.” What they define as revenue enablement, sales engagement, conversational intelligence and revenue operations.
Here’s a sample from Extra Crunch, about sales engagement:
Some think of sales engagement as an intelligent e-mail cannon and analysis engine on steroids. While in reality, it is much more. Consider these examples: How can I communicate with prospects in a way that is both personalized and efficient? How do I make my outbound sales reps more productive and enable them to respond more quickly to leads? What tools can help me with account-based marketing? What happened to that email you sent out to one of your sales prospects?
Now, take these questions and multiply them by a hundred, or even a thousand: How do you personalize a multitouch nurture campaign at scale while managing and automating outreach to many different business personas across various industry segments? Uh-oh. Suddenly, it gets very complicated. What sales engagement comes down to is the critical understanding of sending the right information to the right customer, and then (and only then) being able to track which elements of that information worked (e.g., led to clicks, conversations and conversions) … and, finally, helping your reps do more of that. We see Outreach as the clear leader here, based in Seattle, with SalesLoft as the number two. Outreach in particular is investing considerably in adding additional intelligence and ML to their offering to increase automation and improve outcomes.
Across the week
The tale of 2 challenger bank models
From Alex Wilhelm:
As ever, I was joined by TechCrunch managing editor Danny Crichton and our early-stage venture capital reporter Natasha Mascarenhas. We had Chris on the dials and a pile of news to get through, so we were pretty hyped heading into the show.
But before we could truly get started we had to discuss Cincinnati, and TikTok. Pleasantries and extortion out of the way, we got busy:
- E-commerce and fintech stay hot as Square reported big earnings, Shopify and Etsy do well, and more. We tied this to recent VC results in the fintech space, which saw a record number of $100 million rounds in Q2. There were some signs of weakness elsewhere, but the general state of things in tech is surprisingly hot, given the pandemic and recession.
- Gumroad founder Sahil Lavingia has a new seed fund that he built in collaboration with AngelList.
- D2C women’s-health startup Stix raised a $1.3 million seed round.
- Quantum-computing startup Rigetti raised a $79 million Series C.
- Rippling raised $145 million at an eye-popping $1.35 billion valuation; the company’s last value, set a year ago, was $270 million.
- AgentSync put together a $4.4 million seed round to help bring APIs to insurtech.
- Turning away from funding to some neat product news, India-based Statiq is building a bootstrapped EV-charging network.
- And as we wrapped, the Byju’s-WhiteHat Jr. deal was neat, JIO is soaking up a huge amount of Indian VC, and Natasha’s latest piece on learning pods had us arguing about what things are worth.
It was another fun week! As always we appreciate you sticking with and supporting the show!
CHF/JPY further potential up move reinforced by CHF safe haven status
CHF was the top-performing currency among the USD pairs in the past five days. An uptick in geopolitical risk premium has reinforced CHF’s safe haven…
- CHF was the top-performing currency among the USD pairs in the past five days.
- An uptick in geopolitical risk premium has reinforced CHF’s safe haven status.
- CHF/JPY short-term and major uptrend phases remain intact with the next intermediate resistance coming in at 167.90/168.30.
This is a follow-up analysis of our prior report, “CHF/JPY Technical: Continuation of potential bullish impulsive up move” published on 10 October 2023. Click here for a recap.
The CHF/JPY has staged the expected impulsive up move sequence and met the 165.20/165.60 intermediate resistance zone as highlighted in our previous analysis; the cross-pair printed an intraday high of 166.12 last Friday, US session, 13 October.
The current short-term uptrend phase in place since the 3 October 2023 low of 160.01 has been driven by the momentum factor supporting the CHF/JPY’s major uptrend phase since the 13 January 2023 low of 137.44.
Also, the rising geopolitical risk premium trigged by the current Israel-Hamas conflict has not abated, and now with the latest attacks orchestrated over the weekend by Hezbollah, a militant group backed by Iran on Israeli army posts in the north may have caused a further rift among key stakeholders in the Middle East region which in turn can further escalate the turmoil in the current “fragile state” of international relations affairs.
CHF maintains safe haven status but not JPY
Fig 1: USD major pairs rolling 5-day performance as of 16 Oct 2023 (Source: TradingView, click to enlarge chart)
In in state of rising geopolitical tensions, the safe-haven proxy currencies, the Japanese yen (JPY) and Swiss franc (CHF) tend to be the likely outperformers in the foreign exchange market. Based on a five-day rolling performance basis as of 16 October 2023, the CHF has indeed climbed up against the US dollar where the USD/CHF rate is the worst performer among the US dollar major pairs that recorded a loss of -0.48% at this time of the writing.
However, the JPY has lost its safe haven status this time round as the USD/JPY rate has been firmed above 148.25 (the intermediate support in place since 5 October 2023) due to a “hesitant” Bank of Japan (BoJ) that does not give any clear indication of bringing forward its plans in the removal of negative interest rates policy.
Major uptrend supported by bullish momentum
Fig 2: CHF/JPY major & medium-term trends as of 16 Oct 2023 (Source: TradingView, click to enlarge chart)
After the appearance of the weekly bullish reversal “Hammer” candlestick sighted for the week ended 6 October 2023, the price actions of the CHF/JPY had a positive follow-through that led to the formation of a weekly bullish long-bodied candlestick that ended on 13 October that surpassed the highs of the prior weekly candlesticks seen in the past three weeks.
These observations coupled with an uptick seen in the daily RSI momentum indicator that has yet to reach its overbought zone (above the 70 level) suggest that medium-term bullish momentum remains intact and has increased the odds of a clearance above the 166.60 intermediate resistance (22/30 August 2023 swing highs).
164.75 is the key support to watch in the short-term
Fig 3: CHF/JPY minor short-term trend as of 16 Oct 2023 (Source: TradingView, click to enlarge chart)
Watch the 164.75 key short-term pivotal support (also the 50-day moving) on the 1-hour chart of CHF/JPY to maintain its current bullish impulsive up move sequence within its short-term uptrend phase in place since the 3 October 2023 low.
A clearance above 166.60 sees the next intermediate resistance coming in at 167.90/168.30 (a Fibonacci extension cluster).
However, a break below 164.75 negates the bullish tone for a deeper pull-back towards the next support of 163.60 (20-day moving average, 9 October 2023 minor swing low & 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of the current up move from 3 October 2023 low to 13 October 2023 high).
currencies us dollar army interest rates iran japan
Wolf protection in Europe has become deeply political – Spain’s experience tells us why
Some European countries view wolf protection differently to others. A look at Spain’s experience may explain why.
Wolves are staging a comeback in many areas of Europe after centuries of persecution. Over the past decade alone, they have expanded their range on the continent by more than 25%.
This resurgence was brought into sharp focus in September 2023 following a controversial statement by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission. She said: “The concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans. I urge local and national authorities to take action where necessary.”
But what is the right action to take? Recent decisions by EU member states do not reflect a consensus on the matter.
The Swiss senate has voted to ease restrictions on culling their roughly 200 wolves to safeguard livestock that roam freely in the Alps. Spain, which is home to more than 2,000 wolves and boasts extensive livestock grazing systems, has adopted a contrasting stance.
In 2021, the Spanish government declared wolves strictly protected. It aims to increase the wolf population by 18% and encourage farmers to implement livestock protection measures like installing fences or keeping guard dogs.
An examination of Spain’s motivations for protection may provide some insight into what motivates countries to adopt such different approaches to coexistence.
What does coexistence mean?
In new research that I carried out with several colleagues, we investigated how people in Spain interpret and experience coexistence with wolves. Our findings revealed three distinct and, to some extent, conflicting views of what coexistence means and how it should be achieved.
“Traditionalists” cared deeply about the landscapes, livelihoods and biodiversity that evolved together throughout millennia of free-range pastoralism. They saw people as a part of nature and interpreted coexistence as a state where the wolf was controlled to not disrupt pastoral activities.
“Protectionists” wanted to restore “wild” nature (with minimal human influence) and believed that the wolf would catalyse this process. They saw coexistence as a state where human activities were controlled so that wolves could roam free.
“Pragmatists” were less fixated on a certain type of nature and more on the relationships and context within each location. They regarded coexistence as a state where the needs of different groups (including wolves) were balanced.
Relaxing or increasing wolf protection has come to represent these different visions of the future. Each of these visions offers advantages to some people and wildlife and presents challenges for others. As a result, the topic has become deeply political.
The politics of wolf conservation
In Spain, the proposal to protect wolves was put forward by protectionists, and aligned with the agenda of the incumbent left-wing government. Podemos, one of the left coalition parties, submitted a proposition for strict wolf protection in 2016 (when they were in opposition) in collaboration with pro-wolf advocacy groups.
By contrast, Spain’s right-wing political parties were firmly opposed. These parties tend to target rural voters, for whom the return of carnivores has come to symbolise the demise of pastoral cultures.
The proposal was ultimately endorsed by the government based on wolves’ “scientific, ecological and cultural value” – largely subjective criteria. For instance, one could argue that the fox, which is not protected, possesses similar values. These criteria do not consider how stringent wolf protection measures might affect other cultural or ecological values, like pastoral farming systems.
Spain’s decision was also influenced by the protectionists’ view of the wolf’s conservation status. A species that is classified as having a “favourable” status (adequate to guarantee its long-term survival) in the EU Habitats Directive can, in some instances, be hunted. However, conservationists disagree about the criteria and data on which this status is based.
For example, an assessment submitted to the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List in 2018 indicates that the Iberian wolf population is large, stable and slowly expanding. By contrast, a report published by a pro-wolf advocacy group in 2017 claimed that more wolves were killed than born in Spain during that year.
The latter has been accused of being biased and unscientific. However, it did not stop the Spanish Environment Ministry from using the report to reclassify the conservation status of wolves from “favourable” (as it was in previous reports) to “unfavourable”. In other words, information was interpreted, selected and presented in a way that justified increased protection.
The Swedish government, which has been led by a right-wing coalition since 2022, seeks to achieve the opposite. It has ordered the Environment Protection Agency to review if the established threshold for favourable status, set to a minimum of 300 in 2019, can be lowered to enable increased culling.
This nature or that nature?
To bridge the political divide between protection and persecution, as well as between the restoration of “wild” versus pastoral landscapes, a reevaluation of how decisions are made and what evidence is considered is needed.
Science plays a crucial role in evaluating various policy options and their consequences, such as the effect of an increased wolf population on sheep or deer behaviour. But it cannot determine the “correct” course of action. That choice depends on what people, livestock and wildlife in a particular place need to live well. In other words: context matters.
In most cases, the question is not a matter of choosing between “this or that”, but rather, how we get “a little bit of everything”. Reconciling different interests and finding a way forward requires public participation and, usually, professional mediation. These are the actions that the European Commission should encourage among member states.
With this in mind, it is concerning that the pragmatic interpretation is largely overlooked in the debate. Ultimately, the sustainable coexistence of humans and wolves does not hinge on whether wolves are hunted or protected, or even on the size of the wolf population. Rather, it hinges on how these decisions are made.
Hanna Pettersson received funding from Leeds-York Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) SPHERES under grant NE/L002574/.senate european europe spain eu
Lipson: The Sick Alliance Between The Left And Muslim Extremists
Lipson: The Sick Alliance Between The Left And Muslim Extremists
Authored by Charles Lipson via RealClearPolitics.com,
The virulent anti-Israel…
The virulent anti-Israel protests across America and Europe throw a glaring light on the bizarre alliance between left-wing activists and militant Muslims. That odd combination has been the bedrock of political activism at universities and in the streets for years. It began in universities, where it now dominates political discourse, threatens Jewish students, and intimidates anyone brave enough to voice their dissent. We can now see how it has spread far beyond the campus.
What makes the alliance so strange are the deep-seated differences between leftists and Muslim fundamentalists over core beliefs.
The left supports women’s rights and full equality in the workplace and public sphere. Militant Muslims oppose them.
The left supports gay rights and gay marriage. Militant Muslims toss gays off buildings. None would dare hold a public march in Pakistan, Iran, or Saudi Arabia.
The left supports abortion rights. Militant Muslims oppose them.
The left supports religious freedom, including the right to reject religion altogether. Militant Muslims believe heretics should be executed.
The left rallies against book banning. Militant Muslims embrace it for any book they believe insults Islam or supports Israel.
The left opposes the death penalty. Militant Muslims endorse it and praise their governments for using it.
These beliefs are not marginal for either group. They are foundational, and they are profoundly opposed to each other. Still, the two groups have formed a long-standing alliance. How do they deal with these profound differences? And why are they allied?
They deal with differences very simply: They never mention them when they act jointly, primarily against Israel and its supporters across the world. They have joined together to form a more powerful coalition against shared enemies. They would destroy that partnership by raising issues where they differ.
Far better to focus on their agreement, which goes beyond hating Israel to claim Western capitalism has oppressed, degraded, and ruined the world. Since the U.S. is now the world’s greatest power, it is tagged as the main source of that malignancy, at home and abroad. As they see it, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America are poor because they have been oppressed by capitalist nations and their corporations. If they have terrible governments, they have them only because the West has installed and sustained them.
This critique is based on a shared, but muddled, ideology. The heart of that ideology is its illiberalism. Both groups are fundamentally opposed to the forbearance of individual differences, including very different views and goals, that are essential to Western constitutional democracies. In their place, these opponents rely on a toxic brew of ideas drawn from:
Karl Marx, of course
Franz Fanon (“The Wretched of the Earth”)
Edward Said (“Orientalism”)
Herbert Marcuse (and the Frankfurt School of “cultural Marxism”)
And, for the most extreme Muslims, revolutionary theologians like Sayyid Qutb, the intellectual father of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and its subsidiary in Gaza, Hamas
The mixture of these ideas makes a confused jumble. But “incoherent” doesn’t mean “useless.” It serves as a kind of makeshift glue that binds disparate groups in opposition to what they see as the West’s oppressive bourgeois culture, its tolerance for divergent views, and the unequal outcomes produced by market competition (softened by transfer payments). Overturn it all, they say, in the name of “social justice.” They have no idea of what to replace it with. In fact, the coalition would break apart if either side emphasized its proposed alternatives.
This negative, often nihilistic, ideology inverts the old adage, “might makes right.” Their implicit claim is that “weakness and poverty make right.” It doesn’t. What’s right or wrong has nothing to do with who has wealth and power and who does not.
These self-proclaimed champions of the poor add one more sloppy argument to the mix. They claim people are poor and weak only because they have been oppressed and exploited.
One implication is that people in poor countries would be far better off if they had never been touched by the West and its institutions. They would thrive under their own social and political systems (and, in the West, some version of socialism). That, at least, is the unspoken claim underlying the coalition of the left and militant Islam. Some progressives (who aren’t poor) make common cause by self-flagellation. They are “repentant oppressors.” Their remorse has all the religious fervor of medieval monks who wore hairshirts and beat themselves with whips for their sins.
The idea that the West is responsible for the world’s poverty has a core of truthful criticism next to a mountain of lies. One doesn’t have to apologize for colonialism to note that almost everyone on planet Earth lived in grinding poverty until the cumulative effects of industrialization began to take hold after 1800. That process began in northwestern Europe and gradually spread across the world, lifting income, health, diet, and life expectancy. Where it failed was in countries racked by civil unrest or governed by rapacious regimes that didn’t provide public order or secure property rights and stole the revenues needed to provide essential public goods.
As for human liberation, no societies voluntarily ended human bondage until the West did it, mostly in the 18th and 19th centuries. Britain spent enormous sums stationing its navy off the African coast to prevent the transshipment of slaves, which had been captured and sold by local tribes. Britain gained nothing financially from that effort; it did it for moral reasons. In America, “free states” in the North and Midwest abolished slavery well before the Civil War. The war itself ended slavery, though blacks were still oppressed for another century by Jim Crow laws (in the South) and segregation (everywhere). Those practices were always inconsistent with the Western ideal of human equality and were finally outlawed in the mid-1960s by the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.
The current fight over millions of illegal immigrants obscures one fact common to all modern states and two crucial features of American history. The common fact is that state sovereignty includes the essential right to control who can enter each country. What makes U.S. history so unusual is that it has welcomed tens of millions of legal immigrants and integrated them, by fits and starts, into a society where common citizenship transcends ethnic and religious heritage. Today, most Americans appreciate the fruits of that integration in art, music, food, and culture, drawn from multiple cultural traditions. The left, with its focus on identity politics, damns much of that sharing as “cultural appropriation.” It is a deliberate attempt to divide the country into separate, opposed camps, based on birth.
The depth of this ideological rot is most visible on college campuses, where some students (and a few faculty) hate America and Israel so much they have actually rallied in support of Hamas and attempted to justify its atrocities as somehow the liberation of the poor and oppressed. It’s a disgusting idea.
It’s high time Americans went beyond revulsion and defended their basic, liberal ideals and the constitutional democracy founded upon them. We don’t have to accept the mantle of “oppressors” because of events that happened long before we were born, for which we are not responsible, and from which we never profited. We don’t have to accept the damning slur that our success is due to “privilege” rather than hard work, time-tested values, and a good education. The greatest “privilege” is not inherited wealth or status. It is being raised in a stable home by loving parents, living in an orderly community, and growing up in a country where each of us is free to pursue our own goals and define ourselves as we choose.
We can and should recognize America’s flaws – and work toward correcting them – without falsely painting our nation’s past as primarily a legacy of slavery and stolen wealth (the “1619” project and its twin, “decolonization” studies).
America is a great nation, for all its flaws.
Its greatness lay in the experiment of 1776 and establishment of a democracy that has endured and slowly incorporated all its people into the body politic.
The values that undergird that democracy are worth remembering, worth cherishing, and worth fighting to keep, even as a vile coalition celebrates those who kidnap and murder in the perverted name of religion. That’s not “social justice.” That’s an age-old crime.
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