Daily Crunch: Blue Origin's second crewed launch includes guest star William Shatner

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for October 13, 2021! Today’s newsletter features fan favorites in space, a startup called “Karat,” and the final resting place of ClassPass. But before we get into the latest from startupland, if you are into the realm of digital security, this is for you. – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Stripe gets back into crypto: Online payments giant Stripe is building a crypto team despite having pulled support for bitcoin payments back in 2018. The decision by Stripe — one of the more respected global technology unicorns — to get back into the blockchain world was cheered by crypto fans. Precisely what sort of competitive impact the move may have on other companies was less clear.

  • Mindbody buys ClassPass, raises $500M: After a number of pivots, ClassPass stayed afloat long enough to find a new home, we learned today. Selling itself to Mindbody in an all-cash transaction likely wasn’t what ClassPass initially had in mind, but the deal has obvious synergies and with lots of fresh capital aboard, the combined corporate entity could have a neat future.

  • Shatner in space: If you are a Star Trek fan, and I have to admit that I am not, it was a big week as series actor William Shatner took a quick joyride to space aboard one of Jeff Bezos’ rockets. Naturally, market excitement at events like this will fade in the coming years as such flights become more mundane — but today, folks still do really care. There’s so much interest in space flights that, well, we can’t help but keep writing about them.

Startups/VC

Before we get into our usual grip of startup news items, if you are tracking the GitLab IPO, we have the latest for you on what the company is worth (lots) and how its possible valuation stacks up against many market comps (well).

  • Today’s Tiger round is Karat: Yes, the technical interviewing service has raised capital from Tiger, stacking a $110 million round at a valuation of around $1.1 billion. The round is notable for a Seattle-based company and is indicative of just how hungry the market is for technical talent. Karat is hardly swimming upstream in its target market.

  • How TripActions pivoted its business and rebuilt its value: If you think back to the early days of COVID-19, startups that provided travel-related services took a whacking as their market dried up from underneath them. One such company was TripActions. But the company is back, Mary Ann Azevedo reports for TechCrunch. And it has a new, bigger price tag to boot.

  • The scale of content moderation will surprise you: What does it take to keep a major social platform free of gunk? Or at least free enough from crap? A lot, TikTok tells us. The company removed 81,518,334 videos in Q2 2021 alone. That’s probably not a cheap bit of work.

  • ScienceIO is taking on messy medical data: And it has raised $8 million for its efforts, TechCrunch reports. ScienceIO is “using natural language processing and data analytics to create a massive database of patient data that can help stakeholders better understand, and treat, people holistically,” we wrote. ScienceIO reminds us a bit of what Truveta is trying to do. Truveta is a major healthcare data sharing effort led by a former Microsoft muckety-muck that we’ve written about previously.

  • Weights & Biases raises huge Series C for MLOps work: DevOps is a well-known category of software. MLOps, or machine learning operations, is less established. But Weights & Biases just raised nine figures for its MLOps service and has a host of major venture capital firms backing its efforts. Our read? Building tooling for technical talent is hardly a complete task.

  • And, from Canada: One of the best parts of covering startups is talking to folks around the world building neat new companies and products. We’re always learning about industries and markets that are less familiar to our current lives. Such is the case with Rose Rocket, a Toronto-based startup that is taking on the TMS, or transportation management system, market with new software. It turns out that the world of freight trucking is not fully digitized, and the startup wants to change that fact.

Inside Plaid’s plans to build a new, global finance network

January 2020 seems like a long time ago: Billie Eilish swept the Grammy Awards, Tesla's market cap made it America's most valuable car company, and Visa announced plans to purchase Plaid for $5.3 billion.

A year later, the credit card giant balked at the deal after it attracted regulatory scrutiny, but Ryan Lawler reports that "the year wasn't a total loss for the data connectivity startup."

He spoke to CEO Zach Perret, CTO Jean-Denis Greze and COO Eric Sager about what they learned while working with Visa and looked at some new platform features designed to build customer trust while eliciting better insights.

“Despite the outcome not being what we predicted when we went in, I think we as a company grew a lot and learned a lot,” said Perret.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • TechCrunch’s Apple Watch Series 7 review is here: Writing this to you while wearing an Apple Watch, I fully understand the irony of my following comment, but who the hell is naming these things? Apple Watch Series 7 — which, incidentally we liked — is as good a name as Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium. Jokes aside, our own Brian Heater took some darn fine images for the above review, which we wanted to highlight and praise.

  • Draft Irish decision against Facebook could wind up toothless: A draft decision concerning Facebook, the Irish Data Protection Commission and GDPR could fine the social giant some $36 million. Which is akin to fining you a fiver. It’s not much of a penalty, and as far as warnings go, it’s the very opposite. Keep an eye on this space.

TechCrunch Experts

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Community

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Join Danny Crichton on Thursday, October 14, at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT for a Twitter Spaces interview with Jacob Helberg, author of “The Wires of War,” which will be released tomorrow.

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