Startups Weekly

TechCrunch Newsletter
TechCrunch logo
Startups Weekly logo

Saturday, July 03, 2021 By Natasha Mascarenhas

Wow, that headline worked?

A recent board fight at a digital health unicorn is a reminder to entrepreneurs that it’s important to set boundaries, even amid the dizzying volume and velocity of this summer’s deal frenzy.

This week I published a scoop about how Bessemer Venture Partners replaced a board member at Hinge Health, after that board member invested in a competing startup. Hinge Health co-founder Daniel Perez alleges that the board member did not notify him before they led a round in an early-stage startup in the same sector.

The situation gives a rare and nuanced peek into the world of competitive tension between startups. While founders expect certain standards of conduct from investors, including that they notify them of investments in directly competitive startups, investors may be feeling more pressure to make faster decisions that clash with the founders they’ve already backed, while having different definitions of competition from their portfolios. In a post-NDA world, the rules need to be rewritten around how to have these conversations.

I’m not quite sure if more due diligence is the solution to everyone’s woes — but I do think transparency and explicitness between founders and investors can’t hurt. It’s not just for founders. Investors, who owe returns to their LPs, don’t want to be in situations where they can’t invest in a booming sector because they have one other investment in the sector.

The situations are endless:

  • What happens when a startup pivots into a different market than the one that it sold its investors on and is suddenly competitive with a portfolio company?
  • What if a portfolio company’s future roadmap includes a go-to-market strategy that clashes with a potential investment?
  • Can a Sequoia India partner back a company that is directly competing with a Sequoia India company?
  • Is it okay for there to be competing investments within the same firm as long as different partners are sitting on the board?

Based on my DMs, Hinge Health isn’t alone in dealing with current investors backing competitors. It adds an asterisk to the barrage of funding rounds. Welcome to Hot Due Diligence Summer, I guess?

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll get into the Duolingo S-1, a creator economy rebrand and an exclusive interview with top startup marketers. As always, you can find me on Twitter @nmasc_ — send me tips or notes on any competitive tensions you’ve dealt with.


Image Credits: Hans Neleman / Getty Images

Wall Street, it’s time for your language lesson

Duolingo, a language-learning unicorn last valued at $2.4 billion, filed to go public this week. Beyond the flurry of puns — thanks to this reader for today’s subhed — the S-1 gave us a sneak peak into the financials of a rare edtech company ambitious enough to list on the stock market.

Here’s what to know: A deep dive into the financials and fine print unveiled how Duolingo’s monetization efforts have led to 129% revenue growth and solid conversion between free and paying users. The document also exposed a number of other fun factoids, such as the fact that only four people left the company in 2020 — and that Duolingo is indeed looking to scoop up some companies.

For some more language on the language learning company: 

Wall Street, it’s time for your language lesson image

Image Credits: Duolingo

Accelerate Your Startup at Endless Frontier Labs

Sponsored by Endless Frontier Labs at NYU Stern

EFL accelerates the success of early-stage startups in science and technology through an equity-free mentorship program centered around business development and fundraising. No relocation or NYU affiliation required. Apply by August 6th, 2021.

Read More

Rebranding the creator economy

On Equity this week, Alex and I brought on techie comedian Alexis Gay to talk about the creator economy. 

Here’s what to know: Gay went from helping creators via her role at Patreon to becoming a creative herself. We talked about pet peeves, why it’s important to be explicit when building tools for this economy, and if rolling funds are inevitable for anyone with a Twitter following. Check out the episode, which I’d say is one of our funniest to date.

And as your postgame:

Rebranding the creator economy image

Image Credits: Alexis Gay

Marketing some marketing

TechCrunch’s Miranda Halpern and Eric Eldon are hard at work on TechCrunch Experts, a directory that will host vetted professionals within the startup industry. Right now, they’re seeking the names of the top growth marketers powering your favorite tech startup — and they’re still taking submissions!

Here’s what to know: Halpern interviewed Kathleen Estreich and Emily Kramer, the co-founders of strategic marketing firm MKT1. The revealing conversation includes notes on marketer attrition, why their job is about a lot more than just advertisements, and how they’re working against the stigma of marketers often being “thought of as second-class citizens” within a company.

Deeper dives:

Marketing some marketing image

Image Credits: Richard Drury / Getty Images

Around TC

TechCrunch Early Stage 2021: Marketing & Fundraising is next week! The entire event is built for founders seeking tactical tips on everything from how to survive high-speed startup growth during COVID-19 to how to unearth the ever-illusive product-market fit. Buy your tickets, because it will make me very happy.

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

Seen on Extra Crunch

Thanks for giving me a few minutes of your time. It truly never gets old. Enjoy the long weekend, and let’s do it all over again next week.

Talk then,


Read more stories on

Newest Jobs from Crunchboard

See more jobs on CrunchBoard

Post your tech jobs and reach millions of TechCrunch readers for only $200 per month.

Facebook Twitter Youtube Instagram Flipboard

View this email online in your browser

Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Unsubscribe

© 2021 Verizon Media. All rights reserved. 110 5th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Older messages

Daily Crunch - In one of India's largest exits, Swedish media giant MTG buys PlaySimple for $360M

Friday, July 2, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Friday, July 02, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 2. We are heading into a holiday weekend here in the

Chinese cybersecurity probe validates Didi's pre-IPO warning to investors

Friday, July 2, 2021

Extra Crunch Newsletter Extra Crunch logo Extra Crunch Roundup logo Friday, July 02, 2021 • By Walter Thompson Welcome to Extra Crunch Friday Image Credits: Nigel Sussman Yesterday, China ordered ride-

Daily Crunch - After quarters of explosive growth, a profitable Robinhood files to go public

Thursday, July 1, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Thursday, July 01, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 1, 2021. It's Robinood IPO day! That's the

🎆 4th of July Events Sale - Happening Now 🎆

Thursday, July 1, 2021

2 for 1 tickets on all events for a limited time We're about to roll into a long holiday weekend here in the States, and we're in the mood to celebrate. In true American style, we're

Daily Crunch - Insecure server exposes Byju’s students' names, phone numbers, emails and more

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Wednesday, June 30, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 30, 2021. It's the last day of the quarter.

Olympics: Scammers are trying to cash in on the Olympic Games

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Smart Cities Robotic Challenge; KDE is to Linux what 7 was to Windows Subscription | Read Online | Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Top Story of the Day July 23, 2021 Top Story of the Day Scammers offer

Weekly Xamarin - Issue 313

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Moar MAUI! Weekly Xamarin View on the Web Archives ISSUE 313 24th July 2021 KYM PHILLPOTTS G'day Everyone, We are now on the downhill slope towards MUAI releases and you can really see it in the

[Python Dependency Pitfalls] "Re-inventing the wheel" disease

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Hey there, PyPI, the Python packaging repository, now contains more than 100000 third-party packages in total. That's an *overwhelming* number of packages to choose from... And this feeling of

The Plastic World of RealSelf

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Cyberbits #10: “The TripAdvisor of Boob Jobs” ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

The Framework Laptop is now shipping — BirdNet – Identify Birds by Sound — and AWS's Egregious Egress

Friday, July 23, 2021

Issue #473 — Top 20 stories of July 24, 2021 Issue #473 — July 24, 2021 You receive this email because you are subscribed to Hacker News Digest. You can open it in the browser if you prefer. 1 The

Daily Crunch - Bitcoin 'is a big part of our future,' says Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Friday, July 23, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Friday, July 23, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 23, 2021. It's been an interesting week for the crypto

Software Testing Weekly - Issue 81

Friday, July 23, 2021

Do you ask the right questions? View on the Web Archives ISSUE 81 July 23rd 2021 COMMENT Welcome to the 81st issue! Here's one thing I'd like to highlight this week. It's a meaningful post

The Dial-Up Volunteer Army 💾

Friday, July 23, 2021

How AOL was built on a an army of unpaid volunteers. Here's a version for your browser. Hunting for the end of the long tail • July 23, 2021 Today in Tedium: In some ways, social media started with

JSK Daily for Jul 23, 2021

Friday, July 23, 2021

JSK Daily for Jul 23, 2021 View this email in your browser A community curated daily e-mail of JavaScript news Snapshot Testing for Frontends There are many types of software testing. Among these, one

iOS Dev Weekly - Issue 517

Friday, July 23, 2021

Focusing on positivity and balance. ⚖️ View on the Web Archives ISSUE 517 July 23rd 2021 Comment I'm determined to write something more positive today! I've been far too negative recently, so