Startups Weekly - The return of text is inevitable

TechCrunch Newsletter
TechCrunch logo
Startups Weekly logo

Saturday, October 23, 2021 By Natasha Mascarenhas

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a fresh human-first take on this week’s startup news and trends.

On Equity this week, we discussed the value of the written word. You can imagine that the resulting argument is inherently biased, considering we are three journalists who have bet our livelihoods on ink; but, I promise, there’s more nuance here beyond how important a lede is.

We recently published a recent deep dive on Automattic, the commercial media company behind the WordPress publishing platform. Founded in 2005, Automattic is one of the few companies that has been able to evolve and expand its way through a graveyard of media sites. Valued at $7.5 billion, it has also convinced investors of the financial promise of its vision.

I was most struck by how text has shaped Automattic’s hiring process: The company offers a purely written interview, where potential new hires never need to reveal their face or voice to anyone through the recruitment funnel. It takes away the inherent bias that comes with a Zoom interview, which, at its core, is just a digital version of a face-to-face interview. Monica Ohara, chief marketing officer of, explained more about her thinking:

“You normally think you’ve got to talk to them; see them on video. With text only, you remove all this bias and focus on the content of what they’re saying, and also test for a style of communication that’s really important in a distributed team.

“In Silicon Valley, everyone is competing for the same people that would add diversity to your pool. Which is great for those people, but what about all the others who don’t have those opportunities because of where they were born or live? For me, I was born in the Philippines and if I hadn’t had the luck to move here, I’d be living a different life.”

Rethinking the value of text, the same way we rethink how many synchronous meetings should be on our calendar, feels like the natural next step for companies figuring out how to scale distributed work. Even in a world seemingly ruled by short-form video, words — and sound — seem to matter in a way that other formats never will.

In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about PayPal’s reported new friend, the Chinese venture capital market and not at all about Facebook’s impending new rebrand. 


Image Credits: Constantine Johnny / Getty Images

PayPal picks Pinterest

We rushed to Twitter Spaces this week after rumors came out that PayPal may be buying Pinterest for a reported $45 billion. The fintech giant has been on an acquisition spree of sorts, but scooping up a social, photo-sharing platform may signal its hungry to own the content — not just the customer.

Here’s what to know: This feels nostalgic. PayPal potentially joining forces with a more content-focused e-commerce business comes more than a half-decade after it divorced from eBay. But, as Finix Chief Growth Officer Jareau Wadé pointed out, Pinterest is not a shopping destination like eBay — it’s a place where shopping begins for nearly 450 million users.

In a Substack post, Wadé makes the following argument to describe why PayPal may buy Pinterest:

At its core, Pinterest is more like Google than eBay. It’s a search engine that conducts over 5 billion searches per month for fuzzy, hard-to-describe ideas where pictures, rather than words, are often the best place to start. It also has a growing ads business that produced $613 million last quarter, up 125% YoY. With Pinterest, PayPal would be buying the top of the funnel — the awareness and interest stages — for millions of websites on the internet. PayPal would provide Pinterest with the bottom of the funnel, allowing them to see the purchases that result from shopping that began on Pinterest.

Imagine if PayPal could use their core product and the commerce assets they’ve acquired over the past five years to build a deconstructed sales funnel, not just for one website, but for the whole internet.

Put a pin in it:

PayPal picks Pinterest image

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Adapt, Adopt, and Persevere. We're here to help.

Sponsored by Cisco

Empower your small business with technology solutions, financial resources, expert insights and more – all from Cisco Designed.

Learn More

China is thriving

Data from CB Insights shows us that, aside from a single outsized 2018 round, China’s third quarter of 2021 was the best three-month period for Chinese startups ever — both in deal value and deal count.

Here’s what to know: We’re surprised, too. On Equity, we discussed how the growth of China’s venture capital market contrasts in sentiment with the region’s government restrictions. It seems that regulatory impact hasn’t stopped all companies from raising, and growing, their businesses there.

Internationally speaking:

China is thriving image

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Around TC

TC Sessions: SaaS 2021 is next week! My colleagues have put together an amazing show about the sector that seemingly can’t stop attracting millions from investors. We’ll see what stopped eating the world, how hunger is turning into innovation and definitely hit a few SaaSy notes through panels with experts.

Check out the event agenda, buy your pass and come hang with us on October 27.

Read More

Around TC image

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

A massive ‘stalkerware’ leak puts the phone data of thousands at risk

What do people want in a co-founder? YC has some answers

Station F adds an online program to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs

Trump to launch his own social media platform, calling it TRUTH Social

Seen on TechCrunch+

Mission-driven ventures are growing fast during the pandemic

Dear Sophie: Any suggestions for recruiting international tech talent?

Lessons from founders raising their first round in a bull market

Udemy targets valuation of $4B in major edtech IPO

Talk soon,


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

Key phrases

Older messages

Trump SPAC’s market cap approaches $4.7 billion

Friday, October 22, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Friday, October 22, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Friday! Dear friends, we made it to the end of the week. It was a big, busy few days, so give

How do you select the right tech stack?

Friday, October 22, 2021

TechCrunch+ Newsletter TechCrunch+ logo TechCrunc+ Roundup logo By Walter Thompson and Ram Iyer Friday, October 22, 2021 Welcome to TechCrunch+ Friday Image Credits: La-Rel Easter / Unsplash Early-

‘To stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,’ Trump launches social network

Thursday, October 21, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Thursday, October 21, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for October 21, 2021! News today was all over the map,

Register today for the iMerit ML DataOps Summit

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Virtual Event | December 2, 2021 iMerit ML DataOps Summit Registration Hi there, TechCrunch and iMerit are excited to announce the iMerit ML DataOps Summit – a free virtual event to be held on December

PayPal reportedly considers buying Pinterest at a $39B valuation

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Wednesday, October 20, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for October 20, 2021. It's been quite a day, with

Zomato’s dash for cash

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Also in today's edition: Google & Twitter shrug off Apple, China is civilising the Internet, ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

Oct. 27 - Google eyes 'long-term opportunity' in commerce | Chipotle hosts Roblox restaurant for Halloween

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Chipotle hosts virtual restaurant on Roblox for Halloween experience; How Omnicom is taking inclusivity beyond the mood board to the boardroom; At Advertising Week: Less fluff and increased candor

The $19 'Holy Grail in a Dropper' for Brighter, Tighter Skin

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Thousands of people are impressed. Get Health Magazine Even Skeptics Rave About How Quickly This $17 Gel Fades Dark Spots Shop Now » 12 Beauty Advent Calendars for Anyone on Your List Read More »

Power BI Weekly #127 - 28th September 2021

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Power BI Weekly Newsletter Issue #127 powered by endjin Welcome to the 127th edition of Power BI Weekly! This week we've been given the Power BI September 2021 Feature Summary, including nice

Why I'm buying the iPhone 13 Pro Max

Saturday, September 18, 2021

A Microsoft zero-day is gaining popularity with attackers; DeFi: 5 things you should know Subscription | Read Online | Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Top Story of the Day September 18, 2021 Top Story of the

Apple and Google bow to Russian pressure

Friday, September 17, 2021

TechCrunch Newsletter TechCrunch logo The Daily Crunch logo Friday, September 17, 2021 • By Alex Wilhelm Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Friday, September 17th! What a week, ya'll. It is now

Python Weekly - Issue 517

Thursday, September 16, 2021

View this email in your browser Python Weekly Welcome to issue 517 of Python Weekly. Let's get straight to the links this week. Articles, Tutorials and Talks Solidity, Blockchain, and Smart

Top programming languages: Python comes for the crown

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Apple's event: How to watch it; Protect your endpoints with top EDR software Subscription | Read Online | Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Top Story of the Day September 13, 2021 Top Story of the Day Top