Gap year student secures last open seat for Blue Origin’s first human spaceflight – TechCrunch

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 15, 2021. Good news from the TechCrunch front: The agenda is out for our big Disrupt conference coming this September. It’s going to be flat-out amazing, frankly, so take a peek. Also, the latest EC-1 just dropped. So if you want to get the inside scoop on CockroachDB, well, we have just the compendium for you. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Revolut is now worth $33B: U.K.-based neobank Revolut has put together an $800 million round that values the company at $33 billion. The company’s fresh valuation is a multiple of what it was worth in early 2020. Why is it worth so much today? TechCrunch did a little exploring on the matter.
  • Valve is making gaming hardware: Yes, the folks behind the Steam gaming store are getting into the hand-held gaming market. Their device, the Steam Deck, will cost $399 and will contain “a quad-core Zen 2 CPU, coupled with AMD RDNA 2 graphics and 16 GB of RAM,” per our own Brian Heater. If you want more storage, get ready to shell out up to $649 for the hand-held computer.
  • Autonomous vehicle unicorn Aurora is going public: As TechCrunch previously scooped, autonomous vehicle unicorn Aurora is going public via a SPAC. The company expects to sport a $13 billion valuation when it begins to trade. Recall that Aurora previously absorbed Uber’s self-driving vehicle unit at a roughly $10 billion valuation.


The venture capital market has been on fire lately, leading to rapid-fire deal-making and more rounds than journalists can dream of covering. But if you are still in the market to raise capital, then you might want to listen to Norwest’s Lisa Wu, who has a few tips that might prove useful. Chief among them? Think like a VC when you head out to raise.

  • AmEx dips its toes into financial planning: Today news broke that credit giant American Express invested in BodesWell last year via its venture arm. Now the credit card company has “launched a pilot of its first self-service digital financial planning tool” in conjunction with the startup. Talk about an early customer for BodesWell.
  • Prefab construction tries again: That’s the word from a new $20 million round for Abodu — what we presume is a portmanteau of “abode” and “you.” Sure, prefab construction unicorn Katerra is kaput, but Abodu is taking a consumer-focused spin on the model. Norwest led the round, with participation from Initialized Capital.
  • Lightyear raises $13.1M for online network procurement: From the geekier side of tech today was news from Lightyear, a startup that its CEO says is the “the first tool for buying your telecom infrastructure on the web.” Ron Miller notes that everything is heading online, so why not network buying?
  • $20M for financial data extraction: Daloopa has closed an eight-figure Series A led by Credit Suisse Asset Management’s NEXT Investors to help financial types avoid “repetitive data extraction in order to gather insights for analysis and forecasts,” TechCrunch reports. The deal stood out to us given its obvious corporate venture capital (CVC) angle; CVCs have been more active than ever in recent quarters.

The CockroachDB EC-1

Ants and camels are famously resilient animals, but when it was time to select a name for a startup that offers open-source, cloud-based distributed database architecture, you can imagine why “Cockroach Labs” was the final candidate.

Database technology is fundamental infrastructure, which partially explains why it’s so resistant to innovation: Oracle Database was released in 1979, and MySQL didn’t reach the market until 1995.

Since hitting the market, CockroachDB has become “a next-generation, $2-billion-valued database contender,” writes enterprise reporter Bob Reselman, who interviewed the company’s founders to write a four-part series:

Part 1: Origin story: From the creation of the popular open-source image editor GIMP to some of Google’s most well-known infrastructure products.

Part 2: Technical design: Analyzes the key differentiation that CockroachDB offers, particularly its focus on geography and data storage.

Part 3: Developer relations and business: How CockroachDB engages with developers while pivoting to the cloud at a key inflection point.

Part 4: Competitive landscape and future: A look at the fierce competition, and what possible exit routes might look like.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Apple hearts fintech: News this week that Apple is considering jumping into the buy now, pay later sector rocked the share price of Affirm and Afterpay. But what about startups in the space? TechCrunch did a little noodling on the question.
  • Xiaomi snags Apple’s No. 2 handset mark: Apple’s handset shipments grew in the second quarter, but a huge 83% gain at Xiaomi put the Chinese hardware company above Cupertino and its iPhone line, per Canalys data. Samsung remains the world’s largest smartphone company by unit volume.
  • Be jealous of this 18-year-old: After the winning bidder for a space flight on Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin sold for $28 million to someone who couldn’t be bothered to make the first flight, an 18-year-old “high school graduate bound for the University of Utrecht” will go instead. Oliver Daemen, enjoy the trip, we’re jealous. (Yes, Daemen’s parents are rich.)

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