Demo your early-stage startup at the TechCrunch Summer Party

Nothing says summer in Silicon Valley better than the TechCrunch Summer Party. In its 14th year, we’re celebrating the startup spirit and culture at the Park Chalet, San Francisco’s coastal beer garden, on July 25. Who doesn’t love ocean views?

And nothing says relaxed networking in Silicon Valley more than showcasing your early-stage startup at our summer soiree. It’s a great opportunity to demo your business and place your face in front of influential people in a convivial atmosphere. Each demo table includes four summer party tickets — bring your whole crew. There’s a limited number of tables available, so book your startup demo package now.

Experience world-class networking and still have time to enjoy the venue, drink craft beer, sip a signature a cocktail or two and nosh on yummy appetizers. Maybe it’s the relaxed setting, the shared camaraderie or maybe it’s the libations — who can say for sure — but TechCrunch parties tend to be the place where start-uppers meet the people who go on to change their lives — future investors, co-founders or buyers.

Plus there’ll be several VC firms in attendance who are partnering with us for the event.

  • August Capital
  • Battery Ventures
  • Data Collective
  • Uncork Capital

Summer Party details you need to know:

  • When: July 25 from 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
  • Where: Park Chalet in San Francisco
  • Attendee ticket: $95
  • Startup demo package: $2,000 — includes four attendee tickets, one cocktail table, tabletop sign, power and internet access

There will be plenty of games and prizes. Yes, we love giving away prizes, like TechCrunch swag, Amazon Echos and tickets to Disrupt San Francisco 2019.

Come to the TechCrunch Summer Party at the Park Chalet and showcase your early-stage genius to a passel of influential start-uppers in a fun, relaxed setting. … Read the rest

Apollo raises $22M for its GraphQL platform

Apollo, a San Francisco-based startup that provides a number of developer and operator tools and services around the GraphQL query language, today announced that it has raised a $22 million growth funding round co-led by Andreessen Horowitz and Matrix Partners. Existing investors Trinity Ventures and Webb Investment Network also participated in this round.

Today, Apollo is probably the biggest player in the GraphQL ecosystem. At its core, the company’s services allow businesses to use the Facebook -incubated GraphQL technology to shield their developers from the patchwork of legacy APIs and databases as they look to modernize their technology stacks. The team argues that while REST APIs that talked directly to other services and databases still made sense a few years ago, it doesn’t anymore now that the number of API endpoints keeps increasing rapidly.

Apollo replaces this with what it calls the Data Graph. “There is basically a missing piece where we think about how people build apps today, which is the piece that connects the billions of devices out there,” Apollo co-founder and CEO Geoff Schmidt told me. “You probably don’t just have one app anymore, you probably have three, for the web, iOS and Android . Or maybe six. And if you’re a two-sided marketplace you’ve got one for buyers, one for sellers and another for your ops team.”

Managing the interfaces between all of these apps quickly becomes complicated and means you have to write a lot of custom code for every new feature. The promise of the Data Graph is that developers can use GraphQL to query the data in the graph and move on, all without having to write the boilerplate code that typically slows them down. At the same time, the ops teams can use the Graph to enforce access policies and … Read the rest

Startups Weekly: The Peloton IPO (bull vs. bear)

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s noteworthy venture capital deals, funds and trends. Before I dive into this week’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the proliferation of billion-dollar companies. Before that, I noted the uptick in beverage startup rounds. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

Now, time for some quick notes on Peloton’s confirmed initial public offering. The fitness unicorn, which sells a high-tech exercise bike and affiliated subscription to original fitness content, confidentially filed to go public earlier this week. Unfortunately, there’s no S-1 to pore through yet; all I can do for now is speculate a bit about Peloton’s long-term potential.

What I know: 

  • Peloton is profitable. Founder and chief executive John Foley said at one point that he expected 2018 revenues of $700 million, more than double 2017’s revenues of $400 million.
  • There is strong investor demand for Peloton stock. Javier Avolos, vice president at the secondary marketplace Forge, tells TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington that “investor interest [in Peloton] has been consistently strong from both institutional and retail investors. Our view is that this is a result of perceived strong performance by the company, a clear path to a liquidity event, and historically low availability of supply in the market due to restrictions around selling or transferring shares in the secondary market.”
  • Peloton, despite initially struggling to raise venture capital, has accrued nearly $1 billion in funding to date. Most recently, it raised a $550 million Series F at a $4.25 billion valuation. It’s backed by Tiger Global Management, TCV, Kleiner Perkins and others.

 

A bullish perspective: Peloton, an early player in the fitness tech space, has garnered … Read the rest

Lyft sues SF over bike-share program

Lyft is suing the city of San Francisco, claiming that the city is violating its 10-year contract with Lyft that would give the company exclusive rights to operate bike-share programs. San Francisco, however, says the contract does not apply to dockless bike-share, but only station-based bike-share.

In its lawsuit, Lyft is seeking a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order to prevent the city from issuing permits to operators for stationless bike-share rentals.

Although SF previously allowed Uber-owned JUMP to operate its stationless electric bikes, that was supposed to be a one-time exception since Motivate, which Lyft eventually bought, was not yet ready to deploy its stationless electric bikes, the lawsuit states. JUMP’s pilot expires on July 9, 2019, but now the city is seeking additional operators to deploy stationless electric bikes.

“We are eager to continue investing in the regional bikeshare system with the MTC and San Francisco,” a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “We need San Francisco to honor its contractual commitments to this regional program — not change the rules in the middle of the game. We are eager to quickly resolve this, so that we can deliver on our plans to bring bikes to every neighborhood in San Francisco.”

Lyft says it has tried to avoid litigation but that the SFMTA has refused to participate in its dispute process.

“As we will explain to the court, the agreement between Motivate and the City was about a docked bike share system,” John Coté, communications director for SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement to TechCrunch. “It does not give Lyft the right to a monopoly on bike sharing in San Francisco. Lyft can seek a permit for dockless bikes on equal footing with everyone else.”

You can see the full complaint below.… Read the rest

On the road to self-driving trucks, Starsky Robotics built a traditional trucking business

More than three years ago, self-driving trucks startup Starsky Robotics was founded to solve a fundamental issue with freight — a solution that CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher believes hinges on getting the human driver out from behind the wheel.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Starsky Robotics started a regular ol’ trucking company. Now, nearly half of the employees at this self-driving truck startup help run a business that uses the traditional model of employing human drivers to haul loads for customers, TechCrunch has learned.

Starsky’s trucking business, which has been operating in secret for nearly two years alongside the company’s more public pursuit of developing autonomous vehicle technology, has hauled 2,200 loads for customers. The company has 36 regular trucks that only use human drivers to haul freight. It has three autonomous trucks that are driven and supported by a handful of test drivers. Starsky also employs a number of office people who, as Seltz-Axmacher notes, “know how to run trucks.”

The CEO and co-founder contends that without the human-driven trucking piece, Starsky won’t ever have an operational, or profitable, self-driving truck business. The trucking business has generated revenue, led to key partnerships such as Schneider Logistics, Penske and Transport Enterprise Leasing, and importantly, helped build a company that works in the real world. It has also been a critical tool for recruiting and vetting safety drivers and teleoperators (or remote drivers), according to Seltz-Axmacher.

“The decision to have a trucking business interact with the real trucking world in parallel with developing the robotics piece is a necessary part of building a longstanding business in the space,” said Reilly Brennan, general partner at Trucks VC and the first institutional investor in Starsky.

Starksy, which was co-founded by Seltz-Axmacher and Kartik Tiwari, has raised $21.7 million in equity from … Read the rest