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Work trips are making a $5 billion comeback – TechCrunch


Would you bet millions of dollars on a corporate travel comeback? Doesn’t matter. Andreessen Horowitz, Addition and Elad Gil are anyways.

This week, the trio led a nine-figure financing round in TripActions, a software company that helps other companies book and manage corporate travel. But the news is (always) more than the number. I see TripActions’ growth as a signal to travel sector startups, which faced the brunt of the pandemic’s impact. We’ve heard the market is emerging again, but the fact that investors poured money into an up-round valued at $5 billion adds an extra layer of conviction.

TripActions, like many travel startups, laid off hundreds of employees in the beginning of the pandemic as the coronavirus froze business travel. It still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, but a spokesperson for the company said that a more distributed working class could boost corporate travels. If you don’t have to commute every day, maybe you don’t mind hopping on a flight once a month instead.

Here’s why this could be good news: Distributed work and corporate travel aren’t mutually exclusive categories. For founders in the remote work space, this is key wiggle room to consider as we wait for post-pandemic consumer behavior to be colored in. So often, founders pitch that their startup is remote-or-bust, and while that might make a good headline, it’s clear that everyone will come out of this time with a different mindset.

Read on, as we discuss Plaid’s new investment in early-stage founders, Israel’s startup ecosystem, and telehealth in two different ways. Also, here’s your weekly reminder that you can find me @nmasc_and send me tips on early-stage startup financings to natasha.m@techcrunch.com

Plaid takes notes from Y Combinator

Last week, I joked that ‘Plaid for X’ startups will live on, even though the business ended its plans to merge with Visa for $5.3 billion. This week, Plaid announced an accelerator to boost Plaid for X startups. You can’t make this stuff up.

What you need to know: Finrise, which began as an idea in an internal hackathon last summer, will help three to five entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds navigate starting a fintech business. There’s no capital involved, but there is Plaid mentorship, a bootcamp, and access to a network of investors.

Etc: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Plaid is building out its own incubator program. Fintech as a sector has been booming. The latest fintech data dive shows un-exited fintech unicorns are now worth an all-time high. The “unicorn effect” is impacting average valuations and deal-size.

And in case other sectors are feeling left out, VCs invested $428 million into U.S.-based startups everyday in 2020.

unicorn

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Telehealth enters a ‘unique, high-growth period’

In our latest investor survey, eight healthcare-focused venture capitalists talked about the future of digital health.

What you need to know: Telehealth isn’t just growing in demand, it’s growing in definition. Investors examined the future of digital health financing, how the Biden administration will impact their portfolio companies, and how to balance opportunity with incentives in a sector as emotional as this. Here’s how Nan Li, managing director at Obvious Ventures, puts the opportunity ahead:

[This is] absolutely not a blip! We are headed into a unique, high-growth period in healthcare where many aspects of the healthcare ecosystem are being rebuilt. From insurance underwriting, the disease-specific standard of care protocols, clinical staffing models, to patient coordination and triage … every aspect of healthcare is fair game for innovative companies to address. This is a drastic expansion from the days where health tech was confined to “healthcare IT,” selling software to hospitals and the rise in investing attention reflects this generational opportunity.

Etc: Another investor survey for you this week: 6 investors on 2021’s mobile gaming trends and opportunities.

Isometric Healthcare and technology concept banner. Medical exams and online consultation concept. Medicine. Vector illustration

Speaking of the public markets

Up, up and away is the only way to phrase the performance of recent IPOs.

Here’s what you need to know:

Etc: Subscribe to The Exchange, a weekly newsletter penned by our IPO and public markets reporter Alex Wilhelm.

Image Credits: Hims & Hers

Around TechCrunch

The inimitable Drew Olanoff, an early writer for TechCrunch, has rejoined the team to build out our community offering for our Extra Crunch subscribers. He’s cooking up some exciting ways to help connect y’all to the TC team, the best founders in the business, and decision-makers in startups. If you have thoughts, bug him!

Extra Crunch Live is returning in a big way in 2021. We’ll be interviewing VC/founder duos about how their Series A deals went down, and Extra Crunch members will have the chance to get live feedback on their pitch deck. You can check out our plans for ECL in 2021 right here, or hit up this form to submit your pitch deck. Episodes air every Wednesday at 3pm ET/12pm PT starting in February.

Across the week

On TechCrunch 

Israel’s startup ecosystem powers ahead, amid a year of change

Instacart is eliminating the jobs of unionized workers

Eight Roads Ventures Europe promotes Lucile Cornet to Partner

Alphabet shuts down Loon internet balloon company

On Extra Crunch

15 steps to fundraising a new VC or private equity fund

How VCs invested in Asia and Europe in 2020

How and when to build marketing teams at deep tech companies

After a slew of media and VC stories this week, the Equity team had to weigh in on the future of journalism now that A16z is launching its own publication. I won’t give away our takes, but the title should give you a hint.

Other topics we got into included a barrage of mobility news, a Nigerian edtech startup, and a GPS story that is much more fascinating than the 400 pages it took to get to the end product.

Listen here, and remember that we also have a popular Monday morning show to prepare you for the week.

Okay, until next week!

Natasha





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