Daily Crunch: Congolese volcano refugees create mobile bitcoin payments network

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for November 10, 2021! I spent the bulk of today on a train being whisked up the Eastern Seaboard back home, which meant that I was reading novels instead of tech news. And that means I am also catching up today. Thank gosh TechCrunch wrote a zillion stories for us both. We have work to do! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Rivian’s IPO revs Wall Street: The public-market debut of electric vehicle company Rivian stormed to a per-share price north of $100 today after pricing its shares at $78. TechCrunch reports that the company’s valuation makes it worth more than GM or Ford, storied automakers with global footprints, and, well, revenues. Something that Rivian has not that much of. The return of high-risk IPOs is really, truly here.
  • Expensify’s CEO talks public debut: TechCrunch caught up with Expensify founder and CEO David Barrett today to discuss his company’s public offering. We wanted to know why he chose a traditional IPO and just how big his company’s market is (Airbase and others are waging war on one another to snag share). More on the company’s economics here.
  • Public investors struggle to grok crypto: Shares of Coinbase are lower today in the wake of its Q3 earnings report. Despite warning investors that its trading incomes would drop in the period, Wall Street was still let down by its numbers. In short, public-market investors appear to be struggling to properly estimate how well crypto-focused companies will perform quarter to quarter.


Our own Brian Heater is a busy man. He’s busy getting his robotics-focused newsletter ready for launch — it’s called Actuator and you can sign up here for free. And he wrote a huge feature for the site on Bowery, which plays in the vertical farming space. So, we had him on the Equity podcast to chat farming that is more tall than broad.

  • Meet the Autism Impact Fund: A new venture capital fund wants to “revolutionize the status quo for diagnosing, treating and living with autism” through investing. It wants to put capital to work in products and companies that may have a positive impact on the larger autism community. Which sounds pretty cool.
  • Now you can subscribe to trees: No, this is not a cannabis joke. A startup called Ecologi is building a subscription service that lets consumers pay regular fees to help plant lots of trees. Trees consume carbon, of course, changing the global climate balance. It just raised $5.75 million. Trees as a service! TaaS!
  • There’s still white space in sales tooling: That’s the lesson I am taking away from Momentum’s $5 million seed round. The company is building a Slack integration that wants to bring the sales processes closer to other parts of an org. Which is ambitious, given that a CRM giant now owns Slack.
  • Cacheflow leaves stealth, announces $6M round: The SaaS buying experience is old-fashioned, Cacheflow reckons, giving it a shot at shaking up how customers pay for software. The startup, announcing itself to the world for the first time today, is offering a way for software companies to get paid all at once, while allowing customers to pay ratably.
  • Mega-round #1: ControlUp has raised a $100 million round to continue scaling its IT-focused service that helps improve desktop performance.
  • Mega-round #2: Workato has raised $200 million to help enterprise customers automate more of their regular work. The company is now worth $5.7 billion.
  • Daily raises $40M for its video-focused software: I recall when Daily raised a $4.6 million seed round. That was back in May 2020. Now the company is flush with a new eight-figure round that our own Christine Hall notes will help the company continue to build and sell its API-delivered video embed service.
  • Tiger likes Moov’s moves: So it put a $41 million Series A into the company. What does Moov do? It has built a marketplace for used manufacturing equipment. Given the role that used IRL tooling is playing in the global chip shortage, the company could be onto something major.
  • Latin American Toast is big business: Not the burned bread, but the Toast model. Toast, a U.S. software and hardware and payments company, has soared in value in recent quarters. Zak wants to bring a similar business to Latin America. And it has raised $15 million to do so.
  • To close out our startup coverage, TechCrunch wrote about how the eruption of a volcano in the Democratic Republic of the Congo led to the displaced using bitcoin to rebuild their lives. It’s a story worth reading.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky discusses the future of work and the one thing he’d do over

Airbnb Inc. Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky As Company Plans Africa Expansion

Image Credits: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg / Getty Images

In an expansive interview, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and TechCrunch Managing Editor Jordan Crook looked back at how the travel company has adapted since the beginning of the pandemic.

Their chat covered topics as far afield as Airbnb’s “work anywhere” policy, how it’s addressing liability issues for hosts and his biggest regret from the COVID-19 era:

I overrode the host cancellation policy and refunded more than a billion dollars of guest bookings. I think it was the right thing to do. But I did it unilaterally, without consulting the hosts. They got really pissed off and it broke some trust with some of our host community.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • YouTube gives bad vibes the boot: Alphabet’s video giant YouTube is pulling dislike counts from view across its service. The goal is to prevent abuse, which makes some sense. It’s a bummer that humans are such regular jerks that this is a needed product move, but here we are.
  • Twitter is building a crypto team: Given how much Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey loves bitcoin — over and above other blockchains, which is a subject for another day — it is not a surprise that his social media company is building a crypto team. Twitter has previously tinkered with NFTs and crypto tipping.
  • Instagram wants to help you use it less: Users of the Meta-owned social service can now enable reminders to stop scrolling after a set time period. Recall that Meta is Facebook but under a new moniker.
  • Apple builds SMB hardware service: Keeping hardware up to date and safe is no small challenge. That’s why companies like Jamf are in business. But now Apple is rolling out “the beta of a device management solution called Apple Business Essentials aimed squarely at businesses with less than 500 employees.”
  • Google fails to get rid of huge EU settlement: The U.S. search giant’s challenge to a huge fine stemming from a 2017 case with the European Union over its shopping product has largely failed.
  • And, finally, the U.S. Department of Justice is suing Uber over part of its product, which it claims may discriminate against users with disabilities.

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