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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for December 8, 2021! TechCrunch is getting into the holiday spirit with some end-of-year content, including our Vaunted, Famous and World-Renowned gift guides. Lucas dug into camping gear, if that is your jam. And Anna and I have the first of two book guides, sourced from venture capital recommendations. Enjoy! —Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Byju’s buys Austrian edtech startup GeoGebra: Indian edtech giant Byju’s is once again buying a smaller company, this time GeoGebra, or what TechCrunch described as an “interactive and collaborative mathematics learning tool.” We reported the purchase price as around the $100 million mark.
- That awful CEO is sorry about how he fired you: By now you have seen the video of Better.com CEO Vishal Garg firing a big chunk of his staff in a stilted video call, despite having pulled forward hundreds of millions of dollars from a future fundraise to finance his company’s operations. He went viral, amazingly, with TikToks cropping up mocking his pretty sucky way of firing a bunch of folks before the holidays. Now he’s apologizing. Surely he will shape up now and stop committing such epic gaffes. We’re certain.
- Synthesia’s bet on corporate avatars: Jordan Crook wrote up a $50 million round for a startup betting on synthetic avatars and the work of turning PowerPoints into videos. It’s one of those ideas that if it takes off, will appear obvious in hindsight. Today, the future is less certain. Still, when it comes to doing something fresh, Synthesia is a good example of how startups can tinker with the digital world and perhaps write a new path forward for businesses more generally.
Before we get into a chunk of the day’s incremental startup news, Ron Miller wrote up Twilio’s new corporate venture capital fund. CVC is not a new idea, but it has seen its activity soar in recent quarters. Companies like Coinbase are rewriting the rulebook on how to invest from the corporate perspective. So, it’s not a huge shock to see Twilio jump into the game.
- And speaking of new venture funds: TechCrunch has a brief look today at Black Ops Ventures, a new $13 million fund built to invest in Black founders. While some progress has been made in terms of investing more frequently — more equitably, really — into Black-founded startups, the venture capital market remains markedly imbalanced. Here’s one step toward a more fair future.
- Gadget raises $8.5M from blue-chip backers: Bessemer and Sequoia have teamed up to put $8.5 million into Canada-based Gadget, which builds software for developers. Per TechCrunch, the startup “bundles the tools, libraries, APIs and best practices needed by developers into a single experience.” DevOps is a huge industry, frankly, so this round is not a shock to our sensibilities.
- Software supply chains need protection as well: Never before have we spent so much time as a society discussing supply chains. I bet you know where more ports are than ever before. But physical supply chains are hardly the only type out there, it turns out. Chainguard just raised $5 million to help protect software supply chains, an important project given how some cyberattacks are targeting software dependencies to carry out impressive hacks.
- Electric boats? Boats may be the plaything of the wealthy, but they are also a pretty good way to pollute the planet. Candela wants to fix the latter half of the preceding sentence with electric boats and just raised $24 million for its business.
- Afero raises $50 million for its IoT platform: The IoT hype has died down, and from its ashes a number of companies are doing rather well. Samsara is going public next week — more here, if you’d like — and security-focused IoT platform Afero just put together eight figures of capital to scale its own service.
- Bento targets Kenyan, Rwandan, Ghanan markets: Bento is a Nigeria-based “digital payroll and human resource management platform,” TechCrunch reports. Just don’t expect it to stay within its national borders — the startup has eyes on six new markets in the next year. Payroll and HR software, of course, are big the world around, so it’s not a surprise to see Bento scaling well in the African market.
- Lydia adds crypto to its platform, then $100M to its accounts: TechCrunch noted when Lydia, an aspiring European financial super app, added both equity and crypto trading to its service. Today, the company announced a fresh $100 million funding round. The company is a reminder that France’s startup scene is not one that you should ignore.
- Tipalti now worth $8.3B: While midmarket accounts payable automation may not be the Most Fascinating Topic in the world, that fact doesn’t stop it from being lucrative. As Bill.com has built a huge business helping SMBs with the financial back office, Tipalti wants to help businesses one level larger. It just socked away $270 million at a new $8.3 billion valuation. The company was worth just $2.2 billion last October when it raised $150 million.
Bay Area’s share of U.S. VC funding falls to lowest level in more than a decade
Seven years ago, San Francisco Bay Area startups attracted more than 40% of all U.S. seed- and early-stage venture dollars.
But according to “Beyond Silicon Valley,” a report released today by investment firm Revolution and PitchBook, that percentage fell to 27% this year.
“It’s been more than 10 years since that percentage fell below 30%,” reports Mary Ann Azevedo, who interviewed Case and studied the report’s findings.
She identified several factors that are pushing investors in major tech hubs to venture outside their own backyards in search of opportunities. Many readers will be surprised to learn which city is now the top destination for dollars from NYC and SF-based investors.
“This momentum we’re seeing now? You ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Case.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Volkswagen partners up for EV push: Things sometimes change slowly and then all at once. Electric cars feel that way. After a slow slog to modest market share, EVs are exploding around the world in popularity. So, Volkswagen is adding three partners to help its own EV push, it announced today.
- TwitterTok? While we don’t anticipate having to talk about this for long, Twitter is working on a TikTok-style service. Why? We don’t know.
- And, finally, Facebook is rolling out a new “Professional” mode for creators, TechCrunch reports. Sorry, Meta has done this. We’re still writing “Facebook” on checks, to our embarrassment.
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