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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Monday, March 14, 2022! This week I am writing to you from New Orleans, where I am busy – when not writing – eating everything in sight. I bring that up as getting around is something that many of us are now doing a bit more of. Which means we’re mobile once again. And that’s a great segue to remind you that you can still save some money with early-bird tickets to our upcoming Sessions: Mobility event.
The TechCrunch transport team is full of brilliant humans, so do not miss out on this one. – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Moove proves that startups can still raise twice in one year: African startup Moove is back in the news today, raising a huge $105 million Series A2 round of funding. In the last year, the company previously raised a $23 million Series A and $10 million in debt. Moove helps finance vehicles for ride-hailing drivers, which appears to be a growth market. The company’s latest round included $40 million in debt.
- That said, some startups are busy digesting: In 2021, a startup raising twice in a single year was very common. The result of that market was a lot of startups valued at high prices with long periods of growth ahead of them to live up to their price. Since then, the value of technology companies has fallen. The result? A widening mismatch between valuations and value, and a compression of the startup growth premium.
- Also, the new iPhone is really darn good: TechCrunch staff were instantly smitten with the new iPhone SE when it was announced. And after some time of having it in our hot little hands, we’re still pretty enthused.
Startups and VC
To kick off, our own Walter Thompson has a great investor survey up today that attacks the question of how to pitch venture capitalists as a founder. It’s written and compiled in a manner that makes the advice fresh – what do venture investors want now. And with Sarah Kunst (Cleo Capital), Christine Choi (M13), and others included, it’s well worth your time.
And speaking of pitching, we have a great piece up looking at how Snorkel.AI raised $135 million. One theme I noticed between the two articles is the importance of storytelling. As a journalist, I am piss-poor at storytelling, but do respect the craft. For founders, it appears to be a central pillar of commanding investor attention.
- Forget funds; the new hotness is funds of funds: Perhaps it was inevitable that as more late-stage funds look to invest earlier, they are turning to putting capital into not just early-stage startups, but also other money managers with an early-stage focus. It’s one way to disburse lots of capital at once, but without the operational hassle of managing it. (More here, from the weekend.)
- Do you want less of an accent? TechCrunch’s Haje Jan Kamps has an accent, he writes. So he’s somewhat torn about what Sayso is building, namely an API that may be able to reduce how much accent one speaks with. While I simply adore the way that he speaks and do not want any changes thereof, he does note that “people do choose to use Zoom backgrounds and TikTok filters, and if handled well, it’s pretty easy to see how someone could opt-in to reduce the presence of a heavy accent.”
- Say hello to the quantum mini-fridge: Now that Microsoft has a VP of quantum, I think it’s fair to say that the industry is on its way to becoming part and parcel of the larger technology landscape. So it’s not a surprise to see startups in the mix. Today TechCrunch covered Maybell Quantum, a “cryogenic platform to cool quantum processors down to the very low temperatures it takes to run a stable quantum system.” It’s called Icebox. Why? Not merely the temperatures involved, but because if you saw it in the wild you might try to open it to see if there is beer inside.
- Data science in a box? I love a startup that I don’t fully grok. Pareto is one such company. It appears to offer a hybrid of data collection and analysis as a service to customers. This means the combination of automated tooling and humans-in-the-loop. Pareto is perhaps something of a response to the market dearth of data scientists for hire.
- Byju’s founder Byju Raveendran borrowed money to invest in his own company: I am leery of borrowing money to invest it in high-priced startups. But that’s because I am fundamentally a financial coward. Anyway, I bring all that up as the news that Byju Raveendran was putting $400 million into his edtech company begged the question, Where did that money come from? The answer is, apparently, someone else.
- Laptops as a service: Join a new company, get handed a laptop. It’s a tale as old as time. But what if the laptop you were given at a new gig was leased? That’s the idea behind Fleet, which essentially turns employee hardware purchases from capex to opex. Even more fun, Fleet is bootstrapped!
And to close out, Natasha Mascarenhas has a bit more on the theme of late-stage investors going earlier and earlier.
IRS FUD: What you need to know about crypto taxes
Regardless of whether you’ve liquidated your crypto assets or plan to hodl until the heat death of the universe, if you made any profits last year while trading, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service would like to have a chat.
But some digging may be required to identify those taxable proceeds.
Because cryptocurrency exchanges aren’t SEC-regulated, “they’re not legally required to offer the same level of tax reporting that discount brokerages and custodians must provide to stock, bond and mutual fund investors.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Meta to allow folks to turn off their personal space: Facebook’s parent company is really still in the “figuring it out” stage of the metaverse, its online game/world where folks can wander around and chat. After some folks were harassed, the company instituted personal space bubbles. Now for the folks who don’t want them, they can be disabled.
- You can now unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask: Just in time for most of us to ditch the mask, iOS 15.4 is bringing “Face ID with a mask unlock” TechCrunch reports. Yay! But a bit late, I reckon.
- Instagram now really blocked in Russia: After promising to cut off Instagram from its territory, Russia has made good on the threat. Russia’s internet is becoming increasingly similar to China’s, with foreign companies either banned or skipping jumping through the hoops required for inclusion.
- Ford talks EV goals for Europe: 2026 is a long way off, but TechCrunch did sit up and take note of the fact that Ford wants to sell “more than 600,000 EVs annually in Europe” by that year as part of its larger push to carbon neutrality.