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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Tuesday, March 29, 2022! Haje and I are now flying solo with the newsletter. It will be all hands on deck today and tomorrow as we listen to startups pitch at the YC Demo Day, so look out for a deluge of stories over the next two days. Don’t forget to join us Wednesday for the DeFi & The Future of Programmable Money online event, and then at TechCrunch Early Stage on April 14.
A very warm welcome to Jacquelyn Melinek, who is joining our crypto desk and comes careening out of the starting blocks with her coverage of the largest DeFi hack we’ve seen so far. Great story and welcome aboard! – Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- HackerRank will test your coding skills: The competition for talent is fierce out there, so how do you know that your potential new hire has what it takes? HackerRank raised $60 million to continue developing its recruiting tools to not only answer that question, but also enable developers to practice their coding and interview skills.
- Electric buzzing after reaching unicorn status: If you are like most of us working from home, accessing the tools and equipment that would normally be waiting for us in the office — with an IT person at your beck and call — now involves a little more logistical effort. Electric secured $20 million to put it over the $1 billion valuation mark to manage much of that work for IT.
- DAO for human behavior?: Jacquelyn was also busy writing about decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, thankfully describing what they are and where enthusiasts see them being used in the future — think pooling funds or decision-making.
Startups and VC
It’s the most wonderful tiiiime of the yeaaaaaar – Y Combinator hasn’t quite gotten to 1,000 companies per batch yet, but its Demo Day comprises 424 startups from 42 countries – so as you might imagine, it’s still a pretty intense time at TechCrunch Towers. YC’s Demo Day showed off 32 startups from India (the accelerator has funded almost 200 Indian startups to date), with heavy focus on fintech. Africa was represented as well, with more than 18 Nigerian startups and an additional six from the rest of the continent.
And some great news if you’re a mere millionaire, rather than part of the exclusive Tres Comas club: Anita reports that Equi is willing to sneak you in the back door to your own personal little family office.
Other goings-on across the startup ecosystem:
- Pinecone is building a database system especially for data scientists and just raised $28 million to add some growth rings.
- Kenya-based Churpy added $1 million to the coffers in a bid to help businesses deal with accounts receivable challenges across Africa.
- In Latin America, Migrante is helping gig workers secure transportation and just closed a $30 million round of financing plus an $80 million line of credit to continue its growth in Venezuela and add Colombia and Mexico to its service area.
- Cloaked is taking “new phone, who dis?” to a whole new level, with identities (emails and phone numbers) generated on the fly to ensure privacy. It collected $25 million from investors to continue its journey through the shadows.
- If LambdaTest (and its fresh injection of $45 million) has its way, software testing is about to get a lot easier, as the BrowserStack competitor builds an “AWS for testers.”
- Urban greenhouse company Gotham Greens is preparing for some growth of its own: It announced plans to double its square footage to 1.2 million square feet. That’s a lot of leafy greens, you guys.
- Kaiyo (formerly Furnishare), gives secondhand furniture a new lease of life and raises $36 million to expand to California and the rest of the U.S.
2 reasons why demo days are dead
Demo days are a showcase for tech media, but does this performative Silicon Valley tradition still benefit founders and investors?
In a guest post for TC+, 22 Ventures co-founder and chair Michael Redd shares two factors that make demo days less relevant: Many startups sign funding deals before the big show, and founders are more interested in working with value-add investors.
“Simply getting rid of demo day won’t help founders find, or let investors offer, that value,” Redd writes. “What we need is to better understand why demo day falls short and how to source deals on a much more intimate level.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Sony unveils revamped PlayStation Plus: To keep up with competitors, Sony combined its PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now services into one subscription gaming product. The newest part of this is the addition of two more expensive tiers to join the lowest tier, and the three are priced in monthly, quarterly and yearly increments. Users in Asia will get first access before it is rolled out through the rest of the world.
- Amazon Glow connects family members one story at a time: After six months of invite-only, Amazon is now opening up the purchase of its Amazon Glow remote calling/projector device to anyone. The company created the device as a way for children to connect with distant family members. Want to know what it’s like to use it? Check out what Greg Kumparak had to say when he tested out the device back in December.
- TikTok, GIPHY partner on video creation tool: TikTok has a new in-app creation tool called TikTok Library that will initially be populated by GIPHY content. As TechCrunch reports, there’s a bit of irony here, with TikTok “leveraging the content from a company Facebook had once acquired for $400 million (and is now being asked to divest) to better the short-form video app that’s since become one of the social giant’s biggest threats.” In addition, we point out that TikTok not going into much detail about possible future partners for the library suggests all of this is still pretty early.