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Welcome to the Daily Crunch for Thursday, April 7, 2022! We want to kick us off with a quick congratulations to FabuLinga for winning the pitch-off at the TechCrunch City Spotlight (Austin edition). Check out all of our City Spotlight content for a whirlwind tour of the Austin startup scene.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Tata Group embraces e-commerce with super app: The Indian conglomerate known for its myriad businesses, among them software and telecom, gathered all of its properties together under one big hug, er, “super app” called Tata Neu, which launched today to give the company some e-commerce heft with offerings like grocery, electronics and hotels. We report that this has been in the works for at least three years and also includes a payment service for loans and insurance.
- Better.com layoff saga is no better: TechCrunch obtained a video leaked from a 12-minute meeting that took place with remaining employees after 900 of their colleagues were laid off in December. In it, CEO Vishal Garg admits that his lack of discipline may have caused the company to lose some $200 million, saying, “Today we acknowledge that we overhired, and hired the wrong people. And in doing that we failed. I failed. … We probably could have made more money last year and been leaner, meaner and hungrier.”
- When you learn it’s time to go public … cloud, that is: Enterprises have been migrating to the cloud for a while now. However, when public travel systems provider Amadeus saw the writing on the wall seven years ago, the company decided to embark on a journey that would turn out to be arduous, but put it on the road to operating more efficiently.
Startups and VC
Ladies, gentlemen, and humans who don’t fit either of those descriptions, today it’s taking every ounce of self-control. I want to point out that I did not make a terrible joke about the multiple meanings of “seed” regarding Conceive raising seed funding. The company is building a community and services to support people trying to increase our global population, one tiny human at a time. Once Conceive is successful, Singapore’s Parentinc leaps into the breach; it just raised $22 million for its parenting community and D2C brand.
“The Folklore highlights the best design talent across [Africa], and demand for these products that reflect the culture is exploding,” says Folklore’s CEO of its $1.7 million fundraise and its launch of a B2B fashion e-commerce platform. Also in Africa, we’re seeing profound growth in gig workers and the sharing economy – and ImaliPay just raised $3 million to help offer financial services to gig workers across the continent.
I’ve got to admit, the only thing more terrifying to me than self-driving trucks (like the Kodiak Robotics big-rigs that drove nonstop for 131 hours) is autonomous heavy construction equipment. I’ve seen “The Terminator” and I know how this ends.
Scrumptious morsels of freshly baked news from across TechCrunch:
- Coinbase? What’s Coinbase? Indian payments body refuses to acknowledge that the cryptocurrency exchange has an Indian presence even though it just debuted trading there.
- Call me from your app: Video conferencing is hella niche with lots of edge cases; unless it’s core to your biz, you don’t want to write all the code yourself. Dyte raised $11 million to make a drop-in software development kit (SDK) to help you with that.
- Call me to my app: Office phone systems are a mess, and OpenPhone raised $40 million to replace the thing on your desk – and the infrastructure that goes with it – with an app.
- A shift in market dynamics: The fundraising market is shifting, and Alex believes it is losing some of its founder-friendly shine.
- Safer chains: Goldman Sachs and others invested $88 million into web3 and blockchain security firm CertiK.
- Safe and valuable: VPN giant Nord Security (the guys who make NordVPN) raised $100 million at a $1.6 billion valuation. Not bad for its first dip into institutional money.
- I can do that for you: Saiga is a tool that will help you do anything you need, as long as it doesn’t require a physical presence and it doesn’t break any laws.
- Subscribe to this Camera: Grover raises a whopping $330 million to subscribe to electronics.
3 ways deep tech founders can climb out of pilot purgatory
Because so many deep tech startups operate on the bleeding edge, founders in this space have a harder time raising funds, acquiring customers and reaching product-market fit.
Many of these companies will stall out early because they never move from the pilot stage to a full-scale rollout. “This is a big, widespread, industry-specific problem,” says Champ Suthipongchai, co-founder and general partner at Creative Ventures.
“While I don’t presume to have a silver-bullet solution, I do know three ways deep tech founders can make sure their time in pilot purgatory ends in a rollout.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
It’s Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, and while we ate our peanuts and Cracker Jack (which also has peanuts in it, but we digress), we saw some Big Tech companies hit it out of the park today. General Motors chose Opening Day to announce that the Bolt was back after a giant recall, while streaming services get their bats in a row to get live sporting events on their platforms.
Speaking of streaming services, HBO Max’s Apple TV app is getting an upgrade to address some of the performance problems users were seeing and to debut some new features, including a “binge mode” that lets you skip the end credits and start the next episode of a TV show. Spotify unveiled new features and functionalities for its “Car Thing” in-car entertainment system, like managing calls and the playing of music from other media. Meanwhile, TikTok again pushed back the opening of its first data center in the U.K., which will be in Dublin, citing a delayed timeline due to the global pandemic.
We are almost full from all that eating, but here are a few more crumbs you might enjoy:
- Salesforce AI chief discusses future of voice-driven coding: Spoiler, the company is doing things with conversational AI that have not been done before.
- Google has a new multisearch feature: If you see a cute dress, you can snap a photo of it and even add text, like a new color, and Google will search for it.
- Samsung released its preliminary earnings, and they are dy-no-mite: The Korean tech giant is looking like it will post its highest first-quarter operating profit since 2018, and some 6 million units of the Galaxy S22 series are on their way after February’s debut.