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Welcome to the Daily Crunch for Tuesday, April 12, 2022!
This week, the Found team released one of our favorite episodes of the podcast. In it, Jordan and Darrell spent an hour with Dylan Field, the founder of Figma. They dug into the journey of how a 20-year-old founder who had the idea to turn design into a multiplayer game built the de facto standard tool for collaborative design.
Meanwhile, we’ve been watching the utter train crash that is the “WeCrashed” dramatization of the soaring highs and subterranean lows of WeWork’s rise and fall on Apple TV+. Yes, it’s fiction, but we couldn’t put our popcorn away. Also, “The Dropout” on Hulu is worth a watch, as Amanda suggested last month: “Just because you know how the story ends doesn’t mean that it’s not fun to watch how it all went so horribly wrong.”
The TechCrunch Top 3
- NFT holders seek use for Bored Apes: Our cryptocurrency reporter, Jacquelyn Melinek, had two crypto-related stories today that dug into some of the industry’s nuances. While NFT sales are down, she notes that blue-chip NFT projects like the Bored Ape Yacht Club and others are doing pretty well, so holders of these NFTs are looking for new ways to use them, treating them as collateral. Her other story finds investors like BlackRock and Fidelity pumping $400 million into Circle, a stablecoin issuer.
- Bosch beats out other bidders to acquire Five.ai: It was a match made in self-driving car heaven: Five was looking for a buyer and Bosch is a big player in the space. We report this deal follows other autonomous vehicle M&A news and hints at further consolidation in the lanes ahead.
- Pylon charging up Egypt’s utilities: This story about a small round for an Egyptian startup caught our eye due to the sheer size of the market potential. We report that “the company calculates hundreds of billions of losses (in dollars) across emerging markets per year. It’s a massive opportunity to increase the aggregate revenues and top line of those utilities by 50%.” The company estimates the market is $20 billion and it is only going after a quarter of it currently. Pylon has already deployed 2 million meters across two continents and expects to do 3 million more by next year.
Startups and VC
Some super fun hardware stories today – Brian explored how PitchCom is changing the fabric of baseball, a sport that’s been stuck in the time before technology in many ways. Meanwhile, Miso launched a coffee monitoring system — the internet-of-caffeine-gives-you-wings, if you will.
In the softer, darker underbelly of tech, there’s a flurry of updates from the world of cybersecurity. Russian hackers tried to take down a Ukraine energy provider, showing a new frontier of cyber warfare. A somewhat scary set of vulnerabilities in Atheon hospital robots means that someone can take control of them – in some cases remotely. Trying to counteract all of this is HacWare, which just raised a $2.3 million round to expand training around cybersecurity threats. In addition to the training angle HacWare does, Prelude just raised a beefy $24 million round to do continuous, automated penetration testing against companies to harden their defenses against cyber attacks.
Moar news? You want moar news? OK, fine. We’ve got buckets of the stuff:
- Up and to the right: Product analytics company Kubit raised $18 million to get a deeper view into how products are performing by analyzing users’ behavior patterns through the trail of data breadcrumbs they leave behind.
- Working from wherever: Deel and Firstbase’s numbers are showing that remote work is here to stay, with extreme user and revenue growth.
- Sheesh-o: India’s startup darling, the social commerce platform Meesho, which recently raised at a $4.9 billion valuation, is in a bit of a tailspin, likely postponing its fundraise and letting 150 employees go, with another 150 on the chopping block.
- Shhhh, I’m hunting wabbits: Privacy-first, tracking-cookie-blocking browser and search engine DuckDuckGo launched a Mac app. It’s in beta for now and is inviting folks in gradually.
- If it’s broke, fix it: Skilled-labor startup Jobox, which facilitates locksmiths, garage door and pavement repairs, and carpet cleaning, came out of stealth on the tail of a $42 million Series B led by General Catalyst.
- That lamppost jumped out in front of me: Insurance claims are a massive, expensive, and often inconsistent business. EvolutionIQ raised $21 million to add a layer of AI to make processing work better.
- I’m totally in my zone: We’ve all experienced moments of flow – or doing “deep work” – which is especially tricky in a world of working-from-home in a universe of distractions. FLOWN picked up $2.5 million to help put you in a facilitated “deep work” session. Apropos zones, here’s your moment of silly for the day.
- Blah blah blah: Turns out chatbots aren’t dead after all, as the AI-powered conversational platform Quiq raised a $25 million round.
Mayfield’s Arvind Gupta discusses startup fundraising during a downturn
Arvind Gupta, an investor at Mayfield Fund and founder of accelerator IndieBio, reviews several hundred pitch decks each year.
“In 10 days, I can do the primary research and work with the founders to come to a conclusion there. For a larger Series A check, it could take a little bit longer than that, but not that much.”
In a TechCrunch+ Twitter Space last week with Senior Editor Walter Thompson, Gupta talked about how the downturn is affecting seed- and early-stage funding, what he’s looking for, and candid advice for first-time founders trying to raise during a correction.
“You can still finance hopes and dreams, but just with smaller dollars, and you’re generally going to give up a little bit more of your company in terms of dilution during an economic downturn,” said Gupta.
“I expect that to start happening as well in the next year.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- In case you didn’t get enough streaming news, we have more for you today. First up, Amanda Silberling met an ambitious 17-year-old from Seattle who wants to see YouTube fight for children’s rights not to be exploited for cash as a part of family vlogs — and is helping legislators draft bills to that effect. Meanwhile, FIFA is adding a “plus” one — a new streaming network — Spotify is rebranding its live component, and TikTok is launching its own AR platform.
- Meta’s former head of M&A integration has found a new home at proptech startup Pacaso as its new COO. Lara Cumberland joins a number of other high-profile Meta employees who have left over the past year. Cumberland tells reporter Mary Ann Azevedo that “I saw a rare opportunity to bring my varied experience and passions to the table.”
- Don’t worry, we did not forget Twitter: Not only did it acquire mobile engagement company OpenBack to enhance its push notifications, but it also reversed course on its recent change on deleted embedded tweets.