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It’s Thursday, May 12, so Happy Friday Eve. Congrats to the “GoogleCrunch” team, which wrote something like 28 stories yesterday to cover Google I/O. You can catch all of the Googliness here. Haje is enjoying a couple of days off, and I fear you will now know who the funny one is. See you tomorrow! – Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Twitter execs depart: The Twitter saga entered a new chapter today, albeit not a surprising one given what’s going on: Some of its key executives, including GM of Consumer Kayvon Beykpour and Revenue Product Lead Bruce Falck, were told by current CEO Parag Agrawal that their services were no longer needed. We’re keeping an eye on this — there will probably be more.
- SoftBank slowdown: Just as we saw with Tiger Global yesterday, as one story commenter put it, “The pandemic really is making us re-evaluate every decision.” Case in point, SoftBank said it may cut investments into startups by more than a half in its upcoming fiscal year.
- Terra back on track: Jacquelyn continues to keep up with the latest on TerraUSD, reporting that Terraform Labs resumed its blockchain production after halting for a bit. This follows the “Terra ecosystem’s meltdown this week” that took down its stablecoin, UST, and the rest of the cryptocurrency market. Meanwhile, Alex dove into how great crypto startup venture capital investments were going in the first quarter, before “everything went to hell,” as he put it. Indeed, “crypto winter is coming,” and if you’d like to know more, check out today’s Chain Reaction podcast.
Startups and VC
- Let’s start with some M&A news, shall we? After outsourcing its digital identity verification, Checkout.com decided to bring that function in-house with the acquisition of Ubble. Though terms of the deal were not disclosed, Checkout.com can certainly afford it after grabbing $1 billion in funding in January. Meanwhile, desktop 3D printing firms MakerBot and Ultimaker decided to make it official, tying the knot in a merger that will spin out MakerBot from parent company Stratasys. And across the pond, Nexi scooped up Orderbird, a startup providing point-of-sale services to restaurants and other hospitality companies — a big market right now.
- Show me the money: While offering financial services is hot in Latin America, payments prove to be where it’s at in Africa. Interswitch took in a big round today as it looks to expand across the continent.
- Calling all customers: Customer service requests came fast and furious as most shopping turned online over the past two years. Implementing tools to help was not something small businesses were able to do because of the complexity of adding a tech layer. That’s where Tidio comes in. Its automated customer service offering can get companies up and running quickly, take on repetitive tasks, and keep up with customers that call a lot.
- Brazilian fintech now valued at $1.5 billion: Helping businesses offer their own financial services continues to be hot, hot, hot in Latin America. Dock is the latest company to see the fruits of its labor, raising $110 million. It now operates over 65 million active accounts.
When and how to hire your startup’s first growth marketer
Emotion and intuition often drive a lot of hiring inside early-stage startups, but when a company reaches product-market fit and finds its target audience, “it signals that hiring a growth marketer will enable your efforts to be scaled much faster than without one,” says Jonathan Martinez, who has helped scale companies like Chime, Uber and Postmates.
In a TC+ post, Martinez explains how to identify the right kind of growth hire, which traits to look for, and how to set clear expectations and milestones once they’re on board.
“Priority tasks should consist of setting up a growth tech stack, creating a testing road map to find the most efficient growth levers, and robust creative and copy testing in the first 90 days.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- The one where Amazon’s Alexa released some new features: Amazon’s Alexa is one step closer to being your shopping buddy. Now customers can scan their shopping receipts for cashback rewards. And, for those of you using the Alexa Together elder care subscription service, there are a plethora of new features to help caregivers, and you can now add as many as 10 caregivers to the subscription.
- The one where Mark Zuckerberg shows us a blurry product: Zuck showed off Meta’s highly anticipated (?) VR headset, going live from his personal Facebook page. Meanwhile, Facebook Pay will soon be Meta Pay.