It’s Wednesday, May 18, 2022, and we are hanging out at our Mobility event, ogling cars that fly, drive themselves and have various identity crises. Wish you were here if you’re not, and hope to run into you if you are! — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Fintech finds footing in fraud: Prevention, that is. Plaid is providing new tools so users can share data more securely via its platform. It is not alone: Down in the “Big Tech Inc.” section, you’ll see Stripe is getting out of its comfort zone, too. Ironically, all of these new offerings put Plaid and Stripe on an even more competitive footing.
- Bob Iger joins team Gopuff: Now that former Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger is investing and advising Gopuff, the instant delivery company may be handing him his first assignment: how to keep momentum going in an overcrowded market. Gopuff confirmed it had to make some layoffs already as part of its restructuring, and we are seeing companies in the sector slash their valuations à la Instacart. It’s a recipe for one challenging project — we’re eager to see how Iger takes it on.
- Tesla is not immune: A U.K.-based company said it was able to unlock Tesla doors by hacking into the Bluetooth Low Energy technology used by Tesla to unlock and operate the car via its app or key fob. It’s not just Tesla — anyone using this type of technology is vulnerable, the company said. It recommended a four-digit PIN to enter before the car could be driven, which is smart, but it’s also yet another number you have to remember.
Startups and VC
The green, green grass of climate investing just got a $1.7 billion boost from Generation Investment Management, a sustainability-focused public and private equity firm co-founded by Al Gore.
Over on TC+, Alex wonders, in a world where everything is a little overpriced, whether crypto startups are suffering from being even more mispriced than their non-crypto siblings.
Ugh, we really do get to work with some of the smartest, most thoughtful humans. This week, on Equity, Natasha asks how digital health startups build successful businesses in a post-Roe world.
More? You want more? Alrighty, then:
- In the jungle, the mighty Jungle: Singapore-based venture firm Jungle Ventures is digging deeper into Southeast Asia and India with the close of its fourth fund. Fund IV totals $600 million, with $450 million for new investments and $150 million earmarked for follow-up investments, Catherine writes.
- I think I’ll use my credit card: Mary Ann reports that payments and software startup SpotOn has closed on $300 million in a Series F financing that values the company at $3.6 billion.
- Because cancer is like a snowflake: Every cancer is unique because every person is unique, and one of the most important weapons in any cancer battle is information. Isabl received a breakthrough designation from the FDA and raised $3 million to bring its approach to market.
- Pay off your loan by not leaving: Keep Financial is building a platform to help employers provide retention bonuses in the form of forgivable loans, writes Ingrid.
- Better safe somewhere else than sorry where you were: AmEx Ventures bets $5 million on Trellis, which is making it easier to switch insurance providers.
Five construction tech investors analyze 2022 trends and opportunities
The technological advances we’ve made over the last 2,000 years are stunning, but the construction industry still relies on centuries-old technology.
Configuring a robot to mix cement is relatively easy, but delivering a CementTron 3000 to a job site, training workers and keeping it maintained are not the kinds of disruptions builders are looking for — especially when margins are thin and workers are hard to find.
Even so, investors are backing startups bringing robotics, data management, automation and augmented reality into the construction process. To learn more about the market forces shaping this sector in 2022, we spoke to five investors:
- Nikitas Koutoupes, managing director, Insight Partners
- Heinrich Gröller, partner, Speedinvest
- Momei Qu, managing director, PSP Growth
- Suzanne Fletcher, venture partner, Prime Movers Lab
- Sungjoon Cho, general partner, D20 Capital
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
It’s apparently “new features day” (though we guess that could be every day with the way Big Tech is slinging them around). Here’s what we saw:
- Ooh! This bit is my favorite: YouTube rolled out a bunch of changes for its video player, including being able to find the most popular parts. It also has some tools lined up for its livestream shopping experiences.
- OnlyFans, but Twitt-ier: Now that Twitter has the Super Follows, it is enabling creators to design Spaces just for those folks. Not very inclusive, but it’s all in the name of having a “conversation with their biggest supporters,” right?
- TikTok has a twofer: A new creator crediting tool so users can cite where they got their inspiration from, and a chance for users to partner with marketers on branded content.
- Stripe connects the data dots: Stripe unveiled Data Pipeline, which we report lets “users create links between their Stripe transactions data and data stores that they keep in Amazon Redshift or Snowflake’s Data Cloud.” It’s a product that propels the company into more of a “financial infrastructure platform” rather than just a payment provider. This follows the Financial Connections offering from some weeks ago.
- Class-y act: Apple adds some new online training courses for IT pros working with Apple products. Your IT guy who typically works on PC is rejoicing right now.
Speaking of Apple, the tech giant is running a new ad campaign targeting data brokers. In it, the company highlights ways it is enabling its users to take back their private information. Meanwhile, over in Spain, the country slapped Google with a €10 million fine for not being in compliance with the EU’s data protection program.
Over in India, Amazon launched Smart Commerce, which is a way for neighborhood stores to join the digital storefront wave by creating their own e-commerce sites. It’s certainly something moving through Latin America, so we’ll see how this plays out in India, where 30 million stores are up for grabs.