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Today is Wednesday the 15th of June 2022. As much as we like to live in the now, we’re hella excited about tomorrow! Over on Twitter Spaces at noon PDT tomorrow, we’ll be talking with our immigration expert Sophie (who today shared what the best visa is for bootstrapping a startup). Clicky to set a reminder for yourself right now! We’ll also have our online day for TC Sessions: Climate tomorrow, so tune in for that as well if you’re a fan of climate and the crispiness level of our planet. Woohoo! — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Them’s fightin’ words: Dukaan, an Indian company that helps merchants set up e-commerce businesses, is challenging Shopify, even getting down and dirty on Twitter, Manish reports. The company’s aim is to speed up performance of websites, claiming Shopify’s speed and performance is causing merchants to lose out on sales if customers have to wait even a few additional seconds for sites to load.
- Who knew market reports were so lucrative?: AlphaSense did. The global pandemic combined with market uncertainty gave the company, which is an analysis and business intel search engine, the boost it needed to go after $225 million in new funding, Ingrid writes. This not only gives AlphaSense a $1.7 billion valuation, but also proves that even in this counternarrative environment, it’s still good for some.
- BNPL firms continue to duke it out: We can’t tell if consumers will be the winner as so many companies offer “buy now, pay later,” but it’s fun to see them all trying to one-up each other. The latest is PayPal, which is expanding its BNPL feature with a monthly pay service, Sarah tells us. This means that instead of taking 6 weeks to pay, users can now spread out payments over a 6-month to 24-month period. But be warned, customers can’t use it for a $30 T-shirt; purchases have to be between $199 and $10,000.
Startups and VC
In the world of startups, Haje made his debut on our Equity podcast, talking with Natasha M and Alex about how we are entering an era of…shall we say creative accounting.
Unrelated to creative accounting, and crypto crash be damned, Binance CEO Brian Shroder told employees yesterday that the company is “in the strongest position possible to not only successfully weather this downturn but also emerge as the leading crypto platform in the U.S.,” Anita reports.
Let’s take a stroll in startup land, looking through the lens of TechCrunch’s reporting over the past 24 hours or so:
- Vaporware, but not the bad kind: Puffco shows off a cool, pipe-looking cannabis vaporizer called the Proxy, with a $299 price tag, Matt reports.
- Is it scary? Nah: GreyNoise is a self-styled “anti-threat intelligence” company that provides essentially a spam filter for internet threat alerts. It raised $15 million in funding, Carly reports.
- Stacks of data, stacks of cash: DataStax hired Chet Kapoor as CEO in October 2019. That seems to have worked out — the company raised a $115 million round at a $1.6 billion valuation today, Ron reports.
- Is it play or is it learning? Trick question — it’s both: Edtech company Pok Pok raises $3 million to continue to expand its digital play experiences, Aisha reports.
- Making parking a walk in the park: Kyle reports that AI-powered parking platform Metropolis parks a $167 million truck full of money in its headquarters. Okay, maybe not literally, but that’d be kind of cool.
- Nothing to see here: Smartphone hardware startup Nothing teases the design of its new phone ahead of next month’s launch, reports Natasha L.
Is consolidation on the horizon for Southeast Asia’s tech industry?
The super app business model is paying dividends in Southeast Asia.
Offerings from Grab, “the everyday everything app,” run the gamut from grocery delivery to investment services; Malaysia-based AirAsia has rebranded itself as Capital A as it expands its offerings to encompass ride hailing, food delivery and much more.
These companies aren’t building these new business units from scratch: They’re using strategic acquisitions to enter new markets and fence out the competition.
“As more tech companies look to the super app business model to retain users and increase monetization, we could expect more inorganic expansion and consolidation in the coming years,” says Amit Anand, founding partner of Jungle Ventures.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
For a little while there, Discord, GitLab and other services in India and surrounding regions were impacted by a Cloudflare outage, Manish reported. The cause “was an increase in resource consumption due to a software release.” That has been resolved now.
Heard enough from Apple’s WWDC? Well, Ivan wants you to know what he thinks is one of the most fun new features to come out of there — Apple’s new image cutout feature in iOS 16. He likes the ability to cut out and lift the unwanted sections with the press of a finger. And you can cut an image, which then turns it into a separate image that can be dropped into a message app like iMessage or WhatsApp.
Bottles are popping over at YouTube where its YouTube Shorts surpassed 1.5 billion logged-in monthly users less than 2 years after its launch. Sarah writes that this proves it can compete with the likes of TikTok, which said it has 1 billion users since September 2021.
Had enough, or are you thirsty for more?
- This app is on fire: Lauren reports that Amazon revamped its Fire TV user interface to get rid of a lot of the text in favor of icons and a better navigation bar. Speaking of apps, Lauren also wrote about how Netflix’s real-life “Squid Game” competition intends to award the biggest cash prize and largest cast in reality TV history.
- Another day, another layoff story: Wealthsimple, a Canadian fintech, is the latest to join the list of companies in that sector shedding employees, Mary Ann writes. With every article, we see that fast growth doesn’t always mean good growth.
- A rose by any other name would smell as sweet: Aisha reports that Instacart joins other companies adding a “+” after its name. The food delivery giant renamed its subscription service Instacart+. (Did they get the idea from TechCrunch+? The world may never know.)
Editor’s note, June 16, 9:56 a.m. PST: The Cloudfare mention was corrected to say what the root cause of the outage was.