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There is officially only 8.3% left of the year. You know what that means! Holidays, cheer, and daydreaming about what shenanigans we’ll get ourselves into in 2024. Yes, 2024, because clearly we’re just going to skip past all of 2023. We’re pretty excited for 2025 already, tbh. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Celebrity strong arm: Plant-based food brand Huel’s newest capital raise comes with a side of Idris Elba, Christine writes. The actor and his wife are among a handful of new investors backing U.K.-based Huel, which offers protein powder, snack bars and hot lunch products. Oh, and Huel is now valued at $560 million. Not too shabby.
- Who’s calling?: Why, it’s smartphone re-commerce startup Badili, which raised $2.1 million in pre-seed funding to work with individuals and dealers to repurpose phones as demand soars across Africa for more affordable phones. Annie has more.
- Returning to its roots: Zoe made a name for itself during the global pandemic when it launched a COVID-tracking app. Now it has shifted back to its roots as a self-reporting tracker for personal nutrition and has a healthy $30 million chunk of change (and a $303 million valuation) under its belt to onboard over 250,000 people who have been patiently waiting for this moment, Ingrid reports.
Startups and VC
FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried have had a lot of column inches on Ye Olde Teche Crunche over the past couple of days. Here’s what you need to get you up to speed: Natasha M covered that SBF claims massive ignorance on obvious conflicts in FTX downfall. Amanda adds that he says journalists are good, actually, while Connie wonders if his interview appearance was a bit of a performance.
Web3 developer platform Fleek has raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Polychain Capital, the company told Jacquelyn. The startup is aiming to build an interface and protocol layer “to make the base layer of web services,” like storage, hosting and billing, accessible to anyone.
And we have five more for you:
- Please hold while we pause for repairs: Sarah writes that Twitter alternative Hive shuts down its app to fix critical security issues.
- Your reward is…a slice of the stock market!: X1 gets a 50% valuation boost as the company aims to give consumers a way to buy stocks via credit card reward points, Mary Ann reports.
- Tipping the scales: Brian writes that Lumen raises $62 million for its handheld weight-loss hardware.
- Booting up: Haje took a closer look at Silicon Valley Bank–backed StartupOS, which launched what it hopes will be the operating system for early-stage startups.
- A growth industry: Indian agritech company DeHaat tops $700 million valuation as it raises a $60 million round, Manish writes.
Proptech in Review: 3 investors explain why they’re bullish on tech that makes buildings greener
Investors who work at the intersection of climate tech and proptech seek out potentially profitable startups that can reduce emissions and enhance the built environment.
It’s a high-stakes balancing act with significant risk, but considering the upside for category winners and the health of the planet, “the potential market is enormous,” reports Tim De Chant. For his second proptech investor survey in a three-part series, he interviewed:
- Jake Fingert, managing partner, and Lionel Foster, investor, Camber Creek
- Anja Rath, managing partner, PropTech1 Ventures
- Othmane Zrikem, chief data officer, A/O Proptech
Three more from the TC+ team:
- CVC meets accelerators: Alex explores how Up.Labs threads the needle between corporate venture capital and accelerators.
- Ads to the rescue: Alex Song shares 5 methods for leveraging digital advertising during a downturn.
- Where’s your plans, friends? Haje is back with his weekly Pitch Deck Teardown, this time putting Hour One’s $20M Series A deck in the X-ray machine.
Big Tech Inc.
Okay, here we go. Yesterday, Bret Taylor shocked us by stepping down as co-chair and CEO of Salesforce to “return to his entrepreneurial roots,” Ron reports. After ruminating on it overnight, Ron also provided more insight on Taylor’s move and what might be next for the CRM giant (TC+ subscription needed).
If you rush over to Google every day to see the new Doodle, the latest lets you create your own mini arcade game in honor of the late video game pioneer Jerry Lawson, who would have been 82 today. Aisha has more.
And we have five more for you:
- Today’s Twitter update: We know it’s been mere seconds since we last read what was on Elon Musk’s mind, but Taylor reports that your Twitter feed may soon be controlled by a higher force, while Natasha L writes that Musk may lose even more sleep in order to get Twitter in compliance with European Union rules.
- This might be one club you want in on: Netflix is reportedly letting more subscribers preview its films and TV shows and provide their feedback, Lauren writes.
- This might be one inbox you don’t check: If you’re upset that your LinkedIn inbox has become a place where spam and scams live, Ingrid has something you might like: focused inbox and messaging safety tools to rid you of some of that.
- This might be one too many: Password manager LastPass has more bad news: it says it was breached — again, Zack writes.
- Gadgets and gizmos aplenty: Brian has curated a list of go-to gifts for frequent flyers.