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Hello, and welcome to Hump Day! We’ve got a ton of amazing stories for you. Some are even about You.
Have you always wanted to be more conscious about where you shop but struggle to figure out how? The Fifteen Percent Pledge is a racial equity and economic justice nonprofit organization working toward a more equitable economic future. In recognition that Black people in the U.S. make up nearly 15% of the population, the Pledge is calling on major retailers and corporations to commit a minimum of 15% of their annual purchasing power to Black-owned businesses — you can find the brands here.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Is there room for another search engine?: You.com seems to think so. Ron writes that the company has its sights set on giving Google and Microsoft a run for its money with its multimodal chat search that goes beyond text to answer a question more precisely. For example, if you’re asking about a stock price, it will actually show you a stock chart rather than just a text-based answer.
- A Tesla in every driveway: The Biden administration has another ally in helping build electric vehicle chargers all over the United States: Kirsten reports that Tesla has agreed to double its supercharger network and have it be open to all EVs. Yes, we’ve heard this before, but hopefully now we’ll see it.
- Anything to move the needle: Kyle writes it might seem odd for a developer-focused company to get a lot of initial capital in this economy; however, one company’s challenging environment is another company’s windfall. Passwordless authentication startup Descope secured $53 million in a seed round amid what company co-founder and CEO Slavik Markovich said were companies shifting their software development strategies to free up their development teams for other opportunities.
Startups and VC
According to former employees of human resources startup Free Agency, CEO Sherveen Mashayekhi’s leadership style is holding the startup back as he seems to care more about demanding loyalty and controlling his employees than building a company, Becca reports. The New York–based startup launched in 2019 with the novel idea of bringing the talent agency model that is popular in Hollywood and sports to other professions.
Although there are numerous dating apps on the market, there aren’t many apps that aim to keep the spark alive after you enter a relationship. Aisha writes about Flamme, which wants to change that as it rebrands (from Sparks) and adds a new AI tool.
And we have five more for you:
- Yep, that’s you: This U.K. startup has come up with a unique way to verify small businesses on WhatsApp, reports Mike.
- Better trees, better capture: Funga wants to accelerate carbon capture using belowground fungal biodiversity, Haje reports.
- In a nutshell: Capsule snags $4.75 million for its AI-powered video editor that summarizes text, generates images and more, Sarah reports.
- Hit like and subscribe: Smartrr bags $10 million for its customer experience approach to e-commerce subscriptions, Christine reports.
- E-air mail: Korea’s Portlogics makes international shipping easier for merchants with its software tool, Kate reports.
On the journey to Series B, strategy is more important than metrics
If all goes well, the funds raised in a Series A will last long enough to generate steady revenue. But all is not going well.
SaaS founders are under pressure to maintain growth and reach profitability while preserving runway, but these goals aren’t diametrically opposed, according to Ophelia Brown and Imran Ghory at Blossom Capital.
“Forget about planning your business based on the metrics of the past decade,” they write. “We live in a new world order.” In this article, they take on three questions facing every software startup:
- How aggressively should we grow this year?
- How should we plan our spending?
- How should we think about runway and capital preservation?
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Sharpen your sticks: Defense tech investments rise amid growing global tensions, as Silicon Valley goes to war, reports Aria.
- Buy, buy, buy: Sophie Alcorn is back with her Dear Sophie column, answering whether workers qualify for an E-1 trader visa.
- Rather NFTy: Jacquelyn reports that Bitcoin NFTs are growing quickly as the community starts seeing long-term potential.
Big Tech Inc.
Sprinklr, a customer experience firm, cuts more of its global workforce — this time 4% — with a company spokesperson confirming that it was a “strategic business decision” affecting employees across certain targeted regions, segments and support functions, Jagmeet writes.
Meanwhile, Adobe’s proposed $20 billion Figma acquisition continues to attract fans. The European Commission is going to look at the deal, of which Paul more appropriately uses the term “assess” to make sure it isn’t taking away competition in any of its markets.
And we have five more for you:
- There’s nothing but bread crumbs in here: Aria looked at Intuitive Machines’ post-SPAC filing and reports that the lunar technology completed the merger with less cash than it initially thought thanks to shareholders.
- Mikey likes it: Roblox stock pops 25% after reporting strong fourth-quarter earnings, proving that kids like the metaverse, just not “that” metaverse, Sarah writes.
- Don’t make me leave the app: Google has some new features to make in-app browsing better on Android, including auto-saving passwords and other details without leaving the app, Ivan reports.
- Shop till you drop: Instacart has new features for its shoppers, including more ways to earn and have a more flexible schedule, Aisha writes.
- Getting out the buzz saw: In an effort to cut costs while also managing activist pressures, Salesforce unveils some harsh new policies for engineers and salespeople. Ron has more.