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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Thursday, February 24, 2022. No peppy intro from me today; I am a little consumed with news outside our orbit. Now, to work. – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
How tech is responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: The technology world is a global industry, which means that when geopolitical conflicts arise, it impacts the world that TechCrunch covers directly. We have notes up on cyberattacks and companies in Ukraine. Obviously war is not our editorial remit, but we’d be remiss to not note how it impacts the world we cover.
VCs are bullish on European innovation: Continuing our look into the deep tech in Europe, venture investors remain optimistic about where the continent is heading. As we noted previously, deep tech investment in Europe had a very strong 2021.
A headless, cloth unicorn: Fabric, which builds APIs for e-commerce, is now a unicorn. The company’s “‘modular and headless commerce” products include some 300 APIs, it turns out. It just raised $140 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. The round goes to show that the nine-figure venture market is still getting deals done, despite some public comment from investors that things are slowing down in 2022.
Tumblr will let you pay it to eliminate ads: Yahoo once bought Tumblr, before it was itself sold to Verizon. Yahoo was merged into AOL – which Verizon had also purchased – to form Oath. TechCrunch had been owned by AOL, so we wound up at Oath. Oath was then rebranded to Verizon Media Group. Verizon Media Group sold Tumblr to Automattic, the company behind WordPress, back in 2019. Now you can pay Tumblr, by which we mean Automattic, a monthly fee to not view ads on the microblogging service. TechCrunch, in contrast, was later sold to private equity along with the rest of Verizon Media Group, where we now reside. You cannot pay TechCrunch to remove ads. Now you are caught up!
Okteto raises $15M Series A: Much like yourself, I often find myself unable to whip up new Kubernetes-based development environments while writing code. Happily for both of us, Okteto is building tools to help us do just that. And it now has Series A money via Two Sigma Ventures, Haystack and others.
Siteline is building fintech infra for the construction market: While the consumer fintech space is chock-full of tools for what feels like any and every use case, the business world is a little bit different. Siteline, which has raised more than $18 million to date, wants to speed up the pace at which money moves in the construction industry, where today it moves with what we might call glacial patience.
Promise wants to help you pay your government bills: If you don’t track your checking account balance, this isn’t for you. But if you do live more paycheck to paycheck, and have ever been a little bit short in any particular month, you know the worries that your power will get turned off. Promise, a startup, aims to sit between you and the government, offering more flexible payment plans for bills. I kinda dig it.
Pay your rent, build credit: That’s the pitch behind Piñata, a startup that offers a service to landlords and tenants to help make the process of paying for housing while not building equity at least somewhat useful. Of course, that paying rent usually doesn’t help build one’s credit feels like an error in the market.
Reddit makes discovery easier: Reddit is a fun place to be if you know where to go. It has communities of all types and sorts and sizes. Finding them, however, can be tough. The social service is updating its app to make that process a bit easier.
And there was even more that went on today: Depict.ai raised $17 million for its work to provide e-commerce sites with better recommendation capabilities; a neobank in India called Niyo raised $100 million, or $4 for each of its customers; and Insight Partners raised $20 billion for its new flagship fund. Which is a sum of money I cannot really fathom.
How to strategically manage your startup advisor’s compensation
Beware of advisors who demand a share of your equity (and precious cash) in exchange for help with tactical operations like startup recruiting and marketing.
“No founder is an expert in every domain, and as they undertake the journey of getting their companies off the ground, they need to have outside support,” says Matt Cohen, founder and managing partner at Ripple Ventures.
Even so, entrepreneurs still need accountability measures that protect their companies from “advisor sharks” and “grifters,” he writes.
In a guest post for TC+, Cohen shares advice for setting goals and creating equity packages that will create “a more accurate alignment of incentives.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Nikola earnings aren’t awful: Troubled EV truck maker Nikola doesn’t have revenues yet, but it appears to be making real progress toward them. That and slimmer-than-expected per-share losses were the good news of the day from the company.
App subscription revenue grows 41% in 2021: Want to know why Apple and Google are really not in favor of not getting a fat cut of app store incomes? Because they are large and growing. “The top 100 non-game, subscription-based apps saw their consumer spend increase 41% in 2021 to $18.3 billion, up from $13 billion in 2020,” we report.
Self-driving Vegas ride-hailing? I am intent on putting self-driving news in this newsletter until I no longer have to drive. Today’s item is a consortium offering self-driving rides in Las Vegas (with human backup drivers). This is cool. But what would be cooler, in fact, would be Motional and Via bringing the same service to Providence, Rhode Island. For no particular reason, I assure you.
TechCrunch is recruiting recruiters for TechCrunch Experts, an ongoing project where we ask top professionals about problems and challenges that are common in early-stage startups. If that’s you or someone you know, you can let us know here.