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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Wednesday, February 16, 2022! Most funding stories don’t go viral, but today is a bit of an exception – Flutterwave’s huge round made an impact, I can confirm.
But before that and the rest of the news, am happy to announce that GV’s Terri Burns is coming to TechCrunch Early Stage to talk product-market fit, which should be a great session. See you there! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Say hello to the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA): It may seem that it has been years since former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a bunch of docs from the company and made appearances before Congress to talk about the impact of social media on us humans. Her disclosures appear to be having an impact in the form of a new bill, which TechCrunch reports will “require social media companies to provide users under 16 with the option to protect their information, disable addictive product features, opt out of algorithmic recommendations,” and more.
Flutterwave raises $250M, triples valuation: By now you know that startups based in and expanding into Africa are raising lots of venture capital. But even with that backdrop, Flutterwave’s new $3 billion valuation made people sit up and take notice. The startup, we write, “facilitates cross-border payments transactions of small to large businesses in Africa via one API,” in case you didn’t know.
Welcome to the post-pandemic economy: Regardless of where you live, and how locked down you may still be thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy is moving on. Companies that did well during lockdown are coming back to Earth, while others that had a poor run amid the COVID economy are recovering. For startups, it’s a new (old) world.
Today we’re starting off with what I’m calling the Mary Ann beat. Mary Ann Azevedo is at once a brilliant journalist and human while also being the single busiest person on the planet. From her voluminous archive, two stories from today:
Nomad raises $20M: Founded by some former Twilio denizens, Nomad wants to change the renter-rentee relationship with products that can guarantee income to smaller landlords.
$200M for low-code fintech apps: Mary Ann also wrote about Genesis, which just raised a nine-figure round after securing $45 million last year, to help financial institutions make more apps, more quickly. Tiger, naturally, led the round.
(Scroll down a wee bit to see one more from Mary Ann!) And now onto the rest of the day’s startup news and happenings!
Forget buying music archives. Buy YouTube archives: It turns out that the financialization of content won’t stop at music catalogs of boomer superstars. And that’s not a diss, mind. TechCrunch writes that Spotter has just raised $200 million to pre-pay creators for their video revenues, which it then collects over time. If anyone wants to offer me $100 million for the future income of my already produced writing, do say hello.
The ups and downs of discounting: Our own Haje Jan Kamps has a piece on the site today about discounting and how it can help — and hurt — your bottom line. He speaks from experience.
Music therapy for Gen Z? Speak hello to Spoke, a startup that just raised a modest round for music with benefits for your brain. Mindfulness isn’t new as a concept, but it tends to be stapled to things like meditation and not music. Spoke, therefore, is something a bit new.
AI-powered storefronts are big business: That’s our lesson from Voila, which just raised $6 million for just that work. What’s an AI-powered storefront? Per TechCrunch, instead of a boring link list, the tech can create “customizable, shoppable storefronts by automatically detecting items in the creators’ online content, then generating shoppable links,” which probably makes more sense if you are an Instagram fan. Which I am not.
And of course there was even more, including Instrumental raising big bucks for software-powered manufacturing checks, Employment Hero becoming an AUD unicorn while making an acquisition, and the latest Equity episode digging into the correction underway at Hopin.
9 fintech investors discuss what they’re looking for and how to pitch them in Q1 2022
The public markets cooled on fintechs in recent months, but for entrepreneurs still considering starting up, “outlook good,” says the Magic 8 Ball.
In 2021, a third of all unicorns created were fintech companies: the sector hoovered in more than one out of every five dollars VCs invested last year.
But that data is available anywhere. What founders really want to know is: What are investors looking for right now?
To get an inside view on what fintech investors are thinking about in Q1 2022, Mary Ann Azevedo reached out to nine of them.
“Each respondent was kind enough to let us know how they want to be pitched, and for grins, one shared an example of a cold e-mail that worked,” she writes.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Waymo 🤝 logistics: Waymo Via, the Alphabet self-driving unit’s freight division, is teaming up with C.H. Robinson for a pilot that will bring nine figures worth of shippers into its orbit. The self-driving revolution appears to be arriving in granny-gear instead of sixth, but, hey, slow and steady will get the job done eventually.
Twitter to grade the bots: Some bots on Twitter are terrible, trying to scam you out of your NFT or sanity. Other bots on Twitter are very good, bringing information, art or other delights to their followers. Twitter is rolling out “good bot” labels, we report, which is welcome because there are some very good little robots on the social service.
Privacy changes are coming to Android: Our own Frederic Lardinois has the lowdown on Google wanting to bring its PrivacySandbox from Chrome to Android. With advertisers struggling in the wake of Apple’s changes to iOS privacy, updates to how major mobile platforms handle user data are understood to be big darn deals.
Snap teams up with TicketMaster: At the top of this newsletter, we noted that the economy is getting back to an IRL status after a few years of lockdown. For evidence of that switch, look no further than today’s news that Snap – parent company of Snapchat – is working with TicketMaster to connect its users with nearby events.
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.