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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Thursday, February 3, 2022! Today we have a few angles on the startup market. The gist is that there are some positive signals to digest, as well as some more cautionary data points. I think it nets out to a changing market, but not one that has settled on a new level of risk tolerance. What the heck does that mean? Read on!
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Risk-on, risk-off: The startup fundraising game is in flux at the moment, with some investors putting capital to work in companies that have yet to fully form, as the public market takes body blows and earnings disappoint. We’ve seen similar plusses and minuses in the crypto world, for example. The net is that some investors appear to be dialing back their appetite for high-priced startup rounds, while others are, well, not.
- GM invests in fast-charging battery startup: And for something a bit different, U.S. auto giant General Motors is betting on Soelect, which is building “fast charge-capable anode technologies that might enable the next generation of batteries for electric vehicles,” TechCrunch reports. It’s a good reminder that as the world shifts to electric cars, startups are plugging market gaps that traditional automotive companies are encountering.
- Facebook’s user growth turns negative: Few tech companies have ever reached the scale that Meta, Facebook’s “parent” company, has. But its never-ending growth story has reached a new chapter, with the company showing flat monthly active and slightly negative daily active user growth in the fourth quarter. The company’s earnings were far from popular with investors, who slashed the value of the company’s stock.
Today’s startup news has a few Tiger rounds, a toilet paper headline and more. But first up is Natasha’s dive into Mos, which founder Amira Yahyaoui says is gunnin’ to become “the incumbent bank in the U.S.” The startup, which just raised $40 million, appears to link neobanking to the college student demographic and their peculiar needs.
Sticking just to the fintech theme, TechCrunch also has notes up on Pluto, which is building a corporate spend giant for the Middle East, backed by some of the most interesting founders in its own market, and Jar’s round that Tiger just led in India. Tiger also took a bite out of Bold, which just landed a $55 million round to “enable digital payments” in the Latin American market. The lesson? Fintech’s rise is increasingly a global story, with some models tested in the United States finding resonance in new markets.
- Ambulatory phlebotomy: At this point, if you are building a startup involving blood you have to convince the market that you are not building a fraudulent testing service or that you want to sell teen juice to rich vampires. Anyway. Getlabs is building a service that will send a phlebotomist to your house, bridging the telehealth-IRL medicine gap to some degree. It just raised $20 million and, we suspect, would like us to stop making Theranos jokes when discussing its model.
- Cameo builds NFT thingy: Cameo has a simple model: Celebrities and other well-known folks join its service and customers buy short, personalized videos from them. It works, it’s popular, and I like it as a way for creators (musicians, in particular) to make a few more bucks than they otherwise might. So it’s naturally building Cameo Pass, “an NFT-based community of Cameo talent and fans along with web3 enthusiasts,’” we report. Sure?
- ICEYE raises ice-cold $136M round: ICEYE is a “synthetic aperture radar imaging startup,” living up to my general vibe that space startups are the coolest companies out there. And it’s also cold in space, making ICEYE’s name perfect. It’s eyes in the sky, where it’s cold, perhaps even icy? Anyway, the business of taking pictures of the Earth is a big one, and the company has raised more than $300 million to create an ever-larger network of satellites.
And today in Good Headlines, Haje pulled off the following: “Flush with cash, bamboo-based toilet paper company Cloud Paper makes it rain.”
With a $22B run rate, does it matter if Google Cloud still loses money?
“You’ve got to spend money to make money” is a cliché, but if you’re building a company that hopes to compete in the cloud, it’s a fact.
This week, Google Cloud reported $5.5 billion in revenue for Q4 2021, but “that was the good news,” reports Ron Miller and Alex Wilhelm.
“The bad news was that Google Cloud accrued operating losses worth $890 million at the same time.”
Given such high stakes, industry watchers don’t seem overly concerned by these ongoing losses, however.
“Businesses of this nature require a lot of upfront investment and buildout of infrastructure and often don’t break even for several years,” said John Dinsdale, chief analyst at Synergy Research.
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Big Tech Inc.
- Google bets on shadow IT: Not sure how to vet this one, but Google is making changes to its Workplace (G Suite) portfolio of corporate productivity tools, allowing users to get going without central authority. Bottoms-up sales, or recipe for IT chaos? We’ll find out.
- U.S. assembles board to improve cyber-resilience: TechCrunch reports that the United States’ Department of Homeland Security established what we call a “review board” that will be “tasked with investigating major national cybersecurity incidents” so that the nation can make real steps in its cyber durability. This is one of those “sounds good, but is it late” announcements.
- Everyone wants aboard the metaverse: Since Facebook reached its product midlife crisis and decided to go all-in on the metaverse, other apps have wanted similar magic. So they are rebranding themselves with the tag, TechCrunch reports. How much this will help is not clear at this juncture.
- And speaking of the metaverse, Mozilla is shutting its VR browser.
- Tesla recalls 817,00 cars: Why? Faulty seat-belt chimes. Hardware is hard. Cars are harder. And building next-gen electric cars is hard as heck.
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