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Hello and May the 3rd be with you. Did we get that meme right? Today, we are thrilled to see a16z planning $50 crore (that’s $500 million) worth of investments into Indian startups in its newest fund. We are also keeping a close eye on Thrasio as it names a new CEO and executes a round of layoffs – Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- NFTs for physical items?: Americana Technologies thought people who create physical things were left out when it came to NFTs, so the startup developed a way for those creators to jump on board. We’ll see if this vision shakes out, but with backers like Alexis Ohanian’s venture firm, Seven Seven Six; NFT marketplace OpenSea; and rapper Future, it’s probably a good bet that it will.
- Back to the NFTs we know and love: We liked Alex’s line in today’s story about those snapping up valuable pieces of digital land: “The Bored Ape crew has managed to turn a hit NFT set into several collections, huge venture checks, and now a license to print money thanks to speculators snapping up its newly offered digital assets.” Can’t wait to see what they do with it.
- This island has nothing to do with love other than that for Roblox: Spotify launched its “Spotify Island” and is now the first music streaming brand on Roblox. It’s a cute little island with hearts and Easter eggs, but no expectation of coupling up.
Startups and VC
It’s all fintech all the time on the site today, with a $65 million round going to Kevin to build account-to-account payments over point-of-sale terminals, Neobank Open becoming a unicorn, Banking giant Truist acquiring Long Game in an effort to reach a younger demographic, and Point raising $115 million to help homeowners cash out on equity in their homes.
Health tech startup myNurse (formerly known as Salusive Health) lost a bunch of patient data in a breach and suddenly shut down less than two months later. It claims it has nothing to do with the breach, but gives no reason for the shutdown. Curiouser and curiouser.
We also loved Ron’s story today about Graphite, which took a leaf out of Slack’s book by taking an internal tool and spinning it out as a separate company with a $20 million Series A. Gotta love a good pivot story.
- Revolt at Bolt: There’s something going on within the four walls of Bolt. Mary Ann dug into the various news stories for context last week, and this week, Bolt’s CEO addressed the startup’s performance in the wake of the lawsuit, claiming that its merchants are doing twice as well this year as last year.
- When you absolutely, positively need that guac right now: Zepto raised a whopping $200 million at a 90% unicorn, 10% horse valuation to help you get groceries in 10 minutes in a number of additional cities in India.
- Free is the magic number (no it isn’t): Nudging customers from free tiers to paying ones and from lower-end product plans to higher-cost plans is a permanent headache for SaaS companies. Toplyne just raised $15 million to help product-forward companies analyze their customers and figure out the best go-to-market strategies.
- Get back, get back, get back to where you once had songs: Music discovery is a perennial challenge for streaming services, and SoundCloud is attempting to solve that by acquiring Musiio, an AI music curator.
- For vegans, not having steak is now a mis-steak of the past: In a fun twist we didn’t see coming, Mooji is 3D printing plant-based meat. The YC alum just raised $3 million to “print” steaks.
- World’s first Ɛqǝʍ fund: (that’s web3, but down under): New Zealand gets its first crypto, web3-focused VC fund.
Hiring top startup talent on a budget during the Great Resignation
Glen Evans, a partner on Greylock’s core talent team, joined Senior Editor Walter Thompson at TechCrunch Early Stage to talk about how founders can optimize the recruiting and hiring process, find and develop talent, and uncover some best practices for closing candidates.
“The state of the job market is more competitive than I’ve ever seen it,” said Evans, who has two decades of experience overseeing recruiting and team-building at fast-growing companies including Slack, Facebook and Google.
“There’s a very limited supply of talent and probably the largest demand I’ve ever seen, so it’s really important for people to think about how to differentiate and build the foundations and the habits to get talent right in the early days,” he said. “It’s not rocket science.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Cars are what get us from A to B, but today’s news is all about some big investments into the production of electric vehicles. First, Stellantis plans to inject $2.8 billion to increase the production of electric vehicles at two of its Canadian plants. This is a portion of a larger $35.5 billion investment Stellantis is making toward being carbon net-zero by 2038. Next, Rivian scored a nice incentive package to drive into Georgia and build an EV factory. And finally, Silas has a lock on a new facility in Washington that will enable the EV battery maker to begin getting its products into cars by 2026.
- It’s your lucky day if you’ve ever tried to read a book you already own, but didn’t buy from Amazon, but want to read via Kindle. Amazon has now made a way for you to do that that doesn’t involve so many steps. Also, it seems like the company is giving Roku a run for its money, increasing the slate of original shows. We forgot about Jeff Lewis’ brand of entertainment until now.
- In case you missed the daily coverage of Twitter and Elon Musk, Sarah reports on an SEC filing by Twitter showing the risks to its core advertising business if the proposed deal were to take place. Advertisers are already bracing for it, while Musk revealed earlier some ideas for reducing Twitter’s reliance on advertisers for revenue. Oh, and Twitter is testing out something called a Twitter Circle because it’s middle school again, and there can only be six kids in the Six Chicks, so choose wisely.