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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Thursday, March 3, 2022. We have the latest from how the technology world is responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a review of the Theranos show, notes from New Zealand venture capital and more.
But first, some programming notes: Our city spotlight series is back, and TechCrunch is heading to Austin. There’s also a neat DeFi event coming up, and TC Sessions: Mobility will feature Nuro co-founder Jiajun Zhu, which is fun as the company is worth $8.6 billion. See you at all three! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Soon every company will also be a VC: The boom in venture capital activity that the world saw in 2021 did not fail to impact large companies. Indeed, data indicates that last year saw a near-record number of new corporate investors joining the startup fundraising fray. TechCrunch dug into the data and is chasing it tomorrow with a pile of notes from active corporate investors.
- Tech’s response to Russia: I’m bringing you these notes as a group so that you can digest them in sequence. TechCrunch wrote about automakers pulling out of Russia, Spotify closing its Russian office, and how Twitter’s geoblock of Russia Today in the EU is off to a less-than-perfect start. More to come, so stick close to the blog.
- Microsoft wants to back thousands of African startups: That the African startup scene is expanding at a rapid clip is not news. TechCrunch has been on that story for ages now. But big companies are following the wave with big efforts, including Microsoft teaming up with “accelerators and incubators across the continent,” we wrote today, to “support 10,000 startups in Africa over the next five years.” What’s being funded in Africa? Here’s a taste from earlier today.
Startups and VC
There’s a lot to talk about today as always, but let’s start with some non-financial fare. TechCrunch watched the Theranos show, and oh boy do we have thoughts about it. We also have notes today on the latest and greatest in VR fitness products. Both of those are from our own Amanda Silberling, who is incredible. You can follow her on Twitter here.
- Lido wants to help stake Ethereum: I won’t get into the proof of work versus proof of stake argument here, so suffice it to say that more eth needs to get staked for the blockchain to evolve. Per our reporting, Lido “is the market leader for Ethereum liquid staking” and just raised $70 million from a16z. That’s a lot of coin, frankly, but if startups are expensive these days, crypto startups are doubleplusexpensive.
- OSOM’s phone debut delayed for new chip: From the ashes of Essentials, an effort to build a new smartphone, OSOM was born. But instead of showing its latest and greatest at the recent phone event (MWC), the startup was “convinced that pushing things back to launch a new device with the latest Qualcomm chip would be a prudent business decision.”
- New Zealand gets new venture fund: If you are building a startup in Australia or New Zealand, you might feel somewhat distant from Silicon Valley. And that’s fair. It’s a long flight. But in good news, “Mark Pavlyukovskyy, Ajay Gupta and Glen Anderson formed New Zealand’s first operator-run fund, NZVC, over the last year,” we write, and the fund just reached a first close worth $10 million.
- Consolidation in the transcription space: We love a startup deal here at TechCrunch, so we took the time to write up Verbit (“AI-powered transcription and captioning service”) buying Take Note (“transcription, captioning and note-taking services”). Otter.ai is also in the market, and DeepGram fits in somewhere as well.
- Decipad wants to make you an Excel wizard: OK not precisely, but the startup does want to help folks do more with numbers. Given how important spreadsheets and other methods for housing and tinkering with numbers are to the global economy, no one is going to be able to say that Decipad lacks TAM. And the startup just raised $5 million for its work.
And there was even more, of course: MyPlace raised nearly $6 million for a home-sharing social network, Apollo.io raised $110 million for its “sales intelligence and engagement platform,” Ingrid Lunden writes, and Atomic raised a $40 million Series B for its payroll API efforts.
To achieve enterprise sales success, tailor your approach to CIOs
You are more likely to close a sale if you have some insights into your prospective customer’s needs. But for enterprise startups, that presents a special problem.
Unless you’re a former CIO who has a clear understanding of the decision-making process, you can only fall back on basic best practices that will usually result in a generic pitch.
Ridge Ventures partner and five-time CIO Yousuf Khan wrote a column for TechCrunch+ that explores “what CIOs look for in solutions and how you can tailor your sales approach accordingly.”
Founders who take a mindful approach can turn customers into assets, says Khan.
“Good relationships with executive buyers can help shape your company as it grows, ultimately serving as an unofficial advisory board of the top leaders and experts within your customer base.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Rivian partially retracts price hikes: Early reviews look good for Rivian’s trucks, but announced price hikes were not well-received by the market. Now the public EV company is saying that if you ordered your vehicle before the start of March, no price hikes for you!
- Yet more spyware is out there, stealing your data: Sadly, the name of the Android spyware that is sucking up folks’ information is called TeaBot, which is a super-cute moniker. Regardless, it’s out in the market racking up downloads, which is pretty bad.
- Twitter expands its Birdwatch program: Can community fact-checking make Twitter a better place? The company hopes so, and is expanding its “community-based fact-checking initiative” called Birdwatch to work on just that.
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.