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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Thursday, March 17, 2022! We have an absolute mountain of news to climb today, so we’re going to get to work with alacrity. A small reminder before we do that the speaker lineup for our Early Stage event is looking more and more stacked. Can’t wait to see everyone IRL! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- More capital for instant delivery: After a flurry of 2021 rounds, the venture market for instant delivery companies is still active. Getir, an Indian instant-delivery company, just raised a $768 million Series E, pushing its valuation to nearly $12 billion. Mubadala Investment Company led the round.
- How one city is diversifying its startup market: The U.S. venture market is often considered to be its two main coasts. But in the country’s huge middle, startups are being built and funded at record pace. And Chicago, one of the most important American metropolises, is funding more and more underrepresented founders at the seed and angel stages. We dug into how that change is happening.
- Paradigm backs Ethereum scaler Optimism: The Ethereum blockchain has a lot to like about it. You can program it and use it for all sorts of things. But it’s also expensive to use at times, with transaction fees jumping up and down. So, many companies are building tech to make Ethereum scale. Optimism is one such company, and it just raised a $150 million Series B at a valuation north of $1 billion.
Startups and VC
- Reface removes itself from the Russian market: When Russia invaded Ukraine, many companies immediately yanked their services from its borders. Reface, a Ukrainian app, did not, instead opting to “use its app as a conduit to circumvent the Kremlin’s media censorship,” TechCrunch writes. However, that seems to have backfired a little, and now the company is over it — and pulling out.
- Tile builds anti-stalking tech into its platform: Apple and Tile have built ways for users to better track their devices. But both companies also managed to create situations in which malefactors could abuse their tech to stalk people. Tile has now updated its tech to combat the situation, as Apple has as well.
- Forget Peloton; Hydrow is still raising: You might think that in the wake of Peloton’s meltdown, investors would be over putting capital into at-home exercise equipment. Nope. Hydrow – the aptly named at-home erging machine – just raised $55 million. So if you are into at-home rowing, good news! I have done both erging and on-river rowing, and am arse at both, so I can’t really comment on the quality of the Hydrow itself, but can confirm that it is a more full-body exercise than simply cycling.
- A new social calendar: Hybridizing calendars and the to-do space, with a healthy mix of team focus, Amie is a neat idea. Given what portion of the world lives in either Google Calendar or Outlook, there is probably still plenty of TAM out there for Amie to tackle, despite stiff startup competition.
- Today’s enterprise deal: Look, I can’t really improve on what Ron Miller wrote here, so let’s just quote the man, yeah? “Upstash, an early-stage startup, is building a serverless data platform for developers of data-intensive applications using a consumption-based pricing model, which should help drive down prices,” he reported. Excellent. Upstash just closed $1.9 million from Mango Capital, among others.
- TikTok 🤝 Stories: Some ideas are just good, in that consumers love them. Stories, or series updates from particular creators that are designed to be more ephemeral than regular posts, are one such thing. And TikTok, after experimenting with the model, is doing more work with its stories product.
- Profishop raises from Tiger: Flush with $35 million in new capital, Profishop is building in the logistics space. In particular, it’s working on “just in time” B2B deliveries for business and industrial products. It’s a German company that now operates in 13 markets. Expect that number to expand now that it has fresh funds.
- The artist formerly known as Square backs Kyash: Now called Block, the Jack Dorsey consumer and business fintech giant has taken part in a $41.7 million round of Kyash, a Japanese mobile financial app. It appears that this is Block’s “first investment in an Asia-based company,” TechCrunch reports.
Tortoise co-founder Dmitry Shevelenko: ‘You can’t do too many things at the same time’
From the outside, a startup that makes multiple pivots might look like it lacks direction.
In reality, changing course is usually the smartest bet, because it allows founding teams to leverage new technology and adapt to changing market conditions.
Transportation reporter Rebecca Bellan interviewed Tortoise co-founder Dmitry Shevelenko about his company’s transition “from using a hardware-as-a-service model to a take-rate scheme that gives it 10% of any sales made from its card payment-enabled bots.”
Pivoting is positive, says Shevelenko. “The most important thing with agility is actually being able to gracefully admit you’re wrong, or that you’ve learned new information and are adapting.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Amazon’s MGM deal completes: So much for rising antitrust activity blocking major deals. Amazon’s $8.5 billion purchase of movie studio MGM has completed, bringing more media power inside the e-commerce and cloud-computing giant. Sure, it may seem slightly odd that AWS also owns a movie studio, but with more and more digital goods landing inside of the company’s Prime subscription, perhaps the deal makes sense.
- Maserati plans V-6 of electric cars: The boom in electric cars is reaching all manufacturers, it seems, including higher-end sportscar types like Maserati. The Italian car company plans on releasing a half-dozen electric cars by 2025, TechCrunch reports.
- TechCrunch reviews new Apple products: If you were hungering after Apple’s new Mac Studio computer, good news. Our review is out. And we also chatted with Apple execs about the new computer and its partner monitor, the latter of which is getting far more mixed reviews than the machine it plugs into.
And there was more: Meta is testing ways for brands to have more control over ad placement, Google has an Android 13 developer preview update out, and the search company has built a tool to help companies manage deliveries.