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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Tuesday, February 15, 2022! We have a busy slate for you today, including news sure to annoy the blockchain faithful, new funds, Facebook’s latest rebrand and more.
But first, in an essay on TechCrunch, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argues against “the unfettered ‘side-loading’ of apps.” It is an interesting argument against Windows and the larger Web (we kid), but does raise notable points regarding mobile security and consumer expectations. It’s worth reading regardless of your priors. – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- India continues to debate the fate of cryptocurrencies: A nation’s regulatory and banking bodies debating blockchain technology and its related tokens is a daily occurrence. But when an official from India’s central bank compares cryptocurrencies to Ponzi schemes, we take note. That the latest broadside against crypto comes after the country discussed a new tax proposal for the asset/currency class is a slight surprise.
- Goodbye News Feed, hello Feed: Facebook is shaking up its branding around its news feed product, now known by the simple moniker “Feed.” TechCrunch also notes that the company is rolling out a Facebook News product in the French market, so we could see a divergence between feed and news at the company. How you feel about this set of changes will depend on your view of the company, I reckon, but it didn’t poll well on Twitter, at least thus far.
- Intel shells out $5.4B for Tower Semiconductor: As more capital flows into the market for designing and manufacturing chips, the announcement of new deals isn’t a huge surprise. This time chip company Intel intends to pay billions for Tower, which, we note, fits into the U.S. giant’s larger manufacturing goals that it had previously announced.
What’s a startup really worth? Data from PitchBook indicates that 2021 turbocharged the pace at which startups raised capital, yes, but also pushed the prices paid for startup shares to the stratosphere. The result? Oddly enough, more value creation between rounds than before, which means great markups for venture capitalists, despite their having to pay more, earlier. We chewed on the data and wondered: If venture investors are willing to pay so much more for startup equity today now that there is more competition, were the same investors undervaluing companies for years?
Today in mega-rounds: Veho and Swappie. The pace at which huge rounds – and especially those in the nine-figure range – are put together continues to impress in 2022. Today TechCrunch has notes on Veho ($170 million, a few months after it raised $125 million) and Swappie ($124 million in its latest), investments that underscore just how much capital there is in the market for yet-private tech companies today, despite the public market selloff, inflation concerns and central-bank tightening.
- FitOn raises $40M, acquires Peerfit: I love a startup deal, so was excited to dive into this one. FitOn, what TechCrunch calls a “digital fitness and wellness company,” has raised a new round and purchased Peerfit’s “corporate wellness platform.” You can spot the synergy from orbit – now Peerfit can offer FitOn to companies, which is perhaps the app equivalent of vertical integration?
- Can Shortwave make email less terrible? Many folks miss Google’s ill-fated Inbox experiment. It is in the Sad Graveyard with Wave and Reader. Anyway, some former Big Tech employees are looking to combine an Inbox-like experiment with some Slack-like elements. It’s called Shortwave. And since email can’t get any worse, maybe give it a try?
- Postpartum depression care for Black women: The health tech market has been busy in recent quarters, which means that more companies are taking swings at making improvements to holes in our larger care system. One such gap has been mental health care for Black women struggling with postpartum depression. Happily, She Matters has been built to tackle the exact problem. Ron Miller has our story.
- AmEx <3 Airbase: The corporate spend market is red hot around the world, but perhaps nowhere more competitive than in the United States, where Ramp, Brex and Airbase are battling it out. Airbase just landed a check and a partnership with AmEx, the corporate credit giant, on the back of its software. Could the deal shift the tides in the competitive startup category?
- This cool-kid Ethereum wallet just raised: If you are in the blockchain world, you might be familiar with Rainbow, which TechCrunch writes “feels more like the crypto wallet app that a Snap or TikTok would design with rainbow gradient buttons, emojis galore and overall a much less sterile feel than reigning competitor MetaMask.” It just picked up funds from Seven Seven Six.
And so much more: Homebound raised $75 million from Khosla, MoneyHash picked up $3 million to build a fintech super-API for the Middle East and Africa, and Better Tomorrow Ventures raised $225 million for a new fintech fund. Basically, it is busy out there, so make sure you are following TechCrunch here and TechCrunch+ here.
Our startup’s first hire was a fractional Head of Remote
By this point, most startup employees have worked remotely. Even so, few managers have any meaningful experience when it comes to overseeing distributed teams.
With that in mind, SaaS startup Wingback made a fractional head of remote its first hire, “and it was the best decision we made,” said Yann Leretaille, co-founder and CTO.
“A head of remote is not just a glorified HR manager. They make sure that the right processes are set up and that the right tools are selected and used to make remote work successful.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- The now-public Nextdoor simplifies its app: Fresh off a SPAC combination, Nextdoor is a public company. Which means that it graduates from our startups section to our Big Tech digest. Regardless, the company is working to “simplify [its] app and promote better relationships between neighbors,” we report.
- Twitter releases Safety Mode to more users: It’s no secret that Twitter can be a brutal place at times. Happily for users who might find themselves on the wrong side of a deluge of hate, Twitter’s “Safety Mode” feature is now available in more markets. Perhaps it will help.
- To keep tabs on the EU regulatory world, follow Natasha Lomas on Twitter. Another Daily Crunch, another regulatory item from Europe. Lomas crushes this topic for us, so just follow her and stay up to date. The latest? “The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has called for a bloc-wide ban on the controversial Pegasus spyware tool, warning its use could lead to an “unprecedented level of intrusiveness,” she writes.
- And today in operating-system mashups: Google wants to bring Chrome OS to your Mac or PC, and Microsoft is rolling out support for Amazon’s app store for Windows 11. Sadly, in the meantime, iMessage refuses to play nice with anyone else.
And to close out, I am in the market for a friend with $450,000 they want to gift me, for no particular reason.
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.