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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Tuesday, March 8, 2022! Today was an Apple event day, which means that the larger tech industry ground to a halt to sit ‘round and see what Cupertino cooked up. We have full notes in case you are behind, yeah? And a lot of startup news to boot, so let’s get to work! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Everything that Apple announced today: We have more discrete linking down below, but this post will get you up and running when it comes to Apple’s new gear. New computers, updates to consumer portables, and the return of the iPhone SE. Oh, and baseball? It’s a lot, but, hey, we got you covered.
- IPOs are not dead: It’s conventional wisdom that the IPO window is closed. What this means is that the veritable horde of late-stage startups that need to find an exit have a key avenue closed to them. However, if your name is Intel, different rules apply. The U.S. chip giant is taking its Mobileye division public about a half-decade after it bought the Israeli company. We are divining the tea leaves on this one, hoping to learn more about the market landscape for startup exits.
- Google to buy Mandiant: In its last quarterly report, Microsoft disclosed that it generated $15 billion in security revenues in the last 12 months, up from $10 billion the year before. So it shouldn’t shock that another mega-cloud provider is getting busy with security incomes. Enter Google plonking down $5.4 billion for Mandiant, what TechCrunch calls a “security intelligence company.” Cloud is good. Cloud + security is better, it appears.
Startups and VC
The TechCrunch crew has been more than busy in the last 24 hours, so buckle in for a deluge of data. First, however, a few spotlights:
A Better.com two-pack: Adventuring fintech reporter Mary Ann Azevedo has been crushing the Better.com beat as the previous public-company candidate implodes. In the latest chapter of its larger layoff saga, another chunk of the consumer mortgage service’s staff was laid off. This time some of them learned of the fact when they got paid severance before the news dropped. Whoops. And the company’s former CFO just raised capital for Glean AI, which is taking on the accounts payable market, Mary Ann reports.
The latest from Africa: Yesterday we noted Tage Kene-Okafor’s reporting on Ghanian startup Dash raising $32 million in a seed round. Kene-Okafor today highlighted a Sudanese startup that is taking part in Y Combinator’s current batch. It turns out that Bloom, the company in question, is the first startup from Sudan to take part in the U.S. accelerator.
Today in money raising money: Natasha Mascarenhas has a few notes on the site today that I think we should group. The first is Lolita Taub putting together a new venture firm called Ganas Ventures. Ganar is the Spanish word for to win, so you can imagine where the fund is planning on investing! And Mascarenhas covered Angelist’s latest huge funding round. Angelist is perhaps best known these days for helping birth the rolling-fund boom, so the company that helps other people raise money to invest just raised money to invest in itself. Neat.
And now, a massive digest of the rest of the day’s critical startup news:
- Mozilla drops new iOS, Android features: Mozilla is a browser company that has made other products in its history, and is today something of an alternative offering for the ubiquitous Chrome. Regardless, the company is adding “an HTTPS-only mode to Firefox Focus” for its Android users, and iOS users are getting a “new adjustable search bar,” we write.
- One-click payments are big business: Selfbook does what it says on the tin, namely helping hotel guests self-book. And it does that with some modern checkout work. The company’s model is finding traction, we can infer, as investors just put $15 million into the company at a $300 million valuation.
- Forma helps companies compile a benefits stack: Everyone loves a stack, or collection of integrated tools or services that help accomplish a particular task. Forma wants to help HR departments collect an array of employee benefit options into something akin to a stack. And it just raised $40 million in a round led by Ribbit.
- Nvidia hearts cute robots: Something that I have really enjoyed of late are cute delivery robots. You know, the little ‘bots that race around campuses and the like, ferrying vodka nips and aspirin to the youths. Well, it’s an investable market, it turns out, as Nvidia is putting $10 million into “Uber spinout Serve Robotics,” TechCrunch reports. Yes, Serve’s robots are adorable. Now bring them to my city, please.
- Betting on the IRL economy: As Amazon works to shutter its physical book and “four star” stores, not everyone is throwing in the towel on shopping IRL. Indeed, Swiftly is hammering away on the concept, working to help grocery stores digitize. We have an update on the company past what we learned last year. Also Swiftly just raised $100 million, so, you know, that’s worth mentioning.
- Calico raises $2.1M for fashion supply chain software: Coming from an itch that founder Kathleen Chan found when she was building fashion companies, Calico just picked up capital from Serena Williams, who recently launched a fund.
It’s pivot season for early-stage startups
It’s tempting to relax if you’re a founder who’s already received a tranche of funding and have another to look forward to.
But when the winds in the private markets are blowing stiff and cold, having a long runway is not your best protection. That’s why some entrepreneurs are looking to pivot now, says Natasha Mascarenhas.
“Some may re-prioritize objectives to reduce risk, while others may pursue new, more near-term business models to finally get some revenue in the door,” she writes.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Everything went down, again: Today a bunch of services that you use, like Discord and Spotify, went down. Then they came back up again. Issues like this happen from time to time, and are awful when they do. More when we know the root causes, but I am guessing that a public cloud issue is to blame.
- China’s APT41 hacking group compromised state govs: At least six U.S. state governments fell prey to hacking from China’s APT41 group, which, we’re sure, will aid in trade talks between the two nations.
- And then there was Apple: TechCrunch is excited about the new iPhone SE; here’s notes on baseball and Apple TV+; new iPads are here; new chips as well; the Mac Studio is here and a monitor is here; and here’s our liveblog.
And as I am low on word count, let’s squeeze in a few things quickly: Instagram is working to ensure that Black creators are credited for their work; Meta built a task-management service; TikTok is still getting sued.