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It’s April 27, 2022, and here’s a thing we didn’t see coming: May. What the hell happened to this month, this year? As the summer equinox draws closer, the weather warms up and the days get longer, we long drinks with tiny rainbow umbrellas in them. If you’re reading this in the Southern Hemisphere: Sorry for our summery optimism. Please enjoy some hot chocolate and fuzzy socks as we take a dip in the pool. – Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Gov wants to make the worm squirm: In what reads like a plot Jack Bauer would be proud of, the U.S. government has stepped up its hunt for six Russian intelligence officers, best known as the state-backed hacking group dubbed “Sandworm.” It’s offering a $10 million bounty for information that identifies or locates its members. If you’ve got 1337 doxxing skillz, here’s your chance to actually do some good. Go on. Удачи.
- Nervous as a service: After a lengthy period of experimentation, investors have decided that consumer fintech trading businesses are not SaaS companies. Alex explains why that matters: In a nutshell, those fintech revenues should not be valued as if they were annual recurring revenue (ARR), the main product of software-as-a-service concerns.
- OK, fine, we’ll let you open the phone you bought and own: Apple, which historically has taken a “keep your filthy mitts off our precious products” approach, is starting self-service repair for the most common iPhone fixes: battery replacements, screen restorations, and the like. The right-to-repair hackers that live somewhere deep within us are mighty pleased.
Startups and VC
It’s fundraising season for venture funds, apparently! MassMutual Ventures closed a $300 million fund to back Asian and European startups. Lightspeed India Partners announced a half-billion-dollar fund. Crypto-focused Dragonfly Capital officially announced its third fund, weighing in at $650 million.
A little less aspiration, a little more traction, please:
- Show me the money: In a world where $90 million can go missing for a few weeks because of a bug, Streamlined raised $4 million to take on B2B payments.
- Muéstrame el dinero: Minka raised $24 million to facilitate faster payment services across Latin America.
- A shine is a terrible thing to waste: One of the largest solar companies in Africa and Asia, Sun King, raised $260 million in Series D funding to deliver off-grid energy technologies to more people across the two continents.
- Dig deeper with oligochaeta for your data: Mozart data just orchestrated a $15 million round to help startups build a sensible data stack.
- He’s a real straight scooter: Singapore’s Neuron raised a $43.5 million Series B round, bringing its total capital investment to $77.7 million, to deepen its micromobility presence in Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, the U.K. and Canada.
- All around the watch-power: Home energy monitoring firm Sense just raised $105 million to fuel a spark of further growth.
- Cut my life into pieces, this is my last transport: Two of China’s biggest robotaxi rivals, Pony and WeRide, are joining forces to plow $135 million into Chinese ride-hailing service OnTime.
How to get into Y Combinator, according to YC’s Dalton Caldwell
In a conversation with Editor Greg Kumparak at TechCrunch Early Stage, YC managing director and group partner Dalton Caldwell spoke about the application process founders must navigate before they’re accepted to one of the world’s top accelerators.
“The first thing I look at when I read an application is the team. What I’m looking for is technical excellence on the team,” said Caldwell.
“Our teams that rely on trying to hire outsourced engineers or consultants or whatever to build their product tend to move much slower than folks with a technical founder,” he added. “They tend to get ripped off.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Robinhood announced plans to lay off 9% of its staff just before the investing and trading service was poised to come out with its earnings. We’ll have to see what happens Thursday — and whether that sheds light on the situation.
In earnings talk, Spotify’s stats told us what we already assumed: that the controversy around having a Joe Rogan podcast did little to sway subscriber numbers, which grew 15%. Yesterday, we prepared you for the General Motors earnings, and today, we are able to share that GM has some big ambitions and some serious cash to put behind it. Stay tuned for Ford. Meanwhile, Alphabet’s earnings showed some mixed results — Google doing well, YouTube not so much, though the number of channels making $10,000 in revenue grew 40%. Not bad.
Salesforce updated its low-code workflow tool, Salesforce Flow, which Ron described as “a bold attempt to pull together all of the pieces in the Salesforce arsenal in a more coherent fashion, using a popular tool that has been around since 2019 to do the job.”
Twitter news continues, from what happened at the company’s all-hands meeting to Devin’s opinion piece to how much Elon Musk and Twitter will have to pay each other should the deal fizzle. Follower counts on high-profile accounts fluctuated all over the place, with Twitter saying the undulations were mostly organic. Alex and Amanda came together to chat about all things Elon Musk and Twitter for the latest Equity podcast. We also have the skinny on Musk’s attempt to end an SEC settlement regarding Tesla tweets.
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