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From our perch, it’s fascinating to watch the exit market for startups wax and wane this year. And change it has. After kicking off with a blistering pace in early 2021 before succumbing to what felt like a sudden cold snap, it appears that the public markets are once again welcoming startups to their rosters.
At least that’s what venture-backed digital mortgage unicorn Better.com hopes. And media companies BuzzFeed, Vice, and the artist formerly known as Bustle. Tech stocks might be losing ground, but the demand for unicorn liquidity appears to be winning out over caution. -- Alex
TechCrunch Top 3
$112M for last-mile fulfillment: Munich-based parcelLab just closed a mega-round to make delivery and returns better for e-commerce companies.
$160M to buy third-party retailers on Amazon: Yet another startup has raised a huge amount of money to buy up retailers that sell on other sites. Acquco joins Thrasio and Perch in the game with oodles of capital.
The American scooter wars have died down to a murmur, but that doesn’t mean that shared-transit startups around the world aren’t still competing for market share. Tage Kene-Okafor reports for TechCrunch on “the motorcycle ride-hailing wars in Nigeria and Uganda.”
Startups and VC
The world of startups has become so very broad that it’s a bit bonkers to try and cut down on the total news volume each day for this newsletter. So what follows is a sampling of what we published today concerning the upstart economy:
Why TransUnion led blockchain fintech Spring Labs’ $30M Series B: Credit ratings as they exist today are garbage. Perhaps the blockchain will be better? TransUnion also would like to avoid being replaced, so it has its checkbook out for Spring Labs.
Sequoia Games looks to capitalize on NBA Top Shot fever with an AR tabletop game: Concerned that NFTs were too cool? This is “a game that seems to be trading cards meets Catan meets NFTs meets augmented reality,” we wrote. I mean, sure?
The Last Gameboard raises $4M to ship its digital tabletop gaming platform: Sticking to the gaming theme, how about a 16-inch square screen that sits flat on your table for all your IRL gaming needs? Let’s just hope it works. Our hopes are up.
SightCall raises $42M for its AR-based visual assistance platform: Go to a site to make a repair. Hold up a tablet in front of the broken thing. AR-powered interface shows you notes and details about what needs fixing. That’s cool as hell, provided that SightCall can get it all to work.
Lili, a neobank aimed at freelancers, raises $55M as it passes 200K users: No matter how much money global neobanks raise as a startup cohort, they will need several hundred million more. Here’s Lili contributing to the cause.
Blockchain credit ratings and NFTs and consumer gaming hardware and AR-tech for techs and fintech? It’s a busy startup market out there.
SaaS companies can grow to $20M+ ARR by selling exclusively to developers
Before Twilio had a market cap approaching $56 billion and more than 200,000 customers, the cloud-communications platform developed a secret sauce to fuel its growth: a developer-focused model that dispensed with traditional marketing rules.
Software companies that sell directly to end users share a simple framework for managing growth that leverages discoverability, desirability and do-ability (the "aha!" moment).
Data show that traditional marketing doesn't work on developers; to create and sell software to developers at scale, you'll need to toss that B2B playbook and meet customers where they are.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Turning at last to the largest companies in the world of tech, the public-market giants, here’s the latest:
Samsung is out of MWC in-person events: If you really wanted to see new Samsung hardware at MWC this year, tough, though I am not sure how many of you that impacts. Virtual events, everyone, are here to stay. Who has time to fly to a different country to sit in a chair and type?
Jumia’s long-bet on African e-commerce continues to post modest improvement: E-commerce and shipping company Jumia is still figuring out its model as its market evolves. It had a tough COVID, but there are some signs of life from the public concern.
Uber and Lyft want to help you get a vaccine: American ride-hailing companies are stepping up to get folks to a vaccine site. Which is good. Let’s hope that every ride-hailing company does this as, you know, vaccines work and COVID-19 is bad.
YouTube tries to buy TikTok love: Do you know what is almost as good as having huge viral traction and a huge hook into popular culture like TikTok? Dropping $100 million to pay people to populate your platform with original content. Yeesh.
Google gets into remittances: Google wants you to send money to other countries using its GPay. Two things: One, it’s called GPay? How have I never heard of it? And, second, it didn’t already do this? Big Search is teaming up with the ever-loved Western Union on the project. Wise is also helping out.