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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Monday, March 21, 2022! Short and to the point today: Follow our newest hire, the excellent Jacquelyn Melinek, who joined the TechCrunch+ team as a senior crypto reporter. We’re super stoked to have her aboard! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Tech talent flees Russia: As the Russian invasion of Ukraine grinds along, technology companies of all sizes are trying to figure out how to handle their business operations and staff. TechCrunch spoke to several founders and investors about how they are handling the crisis. The gist is that Russia’s tech industry has become a pariah from a venture capital perspective, and little human capital wants to remain within its borders.
- Which SaaS company is next? After news broke that PE shop Thoma Bravo will drop more than $10 billion on financial planning software company Anaplan, TechCrunch wanted to know who might be next. With a host of software companies having endured valuation haircuts in recent months, and private equity having lots of cash, are we heading for a deal bonanza?
- Ramp raises (again): The startup battle for dominance in the corporate spend market is huge, expensive and rapidly growing. That’s what I took away from today’s news that Ramp has raised more capital, at a higher price, and scaled revenues by around 10x last year. Brex is also busy in the space, as is Airbase.
Startups and VC
Kicking off the day’s startup news, a report … not about a startup. Instead, let’s talk about India’s crypto tax changes, which will impact a host of startups in the country. TechCrunch reports that “India’s proposed taxation law of virtual digital assets won’t permit individuals to offset loss on one asset against profit from another.” As you can imagine, the news isn’t welcome in many quarters.
- Tire company invests in autonomous shuttle startup: I love this story. First, who thinks of tire companies when it comes to startup investments? No matter, Bridgestone has bought a piece May Mobility, a Michigan-based startup working on self-driving people carriers.
- Gama wants you to sail the solar rays: Solar sails are science-fiction staples. I just read a whole novel that turned around their being useful ways of getting around the empty. Anyhoo, startups want to make the concept more commercially viable, and, to that end, French startup Gama just raised $2 million.
- Plotlogic wants to reform mining vision: The visible light spectrum – for humans, at least – is neat but incomplete. There’s more out there to see. Plotlogic wants to bring that concept to mining with “hyperspectral imagery.” If the tech can make mining more efficient, it could cut its carbon footprint, right?
- Finally raises $95M for its SMB finance suite: Everything is fintech, so it won’t surprise that you that Finally, which offers bookkeeping and other software products to SMBs, is working to roll out a lending product. Everyone collects data. Data powers underwriting. So, soon expect your grocery store to offer you a revolving credit line based on what cereal you bought.
- Today in Unicorns: Another day, another two new unicorns. On the docket today is a nine-figure round for CommerceIQ for its e-commerce software that it claims can provide real sales lift, and Glia, what we described as a “AI-based CRM” solution provider, which just raised a $45 million round at a $1 billion valuation.
And to close out our startup coverage today, not all startups are out to make money, and some have more mission-driven objectives than growth goals. Such may be the case with U.K. accelerator Subak’s latest cohort – six companies in its 2022 group that we describe as “data-for-climate not-for-profits.” It’s always fun to look at the newest, smallest companies.
Why so many SaaS companies are launching their own media operations
Content as a service?
In the last few years, Salesforce, Hubspot, Shopify and other enterprise companies have begun scaling their own media operations.
Online audiences are accustomed to consuming well-produced videos, podcasts, infographics and other media. As a result, simple blog posts lost their luster years ago, found reporter Ron Miller. To see what startups can learn from SaaS’ new approach to content marketing, he interviewed several analysts and experts.
“If I’m a CMO, I have to ask how I get access to these audiences,” said Robert Rose, founder and principal analyst at The Content Advisory.
“I can either continue to rent it through the access that Facebook or Google gives me, which are increasingly walled gardens, or I can start to build it on my own or acquire it.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- E-commerce growth is slowing globally: Tracking the growth of e-commerce globally in 2020 was simply adding up the latest gains, but 2021 brought a more sober picture of the digital commerce market. One that is, per public company data, slowing. For startups building in the space, there’s still growth to be had, but less than before.
- Zomato wants to pull off 10-minute deliveries: The race to get consumers goods and food more quickly is a global competition. India’s Zomato intends on launching a service called Zomato Instant. OK. We wonder if the costs to the company’s operations will be worth it from a consumer-value perspective.
- Tesla unveils news master plan: The company behind the most famous EVs in the world has a new long-term plan, its CEO Elon Musk disclosed today. Per the well-known Twitter user, the plan’s topics include Tesla “scaling to extreme size,” among other matters like space rockets and boring through the Earth. Shoutout recent add to the transit desk, Jaclyn Trop, for this one.