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It’s Thursday, everyone, and the technology and startup worlds were a mixed bag today. We learned about the final death of Internet Explorer (RIP), new AR glasses from Snap, fresh cryptocurrency rules for the United States, and even took the time to look into all the pizza-robot startups. Hell, Ford even made the cut with its new electric truck that I secretly covet (it can power your house if the grid goes down!).
As always, we’ve collected the three key stories for the day below and then have a rapid-fire breakdown of startup and Big Tech news to follow. Let’s go! -- Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Consumer financial technology is so hot: With Berlin-based investing app Trade Republic raising $900 million and Robinhood’s partial, first-quarter results looking strong, your Twitter feed may feel all fintech, all the time. And with good reason, as startups in the niche are seeing huge customer demand, which is, in turn, making investors both public and private salivate.
E-commerce roll-ups are raising jillions: The world is moving toward e-commerce at a rapid clip, which is leading to a host of startups raising piles of cash to buy, and consolidate brands that sell on popular digital platforms. It’s an arms race to own your wallet, and Factory14 just put together $200 million for its own effort. (More here, and here.)
Governments are not thrilled with cryptocurrencies: On the heels of news concerning fresh crackdowns on Bitcoin and friends in China, the United States is looking “to put new requirements in place that would make it easier for the government to see how money is moving around, including digital currencies,” Taylor reports.
Startups and VC
The startup world is awash in capital these days, so we cannot get to all the latest venture capital rounds in one bloc. Here, however, are a few favorites from the day:
Eano raises $6M for its home renovation software: Home renovations are hard because most of us are not trained project managers. Eano wants to make the process simpler for both homeowners and the folks hired to do the renovation work. Thank god.
Workrise raises $300M for its workforce management platform: With Procore’s IPO going well today, and Workrise raising $300 million at roughly the same time, it appears to be a great time to build products for less sexy markets. Workrise, for example, “connects skilled laborers with infrastructure and energy companies looking to staff and manage projects efficiently.” With Franklin Templeton now an investor, it looks like it’s headed for an IPO in not too much time.
Pitch raises $85M to help folks build shareable presentations: The push to build and fund software that may fit neatly into a remote or hybrid-work world continues today, with Pitch announcing a huge round at a $600 million valuation for what Ingrid describes as the “ability for people to create, collaborate on and share presentations with each other through an online-based interface.” Frankly that sounds cool.
Maven raises $20M for its cohort-based professional classes: The education technology VC rush continues, with Andreessen Horowitz leading a $20 million round into Maven, which Natasha reports “helps professionals teach cohort-based classes.” Notably Maven raised money via equity crowdfunding earlier in its life.
Kredito raises $4M to get loans for LatAm small businesses: The fintech lending boom that has impacted consumers (BNPL and the like) and business is not stopping at the borders of the United States. Kredito is testament to that fact, putting together a new round to help get SMBs in Latin America access to credit.
Chasing hype is human nature: The tyranny of startup trends
The fear of missing out (FOMO) spreads faster than wildfire and often overwhelms rational decision-making.
In the VC community, investors look for lessons from disruptive startups they can use to identify other potential winners. But hype leads to bad decision-making, rushed due diligence and wishful thinking.
When and if those startups actually do well, "irrational FOMO takes over" because the initial assessment was based on bad information, says Victor Echevarria, a partner at Jackson Square Ventures. "Trends are addictive; to remain disciplined and avoid hype is to deny our innate instincts."
It's natural for investors to follow the crowd, but in the race to the bottom, FOMO can be high-octane fuel.
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Big Tech Inc.
Today’s Big Tech news comes from Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Snap. And TikTok. Enjoy:
Twitter’s epic product run continues: The product news parade from Twitter continued today, with the social media company announcing a revamp to user profiles and the restarting of its verification process. Between a rapid-fire rollout of its Clubhouse-competing Spaces product, or its media push with Revue and subscriptions, Twitter has been on a roll.
Google didn’t learn from Microsoft’s retail experiment: Big Search is following Redmond into the IRL retail game that the latter company already gave up on. Which is a bummer as I kinda dug Microsoft stores. Regardless, read all about Google’s impending meatspace storefront here.
Microsoft lays Internet Explorer to rest: The death date of Internet Explorer has been fixed for June, 2022. So you have that long to fool around with the venerable, if comedically aged internet browser. Few will miss Internet Explorer, but it was a pretty key product in the rise of the web. Kinda like Yahoo. Even if Yahoo will ride again (again). Again.
TikTok builds out way-late anti-bullying tooling: As the founder of its parent company steps down amidst a Chinese government crackdown on that country’s tech industry, TikTok is rolling out some long-awaited features that should make its service a bit better to use. At long last.
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