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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for August 24, 2021. Today’s news cycle was particularly beefy, so we have a lot of ground to cover. Especially if you want to know the latest from Spotify, Waymo and other large tech companies.
The TechCrunch Top 3
Airbnb to house 20,000 Afghan refugees: Corporate gimmicks are hollow gestures at best. What Airbnb is promising is the opposite. By offering free housing to tens of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan, the company is using its business network for material good. Other wealthy tech companies, what are you going to do?
Ramp raises $300M at $3.9B valuation: The startup war to own the growing corporate spend market heated up even more today with Ramp raising fresh funds. Brex and Ramp and Airbase are locked in a multiparty duel after erstwhile competitor Divvy sold to Bill.com. Ramp also made its first acquisition, it announced.
For more on the Ramp-Brex rivalry, and what their acquisitions may detail about their diverging strategies, head here.
Boom times in Beantown: The global startup scene is accelerating, but few markets have turned on the afterburners to the same degree as Boston. The venerable startup hub is putting up record venture capital tallies across more rounds than ever. And a bevy of local investors don’t see the momentum slowing in coming quarters.
So much happened in the last 24 hours that we’re forced to proceed in sections. Make sure you are following TechCrunch on Twitter so that you can stay up to date all day long.
We start in India:
Bankers hunt Byju’s: Its IPO, that is. Per our own Manish Singh, bankers are pitching the famous edtech startup, hoping to secure a piece of its future IPO action. And the numbers being thrown around are truly astounding: “Most banks have given Byju’s a proposed valuation in the range of $40 billion to $45 billion, but some including Morgan Stanley have pitched a $50 billion valuation if the startup lists next year,” he writes.
Khatabook raises $100M more: Now valued at around $600 million, Khatabook’s business of digitizing India’s myriad SMBs is doing well, it appears. The company’s fresh Series C will help power its 10 million monthly active users, and likely help it expand its staff of 200 people.
To lead us into startup rounds more generally, our own Natasha Mascarenhas published an article today digging into NoRedInk’s huge $50 million Series B. Its goal is to help students become better writers. I asked her why she picked the round to cover, to which she said the following:
Usually, I see edtech companies working on subjects that have one right answer, or at least can be sorted into a single category the way STEM or coding often are. NoRedInk caught my eye because it wants to bring tech to a highly emotional and subjective subject: writing. That's a hard challenge, but it's cool to see the education community bet on ambitious projects beyond teaching more students to code.
Next up we have a few regular startup bulletins:
Substack buys the team behind Cocoon: Substack is having quite the week. After hiring a general counsel, the startup announced that it has acquired the team at Cocoon, what TechCrunch described as “subscription social media app built for close friends.”
Maybe 3D-printed homes will be a thing? Investors are betting that they will be, pouring $207 million into ICON after its 3D-printed home business saw revenue growth of 400%. In realistic terms, we have a national housing crisis. So if this leads to more, cheaper homes, it’s hard to oppose.
Sora raises $14M for HR ops automation: Sora is back this year with a fresh capital raise, after scaling its customers by 7x and revenues by 8x since its 2020 seed round. Now flush with Series A cash, the startup has big plans to grow its team and double down on making the HR tech stack work in concert, cutting out busywork as it does so.
And in a slightly related area, Tango announced that it has raised $5.7 million to grow its process documentation service. The startup watches how employees execute a particular task, and then creates a how-to guide so that others can follow in their footsteps. For new employees, especially in a remote world, it could be a neat service.
Finally from startupland, Sara Mauskopf (CEO and co-founder of Winnie) and Elana Berkowitz (founding partner at Springbank Collective) wrote an essay for TechCrunch noting that one industry in particular is huge, yet somehow devoid of venture dollars: childcare.
Back to the suture: The future of healthcare is in the home
It was once common practice for doctors to visit sick patients in their homes: In 1930, 40% of all consultations were house calls. By 1980, that figure was less than 1%.
Today, urgent care centers occupy Main Street storefronts and 33% of medical expenditures occur in hospitals. This leads to higher prices, but not necessarily better results, according to Sumi Das and Nina Gerson, who lead healthcare investments at Capital G.
"We can improve both outcomes and costs by moving care from the hospital back to the place it started — at home," they write in a post that explores five innovations enabling at-home care and identifies investment opportunities like acute care and infrastructure development.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Kicking off our Big Tech rundown today, our own Ron Miller has a neat look into how Cisco makes acquisitions. The dotcom boom company is among the most acquisitive companies in the world, making its approach to snagging startup talent and products worth understanding.
And now, the crush of Big Tech news:
Your iPhone isn’t safe from this spyware: That’s the gist of the latest Zack Whittaker story, delving into how a zero-click attack executed by NSO software broke the security of a “Bahraini human rights activist’s iPhone.” Not good!
Peloton’s Tread is back, hopefully safer: One of the weirder self-inflicted wounds in the world of exercise tech came when Peloton tried to argue that its treadmills were safe. They weren’t. Peloton eventually relented and offered a recall. Now they are back!
TikTok keeps making business moves: This time the social giant is moving further into e-commerce, it announced today, detailing an expanded partnership with Shopify. A service called TikTok Shopping is also coming to the U.S., the U.K. and Canada.
All U.S. podcasters can now access Spotify’s subscription option: Paid podcasting is big in China, but less popular elsewhere in the world. Spotify is betting that the model will have legs into other markets as well. Now all U.S. podcasters can access the paid service if they so choose.
To round us out, Waymo is rolling out its self-driving car service to San Francisco. Given the City by the Bay’s inability to ever finish a roadworks project, this is big news. As someone who doesn’t want to drive, that’s great news.
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