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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for December 6, 2021! The holiday news slowdown is very much not here yet. With changes at Alibaba, big startup news, SEC queries and a crypto selloff the other day that is still reverberating through markets, it’s busy out there. So, let TechCrunch catch you up! —Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Alibaba shuffles its executive makeup: More changes are afoot at Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is said by some to be heading toward a delisting of its shares on U.S. exchanges. Didi is already making progress on that front. For Alibaba, the executive rearrangements are material, and speak to changes in how it operates.
- SenseTime’s IPO could set tone for future AI listings: China-based SenseTime’s impending Hong Kong IPO could prove key for both AI listings and for high-growth, high-burn Chinese technology companies. If the decoupling of Chinese companies and global markets continues, Hong Kong could become one of just a few possible places for mainland companies to list, so how SenseTime performs matters. So far signals are mixed at best.
- The SEC comes knocking: If you keep tabs on the EV market, you are familiar with Lucid Group. And if you keep tabs on the social media landscape, there’s a chance you are aware of TRUTH Social and the rest of the upcoming offerings from the Trump Media & Technology Group. Well, Lucid is under investigation by the SEC, while the Trump media concern’s SPAC partner is being asked questions. Keep an eye on both.
To kick off our startup coverage today, news from our own Manish Singh that several venture groups are considering buying into the Polygon project, which is built atop the Ethereum blockchain. That a collection of investors is looking to buy tokens isn’t a shock per se, but is indication that crypto really has moved from fringe to the center of the venture capital world.
- Smartphones as a service? Turns out it’s a thing. Evidence of that can be found in Berlin-based Everphone raising $65 million in yet another financing round. What does it do? Per TechCrunch reporting, the startup “takes care of the supply, support, repair/replacement and recycling of mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) for enterprise customers — billed under a per-user monthly subscription.”
- Platzi’s edtech model raises even more capital: The Latin American edtech market is not just that — it’s also a hedge on the future. Platzi CEO Freddy Vega told TechCrunch that with much of the Latin American economy “based on natural resources,” there’s a time crunch to get ready for what’s next. Enter edtech and Platzi’s non-cohort based approach that just raised a huge $62 million Series B.
- Cute robots get checks: The somewhat humorously named Serve Robotics has raised $13 million in new capital. Known as an Uber spinout, the startup builds little robots that make deliveries in urban areas. And, yes, its robots are cute. Which matters, I reckon, as otherwise folks would probably tip them over and generally be brats.
- Nearside raises $58M for SMB neobanking: While we await the Chime IPO with bated-ish breath, neobanks with more narrow focuses are busy raising capital. This time it’s Nearside — once known as Hatch — which targets small businesses as its core customer demographic. Nearside just added $58 million to its accounts in a Series B.
- Dispatch Goods may dispatch some good: Thanks to its model of reusing containers, limiting the amount of plastic that folks generate in landfills, communities and oceans. It’s a pretty neat idea, and one that is seeing its market move toward it; I think that we are all a bit more ecologically focused than we once were. Right?
- TradeDepot raises $110M in debt, equity: The African and North American company operates a marketplace, warehouse network and BNPL solution. Which makes it investor catnip, we imagine. Hence its mega new raise.
- OpenSea hires Lyft’s CFO to be its CFO: Normally when a company hires a CFO and makes it known, we start the IPO countdown. Which brings us to OpenSea, the NFT marketplace, now flush with CFO talent thanks to its pilfering from ride-hailing giant Lyft. Recall that Lyft is public, so its CFO knows a thing or two about going public. To which we must add, please go public OpenSea; we desperately want to see your numbers. We are so, so curious.
How Credit Karma, acquired amid COVID chaos, fared in its first year under Intuit
On the day in February 2020 that Credit Karma planned to announce that it had been acquired by Intuit for more than $7 billion, the stock market tanked, spooked by news that a novel new virus had the potential to start a pandemic.
“I remember waking up and the Dow futures were down something like 600 points because the COVID pieces were starting to hit the market,” Credit Karma CEO Ken Lin said. “I’m up at 5 o’clock in the morning, the Dow is flashing red … and we’re all like, ‘Are we going to do this?’”
They did, and they managed to weather the storm. Ryan Lawler spoke with Credit Karma and Intuit executives to get a full picture on how Credit Karma endured a gauntlet of challenges before returning to growth in 2021.
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- The private rocket boom continues: Perhaps we should say that the private rocket push continues its ascent? Boom seems suggestive and not in a nice way. Regardless, Astra will soon launch a rocket from Florida, for the first time since January, it turns out.
- DoorDash tests full-time delivery workers: The company is working on a faster delivery system in New York, which makes its move to bring some of its delivery workers in-house pretty understandable. How far the model will penetrate the cohorts of DoorDash giggers who brought you dinner yesterday is not clear at this juncture.
- Toyota to build batteries in North Carolina: Japanese auto giant intends to build a battery plant in the United States. Good news for folks in favor of more American manufacturing, and indicative, I’d say, of just how big electric vehicles have become in short order.
- Argo AI teams up with cyclist group for AV guidelines: As you have read in Daily Crunch for some months now, the pace at which self-driving projects are dipping their toes into commercial operations is accelerating. Which puts folks atop two-wheeled, self-powered machines in a tricky spot. Folks are going to keep biking. And autonomous vehicle projects are going to keep progressing. Making the two groups play nice — and keep cyclists alive, let’s be clear — is a big job. So, we’re glad to see some work toward finding common ground for cyclist safety.
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