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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for November 18, 2021. Today we’re talking how audio turns into the written word and how to stop watching certain video content if you can’t, ahem, turn it off. But first, don’t forget that TechCrunch Sessions: Space is coming up in just a few weeks! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Sweetgreen’s IPO turns out pretty sweet: Whatever you thought of Sweetgreen’s financial performance, it is having a pretty great public debut. After pricing at $28 per share, above its target range, the company’s share price shot higher today to nearly double its starting value. Sure, you could argue that the company underpriced its public debut, but I doubt that the company is crying.
- Paytm’s IPO doesn’t: But while Sweetgreen is rolling in clover, Indian fintech giant Paytm had a pretty awful first day as a public company, with its shares falling around 27% in regular trading. The SoftBank- and Alibaba-backed unicorn raised $2.5 billion in its public-market debut, so it at least locked in the funds before seeing its valuation fall.
- Spotify finally rolls out live lyrics globally: If you, like myself, live on Spotify but are tired of using your web browser to look up song lyrics, good news! Now you don’t have to! Lyrics are live in the music service and they look like this:
We have a few things to dig through from startups today, but first, Grammarly. The company just raised $200 million at a $13 billion valuation. This makes the company, variously, a decacorn or dragon or Company That Should Go Public. Regardless, the old $1 billion valuation threshold that used to set startups apart has lost all meaning. The $10 billion mark, however, seems to be the new requirement to be a truly standout startup today.
Notes from the TechCrunch transport desk: Cars of the future
- Electric tuk tuks for the U.S. market: That’s the play that Biliti thinks is going to be big. Tuk tuks are three-wheeled, open-cab vehicles that are something akin to a cross between a delivery van and a moped. They are popular in a number of global markets, if not the United States. But with more folks living in cities over time, and more of us expecting goods to be delivered to our homes, perhaps the time of the tuk tuk is nigh in the U.S.
- Sun power: I don’t know how well this will work in the wild, but Sono Group just went public on the back of its solar-powered car idea. The idea is that the car can suck in enough juice from the sky to power a commute. Which means no charging cables, even if the car probably wouldn’t get you too far without other forms of electrical input. Still, the idea is very neat and we hope that all EVs in time have a solar component.
- Self-driving Apple: Remember the Apple car? Apart from the never-quite-here Apple television set, the Apple car is my favorite bit of tech from the consumer electronics giant that we have yet to set eyes on. But reporting indicates that we could see the self-driving vehicle in 2025. That’s just far enough away for us to forget about the date.
- And speaking of self-driving, Baidu’s self-driving taxis could be in 100 cities by 2030. By 2030 that number better be bigger than 100, honestly.
And now, a sampling of the rest of the day’s startup news:
- What if TikTok, but also gaming? That’s the idea behind Snax, which intends to bring together short-form video and interactive elements. This could be very cool, or not, probably depending on whether Snax is able to let the crowds contribute content or it decides to do all that work itself.
- Party Round raises its own party round: The idea behind Party Round is that raising money is a pain in the butt and that founders need better tooling. The service wants to make fundraising simpler and also allow founders to accept smaller checks. So that they can put together their own party rounds. Funding events with many smaller participants used to be mocked as a bad idea for founders. So much for that old logic. Party Round just added $7 million to its accounts using its own service.
- Get used to reading about MLOps: Today’s news that machine learning operations startup Comet closed a $50 million Series B just months after closing its Series A might seem like just another example of a startup raising lots of money, very quickly. But recall that Weights & Biases raised $135 million for its own MLOps work the other week. It’s a category that is now perhaps seen as inevitable and therefore a lucrative long-term bet. Expect to see more of these investments.
- Doorvest raises $14M to help folks buy, manage rental properties: If you want to get into real estate investing, your options set is limited today to your ability to build a small real estate company or invest in REITs. Doorvest wants to make the first option easier for folks and make itself a packet in the process.
- Workflow automation is big business: If you get on the horn with Appian CEO Matt Calkins, he isn’t hard to get started on the subject of workflows. Workflows are what RPA and other automation tools, well, automate. And it’s a big enough piece of work that Appian is seeing startup competition. Formstack just raised $425 million for a no-code approach to business workflow automation, for example.
- MDM is investor catnip: News out today that Kandji has raised $100 million at an $800 million valuation for its Apple device management business might not raise your eyebrows, but recall that Apple itself is getting in on the game and that Jamf, another competitor, already went public. Perhaps Apple’s corporate footprint is simply larger than we thought.
- This startup wants to help you stop watching porn: If you’ve spent too much time online in the last while, you have at least heard of certain movements among the digitally inclined to stop consuming pornography. Now that porn is free and easily accessible, as opposed to costly and served in physical formats, some folks are overindulging. Enter Remojo, which wants to help men quit the media variety altogether.
And, finally, accessibility:
- Watching micro-publications with a focus on technology accessibility get off the ground has brought the topic back to the front of my mind. Which is why news that Clubhouse is bringing live captions to iOS caught my eye. It’s a good move, and one that we hope becomes table stakes for audio platforms moving forward.
Dear Sophie: Any advice on visa issues for new hires?
I run operations at an early-stage startup, and I’ve been tasked with hiring and other HR responsibilities. I’m feeling out of my depth with hiring and trying to figure out visa issues for prospective hires.
— Doubling Down in Daly City
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Big Tech Inc.
- Now you can literally shake your fist at Instagram: The next time that you run into a problem with Instagram, you will be able to shake your phone to generate a prompt for reporting an error. I want to dunk on this, but I actually like it. Instagram is also adding “the ability to delete single items from a carousel post with at least three images or videos,” TechCrunch reports.
- Want to look like a huge dweeb this Christmas? Some brands should have merch. Equity, our podcast, for example, should have merch. But should Hulu have merch? It thinks so. Netflix was first into the niche, we report.
- And today in corporations letting us down: California Pizza Kitchen leaked over 100,000 Social Security numbers. This brings up two points. First, why are we still so dependent on Social Security numbers as a society. And, two, that the food chain should pay a fine roughly the size of one of its restaurants built entirely out of $100 bills. This sort of breach should be punished with a hammer the size of Utah. Bad!
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