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When did it become Thursday? About 15 hours ago, that’s when! Welcome to the 9th of March 2022, and another, extra crunchy Daily Crunch. Serve it with some real cow milk that didn’t come from cows — and if that sounds weird, we’ve got a treat for you in the startups section below. — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Content creator: We loved Tage’s report on Tunisian edtech company GOMYCODE, which took in $8 million to school children on software engineering and tech skills. Companies like GOMYCODE are coming in at a time when skills like these are needed to combat the 30% unemployment rates in some of the African nations.
- High flying: With the Top Gun sequel finally in movie theaters, our delight with all things flying maneuvers is at a peak. Shield AI, which makes military autonomous flying systems, raised $165 million at a $2.3 billion valuation. And though it was a jab at the U.S., we like Ingrid’s inclusion of company president Brandon Tseng’s ranking of the United States’ aerospace development compared to China’s.
- Yeah, the NFT slump is real: You wouldn’t know it from the amount of news we TechCrunchers get in our inboxes every day about people and organizations launching NFTs, but demand for NFTs is not where it used to be, Alex reports. He initially looked at some data and suggested there was a slump, and when some folks suggested it was not the right data, he took another look. And came to the same conclusion. #sorrynotsorry
Startups and VC
We love this story from Ron, about the two Luminai founders who went from serial hackathon participants to making it into the S20 cohort of Y Combinator, and who today announced they’ve raised a $16 million round.
We don’t want to be insensitive about layoffs, but Haje does encourage would-be employees to do their due diligence before joining a startup: They are more risky than you might think, especially when the economy does a little curtsy of despair.
Also! It’s Thursday, which means that Haje also wrote another installment of his popular Pitch Deck Teardown series on our subscription site TechCrunch Plus. This time, he takes a look at Lunchbox’s $50 million Series B, and what startups can learn from its deck.
Let’s do a little lap around the site and see what other cool stuff we can find in startup land:
- Udderly delightful: Brown Foods ushers in a new age of dairy, raising a whole latte money for cowless cow’s milk, Christine reports.
- Yeah, but what should we build? Product research is expensive, but product development is even more pricy. Maze tries to help with the former, so you can spend less on the latter, and raised $40 million to grow its approach further, Kyle reports.
- Come on, come on, come on, touch me, baby: Touchpad company Sensel raises a Series B, and Lenovo got in on the action for this $18.8 million round, writes Brian.
- Putting the human back in shopping: Gander closes a $4.2 million seed round to continue its mission of collecting and embedding user-generated video content into retail sites so shoppers can see what a product looks like in real life, Dominic-Madori reports.
- We’ll be out of a job before long: Manish reports that Pepper Content, a content marketplace that connects global brands such as Google, Meta, Amazon and Adobe with over 100,000 creators, has raised $14.3 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand to the U.S.
- TIL about freezing: In what is probably the most educational post on the site today, Devin explores the phenomenon of “freezing” in patients with Parkinson’s, and what NexStride — a gadget that helps people avoid it — does. The company raised a $2.8 million round to scaling operations for its $500 hardware solution.
8 factors to consider when fundraising during a downturn
A promise: We won’t run any articles on TechCrunch+ with advice for navigating a downturn unless the author actually knows what they’re talking about.
Before Karl Alomar became managing partner of VC firm M13, he led one company through the dotcom bust of 2000 and helped another survive the Great Recession of 2008.
“The key difference between 2022 and previous downturns is that this contraction was anticipated for a long time, whereas the previous downturns were far more sudden,” he says.
Alomar shared eight elements entrepreneurs should consider in this environment, including his top-level advice that anyone fundraising should pin down at least 2 years of runway.
“Investors will likely remain on the sidelines for the most part as the markets settle and a new set of comparable multiples has been established,” Alomar said. “This might take a little time.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
If you’re a fan of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” then you know all about his “love” for AT&T, which makes the telecommunication giant’s move to remove the HBO Max bundle from its highest-priced unlimited wireless plan so entertaining. Not much of an explanation on why, either, so we can’t wait to hear what Oliver has to say Sunday night.
There is a crop of Meta news today, so let’s jump in, starting with Annie’s update on the company’s troubles in Kenya, where it wants a lawsuit brought against it by a former employee to be thrown out. From there we get a little lighter with Meta’s Workplace unit inking a deal with McDonald’s for employees to use Workplace on their phones to communicate with each other. We also learned that Meta may not be moving forward with plans for a watch.
Like clothing, shoes are also difficult to size, but Amazon has a solution to that: an AR shopping function to help shoppers visualize how a new pair of shoes will look on their feet, at multiple angles, using a mobile phone. It will initially launch in the U.S. and Canada in the Amazon shopping app on iOS.
We like this first-person account by Zack, who had to postpone his return travel from an overseas vacation after catching COVID. What transpired was a logistical nightmare of epic proportion.
If you liked those, you will probably like these:
- Failure to notice: Tesla accuses the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing of unlawfully suing for racial discrimination.
- No console needed: First Microsoft announced that its Xbox TV app will launch on June 30, and now it is delighting fans with news that players will be able to stream games on new Samsung smart TVs without a console. There’s also a Twitter brouhaha unfolding about Xbox’s new Pride controller.
- Apple’s lineup shift: Apple said to be planning new versions of its MacBook, MacBook Air and iPad Pro for next year. Also, Apple’s Pay Later installment credit scheme will live under a new lending subsidiary.
- Drums, please!: Chrome will now silence many of those annoying notification permission prompts on the web.