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Daily Crunch: $360M funding round values Fractal 'well north of $1 billion,' says co-founder

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 5, 2021! Today we have a great mix of news for you. Mega-rounds? Heck yes. Electric trucks from U.S. companies? Yep! Android cozying up to Windows? But of course. And some great essays on lock-up periods, LP transparency and more.

But before we do that, every once in a while I’m going to highlight a TechCruncher behind the scenes who deserves some love. Today it’s Henry Pickavet, one of our editors and guiding lights, someone I have known and worked with since my early 20s. He’s perfect, apart from the sports teams he follows and the fact that he likes cricket. Follow him on Twitter here if you are so inclined! —Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Making sense of OpenSea at $13B: From rumor to report to confirmation, the OpenSea funding round worth $300 million came to its conclusion quickly. Now the NFT marketplace is worth some $13 billion. So, TechCrunch did the obvious thing and asked if that number makes any darn sense. As it turns out, yes, but how much depends on your level of crypto-bullishness,

  • Android 🤝 Windows: While Apple has been busy defending its walls surrounding the garden that is iOS, Google and Microsoft have been busy paving roads between their Android and Windows operating systems. First, Microsoft announced that some Android apps would eventually run on Windows. And now, news that “Google is working with the likes of Intel, Acer and HP to [connect] your phone to your Windows PC.”

  • And here’s the *other* company now worth more than $10B: It’s Miro! Yep, the online workspace company, as we put it, is now worth some $17.5 billion after raising a $400 million round. The company claims it has 30 million users. Competitor Mural is also doing well, indicating that their market is fairly deep in the remote-work era.

Startups/VC

A few essays to start our startup download today, I think. The first comes from our own Connie Loizos diving into the “year of the disappearing lock-up.” In short, Loizos notes that the traditional forced holding period post-IPO is being dismantled in hot public offerings. Not that this is a guarantee of future results — the opposite, it seems — but it’s worth tracking the change to what was once a key IPO rule, and, frankly, mark of confidence.

Speaking of IPOs, the insurtech IPO wave of 2020 and 2021 is looking pretty darn threadbare today. TechCrunch took a look back at the struggles of names we’ve written about for ages, the Roots and Metromiles of the world, but also Oscar Health. It hasn’t done well either, it turns out.

Anna Heim wrote a fascinating piece on LP transparency. The idea that founders should care about where their investors get their money is not new. But what is fresh is the leverage that founders have over investors — the founder-investor power dynamic has flipped, leading more VCs to think that it might be time to open up their own books a little.

Now, more news!

  • Bankaya goes offline for customer acquisition: The hunt for new users is a global startup challenge, and one that leads to some interesting solutions. Mexican fintech Bankaya is taking an IRL tack to the challenge, noting that the major ad channels for its products are rife with competitors chasing the same eyeballs.

  • Tax advantaged crypto investments? Startup Alto just raised $40 million for what TechCrunch reports is a “self-directed IRA platform [that] provides a simpler, more affordable option for individuals to invest their retirement savings into alternatives,” at least in theory. I dig it.

  • Fractal goes unicorn with new $360M round: It turns out that this company is 21 years old, so it’s not a startup, per se. But it is a private company that just raised nine figures, so it hit our radar. The company’s analytics product does AI and analytics work for major companies.

  • SoftBank eyes new Indian investment: Pune-based ElasticRun is in talks to close a round worth $200 million or so from SoftBank Vision 2 and Goldman Sachs, Manish Singh reports for TechCrunch. The startup helps neighborhood stores “secure inventory from top brands and working capital,” we report.

  • Meet a very cute dishwasher named Bob: From the CES trenches, meet Bob. It’s a small dishwasher unit for apartment countertops that is efficient, and, dare we say it, adorable.

  • To close out our startup items, Xage has raised $30 million to help project critical infrastructure. Which is good, given that much of the power lines and water facilities that you depend on are fairly out of date and begging for nation-state shenanigans. (The startup’s name is pronounced zage, Ron Miller.)

4 trends that will define e-commerce in 2022

Multi Colored Note Paper on Cork Board
Multi Colored Note Paper on Cork Board

Image Credits: MirageC (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Data privacy has been top of mind for online sellers and for good reason: Regulators are taking an interest, and iOS 14.5 lets users turn off data tracking, with negative consequences for "Facebook's ad targeting."

Bearing those factors and others in mind, Ben Parr, president and co-founder of e-commerce marketing platform Octane.ai, shared his predictions for 2022 with TechCrunch+:

  • Personalization and zero-party data become critical.

  • E-commerce embraces web3 and NFTs, but what will that look like?

  • Live shopping goes mainstream.

  • Slow but gradual improvement to the supply chain.

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

We have a number of automotive-themed news items below, but let’s start on your phone with Instagram. The social subsidiary of the larger Meta empire is bringing back its chronological feed. Praise be. Forcing users to endure algorithmic timelines is lame, in my view, and something that moves power away from users toward the adtech gods that run social platforms. I might even re-sign up for Instagram now that this is fixed.

  • Mortgage data analytics company settles with FTC over data breach: Back in 2019, TechCrunch reported that “OpticsML, a New York-based vendor working for Ascension, left a database of highly sensitive financial data exposed to the internet without a password.” Now two years after that reporting, results!

  • GM promises a plethora of electric vehicles: If you want an electric Equinox or Blazer, GM is going to hook you up in 2023. It claims. And the company is building an electric Silverado pickup, coming a bit late to the table given how many announcements Ford has already made. But the die really is cast here regarding the future of rolling vehicles, no matter who is currently leading. They are going electric. And fast.

  • And GM wants to get self-driving cars on the road: By the middle of the decade, the company said. I am a wee bit skeptical of any provided timeline for autonomous vehicles, but at some point they will work — right? — and that day will be good. Let’s hope these latest projections bear out in time.

TechCrunch Experts

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dc experts

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