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It’s the 24th of May, 2022, and today Amanda made us laugh with her “Welcome to Hell, we all drive Teslas,” subhead to her story about Everything you wanted to know about Elon Musk and Twitter (but didn’t want to ask). Masterful. — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Another layoff story: We’ve been talking a lot about layoffs in the past few weeks, much of it coming from the techiest of tech companies — we have some on PayPal’s recent cohort — and we also shift over to the food delivery space, which has not been without its own set of challenges as companies grew mighty quickly during the pandemic. Gorillas, which is one of the largest players here, is one of the recent casualties. It said it will lay off 300 workers, as funding has dried up and debts have accumulated, just a few of the problems we may see emerge from similar companies, Ingrid reports.
- A horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless it’s a unicorn: Data observability company Monte Carlo got a shiny gold horn today after announcing $153 million in Series D funding. Alex shares why this company was able to secure such a feat in this less-than-stellar funding environment.
- Oh hey, look who’s back: One guy we weren’t expecting to hear from again for a little while is Adam “WeWork” Neumann, but it seems we were wrong. He’s launched a startup that will sell carbon credits on the blockchain. The company claims it has raised $70 million worth of funding, including from a16z and a token sale, Anita reports.
Startups and VC
It’s mildly absurd to be alternately covering $150 million rounds and layoff stories today, but such is the life of startups. Firework just raised a $150 million round from Softbank and co. to turn streaming experiences into e-commerce opportunities, Christine reports.
In other climate news, Tim reports that Singularity Energy raised a $4.5 million round for a SaaS platform that reports grid carbon emissions.
Go on, have a few more:
- SpecEd goes to cyberspace: Assessing and delivering special education virtually has proven to be excruciatingly hard during the pandemic, but Parallel Learning thinks it has a solution. It also has $20 million worth of cash to execute, courtesy of Tiger Global and a cabal of other VCs.
- Bad robot, no donut: Warehouse operators can’t wait to see fewer humans messing things up on production lines, apparently, and Nomagic snags a $22 million bag of cold hard cash from the VC assembly line to ensure the robots can do their thing in more warehouses, Ingrid reports.
- Buy 海外, sell aquí: Access to global supply chains can be difficult for small businesses in Latin America, but Pandas is tapping into overseas relationships and technology to make importing goods from Asia easier. Christine reports the company raised $6.3 million.
- And breathe…: French startup moka.care has raised a new $16 million Series A funding round. The company is focused on mental well-being in the workplace, offering a full-fledged service that sits in between employees and HR departments, Romain reports.
- Excel, unplugged. Except, more like plugged. It’s a confusing metaphor: After many years of the humble spreadsheet doing its thing, we are seeing a bunch of innovation in this space. Today, Actiondesk caught Romain’s eye, with a solution that makes spreadsheets more compatible with the SaaS era.
Mayfield’s Navin Chaddha: I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
As managing partner at Mayfield and a three-time founder, Navin Chaddha has seen two downturns.
“I have invested in over 60 companies, and while many have gone public or been acquired, the journey has included pivots, near-death experiences and navigating through the 2008/2009 downturn,” he writes in a TC+ guest post.
“Every era is different, but here are some tips for our new normal.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Your Walmart delivery might come from the sky soon if you live in certain states. The retail giant is swooping in to expand its drone coverage to six states this year after extending its partnership with DroneUp. Interestingly enough, the $4 shipping fee does not deter people from selecting that method of shipment, even if they are just ordering Hamburger Helper.
Among the myriad Microsoft coverage stories today, we wanted to pull out this item about one of the company’s newly revamped Power Pages, which previously lived within Power Apps as a component called Power Apps portals. We know, web-design tools are a dime a dozen, but what Microsoft is banking on is the product’s integration with other existing services like Visual Studio Code and GitHub.
- An animal picture is worth a thousand words: If you need a little pick-me-up for your Tuesday, head on over to Devin’s story about OpenAi, which made us smile.
- No Bae-cations for China: Airbnb said it will close down its domestic business in China, a place it had been since 2016, but alas it accounted for just 1% of the company’s overall business.
- When it hails, down in Aaaafricaaa: Uber is popping some champagne after reaching 1 billion rides in Africa.
- Sorry, Elon: A California judge ruled that a sexual harassment lawsuit against Tesla will proceed in court rather than go the arbitration route the company had requested.