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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 26, 2022! Today we have surveillance robots, a Harry Potter reference, layoffs and startup news galore. Heck, we even have some Reddit news in the mix. It’s a good day to be a tech fan, worker and general consumer. Enjoy! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Taking a robot surveillance company public in 2022: Is not an easy feat, frankly. Given a rising general consciousness about privacy, Knightscope is going public at an interesting time. The IPO window has also been tricky of late, with some companies delaying their offerings. We have our eyes on this, if for no other reason than the fact that robots are inherently cool.
- Firebolt’s valuation soars higher: Announcing a $100 million round at a $1.4 billion valuation is big news for any company. For a startup that shares a name with a Harry Potter broomstick, it’s somewhat epic (we tried to work a golden snitch joke into the headline here and failed). Per our own Ingrid Lunden, Firebolt is “taking on Google’s BigQuery, Snowflake and others” with a cloud data warehouse product that it claims is both less expensive and faster.
- Layoffs at Glossier: Eighty corporate staffers at Glossier are out, we learned today. TechCrunch notes that the layoffs are worth about a third of the company’s corporate workforce. The gist, per an internal email, is that the company is going to leverage third-party tech instead of, we presume, building its own.
Today’s startup news is a really neat mix of things, so we’re proceeding in paragraphs instead of bullet points so that we can stretch our legs. To work!
With the stock market in turmoil, and valuations falling for tech companies around the world, three TechCrunchers put their heads together to answer a question: How should founders prepare for a decline in startup valuations and investor interest? We tend to put out three-views pieces around singular news events, but this time we had some fun with a trend.
Moving along, news broke today that UBS is buying robo-advisor Wealthfront for $1.4 billion. Those of us who were paying attention to fintech back in the day will recall when Wealthfront and Betterment battled it out for new customers and assets, building new tech to attract capital and users while also working to crush one another. The story is now partially closed, so we took a look at the deal from the perspective of revenue, assets under management and customers.
In good news for European startups generally – not like they have been suffering, mind – Spain’s startup law is “months away,” we report. The idea here is that Spain wants to attract more tech talent and startups. This makes good sense as tech companies can grow into large firms replete with high-payings jobs, given the space and time to do so. What’s in the law? According to our own Natasha Lomas, the bill covers “key areas like tax breaks for investors, talent incentives like stock options and a new digital nomad visa to attract international tech workers.”
Back on this continent, TechCrunch wrote today about Boom, the supersonic jet startup that wants to bring back fast traveling for consumers. Since the Concord kicked the bucket, we’ve all been flying at speeds that are pretty piddling compared to how fast our species has managed in the past. And we’ve all been kinda like, all right, I guess. I didn’t think that the comnpany was going to survive, but it has, and Boom is planning on building its speedy jets in North Carolina. Go Tarheels, I suppose!
Today from the oh god just go public file, Reddit is testing a method of allowing its users to upload NFTs as their profile pictures. Twitter recently did this. It’s a bit like uploading a picture to be your profile picture, but more complicated. Regardless of what regulars think of the NFT boom, it’s clear that tech-heads are all-in.
Speaking of tech workers, how most companies hire their engineers is a bit backwards. Most developers don’t really spend their time doing solo logic work on whiteboards while being watched by recruiters. So why is that how they are vetted? Byteboard’s new method of testing computer engineering talent just landed $5 million, so perhaps change is on the way.
If you live in Europe, you might want to invest in Asian stocks. Or if you live in Latin America, you might want to invest in companies public in the United States. This is not always as simple as you might think, so Vest’s work to help folks in the larger Americas investing in U.S. companies caught our eye. Founders Fund is backing the company’s work.
One interesting part of today’s startup landscape is the world of sales. SalesOps software is no small niche, with Gong proving that the sales use case can lead to serious dollars. CaptivateIQ is another player in the space, albeit with a different focus. Per our own Mary Ann Azevedo, CaptivateIQ “has developed a no-code SaaS platform to help companies design customized sales commission plans,” just raised $100 million and tripled its revenue last year.
And from the miscellaneous bucket, the Equity team had Bessemer growth-stage investor Mary D’Onofrio on to chat changing valuations, exit multiples and what’s ahead for startups. And I made a small argument that more drama in the tech space would do us good.
A CISO’s playbook for responding to zero-day exploits
The Log4Shell exploit that gave bad actors the ability to execute malicious code on infiltrated servers made global headlines and ruined many cybersecurity professionals’ holidays.
Despite a series of high-profile attacks, many companies still lack a response plan, writes Jonathan Trull, SVP of customer solutions, architecture and engineering at Qualys.
Drawing on his experience as a CISO, Trull outlines three steps companies can take to develop a playbook:
- Establish a standard operating procedure
- Inventory, inventory, inventory
- Information gathering, sharing and analysis
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Big Tech Inc.
- Apple closes security holes: There are updates out for iOS 15.3 of macOS Monterey 12.2, so if you use those operating systems, it’s time to patch your code. The iOS update alone fixes 10 security bugs.
- Activision Blizzard won’t voluntarily recognize union, because of course: Nothing says we’re an employee-focused company more than looking at the collective will of your staff and saying no. Or at least that appears to be what corporations think. Not that you or I had high hopes for a company immiserated by its own incompetence, but, hey, hope springs and all that.
- Snap upgrades its AR shopping feature set: Per our own Sarah Perez, the social network Snapchat is “upgrading its AR shopping experience,” including changes to “Shopping Lenses” and analytics for third parties.
- More money for EVs: Rita Liao agrees with you and me that there are quite a lot of electric vehicle companies to track. Thankfully, she’s on the beat so that we can stay informed. This time it’s “Jidu, an electric carmaking company founded by Baidu and its Chinese auto partner Geely,” which just raised $400 million.
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