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Monday, May 9, is upon us, and today is a day of browser-cache-powered drama in the form of a Wordle word The New York Times decided was too controversial, but still existed for people who hadn’t refreshed their browser in a while. Find out what the word was, and why there was dramaaaaaaa, in Amanda’s piece. Incidentally, DRAMA would be a great Wordle word, so there’s that. – Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
An offer they couldn’t refuse: It looks like Egyptian fintech Paymob snagged one of the largest funding deals in the region — a $50 million Series B, with PayPal Ventures and Kora Capital leading — based on its ability to turn cash-loving customers into digital users with its cards and wallets. That subsequently led to 4x monthly volume growth, and it is expected the company’s expansion into Pakistan will yield even better results.
Wall Street’s downward spiral continues, but not everyone is feeling it: The stock market was still showing red as we wrote this, so it might be good to hold off on checking your investments for a bit. However, not all is bad in the world of stock performance, and Alex and Ron took a look at four tech companies that actually did OK last week, despite the choppy markets.
Hacking your Tesla’s radio: If you are looking to get CarPlay into your Tesla, look no further than one of TechCrunch’s resident tinkerers Matt, who decided to give it a try on his Ford F-150 to show how easy it could be.
Startups and VC
If you’re a startup founder, money – specifically, your own wages – can be a sticky point. You need permission from your board to give yourself a wage bump, but how do you know whether you’re under- or over-paying yourself? We got a hold of a 250-company dataset that sheds some light on that question.
Over on TC+, Alex described the current stock market spiral as “joker detection,” which we are all for. Meanwhile, Connie talked with Sequoia’s Jess Lee to get a deeper understanding of how VC companies think about their deals.
Feed your brain with these tasty morsels:
Hug it out with linguistically progressive robots: We’re fans of startups with great names, and the now-valued-at-$2-billion Hugging Face may very well be up there as one of the best. The company is building the “GitHub of machine learning” and just raised $100 million to continue down that path.
Workin’ 9 to 5 (Indonesia edition): Atma, an Indonesian startup that wants to make job hunting less painful, raised $5 million in pre-seed funding led by AC Ventures.
Workin’ 9 to 5 (Middle East and Africa edition): For the Middle Eastern and North African market, Manara raised $3 million to grow the region’s tech talent pool.
So clever you can barely beleaf it: When machines take a closer look at plants, some fun things start to happen. Brightseed’s Forager is a machine-learning platform that identifies and categorizes plant compounds. It has already mapped 2 million, considerably more than is characterized in scientific literature. And it raised $68 million to get deeper into the science.
I fought the law and … well, the jury is still out, actually: Swedish startup PocketLaw — a contract automation software-as-a-service legal tech platform that is mainly focused on SMEs — has pocketed $11 million in Series A funding to fuel expansion in Europe.
Virtually unstoppable home improvements: South Korean startup Bucketplace, which operates a home decorating and interior app OHouse, is looking to continue capitalizing on the DIY trend, raising $182 million to add some AR to the mix.
A founder’s guide to calculating CAC and LTV the right way
How fluent are you when it comes to your key metrics?
Round sizes are shrinking, but investors are raising their expectations. Blair Silverberg, CEO and co-founder of Hum Capital, says founders need to get a firm handle on LTV (lifetime value) and customer acquisition cost (CAC) before they start sending out pitch decks.
“While founders with an eye on high valuations may hesitate to follow a conservative approach, doing so can be pivotal for building trust with investors,” writes Silverberg.
This post identifies several factors that will help calculate LTV/CAC accurately while increasing transparency for potential investors.
“As a former venture capitalist, I always tell founders that the most powerful tool they can employ while fundraising is a data-driven pitch.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
There was much mobility news today: Let’s begin with Lordstown Motors, which reported a $90 million loss (the electric truck maker has yet to produce a vehicle) and offered no word yet on whether a proposed facility acquisition deal with Foxconn will meet the May 14 deadline. Next, Rivian, another public EV truck maker, saw its shares drop on news that Ford was selling some of its shares in the company. Then we have a pair of Uber stories — the first has the rideshare giant opting for arbitration to settle a dispute it has with drivers in Kenya over a reduction of commuter fares. The second is that Uber shareholders were to vote today on a proposal that would open up the company’s lobbying activities. It’s a proposal the Teamsters tried to put forth last year, but didn’t have the votes. Like all this car talk? Kirsten lays it all out nicely for you in her newsletter, The Station.
Are you a fan of the office? No, not the show, the place where you work. Ron spoke to a bunch of tech companies to gauge their feelings on what a possible office-free future might look like. Some shuttered offices early in the pandemic and then brought them back. Others gave up office leases permanently. Others realized you don’t need to be in a cubicle every day. What’s evident is that most companies will have to figure out what the future looks like for them.
Here’s what else happened today:
Aurora Acquisition, the company Better.com was going to merge with in a SPAC, made an SEC filing in late April that details some juicy tidbits into what happened at Better.com. Spoiler alert, there are some profit shifts that led to layoffs and leadership transitions. Here is where you can catch up on the whole Better.com saga.
Instagram is testing NFTs with some of its creators.
Facebook decided to shutter its Nearby Friends service.