#Podcast – Insider #118: SellerX – KW-Commerce – Razor Group – Just Spices – Planetly – Boxplot – Jokr – DoorDash – Flink – Mayd – Priceloop – Payrails – ramblr.ai – Formel Skin – Flash – Datamin – Tupu


In unserem Insider-Podcast liefern OMR-Podcast-Legende Sven Schmidt und Alexander Hüsing, Chefredakteur von deutsche-startups.de, alle vierzehn Tage spannende und vor allem aber exklusive Insider-Infos aus der deutschen Startup-Szene.

Insider #118 – Die Themen

+++ SellerX steigt zum Unicorn auf #ANALYSE
+++ SellerX zahlt über 200 Millionen für KW-Commerce #EXKLUSIV
+++ Razor Group-Gründer Jonas Diezun steigt aus #EXKLUSIV
+++ Kraft Heinz zahlt 200 Millionen für Just Spices #EXKLUSIV
+++ Planetly-Exit: OneTrust zahlt 100 Millionen #EXKLUSIV
+++ Hyperscience kauft Boxplot – Investoren sind enttäuscht #ANALYSE
+++ Quick Commerce: Jokr, DoorDash und Flink #ANALYSE
+++ Lightspeed investiert in Mayd #EXKLUSIV
+++ Accel investiert in Priceloop #EXKLUSIV
+++ Andreessen Horowitz investiert in Payrails #EXKLUSIV
+++ 468 Capital investiert in ramblr.ai #EXKLUSIV
+++ Singular investiert in Formel Skin #EXKLUSIV
+++ Rocket Internet setzt auf Flash und Datamin #EXKLUSIV
+++ FoodLabs investiert in Tupu #EXKLUSIV

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Die heutige Ausgabe wird präsentiert von Repetico, einem digitalen Lerntool für Startups und Unternehmen. Jeder kennt das Zitat von Benjamin Franklin: “Eine Investition in Wissen bringt immer noch die besten Zinsen.” Das gilt auch für das Knowhow in Unternehmen. Mit Repetico hilfst Du Deinen Mitarbeitern, wichtige Unternehmensinformationen und Fakten effektiv zu lernen und in wissenschaftlich erprobten Zeitabständen zu wiederholen, um sie im Arbeitsalltag erfolgreich anzuwenden. Das Ganze funktioniert online am Rechner, aber auch über die Repetico Mobile Apps für iOS und Android. Mit Repetico kannst Du außerdem auch im Team neue interaktive Lerninhalte erstellen und teilen. Über zahlreiche Statistiken kannst Du Deinen Lernerfolg tracken und Dich im High-Score Ranking mit anderen battlen. Gehe jetzt auf www.repetico.de und probiere es kostenlos aus. Bei Kontaktaufnahme vor Jahresende gibt es ein ganz besonderes Angebot für Dein Startup bzw. Unternehmen – egal, ob 10, 50, 100 oder 1.000 Mitarbeiter – schicke eine kurze E-Mail mit dem Betreff „DS Insider Angebot“ und Deinen Kontaktdaten und Infos über Dein Startup an samuel@repetico.com.

Insider #118 – Der Podcast

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von deutsche-startups.de könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): ds

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#DealMonitor – Kraft Heinz kauft Just Spices – Flink sammelt 750 Millionen ein – Greenforce bekommt 15 Millionen


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 10. Dezember werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Just Spices
+++ Der Lebensmittelgigant Kraft Heinz übernimmt die Mehrheit an Just Spices. Kraft Heinz übernimmt alle Anteile der bisherigen Investoren und hält nun 85 %  der Anteile an Just Spices. “Die drei Gründer Florian Falk, Ole Strohschnieder und Béla Seebach, die Just Spices auch weiterhin als eigenständiges Unternehmen führen werden, behalten die übrigen 15 %”, teilt das Unternehmen aus Düsseldorf mit. Die D2C-Jungfirma, die Gewürze verkauft, wurde 2014 gegründet. Five Seasons Ventures aus Paris, Coefficient Capital aus New York und Bitburger Ventures investieren zuletzt 13 Millionen Euro in das Startup. Zudem waren Döhler Ventures und Howzat Partners am Unternehmen beteiligt. Döhler Ventures hielt zuletzt 19,1 % an der Jungfirma. Coefficient Capital hielt 14 % und Five Seasons Ventures 12,5 %. Die Gründer hielten vor dem Exit noch 37,1 % an ihrem Unternehmen. “Just Spices is an innovative start-up, trailblazing the high-growth taste elevation category with annual sales of approximately €60 million”, teilt Kraft Heinz zum Deal mit. Im Jahr 2019 erwirtschaftete Just Spices einen Umsatz in Höhe von 17,3 Millionen Euro. Der Jahresfehlbetrag lag bei 2,5 Millionen Euro. 150 Mitarbeiter:innen arbeiten derzeit für das Unternehmen. Mehr über Just Spices

tech11 / Adcubum
+++ Das Private-Equity-Unternehmen TA Associates investiert in tech11 und Adcubum. “Durch das Investment von TA Associates ergeben sich vielfältige Synergien, die eine schnellere Expansion in neue Länder und Versicherungssegmente ermöglichen. Das Ziel ist der Aufbau eines europäischen Insurance Powerhouse”, teilt der Geldgeber mit. Das, Unternehmen tech11, das 2018 von Pierre Dubosq und Matthias Reining gegründet wurde, entwickelt eine digitale Plattform für die Policen- und Schadenverwaltung. Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), der nun aussteigt, investierte zuletzt eine siebenstellige Summe in das Würzburger InsurTech. Adcubum positioniert sich als “Standardsoftware-Hersteller für die internationale Versicherungswirtschaft. Kernprodukt ist ein “flexibles, modular aufgebautes und Cloud-fähiges System für Kranken- und Schaden-/Unfallversicherer”.

INVESTMENTS

Flink
+++ Jetzt endlich final offiziell: Der US-Lieferdienst DoorDash, Mubadala Capital und weitere neue und alte Investoren (darunter der Einzelhändler Rewe) investieren – wie bereits mehrfach durchgesickert ist – 750 Millionen US-Dollar in Flink (und damit noch mehr als zuletzt berichtet). Die Pre-Money-Bewertung liegt nun bei 2,1 Milliarden Dollar. Das Berliner Startup Flink, das Lebensmittel in bis zu 10 Minuten liefert, wurde im Dezember 2020 von Oliver Merkel, Julian Dames und Christoph Cordes gegründet. Wie bereits berichtet, hält nun knapp 15 % an Flink, Rewe ist mit 5 % an Bord. Flink sieht sich derzeit als “Marktführer im neuen Quick-Commerce in Deutschland und den Niederlanden”. Derzeit ist das junge Unternehmen nach eigenen Angaben in vier Ländern in über 60 Städten mit rund 140 Standorten unterwegs. Wettbewerber Gorillas wurde zuletzt mit rund 3 Milliarden Dollar bewertet. Delivery Hero investierte kürzlich gemeinsam mit den Altinvestoren rund 1 Milliarde Dollar in den Quick Commerce-Dienst Gorillas. Mehr über Flink

Greenforce
+++ Institutionelle Investoren, deren Namen das Startup nicht nennt, sowie Moderator Joko Winterscheidt und Feinkost-Macher Michael Käfer investieren 15 Millionen Euro in Greenforce. Das Münchner Food-Unternehmen, das 2020 von Thomas Isermann gegründet wurde, setzt auf Fleisch- und Milch-Alternativen. “Die generierten Mittel werden maßgeblich zur Beschleunigung des Wachstums, zur internationalen Expansion und zum kontinuierlichen Ausbau des Forschungs- und Entwicklungszentrums in München verwendet”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

enspired
+++ Emerald Technology Ventures, 360 Capital, EnBW New Ventures, Helen Ventures und i5invest investieren 7,5 Millionen Euro in enspired. Das Unternehmen aus Wien, das von Jürgen Mayerhofer, Wolfgang Eichberger und Mario Schmoltzi gegründet wurde, kümmert sich um die Flexibilisierung der Stromnetze. “Wir treiben die Energiewende voran, indem wir die flexiblen Anlagen unserer Kunden am kurzfristigen Strommarkt kommerziell optimieren und deren maximalen Wert durch den Einsatz von künstlicher Intelligenz und modernster Technologie realisieren”, teilt das Startup mit.

Wirelane
+++ Momeni Digital Ventures investiert eine siebenstellige Summe in Wirelane. Das Münchner Unternehmen, das 2016 von Constantin Schwaab gegründet wurde, bietet kostenlose Ladesäulen an. Abacon Capital, gehört zum Büll Family Office, und Co. investierten gerade erst 18 Millionen Euro in Wirelane. Das Münchner Unternehmen, das 2016 von Constantin Schwaab gegründet wurde, bietet kostenlose Ladesäulen an. Vito Ventures, Coparion, High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) und Ritter Starkstromtechnik investierten zuvor zudem bereits 4 Millionen Euro in das Startup. 2019 übernahm Wirelane das gescheiterte E-Mobilität-Startup Eluminocity.

Hakuna
+++ Jetzt offiziell: Der Berliner Geldgeber Visionaries Club und Discovery Ventures investieren – wie bereits Ende November im Insider-Podcast berichtet – in Hakuna. In der Investmentrunde, in der auch SumUp-Gründer Marc Christ und Klarna-Gründer Victor Jacobsson in Hakuna investieren, fließen 1,5 Millionen Euro in das junge Unternehmen – siehe Linkedin und Gründerszene. Das Startup, das von den beiden abracar-Gründern Sebastian Jost und Orhan Köroglu sowie Rupert Mayer gegründet wurde, kümmert sich um die Vermittlung von Versicherungen. “Wir bieten Händler jeder Größe und Branche die Möglichkeit, ihren Kunden den perfekten Produktschutz direkt in seinem E-Commerce-Shop anzubieten”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#360-capital, #adcubum, #aktuell, #berlin, #doordash, #emerald-technology-ventures, #enbw-new-ventures, #energie, #enspired, #flink, #food, #greenforce, #hakuna, #helen-ventures, #i5invest, #insurtech, #joko-winterscheidt, #just-spices, #kraft-heinz, #momeni-digital-ventures, #mubadala-capital, #munchen, #quick-commerce, #ta-associates, #tech11, #venture-capital, #wien, #wirelane

#Podcast – Insider #117: Jokr – Rex – Embedded Capital – Nelly – Aveo – Amuzed – BBG – Chronext


In unserem Insider-Podcast liefern OMR-Podcast-Legende Sven Schmidt und Alexander Hüsing, Chefredakteur von deutsche-startups.de, alle vierzehn Tage spannende und vor allem aber exklusive Insider-Infos aus der deutschen Startup-Szene.

Insider #117 – Die Themen

+++ Gorillas-Investor G Squared investiert in das neue Unicorn Jokr #EXKLUSIV
+++ Getir kauft Weezy – DoorDash übernimmt Wolt #ANALYSE
+++ Picus Capital investiert in Tierarzt-Startup Rex #EXKLUSIV
+++ Finleap-Macher setzen mit Embedded Capital auf Nelly #EXKLUSIV
+++ Speedinvest investiert in Aveo #EXKLUSIV
+++ Roman Kirsch investiert in Amuzed #EXKLUSIV
+++ Ardian investiert wieder Berlin Brands Group #ANALYSE
+++ Investoren setzen weiter auf Chronext #EXKLUSIV

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Insider #117 – Der Podcast

Abonnieren: Die Podcasts von deutsche-startups.de könnt ihr bei Amazon Music – Apple Podcasts – Castbox – Deezer – Google Podcasts – iHeartRadio – Overcast – PlayerFM – Podimo – Spotify – SoundCloud oder per RSS-Feed abonnieren.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): ds

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The Station: Apple car shakeup, how Sept. 11 changed travel, and a pledge from airlines

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

Hi readers: Welcome to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

Twenty years and one week ago, I was riding the monorail system at the Newark airport and pointed to the twin skyscrapers looming in the distance. “I can’t believe you’ve never been to the top of the World Trade Center,” I said to my then fiancé and now husband. Days later, I would walk into a restaurant in a Slovenian town and see a report on the TV about a plane crashing into one of those towers. Like so many of us, we spent the rest of that day watching the news and wondering what would happen next.

In all, four aircraft were hijacked the morning of September 11, two of which crashed into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and the fourth in a field in Pennsylvania. In all, 2,996 people were killed.

The September 11 terrorist attacks triggered a series of events that would change the world forever, including how we move about it. My September 6, 2001 flight to Newark and then onto to Europe was the last time I would experience what now seems unimaginable: getting to an airport less than 45 minutes before my plane took off.

My trip home from Europe provided a forecast of what air travel would look and feel like, although some measures like when we were separately interviewed two different times prior to boarding, ended up being temporary.

Within months of my arrival home, passenger screening and security at airports would be handled by a new federal agency called the Transportation Security Administration. Security wasn’t the only aspect of air travel that changed.

The airline industry experienced skyrocketing losses that sparked a wave of cost-cutting, new fees for travelers and consolidation. According to the GAO, the U.S. airline industry lost $23 billion between 2001 and 2003 and some of the nation’s biggest airlines including USAir and United Airlines filed for bankruptcy.

The airline industry would suffer financial losses during the Great Recession of 2008, causing more bankruptcies and consolidation. Today, most domestic flights are controlled by four airlines: American, Delta, Southwest and United.

After recovering and stringing together a few years of profitability, the airline industry (and how we travel) would get hit again: this time from the COVID-19 pandemic.

p.s. Thanks to co-worker and cybersecurity editor Zack Whittaker for the photo (featured as the main image for the post) he snapped yesterday.

As always, you can email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, criticisms, opinions or tips. You also can send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

We’ve talked before about the possibilities of shared micromobility to help cities create more equitable and accessible transit ecosystems. Shared operators have expanded this idea to support activism.

Agencies and operators provided free or discounted trips for demonstrators to get to events, according to the North American Bikeshare and Scootershare Association’s 2020 report on the state of the shared micromobility industry, Many even donated or fundraised for racial justice nonprofits.

Not only are they aiding the fight on the ground, the report also shows that nearly three-quarters of all operators stated that diversity was a part of every hiring decision, and 69 percent reported that women and POC are represented at all levels of the organization.

Operator update

Lime is back in Oakland with 500 scooters and plans to scale up to 1,000 over the coming weeks. The company pulled out of the city last year during the pandemic. This time, it’s focusing on “Communities of Concern” as designated by the city, and will deploy half its fleet to these neighborhoods that have been traditionally underserved by transportation.

Tier is hooking up with Irish computer vision startup Luna. Tier is adding Luna’s cameras and smart city technology to its shared e-scooter fleets across Europe and the Middle East. To handle the increase in work, Luna is hiring 15 new staffers to cover computer vision/AI, hardware, IoT and project management roles in Ireland. Interestingly, the partnership comes from an Ireland trade mission to Germany to better understand how the two countries could work together within the e-mobility and automotive industry. Luna just recently launched a pilot with Voi in England, and Ford-backed micromobility operator Spin is slowly pushing out Drover AI’s similar tech on scooters in the United States.

Speaking of Voi, the Swedish company is working with the UK government’s Kickstart Scheme to help create jobs for people ages 16 to 24 years old on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. Voi is recruiting 25 young people across the country to work as Warehouse Operatives and Fleet Specialists. The young ones will be ensured a job for at least six months and will hopefully learn a thing or two about a growing transport industry.

Bird has tweaked its branding. It recently announced its scooters and bikes will now be made in “Electric Sky” blue, as opposed to its black, white and silver color scheme. The color evokes eco-friendly transportation, clear skies and cheerful days. It’s reminiscent of Revel’s blue mopeds and Swapfiets’ bikes.

Taking liberties with the term “micromobility”

Chinese EV maker Xpeng says it’s going to make a robot unicorn for children to ride. The quadruped will navigate multiple types of terrain, recognize objects and provide “emotional interaction.” The robot pulls from Xpeng’s experiences with AI and automated driving development. The rendering looks cute and soft, for a metal beast, but the horn could be a bit longer IMO. Bonus: it’s not creepy-looking like Xiaomi’s robot dog.

Dutch startup Squad Mobility has introduced details for its small, low-cost electric city car that’s equipped with solar panels which drip feed the battery throughout the day. The company hopes to come out with a prototype for the solar-assisted quadricycle by October this year and begin deliveries by the end of next year. While it would be a fun passenger vehicle for city folks, the end game is to get in good with one of the car-sharing or shared micromobility operators and sell fleets of the Squad car for shared use.

At the Munich Motor Show, BMW revealed a couple of electric bike concepts that look pretty wicked. The Motorrad Vision AMBY looks like a motorcycle, but is probably more along the class of off-road motorbike, complete with fat tires and a seat-to-footrest ratio that brings to mind all the shredding that can be had. The i Vision AMBY is more of a traditional road e-bike, but maybe one that’s inspired by Back to the Future, such is its retrofuturistic vibe and, I’ll say it, postal service-beige frame.

ADAS in scooters

The desire to keep shared electric scooters off sidewalks has driven the development of advanced technology in the micromobility industry. Once the province of geofencing, scooter companies are so eager to get a leg up on the competition that they’re now implementing technology similar to advanced driver assistance systems usually found in cars. Check out my story in Extra Crunch that digs into this trend.

Micromobility America event

The folks who write our other favorite micromobility newsletter are going to be hosting a micromobility event in the SF Bay Area. On September 23, a range of experts, founders, investors and builders will be sharing top insights about the world of lightweight electric vehicles and their potential to disrupt transportation, including:
Brazilian racing driver Lucas Di Grassi, American entrepreneur and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, senior writer at Wired Lauren Goode, analyst and founder of the term “micromobility” Horace Dediu

Register now, if you still can. Space is limited.

— Rebecca Bellan

Deal of the week

money the station

Investors continue to sink money into ride-hailing companies. Cao Cao Mobility, the ride-hailing unit of Chinese automaker Geely Automobile Holdings, is the latest example.

The company raised $589 million (RMB 3.8 billion) in a Series B round led by Suzhou Xiangcheng Financial Holding Group, an investment company backed by the Xiangcheng district government of Suzhou. Suzhou High-Speed Rail New City Group and three other state-controlled enterprises also participated.

The raise brings the company’s total funding to around $773.2 million (RMB 5 billion).

As TechCrunch reporter Rebecca Bellan notes, Cao Cao is positioned for further growth and a larger market share, as long as the Chinese government believes the company is operating fairly. Its competitors Didi Global and Amap have come under increased government scrutiny that has hurt their business, while giving Cao Cao a boost.

A cybersecurity investigation prompted the Chinese government to temporarily remove Didi Global from Chinese app stores. As a result, Cao Cao, which is currently available in 62 cities in China, saw ride volume increase 32% in July.

Other deals that got my attention this week …

Accure, the Aachen, Germany-based battery safety software company raised $8 million in a Series A round led by Blue Bear Capital. Capnamic Ventures and 42CAP also participated.

BP Ventures, the investing arm of oil and gas giant BP, made a €10 million ($11.9 million) investment in Ryd, a German in-car digital payments provider. The funds will be used to help Ryd expand its service into international markets and build out its offering.

Delhivery, the Indian logistics firm, courted Lee Fixel’s Addition as an investor before its expected IPO in the next two quarters: The Gurgaon-headquartered firm disclosed in a regulatory filing that Addition invested $76.4 million in the startup as part of a Series I round. Delihivery hasn’t disclosed the total raise or other investors.

Delimobil, the Russian car sharing company, has chosen banks to organize its IPO listing and is seeking to raise around $ 350 million, Reuters reported.

Skydweller Aero, the U.S.-Spanish aerospace startup, received an additional $8 million in oversubscribed funding led by Leonardo S.p.A, Marlinspike Capital and Advection Growth Capital. The funds were added to its Series A round, which had previously reached $32 million. The company said it has also partnered with Palantir Technologies to use its Foundry analytics platform to process information at-scale and onboard the aircraft designed for telecommunications, government operations and emergency services.

Tritium Holdings, the Australian developer of DC fast-charging technology for electric vehicles, raised A$40 million  ($29.4 million) from the investment arm of Cigna.

WattE, a company trying to develop a network of truck stops and run a fleet of 12,000 electric trucks to share, will receive a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission. The grant is for the construction of the state’s first electric truck stop. The company also recently closed a $6 million Series A round led by Canon Equity.

A little bird

blinky cat bird green

I hear things. But I’m not selfish. Let me share what the little birds are telling me.

You likely spotted the widespread coverage, including by TechCrunch, that Ford Motor hired Doug Field, the engineering executive who was VP of Apple’s special projects team and its secret, not-very-secret car program.

Field, who also once worked as senior vice president of engineering at Tesla, was named as Ford’s chief advanced technology and embedded systems officer. Soon after the news broke, reports came out that Kevin Lynch, who led development on the Apple Watch, had taken over Field’s role on the car project.

All of this had TC readers wondering (at least according to my DMs and emails) whether Apple’s car program was at risk. I reached out to some folks and one source told me that Apple employees were in Korea meeting with battery manufacturers as early as last week, which suggests that the game is on. You might recall, The Korea Times reported back in early August a team from Apple was visiting battery manufacturers LG Chem, SK, and Hanwha as part of “early talks.”

It seems those talks are still happening.

Policy corner

the-station-delivery

Welcome back to policy corner! Big news out of the aviation industry this week, as major airlines pledged to make 3 billion gallons of “sustainable aviation fuel” available to aircraft carriers by 2030, in line with a federal goal of reducing aviation emissions by 20% by the start of the next decade.

The announcement was made by industry group Airlines for America (A4A), whose members include United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines and Southwest. The group had previously set a target of 2 billion gallons by 2030 back in March. (Also yesterday, United made a separate announcement that it would purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF from startup Alder Fuels, pending certain conditions are met. Check out my story on the deal here.

A4A stressed the importance of federal action to support the development of SAF, including a “blender” tax credit for SAF mixed with conventional fuel and public-private research partnerships into SAF tech.

But this would be just the beginning, if President Joe Biden has his say; his administration wants a “fully zero-carbon aviation sector by 2050,” according to a White House fact sheet released Thursday. Aviation accounts for 11% of the country’s transportation-related emissions, the fact sheet says. Plus, while 3 billion gallons of fuel certainly sounds like a lot, a United spokesperson told TechCrunch that the airline consumes around 4 billion annually, and the White House says demand overall could be as high as 35 billion gallons per year by 2050.

To meet that demand, Biden said he is seeking that SAF incentives be included in the $3.5 trillion spending bill currently being debated by Congress, including a tax credit and $4.3 billion earmarked for funding SAF projects.

It’s important to note two things: one, as it currently stands, SAF is more expensive than conventional jet fuel, itself a considerable cost for airlines. Two, the above goals on behalf of the airlines are non-binding, voluntary agreements. Taken together, that means (in my humble opinion) that a tax incentive or something like it will be necessary for SAF to achieve cost parity with conventional fuel — and for airlines to actually adopt it.


The other policy items that caught my eye this week come from the great state of New York. The first is out of New York City, which set a target to install 40,000 public Level 2 chargers and 6,000 DC fast chargers by 2030. This buildout, outlined in the Department of Transportation’s EV plan, will be necessary for the city to reach its target of being fully carbon neutral by 2050.

Finally, the New York State House signed a bill into law requiring all passenger vehicles sold in-state to be zero-emission by 2035, making it the second state (after California) to introduce a set deadline to phase out internal combustion engine cars. It’s hard to know whether this is the start of a sea change in state policy or whether NY and California are anomalies, but I can see this type of legislation becoming more popular in the coming years.

— Aria Alamalhodaei

Notable news and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

Anthony Levandowski, the controversial and presidentially pardoned autonomous vehicle technology engineer, sat down with The Information for an interview that included details about his company’s pivot from big rigs to dump trucks.

Aurora co-founder Sterling Anderson laid out the autonomous vehicle company’s development process in a blog post this week. Aurora collaborated with half a dozen OEMs and has integrated its self-driving system into eight distinct vehicle platforms. Anderson wrote that the outcome “is a highly refined Driver-vehicle interface and a structured process for the design, development, and launch of vehicles designed for it that we call the Aurora Driver Development Program.” Side note: Aurora has made its Pittsburgh office its official headquarters.

Intel subsidiary Mobileye and rental car giant Sixt SE announced plans to launch a robotaxi service in Munich next year. As I noted in my article, the robotaxi service will leverage all of Intel’s, and more specifically Mobileye’s, assets that have been in development or purchased in recent years, including the $900 million acquisition in 2020 of Moovit, an Israeli startup that analyzes urban traffic patterns and provides transportation recommendations with a focus on public transit.

Through the partnership, riders will be able to access the robotaxi service via the Moovit app. The service will also be offered through Sixt’s mobility ONE app, which gives customers the ability to hail a ride, rent, share or subscribe to vehicles. Caveat: this won’t be a large-scale service in the beginning; it will start small and operate similarly to other early rider programs first modeled by nuTonomy and Waymo.

WeRide, a Chinese autonomous vehicle technology company, unveiled its first cargo van. The company said it will work with Chinese automobile manufacturer Jiangling Motors and Chinese express delivery company ZTO Express to commercialize its first self-driving van at scale. The “robovans” will be based on JMC’s battery electric vehicle model with a fully redundant vehicle platform, combined with WeRide’s full-stack software and hardware autonomous driving (AD) solutions.

Electric vehicles (and batteries)

GM extended a shutdown at its Orion Assembly Plant by another two weeks due to a battery pack shortage related to the widespread Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV safety recall. GM said the extended downtime at the Orion plant will last through September 20. Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan has been shut down since August 23.

Ford has hired six senior-level executives to its newly minted commercial vehicles and services business unit as the automaker prepares to bring to market the E-Transit cargo van and the F-150 Lightning Pro pickup truck — two electric vehicles it’s betting will become commercial customers’ new workhorses.

Sila Nanotechnologies’ next-generation battery technology made its commercial product debut in the new Whoop fitness tracker, a milestone that caps a decade of research and development by the Silicon Valley startup. This matters because Sila Nano has joint battery ventures with BMW and Daimler to produce batteries containing the company’s silicon-anode technology, with the goal of going to market in the automotive industry by 2025.

Solid Power, a battery developer backed by Ford and BMW, is preparing to start pilot production of its solid state batteries early next year. A new production facility will be dedicated to manufacturing a sulfide-based solid electrolyte material and pilot production of its commercial-grade, 100 ampere battery cells. Those pouch cells are expected to go to Ford and BMW for automotive testing in early 2022.

Meet Squad Mobility and learn about its vision of the perfect urban vehicle. Here’s a hint: it’s small, cheap, electric and includes solar.

Tesla set the official record for electric vehicles at Nürburgring with a Tesla “Model S Plaid,” that driven by Andreas Simonsen circumnavigated the 20.8-kilometre. (12.9-mile) Nordschleife loop in 7:35.579, according to a statement from the motorsports complex.

Toyota Motor said it will oppose a proposal by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to give union-made electric vehicles in the United States an additional $4,500 tax incentive, Reuters reported. The company said the proposal discriminates “against American autoworkers based on their choice not to unionize.”

Volta Trucks, a full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer, said its first vehicles will be manufactured in Steyr, Austria, by Steyr Automotive, formerly MAN Truck and Bus Austria.

Delivery and sharing

DoorDash, Caviar, Grubhub, Seamless, Postmates and Uber Eats have sued the City of New York over a law that would permanently limit the amount of commissions the apps can charge restaurants to use their services. The companies are seeking an injunction that would prevent the city from enforcing the legislation, unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Plentywaka co-founder and CEO Onyeka Akumah was interviewed by TechCrunch as part of its ongoing founders Q&A series.

Misc. stuff

Hyundai Motor Group laid out its hydrogen strategy, announcing it will provide hydrogen fuel cell versions for all its commercial vehicles by 2028. Hyundai’s goal is to achieve cost competitiveness comparable to that of EV batteries by 2030. The company also shared details about its high-performance, rear-wheel drive hydrogen sports car, the Vision FK, with a targeted range of 373 miles. Hyundai did not share when the vehicle would go into production.

GM unveiled the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, a full-sized pickup truck that received a major technology upgrade, including its hands-free Super Cruise advanced driver assistance system and an infotainment system with embedded Google services, as well as an overhauled interior.

David Zipper wrote a piece for Slate examining the growing problem of infotainment systems.

#airlines, #anthony-levandowski, #apple, #apple-car, #automotive, #bmw, #cao-cao-mobility, #caviar, #delta-airlines, #doordash, #ford, #grubhub, #intel, #mobileye, #postmates, #seamless, #tesla, #transportation, #united-airlines

Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash sue NYC for limiting fees the apps can charge restaurants

Food ordering and delivery platforms DoorDash, Caviar, Grubhub, Seamless, Postmates and Uber Eats have banded together to sue the City of New York over a law that would permanently limit the amount of commissions the apps can charge restaurants to use their services.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news that the companies filed suit in federal court on Thursday evening and are seeking an injunction that would prevent the city from enforcing the legislation, unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Last year, the city council introduced temporary legislation that would prohibit third-party food delivery services from charging restaurants more than 15% per delivery order and more than 5% for marketing and other nondelivery fees in an effort to help ease the strain on an industry struggling from pandemic lockdowns. The companies filing suit against the city claim the limit on fees, which was made  permanent last month under a bill sponsored in June by Queens Councilman Francisco Moya, has already cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, third-party platforms like Plaintiffs have been instrumental in keeping restaurants afloat and food industry workers employed, including by investing millions of dollars in COVID-relief efforts specifically for local restaurants,” the lawsuit reads. “Yet, the City of New York has taken the extraordinary measure of imposing permanent price controls on a private and highly competitive industry—the facilitation of food ordering and delivery through third-party platforms. Those permanent price controls will harm not only Plaintiffs, but also the revitalization of the very local restaurants that the City claims to serve.”

Other cities also instituted similar caps during the pandemic, but most have fizzled out as the pandemic has eased and restaurants have been able to open their dining rooms. San Francisco is among of handful of cities that has also decided to enact a permanent 15% cap, and the app-based companies are suing there, as well. They argue that extending the limits on fees, which can be as high as 30% per order, “bears no relationship to any public-health emergency,” and are unconstitutional because they interfere with negotiated contracts and dictate “the economic terms on which a dynamic industry operates.”

As with the temporary law, any violators of the permanent cap would face up to $1,000 per day in fines per restaurant. The companies said the new law would not only cause them to have to rewrite their contracts with restaurants, but also raise fees for consumers and hurt delivery workers’ ability to make money.

The companies also argue that if the city wants to improve profitability of local restaurants, it could provide tax breaks or grants out of its own pocket instead of hurting the commissions of the delivery services.

“But rather than exercise one of those lawful options, the City chose instead to adopt an irrational law, driven by naked animosity towards third-party platforms,” the companies said, citing a tweet from Moya after he introduced a 10% commission cap bill that said, “NYC local restaurants needed a 10% cap on delivery fees from third party services like GrubHub long before #COVID19 hit us. They damn sure need it now.”

This legislation also comes amid increasing scrutiny over app-based delivery companies that have a reputation for harming both restaurants and gig workers in an effort to keep costs low for consumers. Recently, a California superior court ruled Proposition 22, which would allow these companies to continue classifying its workers as independent contractors, rather than employees, as unconstitutional. This ruling prompted DoorDash workers to protest last week outside the home of CEO Tony Xu demanding better pay and more tip  transparency. Meanwhile in Massachusetts, a similar law to Prop 22 has just gotten the green light to go ahead on the November 2022 ballot.

“Restaurants pay app-based delivery companies for a variety of services through commissions, one of these being delivery services,” said an unnamed courier in the lawsuit against the city. “Capping these commissions means less earnings for people like me. A commission cap could also mean delivery services get more expensive for the customers I deliver to, which ultimately means less orders for me.”

#caviar, #doordash, #drama, #food-delivery-apps, #grubhub, #lawsuit, #nyc, #seamless, #transportation, #uber-eats

DoorDash workers protest outside CEO Tony Xu’s home demanding better pay, tip transparency and PPE

California DoorDash workers protested outside of the home of DoorDash CEO Tony Xu on Thursday, prompted by a recent California Superior Court Judge ruling calling 2020’s Proposition 22 unconstitutional. Prop 22, which was passed last November in California, would allow app-based companies like DoorDash, Uber and Lyft to continue classifying workers as independent contractors rather than employees.

A group of about 50 DoorDash workers who are affiliated with advocacy groups We Drive Progress and Gig Workers Rising traveled caravan style to the front of Xu’s house in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. They demanded that DoorDash provide transparency for tips and 120% of minimum wage or around $17 per hour, stop unfair deactivations and provide free personal protective equipment, as well as adequate pay for car and equipment sanitizing. 

“Dasher concerns and feedback are always important to us, and we will continue to hear their voices and engage our community directly,” a DoorDash spokesperson told TechCrunch. “However, we know that today’s participants do not speak for the 91% of California Dashers who want to remain independent contractors or the millions of California voters who overwhelmingly supported Proposition 22. The reality is, the passage of Prop 22 has addressed in law many of the concerns raised today through its historic benefits and protections: workers earn 120% of their local minimum wage per active hour in addition to 100% of their tips, receive free PPE and enjoy access to healthcare funds.”

DoorDash drivers say getting paid for the time they’re “active,” meaning actively driving to either pick up food and drop it off, rather than when they’re online and waiting for gigs to come through, leads to inadequate pay. They also say much of their living wage comes from tips, which should be an added bonus, but ends up helping make ends meet based on DoorDash’s pay structure. Prop 22 is also meant to guarantee a reimbursement of 30 cents per engaged mile, which drivers say “would be great if it were true.” DoorDash did not respond to follow ups regarding its pay structure or claims from dashers that they have not been given free PPE. 

Rondu Gantt, a gig worker who’s been working for DoorDash for two and a half years and also drives for Uber and Lyft to get by, says his base pay from DoorDash is often as low as $3 per hour, and that around 40% to 60% of his money comes from tips. Although this model sounds similar to the restaurant industry in the United States, which can be quite lucrative for servers and bartenders, for a delivery driver, it’s an unsustainable way to make a living because tipping culture isn’t nearly as strong. 

“DoorDash pays so low because they want to make it affordable for the customer, but I would say for the driver it becomes unaffordable,” Gantt told TechCrunch, citing the costs of owning, maintaining, parking and fueling a vehicle as potentially crippling. “Last week, I drove for 30 hours and I made $405. That’s $13.50 per hour, which is below minimum wage.”

Gantt said drivers also have had to deal with pressure to drive in unsafe conditions, and we can look to the images of delivery drivers in New York City during Hurricane Ida as an example of some conditions drivers feel compelled to accept. Over the past two years, DoorDash drivers have also been deemed essential workers, interacting with and providing services for many people during a pandemic at the risk of their health. 

Gig Workers Rising says DoorDash workers “have received little to no safety support” with some workers reporting “being reimbursed as little as 80 cents per day for cleaning/sanitizing equipment and PPE that they use to keep themselves and customers safe.”

“Right now gig work isn’t flexible,” a spokesperson for Gig Workers Rising told TechCrunch.  “Workers are at the mercy of when there’s demand. If they were employees the work would change as they’d work in the knowledge that they’ve healthcare and can take a sick day off.”

Because Prop 22 was ruled unconstitutional, the spokesperson said by rights it shouldn’t be in operation. 

“The gig corporations violate that law everyday by choosing not to comply with it,” he said. 

For Gantt’s part, he doesn’t necessarily want to be an employee, he just wants to make sure that he’s being paid what he deserves. 

“Which is not minimum wage,” he said. “Minimum wage would be unacceptable as well. The cost of doing this, the danger, makes minimum wage unacceptable pay. And realistically, they’re only sometimes paying you minimum wage before taxes. After taxes you’re definitely making less.”

TechCrunch was given access to DoorDash workers’ dashboards that break down their pay. For the week of July 12 to July 19, one dasher was paid a total of $574.21 for 53 deliveries, $274 of which came from customer tip. His “active time” was 14 hours and 21 minutes, and his “dash time,” or when he was logged onto the app waiting for gigs to come through and doing deliveries, was about 30 hours. 

The dasher’s “guaranteed earnings” from DoorDash for the week was $300.21. (DoorDash did not respond to clarification on how guaranteed weekly earnings are calculated or what they’re based on, but a post on the company’s site says that guaranteed earnings are incentives for dashers in specific areas.) His base pay ended up at about $257.62, but DoorDash added an additional $42.59 to adjust to guaranteed earnings. If we divide the amount DoorDash paid by the number of hours of “active time,” the worker was paid about $21 per hour. If we divide it by the “dash time,” it looks more like $10 per hour. 

Again, this is before tax. Independent contractors are usually advised to put aside around 30% of their paycheck because they have to pay self-employment tax, which is 15.3% of taxable income, federal income tax, which varies depending on tax bracket, and potentially state income tax. After taxes, this dasher’s total pay for 30 hours of work, including his $274 worth of tip, would be around $402, which comes out to $13.40 per hour. 

Tips were of concern at the protest on Thursday as drivers called for transparency. Gantt says dashers can see a cumulative amount of tip earnings per week, as well as how much tip they’re receiving from each order, but they don’t trust the amount they’re receiving is actually the amount customers are tipping them.

Gantt and other drivers aren’t just being paranoid. Last November, DoorDash agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging the company stole drivers’ tips and allowed customers to think their tip money was actually going to the drivers. The suit, filed by Washington, D.C. attorney general Karl Racine, alleged DoorDash reduced drivers’ pay for each job by the amount of any tip. 

One of the rallying cries of the protest was for Xu to “share the wealth.” In 2020, the CEO was reportedly the highest paid CEO in the Bay Area, making a total income of $413.67 million, which includes salary and stock options. During the second quarter, DoorDash saw a $113 million profit adjusted for EBITDA, but was overall unprofitable with a net loss of $102 million. 

“We all work for money and how that money gets distributed when they go through their earnings is telling you who matters and who doesn’t matter,” said Gantt. “It’s a clear sign of who’s important, who has value. If they don’t pay you, they don’t value you.”

#doordash, #food, #gig-economy, #gig-workers-rising, #labor, #prop-22, #strike, #tc, #tony-xu, #transportation

Massachussetts AG greenlights Uber, Lyft-backed gig worker ballot initiative

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey gave a coalition of app-based service providers like Uber and Lyft the go-ahead to start collecting signatures needed to put a proposed ballot measure before voters that would define drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Backers of the initiative, which is essentially a MA version of Proposition 22, would need to gather tens of thousands of signatures for the measure to make it to the November 2022 ballot. Despite the fact that last year Healey filed a lawsuit that challenged Uber and Lyft’s classifications of drivers as contractors who are therefore not entitled to benefits like sick leave, overtime or minimum wage, on Wednesday, the AG certified the current measure met constitutional requirements.

The news comes nearly two weeks after a superior court judged ruled California’s Prop 22, which was passed in 2020, unconstitutional. The union-backed Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights urged Healey to reject the measure under the same grounds, and told Reuters that it is considering suing to challenge the measure.

The Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work, the coalition of members including Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart, filed the petition for this ballot initiative last month, a move that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he thinks is “the right move.” The proposed initiative would also allow drivers to earn a minimum of $18 per hour in 2023 before tips and provide those who work for at least 15 hours per week with healthcare stipends. Drivers would also be guaranteed at least 26 cents per mile to cover vehicle upkeep and gas.

The coalition has until December 1 to collect and file 80,239 signatures from voters. If they miss that deadline, they can gather an additional 13,374 signatures by July 6, 2022 to get the initiative on the ballot.

#doordash, #gig-workers, #independent-contractors, #instacart, #lawsuit, #lyft, #massachusetts-attorney-general-maura-healey, #massachussetts, #prop-22, #transportation, #uber

TikTok’s new Creator Marketplace API lets influencer marketing companies tap into first-party data

TikTok is making it easier for brands and agencies to work with the influencers using its service. The company is rolling out a new “TikTok Creator Marketplace API,” which allows marketing companies to integrate more directly with TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, the video app’s in-house influencer marketing platform.

On the Creator Marketplace website, launched in late 2019, marketers have been able to discover top TikTok personalities for their brand campaigns, then create and manage those campaigns and track their performance.

The new API, meanwhile, allows partnered marketing companies to access TikTok’s first-party data about audience demographics, growth trends, best-performing videos, and real-time campaign reporting (e.g. views, likes, shares, comments, engagement, etc.) for the first time.

They can then bring this data back into their own platforms, to augment the insights they’re already providing to their own customer base.

TikTok is not officially announcing the API until later in September, but it is allowing its alpha partners to discuss their early work.

One such partner is Capitv8, which tested the API with a NRF top 50 retailer on one of their first TikTok campaigns. The retailer wanted to discover a diverse and inclusive group of TikTok creators to partner with on a new collaboration and wanted help with launching its own TikTok channel. Captiv8 says the branded content received nearly 10 million views, and the campaign resulted in a “significant increase” in several key metrics, which performed about the Nielsen average. This included familiarity (+4% above average), affinity (+6%), purchase intent (+7%) and recommendation intent (+9%).

Image Credits: TikTok Creator Marketplace website

Capitv8 is now working with TikTok’s API to pull in audience demographics, to centralize influencer offers and activations, and to provide tools to boost branded content and monitor campaign performance. On that last front, the API allows the company to pull in real-time metrics from the TikTok Creator Marketplace API — which means Capitv8 is now one of only a handful of third-party companies with access to TikTok first-party data.

Another early alpha partner is Influential, who shared it’s also leveraging the API to access first-party insights on audience demographics, growth trends, best-performing videos, and more, to help its customer base of Fortune 1000 brands to identify the right creators for both native and paid advertising campaigns.

One partner it worked with was DoorDash, who launched multiple campaigns on TikTok with Influential’s help. It’s also planning to work with McDonald’s USA on several new campaigns that will run this year, including those focused on the chain’s new Crispy Chicken Sandwich and the return of Spicy McNuggets.

Other early alpha partners include Whalar and INCA. The latter is currently only available in the U.K. and its integration stems from the larger TikTok global partnership with WPP, announced in February. That deal provided WPP agencies with early access to new advertising products marketing API integrations, and new AR offerings, among other things.

Creator marketplaces are now common to social media platforms with large influencer communities as this has become a standard way to advertise to online consumers, particular the younger generation. Facebook today offers its Brands Collabs Manager, for both Facebook and Instagram; YouTube has BrandConnect; while Snapchat recently announced a marketplace to connect brands with Lens creators. These type of in-house platforms make it easier for marketers to work with the wider influencer community by offering trusted data on metrics that matter to brands’ own ROI, rather than relying on self-reported data from influencers or on data they have to manually collect themselves. And as campaigns run, marketers can compare how well their partnered creators are able to drive results to inform their future collaborations.

TikTok isn’t making a formal announcement about its new API at this time, telling TechCrunch the technology is still in pilot testing phases for the time being.

“Creators are the lifeblood of our platform, and we’re constantly thinking of new ways to make it easy for them to connect and collaborate with brands. We’re thrilled to be integrating with an elite group of trusted partners to help brands discover and work with diverse creators who can share their message in an authentic way,” said Melissa Yang, TikTok’s Head of Ecosystem Partnerships, in a statement provided to select marketing company partners.

 

#advertising-tech, #alpha, #api, #apps, #articles, #bytedance, #developer, #doordash, #elite, #head, #partner, #software, #tiktok, #united-kingdom, #wpp

CryptoPunks blasts past $1 billion in lifetime sales as NFT speculation surges

Hello friends, and welcome back to Week in Review! Last week we dove into Bezos’s Blue Origin suing NASA. This week, I’m writing about the unlikely and triumphant resurgence of the NFT market.

If you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.


The big thing

If I could, I would probably write about NFTs in this newsletter every week. I generally stop myself from actually doing so because I try my best to make this newsletter a snapshot of what’s important to the entire consumer tech sector, not just my niche interests. That said, I’m giving myself free rein this week.

The NFT market is just so hilariously bizarre and the culture surrounding the NFT world is so web-native, I can’t read about it enough. But in the past several days, the market for digital art on the blockchain has completely defied reason.

Back in April, I wrote about a platform called CryptoPunks that — at that point — had banked more than $200 million in lifetime sales since 2017. The little pop art pixel portraits have taken on a life of their own since then. It was pretty much unthinkable back then but in the past 24 hours alone, the platform did $141 million in sales, a new record. By the time you read this, the NFT platform will have likely passed a mind-boggling $1.1 billion in transaction volume according to crypto tracker CryptoSlam. With 10,000 of these digital characters, to buy a single one will cost you at least $450,000 worth of the Ethereum cryptocurrency. (When I sent out this newsletter yesterday that number was $300k)

It’s not just CryptoPunks either; the entire NFT world has exploded in the past week, with several billions of dollars flowing into projects with drawings of monkeys, penguins, dinosaurs and generative art this month alone. After the NFT rally earlier this year — culminating in Beeple’s $69 million Christie’s sale — began to taper off, many wrote off the NFT explosion as a bizarre accident. What triggered this recent frenzy?

Part of it has been a resurgence of cryptocurrency prices toward all-time-highs and a desire among the crypto rich to diversify their stratospheric assets without converting their wealth to fiat currencies. Dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into an NFT project with fewer stakeholders than the currencies that underlie them can make a lot of sense to those whose wealth is already over-indexed in crypto. But a lot of this money is likely FOMO dollars from investors who are dumping real cash into NFTs, bolstered by moves like Visa’s purchase this week of their own CryptoPunk.

I think it’s pretty fair to say that this growth is unsustainable, but how much further along this market growth gets before the pace of investment slows or collapses is completely unknown. There are no signs of slowing down for now, something that can be awfully exciting — and dangerous — for investors looking for something wild to drop their money into… and wild this market truly is.

Here’s some advice from Figma CEO Dylan Field who sold his alien CryptoPunk earlier this year for 4,200 Eth (worth $13.6 million today).


Image Credits: Kanye West

Other things

Here are the TechCrunch news stories that especially caught my eye this week:

OnlyFans suspends its porn ban
In a stunning about-face, OnlyFans declared this week that they won’t be banning “sexually explicit content” from their platform after all, saying in a statement that they had “secured assurances necessary to support our diverse creator community and have suspended the planned October 1 policy change.”

Kanye gets into the hardware business
Ahead of the drop of his next album, which will definitely be released at some point, rapper Kanye West has shown off a mobile music hardware device called the Stem Player. The $200 pocket-sized device allows users to mix and alter music that has been loaded onto the device. It was developed in partnership with hardware maker Kano.

Apple settles developer lawsuit
Apple has taken some PR hits in recent years following big and small developers alike complaining about the take-it-or-leave-it terms of the company’s App Store. This week, Apple shared a proposed settlement (which still is pending a judge’s approval) that starts with a $100 million payout and gets more interesting with adjustments to App Store bylines, including the ability of developers to advertise paying for subscriptions directly rather than through the app only.

Twitter starts rolling out ticketed Spaces
Twitter has made a convincing sell for its Clubhouse competitor Spaces, but they’ve also managed to build on the model in recent months, turning its copycat feature into a product that succeeds on its own merits. Its latest effort to allow creators to sell tickets to events is just starting to roll out, the company shared this week.

CA judge strikes down controversial gig economy proposition
Companies like Uber and DoorDash dumped tens of millions of dollars into Prop 22, a law which clawed back a California law that pushed gig economy startups to classify workers as full employees. This week a judge declared the proposition unconstitutional, and though the decision has been stayed on appeal, any adjustment would have major ramifications for those companies’ business in California.


Image of a dollar sign representing the future value of cybersecurity.

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

Extra things

Some of my favorite reads from our Extra Crunch subscription service this week:

Future tech exits have a lot to live up to
“Inflation may or may not prove transitory when it comes to consumer prices, but startup valuations are definitely rising — and noticeably so — in recent quarters. That’s the obvious takeaway from a recent PitchBook report digging into valuation data from a host of startup funding events in the United States…”

OpenSea UX teardown
“…is the experience of creating and selling an NFT on OpenSea actually any good? That’s what UX analyst Peter Ramsey has been trying to answer by creating and selling NFTs on OpenSea for the last few weeks. And the short answer is: It could be much better...

Are B2B SaaS marketers getting it wrong?
“‘Solutions,’ ‘cutting-edge,’ ‘scalable’ and ‘innovative’ are just a sample of the overused jargon lurking around every corner of the techverse, with SaaS marketers the world over seemingly singing from the same hymn book. Sadly for them, new research has proven that such jargon-heavy copy — along with unclear features and benefits — is deterring customers and cutting down conversions…”


Thanks for reading! And again, if you’re reading this on the TechCrunch site, you can get this in your inbox from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.

Lucas Matney

#analyst, #app-store, #apple, #bezos, #blockchain, #blockchains, #blue-origin, #california, #ceo, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #distributed-computing, #doordash, #dylan-field, #ethereum, #extra-crunch, #figma, #judge, #kano, #kanye-west, #lucas-matney, #onlyfans, #peter-ramsey, #uber, #united-states

California’s gig worker Prop 22 ruled unconstitutional by superior court

In a late Friday night blow to Uber, Lyft and other gig worker-centered companies, a superior court judge ruled that California’s Proposition 22, which was passed in 2020 and designed to overrule the state’s controversial AB-5 law on the employment status of gig workers, violates the state’s constitution.

Frank Roesch, a superior court judge in Alameda County, which encompasses Oakland, Berkeley and much of the East Bay, ruled that the law would limit “the power of a future legislature” to define the employment status of gig workers. The lawsuit was filed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in January, after a similar lawsuit was rebuffed by the California Supreme Court and referred to a lower court.

The court’s decision will almost certainly be appealed and further legal arguments are to be expected.

The superior court’s decision is just the latest in a long line of victories and defeats in the battle between companies that heavily rely on gig workers like Uber and DoorDash, and unions and advocates representing workers. Much of the debate centers on the legal distinction between a freelancer and an employee, and to what extent companies are responsible for the care and benefits of their workers.

Such a distinction is big business: Uber, Lyft and other companies spent more than $200 million collectively to push Prop 22 to victory last year. California voters passed the proposition roughy 59% to 41% in what was widely perceived as a major victory for gig worker platforms.

Such fights are not limited to merely Silicon Valley’s home state, however. Earlier this year in the United Kingdom, Uber lost a legal battle over its employment classification decisions and ultimately reclassified tens of thousands of its drivers as workers, a decision which offered them a range of benefits not previously guaranteed.

#doordash, #employment, #freelancer, #gig-workers, #government, #labor, #policy, #uber

Airbnb, DoorDash report earnings as COVID threatens to slow the IRL economy (again)

Home-stay giant Airbnb and on-demand delivery concern DoorDash reported their quarterly results today after the bell.

Both companies were heavily impacted by the onset of COVID-19. Airbnb saw its revenues collapse in 2020 during early lockdowns, leading the company to raise expensive capital and batten its hatches. The company recovered as the year continued, leading to its eventual IPO.

DoorDash, in contrast, managed a simply incredible 2020 as folks stayed home and ordered in. Given that we got both reports on the same day, let’s digest ’em and see how COVID has — and may — impact their results.

Airbnb’s Q2

In the second quarter, Airbnb reported revenues of $1.3 billion, which compares favorably with its Q2 2020 result of $335 million and its 2019 Q2 revenue total of $1.21 billion. In percentage terms, Airbnb’s revenue grew 299% from its Q2 2020 level and 10% from what the company managed during the same period of 2019.

Analysts had expected $1.23 billion in revenue for the period.

Airbnb lost $68 million in the quarter when counting all costs. The company’s adjusted EBITDA, a heavily modified profit metric, came to $217 million in the quarter. Cash from operations in Q2 2021 was $791 million. Looking ahead, here’s what Airbnb had to say regarding its revenue outlook:

[We] expect Q3 2021 revenue to be our strongest quarterly revenue on record and to deliver the highest Adjusted EBITDA dollars and margin ever.

How did the market digest Airbnb’s better-than-expected growth, rising adjusted profit, falling net losses, massive cash generation and expectations of record Q3 revenue? By bidding its shares lower. Airbnb is off around 4.5% in after-hours trading.

Confused? Investors may be worried about the following note from the company, also from the guidance section of its earnings letter:

In the near term, we anticipate that the impact of COVID-19 and the introduction and spread of new variants of the virus, including the Delta variant, will continue to affect overall travel behavior, including how often and when guests book and cancel. As a result, year-over-year comparisons for Nights and Experiences Booked and GBV will continue to be more volatile and non-linear.

While Q3 2021 is looking great for Airbnb, it appears that its future growth could be lumpy or delayed thanks to the ongoing pandemic. There are public indicators pointing to travel rates declining, which could impact Airbnb.

The company’s Q2 results and Q3 anticipations are impressive when compared to where Airbnb was a year ago. But that doesn’t mean that it is entirely out of the COVID woods.

DoorDash’s Q2

Despite generally lower COVID friction in its market during Q2 2021, DoorDash managed to set records for orders and the value of those orders. In the three-month period concluding June 30, 2021, the on-demand food delivery company turned $10.46 billion in order value (marketplace GOV) into $1.24 billion in total revenue. The marketplace GOV number was 70% greater than the Q2 2020 result, while DoorDash’s revenues expanded by 83%.

Investors had expected the company to post $1.08 billion in total revenues, so DoorDash handily bested expectations.

How profitable was DoorDash during the quarter? DoorDash was unprofitable overall, with a net loss of $102 million. In adjusted EBITDA terms, DoorDash saw $113 million in profit during Q2 2021. That’s not too bad, given that Uber cannot manage the same feat with its own food delivery business. DoorDash’s net income was worse than what it managed in Q2 2020, while its adjusted EBITDA improved.

Shares of DoorDash are off around 3.5% in after-hours trading.

Why? It’s not entirely clear. DoorDash said that it expects “Q3 Marketplace GOV to be in a range of $9.3 billion to $9.8 billion, with Q3 Adjusted EBITDA in a range of $0 million to $100 million.” Sure, that’s down a smidgen from its Q2 GOV number, but investors were anticipating DoorDash to post less revenue in Q3 than Q2, so you would think that GOV expectations were also more modest.

Is COVID the answer? Mentions of COVID-19 in the company’s earnings document tend to deal with trailing results and historical efforts to provide relief to restaurants that use DoorDash for orders or delivery. So, there’s not a lot of juice to squeeze there. However, the company did say the following toward the end of its report:

We believe the broad secular shift toward omni-channel local commerce remains nascent. However, the scale and fragmentation of local commerce suggests the problems to be solved will get more difficult, coordination between internal and external stakeholders will become more complex, and vectors for competitive threats will increase. At the same time, we expect the pace of consumer behavioral shifts to slow compared to the extraordinary pace of change in recent quarters.

Simplifying that for us: DoorDash expects slower growth in the future, a more complex business climate and rising competition as it enters new markets. That’s not a mix that would make any investor more excited, we don’t think.

#airbnb, #doordash, #earnings, #food-delivery, #on-demand-food-delivery, #travel

DoorDash vor Einstieg bei Gorillas – ServiceNow übernimmt Swarm64 – Pliant bekommt Millionen


Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 6. August werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.

INVESTMENTSUCHE

Gorillas 
+++ Der US-Lieferdienst DoorDash plant einen Einstieg beim Flash-Supermarkt Gorillas – siehe Financial Times. Zuletzt gab es im Wochentakt neue (geplante) Investmentneuigkeiten rund um das junge Berliner Startup, das zuletzt 240 Millionen Euro einsammeln konnte und zum Unicorn aufgestiegen ist. Sifted berichtet zudem von der Möglichkeit eines Verkaufs an DoorDash, sogar das schlimme Wort FireSale fällt dabei. “Two sources told Sifted that the Berlin-based startup was expecting to raise at a $2.5bn valuation, which is far below the $6bn that it had previously been aiming for”, heißt es im Artikel. Im Insider-Podcast hatten wir zuletzt von der Möglichkeit einer kleineren internen Investmentrunde bei Gorillas berichtet. Teilweise suchte die Jungfirma zuletzt 1 Milliarde an neuen Investorengeldern. Mehr über Gorillas

INVESTMENTS

Pliant
+++ Der Geldgeber Alstin und der Frühphasen-Geldgeber seed + speed Ventures, hinter denen jeweils TV-Löwe Carsten Maschmeyer steckt, sowie main incubator (Commerzbank) und das österreichische Family Office Saber investieren 5,5 Millionen Euro in Pliant – siehe Gründerzene. Das Berliner FinTech, das von Malte Rau und Fabian Terner gegründet wurde, setzt wie Brex und Moss auf Firmenkreditkarten. Das FinTech verspricht seinen Kunden sogar “die neuste Generation von Firmenkreditkarten, die sich perfekt an Ihre Geschäftsprozesse und Bedürfnisse anpassen”.

byways 
+++ Rider Global, Reflex Capital, einige Angel-Investoren sowie die Altinvestoren Entrepreneur First und Venista Ventures investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in byways. Das Berliner Startup, das 2020 von Alexander Palffy und Simon Jordan gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als “Digital Logistics Partner”. Zum Konzept heißt es: “byways is providing SaaS solutions to warehouse staff and carrier companies to further optimize the inbound and outbound logistics. Additionally, byways is decreasing the cost of deliveries and increasing reliability and transparency in the whole process of order fulfillment”.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Swarm64
+++ Das amerikanische Techunternehmen ServiceNow übernimmt Swarm64. “Mit der Akquise von Swarm64 erweitert ServiceNow nicht nur seinen Pool an erfahrenen Datenbanktechnikern – sie stellt auch eine bedeutende Investition in Open Source dar. Die auf Open Source basierende Datenbanktechnologie von Swarm64 ist hervorragend für große Datensätze geeignet, sodass unsere Kunden ihre umfangreichen Datentransaktionen verwalten und anspruchsvolle Analysen in Echtzeit ausführen können, um die unternehmensweiten Einblicke zu gewinnen, die sie brauchen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Swarm64bietet eine Hardware- und Software-Lösung, die Datenbanken beschleunigen soll. Eivind Liland, Thomas Richter und Alfonso Martínez haben Swarm64 2013 im Inkubator der Berliner Humboldt-Universität gegründet. Intel Capital, Investinor, Alliance Venture und Target Partners investieren zuletzt 12,5 Millionen US-Dollar in das deutsch-norwegische Daten-Startup.

Lana Labs
+++ Das amerikanische Unternehmen Appian, das sich um Geschäftsautomatisierung kümmert, übernimmt die HPI-Ausgründung Lana Labs. Die Jungfirma setzt auf die KI-gestützte Analyse von Geschäfts- und Produktionsprozessen. Das Berliner Startup, das 2016 von Karina Buschsieweke und den zwei HPI-Alumni Thomas Baier und Rami-Habib Eid-Sabbagh gegründet wurde, erhielt in den vergangenen Jahren von Capnamic Ventures, WestTech Ventures und main incubator finanzielle Unterstützung.

VENTURE CAPITAL

Schenker Ventures
+++ Der Logistikkonzern DB Schenker legt mit Schenker Ventures einen Investmentableger für “Innovationen in der Logistik” auf. “Schenker Ventures wird die bestehenden Corporate-Venture-Aktivitäten und verknüpfte Investitionen von DB Schenker bündeln und ausbauen. Zusätzlich wird Schenker Ventures gemeinsam mit der Berliner Agentur MVP Factory ein Venture Studio schaffen, das unternehmerische Freiheiten und die Stärke eines etablierten globalen Partners kombiniert”, heißt es in der Presseaussedung. Schenker Ventures wird von Patric Hoffmann geführt.

mantro
+++ Die Bayerische Beteiligungsgesellschaft (BayBG) steigt im Rahmen einer stillen Beteiligung (Mezzanine) beim Company Builder mantro ein. mantro unterstützt mittelständische Unternehmen und Konzerne bei der Entwicklung von neuen Digital-Geschäftsmodellen. Hierzu gründet mantro gemeinsam mit einem Industriekunden im Rahmen eines Joint Ventures ein neues Unternehmen.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#aktuell, #appian, #berlin, #berlinn, #byways, #db-schenker, #doordash, #fintech, #gorillas, #lana-labs, #logistik, #main-incubator, #mantro, #pliant, #reflex-capital, #rider-global, #schenker-ventures, #seed-speed-ventures, #servicenow, #swarm64, #venture-capital

With DoubleDash, DoorDash users can tack on multiple orders without additional fees

During the thick of the pandemic last year, online food delivery company DoorDash expanded its offerings to include convenience store delivery. Now, DoorDash customers in the U.S. and Canada can shop across multiple stores and categories in a single order.

With DoubleDash, as the program is called, customers can now tack onto your order of a pad Thai dinner, some tampons and ice cream from the local 7-Eleven. In most cases, it’ll all be brought to them by the same delivery person in one bundle, allowing customers to forgo any additional service or delivery fees.

The goal for customers is to increase convenience while preserving price expectations. For local businesses, there’s a possibility that some light prodding of the customer while they’re hungry and uninterested in leaving their homes will lead to more business. And for DoorDash, this move is another step towards making the app the ever-coveted “one-stop-shop” for all things delivery.

Image Credits: DoorDash

“Ever since we began offering convenience as a category on DoorDash over a year ago, we’ve observed that many customers organically order their restaurant meal and then place another order for convenience items within a 30 minute window,” Fuad Hannon, DoorDash’s head of new verticals, told TechCrunch. “We are always thinking about ways to improve our platform to serve our customers’ needs and after observing this consumer behavior, we wanted to make this process easier and more affordable for consumers.”

With DoubleDash, after a customer place their original order, a pop up on the app will entice them with additional items from nearby stores. Customers can also look for the DoubleDash option on the in-app map to search for nearby stores. Depending on the customer’s location and proximity to the merchant, anywhere from one to five merchants will show up on the map. Customers can add on as much or as little as they want for the second order, as there’s no minimum order size.

Delivery workers, or “Dashers,” will be able to collect tip on both the first restaurant order and the second merchant order, according to the company. Dashers can use DoorDash’s logistics platform to accept both orders at once and deliver them together without deviating from the primary route, thus potentially increasing earnings without going too far out of their way.

This new feature is available with 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Wawa, QuickCheck, the Ice Cream Shop and DashMart, a DoorDash-owned convenience and grocery store. DoorDash is also piloting the ability to partner local restaurants with DoubleDash in several markets like Los Angeles, Denver and Portland, so if you want to start with sushi and end with a chocolate torte, it’ll be just a little bit cheaper and easier to do so.

“We are excited to be a part of DoorDash’s newest endeavor, DoubleDash, and for the opportunity to reach new customers and drive additional sales for our business,” said Benjamin D. Arreola, owner of Señor G’s Fresh & Healthy Mexican Food in Playa Del Rey, California, in a statement.

#doordash, #doubledash, #online-food-delivery, #transportation

Gig companies take worker classification fight to Massachusetts through ballot initiative

A coalition of app-based ride-hailing and on-demand delivery companies including Lyft, Uber, Doordash and Instacart have filed a petition for a ballot initiative in Massachusetts that would keep gig economy workers classified as independent contractors as the industry takes a fight it won in California on the road.

The ballot measure proposed by the Massachusetts Coalition for Independent Work comes nearly a year after California voters approved a similar measure known as Proposition 22 that pitted labor rights advocates against gig economy companies in a costly multimillion battle.

Lyft, Uber and other members of the coalition, which also includes several local chambers of commerce in the state, said Tuesday they want the ballot question included in the November 2022 election. The question has to pass a legal review and receive enough signatures from voters for it to be included on the ballot.

“While our priority is to find a legislative solution in Massachusetts, this part of our continued efforts to advocate what the vast majority of drivers want — a flexible earning opportunity that our platform provides plus new benefits,” Lyft co-founder John Zimmer said during Lyft’s earnings call Tuesday. ” While we’re pursuing the ballot option, we’re also closely engaged with the Massachusetts State Legislature and are continuing to work with them on a potential legislative solution.”

The coalition said the proposed ballot question would grant app-based ride-hail and delivery workers new benefits such as healthcare stipends while keeping them classified as independent contractors.

Among the provisions that the coalition touted would be an earnings floor equal to 120% of the Massachusetts minimum wage ($18 per hour in 2023 from app-based platforms, before customer tips) and healthcare stipends for drivers who work at least 15 hours per week. Drivers would still keep all of their tips and be guaranteed at least $0.26 per mile to cover vehicle upkeep and gas, according to the coalition.

Labor activists are already pushing back. The Coalition to Protect Workers’ Rights, a group composed of a variety of organizations including the NAACP New England Area Conference, the Union of Minority Neighborhoods and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Coalition, said Tuesday the ballot measure contains problematic language that will hurt workers.

The group argued there are extensive loopholes that create a subminimum wage for app-based workers and that few qualify for healthcare. It also noted that the measure would remove anti-discrimination protections, eliminates workers’ compensation rules and allows companies to cheat the state unemployment system of hundreds of millions.

While Uber, Lyft and the broader coalition lobbies for either a ballot measure or legislation, it also faces a lawsuit filed last year by the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey who has asked the court to rule that Uber and Lyft drivers are employees under Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws.

The AG’s Office alleges in its complaint that Uber and Lyft are unable to meet a three-part test under state law that would allow them to classify drivers as independent contractors. To qualify as an independent contractor the worker must be free from a company’s direction and control, perform services outside the usual course of the business and does similar work on their own.

Uber has been signaling since last year that it planned to push for laws similar to the Proposition 22 measure. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in November 2020 during an earnings call with analysts that the company will “more loudly advocate for laws like Prop 22.” He later added that it will be a priority of the company “to work with governments across the U.S. and the world to make this a reality.”

#automotive, #doordash, #gig-economy, #lyft, #transportation, #uber

Catch takes hold of $12M to provide benefits that aren’t tied to employers

Catch is working to make sure that every gig worker has the health and retirement benefits they need.

The company, which is in the midst of moving its headquarters to New York, sells health insurance, retirement savings plans and tax withholding directly to freelancers, contractors or anyone uncovered.

It is now armed with a fresh round of $12 million in Series A funding, led by Crosslink, with participation from earlier investors Khosla Ventures, NYCA Partners, Kindred Ventures and Urban Innovation Fund, to support more distribution partnerships and its relocation from Boston.

Co-founders Kristen Anderson and Andrew Ambrosino started Catch in 2019 and raised $6.1 million previously, giving it a total of $18.1 million in funding.

It took the Catch team of 15 nearly two years to get approvals to sell its platform in 38 states on the federal marketplace. Anderson boasts that only eight companies have been able to do this, and three of them — Catch included — are approved to sell benefits to consumers. The other side of the business is payroll, and the company has gathered thousands of sources based on biller.

“More companies are not offering healthcare, while more people are joining the creator and gig economies, which means more people are not following an employer-led model,” Anderson told TechCrunch.

The age of an average Catch customer is 32 years old, and in addition to current offerings, were asking the company to help them set up income sources, like setting aside money for taxes, retirement, as well as medical leave without having to actively save.

When the global pandemic hit, many of Catch’s customers saw their income collapse, 40% overall across industries, as workers like hairstylists and cooks had income go down to zero in some cases.

It was then that Anderson and Ambrosino began looking at partnership distribution and developed a network of platforms, business facilitation tools, gig marketplaces and payroll companies that were interested in offering Catch. The company intends to use some of the funding to increase its headcount to service those partnerships and go after more, Anderson said.

Catch is one startup providing insurance products, and many of the competitors either do a single offering and do it well, like Starship does with health savings accounts, Anderson said. Catch is taking a different approach by offering a platform experience, but going deep on the process, she added. She likens it to Gusto, which provides cloud-based payroll, benefits and human resource management for businesses, in that Catch is an end-to-end experience, but with a focus on an individual person.

Over the past year, the company’s user base tripled, driven by people taking on second jobs and through a partnership with DoorDash. Platform users are also holding onto 5 times their usual balances, a result of setting more goals and needing to save more, Anderson said. Retirement investments and health insurance have grown similarly.

Going forward, Anderson is already thinking about a Series B, but that won’t come for another couple of years, she said. The company is looking into its own HSA product as well as disability insurance and other products to further differentiate itself from other startups, for example, Spot, Super.mx and Even that all raised venture capital this month to provide benefits.

Catch would also like to serve a broader audience than just those on the federal marketplace. The co-founders are working on how to do this — Anderson mentioned there are some “nefarious companies out there” offering medical benefits at rates that can seem too good to be true, but when the customer reads the fine print, finds out that certain medical conditions are not covered.

“We are looking at how to put the right thing in there because it does get confusing,” Anderson added. “Young people have cheaper options, which means they need to make sure they know what they are getting.”

 

#andrew-ambrosino, #crosslink, #doordash, #ecommerce, #employee-benefits, #funding, #gig-economy, #gig-workers, #health, #health-insurance, #khosla-ventures, #kindred-ventures, #kristen-anderson, #labor, #nyca-partners, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #urban-innovation-fund

Last-mile delivery in Latin America is ready to take off

In the United States, same-day and next-day Amazon Prime deliveries have become the de facto standard in e-commerce. People want convenience and instant gratification, evidenced by the fact that an astonishing ~45% of U.S. consumers are Amazon Prime members.

Most major retailers are scrambling to catch up to Amazon by partnering with last-mile delivery startups. Walmart has become a major investor in Cruise for autonomous-vehicle deliveries, and Target acquired Shipt and Deliv last-mile delivery startups to increase its delivery speed. Costco partnered with Instacart for same-day deliveries, and even Domino’s Pizza has jumped in by partnering with Nuro for last-mile delivery using autonomous vehicles.

E-commerce in LatAm has taken off at a compound annual industry growth rate of 16% over the past five years.

The holdout: Latin America

Venture capitalists have been investing heavily in last-mile delivery over the past five years on a global scale, but Latin America (LatAm) has lagged behind. Over $11 billion has been invested globally in last-mile logistics over the past decade, but Latin America only saw about $1 billion over the same period (Source: PitchBook and WIND Ventures research).

Within this, only about $300 million was in Spanish-speaking Latin America — a surprisingly small amount for a region that has 110 million more consumers than in the U.S.

Brazil-based Loggi accounts for about 60% of last-mile VC investment in Latin America, but it only operates in Brazil. That leaves major Spanish countries like Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina without a leading independent last-mile logistics company.

In these countries, about 60% of the last-mile delivery market is dominated by small, informal companies or independent drivers using their own trucks. This results in inefficiencies due to a lack of technologies such as route optimization as well as a lack of operating scale. These issues are quickly becoming more pronounced as e-commerce in LatAm has taken off at a compound annual industry growth rate of 16% over the past five years.

Retailers are missing an opportunity to give customers what they want. Customers today expect free, reliable same- or next-day delivery — on-time, all the time, and without damage or theft. All of these are challenging in LatAm. Theft, in particular, is a significant problem, because unprofessional drivers often steal products out for delivery and then sell them for a profit. Cost is a problem, too, because free same- and next-day deliveries are simply not available in many places.

Operational and technological roadblocks abound

Why does Latin America lag when it comes to the last mile? First, traditional LatAm e-commerce delivery involves multiple time-consuming steps: Products are picked up from the retailer, delivered to a cross-dock, distributed to a warehouse, delivered to a second cross-dock, and then finally delivered to the customer.

By comparison, modern delivery operations are much simpler. Products are picked up from the retailer, delivered to a cross-dock, and then delivered directly to the customer. There’s no need for warehousing and an extra pre-warehouse cross-dock.

And those are just the operational challenges. Lack of technology also plays a significant role. Most delivery coordination and routing in LatAm are still done via a spreadsheet or pen and paper.

Dispatchers have to manually pick up a phone to call drivers and dispatch them. In the U.S., computerized optimization algorithms dramatically cut both delivery cost and time by automatically finding the most efficient route (e.g., packing the most deliveries possible on a truck along the route) and automatically dispatching the driver that can most efficiently complete the route based on current location, capacity and experience with the route. These algorithms are almost unheard of in the Latin America retail logistics sector.

Major retail brands are the last-mile catalyst

#amazon, #amazon-prime, #argentina, #brazil, #chile, #colombia, #column, #costco, #doordash, #e-commerce, #ec-column, #ec-latin-america-and-caribbean, #ec-manufacturing-and-supply-chain, #ecommerce, #food-delivery, #instacart, #latin-america, #logistics, #lyft, #mercado-libre, #mexico, #nuro, #startups, #transportation, #uber, #walmart

Digital greeting card startup Givingli wraps $3 million seed round

While the digital revolution has transformed nearly every social interaction and communication type in the past couple decades, the humble birthday card has shown surprising resiliency.

Givingli, a small LA-based startup with an app aiming to challenge how Gen Z sends digital greeting cards, is picking up some seed funding from investors betting on their philosophy around modern gifting. The startup has raised a $3 million seed round led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, while Snap’s Yellow Accelerator also participated in the raise.

The wife and husband co-founding team stumbled into the world of digital greetings and gifts after abandoning physical invitations for their wedding and exploring how the digital greetings space had and hadn’t evolved. They’ve taken a mobile-first approach to tackling greetings for special events and moments where users just want to let someone know they’re thinking of them.

Image via Givingli

“Initially, we thought it would mainly be birthdays and categories like weddings, graduation, etc., and I think we just threw in some ‘just because’ cards, but then that became the most popular category, by far,” CEO Nicole Emrani Green tells TechCrunch. “I think that it’s what kicked off our virality, because obviously with every Givingli sent you’re pulling someone else in and then the conversation continues.”

The app monetizes through a $3.99 monthly premium subscription which gives users access to a greater variety of digital greeting designs from the more than 40 artists that the startup has licensed work from. Alongside paying for premium subscriptions, users can also shop for digital gift cards to send along with their greetings. Givingli’s gift card storefront has more than 150 brands available including Amazon, Spotify, Nike and DoorDash.

A big sell for Givingli’s offering has been its customization. Although users are pushed to select from the hundreds of available greeting cards, they can also spice them up by adding photos or videos in addition to writing text. The aim is to create a moment that rivals messages that can be shared via email, text or on social media services.

“For a generation of digitally native users, it’s not surprising that the ability to like, swipe, upvote or shoot a quick text from our phones have become the predominant ways we connect with others,” said Ohanian in a press release announcing the seed round. “What first attracted me to Givingli is that Nicole and Ben acutely understood this evolution and built a platform that provides the creative tools needed to elevate those interactions and deepen connections. Whether it’s sending a digital birthday gift, or a note just because – it’s clear that Givingli has put snail mail on notice.”

One of the team’s big challenges has been highlighting the visibility of their native app which users download to send greetings. Last fall, the Givingli team debuted a partnership with Snap that brought their gifting service inside Snapchat via a bite-sized Snap Mini app integration. The rollout followed the startup’s participation in Snap’s Yellow Accelerator program.

Emrani Green says that partnership has helped bring more users to their platform, and that more than 5 million people have used Givingli to send greetings since the app launched in 2019.

 

#alexis-ohanian, #amazon, #birthdays, #ceo, #co-founder, #computing, #doordash, #gift-card, #greeting-cards, #louisiana, #nike, #postcards, #recent-funding, #reddit, #snap, #snap-inc, #snapchat, #spotify, #startups, #tc, #technology

On-demand grocery startup Food Rocket launches in the Bay Area, goes up against delivery giants

On-demand grocery startups like Gorillas are invading Europe right now, but although on-demand-everything is kinda old-hat in the Bay Area, a new startup thinks it might just be able to do something new.

Food Rocket says it has raised a $2 million investment round from AltaIR Capital, Baring Vostok fund, and the AngelsDeck group of business angels, including Philipp Bashyan, of Russia’s Yonder, who has joined as an investor and advisor.

Yes, admittedly ok this tiny startup is competing with DoorDash, GoPuff, InstaCart and Amazon Fresh. Maybe let’s not into that…

Using the company’s mobile app, users can order fresh groceries, ready-to-eat meals, and household goods that will be delivered within 10-15 minutes, says the startup, which will be servicing SoMa, South Park, Mission Bay, Japantown, Hayes Valley, and others. The company hopes to open 150 ‘dark stores’ on the West Coast as part of its infrastructure.

Vitaly Aleksandrov, CEO, and co-founder of Food Rocket said: “The level of competition in this market in the U.S. is still manageable, which is why we have the opportunity to become leaders in the sphere of fast delivery of basic products and household goods. We aim to replace brick-and-mortar supermarkets and to change consumers’ current habits in regards to grocery shopping.”

What can we say? Good luck?

#advisor, #altair-capital, #amazon, #doordash, #europe, #gopuff, #gorillas, #grocery-store, #instacart, #online-food-ordering, #retailers, #russia, #tc, #united-states, #west-coast

Equity Monday: Dogecoin is passé, but student notes are big business

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This is Equity Monday, our weekly kickoff that tracks the latest private market news, talks about the coming week, digs into some recent funding rounds and mulls over a larger theme or narrative from the private markets. You can follow the show on Twitter here and myself here.

This weekend was all about memecoins. And I am sorry about that. But Equity doesn’t run the world, sadly, it merely notes what is going on:

  • Dogecoin dropped during Elon Musk’s SNL appearance. Which was somewhat ironic. Also there’s another memecoin that is skyrocketing.
  • Palantir, DoorDash, Airbnb, Alibaba will report earnings this week, amongst others.
  • Clubhouse is finally coming to Android. In the United States. By invite. So, if that’s you, congrats, welcome to the app.
  • A major cyberattack and ransom situation in the United States is a data point, yet again, that we’re woefully unprepared for cyber risk.
  • StuDocu raised $50 million which was cool, while Gojek raised another $300 million, which was the very opposite of surprising.
  • This week’s Extra Crunch Live is going to be really good. I will see you there!

It is going to be a busy week! Already since we recorded this show there’s more drama from Box, and more. Strap in!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#airbnb, #alibaba, #android, #clubhouse, #crypto, #cryptocurrency, #cyberattack, #dogecoin, #doordash, #elon-musk, #equity, #equity-monday, #equity-podcast, #gojek, #india, #palantir, #pipeline, #snl, #startups, #studocu, #tc

The gig is up on 21st-century exploitation

Today’s app-based or “gig” economy is frequently dressed up in talk about “modern innovation” and the “21st century of work.” This facade is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Precarious, contingent work is nothing new — we’ve always had jobs that are low-paying, insecure and dismissed as “unskilled.” Due to systemic racism and a historically exploitative economy, workers of color have always been, and continue to be, heavily concentrated in the most exploitative industries.

The only difference is that today, companies like Uber, DoorDash and Instacart claim they don’t have to play by the rules because they use digital apps to manage their workforce. Even as many of these tech giants remain unprofitable, they have been allowed for far too long to shirk responsibility for providing safe and just working conditions where workers can thrive on and off the job.

Even as many of these tech giants remain unprofitable, they have been allowed for far too long to shirk responsibility for providing safe and just working conditions where workers can thrive on and off the job.

Workers’ rights in the so-called gig economy are often positioned as a modern problem. But when we think about the problems faced by gig and app-based workers, who are predominantly people of color, we must learn from the past in order to move forward to a just economy.

The federal government has long failed to address widespread worker exploitation. Since the passage of the National Labor Relations Act, jobs like agricultural and domestic work, which were largely performed by workers of color, were carved out of labor rights and protections. The “independent contractors” of today, who are largely workers of color, fall into this same category of workers who have been excluded from labor laws. Combined, Black and Latinx workers make up less than 29% of the nation’s total workforce, but they comprise almost 42% of workers for app-based companies.

Gig companies argue that the drivers, delivery people, independent contractors and other workers who build their businesses, take direction from them and whose pay they set are millions of tiny businesses that do not need baseline benefits and protections. They do this in order to shield themselves from taking responsibility for their frontline workforce. Corporations then avoid paying basic costs like a minimum wage, healthcare, paid sick leave, compensation coverage and a litany of other essential benefits for their employees. For many workers, these conditions only serve to proliferate inequality nationwide and ultimately uphold a deeply flawed economy built upon worker exploitation and suffering.

App-based companies are the face of a larger, sinister trend. Over the last four decades, federal policies have greatly eroded the bargaining power of workers and concentrated more power in the hands of corporations and those who already have substantial wealth and power. This has perpetuated and worsened the racial wage and wealth gaps and contributed to the ever-increasing degradation of working conditions for too many.

It’s clear that, in order to build an economy that works for all people, “gig” and app-based companies cannot be allowed to exploit their workers under the guise of “innovation.” These companies claim their workers want to remain independent contractors, but what workers want is good pay, job security, flexibility and full rights under federal laws. This is a reasonable and just demand — and necessary to close generational gender and racial wealth gaps.

App-based companies are pouring significant resources into promoting government policies that prop up their worker exploitation model. Uber, Lyft, DoorDash Instacart and other app-based companies are loudly peddling misinformation in state legislatures, city councils and federal offices. Elected leaders at all levels need to recognize these policies for what they are — corporate efforts to rewrite the laws to benefit them — and reject the corporate interests behind the policies that carve out workers from universal protections.

Congress must also reject exclusions that lock people of color out of basic employment protections and pass legislation to extend protections to all workers, including app-based workers. The PRO Act is a great first step, which extends bargaining protections to workers who have been wrongly classified as “independent contractors” by their employers.

Across the country, app-based workers have organized to protect their health and safety and demand that their rights as workers be recognized and protected. Elected leaders cannot keep falling for corporate propaganda claiming a “21st-century” model. Work in the 21st century is still work; work that is organized on an app is still work.

We call on Congress to recognize the labor rights and protections of all workers and act boldly to ensure that app-based companies cannot block workers from equal rights in the name of “flexibility” and “innovation.”

#column, #congress, #doordash, #economy, #employment, #future-of-work, #gig-workers, #instacart, #labor, #lyft, #uber

Alchemy raises $80M at a $505M valuation to be the ‘AWS for blockchain’

Blockchain developer platform Alchemy announced today it has raised $80 million in a Series B round of funding led by Coatue and Addition, Lee Fixel’s new fund. The company previously raised a total of $15.5 million, so the latest financing brings its total raised to $95.5 million since it launched in 2017.

The latest round caught our attention for a few reasons.

First, the company, which describes itself as the backend technology behind the blockchain industry, went from public launch to a $505 million valuation in a matter of just eight months. During that time, Alchemy says it powered over $30 billion in transactions for tens of millions of users all over the world. Second, the startup says it also already powering the majority of the NFT industry.

And finally, its investors in the round include a high-profile mix of institutions and individuals such as DFJ Growth, K5 Global, the Chainsmokers, actor Jared Leto and the Glazer family (owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United). They joined existing backers including Yahoo co-founder and former CEO Jerry Yang, Pantera Capital, Coinbase, SignalFire, Samsung, Stanford University, Google chairman and Stanford University President John L. Hennessy, Charles Schwab, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and others.

Sources with inside knowledge of Alchemy’s operations tell TechCrunch that the company has already grown its business more than eightfold since it signed the Series B term sheet. They also said Alchemy had over $300 million of investor demand wanting to enter the round and is being inbounded to do another financing at “many times” the current valuation.

TechCrunch talked with Alchemy co-founders Nikil Viswanathan (CEO) and Joe Lau (CTO) about the raise and their passion for the startup’s mission was clear. As is its explosive growth.

“We realized that in order for space to thrive and build to its full potential, we needed to build a developer platform layer for blockchain,” Viswanathan told TechCrunch.

Alchemy’s goal is to be the starting place for developers considering to build a product on top of a blockchain or mainstream blockchain applications. Its developer platform aims to remove the complexity and costs of building infrastructure while improving applications through “necessary” developer tools.

The startup powers a range of transactions across nearly every blockchain vertical, including financial institutions, exchanges, billion-dollar decentralized finance projects and multinational organizations such as UNICEF. It has also quickly become the technology behind every major NFT platform, including Makersplace, OpenSea, Nifty Gateway, SuperRare and CryptoPunks.  

“Every time you open DoorDash, you’re using Amazon’s infrastructure,” Lau said. “Every time you interact with an NFT, you’re using Alchemy. It’s being powered by Alchemy underneath the hood.”

While the pair would not provide hard revenue figures, the company – which operates as a SaaS business – says it increased its revenue by 600% in 2020.

For inside players, Alchemy’s efforts are paving the way for the whole industry. 

“The cryptoeconomy is innovating faster than any technological movement that came before it, and Alchemy has been a key driver of that,” said Coinbase President and COO Emilie Choi. “Alchemy enables developers to build the rich ecosystem of applications necessary for mainstream blockchain adoption.”

Pantera Capital’s Paul Veradittakit describes Alchemy as “the Amazon Web Services (AWS) of the blockchain industry” that is “enabling the vision of a decentralized web.”

“While in Web 2.0, Microsoft, Apple and AWS are three of the most valuable companies in the world because they are the developer platform powering the computer and internet industries, Alchemy is primed to do the same for the blockchain,” he said.

The company believes the comparison to AWS is fair, noting that: “Just as AWS provides the platform that powers Uber, Netflix and much of the technology industry, Alchemy powers infrastructure for many large players in the blockchain industry.”

Alchemy plans to use its new capital to expand its developer platform to new blockchains, fuel global expansion and to open new offices in the U.S. and globally. The startup is based in San Francisco and is planning to open an office in New York.  

“We are going to use the funds to support new chains with our developer platform,” Viswanathan said. “We also expect to 5x the team this year.”

But to be clear, Alchemy prides itself on being lean and mean.

“We just went from 14 to 22 employees,” Lau said. “We have intentionally wanted to keep the team as small as possible.”

The blockchain space has been the subject of increased investor interest as of late.

In March, BlockFi, which describes itself a financial services company for crypto market investors, announced it had closed on a massive $350 million Series D funding that valued it at $3 billion. Also last month, Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis company, revealed the close of $100 million in Series D financing, which doubled its valuation to over $2 billion.

#alchemy, #amazon, #amazon-web-services, #apple, #articles, #bank, #bitcoin, #blockchain, #ceo, #chairman, #charles-schwab, #co-founder, #coinbase, #computing, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #cto, #decentralization, #dfj-growth, #doordash, #driver, #emilie-choi, #funding, #fundings-exits, #google, #jared-leto, #jerry-yang, #linkedin, #manchester-united, #microsoft, #netflix, #new-york, #nikil-viswanathan, #pantera-capital, #president, #recent-funding, #reid-hoffman, #saas, #samsung, #san-francisco, #stanford-university, #startup, #startups, #tc, #technology, #uber, #united-states, #venture-capital, #yahoo

DoorDash announces new pricing for restaurants, with commissions as low as 15%

DoorDash is announcing new pricing plans for the restaurants who use the platform for pickups and deliveries.

Before this, the company did not offer standardized pricing across restaurants. However, the question of how high delivery app fees might go (and how parsimonious the payments might be for restaurants as a result) prompted DoorDash to publish a long blog post about its fee structure last fall.

In fact, Oregon and Washington have passed caps on delivery fees, while lawmakers in California, New York and Texas have proposed similar caps. On a call with reporters to discuss the new pricing, DoorDash COO Christopher Payne denied that the company changed its pricing to appease lawmakers.

“This is not designed in response to legislation,” Payne said. “It’s designed in response to listening to restauranteurs and learning what they need.”

DoorDash now offers three plans to restaurants: DoorDash Basic, where restaurants only pay a 15% commission on deliveries, which shifts “a higher portion of the delivery cost to the customer” and supports a smaller delivery area; DoorDash Plus, where restaurants pay 25% to be part of DoorDash’s DashPass subscription program and get increased visibility in the DoorDash app; and DoorDash Premier, where restaurants pay 30% in exchange for the lowest customers fees, the largest delivery area and a growth guarantee of at least 20 orders per month across pickup, delivery and DoorDash-owned Caviar.

Across all plans, DoorDash says it will now charge only a 6% commission on pickup orders.

The company’s announcement includes statements from restaurant owners who are adopting the new plans. For example, here’s Sherry Copeland, owner of Jai Meals in Plano, Texas:

Jai Meals operates out of a local mall, so delivery has been an important part of how I have made up for lost income over the past year of dine-in closures. Despite this, my previous commission didn’t work for my business; it was hard to absorb that high of a cost, especially when delivery became a large percentage of my orders. With the Basic plan, I can offer delivery to customers, who increasingly enjoy the convenience delivery provides, but at a cost that is more aligned with my products, my goals and my customers’ needs.

Payne said these plans will become available to all restaurants on DoorDash today, although it may take up to five days for the new pricing to fully take effect.  He added that DoorDash has been testing these plans over the past few months and that “we believe this will have negligible impact — no impact, really — on our economics, nor on Dasher earnings.”

#doordash, #food, #food-delivery, #mobile

The #8meals app from Habits of Waste helps people cut back on meaty meals to save the planet

Earth Day may have come and gone, but with apps like #8meals from the non-profit Habits of Waste, anyone can try and do their part to help reduce deforestation and rising greenhouse gas emissions by cutting meat out of their diets for just 8 meals a week.

The app, which was created by Habits of Waste founder Sheila Morovati along with the development shop Digital Pomegranate, gives users a way to schedule which meals of theirs will be meatless and offers recipe suggestions for what to eat to help them stick to their goals.

For Morovati, the #8meals app is only the latest in a series of initiatives that are meant to cut down on waste and consumption. Morovati’s journey to environmental advocacy began with a program to redistribute used crayons from restaurants to schools in the Southern California region.

That program, called Crayon Collection, has redirected over 20 million crayons from landfills, but Morovati’s non-profit push to reduce waste didn’t end there.

The Habits of Waste organization also launched the #cutoutcutlery campaign, which convinced Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub and DoorDash to change their default settings to make customers opt-in to receive plastic cutlery. It’s a way to reduce the nearly 40 billion plastic utensils that are thrown away each year, according to the Habits of Waste website.

“We decided to create a whole new arm which is cut out cutlery and eight meals. Trying to shift societal mindset is my goal,” said Morovati. 

Meanwhile, the number of meat replacements available to consumers continues to expand. Everyone from Post Cereal to Anheuser Busch is trying to make a play for replacements to proteins sourced from animals. That’s not to mention the billions raised by companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat to sell replacements direct to consumers.

Going meatless, even for a few meals a week, can make a huge difference for planetary health (and human health). That’s because animal agriculture is responsible for more than 18% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide — and it contributes to deforestation.

“I always think about this fake person that I’ve created in my mind and I call him Mr. Joe Barbecue,” Morovati said during a YouTube interview with self-described superfood guru, Darien Olien, earlier this year. “How can we get Mr. Joe Barbecue to be on board? Is it possible to tell him to go fully vegan? I don’t think so. Not yet. But I think if we introduce it with eight meals a week, maybe even Mr. Joe Barbecue will be willing to go there and understand it and try it and open up the door a crack to invite people in who may not be willing to do this.”

#cutlery, #doordash, #earth-day, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #grubhub, #postmates, #tc, #uber-eats, #websites

Fraud prevention platform Sift raises $50M at over $1B valuation, eyes acquisitions

With the increase of digital transacting over the past year, cybercriminals have been having a field day.

In 2020, complaints of suspected internet crime surged by 61%, to 791,790, according to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report. Those crimes — ranging from personal and corporate data breaches to credit card fraud, phishing and identity theft — cost victims more than $4.2 billion.

For companies like Sift — which aims to predict and prevent fraud online even more quickly than cybercriminals adopt new tactics — that increase in crime also led to an increase in business.

Last year, the San Francisco-based company assessed risk on more than $250 billion in transactions, double from what it did in 2019. The company has over several hundred customers, including Twitter, Airbnb, Twilio, DoorDash, Wayfair and McDonald’s, as well a global data network of 70 billion events per month.

To meet the surge in demand, Sift said today it has raised $50 million in a funding round that values the company at over $1 billion. Insight Partners led the financing, which included participation from Union Square Ventures and Stripes.

While the company would not reveal hard revenue figures, President and CEO Marc Olesen said that business has tripled since he joined the company in June 2018. Sift was founded out of Y Combinator in 2011, and has raised a total of $157 million over its lifetime.

The company’s “Digital Trust & Safety” platform aims to help merchants not only fight all types of internet fraud and abuse, but to also “reduce friction” for legitimate customers. There’s a fine line apparently between looking out for a merchant and upsetting a customer who is legitimately trying to conduct a transaction.

Sift uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to automatically surmise whether an attempted transaction or interaction with a business online is authentic or potentially problematic.

Image Credits: Sift

One of the things the company has discovered is that fraudsters are often not working alone.

“Fraud vectors are no longer siloed. They are highly innovative and often working in concert,” Olesen said. “We’ve uncovered a number of fraud rings.”

Olesen shared a couple of examples of how the company thwarted fraud incidents last year. One recently involved money laundering through donation sites where fraudsters tested stolen debit and credit cards through fake donation sites at guest checkout.

“By making small donations to themselves, they laundered that money and at the same tested the validity of the stolen cards so they could use it on another site with significantly higher purchases,” he said. 

In another case, the company uncovered fraudsters using Telegram, a social media site, to make services available, such as food delivery, with stolen credentials.

The data that Sift has accumulated since its inception helps the company “act as the central nervous system for fraud teams.” Sift says that its models become more intelligent with every customer that it integrates.

Insight Partners Managing Director Jeff Lieberman, who is a Sift board member, said his firm initially invested in Sift in 2016 because even at that time, it was clear that online fraud was “rapidly growing.” It was growing not just in dollar amounts, he said, but in the number of methods cybercriminals used to steal from consumers and businesses.

Sift has a novel approach to fighting fraud that combines massive data sets with machine learning, and it has a track record of proving its value for hundreds of online businesses,” he wrote via email.

When Olesen and the Sift team started the recent process of fundraising, Insight actually approached them before they started talking to outside investors “because both the product and business fundamentals are so strong, and the growth opportunity is massive,” Lieberman added.

“With more businesses heavily investing in online channels, nearly every one of them needs a solution that can intelligently weed out fraud while ensuring a seamless experience for the 99% of transactions or actions that are legitimate,” he wrote. 

The company plans to use its new capital primarily to expand its product portfolio and to scale its product, engineering and sales teams.

Sift also recently tapped Eu-Gene Sung — who has worked in financial leadership roles at Integral Ad Science, BSE Global and McCann — to serve as its CFO.

As to whether or not that meant an IPO is in Sift’s future, Olesen said that Sung’s experience of taking companies through a growth phase such as what Sift is experiencing would be valuable. The company is also for the first time looking to potentially do some M&A.

“When we think about expanding our portfolio, it’s really a buy/build partner approach,” Olesen said.

#airbnb, #artificial-intelligence, #board-member, #credit-card, #credit-card-fraud, #crime, #crimes, #cybercrime, #doordash, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #food-delivery, #fraud, #funding, #fundings-exits, #identity-theft, #insight-partners, #jeff-lieberman, #machine-learning, #mcdonalds, #online-fraud, #private-equity, #recent-funding, #san-francisco, #sift, #startup, #startups, #stripes, #tc, #twilio, #union-square-ventures, #wayfair, #y-combinator

Altman brothers lead B2B payment startup Routable’s $30M Series B

We all know the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital adoption in a number of areas, particularly in the financial services space. Within financial services, there are few spaces hotter than B2B payments.

With a $120 trillion market size, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of fintechs focused on digitizing payments have been attracting investor interest. The latest is Routable, which has nabbed $30 million in a Series B raise that included participation from a slew of high-profile angel investors.

Unlike most raises, Routable didn’t raise the capital from a bunch of VC firms. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and former president of Y Combinator, and Jack Altman, CEO of Lattice, led the round. (The pair are brothers, in case you didn’t know.)

SoftBank-backed unicorn Flexport also participated, along with a number of angel investors, including Instacart co-founder Max Mullen, Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia, Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie, Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff (who also started TIME Ventures),  DoorDash’s Gokul Rajaram, early Stripe employee turned angel Lachy Groom and Behance founder Scott Belsky.

The Series B comes just over eight months after Routable came out of stealth with a $12 million Series A.

CEO Omri Mor and CTO Tom Harel founded Routable in 2017 after previously working at marketplaces and recognizing the need for better internal tools for scaling business payments. They went through a Y Combinator batch and embarked on a process of interviewing hundreds of CFOs and finance leaders.

The pair found that the majority of the business payment tools that were out there were built for large companies with a low volume of business payments. 

After running enough customer development we identified a huge scramble to solve high-volume business payments, and that’s what we double down on,” Mor told TechCrunch. 

Routable’s mission is simple: to automate bill payment and invoicing processes (also known as accounts payables and accounts receivables), so that businesses can focus on scaling their core product offerings without worrying about payments.

“A business payment is more like moving a bill through Congress, where a consumer payment is more like a tweet,” Mor said. “We automate every step from purchase order to reconciliation and by extending an API, companies don’t have to build their own inner integration. We handle it, while helping them move their money faster.”

Since its August 2020 raise, Routable has seen its revenue grow by 380%, according to Mor. And last month alone, the company tripled its amount of new customers compared to the month prior. Customers include Snackpass, Ticketmaster and Re-Max, among others.