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Thursday! This week has just flown by, and we’re still reeling from the excitement that a company is leaning into compliments. Compliments? In this day and age? Is there actually hope for us after all?! Well, we have a compliment for ya, Mike — thank you for spreading some joy into our day today! — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Amazon turned that smile upside down: Shopping for charity is going to not be a thing for Amazon after February. Amid layoffs and other cuts, the delivery giant said it was ending its AmazonSmile program to focus on other philanthropic endeavors of its own, Romain reports.
- Give ’em what they want: Mike writes that “German teens went crazy for Slay’s app that gives compliments,” and now venture capitalists are getting in on the fun and backing its next phase.
- Storefront builder’s gold mine: Oro, an open source e-commerce platform, is going against the grain of other platforms by targeting businesses. That approach is paying off as the company announces $13 million in new funding. Paul has more.
Startups and VC
People are addicted to credit cards — and it’s no wonder, given the lucrative rewards that many of them offer. But for merchants, credit cards tend to be less appealing, Kyle reports. Merchants are on the hook for interchange fees, or transaction fees a merchant’s bank must pay whenever a customer uses a card to make a purchase. Link comes to the rescue, and the company raised $30 million to help merchants accept direct bank payments. You know, like consumers in Europe have been able to do since the 1990s.
In recent years, working for, or banking with, a traditional financial institution was decidedly uncool. Far cooler was working for or banking with one of the many fintech startups that seemed to thumb their nose at stodgy bank brands, Connie reports. A lot of fintechs “have to fix their business models,” according to fintech-investing VCs.
And we have five more for you:
- It’s better than yours: Outrider brings all their autonomous electric trucks to yard, and they’re, like, it’s better than yours, Kirsten reports, as the company raises $73 million to brings its autonomous electric yard trucks into the mainstream.
- Someone let the air out of space: Private investment in space companies dropped 58% last year, even with SpaceX and Anduril monster raises, Aria reports.
- Feeling the pressure: Brian reports that dry-cleaning robotics startup Presso raised another $8 million.
- Call me on my $ell phone: India’s PhonePe tops $12 billion valuation in new funding, Manish reports.
- Who needs designers anyway: Scenario lands $6 million for its AI platform that generates game art assets, reports Kyle.
Teach yourself growth marketing: How to boot up an email marketing campaign
In the third article of a five-part series, growth marketing expert Jonathan Martinez (Uber, Postmates, Chime) explains how to create and optimize email campaigns that will “push consumers through your funnel and drive conversions.”
Martinez shares fundamentals for segmenting customers and anticipating where leaks will occur along the funnel you’re developing. Startups that recapture these users can eke out a higher ARR, and every little bit counts.
“It is crucial to distill user segments as much as possible because we must ensure that we’re sending the right messaging to the right consumers.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Worrying and getting worse: Women-founded startups raised 1.9% of all VC funds in 2022, which represents a drop from 2021, Dominic-Madori reports.
- Tearin’ into the decks: Haje’s weekly Pitch Deck Teardown is here. This week he takes a closer look at Scrintal’s $1 million seed deck.
- Response is for the birds: Twitter’s data leak response is a lesson in how not to do cybersecurity, reports Carly.
TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Big Tech Inc.
We know, it’s hard to put that phone down, and all those distracting dings and buzzes don’t help. Well, Instagram’s got your back with a Quiet Mode that helps you take a break from the app and even tells your peeps you are on DND. Sarah writes that this is just one of several new changes on the app, including some other time management tools and expanded parental controls.
Meanwhile, fast fashion ain’t what it used to be…valued at. Rita reports that Shein is reportedly accepting a lower valuation as it seeks to raise $3 billion in new funding. The company is said to be raising on a $64 billion valuation, down from the $100 billion price tag in April; however, “Shein denies the accuracy of some of the information,” she writes.
And we have five more for you:
- We want s’more Smores: Smores, a music discovery app, wants to show you the songs you’ve been dying to hear, but in a way you want it and with a TikTok-like feed, Ivan writes.
- One way or another: Over in Europe, Natasha L reports that Meta dodged a €4 billion privacy fine over unlawful ads, while WhatsApp gets its hand slapped for processing data without a lawful basis.
- They’re not spending like they used to: Ron reports that analysts cut their 2023 tech spending predictions as the economy forces consumers to scale back.
- Is it that time already?: FTX’s new CEO is now saying there’s a possibility for the crypto exchange to restart. Jacquelyn has more.
- Someone has a “420” obsession: Elon Musk’s now famous tweet about taking Tesla private could lose him billions as it plays out in trial, Rebecca reports.