Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Tuesday, February 22, 2022! We are back! Yes, after a wonderful long weekend, your entire TechCrunch team is back in the saddle. And that’s a good thing, because everything seems to be happening at once. So it was perfect that Slack decided it was actually a fourday weekend and didn’t get to his desk on time. Oof.
Better news: Greylock’s Glen Evans is coming to Early Stage to talk about hiring in today’s insanely competitive talent market. So, you know, I’ll see you there. † Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Stalkerware is bad, leaks: Stalkerware is software that allows consumers to keep an eye on other people’s devices. Parents and children are the canonical example. There are, of course, other uses for the same code. And it turns out, per Zack Whittaker’s reports to TechCrunch that there is a serious security flaw in part of the code of a popular suite of stalkerware apps that share a backend. Here’s how to stay safe.
- Unicorns are worth trillions: New data indicates that the value of unicorns today exceeds $4 trillion, or roughly the value of the US Big Five tech companies. And the value of these untapped, expensive private market companies is growing at a rate of about a trillion dollars a year. Which equates to approximately $2.7 billion per day†
- And speaking of unicorns: Hasura, the company behind the GraphQL service of the same name, has raised a $100 million round at a valuation of approximately $1 billion. Welcome to the very, very busy unicorn club, Hasura. According to our reporting, the company has seen its growth accelerate, which helps explain the new valuation. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t notice that the company’s open source model is something we’re seeing more and more of.
- Minded raises $25 million for DTC mental health drugs: One good thing about the DTC model is that it’s a great way to weed out middlemen from one industry or the other. Minded, however, takes the concept to mental health, a medical domain. It will be interesting to see how the company balances patient care with DTC economics.
- Zenjob’s staffing model finds new lenders: Connecting temps to companies is a worldwide rush. Zenjob is working on it in Europe and has just raised $50 million to help students find work. Here in the United States, Fiverr is public, and Pangea from Rhode Island works the same way as Zenjob.
- Alloy Automation proves that a16z invests (still) in non-crypto companies: And we thought it had become Token Time at the investment group. Alloy indicates that SaaS still has a home there! Alloy works in the e-commerce automation market, where it aims to build a central hub for a brand’s various software services.
- Language learning app EWA raises first external capital: Want to know how to raise money externally? It’s easy. First, find a huge human problem. Say, learn languages. And then shoot past 50 million downloads and accumulate a few million monthly active users. Bingo, you just raised $2.7 million.
- Search isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Vector search: Bob van Luijt, CEO of SeMi Technologies, is a great tip, as he has been patient with me as I struggled to learn more about vector search. Anyway, Christine Hall has notes on the company’s progress and recent fundraising.
And just for fun, what price would you pay for salmon that hasn’t been killed? We will, investors are betting $100 million on the idea – come to a diner near you!
Advice and strategy for early stage sex technology founders
The old adage, “build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door,” doesn’t apply to startups in the sexual wellness category.
Pleasure has a very large TAM, but “vices’ clauses” prevent many VC firms from even considering a sex tech startup.
To find out how other entrepreneurs were dealing with these challenges, Anna Heim interviewed founder/angel Andrea Barrica, entrepreneur Lora DiCarlo, and Carli Sapir, founder of Amboy Street Ventures.
“Fundraising is just one hurdle in the industry. Therein lies the problem[s] of advertising, marketing, consumer education and medical expertise in this area,” said Sapir.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Behold the new Sony nerd helmet: What do we want? No future where one company owns the VR hardware market. So it’s good that Sony has a new VR headset to gawk at – as long as Meta makes VR gear, we’ll be living in a Facebook walled garden, which sounds a little lame.
- Google now helps you with ‘Checks’ to see if your app is privacy compliant: There’s a new tool from Google, which we report uses “AI technology to identify potential privacy and compliance issues within apps, amid a rapidly changing regulatory and policy landscape.” It’s called Checks and frankly it sounds like a bop. Slowly but surely we are moving towards a more privacy-friendly world. We can only hope for an acceleration, and maybe Checks will help.
Are you up to date with last week’s coverage of growth marketing and software development? If not, read it here.
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