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Happy new week, startup nerds!
Tomorrow (Tuesday), we have not one, but two Twitter Live events happening, and we’re excited about both of ’em. At 8:00 a.m. PDT / 11:00 a.m. EDT, we are talking with Andrew Chan about why Gen Z VCs are trash, and at 12:00 p.m. PDT / 3:00 p.m. EDT, we’re talking with M13 partner Anna Barber about what today’s founders can learn from the dot-com bubble bursting.
May your week have all the right kinds of surprises in it! — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- 2001, a Starbucks Odyssey: In August, Starbucks got things percolating with plans for a blockchain-based loyalty program and NFT community. Today, the coffee giant brews up additional excitement, unveiling Starbucks Odyssey. Sarah has more on this steamy, hot cup of rewards.
- Twitter vs. Elon Musk, part 265: Ivan writes that “the third time is the charm” for Elon Musk’s lawyers, who delivered a third termination notice to Twitter regarding the severance payment made to former security head Peiter “Mudge” Zatko in June, arguing that this action was in violation of Musk’s proposed agreement to acquire the social media giant. Or so they thought. Twitter is denying this breached the agreement.
- Africa’s hot and heavy fintech sector: Kippa, a Nigerian financial management app for merchants, closed on $8.4 million in new funding. Tage reports that Kippa already has 500,000 merchants using its app since launching last June.
Startups and VC
EV truck company Nikola merged with VectoIQ in a SPAC in June 2020 with a $29 billion valuation. Trevor Milton, ex-CEO of Nikola, starts his fraud trial, which serves as a warning to risk-loving investors who would throw money at a company before it starts delivering products or bringing in revenue, Rebecca reports.
“The reality is that if you’re a Silicon Valley-based venture firm, no LP at your annual meeting is going to ask you, ‘How did you miss company X in Columbus?’ Like, that’s not gonna happen. But they will ask you, ‘How did you miss company Y that was in Silicon Valley?’ They don’t want to miss those things in their backyard,” explained Chris Olsen in a fascinating interview with Connie. Olsen spent six years with Sequoia Capital in California before co-founding Drive Capital in Columbus, Ohio, in 2013.
Tangentially related, for our City Spotlight: Minneapolis last week, Haje hosted a panel discussing What Minneapolis investors are looking for (hint: it’s not just Minnesota startups).
Here’s a few more for ya:
- Separation of the Church of Fintech and the State of Mind: Mary Ann reports that government regulators appear to be growing increasingly wary of banks and fintech startups getting too cozy.
- Here, have a fresh battery: Magna enters the micromobility and battery swapping market with a $77 million investment in Yulu, Rebecca reports.
- Avoiding a pain in the SaaS: Cledara raised $20 million to help companies control their SaaS sprawl, reports Paul.
- More greens, more local: Vertical farming giant Gotham Greens just raised $310 million to expand its greenhouses nationwide, Brian reports.
- Fraud allegations get founders fired: Founders of well-funded Egyptian B2B startup Capiter are fired following fraud allegations, reports Tage.
For LatAm payment orchestration startups, market fragmentation is a blessing in disguise
In Latin America, e-commerce is plagued by high fraud rates. Scarcely 20% of adults have a credit card, and many who do aren’t able to use them internationally.
It’s also true that e-commerce is growing faster there than in any other region since the pandemic began. According to one study, online sales in Latin America will generate $379 billion in a 32% year-over-year increase.
“The payments landscape in Latin America seems hopelessly fragmented and riddled with fraud,” says Rocio Wu, a principal at F-Prime Capital.
“However, we believe that fragmentation actually offers a huge opportunity for vertically integrated payments orchestration startups to capture a lot of value.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Darrell was following the Blue Origin launch this morning and brought news that the launch was aborted after “a mid-flight anomaly.”
We know you missed getting your Apple news fix over the weekend, so the team, including Zack, Ivan, Sarah and Romain, came together to bring you some stories related to iOS 16. First are five new security and privacy features followed by “nifty” features you don’t want to miss. Then everything you wanted to know about Lock Screen widgets and how downloading iOS 16 will turn your iPhone into a more personal device and finally, the skinny on Apple Passkey.
- Eyeing India: That’s exactly what Google is planning to do with some of the manufacturing for its Pixel smartphones, Manish writes.
- What not to leave in your hotel room: Not sure how you can just “find” a Meta Quest Pro prototype, but that’s what a video game streamer in Mexico says happened. Amanda has more.
- Nope: Can’t say Amazon didn’t try. The e-commerce giant is urging the European Union to accept its offer to end an antitrust probe into its use of third-party data. Natasha L writes that some advocacy groups are calling Amazon’s offer “weak, vague and full of loopholes.”
- Chocolate, salty balls perhaps?: Move over capsules and K-cups. Coffee balls are here.Find out what Haje had to say about the Swiss-based CoffeeB machine.