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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for October 27, 2021! We are live all day at our SaaS event, which means that a good chunk of TechCrunch has been busy putting questions to tech experts and investors. But that doesn’t mean that we went light on covering the news. Hell, we even dropped a huge TC-1 on Bowery today! Strap in! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Can Ro expand past generics? In a detailed report, TechCrunch’s Natasha Mascarenhas dug into Ro, the company behind Roman and other health-focused services as it works to expand its product mix and keep growing. Other issues at the company, per a host of sources, include low morale and refusal of “basic feedback.”
- Rent the Runway sees strong public debut: Yesterday evening, Rent the Runway priced at $21 per share, the top end of its IPO range. TechCrunch read the strong pricing event as indicative of a warm IPO market not only for pure tech companies, but also unicorns that are more tech-enabled than tech tech. The company began trading today, initially rising before losing ground as the day grew late. (More on the company’s financials here.)
- Uber to rent 50,000 Teslas: Remember when Hertz announced that it was buying a host of Tesla electric cars? It turns out the news wasn’t just PR. The company is working with Uber to rent tens of thousands of the cars to Uber drivers. The result could be a higher-end, and perhaps greener, Uber fleet.
The 2021 IPO market is not going quietly into the night. It’s working to close out the year with a bang. News today indicates that Paytm could snag a $20 billion valuation when it goes public, setting records for its native India, while Brazil’s Nubank dropped a post sharing that it has filed privately to go public. The company will list in the United States with some trading planned for its own domestic market.
- Abacus.ai wants to democratize ML: As far as goals go, Abacus’ plan to simplify machine learning model creation, as our own Ron Miller put it, is a good one. Tools like what the startup has in mind could lessen a market crunch in data talent and perhaps empower more workers to execute their own data-focused tasks.
- Plant-based chicken is expensive: At least if you want to buy into the companies creating it. Today, Daring Foods announced that it has raised an eye-popping $65 million Series C, and that its plant-based chicken comp product will find shelf space in 3,000 Walmart locations. Given that Walmart is not the first megaretailer we’d anticipate would roll out fake chicken, the partnership could indicate that plant-based meats are more generally popular than we thought.
- Groopit wants to help corp leaders listen to staff more effectively: The startup — founded by a longtime Microsoft staffer — just raised $2 million to build a product that, in the words of its founder Tammy Savage, “combines data collection and real-time data sharing into one lightweight workflow.”
- SoftBank writes checks this small? It turns out that the SoftBank Vision Fund 2 is capable of writing eight-figure checks. The investing group just put $25 million into Israeli startup OurCrowd. The startup operates a so-called venture platform, making its own fundraising slightly meta.
- Truepill turns its sights to the corporate world: According to TechCrunch reporting, from a focus on “telehealth, diagnostics and pharmacies for consumers,” Truepill is now “targeting healthcare incumbents.” The company just added $142 million to its accounts, valuing it at $1.6 billion.
- Broad productivity app ClickUp now worth $4 billion: Flush with $400 million worth of new capital, San Diego-based ClickUp has scaled its user base around 4x in the last year. What does it do? It brings together a bevy of features including chat, tasks, to-dos and more into a single package. Yes, all of tech is bundling and unbundling.
- And from the podcast team, a warm if somewhat sad goodbye to Danny, who is leaving Equity after a long, successful run on the hosting team.
The Bowery Farming TC-1
Just over a tenth of Americans have jobs in food and agriculture, so it’s easy to see why many of us lack a keen awareness about what we’re eating or where it comes from.
Our food supply isn’t as secure or predictable as we assumed: Climate change, safety recalls, the COVID-19 pandemic and even immigration policies can directly impact what’s available at the store. The technological leaps that made it possible to feed (most of) the world will not see us through the next century unless we change course.
Plant-based protein has gotten a lot of press, but vertical farming that leans on hardware and robotics has reached scale, reports Brian Heater, TechCrunch hardware editor.
In a four-part series, he explores the origins and operations of Bowery Farming, a profitable startup that has raised almost $500 million since 2015 to create new tech and facilities that raise leafy greens sold in nearly 900 markets.
Part 1: Bowery Farming is forcing us all to look up at the future of vertical agriculture
Part 2: Hacking lettuce for taste and profit
Part 3: Can LEDs ultimately replace the sun?
Part 4: The voracious fight for your salad bowl
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
TechCrunch has a startup focus, but we do watch former startups after they reach the public markets. For a few quarters, at least. Today shares of Robinhood — until very recently a private unicorn — are off after the company reported results and forecasts that came in under market expectations. What its lackluster performance data will mean for other transaction-based trading platforms is not clear at this juncture.
- LinkedIn’s freelance push goes global: After testing in the United States market — LinkedIn’s home turf, if you will — the company is bringing its “Service Marketplace” to more geographies. If you are familiar with Fiverr, this is perhaps comparable. Regardless, the move shows that LinkedIn is capable of making headlines that are not discussing major retrenchments.
- Amazon cuts climate checks: The megaretailer is putting its $2 billion climate fund to work by putting capital into three startups. TechCrunch has the deets.
- Google will now allow under-18s to delete images of themselves from search: Announced back in August, this new Google capability reminds me a bit of what Europe has mandated for its own lands. Perhaps we will get more EU-style digital tooling for consumers here in the United States.
- Which tech giant is the podcast king? Spotify is deep into an effort to broaden its content base away from tunes to include a deep podcast library that may be bearing fruit. Per the company, it is now the leading destination for podcast listening in the United States. I’ve requested our own podcast results from Spotify as, well, I am now curious.
- Robotaxis, delivery vehicles are just around the corner: Like, really. Per GM’s Cruise group, commercial operations of its self-driving cars could come in 2022. That’s brilliant news. Please, megacorps of the world, spare me having to drive for the rest of my life. I want to quietly read a book while a computer handles the turn signals.
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