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Hello and welcome to the Daily Crunch for January 26, 2022! Today we have surveillance robots, a Harry Potter reference, layoffs and startup news galore. Heck, we even have some Reddit news in the mix. It’s a good day to be a tech fan, worker and consumer in general. To enjoy! – Alex
Ploonge top 3
- Taking a robot surveillance company public in 2022: not an easy task, frankly. Given the growing general awareness of privacy, Knightscope goes public at an interesting time. The IPO window has also been tricky lately, with some companies delaying their offers. We have our eyes on that, if for no other reason than the fact that robots are inherently cool.
- Firebolt valuation soars higher: Announcing a $100 million round with a $1.4 billion valuation is big news for any company. For a startup that shares a name with a Harry Potter broomstick, it’s somewhat epic (we tried to work a golden snitch joke in the headline here and failed). by our own Ingrid Lunden, Firebolt is “taking on Google’s BigQuery, Snowflake and others” with a cloud data storage product that it says is cheaper and faster.
- Glossier Layoffs: Eighty Glossier corporate employees are laid off, we learned today. Ploonge notes that layoffs are worth about a third of the company’s corporate workforce. The gist, for an internal email, is that the company will leverage third-party technology rather than, presumably, building its own.
Today’s startup news is a really cool mix of things, so we’re proceeding in paragraphs rather than bullet points so we can stretch our legs. To work!
With the stock market in turmoil and valuations plummeting for tech companies around the world, three Ploongeers came together to answer one question: How should founders prepare for a decline in startup valuations and investor interest? We often post tri-view pieces around singular news events, but this time we had fun with a trend.
Moving forward, news broke today that UBS is buying the Wealthfront robot consultant for $1.4 billion. Those of us who were paying attention to fintech in the past will remember when Wealthfront and Betterment fought over new customers and assets, building new technologies to attract capital and users while also working to crush each other. The story is now partially closed, so we look at the business from the perspective of revenue, assets under management and customers.
In good news for European startups in general – not how they are suffering, mind – Spain’s startup law is “months away”, we inform you. The idea here is that Spain wants to attract more tech talent and startups. This makes sense, as tech companies can grow into large companies filled with high-paying jobs, given the space and time to do so. What’s in the law? According to our own Natasha Lomas, the bill covers “key areas like tax breaks for investors, talent incentives like stock options, and a new digital nomad visa to attract international tech workers.”
Back on this continent, Ploonge wrote today about Boom, the supersonic jet startup that wants to bring fast travel back to consumers. Since Concord kicked the bucket, we’ve all flown at speeds that are pretty paltry compared to how fast our species has managed in the past. And we were all kind of like, ok, i think. I didn’t think the company would survive, but it did, and Boom is planning to build its fast jets in North Carolina. Go Tarheels, I suppose!
today from oh god just go public file, Reddit is testing a method to allow its users to upload NFTs as their profile pictures. Twitter did this recently. It’s a bit like uploading a photo to be your profile picture, but it’s more complicated. Regardless of what regulars think of the NFT boom, it’s clear that tech chiefs are participating.
Speaking of tech workers, how most companies hire their engineers is a little wayward. Most developers don’t really spend their time doing solo logic work on whiteboards while being scouted by recruiters. So why is this how they are scrutinized? Byteboard’s new method of testing computer engineering talent just raised $5 million, so perhaps change is on the way.
If you live in Europe, you may want to invest in Asian stocks. Or, if you live in Latin America, you may want to invest in public companies in the United States. This isn’t always as simple as you might think, so Vest’s work to help people in the greater Americas invest in American companies caught our attention. Founders Fund is supporting the company’s work.
An interesting part of the current startup landscape is the sales world. SalesOps software is no small niche, with Gong proving that the sales use case can make a lot of money. CaptivateIQ is another player in the space, albeit with a different focus. According to our own Mary Ann Azevedo, CaptivateIQ “developed a no-code SaaS platform to help companies design custom sales commission plans”, raised $100 million and tripled its revenue last year.
And from the assorted bucket, the Equity team brought in Bessemer growth-stage investor Mary D’Onofrio to chat about changing valuations, exit multiples and what’s to come for startups. And I made a little argument that more drama in the tech space would do us good.
A CISO playbook for responding to zero-day exploits
The exploit of Log4Shell, which gave criminals the ability to run malicious code on infiltrated servers, made global headlines and ruined the vacation of many cybersecurity professionals.
Despite a series of high-profile attacks, many companies still don’t have a response plan, writes Jonathan Trull, senior vice president of customer solutions, architecture and engineering at Qualys.
Based on his experience as a CISO, Trull outlines three steps companies can take to develop a playbook:
- Establish a standard operating procedure
- stock, stock, stock
- Collecting, sharing and analyzing information
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Big Tech Inc.
- Apple closes the security holes: there are updates for iOS 15.3 from macOS Monterey 12.2, so if you use these operating systems, it’s time to patch your code. The iOS update alone fixes 10 security bugs.
- Activision Blizzard will not voluntarily recognize the union, because of course: nothing says We are an employee focused company more than looking at the collective will of your team and saying no. Or at least that seems to be what corporations think. Not that you or I had high hopes for a miserable company for its own incompetence, but hey, hope springs up and all.
- Snap Updates Its AR Shopping Feature Set: On Us Sara Perez, social network Snapchat is “updating its AR shopping experience,” including changes to “Shopping Lenses” and third-party analytics.
- More money for EVs: Rita Lião agree with you and me that there are too many electric vehicle companies to track. Fortunately, she’s on pace so we can stay informed. This time it’s “Jidu, an electric car manufacturing company founded by Baidu and its Chinese auto partner Geely,” which has just raised $400 million.
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