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Hello and welcome to the Daily Crunch for January 12, 2022! Today we have to talk about serious and less serious things. So, let’s look at the global venture capital results for 2021 and Wordle. A delayed IPO and the fact that a panda-themed startup is now a unicorn. You got the idea. Come on! – Alex
Ploonge top 3
- 2021 was a year of venture capital par excellence: The data indicates that 2021 was easily the biggest year ever for venture capital and related investments in the private market. Ploonge investigated the world’s leading figures, selected geographies, and the fintech and cybersecurity markets. Yeah, you know last year was a little crazy in front of the capital. But we doubt you know just as the mad.
- Checkout.com Raises $1 Billion on a $40 Billion Valuation: Today’s mega-round is one of the biggest and most expensive in terms of valuation that we can remember. And given that Checkout.com was worth $15 billion a year ago, the company has recorded one of the fastest gains in paper value we can remember. The lesson here is that the payments space is hot and not entirely owned by Stripe.
- Justworks delays its IPO, which bodes ill for unicorn exits: While venture capitalists were busy putting more money to work last year than ever before — and 2022 is off to a similar start, as Checkout.com shows — an IPO has just been delayed. Why? Justworks cited market conditions. For unicorns hoping to find a way out this year, the news from Justworks is not good.
What is a startup? It’s a question that Ploonge has been asking from time to time (and that I also fought with the Internet). But sometimes we worry about technology products that are no beginners. Wordle, the popular word game, is perhaps an example of the concept. As it’s more of a website than a company, its huge audience gains – Ploonge has the key interview with the founder of Wordle here – aren’t covering the creator of Wordle with all the benefits of its success. Owen Williams argues on our pages that the service is “being punished by app stores for choosing the open web.”
If you don’t know Wordle yet, are you still in the tech area?
Moving forward, Public has appointed new independent board members after seeing its funded account soar 700% in the past year. The Robinhood competitor decided to avoid paying for order flow last year, a major revenue driver for its well-known rival. Ploonge is curious to see what’s next for the company on the revenue side, now that Public has reached a material scale of users.
And before we get into the day’s roundup of funding events, the Dorm Room Fund is raising a new and larger fund in keeping with the keen eyes of our own Natasha Mascarenhas, and Headspace acquired an AI-powered mental health startup.
Now the rounds:
- DeepScribe raises $30 million for medically focused transcription: Doctors have to be medical service providers and paperwork machines if they want to get out of work on time. DeepScribe is betting that applying a little technology to the matter will help. The startup provides “ambient voice AI technology that encapsulates the natural conversations between patient and physician,” writes Ploonge. Tidy!
- Helping governments create digital IDs is big business: That seems to be the lesson of Merit’s new round. The startup has just raised $50 million — bringing its capital base to $80 million in total — to help governments move beyond plastic cards and into the digital realm. Of course we have privacy concerns about the concept, but at the same time, the fact that if someone steals my Social Security card could be a big problem is 1800 nonsense.
- SeekOut raises $115 million to help companies hire from a broader pool of candidates: Gone are the days when you could hire a team of white guys and not get a few questions about your biases. So even less enlightened companies want to do better. SeekOut can be helpful. The startup, writes Ploonge, “aims to help companies hire from a more diverse pool of talent.” And Tiger Global just folded the startup with another big check. One to watch.
- Pluang raises more capital to help Indonesians invest: Using fintech services to help make investing more accessible to the less wealthy has been the goal of many startups. Pluang is one such company, offering its users a variety of potential assets that they can buy for small amounts. And it just raised $55 million in a round led by Accel. (The notable fact here is that Robinhood’s share price erosion after the IPO is not stopping investments in private companies that could be considered comps.)
- What do you call a horned panda? Turns out the answer to that question is BigPanda, a startup that just raised $190 million with a valuation of $1.2 billion. Based on reading company materials, it uses AI to analyze information coming from IT systems and also helps to automate routine tasks.
We have even more rounds on Ploonge for your enjoyment, including $40 million for ecommerce brands, $115 million for TravelPerk, and $15.6 million for Superchat. If you want to know how these deals are being vetted, the Equities team will help you.
Blockchain gaming survey: 7 investors discuss NFT regulation, opportunities and hype
Game distribution platform Steam banned blockchain-based games in October 2021: all titles incorporating NFTs or cryptocurrencies were summarily booted into the service.
Meanwhile, in Axie Infinity, an NFT-based online game, new players are paying hundreds of dollars to acquire mythical pets and love potions.
Blockchain games are making inroads with some consumers, but given the lack of regulatory guidance and the speculative nature of many cryptocurrency holdings, what do investors think?
To find out, we surveyed seven investors active in the space:
Anton Backman, Director, and Kenrick Drijkoningen, General Partner, Play Ventures
Banafsheh Fathieh, Head of Investments, Americas, Prosus Ventures
Josh Chapman, Managing Partner, Konvoy Ventures
Eddie Thai, General Partner, 500 Startups and General Partner, Ascend Vietnam Ventures
Beryl Li, co-founder of Yield Guild Games
Rajul Garg, Founder and Managing Partner at Leo Capital
(Ploonge+ is our membership program, which helps startup founders and teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Apple fixes iOS after HomeKit crash: The updated versions of iOS for iPhone and iPad will “fix the so-called ‘doorLock’ flaw, which was disclosed earlier this month by security researcher Trevor Spiniolas,” reports Ploonge.
- PC shipments skyrocket: If you bought a new PC last year, you are far from the only person to do so. Ploonge has the latest PC shipment numbers for 2021, and if you own Apple or Microsoft stock, the news isn’t bad.
We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices. fill in the survey here.
Read below one of the testimonials we received!
Merchant: Black Eye Project
Recommended by: Andrew Hagen, formerly with cycling
A testimony: “We were based in Perth, Australia, and they were in Sheffield, but they had an edge that no other agency seemed to exhibit. Even being 12,000 kms away from us, they delivered and some! They turned our rudimentary brand into something professional that could stand alongside the top-tier competitors in our space, and then wrapped all of our collaterals around the brand into a cohesive marketing package. They moved our poles!”