Daily Crunch: Bangalore-based UpGrad becomes India’s newest unicorn with $185M funding round

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for August 9, 2021. We are ever so glad that you are here. We have global startup news for you, rocket news, car-rental IPO news and more. And if you are a student, we even have Extra Crunch discounts for you. Call it a technology and money smorgasbord. All in one email. Let’s go! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Turo is taking its car rental business public:Turo, a well-known U.S. startup that allows folks to rent their car to other folks, has privately filed to go public. Oh boy are we curious what its numbers show. Not only because it’s an S-1 that we’ve wanted to read for some time, but also because we’re incredibly curious about how the company navigated the pandemic and the changing world of transit during the last 18 months or so. More when it files publicly, you know, to go public.
  • China’s tech crackdown continues:Another weekend, another set of regulatory actions from China’s government. Tencent and the larger gaming world could be in trouble next. The turbulence was enough for NetEase, a major gaming company in China, to delay the Hong Kong listing of its music business. Recall that Tencent Music is publicly listed.
  • SpaceX buys Swarm Technologies: After seeing a friend get hooked up to Starlink the other day, what SpaceX does in the connectivity space is now more real to your humble scribe than theoretical. So the news that the space launch company is buying Swarm Technologies caught my eye. What does Swarm do? Per TechCrunch, it “operates a constellation of 120 sandwich-sized satellites as well as a ground station network.” Precisely how that may or may not link up to current SpaceX efforts is unclear.

Startups/VC

Let’s start with a brace of unicorn stories and then delve into some earlier-stage startup news, yeah?

  • Indian edtech is still hot: Another day, another edtech unicorn. This time it’s UpGrad, a Bangalore-based startup that “specializes in higher education and upskilling courses.” It just raised $185 million at a $1.2 billion valuation. Temasek led the round. Notably, it was a two-part affair, with an earlier tranche worth $120 million first valuing UpGrad at a price of around $600 million.
  • Turkey’s first $10B startup: $1 billion isn’t cool. You know what is? $10 billion. I suppose that that means that Turkish e-commerce platform Trendyol is cool? At least General Atlantic and SoftBank Vision Fund 2 think that it is cool enough to be worth $16.5 billion. Per our reporting, the company serves around 30 million shoppers who generate around 1 million packages per day. That’s a lot of shipping.

Now, let’s talk about some younger startups:

  • RentCheck wants you to get your dang deposit back:And it has raised $2.6 million to power its efforts. Everyone knows what the problem space is here, so we care a bit more about how the company intends to tilt the rental market more toward renters themselves. Per TechCrunch, the company’s software “works by providing a way for property managers to facilitate and conduct remote, guided property inspections.” So long as more of us get our dang money back, cool.
  • Canopy raises $15M for loan-servicing software: Sure, the back end of the financial world isn’t super fun to think about, but it is huge and potentially lucrative. Canopy Servicing is attacking the fintech market with a focus on building software that will help companies better offer and service loans. Credit is a massive problem space, and with $15 million new dollars, it will be interesting to see how quickly this API-delivered startup can grow.
  • Meta app search, hell yeah: Today CommandBar left its beta period and announced that it has raised $4.8 million. The company’s tech is a search layer that sits atop web apps, making them easier to, well, search. Frankly, this kicks butt. Why? Because finding what you need inside of web apps can be an enormous hassle if you are in a hurry and not fluent in the application you are presented with. Which happens to everyone. Every day.
  • LawVu is building Salesforce for legal teams: Back to the topic of things that are important, if not entirely Super Very Cool, let’s talk about software aimed at helping legal teams. LawVu is working in the space, and just raised $17 million NZD to back its efforts. It’s building a digital space for legal teams to share documents, communicate and more.
  • Moove wants to provide car financing to African drivers: After noting that African car ownership rates lagged other continents, the founders of Moove decided to tackle the issue. The startup is starting with working to provide asset-backed financing to folks who make money with their cars and just raised $23 million.

Early-stage brands should also unlock the power of influencers

Before you hire a marketing consultant who doesn’t understand your products or commit to a CMO who has several years of experience — but none in your sector — consider influencer marketing.

If the phrase evokes images of celebrities hawking hard seltzer, think again: An influencer can be as humble as an enthusiastic Reddit user who manages your Telegram channel.

According to Uber growth marketing manager Jonathan Martinez:

“ … You don’t need to find influencers with millions of followers. Instead, lean toward microinfluencers for testing, which will bring cost efficiency and the ability to sponsor a diverse range of people.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • There will now be ads in your Instagram e-commerce experience:Call it a feature or not, Instagram is bolstering its ads business by building advertising slots that include “both single images and [an] option for an image carousel.” You are welcome, Instagram users.
  • How one tech company is building an antiracist culture:TechCrunch’s Ron Miller spoke to several Twilio execs about how their company is working to be a bit more than diversity-friendly. They want Twilio to be opposed to racism. Good. Let’s hope more companies follow suit.
  • Facebook under fire for cutting off research access:After Big Blue decided “to close accounts connected to a misinformation research project last week,” Congress got mad. Now a cadre of senators are pressing the company on its decision to cut off access to the researchers, which puts Facebook in the position of managing to have engendered a negative press cycle and more congressional oversight in a single move. You have to give the company points for efficiency.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Intellect illustration

Image Credits: Getty Images

Are you all caught up on last week’s coverage of growth marketing? If not, read it here.

TechCrunch wants you to recommend growth marketers who have expertise in SEO, social, content writing and more! If you’re a growth marketer, pass this survey along to your clients; we’d like to hear about why they loved working with you.

Community

Image Credits: Apress

Join TechCrunch Managing Editor Danny Crichton for a Twitter Spaces event tomorrow, August 10, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT. Danny will be joined by Noah Giansiracusa, the author of “How Algorithms Create and Prevent Fake News: Exploring the Impacts of Social Media, Deepfakes, GPT-3, and More.” They’ll discuss Giansiracusa’s book and invite the audience to ask questions.

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