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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Wednesday, March 9, 2022! A few notes before we dive into the news: First, our Austin City Spotlight and pitch-off is coming together, so startups, this link is for you. And we just announced that Felicis Ventures’ Aydin Senkut and Viviana Faga are coming to Early Stage to talk TAM, which is going to be a treat. – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Amazon suspends Prime Video in Russia: Adding to our ever-growing list of companies that are pausing or ending business in Russia after the nation’s government launched an invasion of neighboring Ukraine, Amazon is suspending Prime Video in the country. Amazon has also “suspended the shipment of retail products to customers based in Russia and Belarus,” TechCrunch writes.
  • Developer tools are not worth infinite money: Startups that built for developers had an amazing 2021. They raised huge sums of capital and put forth a number of high-profile, richly valued IPOs. And then the market went well, maybe not, and cut their valuations. For startups still building for developers, it’s ill news.
  • Swiggy preps for huge IPO: The IPO market isn’t entirely dead. We heard recently that Intel is taking Mobileye public, and Indian food delivery behemoth Swiggy “has hired bankers as it gears up for an initial public offering next year,” TechCrunch reports. That’s a ways off, but we’re still happy that someone, somewhere, wants to take a unicorn public.

Startups and VC

Kicking off our startup coverage today, a few notes from our enterprise reporter Ron Miller. First, Miller wrote up new data on the future of the robotic process automation, or RPA, market. The gist is that growth in the hot segment is set to slow over the next few years as more AI-first solutions garner more market footing. For companies like former unicorn UIPath, there’s change coming. And Miller also wrote up Blink’s recent round. The startup focuses on simplifying cloud operations.

Also out today was news regarding Public’s latest deal, this time bringing Otis aboard its consumer trading service. The company was once largely construed as a Robinhood competitor, but with the Otis deal, Public is making a bid to be a more diverse asset investing platform for consumers.

Oh, and if you are building a so-called “web3” startup, well, there’s lots of capital in the market for your work. Now onto the rest of the news!

  • Strong Compute wants faster ML model training: Hailing from the current batch of Y Combinator startups – Winter 2022, to be precise – Strong Compute is tackling a pretty big market. Namely the work that goes into training neural networks. The company argues that tools in the market today for the work are often easy to use but inefficient.
  • Guide raises to improve the candidate experience: Lots of HR tech that TechCrunch covers is focused on companies and how they operate. Guide, which just raised $8 million, is building for job candidates instead. Its service provides job-seekers a hub for their interview process, hopefully boosting candidate conversion rates.
  • Zaya Care is focusing on maternal care: Maternal care in the United States is not only a national embarrassment, it’s also a stain on our nation’s moral stature. We don’t take good care of pregnant folks before or after they give birth. Zaya Care wants to bring more European-style care to parents-to-be, and it has a neat idea of how to get there.
  • Today in good headlines: Nothing is a startup working in the hardware space that may have product coming to light at a forthcoming event. Hit the link for more, and a very good headline.
  • Acorns raises a post-SPAC round: What happens after you call off your SPAC deal? Well, if you are Acorns, you raise a huge funding round at effectively the same valuation. Now flush with nine figures of new cash, the consumer fintech intends to go public in a traditional manner in the future.
  • Atlantic Money wants to take on Wise: TransferWise, now known by the mononym Wise, is a public company that has done well for itself over the years. So, naturally, it’s attracting competition. FX startup Atlantic Money wants to challenge it with a flat-fee model. Let’s see if the startup can tackle the public incumbent, itself a former startup.
  • And speaking of consumer fintechs: Yep!, a digital bank for Nigeria, just raised a $1.5 million round. The company wants to build a super-app of sorts, bringing a host of financial tooling into a single application. It’s a model we’ve seen work in other markets.

And there was more, of course: Ardoq just raised $125 million. Branch added $75 million to its coffers. And the Equity team chatted through how to – and how not to – buy community.

Dear Sophie: How long does it take to get International Entrepreneur Parole?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

Both my co-founder and I have E-2 status. We need to find a quick visa option because a VC investment will dilute our equity, and we will no longer be eligible for the E-2.

We are looking at International Entrepreneur Parole as an option since we would easily qualify based on the investment we’re expecting, but we’re concerned about timing.

I know IEP is a new option; how long is it taking? Can it be expedited? Should we consider alternatives?

—Fast-Flying Founder

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

Big Tech Inc.

Alrighty, it’s time for Big Tech news. Up top, this electric bus freaking rules, and I may buy one. And why was TechCrunch so hype about the new iPhone SE? Well, because we love fingerprint readers. And we don’t love facial recognition.

  • TikTok launches music marketing, distro platform: It’s no secret that TikTok is hugely influential in the music business. Songs that go viral on the social platform can rack up hundreds of millions of streams, or more. So it’s not a shock that the company wants to get more than one toe into the music business’ waters.
  • Facebook releases new Groups tools to fight disinformation: I haven’t been a Facebook user for years now, but even I know that the company’s Groups feature is a big meeting place online. So that Facebook is building tools for better Groups management is welcome, given, well, the internet today.
  • U.K. adds scam ads to its Online Safety Bill: Brexit or no, the U.K. is not precisely charting a path that feels all that distinct from what the EU is doing when it comes to tech regulation. TechCrunch covered an extension of an upcoming digital bill today, for example.
  • And Italy fined Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition startup.

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