The TC crew are a bunch of bookworms. Alex collected the top reads from 2022. Haje’s favorite was “A Deadly Education” (Naomi Novik’s first book in the Scholomance trilogy), which incidentally was recommended by both Alex and Amanda, which was how he found out about the books in the first place. Meanwhile, Christine was unable to put down “Blue Ticket” by Sophie Mackintosh. Get down to your local indie bookstore and sniff some freshly printed wood pulp! In non-book news, there’s a bushel of stories from TechCrunch for ya! — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
Does anyone else miss paper maps?: A gaggle of companies, including Meta, Microsoft, AWS and TomTom, have partnered with the Linux Foundation to form the Overture Maps Foundation to do a few things: develop interoperable open map data and knock Google’s map dominance down a few pegs. Paul has more. Another tool to decipher Salesforce: Too much data, not enough time. Thankfully there is Sweep, a new no-code config tool that can make the data in Salesforce more usable. The company raised $28 million to put companies back in control of their own data, Kyle writes. Going Backstage: Paul also has a story on how Spotify is planning to monetize its open source Backstage project via premium plugins.
Startups and VC
Dakotah Rice, founder of Poolit, tells Mary Ann, “2023 will be a fantastic year in all likelihood for venture and private equity. It’s kind of like you’re starting from a new base.” The company raised millions to turn accredited investors into LPs in VC and private equity funds. Ventures Platform, a Pan-African early-stage venture capital firm, has closed its fund at $46 million as it looks to double down on “category-leading” companies across the continent, Tage writes. Most of its limited partners in the first close were primarily African based, which was a deliberate effort. And we have five more for you: Is it a bird? Is it a plane?: Kirsten reports that Zipline now is the national drone service provider for Rwanda. A SaaSy hotel lobby: Ingrid covers Mews’ $185 million fundraise for its SaaS-based hotel management platform. Rough times in VC land: Connie reports on the frustration and anger that erupted as SPV platform Assure dumps users at the curb ahead of holidays. Support direct to customers: Kate reports that Plugo, an e-commerce support platform for D2C brands in Southeast Asia, picks up a $9 million Series A. Armored AI: Protect AI lands a $13.5 million investment to harden AI projects from attack, Kyle reports.
Which Instagram ad placement is more cost-effective: Reels, Feed Posts or Stories?
GettyImages-129748039-1 Consumer-facing startups are spending more on platforms like TikTok and Instagram to reach customers, but which ad products offer the best return? In a case study based on Instagram campaigns for a site that facilitates bookings for freelance beauty professionals, digital marketer Angelina Liparteliani looked at Instagram Reels, Feed Posts and Stories. Her highly detailed breakdown includes examples of the ads used in various campaigns, the process she used for optimizing creative materials, and a cost-per-click analysis that shows how she reduced CPC from $1.51 to 17 cents. “Definitely don’t chase trends,” advises Liparteliani. “Diversify your ad strategy, test different ideas and don’t give up if your ad doesn’t show results right away.” Three more from the TC+ team: Lighting the fuse: Alex wonders if China’s venture capital market can help it reignite growth. AI attracts dollars: Companies — and VCs — continue to invest in AI despite market slowdown, reports Kyle. Where’s the beef: Christine explores that while cultivated beef companies tout sustainability, will they also lead to marketability? TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Big Tech Inc.
Jacquelyn got a scoop that Coinbase created an asset recovery tool for unsupported Ethereum-based tokens. If you just went “Huh?” we’ll let her explain: “In the past, if you sent assets not supported by Coinbase to a user’s address on the exchange, you’d get a message saying the assets were successfully delivered on-chain, but they didn’t actually go to the receivers’ wallets.” Coinbase supports hundreds of cryptocurrencies, but there are thousands that it doesn’t. ERC-20 tokens are one of them, and the crypto exchange found like 4,000 of them sent to its ledger. Fortunately, it now has a way to help customers recover them. And we have five more for you: Breaching into the void: Zack has more information on what LastPass is saying — and what it’s not saying — about its recent data breach notice. Get your beauty on: Alex Perez-Tenessa, a former Prime Video executive, launched the video shopping app Trendio to feature all things beauty e-commerce, Aisha writes. Do you want that slice triangle or square?: Rita reports that Lucid is poised to enter China’s crowded EV market after seeing a number of open positions in Shanghai advertised on LinkedIn. If you’re still not scared off by crypto…: PayPal and MetaMask have something for you. The companies are uniting to create an integration that will make it easier to buy crypto, writes Romain. Shhhhhh: Microsoft-owned GitHub is now making its secret scanning service available for all public GitHub repos for free, Frederic writes. Daily Crunch: Major tech firms partner with Linux Foundation to support open map data development by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch