The incumbents go shopping for startups

Welcome to Startups Weekly — your weekly round-up of everything happening in the startup scene. Subscribe here so it arrives directly in your inbox every Friday morning.

This week, I explored what happened to one Norwegian hardware startup with an unusual cap table; three different investors concluded it was uninvestible as currently structured; however, these experts provided advice on how best to change that situation.

I also investigated another startup from Turkey with $4 million raised — another company which wouldn’t exist without hard import taxes in place – to explore how building behind tariff walls impacts economic incentives and growth strategies.

Once in awhile, an acquisition story comes along that’s worth covering; then they come all at once! Nikon acquired cinematic camera company RED; Lensrentals purchased BorrowLenses as its archrival – two noteworthy cases from just photography alone!

Most interesting startup stories this week

Welcome back for another installment in our periodic miniseries “Micromobility Melodrama!” Cityscoot of Paris has officially handed off ownership to Cooltra via court-approved acquisition. Once considered the future of urban transport, Cityscoot found itself facing court-ordered receivership when once beneficial zero interest rates turned oppressive; leaving its iconic white-and-blue mopeds without their useable fleet of white/blue bikes behind.

incumbents
incumbents Image by freepik

Cooltra swooped in and acquired Cityscoot user base by offering EUR400,000 purchase; promising an easy transition, where users may only notice new stickers being present on their bikes rather than any noticeable differences from before compared with prior ownership changes!

Razor Group and Perch have decided to form an alliance on “Survivor: E-commerce Aggregator Edition,” unaffected by Thrasio’s recent demise. Armed with $100 million war chest and debt that seems more “long term relationship than short term fling”, these titans of commerce appear ready to tackle Amazon jungle with confidence – Razor now boasting $1.7 billion valuation cap while Perch, once an underdog, expect their combination of tech expertise and Shein-envy will lead them through.

Totango and Catalyst recently united forces as B2B customer success specialists; joining together without exchanging money but with shares.

Accenture was left bemused when news arrived of its acquisition of Udacity, the learning platform founded in 2011, hoping to inject digital knowledge with an artificial intelligence flair into their workforce.

Anthropic’s Chatbot Was Unsatisfying: Anthropic’s new chatbot proved less-than-helpful, insisting its knowledge was only up until 2021 and could therefore not answer.

Most interesting fundraises this week

Remofirst is making waves in the HR tech world with a $25 million Series A funding. It stands out by allowing companies to hire employees and contractors across 180 countries without needing local entities. This approach sets it apart from competitors like Deels and Rippling, who focus on local entity formation. The main advantage seems to be cost savings. Meanwhile, Deel continues to grow, having just acquired PaySpace.

Monzo, a leading London fintech, has weathered many challenges, including a valuation fluctuation and withdrawing its U.S. banking application. Despite these hurdles, it’s thriving, with 9 million Brits using Monzo cards and offering 9 versatile financial products. Reports of Monzo’s struggles have proven to be premature.

Axonius, a digital security company, recently raised $200 million to enhance its security services. CEO Dean Sysman noted that they didn’t aim to increase their valuation with this round. This investment underscores Axonius’s commitment to protecting corporate assets.

Ema has just stepped out with $25 million in funding, aiming to be the preferred AI assistant for professionals. It seeks to simplify daily work tasks, marking its entry into the competitive AI market.

Mews, a technology provider for the hotel industry, has secured an additional $110 million as travel rebounds post-COVID. Valued at $1.2 billion, Mews is not yet profitable but is recognized as a significant player in hospitality tech.

This week’s big trend: Lawsuits and Musk

Elon Musk is entangled in legal battles on several fronts, highlighting the complex dynamics of his leadership and entrepreneurial ventures. One notable conflict arises from former Twitter executives suing him over alleged severance payments totaling $128 million. After Musk’s takeover and rebranding of Twitter to “Twitter X,” he swiftly terminated CEO Parag Agrawal and other senior executives, sparking a drama reminiscent of “The Hunger Games” in Silicon Valley.

The lawsuit accuses Musk of initially promising financial compensation to these executives, only to renege on millions in severance payments. This situation paints Musk as both a protagonist and antagonist, suggesting he failed to honor extensive financial commitments made over the course of long-term contracts spanning years and involving various entities.

Simultaneously, Musk finds himself in a dispute with OpenAI, the AI research company he helped establish. He accuses OpenAI of deviating from its foundational nonprofit mission in favor of profit-oriented objectives, influenced by Microsoft’s involvement. This lawsuit portrays Musk as a visionary disillusioned by OpenAI’s shift from altruistic aims to a for-profit model, underscoring the tension between idealistic intentions and the pull of commercial success in his endeavors.

Other unmissable TechCrunch stories …

Staying on top of the latest tech news can be thrilling. Here are some key updates that are too interesting to overlook:

Roku Introduces Controversial Terms: This week, Roku demanded users accept new terms to keep using their devices. Otherwise, the devices stay locked until users agree.

YX International’s Security Slip-up: In a scenario reminiscent of a cyber thriller, YX International left a security gap open. This mistake could expose millions of texts, highlighting the delicate balance of our digital world.

Outage Hits Social Media on Election Day: On Super Tuesday, Meta’s platforms – Facebook, Instagram, and Threads – unexpectedly went down. Users couldn’t post their “I Voted” stickers or browse their feeds during a pivotal moment in U.S. elections.

Apple vs. Epic Games Escalates: Apple has cut off Epic Games by terminating its developer account. This intensifies their ongoing feud, drawing attention from fans and developers alike.

Airbnb Targets Low Performers: Airbnb is marking its bottom 10% listings with new badges. These “badges of shame” aim to steer guests away from poor-quality stays and motivate hosts to improve.

These updates illustrate the dynamic nature of the tech and digital media sectors. Changes, challenges, and conflicts can significantly impact users and the industry. Keep your devices ready for more news as it unfolds!

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