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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for October 7, 2021! Sure, we’re excited about software here at TechCrunch, but we also keep at least one eye on the sky at all times. Which is why our upcoming Sessions: Space event is going to be out of this world. Sorry. – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Global startups raise record sums. Again. Another quarter, another set of record funding totals for global startups. New data from CB Insights indicates that upstart companies around the world managed to just beat the records that they set in Q2 of this year. All told, 2021 is going to be a barn-burning year of venture capital investment that we may never beat in our lifetimes.
  • Microsoft buys OKR software startup Ally: TechCrunch has long tracked the OKR software market as crowded and incredibly busy when it comes to raising capital and posting big ARR growth numbers. Today, Microsoft shook up the startup niche by buying one of its better-funded competitors. Now what?
  • Developers are building tools to get around the Apple tax: While global regulators figure out what to do with app marketplace payment lock-in, startups are getting to work. Paddle is building what TechCrunch describes as a “new in-app purchasing (IAP) system aimed at iOS developers that’s designed to be a drop-in replacement for Apple’s own IAP.” Good!

Startups/VC

  • I am here for robot tire changing: I don’t know how to change a tire, as I am a useless man-child who types for a living. But even among folks who know how, the rote task isn’t likely popular. Enter robots! RoboTire wants to bring robotic tire changing to the car service world and has raised a $7.5 million Series A round to fund its aspirations.
  • You can no longer pay real money to buy fake stock in real companies: A day after Visionrare announced a marketplace where you could buy NFTs of fake shares of real startups, that appears to be over. Sadly. It was great for headlines.
  • We’re holding you to this deadline, Cruise: Well-funded self-driving car company Cruise intends to have tens of thousands of self-driving cars on the roads by 2030. If the company misses this deadline, I have decided that all its execs have to bike to work for the next decade. (Sticking to the theme of my personal incompetence, driving is hard and I do not like doing it.)
  • Startup with video game name that doesn’t deal in video games raises money: If you have ever heard of the game Chrono Trigger, you are excused from wondering if Chronosphere is a gaming company. It is not. It is, instead, a data observability company. And it has put together a $200 million round, which should be more than enough capital to take on Monte Carlo and other players in its niche.
  • Instacart buys FoodStorm: Grocery delivery behemoth Instacart announced this morning that it has purchased FoodStorm, what TechCrunch describes as “a SaaS order management system (OMS) that powers end-to-end order-ahead and catering for grocery retailers.” Terms were not shared, and because both companies are private, that doesn’t tell us too much.
  • Microservices meshing is macro business: Our own Ron Miller has a story out today looking at Solo.io, which provides software that helps customers “mesh” microservices together. I know what that means only from a very high perspective. What matters to both of us is that the company is now a unicorn, putting up some early points in Q4 for the larger Boston startup scene.
  • Slackify in all the things: That’s what Cord wants to do, put Slack-like features into any application. It offers its service via an API — naturally — and just banked $17.5 million for its project.
  • Nigerian American company raises for cross-border African payments: The growing African e-commerce market is creating demand for new products, a trend that Klasha hopes to ride with its service that helps consumers pay across national borders on the continent.
  • And to round out our startup coverage today, ghost kitchens are not merely a trend in the United States. They are also taking off in India. Evidence of that fact? Rebel Foods just raised at a unicorn valuation on the back of its own dark kitchen work in the country. It seems that good startup ideas are reaching international ubiquity faster than ever.

After a proxy fight victory, it’s time for Box to make some bold moves

The last few years included a delayed IPO filing and a proxy battle with a major shareholder, but events are now unfolding nicely for Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie.

Enterprise reporter Ron Miller says this is “a pivotal moment for the cloud content management company,” so he interviewed Levie to learn more about his plans, particularly in light of the company’s recent revenue growth.

For balance, Ron also spoke to Alan Pelz-Sharpe, founder and principal analyst at Deep Analysis.

“The next year is pivotal for Box,” he said. “It has to prove that it was right to win the proxy fight. To do that, it has to evolve the Box platform and grow steadily but surely and continue to carve out a niche for itself in the market.”

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