3 Views on a16z’s latest reported early-stage effort

a16z, a venture capital firm known for its large fund sizes and for shaking up the VC game when it piled into the industry back in 2009, is cooking up a new strategy to potentially bolster its deal flow, according to a recent report. It’s creating a fund-of-funds to invest in smaller venture capital pools, giving it visibility on the next generation of breakout tech companies.

a16z did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

The trend of large funds — traditionally more focused on later-stage deal-making, as it’s hard to deploy big funds into smaller, earlier deals — trying to find a way to get involved in earlier-stage companies is not new. And it is not hard to see the logic behind the a16z effort, provided that it pans out as expected: If it is hard for huge funds to go early, and therefore small, why not simply fund the folks investing early, and then leverage those relationships?

The new a16z effort sparked up a little conversation inside of TechCrunch+, so we decided to take to our traditional “talk about it out loud” model of sharing different perspectives on the matter from inside our newsroom.

3 Views on a16z’s latest reported early-stage effort by Rebecca Szkutak originally published on TechCrunch

Computer or casino?

It’s been more than a decade since I first starting covering Bitcoin, and I feel like I’ve seen the ups and downs of crypto. From the Mt. Gox days through the ICO boom and the later NFT cycle, it’s been a fascinating ride: The web3 world that Bitcoin kicked off back in 2009 has been a tumultuous and absorbing financial and technological story.

My optimism for blockchain-based tech has also gone through ups and downs. Just as I worried for the viability of my index funds every time crypto prices went vertical, I’ve also wondered whether it was the final straw for Bitcoin and friends every time the web3 hype cycle imploded. But no matter how high the high, how low the low, or how fast the transition between the two, crypto has managed to come back in one form or another.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

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At some point you give up trying to predict what will happen and when, and you must simply watch.

Investors are not playing the same game. The venture market by its nature is a wager-placing activity. VCs think up a thesis, find what they consider to be outstanding startups that fit their market hypothesis, fund them, and then try to help those startups become big. So long as some of the companies that they pick do well, they can earn back all the capital they invested and share in the profits.

The thesis portion of the venture game is sometimes hard to parse from the outside. Many investors are low-key when it comes to speaking publicly, so we have to watch their deal flow to get a taste of where they see the future going. Some investors, in contrast, like to make a bit more noise.

It’s often useful. Bessemer’s regular cloud reports discuss a portion of that firm’s investing thesis. And since the Bessemer documents are chock-full of useful data, and are often unsparing in their market diagnosis, are worth reading. It was with that vibe that I dug into the most recent a16z crypto market update.

Computer or casino? by Alex Wilhelm originally published on TechCrunch

a16z’s crypto report anticipates developer growth as blockchain scaling solutions expand

As the crypto market continues to find its footing in an ever-shaky climate, Andreessen Horowtiz, which launched a $4.5 billion web3 fund last year, released its second State of Crypto report. It dives into everything from blockchain activity to new technologies, but one theme that stands out is that blockchains are scaling.

The scaling momentum is up from a few years ago when tons of people were using blockchain networks, said Eddy Lazzarin, chief technology officer for a16z crypto. As a result, there was a lot of congestion, mainly on Ethereum, and gas fees were expensive.

That time period convinced a lot of people that blockchain growth will come via scalability, Lazzarin noted, resulting in developers being excited to experiment and create new products. “So the effort over the past two years or more is to get scaling solutions off the ground, and now they’re actually working and live. There’s still more to be built, but they’re much cheaper, secure and they work. The momentum is now that developers can use them.”

It’s really time to build

There are roughly 30,000 active developers in the crypto industry today, which is down from early 2022 peaks, but up “well above” early 2021, according to the report.

a16z’s crypto report anticipates developer growth as blockchain scaling solutions expand by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

As crypto startup valuations come back to Earth, big investors are bargain hunting

Crypto funding might have declined last quarter, but investors behind the largest funds in the space are sticking to their guns.

“There’s always going to be a need for big funds and investors to help the startups get the funding they need,” Lydia Chiu, vice president of business development at Ava Labs, told TechCrunch+. With the current regulatory scrutiny on the space alongside the bearish market sentiment, venture capital funds are needed more than ever, she said.

Ava Labs, the company that deployed the layer-1 blockchain Avalanche, launched a $200 million “Blizzard” investment fund in 2021 dedicated to growing its chain’s ecosystem. Since then, it has been a “very busy time,” Chiu said.

In the past year and a half, the Blizzard fund has invested in about 400 deals across 125 portfolio companies, deploying just over three-quarters of its capital, Chiu said. “We’re still seeing really strong deal flow, and we’re actively investing.”

And it’s not the only one: There are still “quite a bit of crypto venture funds left to be deployed” that were raised a couple of years ago, said Tushar Jain, managing partner at Multicoin Capital. Multicoin launched a $430 million fund in 2022, which has since deployed “under half of the fund” with a “majority” left to invest, he said.

The remainders of just those two funds are worth nine-figures. Given that Q1 2023 crypto fundraising was in the billions, the figure may seem modest, but from just two funds it’s meaningful.

Some newer funds are even bigger.

As crypto startup valuations come back to Earth, big investors are bargain hunting by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

a16z will ‘continue to tailor’ its multibillion-dollar crypto funds to market opportunities, GP says

The TechCrunch Podcast Network has been nominated for two Webbys in the Best Technology Podcast category. You can help TechCrunch win by voting for Chain Reaction, which digs into the wild world of crypto, or Found, which brings you the stories behind the startups by sitting down with the founders themselves. Please take a few moments to vote here. Voting closes April 20. (NB: I host Chain Reaction, so vote for my show!)

Welcome back to Chain Reaction, a podcast that interviews newsmakers in crypto to better understand the tech behind the hype and the people working to build a decentralized future.

For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Arianna Simpson, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz (commonly known as a16z).

Prior to joining a16z, Arianna founded Autonomous Partners, an investment fund focused on crypto. She also helped launch Crystal Towers Capital, an early-stage fund investing primarily in YC companies.

A16z has dug deep into the crypto space after launching four funds dedicated to the industry. The most recent one closed at $4.5 billion in May 2022, and Arianna thinks it’s appropriate, given the size of the opportunity.

“I certainly think the ecosystem has grown to a size where it absolutely supports a fund of this size and that’s why we raised a fund of this size,” Simpson said. “We didn’t have to raise any number; we chose a number that we thought spoke to the size of the opportunity. The ecosystem has obviously grown tremendously and is continuing to attract tons of early-stage entrepreneurs who are building across the board.”

When asked if there would be a fifth crypto fund from a16z, Simpson said, “I certainly hope so.” She added a16z will “continue to tailor our fund sizes to opportunities we see in the market.”

Some of the firm’s portfolio companies include big crypto players we’ve interviewed in the past, like Alchemy, Avalanche and Aptos.

Over the years, there’s been an expansion of investment opportunities “into a whole new world of consumer applications, experiences and products that just weren’t possible because they couldn’t run on blockchains a few years ago, and now they are,” Simpson said. “To me, that’s what’s really exciting: there’s this whole world of applications that can be used by consumers.”

We talked about Simpson’s background, how her strategy has changed over the years, what she looks for in founders and whether she would launch another VC firm in the future.

We also discussed:

  • The current investing climate
  • The web3 gaming space
  • Where founders are building
  • The regulatory landscape
  • Advice for founders

Chain Reaction comes out every other Thursday at 12:00 p.m. PT, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the latest in web3 and crypto.

a16z will ‘continue to tailor’ its multibillion-dollar crypto funds to market opportunities, GP says by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

a16z-backed Uno launches a design-centric password manager

There are plenty of good reasons why you should use a password manager, from helping you generate and store complex and unique passwords to not needing to remember any of them. But for some folks, getting started with a password manager for the first time can be a hassle.

To cater to that problem, a16z-backed company Uno is launching a new password manager with design-centric thinking. The startup’s password manager is an app for iOS and Mac, and a Chrome extension, to make it easier for people to handle passwords and logins.

Uno packs a ton of features that aim to make login easier: one-click login, social password recovery through trusted contacts, customized and easy password sharing, and a secure vault to store private keys, credit card details, and addresses.

Uno's password manager as a Chrome extension.

Uno’s debut password manager. Image Credits: Uno

The Chrome extension does most of the work for you when you log into sites on your desktop. If you have your login saved with Uno, the company handles all login processes with one click — including 2FA codes sent to emails. You have to sign in to Gmail and give permission to read your latest email to the app, but the company says all this process is handled on your device and no email data is sent to their servers.

The company says the extension can identify when to fill in address fields with data and when to fill in the login information.

Both iOS and Mac apps are in beta and have basic secure storage and password autofill capabilities. The startup said that it’s already working on an Android version, but it didn’t give a specific timeline for the launch.

a screenshot of Uno in action

Image Credits: Uno

If you lose your device, the app asks you to save a private key phrase for recovering your data. There is another — but slightly complicated — process for recovering your data. You can add trusted contacts to your Uno account, and for recovery, they can help you by verifying who you are with votes. But the catch is that all of them have to be Uno users. So unless you find folks who also use the app, you might be better sticking to traditional methods like recovering from another device or entering your private key phrase.

The company

Uno is founded by Parteek Saran, who has a background in design and worked on projects with Lady Gaga, Facebook, and Postmates. Saran also co-created an interaction design and prototyping tool named Form, which was acquired by Google in 2014. Post-acquisition, he worked at the search giant for five years working on products ranging from hardware design to software design — most notably working on Google’s Material Design approach.

The company has raised $3 million in seed funding until now led by Andreeson Horowitz with participation from Lookout founder Kevin Mahaffey, and Dug Song from Duo security.

a screenshot of the Uno app for iOS.

Uno’s app for iOS. Image Credits: Uno

Saran said that the inspiration for Uno came from when hackers took control of his email, financial services, social accounts, and even Spotify playlists.

“After getting hacked, I was upgrading the security of my accounts, and I realized the process was technical and cumbersome. There were a lot of steps and terminology that could be difficult to understand for non-technical people,” Saran told TechCrunch. “Getting people to use a password manager on a regular basis is a behavioral issue. The way to influence that is to design a solution by looking at how humans interact with this kind of software.”

The founder said that with Uno, he wants to target a broader audience of folks — including users who don’t care much about password security.

The security

While password managers increase convenience by storing a ton of credentials, they also have a responsibility to protect that data and the user’s privacy.

Uno says that it collects minimal data from users and all the data stored on its servers is encrypted with the private key stored locally on users’ devices, which the company cannot access. It notes that only the email, phone number, and public key of the account are collected.

Saran said the app does not track any personal data using analytical tools. The company’s privacy policy notes that “in no event will the private contents of your secure vault ever be transmitted to Uno in a form that Uno can decipher.”

“We really care about people’s privacy and their security. I think people are kind of tired of giving away their data and like doing all these things. So our stance has been — we don’t want that. Our app requires bare minimum permissions to work,” Saran said.

There is also a question of security given that hackers — albeit very skilled ones — got access to LastPass’ data including customers’ password vaults. A starting point for Uno would be to limit what customer data its employees can access. The startup says it wants to avoid these kinds of incidents by keeping a local-first and client-first approach by storing sensitive data on the user’s device and not in its cloud. Also, Uno notes that since it encrypts all customer data including passwords, hackers can’t make sense of it even if they get hold of a person’s device.

As for convincing customers to trust its product, Uno said it has reached out to larger vendors to conduct a formal security audit of its apps.

“Uno has had independent security engineers audit code and conduct penetration testing and have kickstarted the process of reaching out to larger vendors for a formal audit. They’re currently in open beta, which is why this wasn’t kicked off sooner.” Uno said. Uno hasn’t said what the results were from early code audits and penetration testing, but said it plans to publish future findings from its audits.

The company’s target audience — non-technical folks — might not be asking these questions. But Uno has a duty towards its advanced users to provide enough assurance and data by being open and transparent about the password manager’s security practices.

a16z-backed Uno launches a design-centric password manager by Ivan Mehta originally published on TechCrunch

Zarta, a creator platform focused on pay-per-view video content, raises $5.7M led by a16z

Zarta, a new ad-free creator platform that focuses on pay-per-view video content, announced today that it has closed a $5.7 million seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). The platform allows creators to upload videos, set parameters for a free preview and then charge viewers a small amount to unlock the whole video. Zarta is currently in limited alpha testing with a small set of creators, with plans for a broader launch later this year.

The company was founded in 2021 by YouTube creator and former Airbnb software engineer Luba Yudasina. She told TechCrunch in an interview that a lot of the inspiration behind Zarta came from her own personal journey as a creator. Yudasina wanted to monetize her content in ways other than sponsored brand deals and subscriptions. Although she initially wanted to start a Patreon, Yudasina heard from creators that it can be difficult to continuously pump out exclusive content for a small percentage of your audience, and that it can get expensive for viewers to subscribe to all of their favorite creators.

Yudasina then decided to create Zarta to offer a new way for creators to generate income through microtransactions, while better serving their fans with authentic content. She believes that in the future, good content from creators won’t solely be supported by ads or subscriptions, and that Zarta has the potential to enable this transformation.

Creators on Zata can upload a long-form video and select how much of a free preview they want to give viewers. The company believes that users should be able to preview content before paying for it, and that creators know their content best and can decide when the paywall appears. Viewers can watch as many free previews as they want, but if they want to watch an entire video, they have to pay a small amount of money to unlock the full video. As part of the alpha testing, the cost to watch a full video is under $1.

Creators receive 75% of the payment, while Zarta keeps 25% to cover operational costs and processing fees. Zarta is committed to giving creators a bigger cut of payments in the future.

Still of content on Zarta

Image Credits: Zarta

Once a viewer pays for a video, they can rewatch it at any given time. Users can create a personalized library of content that they conscientiously have decided to consume. The company believes the idea of conscientious media consumption is important, given that the majority of popular apps and services are designed to keep users on their platforms for as long as possible.

“We have the mindset that we’re not going to be a platform for every single creator out there in every single use case,” Yudasina said in an interview. “We’re very focused on creators who are producing valuable content in niches. Think about your favorite car creator or Dungeons and Dragons creator. Folks who aren’t necessarily focused on growing at all costs and likely are not going to be the next Mr. Beast, but have a strong and loyal community and are producing value for their audience and may not have as many opportunities to monetize as folks that are making a lot of money through AdSense or brand deals. These are the types of creators that we are focused on and want to serve.”

The premise behind Zarta isn’t to get creators to use it as their sole creator platform. Yudasina believes that there will always be a place for companies like YouTube and Patreon, and that Zarta aims to expand the opportunities available to creators. Zarta’s goal is to be a part of the creator ecosystem, as opposed to aiming to replace current players.

Yudasina’s vision for Zarta is demonstrated by creators who are currently testing the platform. Ian Bennett, who runs the Epoch Philosophy channel on YouTube and is currently testing Zarta, told TechCrunch that although YouTube and Twitch are monoliths in the creator industry and do what they do very well, he believes there are clear holes within the industry that Zarta is trying to remedy. He makes some exclusive content on his Patreon, and is using Zarta to bring those videos to people who can’t afford the monthly subscription fee. Since a large portion of his audience consists of students, Bennett says he likes that he is able to present another option for his viewers. Bennett says it’s worth experimenting with the platform’s model and thinks it will be appealing to viewers.

Joshua Steil, who is one half of The Credit Brothers duo on TikTok and YouTube, told TechCrunch that he believes Zarta is offering a transparent way for creators to make money and create content. Steil believes that his decision to post content to his other channels or Zarta comes down to the video’s purpose and whether the video has a general topic or if there is a specific audience he’s targeting.

Image Credits: Zarta

Yudasina believes that what sets Zarta apart from other creator platforms is its business model and focus on pay-per-view content. Some may argue that a pay-per-view model isn’t sustainable for creators, and to that, Yudasina says the pay-per-view model isn’t going to be for every creator. She says that Zarta isn’t for the top 1% of creators, it’s instead for creators who could benefit from such a model.

“We are constantly in this feedback mode to make sure that we are actually providing enough value for creators because that’s the ultimate goal,” Yudasina said. “I strongly believe that yes, pay-per-view will not work for everyone, but there is a large percentage of people that it is needed for.”

Yudasina sees Zarta as a platform for creators who make value-tainment content that offers some intrinsic value beyond entertainment. She believes Zarta is a good option for creators who have a loyal community, and isn’t necessarily for creators whose content is solely based on trends and virality.

As for the new funding, Yudasina says the investment is primarily going toward hiring talent and growing Zarta’s small team to make sure the platform has enough resources to build out its vision. Zarta isn’t focused on putting together expensive deals with big creators, and is instead going to ensure it can iterate in an efficient manner.

The funding round included participation from Endeavor, AirAngels, Dragonfly Capital and others. As for the lead investor, Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm is betting on the microtransaction model taking off.

“Free to play games with in-game microtransactions were popularized in the east and spread to the west,” Anne Lee Skates, a Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, told TechCrunch in an email. “We see this frontier trend that started in gaming moving to other content types. In the west, we believe microtransactions will start from content formats western audiences love and enjoy daily, such as videos.”

In terms of the company’s long term roadmap, Zarta will focus on proving that it offers a business model that is valuable to creators and can help them lean into their passions. The company plans to open up the platform to additional creators soon and eventually open it up to all creators.

Zarta, a creator platform focused on pay-per-view video content, raises $5.7M led by a16z by Aisha Malik originally published on TechCrunch

Stelo Labs raises $6M in a16z-led round to help crypto wallet users protect themselves

Stelo Labs, a web3 security company, raised $6 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz, the company exclusively told TechCrunch.

The company was co-founded by Ben Scharfstein, CEO, and Aman Dhesi, CTO. Both have backgrounds in product management — Scharfstein worked at Google, and Dhesi held roles at Facebook, DoorDash and Square.

Stelo Labs’ goal is to make web3 “safe and understandable for everyone,” Scharfstein said. “When we think of what web3 can be and enable, it’ll be cut off at the knees if things aren’t safe.”

While there are a number of web3 security companies out there, Stelo Labs focuses on helping prevent malicious transactions, phishing and social engineering for Ethereum-based users, Dhesi said. “The surface area of these attacks have been growing as people innovate and create new schemes — there’s more ways for people to phish you.”

The startup launched its Stelo extension in September to help users protect their wallets from scams and phishing attacks. The open source extension acts like a firewall between any transaction and a user’s wallet, but never has access to one’s private seed phrase or keys.

“We realized the security problems in web3 are product problems, interface problems as well as data problems and security problems,” Dhesi said. “But in web3, the responsibility often falls on the user.

There’s no intermediaries that help there,” Dhesi said. “It really comes down to building experiences and products for users so that they can be empowered to feel safe.”

An image of Stelo Labs' wallet extension firewall that lets crypto users know if their transaction is safe or not

Image Credits: Stelo Labs (opens in a new window)

Since September, it has protected thousands of wallets with a collective amount worth over $100 million, Scharfstein said.

The service runs the most popular signature types — or transaction agreements — through its engine to help determine whether a transaction is a low, moderate or high risk, and also provides context so people can understand what they’re signing, as opposed to telling them what to do, Dhesi said.

Today it’s releasing its developer API so independent dApps and wallets can use its Stelo Transaction Engine. It’s also launching a token approvals experience to help users understand their wallet’s “health score” and keep it safe by recommending revoking approvals to third parties, the co-founders said.

The capital will be used to expand the team and its product beyond a Google Chrome extension and “meeting users where they are,” Scharfstein said.

Over time, Stelo plans to develop an embedded version of its API and find a way to make the Ethereum transaction “human readable,” because there are many nuances at the moment, Dhesi said. “We don’t want every developer to reinvent the wheel, so we will package the Stelo user interface inside a library so they can just drop it in and make a customizable fit […] that’s something we’ll invest in over the next few months.”

In the long term, Stelo wants to build a user interface that puts every transaction through its service, whether that’s through a crypto wallet, consumer-facing extensions or another avenue, the co-founders said.

While the service is Ethereum-focused right now, Stelo wants to bring it to more Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)-compatible chains on board in the future, Scharfstein said. “We want to make sure every transaction goes through our risk extension.”

Stelo Labs raises $6M in a16z-led round to help crypto wallet users protect themselves by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

African gaming startup Carry1st raises $27M from Bitkraft Ventures and a16z

In the coming decades, Africa will be a significant growth market for mobile games driven by the proliferation of technology adoption among the continent’s youthful population. And as gamers in sub-Saharan Africa increase to over 180 million in the next five years, per a report, startups such as South Africa-based Carry1st are strategically positioning themselves for this successive growth phase in the industry.

Since its launch in 2018, Carry1st, a publisher of social games and interactive content across Africa, has raised funding from investors such as Google via its Africa Investment Fund and Avenir Growth Capital. But more impressive is its backing from top-tier funds focused on web3 and gaming: Andressen Horowitz (a16z), Konvoy Ventures – and now Bitkraft Ventures, the lead investor in its newly announced $27 million pre-Series B round. Both a16z and Konvoy participated in this financing round, including TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Capital and Kepple Ventures. 

“We now have, in our minds, the three best funds that focus on gaming and web3. And so it just adds even more resources, perspective, and assistance to help us achieve our goals,” chief executive officer Cordel Robbin-Coker told TechCrunch in an interview. 

Last January, Carry1st announced a $20 million Series A extension round, which followed the $6 million it raised in May 2021 from several investors, including Riot Games, the developer and publisher behind the most-played PC game globally, League of Legends. Sometime last year, Carry1st and Riot Games strengthened that investment by signing a partnership where the South African outfit agreed to pilot local payments for the American video game developer starting in 2023. In other words, Carry1st will act as Riot’s payments partner in Africa. 

Robbin-Coker, on the call, said the partnership leverages Pay1st, the gaming startup’s monetization-as-a-service platform used for the company’s games and that of third-party publishers. 

In 2018 when Carry1st launched, it was a game studio that conceptualized, developed, and launched mobile games (starting with Carry1st Trivia). While the company still makes its games or recently began acquiring games to improve, relaunch and publish at scale (Mine Rescue and Gebeta), Carry1st also exclusively licenses third-party games. Pay1st is the embedded finance platform that helps the startup make revenue from both categories: owned games and third-party games, of which Riot Games is one of its clients. 

“The partnership [with Riot Games] is our big initiative this year because we built all these cool tech around payments and digital commerce, and we leveraged it only for our games,” remarked the CEO, who founded Carry1st with Lucy Hoffman and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu. “But we figured that we may as well leverage the opportunity to partner with awesome big game companies that maybe aren’t yet ready to license their games to us fully but would like to make more money in the region and understand how profitable Africa can be for them.”

Meanwhile, the CEO mentioned on the call that the four-year-old gaming startup has other partnerships, including a “large game licensing deal that we’re excited about.” In addition to the Riot Games collaboration, Carry1st is also building on the momentum of a successful partnership with Call of Duty®: Mobile in South Africa that happened in the last quarter of 2022, where Carry1st, acting as a local partner, instructed and directed the video games franchise on ways to achieve scale in South Africa during a three-month pilot test. 

“It [South Africa] is a promising market for them, and they were eager to have a local partner to help them navigate and help to execute a pilot over three months last year. We hope that will lead to, you know, even deeper engagement and even sort of bigger and better prospects for that franchise, not just in South Africa but potentially across the continent,” he added. 

South African music artiste Nasty C (far left); Carry1st co-founder and COO Lucy Hoffman (far right).

The pre-Series B financing will see Carry1st drive growth in all these areas: develop, license, and publish new games, as well as expand Pay1st. Per the company’s statement, the funding round is coming off the back of a successful year which saw the first game from its CrazyHubs gaming accelerator – the accelerator Carry1st launched in partnership with CrazyLabs, one of its six partner studios – become the number 1 downloaded game in the U.S. for a few days last July, according to data.ai. The game, The President, is loosely based on a fictionalized Donald Trump and was developed by Nairobi-based Mekan Games.

Games like The President have seen Carry 1st’s revenues grow by 10x over the year. Other areas where the gaming startup has also experienced growth include Carry1st Shop, its online marketplace for virtual goods, which according to the company, allows customers across Africa to pay for content and 100+ products across 120 different payment methods, including bank transfers, crypto and mobile money. 

“What we found, particularly in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Morocco, was that there was a massive appetite for digital content, especially with the ability to pay for it in with local payment methods and, more importantly, in local currency, which is unique or unusual because most of the online purchases are denominated in dollars,” said the CEO. He stated that Carry1st was the gaming startup’s fastest-growing product last year as users and revenues surged fivefold. 

In the TechCrunch interview last January, Robbin-Coker mentioned that the South-African based Carry1st was exploring the possibility of developing infrastructure to support play-to-earn gaming in Africa. It’s a plan still in motion – according to the chief executive, Carry1st is developing a beta platform dubbed Play1st, where gamers interested in web3 games can discover games, review them within communities, and display achievements and rewards – however, with less zest given how the appetite for web3 games have cooled off within the past year. 

Speaking on the investment, Jens Hilgers, the founding general partner at BITKRAFT Ventures, said: “Africa is home to the largest population of young people in the world, and this upcoming generation will grow up digitally native with videogames as their primary entertainment preference. We have full conviction in Carry1st’s impressive founding team and their vision of building out foundational infrastructure and localized content, ensuring that gaming and interactive entertainment in Africa will thrive.”

African gaming startup Carry1st raises $27M from Bitkraft Ventures and a16z by Tage Kene-Okafor originally published on TechCrunch

We had thoughts in 2022. Here are the top takes from the TechCrunch+ team

In 2022, uncertainty continued: Major acquisitions took place, layoffs swept the tech industry and Elon Musk bought Twitter.

While that last one may not have been on your 2022 bingo card, it certainly caused quite a bit of commotion here at TechCrunch — and got us talking. This year, a big trend for us was doing “three views” and other collaboration pieces. It’s a fun way for us to work with our colleagues while offering differing opinions about trending topics in the tech space. Here are some of our favorites:

3 views on Amazon’s $3.9B acquisition of One Medical

Earlier this year, Amazon acquired One Medical for $3.9 billion, yes that’s billion with a B. We gathered some TechCrunch+ staff to get their thoughts on the purchase. Alex Wilhelm was skeptical because, frankly, he doesn’t want Amazon as his health provider. Miranda Halpern (me, hello, hi) felt that this acquisition followed a logical progression for Amazon since it entered the healthcare space in 2018. Walter Thompson saw this as a chance for Amazon to accrete additional mass.

Should Oracle or Alphabet buy VMWare instead of Broadcom?

VMWare was freed from Dell in April 2022, and Alex and Ron Miller wrote about who they think may buy it. In May, the Broadcom-VMware deal was a go, but Alex and Ron found themselves on opposite sides of a hypothetical — would a higher price or another bidder make sense? Alex didn’t feel that VMWare deserved a higher price and Ron thought that the company’s value was higher than its financial results at the time.

3 views: Thoughts on Flow

We’ve all heard by now that the reason millennials won’t be able to purchase a home is that they keep buying avocado toast. As a zillenial, I disagree with the avocado toast sentiment, partially because I’m allergic to avocados but mainly because homes are no longer affordable. Adam Neumann’s latest startup, Flow, backed by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), aims to revolutionize the rental industry. Tim De Chant, Dominic-Madori Davis and Amanda Silberling shared their thoughts on whether Flow will make a difference —and whether Neumann even deserved the VC funding at all.

3 views: Pay attention to these startup theses in 2022

In 2022, Alex predicted that open source would become the de facto startup model. Natasha Mascarenhas posited everything would be hybridized. Anna Heim, meantime, suggested a majority of SaaS companies would adopt usage-based pricing. While some of their predictions for 2022 came true, some fell short. In true TechCrunch fashion, they followed up this article by predicting 2023’s key startup themes. We’ll check back in a year to see how well they stood the test of time.

TechCrunch staff on what we lose if we lose Twitter

Where would you scream into the void if Twitter were to disappear (read: die)? While that may be the question for some people, others would miss it for more important reasons. Dominic would miss the community aspect of Twitter, specifically Black Twitter. “The memes are endless, as is the support — and the heat — we give and place onto people and topics. It was a place to find community in a world so unkind to us. It really does feel like its own universe sometimes,” she wrote. Check out the full article to see what Ron, Amanda, Christine Hall, Paul Sawers, Natasha, Ivan Mehta and Alex worry about losing if Twitter goes belly up.

We had thoughts in 2022. Here are the top takes from the TechCrunch+ team by Miranda Halpern originally published on TechCrunch