Startups Weekly: Ups, downs, and silver linings
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Startups Weekly: Ups, downs, and silver linings

Welcome to Startups Weekly — Haje’s weekly recap of everything you can’t miss from the world of startups. Anna will be covering for him this week. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.

Most interesting startup stories from the week

As the end of 0% interest rates keeps taking its toll, SoftBank-backed Norway-based online supermarket delivery startup Oda has confirmed 150 layoffs and a refocus on Norway and Sweden, where it hopes to reach profitability next year.

People being let go is never good news, but Oda co-founder Jon Kåre Stene, now a partner at VC firm Skyfall Ventures, hopes that this “could spark off the birth of several new startups in the Norwegian tech scene or strengthen companies already set out on a journey.” Europe already has several startup factories — think Skype — and now it could be Norway’s turn.  

As 150 people are let go from Oda, let’s hope they’re moving on to better things.
Image Credits: Oda

Hardware is hard, episode 234: We already knew that Humane’s Ai Pin launch was going anything but smoothly. Now the startup urges customers to stop using its charging case due to battery fire concerns. This is “out of an abundance of caution” and based on a single complaint, according to Humane, but it is unlikely to help its case.

Reinventing the walkie-talkie: The two co-founders of French startup ten ten are getting little sleep these days as their original social app went viral, with 1 million downloads in their home country and 6 million globally.

Sued, fined, and evicted: AI mortgage startup LoanSnap isn’t doing well. With backers such as Reid Hoffman, Richard Branson and the Chainsmokers, it has employees deeply concerned about its future as worries keep mounting

Falling from height: The inside story of Fisker’s collapse is a fascinating one, and TechCrunch has it. Sean O’Kane worked on this for weeks, and the result is a tale of hubris, power struggles, and the repeated failure to set up basic processes that are foundational for any automaker.

We will dance again: Co-founder and CTO of Firefly, Joseph “Sefi” Genis, was among the hundreds murdered by Hamas on October 7. Now the Israeli startup is forging on.  

Most interesting fundraises this week

Solutions by Text (SBT), a company that gives people a way to pay their bills and apply for loans via text messaging, raised $110 million in funding. But as TechCrunch’s Mary Ann Azevedo noted, “this is not your typical startup raising capital.” The company was bootstrapped from its creation in 2008 to 2021.

Another difference between SBT and the average startup is that it is EBITDA positive and working toward full profitability this year, according to its CEO, David Baxter, who took over in 2021.

Founded by brothers Danny and Mike Cantrell, the company took a turn under Baxter’s helm. 

“We really have transformed the business from more of a founder-led family, lifestyle type of a business, doing roughly 20ish million messages a month to about 150 to 200 million messages a month,” Baxter told TechCrunch.

Sword Health
Sword Health is an AI-powered virtual physical therapy startup.
Image Credits: Sword Health / Company
  • Live by the sword: Sword Health, an AI-powered virtual physical therapy startup, raised a $30 million primary funding round and a $130 million secondary funding round that brought its valuation to $3 billion. That’s a 50% increase from its November 2021 Series D valuation.
  • EV design in 18 months: Swiss startup Neural Concept raised $27 million to cut electric vehicle design time to 18 months, a strong selling point as Europe and America seek to reduce EV production costs to compete against China. 
  • We can get why: GetWhy, a consumer research tech company that leverages AI to help businesses conduct market studies and extract insights from video-based interviews, raised $34.5 million from California-based VC firm PeakSpan Capital and others.
  • Where’s your head at: Austrian startup Storyblok raised $80 million to add more AI to its “headless” content management system (CMS) for non-technical people.

Other unmissable TechCrunch stories…

Hearing of the Ticketmaster antitrust lawsuit made some among us wonder if this could give hope to ticketing startups.

And now Ticketmaster owner Live Nation confirms Ticketmaster was hacked. If your personal data was caught in the breach, that’s not great. But if that’s another step toward getting alternatives, maybe there’s a silver lining.

More top stories:

  • Walk the walk: SAP is shelling out a whopping $1.5 billion in cash to acquire WalkMe, a “digital adoption” platform provider.
  • Big nest egg: Private equity firm Bridgepoint entered a $650 million deal to buy a majority stake of LumApps, a French “intranet super app” — and this could fuel more acquisitions.
  • Spotted in filings: We knew that Salesforce bought Spiff in February. Now we know how much it paid for the sales commission management company: $419 million, including $374 million in cash.
  • 11 figures: Spanish startups reached €100 billion in aggregate value last year, as the tech scene keeps maturing. Still, with a combined value of $191 billion, Cambridge’s ecosystem alone is almost worth double Spain’s.

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