25 French unicorns, 25 French unicorns, do I hear 100?

Welcome to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s inspired by the daily TechCrunch+ column where it gets its name. Want it in your inbox every Saturday? Sign up here . My home country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, wants to have 100 French unicorns by 2030. Economy minister Bruno Le Maire, 10 homegrown decacorns. But shouldn’t we all dream of centaurs instead? Let’s explore.  — Anna Moderation brewing There must be 100 French unicorns by 2030, Macron said at the VivaTech conference in Paris earlier this month. “It is achievable,” he later argued on Twitter . “And because startups have a role to play in the ecological transition, let’s set another goal: 25 green unicorns by 2030!” It isn’t new for Macron to set unicorn-related goals for the country. He famously already did so in 2019 , when he wished for the country to count “25 unicorns by 2025.” And despite some debate around France’s exact unicorn tally, the consensus is that Macron’s goal has a

Startup layoffs, the art of reinvention and a MasterClass in change

Just as one company’s success shouldn’t cast a halo on its vertical’s brethren, one company’s layoffs don’t quite mean that its competitors are equally screwed. Instead, I think that changes within a particular startup can be used as benchmark questions for their larger market; in other words, we can use the micro to better understand the macro. With that in mind, I want to talk about MasterClass’ decision to lay off 20% of its staff, around 120 people, across all teams. The workforce reduction, per CEO David Rogier on Twitter, was made “to adapt to the worsening macro environment and get to self-sustainability faster.” Put differently, the company — which sells subscriptions to celebrity-taught classes — is in search of operating discipline and needs to cut staff in order to get there. The layoffs place a spotlight on the premise behind MasterClass. When I first covered the company in March 2020 , I got stuck on its pitch of aspirational learning. [MasterClass] also touches on th

3 views on why startup math may soon get a lot more creative

Given this year’s changing venture capital climate, it’s not a stretch to imagine that we’re going to see a lot more of the following: down rounds disguised as extension rounds, recapitalization events conflated with secondary activity and vaguely defined references to growth, burn and other key startup metrics. As the downturn threatens the ability of companies to meet growth targets, simultaneously emphasizing the need for them to get there faster while not losing too much money, we expect to see more creative math from founders. We are somewhat accustomed to founders bigging up their wins and spinning their losses, but such sins can threaten to become whole-cloth heresies during a downturn. Of course, it’s not all out of malice. For decades, those within startup land have not been able to agree on a definition for recapitalization or, heck, even bootstrapping, because the terms in and of themselves are so vague. Every few months, Tech Twitter wants to rethink how we name rounds,

Dublin-based corporate gifting platform &Open raises $26M Series A led by Molten Ventures

Last year we covered how “&Open” (yes, “ampersand open,” pronounced “And Open”) had raised a raised $7.2 million seed to make it easier for brands to send gifts to customers to boost loyalty and engagement. According to one study customers who feel emotionally connected to a brand after receiving gifts have a 306% higher lifetime value. &Open competes with Sendoso and ReachDesk which are in a similar space. Because the pandemic made us all work remotely, being able to send gifts remotely suddenly took on a whole new significance. Plus, now “the Great Resignation” means companies need to keep clients and employees a lot sweeter. So the Dublin-based &Open, which launched in 2017, has now raised $26 million in a Series A led by Molten Ventures, including participation from First Round Capital, LocalGlobe, Tribal VC, as well as new investor Middlegame Ventures. Other new and existing investors also contributed to this round. The Series A brings &Open’s total capital rais

Parellelz brings a new approach to seamlessly convert native mobile apps to websites

Over the last few years, developers and authorities have questioned Apple and Google’s power over app distribution on mobile operating systems. If you have an Android app, there’s a chance that you can use alternative app stores like the Amazon app store . But if you have an iOS app, you have no option but to go through Apple’s App Store. But a startup called Parellelz has another solution: convert your native app to a web app without loss of quality and increase its visibility through web distribution. For that, the company is planning to offer a unique set of tools that could convert a developer’s app without needing any SDK or having to make changes through the app. To build this platform, Parellelz has raised $3 million in a pre-seed round from investors like former VP of Growth at Uber Ed Baker, ProductHunt founder Ryan Hoover, and Maple VC general partner Andre Charoo. Other investors include organizations like Global Founders Capital, Play Ventures, Garage Capital, and ind

Amsterdam cyber startup Hadrian closes €10.5M Seed for platform which simulates hacker attacks

As companies grow they expose more of themselves online and become harder to defend in terms of cybersecurity. One report estimates that 30%-40% of a company’s IT infrastructure isn’t even known about by the security team. So startups have appeared with an ‘offensive’ profile in order to similate cyber attacks. One such is Amsterdam-based Hadrian , a ‘hacker-led’ cybersecurity startup that offers a SaaS platform which simulates an attack. It’s closed a €10.5 million seed round led by HV Capital, with participation from Picus Capital, Slimmer AI and angels including Adriaan Mol, Koen Köppen and Niklas Hellman. Hadrian’s view is that conventional “pen testing” is time and labor intensive, and tends to focus on the areas that companies already believe to be vulnerable. Hadrian’s says its platform scans the companies It infrastructure to look for weaknesses from the outside-in to create insights on digital threats and attack vectors. Rogier Fischer, CEO at Hadrian, said in a statemen

India’s central bank cracks down on fintech startups

For nearly all fintech startups, lending has long been the end game. A notice from India’s central bank this week has thrown a wrench in the ecosystem, scrutinizing just who all can lend. The Reserve Bank of India has informed dozens of fintech startups that it is barring the practice of loading non-bank prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) – prepaid cards, for instance – using credit lines, in a move that has prompted panic among – and existential threat to – many fintech startups and caused some to compare the decision to China’s crackdown on financial services firm last year. Several startups including Slice, Jupiter, Uni and KreditBee have long used the PPI licenses to issue cards and then equip them with credit lines. Fintechs typically partner with banks to issue cards and then tie up with non-banking financial institutions or use their own NBFC unit to offer credit lines to consumers. The central bank’s notice, which doesn’t identify any startup by name, is widely thought to be

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