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Daily Crunch: The early-stage tech talent crunch is real

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By now everyone is familiar with the tech world’s talent crunch: Developers are scarce and expensive, while data scientists are maybe even scarcer and expensiver. Some folks I’ve spoken to think that rising acceptance of remote work may help reduce the supply-demand imbalance. Hell, every early-stage startup I’ve spoken to in weeks is remote-first. Many were born during COVID, but they all love the ability to hire anywhere in the world.

But if a more distributed workforce is not enough to lower the pain that many companies feel when it comes to attracting and then retaining technical talent, good news could be coming. The sibling product philosophies of no-code and low-code are not only attracting lots of venture attention, public companies that dabble with either are posting interesting results.

Perhaps the solution to needing lots more code is no code at all? — Alex

TechCrunch Top 3

Today’s TechCrunch Top 3 come from the three phases of startup life: Early stage, when startups are still getting their product and market in order. Late stage, when they are prepping for an eventual exit. And the exit stage, when a former startup is looking to spread its wings and fly the private markets.

The anti-venture movement is global: Today Mary Ann reported that Divibank, a Brazilian startup offering revenue-based financing to other startups, has raised $3.6 million in a seed round led by Better Tomorrow Ventures (BTV). TechCrunch thinks it could build something akin to the Clearbanc of Latin America.
London’s Lyst looks to list: When you raise a pre-IPO round, you’d best be heading toward the public markets. With fashion e-commerce app Lyst saying that its new $85 million funding round is pre-IPO money, well, we have big expectations.
Bird hopes to take flight: Bird is going public via a SPAC. TechCrunch has the big news here, and a more dorky financial analysis here. I helped write the latter. The short version is that a business-model shakeup is helping the scooter unicorn lose less money over time.

Startups and VC

Scootin’ into startup mode, TechCrunch covered a huge number of funding rounds in the last 24 hours, so what follows is a sampling of the most interesting. Enjoy!

Pomelo raises $9M to build a payments infrastructure for LatAm fintechs: Building fintech infrastructure is a huge global task, so it’s not a surprise to see companies at work on the problem raising money. In this case, Pomelo is $9 million richer to tackle what might be the most interesting fintech market in the world.
Collective, a back-office platform for the self-employed, raises $20M from Ashton Kutcher’s VC: Going indie is not easy, despite what the Substack hype might have you believe. So, Collective is betting that it can make bank off of helping folks run their own microcompany. Both the company and the investment are a wager on the creator economy.
Stampli raises $50 million in Series C to help companies intelligently manage invoices: The Stampli round stood out because it was more capital in a single investment than the startup had raised during all of its previous life — by around 50%. So, something is going on at the corporate-invoice optimization software shop that has investor attention.
Planck, the insurance data analytics platform, raises $20M growth round: Two of the three Planck co-founders are bald, so I had no choice but to include my follicle-deficient brethren in today’s newsletter. Jokes aside, Planck collects data that it sells to commercial insurance companies. And now it has fresh capital from 3L Capital, Greenfield Partners, Team8, Viola Fintech, Arbor Ventures and Eight Roads to help it grow.

For unicorns, how much does the route to going public really matter?

Natasha Mascarenhas and Alex Wilhelm recently hosted Yext CFO Steve Cakebread and Latch CFO Garth Mitchell on an episode of TechCrunch’s Equity podcast.

In their discussion, “The morality and efficacy of going public earlier,” the group discussed the myriad paths startups are taking to go public and assessed the pros and cons of each method, and, importantly, the potential impacts on employees and business operations.

“I think when money’s chasing money, you don’t want to be the last guy holding the money. You want to be the chase,” said Cakebread.

Since Latch is currently going public via a SPAC and Yext followed a traditional IPO route a few years ago, the discussion is heavily weighted toward experience, not opinion.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Turning to tech’s largest companies today, we have three things for you to chew on:

First, Waymo is losing key talent in a very public fashion. Kirsten reports that “Waymo’s chief financial officer Ger Dwyer and its head of automotive partnerships and corporate development Adam Frost,” both long-time execs, are “leaving this month.” The exits come after the company’s former CEO also departed.

I guess we’ll have to drive ourselves for a bit longer.

Next up is a story that came out yesterday, but we missed in the newsletter. But after burning up the TechCrunch analytics all day, I decided to make sure that you saw it. With the simply excellent headline Prime today, gone tomorrow: Chinese products get pulled from Amazon, Rita writes that several Chinese retailers have evaporated from the online megastore. “In total, the suspended accounts contribute over a billion dollars in gross merchandise value (GMV) to Amazon,” she reported.

Changes afoot at Amazon? We’ll have to see, but the news is driving mega-attention from, we presume, confused shoppers.

Finally, looping back to no-code for a hot second, Salesforce is only adding to its own efforts. It’s everywhere!