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Peloton CEO in hot seat, activist investor says ‘the ride for Mr. Foley is over’ – TechCrunch



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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 24, 2022! Today is a kinda tough day for, well, everyone. The value of assets new and old dropped around the world, and everyone is staring around at the mess, wondering what comes next.

Well, the good news is that we can answer that question for you. What’s next? A gajillion startup funding rounds, of course! – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Activist investor calls for CEO switch at Pelton: After riding the pandemic up, at-home cycling company Peloton is stuck in neutral, spinning its wheels as its share price drops. The value of the former startup has fallen so far that activist investors are calling for a CEO swap, a sale of the company, or both.
  • Meta joins the supercomputer game: It is a truth universally acknowledged: A [tech megacorp] in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a [supercomputer]. And thus did we learn today that The Artist Formerly Known As Facebook is gunning for a top-10 spot on the global supercomputer charts. Perhaps now the company will have the computer power required to no longer report incorrect metrics to partners and customers.
  • Will this selloff shake investors? The day’s selloff hit everything from stocks to crypto prices. But while readily traded assets are taking damage, less liquid startup shares appear to be in high demand. Precisely how long the public-market damage will take to leak back into earlier startup rounds is not clear, but that the climate has changed, well, is.


  • Mark Cuban wants to lower consumer pharma stress: To avoid getting fired, I will retain my views on the modern pharmaceutical industry. But in good news, Mark Cuban is backing a startup that wants to change the pharmacy game for consumers by selling drugs at cost plus 15%. Which is a modest profit margin for drugs, frankly. Let’s see if it works.
  • Today in good startup names: Pestle is building an app for recipes, shopping lists and other cooking needs. Anyone who has been in charge of making food on a regular basis for others can attest to the issues that stem from — to pick a few at random — stale meal rotations, boring ingredient mixes and the sheer ennui of uninspired food creation. Pestle – which has a great name, and when it goes brick and mortar, can call itself Mortar and Pestle – could change the situation for the cooks in our lives.
  • Deliverect raises $150M: Now worth some $1.4 billion thanks to its latest funding round, Deliverect is a bet that building “a platform to integrate the many moving parts that go into ordering and delivery for the average restaurant” is going to be a post-pandemic hit.
  • Anyplace is making room for you to work wherever: If you don’t have pets, kids or a partner that has a geo-located job, you can scoot about the world now and work where you will. This is very good. Less good are the office setups you might encounter on the road. Anyplace is now building “furnished apartments that include a ‘fully equipped’ home office” for rent, which is pretty neat.
  • Consolidation in the instant food space: While I am an impatient person, I have never really minded the time it takes for food to reach my house via Uber Eats or similar. But for many folks, it’s too long a wait. So, instant-delivery startups have been busy bringing foodstuffs to homes, and raising lots of money at the same time. Now we are seeing some consolidation, including Gorillas buying Frichti, creating a new German-French fusion that sounds like a tasty morsel.

To close out our startup news today, we’re taking on a Manish Singh three-pack. Singh is a flat-out reporting beast, and he has a trio of stories out today that you need to read:

  • Good news: Indian food delivery giant Swiggy just raised $700 million at a huge $10.7 billion valuation less than a year after it raised at a $5.5 billion price tag.
  • Good news: Ola Electric is now worth some $5 billion after raising a fresh $200 million. The company is building low-cost electric scooters for consumers.
  • Bad news: And yet, despite the above enthusiasm for high-priced startup rounds, the value of Paytm, Zomato, PolicyBazaar and Nykaa, Indian tech upstarts that went public last year, “tumbled to their record lows” today.

How our SaaS startup broke into the Japanese market without a physical presence

Bitrise mega plushie that doubles as drinking costume in Japan.

Image Credits: Bitrise

Launching a product in a foreign market where you’re unfamiliar with the language and culture is a tall order — but investors expect growth.

Barnabas Birmacher, CEO of platform-as-a-service company Bitrise, shared the lessons he learned as his team attempted to crack the Japanese market.

Instead of relying solely on strategic partners, his team visited Japan before its expansion to host events and engage directly with early adopters.

Using tactics that dispensed with traditional media and marketing, Birmacher’s company hired a manga artist to create a comic featuring a mobile developer, developed “Japan-first” swag to hand out and even crafted a full-sized mascot costume for conferences.

“We left the suit with one of our customers and now people wear it while they’re drinking,” he writes in a TechCrunch+ post.

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Tesla bug was bad: It’s cool that cars today can get updates over the air, and do more stuff over time. What’s not cool is when your neat computer-on-wheels has a bug. It turns out that a security aficionado was “able to remotely access dozens of Teslas around the world because security bugs found in an open-source logging tool popular with Tesla owners exposed their cars directly to the internet.” Whoops!
  • Google in trouble at home, abroad: Google is under fire in its home market for putatively deceiving users into sharing data, while in Europe it is in trouble for its “plan to end support for tracking cookies in Chrome” thanks to a “complaint to the European Commission” put together by German publishers.
  • NBC hopes TikTok will make the upcoming Olympics cool: I don’t know if TikTok has yet reached the “Hello, Fellow Kids” level of cheugy that all social networks reach at some point, but it’s clear that megabrands hope that it has not. Hence TV groups hoping to piggy-back on the cool to make their own product a bit less, well, cheugy.
  • Apple fined: Once upon a time, Apple didn’t allow third-party apps on the iPhone. Then it did and made a squintillion dollars. Now some countries are saying that Apple has to allow for third-party payment systems in third-party apps. And Apple is Not Stoked. Hence why it just got fined “€5 million (~$5.6 million) for failing to comply with conditions in an order requiring it to allow local dating apps to make use of third-party payment technology in their apps” by the Dutch.

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These are the 12 big bets of future disruptive technologies



The 12 big bets on future technologies as per Nasscom report

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and Boston Consultancy Group (BCG) have identified 12 big bet technologies that can potentially disrupt markets in the next 3-5 years.

A report titled “Sandboxing into the Future: Decoding Technology’s Biggest Bets”, has identified these technologies of the future: autonomous analytics, Artificial Reality and Virtual Reality, autonomous driving, computer vision, deep learning, distributed ledger, edge computing, sensortech, smart robots, spacetech, sustainability tech, and 5G/6G.

AR VR concept image

The report noted that these 12 technologies will unravel in diverse ways, giving way to regional and vertical-specific big bets. While buyers in North America and Europe are betting on technologies such as autonomous analytics, APAC is likely to focus more on 5G/6G technologies, sensortech and smart robotics. Overall, technology buyers anticipate that investments in emerging technologies will account for 70%- 80% of tech spending by 2030.

“Going forward, it will be interesting to see how businesses will put their bets on emerging technologies and how they would be taking ahead the tech revolution for the larger good of the society,” said NASSCOM President Debjani Ghosh.

Cognizant acquires Utegration

Leading technology services company Cognizant has said it bought Houston-based Utegration LLC, a full-service consulting and solutions provider specializing in SAP  technology and SAP-certified products for the energy and utilities sectors.

Cognizant will gain approximately 350 employees in North America and India upon the close of this acquisition.

“We believe Utegration’s rich industry expertise and differentiated portfolio of energy and utilities-focused products and accelerators is a perfect complement to our SAP practice,” said Rob Vatter, Executive Vice President of Cognizant’s Enterprise Platform Services.

Utegration serves over 50 North America-based clients in the energy and utilities sector with solutions across four domains aligned to market needs: customer experience, billing and advanced metering infrastructure, managed services, data science and analytics, and finance and asset performance management.

HCLTech partners with Intel and Mavenir for 5G solutions

HCLTech, a leading Indian technology services company revealed a new collaboration with Intel Corporation and Mavenir to develop and provide scalable private 5G network solutions for communication service providers (CSP) and broader cross-vertical enterprises.

Through this new collaboration, the companies will work closely on a range of projects and activities across enablement, go-to-market and sales acceleration, with the goal of delivering more 5G solutions to CSPs, Internet of Things (IoT) and enterprise verticals, a statement said.


The three companies will work cross-functionally to add new offerings and help generate greater value for enterprises. The companies will develop a cloud-native enterprise-to-enterprise (E2E) architecture of an Intel Xeon processor-based 5G solution leveraging Mavenir RAN, Intel SmartEdge and HCLTech’s management, orchestration and automation services.

“There is currently a great need for scalable, reliable 5G solutions across nearly every enterprise and industry,” said Kalyan Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, HCLTech. “This need represents a major opportunity to innovate and deliver solutions that will have a major impact on business operations and outcomes.”

Collins Aerospace to expand operations in India

Collins Aerospace, which is part of Raytheon Technologies has announced that it will be expanding its operations in India. The company inaugurated its Global Engineering & Tech Centre and a new India Operations Centre to mark its 25th year in Bengaluru.

Collins Aerospace has also pledged significant capital and manpower investments over the next five years given that the Indian aerospace & defence (A&D) market is projected to reach $70 billion by 2030.

The team at Collins India is actively collaborating with Indian R&D organisations like NAL, CMTI, DRDO for study into materials, additive manufacturing, pre-qualification tests and other important projects.

Wipro bags top honour for workplace inclusion

Wipro Limited, a leading Indian technology services and consulting company, has been recognised as a ‘Gold’ employer by the India Workplace Equality Index (IWEI) 2022.

Awarded to the top employers by IWEI, the gold employer is the highest of 3 levels, where an organisation is credited with ‘embedding inclusion in the workplace.’ Highlights of Wipro’s efforts in this journey include recognition of Wipro’s leadership in India to advance LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace, from organisational policies to external communications.


It also demonstrates a long-term and in-depth commitment towards LGBTQ+ inclusion, where Wipro has implemented several initiatives enabling its employees to become active allies for the community.

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Corraling Kafka: New ecosystem simplifies, democratizes event-streaming data for enterprises



Aiven, a cloud-data platform based in Helsinki, has fleshed out an open-source ecosystem for Apache Kafka, a popular event-streaming platform. The new offerings promise to help enterprises consolidate their Kafka infrastructure using open-source components. 

“Event streaming is transitioning toward the main stack of the IT infrastructure,” Filip Yonov, director of data streaming product management at Aiven, told VentureBeat. “At Aiven, we have witnessed the fastest growth in the event-streaming domain compared to all other products.”

Apache Kafka provides the infrastructure for wiring streams of data together from databases, apps, IoT devices, and third-party sources. Kafka helps organize raw data into event streams that reduce data size and are easier to integrate into event-driven apps and analytics. Enterprises use it to improve customer experiences, build the industrial metaverse and monitor patients. 

However, building out a Kafka infrastructure involves a lot of moving parts. Aiven has consolidated all the necessary tooling into one place to simplify this process. Key new enhancements include support for Apache Flink and data governance. These complement existing tools for connecting services, replicating data and managing schemas for Kafka deployments.


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The need for simplicity

LinkedIn originally developed Kafka to integrate data across its large microservices infrastructure and open-sourced it in 2011. Over the intervening years, large enterprises have customized the tooling for their own needs, and several vendors have rolled out proprietary enhancements to fill in gaps around governance and integration. Many organizations use Kafka for various data pipeline scenarios, such as transferring data between applications in real-time or moving data from a database to a data warehouse.

Yonov told VentureBeat that as Kafka clusters become larger and more complex, they require additional tooling and governance to ensure proper operation and management. “Unlike existing Kafka solutions, Aiven’s offering does not require organizations to choose between proprietary tools and vendor lock-in or open-source technologies without support,” he said.

Improving the developer experience with event streaming

One essential aspect has been to democratize the experience for working with event-streaming data. The open-source tool, Klaw, provides a self-service interface for managing Kafka clusters. Kafkawize, which develops Klaw, recently joined Aiven’s open-source development office in September to help integrate their tools together. Now they are working together to improve self-service, simplify user management and enforce data governance. 

Another significant development was to connect streaming data to SQL queries familiar to data engineers. The new Aiven for Apache Flink tools allows teams to process larger volumes of events and run real-time analytics using SQL. Aiven provides this as a fully managed service that reduces the complexity of deploying a Flink cluster. It also simplifies the integration with Aiven for Apache Kafka to filter, enrich and aggregate events on the fly. 

Aiven hopes to replicate the success of other open-source frameworks like PostgreSQL, Kubernetes and Linux, built by a healthy mix of contributions from various communities. 

“We truly believe that fostering an open-source, community-driven and inclusive ecosystem of technologies around Apache Kafka can drive further innovations and new developments in the data-streaming domain, ensuring the long sustainment of the technology in the future,” Yonov said.

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How do tech layoffs impact PERM and the green card process? • TechCrunch



Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Dear Sophie,

I handle HR and immigration at our tech company. We filed a PERM for one of our team members about five months ago for her EB-2 green card, and we’re awaiting certification from the Labor Department. We’ve been gearing up to start PERM for another employee.

Will the layoffs in the tech industry affect the PERM process for EB-2 and EB-3 green cards? What will happen to my team members’ green cards if our company has to do layoffs?

— Pondering in People Ops

Dear Pondering,

It’s wonderful that you’re steadfastly supporting your team with green card sponsorship. This can provide unfathomable peace of mind for people still on non-immigrant status in the U.S. through the green card process. We’re here to help ease the holiday season with education on the options for both companies and individuals.

Let’s dive into the winter wonderland of PERM and employment-sponsored green cards.

Will tech layoffs impact the PERM process?

For the permanent labor certification application — or PERM — your company is currently working on, the short answer is yes, the layoffs may have several different effects depending on where your company is in the process.

The PERM green card process is a multistep and time-intensive one involving a labor market recruitment test requiring employers to demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that there are no qualified U.S. workers (U.S. citizens and green card holders) who are qualified, willing and able to fill the EB-2 or EB-3 PERM position. PERM also aims to ensure that the opportunities, wages and working conditions of U.S. citizens and green card holders are protected.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

If you are in or will soon start the PERM recruiting phase, you may receive a larger number of job applicants for your job posting due to the recent layoffs in the tech sector. With an uptick in potentially qualified applicants, it could prove more difficult to demonstrate that there is no qualified U.S. worker to fill the PERM role. If a qualified U.S. worker is ready, willing and able to fill the PERM role, the labor market test fails and the DOL will not grant the company’s PERM labor certification.

Keep in mind that unemployment is a big concern for the DOL. During the last recession, when millions of jobs were lost, DOL increased its scrutiny of the adjudication of PERMs, particularly within the financial sector, to ensure displaced U.S. workers were considered for positions before international talent.

At the moment, the U.S. unemployment rate is under 4%, so we have a ways to go before we match the 10.6% unemployment rate in 2010. Although there have been many layoffs in tech, I remain optimistic, as there are other indicators that the economy is still strong and there are many job requirements in and beyond the tech sector.

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