Top tech startup news for Monday, April 3, 2023: Acorns, Acre, Apple, Boba, GoHenry, Kaszek, and Storyblok
Good evening! Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for Monday, April 3, 2023.
Acorns acquires UK-based kid-focused fintech startup GoHenry to expand into Europe
Acorns, a U.S.-based startup focused on savings and investing, has acquired London-based startup GoHenry in an all-equity deal, the companies announced today. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition will enable Acorns to expand its footprint to Europe, while leveraging GoHenry’s existing presence in the U.K., France, Italy, and Spain.
Founded in 2018, GoHenry provides Visa debit cards, money management, and financial education app for children aged 6 to 18. Acorns was recently valued at $2 billion about a year ago, while GoHenry’s valuation was believed to be between $250 million and $500 million in October 2022, when it raised $55 million.
The acquisition is one of the bigger M&A deals between two fintech startups, given the challenges that startups have faced in raising further funding in recent months. In addition, the deal will also add new investors to Acorns’ cap table, including Edison Partners, Revaia, Citi Ventures, Muse Capital, and Nexi.
“We pioneered kids and teens with GoHenry, and Acorns very much pioneered investing and saving and bringing mental wellness to the up and coming, to everyday America,” Louise Hill, co-founder, and chief operating officer of GoHenry, told CNBC in an interview.
Austria-based tech startup Storyblok launches Creator Fund with thousands of dollars up for grabs for creators
Storyblok today announced the launch of a Creator Fund making thousands of dollars up for grabs for creators to support their ideas. The fund is open to any creator-driven media such as bloggers, podcasters, live streamers, and social media influencers. To take part, creators will need to submit an idea for content related to CMS topics for a chance to get $5K to work on the project.
The news follows the successful launch of a $1.5 million partner fund which we reported last year. Creating and delivering content to end-users is no longer just a question of implementing responsive design. Companies want their content to be easily distributed over different communication channels: websites, web and mobile applications, and connected objects.
Since its inception six years ago, Storyblok has been collaborating with the creator community to raise awareness about the benefits of headless content management. In 2022 alone, the company sponsored a total of 231 projects from creators to demonstrate its commitment to supporting their creative endeavors.
Storyblok is open to any creator-driven media and has previously collaborated with a diverse community of creators: bloggers, podcasters, live streamers, social media influencers, etc.
“Storyblok has been nothing short of incredible. Their team is supportive, the product is innovative, and the momentum behind it all is very exciting. The Marketing Meetup is proud to work with Storyblok for over a year now, and we know they’re on the side of creators everywhere,” said Joe Glover from The Marketing Meetup.
“I’ve enjoyed Storyblok as a sponsor because they give me the creative freedom to create the best content for my channel. The Storyblok community also does a fantastic job promoting my content,” said Matt Maribojoc from LearnVue.
“Storyblok has been a fantastic partner for our media operation, drawing lots of interest from our listeners. I enjoyed working with them,” said Brian McCullough from the Techmeme Ride Home podcast.
Boba Network records a nearly 10,000% increase in transactions despite a slowdown in the crypto industry
Ethereum blockchain startup Boba Network saw a massive increase in the number of transactions on its BnB Chain network despite the ongoing slowdown in the crypto industry. The company said an astounding increase of 9883.46% in transactions and the addition of nearly 13,000 wallets since January 2023, the company told Tech Startups in a statement.
The news comes after the successful launch of its Boba BNB Layer 2 Solution on Avalanche last year, becoming the first-ever L2 on Avalanche which also reinforced Boba’s status as a preeminent L2 for scaling blockchain networks while providing Avalanche developers with another low-fee environment for feature-rich applications.
Boba Network’s success didn’t end there. In March alone, a record of 587,127 transactions was recorded on the Boba BNB layer 2, bringing the total wallet addresses to 12,716. The integration with Binance’s BNB Chain allows Web3 developers to build dApps or games with the benefits offered by Binance and its BNB Chain.
To date, Boba BNB L2, powered by Boba Network, is the first and only L2 on BNB that allows users and developers to deploy EVM Compliant dApps and benefit from quicker transaction speeds and cheaper costs. Furthermore, BNB Chain developers may use Boba’s Hybrid Compute technology, which brings the power of Web2 on-chain and enables smart contracts to access off-chain computing and real-world data to create improved experiences for decentralized apps.
London-based digital mortgage startup Acre raises £6.5M to revolutionize the process of buying homes
Acre, a London-based tech startup and provider of an all-in-one mortgage and protection platform, has closed £6.5 million ($8 million) in funding to grow its tech platform to make home-buying quicker and easier for buyers, brokers, insurers, and lenders.
The round was led by investment from The McPike Global Family Office (MGFO), the family office of Harold McPike, with participation from existing investors Aviva and Founders Factory. Acre will use the new capital infusion to further its ambition to digitize the homebuying journey to buying and delivering new, innovative ways to support brokers’ businesses.
Today’s funding follows Acre’s earlier £5 million fundraise in 2019, which was led by Aviva and Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG), and followed its spin-out from Founders Factory’s venture studio. The funding also comes after a successful 2022, which saw the all-in-one intermediaries platform grow to over 1300 users, representing over £10 billion in annual mortgage volume, a 10x growth over the year.
The platform signed its first protection-only firm, Intrinsic House, and saw a number of the country’s fastest-growing networks, including Cornerstone Finance Group and Beneficial Network, join the Acre ecosystem. Integrations with five lenders also went live, including Santander and TSB.
Acre was born out of the Founders Factory incubator (in cooperation with Aviva), Acre’s broker platform uses innovative blockchain technology to put detailed consumer and property data at the heart of getting a mortgage.
In a statement Acre founder and CEO Justus Brown said, “We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of innovation in financial advice, delivering a new, modern approach that simplifies the advice journey for brokers and delivers on the needs of clients. This latest fundraise demonstrates our strength and commitment to the market and supercharges our ambitions as the tech platform of choice for brokers.”
Brown added: “For many homebuyers, the financial turmoil of last year led to a greater appreciation of mortgage brokers, and this trend is continuing into 2023. We give brokers the right tools, data, and insight at the click of a button, so that they can excel at delivering speedy, efficient advice that meets the individual requirements of each case in a dynamic market.”
Apple to lay off staff within its corporate retail teams: Bloomberg
After many months of promising no layoffs, the iPhone giant is now joining a long list of tech companies that have announced job cuts over the past year.
After holding off on corporate layoff including pulling every lever to cut cost cuts and trim budget, the iPhone maker is now planning to make a small number of job cuts in some corporate retail teams, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The layoffs would impact positions in what Apple calls its development and preservation teams, the report said, adding that the number of positions being eliminated could not be ascertained and was likely very small. The people also told Bloomberg that the affected groups “are responsible for the construction and upkeep of Apple retail stores and others.”
The iPhone maker did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the report.
The global economic downturn that started in the second quarter of 2022 is beginning to have a major impact on tech companies. At least 553 companies have let go of 166,004 tech workers, according to Layoffs.FYI, a site that has been tracking all tech layoffs using data compiled from public reports.
Last month, Facebook-parent company Meta announced it would cut 10,000 jobs, just four months after it let go of 11,000 employees, making the social giant the first Big Tech company to announce a second round of mass layoffs. In March, electric truck company Rivian also said it would let go of 6% of its workforce in an effort to cut costs.
Kaszek raises close to $1 billion in new funds to invest in Latin American startups
While most North American startups remain under funding drought conditions, Latin American startups continue to enjoy a funding boom thanks in part to a venture capital (VC) firm like the São Paulo-based Kaszek Ventures. We wrote about Kaskek back in July 2022 after the firm backed a $100 investment in Brazil’s second biggest fintech startup Creditas. Now, the firm has just increased its funding war chest.
Today, Kaszek announced it has raised $975 million across two funds to invest in tech startups in Latin America, Reuters reported. The investment will be directed to two new funds, Kaszek Ventures VI, which will receive $540 million for investments in early-stage startups, and a $435 million fund for later-stage companies from series C rounds all the way to pre-IPO financing in which Kaszek already holds a stake.
Founded in 2011 by Hernan Kazah and Nicolas Szekasy, Kaszek invests in technology-based companies and industries including financial services, education, healthcare, e-commerce, marketplaces, enterprise software, and SaaS, among others. In addition to funding, Kaszek provides “first-hand expertise and insights in strategy, operational execution, team-building, growth, technology, product development, networking, and fundraising,” the firm said.
According to its website, Kaszek has invested in 275 entrepreneurs and more than 120 companies which collectively have raised more than $15.5 billion in total funding. Kaszek has been most active in Brazil and Mexico. Among its portfolio companies are digital bank Nubank, financial services firm Creditas, and digital real estate broker QuintoAndar.
In 2020, Kaszek led an $18.45 million in funding in Sao Paulo, Brazil-based fintech startup Ideal, making it the largest fintech funding round ever in Latin America at the time.