Top tech startup news for Tuesday, April 18, 2023: Coinbase, Cure Hydration, Meta, NodeRun, and Rally
Good evening! Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for Tuesday, April 18, 2023.
Meta is reportedly planning another round of mass layoffs this week
Facebook’s parent company Meta is planning another round of mass layoffs Wednesday, according to a report by Vox. citing “several sources working at the company.”
The report comes just a month after Meta reported it would cut 10,000 jobs, four months after it let go 11,000 employees, makingMeta the first Big Tech company to announce a second round of mass layoffs.
On Tuesday evening, Meta posted an internal memo on an employee message board, which was viewed by Vox. The memo informed employees that layoffs would commence on Wednesday and would affect numerous technical teams, including those working on Facebook, Instagram, Reality Labs, and WhatsApp. Although a Meta spokesperson confirmed that the memo was sent, they declined to provide additional comments. According to one source, the job cuts could potentially reach 4,000 positions.
“This will be a difficult time as we say goodbye to friends and colleagues who have contributed so much to Meta,” Lori Goler, Meta’s head of people, said in the memo.
The series of layoffs underscore Zuckerberg’s push to turn 2023 into the “Year of Efficiency” with promised cost cuts of $5 billion in expenses to between $89 billion and $95 billion. He has said that he would “take accountability” for the company’s previously announced cost-cutting plans, saying that he views layoffs “as a last resort.”
Rally raises $12 million in funding to grow its composable checkout platform for e-commerce merchants
One of the biggest challenges of e-commerce checkout is cart abandonment. The problems are due to a lot of factors including bad user experience and clunky checkout which leads to lost sales for merchants. It’s for this reason that e-commerce tech startup Rally has launched a product that gave merchants full control over their checkout process and boosts their conversions.
Rally was founded by Jordan Gal and Rok Knez, who previously co-founded CartHook, a checkout solution that processed nearly $3 billion in transactions for Shopify merchants.
Before founding Rally with Rok, Gal ran CartHook with his cofounder Ben and later launched the company in 2015 as an abandoned cart app with $275k of funding from friends and family. Then in 2017, they found a bigger idea to work on and launched a product that gave merchants full control over their checkout process. “It was popular immediately, with over $100m in revenue processed in the first year,” Gal said on the company’s website.
Fast forward six years later, Rally has grown to become one of the leading composable checkout platforms for e-commerce merchants. Just last year, the company doubled in size. Rally currently works with PayPal, BigCommerce, and Swell.
To further fuel the growth of its platform, Rally announced today it has raised $12 million in Series A funding led by March Capital, with participation from Felix Capital, Commerce Ventures, Afore Capital, Alumni Ventures, and Kraken Ventures. The latest round follows Rally’s $6M seed funding round in 2021.
The fresh capital infusion will help Rally further strengthen its team, penetrate enterprise and international markets, and expand integrations beyond Swell and BigCommerce with other commerce platforms such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud and commerce tools and payment methods such as Affirm and AfterPay.
Rally’s cutting-edge checkout solution gives merchants the freedom to design and implement a bespoke checkout that works best for their teams. The platform offers e-commerce businesses a one-click checkout solution as well as tools for post-purchase offers, that have proven to reduce the industry average 70% cart abandonment rate and increase revenue by over 12%.
“Our guiding north star is to place power back into the hands of merchants and developers, period,” Gal said. “We are building an e-commerce ecosystem for the future – where business owners and developers are placed back in control of their brand. Right now, merchants are forced to accept the existing checkouts provided to them by underlying platforms, and app developers are tirelessly bound to the legacy platforms they build for. We believe there is a better way to do things – placing the merchant back in the driver’s seat and setting them up for success.”
The legal tussle between crypto exchange Coinbase and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been going on for at least a year. Now Coinbase founder and CEO Brian Armstrong said he’s not ruling out leaving the entire US market altogether if no regulatory clarity emerges from the US regulators.
In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Armstrong said the company is preparing for a years-long court battle with the SEC after the regulator warned the crypto exchange of potential violations of securities law.
Coinbase was issued a Wells notice by the SEC in March, which is typically one of the last stages before the regulator formally presses charges. The notice usually outlines the basis of the regulatory case and gives the accused party a chance to challenge the SEC’s allegations.
But Armstrong called the issuing of the Wells notice “unfortunate” and said Coinbase has not got any more information on the specific issues the SEC has.
“We’ve met with them over 30 times in the last year … never got a single piece of feedback from them about what we can be doing better or differently, and then this Wells Notice arrived,” Armstrong told CNBC in an interview.
“I think we’re going to have to actually end up going to court to get the clarity we need and create the case law.”
When asked by if Coinbase is prepared for a years-long battle with the SEC, Armstrong told CNBC, “Absolutely.”
“We never seek litigation but it seems, in this case, they have initiated it and if we need to go to the courts to get the clarity that we need then we are very prepared to do that,” Armstrong added.
Cure Hydration, a plant-based hydration brand, has secured $2.6 million in Series A funding as it embarks on a new growth phase that includes expanding its retail presence almost fourfold from two years ago.
The latest round was led by Lerer Hippeau, with participation from M3 Ventures, Litani Ventures, Andy Roddick, Nas, Matthew Dellavedova, Philip Krim, co-founder & CEO of Casper, Nick Green, CEO of Thrive Market, and others. Cure will use the new capital infusion to grow its leadership team, accelerate retail expansion, enhance customer awareness, and develop new products.
Along with the funding, Cure also announced its retail expansion to 15,000 stores nationwide, a move that cements the plant-based hydration brand’s position as a significant player in the $10 billion functional drink mix market.
Founded in 2019 by CEO Lauren Picasso and Alex Sarkissian, the New York-based Cure offers all-natural, science-supported functional beverages. The company’s debut product is a hydration blend that uses the gold standard of rehydration, which is based on the World Health Organization standard for Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS). The company claims its drink mix “rehydrates the body as effectively as an IV drip.”
Cure recently launched new electrolyte flavors earlier this year including Lemonade and Strawberry Kiwi, and introduced a new bulk jar format.
Since its inception four years ago, Cure has experienced an average growth rate of 230% annually and has expanded its retail presence by partnering with new retailers such as Sprouts, Albertsons, Kroger, Stop & Shop, Wegmans, and HEB, in addition to existing accounts including CVS and Walgreens. According to SPINS, in the past 12 weeks, Cure’s growth in the Natural channel has been 316%, compared to the overall category growth rate of 19.5%, making Cure the fastest-growing natural hydration brand.
While all eyes are on ChatGPT, the NFT market is slowly getting back on its feet as trade volumes rose for two months straight this year. The explosion of NFT games also contributed to this growth. One of these games is The Spells of Genesis (SoG), the first blockchain-based mobile game where users can collect, trade, and combine orbs to build the strongest decks.
Today, Web3 games developer EverdreamSoft and creator of SoG announced the launch of a unique ChainChronicles subscription series. An all-new edition of collectible NFTs, ChainChronicles extends upon EverdreamSoft’s original cards that were released in 2015.
EverdreamSoft created the first collection of tokenized cards, now commonly known as NFTs, for its mobile game Spells of Genesis (SoG). Many of these cards are now highly coveted given their status as the first NFT representations onchain. Eight years on, the founder is releasing ChainChronicles as a monthly offer of unique cards evoking significant events in the blockchain universe.
Every month, subscribers of the ChainChronicles series will receive a new SoG card that commemorates a significant event in blockchain history. By subscribing, collectors can obtain the entire collection and increase the cards’ rarity. In addition, subscribers will receive exclusive artwork, vintage NFTs from various collections, and in-game benefits for SoG. This series pays homage to the original SoG collectibles and showcases the innovative NFT artists in the industry.
NodeRun, an Israeli tech startup and provider of blockchain infrastructure service, today announced the launch of Quick Grants – a groundbreaking initiative for funding community projects. The program will distribute 10% of the validator rewards collected by NodeRun to successful Quick Grant applicants.
Through Quick Grants, NodeRun aims to facilitate ecosystem growth and simplify the process of obtaining funding for innovative teams looking to kick-start their projects. The first Quick Grant has been awarded to ONS.gg, in collaboration with cross-chain communication protocol Axelar. The funds will be used to develop a cross-chain ENS service, and ONS.gg has been granted 5,000 AXL tokens to further their solution.
Commenting on the launch, Julian Alvarez Silva, CEO of ONS.gg sadi: “The ONS team is looking forward to bringing interoperability to all users. The NodeRun grant will help us deploy contracts across 30+ chains as well as setting servers and RPCs up so everything works smoothly.”
Founded by Eyal Alsheich, NodeRun is an Israel-based blockchain node and validator service for proof of stake networks. It serves 13 networks and has a major presence within the Cosmos ecosystem. Through Quick Grants, NodeRun funds innovative projects, disbursing a portion of the fees it collects and directing them to enterprising startups.
NodeRun CEO Eyal Alsheich explained: “NodeRun participates in the early stages of network deployment, running testnet nodes and helping with technical documentation. Then, when the network goes live, we give a portion of our validator fees back to the ecosystem in the form of Quick Grants. While our focus is on the Cosmos ecosystem, where half of our nodes are based, we welcome Quick Grant applicants from every ecosystem that’s creating something truly innovative.”