Top tech startup news for Monday, May 1, 2023: Bluesky, Campus, Getir, HubSync, IBM, and TIER Mobility
Good evening! Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for Monday, May 1, 2023.
Berlin-based e-scooter operator TIER Mobility is in merger and acquisition talks
Berlin-based e-scooter operator TIER Mobility is reported in talks for a potential sale or merger or sale with a rival, Sky News reported on Monday. TIER Mobility was prompted by investors who are urging operators to explore consolidation opportunities.
Tier, which is backed by investors including the vast SoftBank Vision Fund, has reportedly enlisted the services of investment bankers from Qatalyst Partners to facilitate discussions about potential tie-ups, Sky News reported, citing sources familiar with the ongoing discussions.
The talks come three months after TIER was said to be working with Rothschild to raise hundreds of millions of pounds in additional funding, the report added. However, the talks did not produce satisfactory terms for TIER, the report said, citing industry sources.
We covered TIER back in 2021 after the Berlin-based e-scooter operator acquired bike-sharing startup Nextbike. The combined force of TIER and nextbike to create Europe’s largest and most diverse micro-mobility provider with more than 250,000 vehicles in over 400 cities. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
Founded in 2019 by Julian Blessin, Lawrence Leuschner, and Matthias Laug, Tier is a provider of sustainable micro-mobility sharing solutions. TIER operates in 10 countries, 32 European cities, and employs about 900 people. Tier is revolutionizing urban transport with innovative new technologies and micro-mobility solutions that significantly reduce car traffic and free cities from emissions and congestion.
Turkish delivery app startup Getir is in talks to take over money-losing German rival Flink, the Financial Times reported on Monday. The move comes as consolidation continues to gain momentum in one of Europe’s food delivery sector most thriving sectors during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, there is no guarantee that an agreement has been reached, however, Financial Times said, citing people familiar with the ongoing talks. Getir and Flink declined to comment.
The news of the potential acquisition comes just five months after Getir acquired another German rival Gorillas and its 10,000 employees in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $1.2 billion.
Flink has emerged as one of the few remaining independent players in Europe’s grocery delivery market amid a recent trend of consolidation driven by investor caution towards capital-intensive businesses and the looming possibility of a recession.
Founded in Berlin in 2020, Flink has set a target to achieve profitability in its core German operations by the end of 2023, following a projected sales target of €400mn in 2022. The company has also expressed its intent to attain profitability across all its subsidiaries, including those launched in France and the Netherlands last year, by the fourth quarter of 2024. Mubadala Investment Company, a sovereign wealth fund based in Abu Dhabi, is a common investor in both Getir and Flink.
Prior to Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter in a $44 billion deal in late 2022 and “blue check mark chaos,” several attempts had already been made to create alternative platforms. But in the span of just three years, the number of alternative Twitter apps has surged from around three in 2020 to eight in 2023, with notable examples including Gap, Parler, MeWe, and the more recent addition of Mastodon.
While each of these new platforms offers unique features and communities, none of them provides the same level of engagement and overall experience as Twitter. Now, another alternative app has just been launched and many are saying it may be the next Twitter killer.
Backed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Bluesky is a decentralized social media platform that has generated significant buzz on Twitter and on mainstream media (video below) after it released a limited number of invites.
Bluesky was first introduced by Jack Dorsey in 2019 as an internal project aimed at developing a decentralized social network protocol. Twitter’s then-CTO (now CEO), Parag Agrawal, was in charge of the project at the time. In late 2021, Bluesky was transformed into a public benefit LLC separate from Twitter.
Since Bluesky was developed within Twitter, it shares many of the same features and has a comparable user interface to Twitter.
For now, Bluesky only offers only the most basic features, including the ability to create 300-character posts and upload still images, but lacks DM capabilities and does not support videos or GIFs. It features a chronological feed of posts made by followed users, as well as a “What’s Hot” feed that highlights popular posts from all users. The platform is currently only accessible via invite.
EdTech startup Campus.edu raises $29M in funding to provide an online alternative to traditional community college
Education tech startup Campus.edu announced today it has raised $29 million in funding to “democratize top-tier education for students who might not otherwise have access.” The round was backed by high-profile investors including Discord founder Jason Citron; OpenAI founder Sam Altman; Figma founder Dylan Field; former head of Stripe Issuing Lachy Groom; Bloomberg Beta; Founders Fund; Rethink Education; Reach Capital and Precursor Ventures, among other investors.
Tuition for these programs is offered at a rate lower than the maximum Pell Grant award, making it possible for many students to avoid paying out-of-pocket tuition expenses. Campus takes inspiration from CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) and provides every student with the necessary resources to ensure their academic success, including a free laptop, free WiFi, unlimited tutoring, and individual support coaches. Campus also offers faculty members an opportunity to supplement their teaching income, with the average Campus professor increasing their annual income by 20 percent.
“Campus is about maximizing access to a world-class education regardless of one’s background or household income. We’re making higher education more accessible, more affordable, and more relevant to the real-world challenges and opportunities that students face today,” said Tade Oyerinde, Founder and Chancellor of Campus, and the first Black 29-year-old college dropout to become Chancellor of a college.