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Walmart to expand InHome grocery delivery to 30 million U.S. households in 2022

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Walmart to expand InHome grocery delivery to 30 million U.S. households in 2022

Walmart is expanding its service that will deliver your groceries directly to your refrigerator, the company announced today. First launched in fall 2019, Walmart’s InHome delivery service, as it’s called, allows customers to place grocery orders online, then receive their deliveries by having a Walmart associate enter their home by way of a smart lock. The service was initially tested in a small handful of markets, including Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Vero Beach, and is now available to 6 million households across the U.S. after further launches in Northwest Arkansas, Atlanta, Phoenix, and D.C. Today, Walmart says it plans to expand InHome delivery more broadly, with the goal of reaching 30 million U.S. homes by the end of the year.

This will include forthcoming launches in major markets like Dallas, Nashville, L.A., Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, and others.

As a part of this expansion, Walmart plans to hire more than 3,000 delivery drivers over the course of the year. It will also build out a fleet of 100% all-electric delivery vans which will be used to make the deliveries, while simultaneously marketing the service in the neighborhoods being served.

The InHome service itself is $19.95 per month, which makes it more appropriate for customers who work outside the home during the day or who travel, and want their groceries put away while they’re out.

Image Credits: Walmart

Though it may seem odd to think of having a delivery person enter your home to stock your fridge, the InHome service addresses a major consumer complaint with online grocery delivery — that you have to be at home (or at least be heading home soon) in order to put your cold and frozen groceries away after your order is left at the doorstep.

Services like Shipt and Instacart — top Walmart grocery competitors — don’t offer a solution for keeping customers’ cold items insulated beyond possibly double-bagging items, at the shopper’s discretion. The shoppers for these services only use the paper or plastic bags provided by the store at checkout, and there’s no system for exchanging insulated bags or boxes at the time of delivery or using some sort of insulated cooler at the customer’s home. That means customers will sometimes arrive home to find their ice cream melted or other cold items spoiled, if left out for too long on a hot day. Complicating matters further is that the services don’t always deliver at the time you specified, meaning the deliveries could arrive too early or too late to be convenient.

By offering an in-home service, Walmart can better manage the logistics of delivery on its end, instead of having to work around customers’ demands for specific timeslots throughout the day. Meanwhile, it sells customers on the usefulness of having not just the last mile handled, but also having those last steps covered between doorstep and fridge or kitchen countertop.

“Above all else, convenience is the leading factor for our customers,” Tom Ward, Walmart’s SVP of last-mile delivery, told TechCrunch. “People love to get on doing the things they want to do, and they don’t always want to wait at home for deliveries or whatever it might be…Really, the ultimate convenience is to come home and find all the items you bought waiting for you at home,” he said.

Image Credits: Walmart

InHome customers also appreciate the other perks that come with their subscription, Ward noted.

Subscribers can access all the features of Walmart+, the retailer’s Amazon Prime competitor offering free shipping and more. In addition, InHome customers can leave items they want to return to Walmart on their counter for the InHome delivery driver to take back with them to the store. And this is only the beginning, Ward hinted.

“What we’ve essentially tried to do is think through what are the conveniences would you know customers really want to experience,” he explained. “Rx is going to be on the horizon,” Ward added, referencing Walmart’s plans to integrate its prescription delivery business with InHome, which is already being teased on the InHome website.

When it comes to the delivery process inside the home, the InHome system itself largely works the same as it had at launch.

The system relies on smart lock technology and a video camera worn on the delivery driver’s uniform. Walmart partnered with Level Home for its front door smart entry technology (Level Bolt and Level Touch) and had earlier worked with Nortek Security & Control for its garage door smart entry technology. It’s now offering a retrofit kit for Genie and overhead garage door openers instead.

Walmart customers can select either device for $49.95 or they can now use their existing smart lock or garage keypad as an alternative.

The delivery associate is able to enter the home using a one-time access code provided in their InHome app. The app also notifies the customer the delivery has begun and turns on the camera worn on the associate’s vest. This records the entire delivery which the customer can see as it takes place via their own InHome app. This is meant to eliminate any security concerns around allowing an unknown person into the home when the customer is away. The delivery associate puts the food away while wearing a mask, then sanitizes the surfaces they used and locks up as they leave.

This video recording can be accessed up to a week after each delivery, Walmart notes. But in tests, it’s found that customers begin to trust the process after a few uses — similar to how they may grow to trust other service personnel who are provided with a door code — like a house cleaner or dog walker, for example.

It’s often the same person making the Walmart deliveries, as well, and the company notes it requires a minimum of one year of employment to move up to the new associate delivery driver position.

As the service expands more broadly, Walmart says it’s now formally creating the role of associate delivery driver as a new full-time position that pays an extra $1.50 per hour more than most of its in-store roles. These employees qualify for company benefits like medical, vision, and dental insurance, 401K matching, paid time off, no-cost counseling, and Walmart’s Live Better U program which pays for a free college degree. The retailer says it will initially fill the new positions through internal promotions, and staff will be trained both in-person and using virtual reality experiences through Walmart’s existing VR training platform.

Most of the associate delivery drivers who are already doing this work have an average tenure of over five years with the company, Ward said. Though the promotions to the new position will largely involve existing employees, Walmart expects to fill the positions those employees are vacating — so this expansion will lead to the growth of Walmart’s overall headcount.

“It builds on that track record of more than 300,000 associates who were promoted into roles of greater responsibility and higher pay in FY 21,” Ward noted.

The electric vans used by InHome drivers, meanwhile, advances Walmart’s goal of operating a zero-emissions logistics fleet by 2040 and will be supported by Walmart’s 1,396 EV charging stations at stores and clubs across 41 U.S. states, the company said.

(Walmart is poised to detail its partnership efforts on the EV front in a separate announcement at CES.)

Source: Tech

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Spendesk is the fifth French startup to reach unicorn status this month

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Fintech startup Spendesk is announcing that it has raised an extension to its Series C round. Tiger Global is investing $114 million (€100 million) in the startup. Following today’s funding round, the company says that is has reached a valuation of more than $1.14 billion (more than €1 billion).

In other words, Spendesk is a new unicorn in the French tech ecosystem. Funding news has been accelerating over the last few months in France. In January alone, five startups announced that they have crossed the threshold to reach unicorn status — PayFit, Ankorstore, Qonto, Exotec and Spendesk.

Back Market, an e-commerce marketplace focused on refurbished smartphones and electronics devices, has also raised a mega round and reached a $5.7 billion valuation.

Let’s go back to Spendesk. The startup offers an all-in-one corporate spend management platform for medium companies in Europe. Originally focused on virtual cards for online payments, the company has expanded its product offering to tackle everything related to corporate spending.

Spendesk customers can order physical cards for employees, team members can use the platform to pay outstanding invoices, file expense reports, manage budgets and generate spending reports. By offering everything in a single service, Spendesk wants to simplify accounting and approvals in general so that money moves more freely.

The startup defines its platform as a “7-in-1 spend management solution”, meaning that Spendesk is no longer just a product that lets you order debit cards for your employees.

“We have had this goal since the beginning — we really want to become this platform, this operational system to manage your spending,” co-founder and CEO Rodolphe Ardant told me. “When we started working on the product, we looked at each use case and designed the right workflow for that.”

In particular, Spendesk helps you formalize your internal processes. You can define team budgets, set up complicated approval workflows for expensive payments, automate some pesky tasks, such as VAT extraction.

“We target mid-market clients. Those are customers with 50 to 1,000 employees. We have a few clients that are bigger than that and a few clients that are smaller than that,” Ardant said.

And the company currently has 3,500 clients — around half of them are based in France while other clients are mostly based in Germany and the U.K. Clients have spent €3 billion through Spendesk in 2021 alone.

With its central positioning in the financial stack, Spendesk needs to interface perfectly with other financial tools — banks on one side and ERP products on the other side.

The startup currently supports many of the popular accounting tools used by European companies, such as Xero and Datev. Spendesk customers can also export transaction batches and import them into Sage, Cegid and other accounting software solutions.

Spendesk is also working on automating the integrations with your bank accounts, which could be particularly useful for companies with multiple bank accounts. For instance, you could imagine setting up a rule that automatically triggers a transfer between your German bank account and your Spendesk account when you want to pay a German supplier.

Image Credits: Spendesk

Spend management in Europe

Spendesk isn’t the only spend management solution in Europe. There are some competitors, such as Pleo, which recently reached a $4.7 billion valuation, and Soldo — another well-funded competitor as it has raised $180 million last year.

In the U.S. as well, companies like Brex and Ramp have reached sky-high valuations. And yet, Spendesk doesn’t think it has the same positioning as American startups.

“On the American market, it shouldn’t be called the spend management industry — it’s the corporate card industry. Players like Brex and Ramp position themselves as a payment method,” Spendesk co-founder and CEO Rodolphe Ardant told me. “Europe’s corporate culture is a culture of debit — not credit. We don’t provide payment methods, we provide a process.”

It’s a slight difference in product positioning, so it’s going to be interesting to see if a European spend management startup can successfully enter the U.S. and vice versa.

When it comes to business model as well, Spendesk considers itself as a software-as-a-service company with recurring subscriptions. The startup didn’t want to share any hard numbers for its revenue. Its CEO just said that Spendesk’s revenue “more than doubles every year.”

With today’s funding round, Spendesk plans to triple the size of its team over the next two years. The company plans to have 1,000 employees by the end of 2023.

Source: Tech

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Crypto.com expands venture arm to $500 million to back early-stage web3 startups

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Crypto.com, a popular cryptocurrency exchange, has extended its venture arm’s fund size to $500 million as it looks to more aggressively back early-stage startups to help the nascent ecosystem grow, following similar moves by rivals Binance, Coinbase and FTX.

The broadening of Crypto.com Capital comes less than a year after the Singapore-headquartered firm unveiled its maiden fund of $200 million. The fund, unlike those of many of its rivals, has no LPs (meaning, it’s fully financed by the firm’s balance sheet.)

The maiden fund, whose individual checks run up to $10 million in size, has been so far deployed to back about 20 startups including YGG SEA, multi-chain crypto portfolio tracker DeBank, cross-chain token infrastructure Efinity and Ethereum scaling solution Matter Labs.

Crypto.com will continue to focus on backing early-stage startups, said Jon Russell, who joined the firm as a general partner this month, in an interview with TechCrunch.

With the fund, Crypto.com is broadly focusing on gaming, decentralized-finance and startups innovating on cross-chain solutions. But he cautioned that the industry could change and expand, as it has in recent years, to areas “we don’t know about,” hence the firm is keeping an eye out on everything.

Tuesday’s announcement also further illustrates the growing involvement of cryptocurrency exchanges in being the rainmaker – and beneficiary – of the ecosystem which encompasses the industry in which they operate.

FTX, which has backed over 15 startups, last week announced a $2 billion crypto fund. Its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, also owns Alameda Research, a venture firm that has backed close to 100 web3 startups.

Coinbase Ventures, the investment arm of the only crypto exchange that is publicly traded, and Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, are also among the most prolific investors in the web3 space.

Venture investment in crypto / web3 in 2021 by category (Image credits: Galaxy Digital)

The funding activity in the space, even as most of the aforementioned names often co-invest in startups, is at an all-time high. VCs invested more than $33 billion in crypto/web3 startups in 2021, more than all prior years combined, Galaxy Digital, another prolific investor in the space, wrote in a recent report.

“Valuations in the crypto/blockchain space were 141% higher than the rest of the venture capital space in Q4, highlighting a founder-friendly environment and the intense competition among investors for deal allocations,” the report added.

Scores of venture capital firms have also raised new funds for their crypto investments. Just last year, Andreessen Horowitz added a $2.2 billion crypto fund, Paradigm unveiled a $2.5 billion fund, and Hivemind Capital Partners announced a $1.5 billion fund. Katie Haun, who co-led a16z’s $2.2 billion crypto fund, has left the firm to launch her own crypto-focused fund.

Russell – a former journalist who previously had stints at TechCrunch, The Next Web, and The Ken – said Crypto.com is backing startups to help the ecosystem grow.

“If you’re in the industry, it’s in your interest to help companies grow in the ecosystem and the ecosystem itself to grow,” he said. (Worth pointing out that Solana, Avalanche, Polkadot — as well as some of their major investors — are also aggressively backing startups that are building applications for the native blockchains.)

The startups Crypto.com backs are under no obligation to list their tokens on Crypto.com over any of its rivals or offer the exchange any other preferential treatment, he said. The exchange team similarly doesn’t have a soft spot for the investment arm’s portfolio firms, he added.

(What’s up with the career move? “I’ve been crypto curious for a number of years but I wasn’t gasping to dive in full-time. This project appeals to me because Crypto.com is ambitious but yet it does things the right way. There’s certainly a lot of hype and hot air in crypto and web3 right now, but it’s impossible to ignore the talent that’s pouring into the industry,” he said.)

Crypto.com, which started its life as a blog of professor Matt Blaze (who sold the domain to the crypto exchange), has aggressively expanded in the past year as it looks to court more users. The Singapore-headquartered firm last year agreed to pay more than $700 million for the naming rights of the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The downtown Los Angeles complex has been rebranded as Crypto.com Arena for the next 20 years.

The firm, which bills itself as the “fastest-growing” crypto exchange, said at the time of the announcement that the move is positioned to make cryptocurrencies mainstream. Crypto.com, which processes trade volumes of over $2.5 billion every day, also teamed up with Hollywood star Matt Damon last year to promote the brand and cryptocurrencies.

The Damon-starring ad equated buying crypto tokens and NFTs to one of the greatest and boldest accomplishments in the history of humankind. Hyperbole, to be sure, but having the most mainstream American actor as Crypto.com’s celebrity sponsor has certainly helped bring the trading platform, and all that it sells, into the mainstream. The ad went viral and also attracted criticism for being cringeworthy.

Source: Tech

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Focused on smaller cities, Vietnamese social commerce startup Mio raises $8M Series A

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Mio, the Vietnamese social commerce platform, has raised an $8 million Series A, less than a year after announcing its seed round. The funding was led by Jungle Ventures, Patamar Capital and Oliver Jung, with participation from returning investors GGV, Venturra, Hustle Fund, iSEED SEA and Gokul Rajaram.

TechCrunch first covered Mio at the time of its $1 million seed funding in May 2021. Founded in 2020, Mio is a group buying platform that focuses on selling fresh produce and groceries in Tier 2 and 3 cities in Vietnam. The company is able to offer next day delivery because it built a logistics infrastructure that enables it to send produce directly from farms to customers.

The Series A brings Mio’s total raised to $9.1 million, and will be used to expand its logistics and fulfillment system, enter new areas in Vietnam and add new product categories like fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and household appliances.

Mio co-founder and chief executive officer Trung Huynh said that since TechCrunch first covered Mio seven months ago, it has achieved 10x gross merchandise value growth, a 10x increase in agents, or resellers, and grew its team from 60 people to 240. It now fulfills more than 10,000 pieces of fresh produce per day, operating in Ho Chi Minh, Thu Duc, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An, with plans to expand into northern Vietnam.

The numbers “strengthened our conviction in this model and its potential,” he said. “We need fresh capital to accelerate hiring, product development and supply chain to keep up with the pace of growth as we deepen our presence in existing geographies and expand to new provinces.”

Mio is able to offer next day deliveries because its vertically integrated mayor layers of the value chain, including procurement, warehousing, order sorting and bulk delivery. The startup owns the majority of its logistics infrastructure and uses its own fleet of couriers. Its ability to delivery fresh produce directly from farms to customers in less than 16 hours contributed to higher customer retention and growth, Huynh said, and it will continue to shorten delivery times. .

Mio resellers are called Mio Partners. Huynh said one of the driving factors behind Mio is targeting the right people for the program, or “housewives and stay-home-moms in lower income regions who love sharing value-for-money products to their social circle of friends.”

They aggregate orders, usually from friends and family, and orders are delivered to them in batches for distribution. The startup claims Mio Partners can make up to $400 a month, including a 10% commission on each order and additional commissions based on the monthly performance of other resellers they referred to the program.

“There is a strong possibility” that Mio will expand beyond Vietnam, Huynh said, “but will only be considered at a more appropriate time after we successfully built our playbook for Vietnam.”

Source: Tech

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