VCs bet millions on Microverse, a Lambda School for the developing world

The student loan crisis in the U.S. has left venture capitalists searching for novel approaches to financing higher education, but can the same systems designed for helping coders in Silicon Valley get jobs at Google help underserved students in developing countries become part of a global work force?

Similar to the buzzy San Francisco startup Lambda School,  Microverse is a coding school that utilizes ISAs, or Income Share Agreements, as a means of allowing students to learn now and pay later with a fixed percentage of their future salary. Microverse  isn’t aiming to compete heavily with Lambda School for U.S. students, however, they are looking more heavily at courting students in developing countries. The startup currently has students in 96 countries, with Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, Cameroon and India among their most represented, CEO Ariel Camus tells TechCrunch.

Cruise can now transport passengers in self-driving cars in CA

Cruise  recently received a permit to transport passengers in its autonomous vehicles in California. Granted by the California Public Utilities Commission, the permit is part of the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service pilot.

As part of the program, Cruise must provide data and reports to the CPUC regarding any incidents, the number of passenger miles traveled and passenger safety protocols. Cruise must also have a safety driver behind the wheel and not charge passengers for rides.

Cruise is now one of five self-driving companies allowed to participate in this program. The others are Zoox, Waymo, Pony.ai, Aurora and AutoX. This program is a bit different from the one run by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, which has granted 66 companies permits to test their respective vehicles in the state.

Astranis raises $90 million for its next-gen satellite broadband internet service

YC-backed Astranis has raised $90 million of new combined debt and equity funding in a Series B round led Venrock,  with a sizeable contribution by existing investor (and lead of their 2018 round) Andreessen Horowitz. The funding will be used to help the company launch its first commercial satellites, the bedrock of its future internet service offering, aimed at connecting the massive market of underserved populations around the world.

Ramp is a corporate card focused on helping you spend less

Meet Ramp, a new startup that offers corporate credit cards with 1.5% cash back on everything. The company thinks that a cash-back program combined with an analysis of your payments to help you spend less is more valuable than alternative corporate card offerings.

Ramp is launching publicly today and has raised $25 million in funding from Keith Rabois, Coatue, BoxGroup, Conversion Capital, Soma Capital, Backend Capital and more than 50 business angels.

Quo, A Stanford Consumer Fintech Startup, Leverages AI To Provide Financial Security

The car payment is due in seven days. The electric bill is past due. The cable service has been shut off. You need to go to the doctor, but you’re uninsured.

You also found out that your house needs significant repairs. You’ve hit your credit card limit, and your next paycheck doesn’t come for another week and a half.

These challenges are all too familiar in the United States of America. In the midst of an unprecedented stock market rally and record-low unemployment, many Americans still struggle to meet their financial needs. CNBC reports that roughly 40% of Americans can’t handle a $400 emergency. Anyone can fall behind on these recurring bills, and unexpected expenses can make the financial constraints even worse. Payday loans are used to bridge the gap between paychecks, but end up making a cash-flow issue worse due to their usurious interest rates. Financial disaster can happen to anyone in the United States.

YC-backed Commercial Real Estate Startup Obie Raises $2.8M

Obie, a Chicago startup that’s building a commercial real estate platform, announced it has raised a seed round of funding and officially launched its product to the public.

Obie said Tuesday that it raised $2.8 million in seed funding from Y Combinator, MetaProp, FundersClub, Liquid 2 and Soma Capital. Opendoor founder JD Ross, Inkling founder Matt MacInnis and Rentlytics founder Justin Alanis also invested in the round.

The startup has built a cloud-based insurance and portfolio management platform for small- and medium-size commercial real estate funds and managers. Obie’s platform gives owners information about their assets in once place, and allows them to collaborate with property managers, leasing brokers, LPs and others who need access to the property data.

Obie also offers property and casualty insurance and says it can help customers cut premiums by 10-15%.