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Daily Crunch: Microsoft backs Cruise

Autonomous vehicle company Cruise raises a $2 billion new round, Netflix keeps growing and WhatsApp faces more privacy concerns. This is your Daily Crunch for January 19, 2021.

The big story: Microsoft backs Cruise

Cruise announced today that it has raised $2 billion in new funding at a $30 billion valuation, with Microsoft joining as a new investor. (Previous backers GM and Honda also participated.)

This includes a long-term strategic partnership between the two companies, with Cruise using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform for its yet-to-launch autonomous vehicle ride-hailing service. Microsoft is also becoming the preferred cloud provider for GM as part of the deal.

“As Cruise and GM’s preferred cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement.

The tech giants

Netflix shares soar as it passes 200M paying subscribers — Netflix capped off a year of impressive streaming growth by adding 8.5 million net new paying subscribers during the fourth quarter.

India asks WhatsApp to withdraw new privacy policy over ‘grave concerns’ — India’s IT ministry said the upcoming update to the app’s data-sharing policy has raised “grave concerns regarding the implications for the choice and autonomy of Indian citizens.”

Apple’s new editorial franchise, Apple Podcasts Spotlight, to highlight interesting creators — The editorial team at Apple will select new podcast creators to feature every month.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Rivian raises $2.65B as it pushes toward production of its electric pickup — Rivian is now valued at $27.6 billion.

PPRO nabs $180M at a $1B+ valuation to bring together the fragmented world of payments — The London startup has built a platform to make it easier for marketplaces, payment providers and other e-commerce players to enable localized payments.

Google backs India’s Dunzo in $40M funding round — Last year, Google unveiled a $10 billion fund to invest in the world’s second-largest internet market.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

In 2020, VCs invested $428M into US-based startups every day
That’s according to data shared by PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association.

Six investors on 2021’s mobile gaming trends and opportunities — “We are definitely fearful of Apple’s ability to completely disrupt/affect the growth of a game,” said Bessemer’s Ethan Kurzweil and Sakib Dadi.

Bustle CEO Bryan Goldberg explains his plans for taking the company public — Bustle could eventually join the ranks of startups going public via SPAC.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Europe is working on a common framework for ‘vaccine passports’ —  A common approach for mutual recognition of vaccination documentation is of the “utmost importance,” the European Commission said today.

Paramount+, the successor to CBS All Access, launches March 4 in the US, Canada and Latin America — The company had been touting its plans for the rebranded service since earlier last year.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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