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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for October 21, 2021! News today was all over the map, including a number of items dealing with a very particular former U.S. president. TechCrunch has all the details, along with lots of crypto-focused news, product updates from Big Tech and a cacophony of startup items. Let’s go! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Say hello to the Trump social network: Former U.S. President Donald Trump is finally making good on the rumors that he intends to launch a media company. Indeed, the twice-impeached erstwhile reality television show host intends to build not just a social network, but also a video service and has plans to take on both Amazon and Microsoft. And Stripe, for good measure.
- Netflix employees walk out in solidarity with trans staff: At the junction of streaming media, comedy and a changing national dialogue concerning our trans brothers and sisters sits Netflix, which aired a comedy special that some viewed as platformed hate speech. Spotify ran into related issues when it spent heavily to bring Joe Rogan’s podcast exclusively onto its network.
- Google to reduce app store fees: The drumbeat of pricing changes among global application marketplaces picked up tempo this week, with Google announcing that it is “lowering commissions on all subscription-based businesses on the Google Play Store.” Apple has fought efforts by developers for more flexible App Store payment policies and lower take rates.
Kicking off our startup coverage today, founder and operator group The Fund is putting together The Fund XX, which TechCrunch reports will become a “community of women investors and entrepreneurs that will make pre-seed and seed-stage investments.” Something to keep an eye on.
Next, we’ll take a look at a triple threat of crypto stories, and then dig into a host of discrete startup news items:
- Crypto card game raises $50M: Have you ever wanted to build your own card or board game? Struggled to find investors, backers or even friends willing to listen to your plan? Stop what you are doing, put it on the Ethereum blockchain and collect a huge check. Parallel, a sci-fi card game based on the Ethereum blockchain, is now worth $500 million after its huge funding round.
- Eyeballs for crypto? That’s the trade that Sam Altman’s Worldcoin has on offer. It has a five-pound orb — literally called “The Orb” — that will scan your eyes and award you some of its currency. Worldcoin is a Layer 2 Ethereum project.
- Of course NFT funds are a thing now: Meta4 Capital is raising capital to buy and trade NFTs, TechCrunch reports. It’s looking to raise $100 million and will be “anchored by a16z,” according to our own reporting. The a16z connection makes sense — the investing group has long-backed Coinbase, which is getting into NFTs and also put capital into OpenSea, which is also in the NFT game. So the startup investor has a huge incentive to keep the NFT magic alive.
And now, the rest of the news:
- Vertical software for parking: That’s what AirGarage is building, and it just raised $12.5 million for its efforts. The vertical software push brings targeted products to particular industries that may have lagged others in their digitization. Parking certainly fits that mold.
- Socratic bags $3M for its developer-focused task management service: This is an old round, but the startup only disclosed the capital when it decided it was time to open up a public beta of its service. Which is now. Per TechCrunch reporting, the service “wants to give engineering executives more insight into what’s happening inside their organizations,” along with helping more rank-and-file staffers.
- If at first you don’t succeed, do it all over again: Former Zenefits leader Parker Conrad’s next project, Rippling, is now worth $6.5 billion after raising fresh capital. In case you need a refresher on the Zenefits saga, we got you.
- Yummy nabs tasty $18M for LatAm deliveries: The rapid pace of North American venture capital rounds that we’ve seen in recent quarters is hardly a local affair. Yummy raised $4 million earlier this year and is back now with even more capital. The Venezuelan company wants to expand in its region, which the new funds will help facilitate.
- FlixMobility buys Greyhound: German busing startup FlixMobility has purchased the iconic — if unloved — U.S. busing company Greyhound. The operation doesn’t have a reputation for operating excellence in the United States. Perhaps it will get better with a new corporate parent.
Lessons from founders raising their first round in a bull market
The tide is high for startup founders who are looking to raise their first round in October 2021.
But easy money can create special pressure for early-stage founders, according to Lightup.ai founder Manu Bansal.
“You can’t speed up GTM with more money. If valuations go up astronomically, I remind myself that I have to deliver performance,” he says.
“If I cannot show traction, sooner or later this beast will come back to haunt me. I’d rather avoid the price runners.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Now anyone can host a Twitter Space: Twitter’s audio chatroom product was previously limited to folks with at least 600 followers. That requirement has been axed.
- Microsoft’s dual-screen smartphone thingy is getting better: If you are familiar with the first generation Surface Duo, the good news is that the second edition is much better. The bad news is that we don’t think that it is fully baked as of yet.
- Something something metaverse? Recall that Facebook wants to be a metaverse company now, right? Well, it’s directionally aligned that the social media giant is now “rolling out new augmented reality (AR) experiences to video calls and Messenger Rooms,” given its self-made plans for the future.
- Unity wants to make it easier to create cross-platform games: Akin to how a family might wind up with all iOS or all Android devices, gamer groups can form around console selection. Unity’s new Unity Gaming Services product may make it easier for devs to build cross-platform games. Something that we PC gamers would be just fine with.
- Why not just have a vaccine mandate? Apple will require non-vaccinated employees to be tested for COVID-19 daily, which seems very much like a faff to get folks to get vaccinated without telling them to. Which it effectively is.
- EU considers banning “creepy” ads: According to our own Natasha Lomas, “European Union lawmakers are mobilizing support for a ban on tracking-based advertising.” Given how popular that particular form of advertisement has proven, this is big news.
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