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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 6, 2021! Today we have not only killer notes on this year’s strange CES confab, but breaking media news and even an editorial from United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. And, of course, a host of updates from startup land. Let’s have some fun! —Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Reflections on another pandemic CES: Our own Brian Heater has the must-read from this year’s kinda-IRL CES event. TechCrunch decided to not attend in-person due to spiking COVID-19 cases, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not paying attention. If you want to know even more on what it looks like to cover the event from afar, Devin Coldeway has the nitty-gritty you are looking for.
- The NYTimes is buying The Athletic: After The Athletic went about the nation hiring all the newspaper sports reporters it could, the company is reversing its model and is instead selling itself to The New York Times. For a reported price of $550 million. That’s a lot of dosh, but not that much in today’s startup terms. Media remains a pretty hard game.
- Mark Cuban-backed fintech goes public: Remember SPACs? Dave does, because the fintech startup finally rode its chosen blank-check company to the public markets. TechCrunch spoke to the company’s CEO about the transaction, its timing and what’s ahead for the company.
Rounding out the top stories of the day is this entry from United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. He talks about innovation and the role of government in the creation of what’s next, from a transit perspective.
Before we jump into our usual mix of startup updates, something fun. TechCrunch’s own Natasha Lomas spent four weeks testing a “metabolic fitness” service from Ultrahuman. “Becoming a cyborg is no longer as sci-fi as that sounds” in the world of quantified health realm, she says, but the post is a great look into how we may care for our bodies in the future.
- How will the crypto selloff impact NFTs? In the last day, before a partial recovery, cryptos sold off sharply. TechCrunch wants to know what impact falling cryptocurrency prices will have on NFTs and other assets that are priced in crypto terms.
- Crypto lending sans crypto collateral: Lucas Matney reports that “most [crypto] lending platforms rely on an end user’s existing crypto collateralization,” while DeFi startup Goldfinch is taking a different approach. It just raised $25 million for its efforts, led by a16z.
- Zuddl raises $13M for virtual events: Notably I have not heard that Hopin has raised another trillion dollars in several months, which now feels like a surprise given how busy that company was in the last few years. Regardless, the virtual events space is still attracting capital, Zuddl shows. While it’s nice to see competition in the online confab market, I have to protest gently against Zuddl’s name, which reads like a mix of zoodle (which are gross) and muddle (which is what the company’s name reminds me of).
- The mental health startup market is hot: TechCrunch has notes on the blog today about Little Otter ($22 million, focused on child mental health) and Mined ($3.5 million, focused on emotional well-being). Two rounds in the same space in a single day reads like a data point to me.
- RIP Popcorn Time: The golden era of online piracy is behind us, but that doesn’t mean that some services that flagrantly broke copyright law didn’t keep the flame of the past alive. For a while. Now Popcorn Time is no more, which I am sure some of you will mourn.
- Dunzo raises $240M from Reliance Retail: Focused on hyperlocal delivery in seven Indian cities, Dunzo has landed a huge new round led by Reliance Retail, which put in $200 million of the total for a 25.8% stake in the company. Hyperlocal, rapid delivery is a big push around the world. We’re curious about the economics involved, but it’s clear that there’s appetite to invest in the thesis.
There was even more. Rupifi raised $25 million to build its B2B payments business in India, while JABU raised $3.2 million for its B2B e-commerce business, and Payfit became France’s latest unicorn after raising $259 million. It’s busy out there — so busy that some folks even in the venture world are curious about the sheer pace of today’s private-market investing.
5 growth marketing predictions for 2022
Our latest guest column with predictions for the coming year doesn’t just prognosticate: Growth expert Jonathan Martinez shares several tactics early-stage companies can use to capitalize on these trends.
Among other topics, Martinez shared methods for incrementally testing ads, his ideas about video ads and influencer marketing, and a few thoughts about Facebook and iOS 14 privacy changes.
“I believe we’ll start seeing heavy investments by Facebook and other social media platforms to keep users on their platforms, where they will still have access to first-party data,” writes Martinez.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Meta has a good VR holiday cycle: Meta, the company behind Facebook and the Oculus VR platform appears to have had a good holiday sales cycle, TechCrunch reports. The mobile companion app for the Oculus VR hardware was downloaded “roughly 2 million times globally since Christmas Day,” per third-party data. That’s a lot of headsets.
- Spotify does an innovation: Spotify has introduced a new podcast advertising format. Cue the parades. What I want is for Spotify to make new ways for me to support musical artists that I love. Spotify, in contrast, is busy working on the podcasting side of its business. I suppose part of my gig is podcasting, but, Spotify. C’mon. Focus back on music!
- Facebook, Google get hit with European cookie fines: Around a quarter billion worth of fines have been handed out to Google and Facebook for “failing to respect local (and pan-EU) cookie consent rules” thanks to the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés, or CNIL. Someone should add up all the fines that American tech companies have paid to various EU countries and bodies at some point; it’s starting to add up.
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