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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for November 8, 2021! Sure, Elon Musk kicked up a Twitter dust storm by tweeting a poll regarding whether he should sell stock for reasons that are a bit less than purely charitable, but it’s Monday now, which means more serious news. Kinda. — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Chinese regulation dings SoftBank returns: In our very connected world, if one country shakes up its regulatory regime, folks all over the world can get hit in the wallet. Today we learned that SoftBank’s Vision Fund 1 saw its returns fall sharply in part due to Didi’s falling valuation — a decline that is directly linked to the Chinese government’s actions against the company following its U.S. IPO. That another continent’s investors may be paying the most as a result of China’s crackdown is merely further irony. (Equity riffed on this earlier today, if you want more.)
- Corporations love the metaverse: The metaverse is just VR with more social, it appears, but that isn’t stopping companies from hopping aboard the Facebook bandwagon. Today it was Niantic, which has some notes on where it sees the metaverse going. Care about that or not, Facebook’s pivot is drawing notable commentary, including from Shasta Ventures’ Jacob Mullins.
- McAfee sells to investor consortium: Sure, you no longer pay for antivirus protection on your Windows PC, but that doesn’t mean that the company you may have once cut checks to is not worth anything. It’s worth $14 billion, it turns out. Yes, McAfee, around since 1987, has a new corporate home to the tune of $26 per share.
Before we dive into the hurly-burly of discrete startup news items, as a followup to our dive into the Latin American fintech market last week, TechCrunch caught up with LatAm-focused QED partner Lauren Morton to dig in even more deeply. Enjoy!
- Fidelity invests in Africa: South Africa’s Jumo just raised $120 million from the investing powerhouse, along with Visa and Kingsway Capital. The fintech company raised $55 million in its preceding round. What does it do? Financial services for businesses in emerging markets!
- Radio-spying satellites are big business: That is the lesson from HawkEye 360 raising $145 million in new capital. The company, TechCrunch reports, “monitors radio frequency (RF) signals, like those emitted by marine radios or emergency beacons, on the premise that invisible electromagnetic spectrum is as ripe for information as the visible world.” As a 100% sucker for all things space and space-related, I view this particular news item as very cool.
- Car rentals boom in India: Zoomcar, based in Bangalore, just raised $92 million in new capital to expand its car rental business not only in its home market, but also in markets afield. SternAegis Ventures led the Series E.
- Here’s today’s mega-round for an e-commerce rollup play: Tired of these yet? Investors aren’t. Berlin-based Razor recently announced a $125 million round at a valuation north of $1 billion to keep buying up e-commerce brands. It’s a big play around the world that has raised roughly eleventy-seven kajillion dollars. (That these investments are also a wager on Amazon not building products for all verticals in time is notable; perhaps they are effective wagers on antitrust legislation around the world?)
- Matter Labs raises $50M to make Ethereum faster: The Ethereum blockchain is a neat thing. Many apps and services have been built atop it. And it’s pretty jammed with traffic, leading to high fees. Sometimes stupidly high fees. So, Matter Labs wants to remove some of that traffic to a side chain to make the whole experience faster. Why not just use a different chain? Well, because folks dig Ethereum, and where the developers go, so goes the progress of tech.
- And, to close out our startup coverage, H20.ai raised $100 million at a $1.6 billion pre-money valuation to help companies get up and running with AI tech.
Mixing the personal with the professional in startup fundraising
The pandemic has rewritten the way investors and startup founders do business, but “chemistry is important,” notes Brian Heater.
Laela Sturdy, general partner at CapitalG, and Webflow co-founder and CEO Vlad Magdalin joined Brian on TechCrunch Live to discuss COVID-era deal-making and the changing nature of startup-investor relationships.
“As great as Zoom is, to me, that in-person experience takes you to the next level of getting to know someone,” said Sturdy.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- This holiday season the App Store won’t close to developers: Tech and its constituent businesses are moving faster as time goes along. Gone are the days when VCs took August off, at least if they want to win allocation in hot deals. And now developers will get less of a winter break thanks to Apple ending a rather archaic-seeming practice of freezing its app marketplace to developer submissions during the holiday period.
- YouTube still working to undercut TikTok: Yep, Google still has ByteDance envy, and to bolster engagement with its own short-form video products, it intends to have users who open the YouTube app to get defaulted to its short-form videos, provided that they have seen them before. That will do it, right? No.
Are you all caught up on last week’s coverage of growth marketing and software development? If not, read it here.
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