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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Wednesday, March 2, 2022. We have a packed newsletter for you today. We’ve got acquisitions, funding rounds, the end of products, and more. Also TechCrunch Live is heading to Austin, which is going to be good fun, and the Equity team figured out how to explain fintech TAM with dating apps. Now, to work! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Epic Games buys Bandcamp: Straight from left field, this deal took the tech world by surprise. Epic Games, best known for Fortnite and picking a – deserved, or petty, depending on your priors – fight with Apple over in-app purchases in its app store. And now it’s going to own Bandcamp, a platform best known for helping musical artists sell their tunes and keep most of the money. Safe. Why not.
- Turns out not every company is going to grow vertically: Back when SPACs were hot, many startups looking to combine and go public were happy to forecast aggressive revenue growth. Now that the data is coming in, the results are a bit less spectacular than many deals pitched. How far from reality were the projections? We have the data.
- Amazon’s physical store push is over: You might have never visited one, and if not, too late. Amazon’s physical stores that sold curated collections of goods from its e-commerce marketplace are now kaput. So, no more odd Amazon bookstores, or so-called four-star stores. Given what a minute fraction of the company’s aggregate GMV we’re talking about here, this is not Earth-shaking news, but does matter for the larger set of DTC startups out there considering physical retail. If Amazon can’t make it work, well, can you?
The push to fund Ukraine’s war-torn nation-state with crypto is turning out to be An Actual Thing. Which is good, as the country needs the money, and it’s good to see blockchain cash have a real-world impact other than enriching your rivals. TechCrunch has notes on how Ukraine is using the coin more generally and from a military perspective.
Scooting along: Accel has put together a new fund to invest in India. Worth some $650 million, you might think to yourself, hot dang, how big has the Indian venture scene become in recent years? The answer? Huge.
Before we get into the day’s funding round review, two more short notes. First, Tier Mobility is buying mobility company Spin from Ford. Recall that for a short period of time, it appeared the whole world might move to shared scooters as a way to get around. That didn’t last, but some of the assets built during the period remain on the books of, well, companies that have other priorities. This deal didn’t shock us.
And, second, TechCrunch has an op-ed up today on space debris, one of my favorite pet issues. Read it here.
From the funding spigot:
- Neobanks continue to raise: Long from the point when it appeared that there was infinite capital available and needed to fund neobanks, rounds for the fintech varietal appear to have slowed. But that hasn’t stopped Australian neobank Zeller from raising AUD$100 million at an AUD$1 billion valuation. That’s a Series B for the record books.
- TrueCircle wants to reform recycling: The world is still using single-use plastics, which means we’re polluting the hell out of our only home. Even more, recycling can be more mirage than reality in many markets. So it’s nice to see UK-based TrueCircle look to “bring data-driven AI to the recycling industry to improve recovery rates and quality.” The company just closed a pre-seed round worth $5.5 million.
- Blockchain infrastructure is big business: The rush to fund blockchain-focused startups – be they bitcoin-centered, or web3 more generally – is showing slim signs of slowing. Today’s round from the market involves Tenderly, which just raised $40 million. Dev tools for the decentralized world is a popular startup market, with Alchemy reaching decacorn status pursuing the same general bent as Tenderly.
- NeuraLegion is now Bright Security: Talk about a rename. This reminds me of when I wanted to name a company I was thinking about starting “Functional Brilliance,” which, thankfully, I was talking out of. The same goes for NeuraLegion, which I am sure was great on paper but is a bit trash. Bright Security is simpler, and therefore better. The company just raised $20 million to keep working on “dynamic application security testing and identifying business logic issues,” TechCrunch reports.
- Deskless workers need comms, too: In four words, that’s the pitch behind Connecteam, which just raised $120 million at a valuation of around $800 million. The push to bring software to folks who aren’t sitting for a living is not new – Blink has been at it for a minute – but it is welcome. Everyone deserves to get more done with less work, so here’s to code making that possible – when possible.
As war escalates in Europe, it’s ‘shields up’ for the cybersecurity industry
The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a notice after Russia invaded Ukraine warning against the potential for state-sponsored cyber attacks:
“Every organization — large and small — must be prepared to respond to disruptive cyber activity,” it advised.
Blanket warnings are hard to act on, but now that virtually all information is stored remotely and employees are widely distributed, CISA’s “shields up” advisory has special urgency.
How should companies assess and protect their external attack surface? We’ve got answers.
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Big Tech Inc.
- Apple’s next event is March 8: Mark your calendars and cancel your meetings. TechCrunch, of course, will be covering it to the nth degree.
- Facebook shutters social network for college kids: This is news to me, but Facebook built a social network for college kids called Campus. Which is ironic as that’s where the company started. But, hey, what can you do? Perhaps it will reopen in the metaverse.
- Ford to cleave itself into two pieces: The ICE part of Ford and the electric half of the company are going to sit in different spheres as the US company figures out its future. At this point, you can likely guess which group will get more investment over the next 10 years.
- EU clamps down on Russian state media: Another way in which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is backfiring is in the drastic, rapid shuttering of access to the nation’s governmental propaganda outlets. The EU is busy banning them, and the impacts are rippling outward in the market.
- Netflix buys gaming company behind titles predicated on its IP: What do you do when global growth at your streaming business slows? Get into games, apparently. The Netflix push to become a player in the gaming world took a new turn today, with the US tech and media giant buying Next Games, a Finnish company that made games based on owned titles.
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