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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Monday, February 7, 2022! Welcome back to the working week, team. Here’s hoping you got some sleep over the weekend because we’re still in a busy tech cycle. That means lots of news from technology companies big and small.
But before we dive into the news, TechCrunch Live kicks off Wednesday with Heartbeat Health and Kindred Ventures. And Equity is live this Thursday, which should be a jam. Both events are free and likely to be good fun. We’re doing a lot of live stuff this year, both virtual and IRL. Get hype! – Alex
TechCrunch Top 3
- Google sued over alleged anticompetitive behavior: U.S. mega-tech companies are taking stick in Europe over regulatory issues right and left. The latest is Google, sued by PriceRunner, alleging that the U.S. concern “ has continued to violate competition law in relation to product search” after being hit with a multibillion fine back in 2017. PriceRunner is seeking “at least €2.1 billion” in damages, we report.
- Wag thinks you’re heading back to work: Remember Wag? It became famous back when SoftBank’s Vision Fund poured hundreds of millions of dollars into its operations. Then the pandemic hit, trashing the company’s results. Now it’s on the bounce, and gunning for a public debut via a SPAC. Baked into its future results is an anticipation that we’re going back to the office — and will therefore require dog-walkers. Do you agree?
- ElasticRun raises $300M, confirming TechCrunch scoop: In early January, TechCrunch reported that ElasticRun was raising a huge round. That was confirmed today with the Indian software business that serves small stores announcing its latest investment. The company is now a unicorn. Who led the round? SoftBank Vision Fund 2, with “Goldman Sachs and existing investor Prosus Ventures” also taking part.
What’s the best way to make money off the blockchain economy? One way is to buy into well-known coins – bitcoin, ether – and wait. You can also day-trade or flip NFTs. Some companies, however, are betting that building infra for the crypto space is going to be the real golden ticket. Investors appear to agree, with Polygon raising $450 million at a $13 billion valuation as it “expands its portfolio of Ethereum scaling solutions and works to attract the larger developer ecosystem.”
Who else is in the market? It’s a big space, so don’t take the following comparisons too seriously, but Fireblocks is raising big sums as well, Forte is in the mix with a gaming bent, and maybe Anchorage Digital? It’s busy.
- More capital for super apps: If you can build a super app with wide consumer buy-in, it’s a great business to own. Why? Because super apps by definition have an array of services, meaning that individual users can be worth more than they might be in more tailored applications. Anyhoo, financial super app Vivid just raised nine figures at a nearly billion-dollar valuation, meaning that both challenger banks and more horizontal consumer finservices products are still able to raise huge rounds, stock market be damned.
- And speaking of fintech, Mary Ann Azevedo’s upcoming newsletter on the subject is super good, recently covering the corporate spend market. Read it here.
- NUMA raises for hotel software: The vertical software push continues, with NUMA adding $45 million in growth capital to its coffers for its code that helps boutique hotels run their operations. DN Capital Group led the funding event.
- Swing raises $24M to expand to Japan: E-scooter and e-moped rental startup Swing is looking to expand from its home market to Japan, and has new capital to do so. Based in Seoul, South Korea, Swing has now raised through its Series B stage, meaning that the company should be entering a growth phase from here on out.
And for fun, we took a stab at the creator economy recently, with a TechCrunch-classic series of takes on how creators should approach the platform question.
What does the new era of location intelligence hold for businesses?
Even as the pandemic has kept many people closer to home, companies of every size are turning to cloud-based location services.
Once upon a time, merchants could predict the ebb and flow of foot traffic, but today, SMBs are using location intelligence software to track customer preferences, tweak marketing campaigns and uncover other insights.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Bumble buys Fruitz: I don’t know what it is that makes dating app companies have better names than other companies, but both “bumble” and “fruits” are fun words to say. That makes them a good pair, yeah? Bumble thinks so, as Fruitz is its first-ever acquisition. Fruitz focuses on the French market, for what it’s worth.
- Holland makes Apple roleplay as an ATM, again: Apple is now €5 million further in the hole to the Dutch government as its total fines relating to app store fees and the dating app market reached €15 million, TechCrunch reports. If you haven’t been tracking the saga, yet another U.S. tech company is running into “regulations” and trying to say, “How about no?” This time, it’s not really working.
- Maybe this editorial choice will solve the issue of the other editorial choice: Spotify has decided to spend $100 million over time on music and other audio products from underrepresented groups. This is in response to the company removing around 70 episodes of the Joe Rogan podcast that contained racial slurs.
- How long can Zuckerberg afford to bankroll the AR/VR market? Our longtime VR expert Lucas Matney wants to know. He thinks that Meta is in too deep to pull out, but given how other major companies are struggling in the space, it’s just not clear how long Facebook can spend toward an uncertain future.
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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