With EU ban pending, Google Play says “do svidaniya” to Russia Today, Sputnik apps – TechCrunch
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Hello and welcome to the Daily Crunch on Wednesday March 2, 2022. We have a busy newsletter for you today. We have acquisitions, funding rounds, end of products, and more. Plus, TechCrunch Live is heading to Austin, which is going to be a lot of fun, and the team at Equity figured out how to explain fintech TAM with dating apps. Now to work! – alexander
TechCrunch’s top 3
- Epic Games acquires Bandcamp: Straight from left field, this deal took the tech world by surprise. Epic Games, best known for Fortnite and picking a fight — deserved or petty, depending on your background — with Apple over in-app purchases in its app store. And now he’s going to own Bandcamp, a platform best known for helping music artists sell their tracks and keep most of the money. Sure. Why not.
- Turns out not all businesses are going to grow vertically: Back when SPACs were all the rage, many startups looking to consolidate and go public were content to predict aggressive increase in income. Now that the data is coming in, the results are a bit less spectacular than many trades thrown. How far from reality were the projections? We have the data.
- Amazon’s brick-and-mortar store push is over: You may have never visited one, and if not, too late. Amazon’s physical stores that used to sell curated product collections from its e-commerce marketplace are now kaput. So no more weird Amazon bookstores, or so-called four-star stores. Considering the tiny fraction of the company’s overall GMV we’re talking about here, that’s not earth-shattering news, but it matters to the largest number of DTC startups 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 proving to be a real thing. Which is good, because the country needs money, and it’s good to see that blockchain money is having a real impact other than making your rivals richer. TechCrunch has notes on how Ukraine uses the coin more generally and from a military perspective.
On the way: Accel has set up a new fund to invest in India. Worth around $650 million, you might be thinking, how big is India’s venture capital scene in recent years? The answer? Huge.
Before we get into today’s funding cycle review, two more short notes. First, Tier Mobility buys mobility company Spin from Ford. Remember that for a short time it appeared that the whole world might switch to shared scooters as a means of getting around. It didn’t last, but some of the assets built during the period remain on the books of companies that have other priorities. This agreement did not shock us.
And, second, TechCrunch today published an op-ed on space debris, one of my favorite issues. Read it here.
From the finance tap:
- Neobanks continue to raise: Long since it became apparent that there was endless capital available and needed to fund neobanks, seed rounds for the fintech variety seem to have slowed. But that didn’t stop Australian neobank Zeller from raising A$100 million at a valuation of A$1 billion. It is a series B for the book of records.
- TrueCircle wants to reform recycling: The world still uses single-use plastics, which means we’re polluting the hell out of our only home. Moreover, recycling may be more of a mirage than a reality in many markets. So it’s nice to see UK-based TrueCircle looking 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 – whether bitcoin-centric or web3-centric more generally – is showing thin signs of abating. Today’s round of the market involves Tenderly, which just raised $40 million. Development tools for the decentralized world are a popular starter market, with Alchemy reaching decacorn status pursuing the same general bent as Tenderly.
- NeuraLegion is now Bright Security: Talk about a name change. It reminds me of when I wanted to name a company I was thinking of starting “Functional Brilliance”, which luckily I was dissuaded from. The same goes for NeuraLegion, which I’m sure was great on paper but a bit trashy. Bright Security is easier, and therefore better. The company just raised $20 million to continue working on “dynamic application security testing and identification of business logic issues,” TechCrunch reports.
- Deskless workers also need communications: In four words, this is the pitch behind Connecteam, which has just raised 120 million dollars for a valuation of approximately 800 million dollars. The push to bring software to people who aren’t sitting down to make a living isn’t new – Blink has been at it for a minute – but it’s welcome. Everyone deserves to do more with less work, so here’s the code that makes it possible – when possible.
As war escalates in Europe, it’s a ‘shield’ for the cybersecurity industry
The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an advisory following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine warning of the potential for state-sponsored cyberattacks:
“Every organization – large and small – must be prepared to respond to disruptive cyber activity,” he advised.
It’s hard to act on blanket warnings, but now that virtually all information is stored remotely and employees are widely distributed, CISA’s “Shield Up” advisory is particularly urgent.
How should organizations assess and protect their external attack surface? We have 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 cover it to the nth degree.
- Facebook closes the social network for college students: It’s new to me, but Facebook has built a social network for college students called Campus. Which is ironic because that’s where the business started. But hey, what can you do? Maybe it will reopen in the metaverse.
- Ford splits into two pieces: The ICE part of Ford and the electric part of the company will sit in different spheres as American society determines its future. At this point, you can probably guess which group will receive the most investment over the next 10 years.
- EU cracks down on Russian state media: Another way Russia’s invasion of Ukraine backfires is in the drastic and rapid closure of access to the country’s government propaganda outlets. The EU is busy banning them, and the impacts are rippling through the market.
- Netflix buys game company behind titles based on its IP address: What do you do when the global growth of your streaming business slows? Get into games, apparently. Netflix’s 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 makes games based on titles detained.
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