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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 29, 2021. Between the IPO cycle and earnings it has been quite the day. And Nikola’s founder was indicted on three counts of fraud. It’s busy! Let’s get into it! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3 (OK, four, but it’s about Scarlett Johansson)
- Nikola founder indicted on fraud charges: From the you saw this coming files, former Nikola CEO and walking bottle of Mountain Dew Trevor Milton was indicted on three counts of fraud. Per the federal indictment unsealed by the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan on Thursday, the former exec “engaged in a fraudulent scheme to deceive retail investors.” Not a great day for SPACs, frankly.
- Microsoft may invest in hotel unicorn OYO: Here’s an odd one. Microsoft, the U.S. software giant, may invest in OYO, the India-based hotels startup that raised capital from SoftBank’s first Vision Fund. Why? Per our reporting, there may be some sort of cloud deal in the mix. Both parties are staying mum for now.
- The Latin American startup market is hitting its stride: On the back of an epic boom in venture investment, founders in Latin America are finally getting their due, investors told TechCrunch. Between locally sourced capital, external funds and economies in the region that are increasingly digitally enabled, it’s a bullish time to build in the region.
- Scarlett Johansson files suit over Disney+ ‘Black Widow’ release: The actress alleges Disney breached its agreement with her when it released the Marvel flick on streaming service Disney+ at the same time it landed in theaters. Johansson’s attorneys say Disney is “hiding behind COVID-19,” but with the delta variant being very much a problem, we must say we’d prefer to observe our Avengers films from our couches for the time being.
- Tenderly wants more dApps: Decentralized apps, or dApps, are a big category in the larger blockchain economy. And Tenderly, a startup that just raised $15.3 million, wants folks to build more of them. The company has built a “a developer platform for Ethereum devs to monitor and test the smart contracts that power their decentralized apps.”
- Online grocery continues to attract capital: This time it’s Merqueo, which operates an on-demand service in Latin America. Between grocery delivery and so-called “instant” grocery startups, lots of capital is finding its way into the business of bringing food to folks’ houses. Merqueo just raised a $50 million Series C for its efforts.
- La Haus raises $100M for its online real estate marketplace: La Haus is a Colombian startup, as is Merqueo. See, we told you that Latin America was busy! In this case, La Haus raised $50 million in equity capital and $50 million in debt. Per our reporting, the company saw “transactions conducted on its Mexico portal climb by nearly 10x in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the 2020 second quarter.” Not bad!
- More money for mental health: Talkiatry announced earlier today that it has raised a $20 million Series A led by Left Lane Capital. The startup wants to make psychiatry services available through insurance providers and has partnered with a host of them. Anything to make mental health care easier and cheaper for consumers is good by us.
- Hello Divorce raises $2M so your divorce won’t cost $2M: Getting divorced is about as much fun as putting broken glass in your shoe while taking a hike. At least that’s what our friends have told us. Hello Divorce wants to make the whole process better. Given that divorce is something that happens rather often to lots of folks, it certainly won’t lack for TAM.
- Pangea raises $2M for its student labor marketplace: Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, Pangea announced a seed round today. The company’s service connects digitally savvy college students with businesses looking for freelance talent. GMV is rising at the company, and now it has more capital in its accounts than ever. Let’s see how it grows the rest of the year.
- Odoo sells $215M of its stock: Now worth over €2 billion, Odoo, an open-source business management software play, is the first unicorn out of Wallonia, a region in Belgium. The round was purely secondary, notably. The company provides most of its software for free, while charging for certain features.
- Employee-success startup CultureAmp raises $100M: The startup, which was founded to let companies poll their workers, is now worth $150 million. You can think of it as management analytics, providing “turnover prediction and team goal tracking,” per our own reporting.
- In case you were looking for something entirely different, we present a review of Nothing’s new earpods.
Livestream e-commerce: Why companies and brands need to tune in
This year, livestream viewers in China are projected to spend more than $60 billion on digital shopping experiences where they can interact with influencers in real time.
Promoting everything from cosmetics to food, social media stars use Taobao, TikTok and other platforms to tout products and answer live questions.
On Taobao’s Single’s Day Global Shopping Festival in 2020, livestreams racked up $6 billion in sales, twice as much revenue as the year prior.
Sensing a trend, Western startups are getting in on the action, with companies like Whatnot and PopShop.Live raising rounds to build out their infrastructure. Looking forward, Alanna Gregory, senior global director at Afterpay, says she foresees four major trends:
- SaaS streaming tools.
- Host discovery and outreach tools.
- Host marketplaces and agencies.
“For brands, SaaS streaming tools will be the most impactful way to take advantage of livestream commerce trends,” Gregory writes in an Extra Crunch guest post. “All of this will be incredibly transformative.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
We went a bit long on the startup side of things, so let’s be brief when it comes to Big Tech.
- First up, Amazon’s FireTV Cube now supports Zoom. Everything should support Zoom. Zoom is good. So, it’s both unsurprising and welcome that Amazon is building out greater integration with the video chat provider.
- Next, Facebook’s next product will be a collab with Ray-Ban to build smart glasses. How you feel about this bit of news will depend on what you think about Facebook, but as a former Google Glass fan I suppose I am willing to wait to make judgment.
- PayPal has a superapp in the wings, a service that will include messaging. Do we want this? I don’t know, but superapps — mobile applications that encompass a wide range of services in a single package — are big around the world, so why not here in U.S. as well?
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
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