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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Friday, March 4, 2022! It’s Friday, y’all, which means this newsletter is full of good vibes and impending relaxation. Naturally before the weekend, there’s lots to do, so check out the latest from Early Stage (going to rock) and TC Sessions: Mobility (going to roll), and we can get into it! – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Tech crackdown on Russia continues: The technology world is tightening the screws on Russia in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Apple Maps is back to noting that Crimea is not part of Russia in most of the world; Microsoft is halting sales in the country; Airbnb is suspending operations in Russia and the co-belligerent Belarus. In response? Russia blocked Facebook.
- How corporate investors view the world in 2022: Following our exploration of the data behind the CVC boom of 2021, TechCrunch chatted with a number of corporate investors to get tabs on what they care about this year. In short, tension between strategic and financial corporate venture goals isn’t as prevalent as we expected, and we don’t see reason why the boom in new corporate funds should slow in the near term.
- Microsoft’s Nuance deal closes: Remember last year when Microsoft announced that it wanted to spend $20 billion buying Nuance, a company that works in the enterprise AI space? Well, that deal has made it through the regulatory gauntlet and closed at last.
Startups and VC
The corporate venture world is not the only place where we’re seeing more funds pop up. The influencer space is another. So it should be no surprise that the D’Amelio family has put together their own fund with $25 million to invest. Who is the D’Amelio family? Well, it’s Charli and Dixie, two super-famous social media personalities. If this confuses you, ask your kids.
- Pivot the pivot: Turtle has a new idea, again. The company started off as a firm serving the e-scooter rental market. Then it built delivery robots. Now it is turning those robots into mobile stores. I love it when a startup shakes up the vision and tries something new, so if I see a Turtle bot/store, I’m going to try to buy something from it.
- Are flying taxis finally coming? Volocopter thinks so, and its investors agree. The company from southern Germany just raised $170 million at a valuation of $1.87 billion. Which means that there’s a lot riding on the concept of vertical-takeoff taxis.
- Self-service truck rental is venture-backable! TechCrunch has covered Fetch before, a company that wants to make it easier for consumers to rent a truck or van without having to, well, go to the airport to do so. Now the company has raised $3.5 million for its business, which should help Fetch catch and return (buy and deploy?) a lot more wheels.
- AssemblyAI raises $28M: There’s a lot of work being done in the audio space as it relates to computer intelligence. There’s Deepgram, for example, among other players like Otter.ai. AssemblyAI, now flush with new capital, offers an API for what we describe as “transcribing, summarizing and otherwise figuring out what’s going on in thousands of audio streams at a time.”
- Blocknom is bringing crypto tooling to Southeast Asia: OK so Coinbase. You know it. It’s a place where you can buy and sell crypto tokens. It’s also a place where you can “stake” your tokens and get paid to do so. Blocknom – I presume a portmanteau of “blockchain om nom nom,” right? – wants to bring that service to Southeast Asia. And it just raised a half-million for its efforts.
- Popchew is helping creators cook: Back to the social media/influencer world: Popchew. The company “has compiled a list of infrastructure and restaurant partnership ingredients so that creators can build, launch and grow their own local, digitally native food brands,” TechCrunch reports. This has included, we note, a bitcoin pizza. Which is a joke that you get or you don’t. Regardless, the company just raised $3.6 million for its efforts. So it must have found a, ahem, tasty market niche.
TechCrunch’s Equity podcast is turning five this month, and said goodbye to one of its founding members last week. Here’s the episode noting both.
4 basic elements required for running production OSS smoothly
Open source software gives companies a lot of leeway when it comes to building a tech stack that meets their requirements, but it also means dealing with software created by multiple entities and individuals.
In an in-depth how-to, Shaun O’Meara, global field CTO at Mirantis, walks readers through the four basic elements for using OSS in production:
- Staying up to date
- Preparing your team to interact with the code source
- Accepting that doing it all on your own may be impossible
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Box strikes back: After a tumultuous year, Box capped off a comeback of sorts with results that bested expectations and gave investors something to buy into. It’s trading near record value after making its way through a bruising proxy fight.
- Sony and Honda are going to build EVs together: What’s an MOU, or memorandum of understanding? It’s like the diet version of an LOI, or letter of intent. And what’s an LOI? It’s like the diet version of a contract. Anyway, Sony now has an MOU with Honda to explore the possibility of making cars together. Let’s see if they wind up coming to market.
- Disney plans ad-powered Disney+ tier: Disney+ grew very, very quickly when it launched. Now its parent company appears to have readied a second push to expand its userbase, this time with an ad-supported option.
- Twitter is getting into podcasts: Everyone’s favorite social media hellscape is building a podcasts tab. So, if you don’t want to listen to podcasts where you currently do, you will have more options? Precisely how this will tie into Twitter Spaces should prove interesting.
- Nvidia passwords leaked: TechCrunch has been on the Nvidia hack and ransom story for some time, and the latest in the saga comes in the form of leaked passwords. There’s a lot more data at risk, so keep an eye on how Nvidia handles the situation.
TechCrunch is recruiting recruiters for TechCrunch Experts, an ongoing project where we ask top professionals about problems and challenges that are common in early-stage startups. If that’s you or someone you know, you can let us know here before the survey closes today at 11 p.m. ET.