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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for August 25, 2021. If you wanted to know just how fast the technology news cycle is running today, look no further than our lead story. You’ll note that it is a complete reversion of the week’s previously most important news item! What a world! -- Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
OnlyFans backtracks, will allow adult content: So much for all that. After igniting an online firestorm by announcing that it would end support and sale of most adult content, OnlyFans has changed course. Now it won’t block the material. For more on the topic, the Equity podcast crew has notes.
Warby Parker is going public: After a short summer lull, we could be gearing up for yet another IPO cycle. This time the lead-off hitter may be D2C eyewear purveyor Warby Parker. We’ve all heard of the company, so TechCrunch was excited to get into its numbers. Our take? It’s a very neat company, albeit one that has an interesting time defending its final private-market valuation.
Headspace + Ginger: News broke today that meditation service Headspace and mental-health-focused startup Ginger are merging to create Headspace Health. The combined entity will be worth $3 billion and have 800 employees. Headspace has long been in competition with Calm, another massive player in the meditation market.
Before we dive into a number of thematic pairs of startup news, Kanye West. He’s out with a gadget called the “Stem Player,” which, per TechCrunch, is “designed to isolate stems — specific elements like vocals, bass, samples and drums” from musical tracks. It’s a somewhat neat idea. The fact that Kanye is doing it should provide it with a bit of a marketing boost.
From the fintech startup world today, we have two stories, both of which make us wonder just how much money can heavily populated fintech verticals absorb before investors get bored?
Flink raises $57M more to build the Robinhood of Latin America: Flink raised earlier this year, a $12 million Series A. Now it is back with a pile of new capital. Akin to how every VC wants to fund the next Coinbase, trying to score a piece of the next Robinhood is also big business.
Shares has raised $10 million to build a European consumer stock trading service with a social twist. Sure, there are already consumer stock trading services targeting the European market, but private-market capital is betting that there’s room for yet another. The world is going to need more active investors if all the startups hoping to serve them are going to survive.
From the logistics realm this afternoon, two stories that may give you hope for a future in which having stuff brought to your house has a lower carbon footprint and, perhaps, a cheaper price point:
Alphabet’s drone delivery business scales: That’s the news from Down Under. Wing, Alphabet’s drone delivery company, has reached the 100,000-delivery mark, it recently announced. The service is currently live in Logan, Australia, where around 300,000 folks live. Alphabet, please bring this to Providence, Rhode Island.
And Coco has raised $36M for super-cute delivery robots: Somewhere in time there was a committee meeting that I missed at which it was decided that all delivery robots had to be cute. I don’t know why. Coco’s delivery robot is, however, adorable. And now very well funded thanks to capital from a Series A led by Sam Altman of Y Combinator fame.
Staying close to the logistics theme, here’s a pair of stories dealing with the world of digital commerce in Europe:
YC-backed Membo is building an “app-based marketplace for local food producers to sell directly to consumers." It’s based in Estonia and is taking part in the current Y Combinator batch. Expect to hear more from the company next week during the accelerator’s demo day event.
Membo will compete to some degree with a host of European “instant grocery” delivery companies that have raised some $2 billion, Picus Capital’s Alexander Kremer recently detailed. The investor thinks that startup lessons from China indicate that “instant delivery is not the magic bullet to crack the dominance” of traditional grocery players.
And to round us out, cybersecurity venture capital activity has reached new high, and cannabis-focused startup Jane just put together a $100 million round.
India’s path to SaaS leadership is clear, but challenges remain
By 2030, India’s SaaS industry is estimated to comprise 4%-6% of the global market and generate between $50 billion and $70 billion in yearly revenue, according to a SaaSBOOMi/McKinsey report.
“With the right approach, it won’t be long before the Indian SaaS community becomes a large-scale employer of talent, a significant contributor to India’s GDP and a creator of unmatched products,” says Manav Garg, CEO and founder of Eka Software Solutions.
In a guest post, he lays out several key growth drivers, which include “the largest concentration of developers in the world” and the fact that “SaaS is not a winner-take-all market.”
Even so, the region still faces challenges, since “growth requires a growth mindset.”
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Big Tech Inc.
The PC isn’t dead: So much for iPads taking over the world, new data from Canalys indicates. Per the data company, PC sales rose 17% from year-ago totals, while tablet sales went sideways. Perhaps having full-power machines is more popular than ever, as we all have more work to do than, well, ever? Regardless, the PC news is good for a host of big technology firms, including HP and Lenovo.
Hulu launching HDR viewing for some content: Better late than never, U.S. video streaming service Hulu started rolling out HDR content support on August 19, which “should be available to all users with HDR-compatible devices in the coming days,” TechCrunch reports. So far HDR playback only extends to certain, high-profile Hulu content.
South Korea delays proposed "anti-Google law": If passed, TechCrunch’s own Kate Park writes, “South Korea will be the first country to prohibit such global tech giants from imposing billing systems on in-app purchases.” Apple and Google, naturally, oppose the measure.
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