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Hello and welcome to the Daily Crunch on January 14, 2022! Guess this has been Wordle’s week, as everyone and their dog are tweeting their scores and results. A little camaraderie for those of you who aren’t good at the game: I’m trash too. And since I’m still paid to write, I refuse to make the connection between “Bon en Wordle” and “Bon en mots!” – Alexis
PS Speaking of words, the Equity team had a hell of a good time this week, in case you want a chatty dive through recent startup events.
The Top 3 TechCrunch
- Bolt raises $355 million as online payments war continues: Bolt (not this bolt) raised a huge new funding round that brings its valuation to $11 billion. Bolt provides an online payment solution for other businesses. It competes, in various ways, with Fast and Checkout.com, which just raised $1 billion at a $40 billion valuation. You can argue that there is a separation between players in terms of where they fit in the world of payments and online payments, but the overlap seems to be growing between competitors. (Just a year ago, we were calling the online check market a war; the battle continues.)
- Big tech companies subpoenaed by Congress: As an investigation into the January 6 insurrection continues here in the United States, big tech companies are caught up in the hunt for answers. YouTube (Alphabet), Facebook and Instagram (Meta), Reddit and Twitter seem to be in the line of fire.
- All that shines is not the volume of legitimate transactions: As the market for non-fungible tokens – digital signatures on the blockchain that often point to assets stored on the traditional web, such as images – heats up, we follow the various exchanges where transactions take place. What we have learned most recently is that all trading volume may not be what it first appears.
Startups / VC
- Daasity raises $15M to help businesses leverage e-communications data: Daasity is a startup that helps customers aggregate their information from various e-commerce platforms (Amazon, Shopify, etc.), to “analyze them and send them to marketing channels to optimize the customer base”. experiments based on historical performance information,” writes TechCrunch. The company’s new funding round was a Series A, led by VMG Catalyst.
- Commercial electric vehicles for the Indian market: Amazon is working with a number of companies on electric vehicles for its global delivery network, one of which is EVage. The Indian company just raised $28 million for an electric van truck that I have to admit is pretty enticing – provided you’re the kind of person who loves brutalist architecture.
- The cannabis job market is growing: TechCrunch notes in this story that there are job platforms being built to help certain industries hire. The healthcare market has a few, for example. And now so does the cannabis industry, thanks to Vangst, which just raised a Series B round of $19 million.
Fintech and insurtech innovation in Brazil set to take off on regulatory tailwinds
Regulation is often criticized as an obstacle to innovation in most developing countries.
But in Brazil, the Central Bank is hailed by fintech investors and founders as a tailwind to bringing banking services to the masses.
“The open banking initiatives adopted by the Central Bank of Brazil are absolutely conducive to fintech innovation,” Amy Cheetham of Costanoa Ventures told TechCrunch.
In an in-depth market analysis, Anna Heim explores the growth of Brazilian fintech following Brazil’s open banking initiatives and how insurtech is poised to benefit as well.
(TechCrunch + is our membership program, which helps startup founders and teams get ahead. You can register here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Today we have a handful of Big Tech news on the subject of mass transit, followed by, what else, European legal news involving a major US tech company!
- Self-driving taxis are working to merge into the fast lane in China: Our very own Rita Liao has done everyone a favor by writing a deep dive into China’s self-driving taxi market. As she writes, it seems like every week “news comes in that another major player has been given the green light to launch a new pilot program or small-scale service” in the country. What are individual news events? Find!
- And speaking of self-driving cars: Waymo and JB Hunt, a trucking company, are turning their pilot into a long-term program. There is a shortage of truck drivers in the United States, which means trucks that can get by on their own could be a big problem in the country.
- Here’s a review of a car no one at TechCrunch can afford: Let’s be clear, I want a Bentley Continental GT Speed. I would also settle for a standard Bentley Continental. The fact that Kirsten Korosec, our enterprising transport editor, got to test one is envy-inspiring. On a factual level, if you have over a quarter million dollars and need 12 cylinders, this might be the car for you.
- Meta faces UK class action: A class action lawsuit filed with the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal in London wants to peg the US social media giant to some $3.1 billion for abuse of its market power in the UK. Let’s see if this goes anywhere.
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