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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for August 12, 2021. A few things to kick us off: First, the worlds of politics and technology are increasingly butting heads. We’re not talking about China or India (more here on the latter), though both countries have picked fights in recent months with tech firms foreign and domestic. This time it’s Zambia, which is restricting WhatsApp and other services within its borders. A trend to watch.
Also, Seth Rogen is coming to Disrupt! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Governments challenge app stores: The United States Senate, the upper chamber of our bicameral Congress, is chewing on a new bill that would “require companies that control operating systems to allow third-party apps and app stores,” per TechCrunch. The chances that this bill passes as-is are low, but the fact that it exists details the regulatory climate that tech finds itself in today.
- Box v. Investors: The saga of former startup-darling Box taking on an activist shareholder group took a new turn today with the enterprise productivity company releasing its earnings early. Why? Box had some reasonably good news to report, and there’s a vote underway. It wanted its results out to help control the narrative. We have the numbers for you.
- Reddit is raising $700M: Social giant Reddit has put together $410 million of a larger round to help fuel its long-term ambitions. The company did around $100 million in Q2 revenue and will be worth $6 billion after it closes its latest round. It’s a lot of capital for an internet property that was once sold to Conde Nast for a sum that we are 99.99% sure was but a fraction of its current worth.
Kicking off our startup news, a note for students out there. You can get an inexpensive ticket to our upcoming SaaS event in case you are hoping to brush up ahead of founding your first company. I actually went to my first TechCrunch event on a student pass 1,000 years ago.
- Aalto wants you to sell your house directly: Sure, Opendoor just reported blowout earnings, but startups are still hammering away at what the future of home buying and selling may be. Aalto just landed $13 million from Sequoia to help folks sell their properties directly to buyers. That’s one way to cut costs.
- Crypto tax startup raises $130M: How to intelligently tax cryptocurrency transactions is a matter of national policy in the U.S. But TaxBit is forging ahead with its software solution to the problem, not waiting for the government to get its House (and Senate) in order. The company is now worth $1.33 billion after its latest round, implying a pre-money valuation of $1.2 billion. Crypto is big business, don’t forget.
- AI for chip designs? My first read of this news item? Hell yeah. Motivo, a startup that wants to improve microchip designs using AI, just raised a $12 million Series A. Why is this cool? Because what I want are better chips, faster. My work Macbook Pro can barely run Chrome. There has to be a better way. Perhaps Motivo will accelerate the development of better chips.
- Contact raises $1.9M for better creative business management: If you work in anything related to the entertainment business, be it acting, modeling, or the work that goes into making acting and modeling folks look show-ready, Contact wants to be your software hub. The Maisie Williams-involved startup now has more cash to pursue its vision. Founders Fund led the modest round.
- Agora raises $33M on the back of rapid ARR growth: Closing out our funding round coverage today, contractor-focused “materials management platform” Agora has closed a large Series B from Tiger. The company has now raised $45 million in total. In metrics terms, Agora saw its customers scale by 6x in the last year while its annual recurring revenue, or ARR, expand 766% over the same timeframe.
- To wrap up our startup coverage today, we have a robot roundup! Yep, Brian Heater’s latest is here for your enjoyment!
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Big Tech Inc.
- Foxconn is going to build U.S. plants: Maybe for real this time? That’s our first read of the news, but the latest is that well-known manufacturing giant Foxconn may build EV plants in the U.S. and Thailand next year. Rubber, roads and meeting, but this is still encouraging.
- Arrival to begin EV production next year: London-based commercial EV company Arrival told investors that it is on track to meet production targets. Though, as with all EV companies, there are some moving parts to consider. Notably, Arrival also has aspirations to build some hardware in the United States. Call it a trend?
- TikTok to tinker with its app to protect teenagers: Per TechCrunch, social giant TikTok will roll out app changes for users in their teenage years to make its service “more private, safer and less addictive.” Which sounds like “less used,” frankly. Given that TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is taking body blows from its domestic government, the changes aren’t entirely a surprise.
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