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Daily Crunch: With $639M funding found, Klarna is Europe’s highest-valued private fintech

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 10, 2021. A short note from TechCrunch to start, namely that it’s the last few hours to get an early-bird pass to TC Early Stage 2021: Marketing & Fundraising, coming in early July. It’s going to be pretty much amazing, so get on that, early-stage founders. — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Microsoft thinks it can get cloud gaming to work: Microsoft has big plans to make cloud gaming more than whatever is left of Stadia today. Per TechCrunch, the company is preparing to “launch a dedicated device for game streaming” and wants to integrate related tech into TVs. Gamers, it’s a good time to be one of us. So long as you don’t need a new GPU.
  • Klarna raises $639M: The craze to stuff capital into successful buy-now-pay-later startups continued this week, with Klarna raising a huge stack of funds at a new, greater valuation. For more on the space and its rapid growth, read this.
  • Tech culture is changing: Recent unrest at Medium after related issues at Coinbase and Basecamp are bringing to light changing cultural expectations at startups and at the well-known Y Combinator accelerator. Inside these debates, it’s not hard to see growing recognition among some tech employees of the leverage that they have over their employers.

Startups and VC

Today we’re looking at a few key funding rounds from startupland, then some fund news and a roundup of recent unicorn IPOs.

  • AI-powered recruiting is valuable: That’s the lesson from Eightfold AI’s recent funding round. The company just put together a fresh $220 million round at a $2.1 billion valuation, more than double what it was worth late last year. Notably, this valuation doubling was not born from Tiger Global’s largesse, but SoftBank’s second Vision Fund. The company, TechCrunch writes, “uses deep learning and artificial intelligence to help companies find, recruit and retain workers.”
  • Say hello to analytics for how you spend your workday: There’s a fine line between keeping tabs on your workers and looking over their shoulders too frequently. Time is Ltd just raised $5.6 million for what we described as the Google Analytics for company time. For example, if a company wanted to know how much time its staff was spending in Slack versus, say, Teams, TiL could help. So long as the startup respects individual privacy, we’re fine with this.
  • Everyone needs fintech: Including Indonesia’s micro, small and medium businesses. Evidence of that fact is evinced by a huge $60 million Series A raised by BukuWarung, a fintech company focused on just that market. Valar Ventures and Goodwater Capital led the investment. The startup has now raised $80 million, per Crunchbase.

Over on the venture capital beat itself, here’s some recent fun fund fundraising featured facts:

  • Lots more capital for European startups: Perhaps to avoid having Tiger Global eat every round the world ‘round, Balderton Capital has put together a $680 million “early-growth” fund that will drop $25 million to $50 million checks into startups. That’s big coin for a growing scene.
  • Serena Williams’ husband raises new fund: Well-known investor Alexis Ohanian’s new firm, Seven Seven Six, has raised a $150 million fund. And it’s involved in the latest round at Nuggs.

To round out the day’s startup news, Marqeta, Monday.com, Zeta Global and 1stDibs went public. Here’s our dig into their debuts and what they mean for the IPO market — and the value of startups more generally.

The fintech endgame: New supercompanies combine the best of software and financials

Now that we can transact from anywhere, a new, hybrid class of software companies with embedded financial services are scooping up consumers — and investors are following the action.

Using data from a Battery Ventures report about “the intersection of software and financial services,” this post examines why these companies can be so hard to value and offers a framework for better understanding their business models and investor appeal.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Waymo’s self-driving push continues: Alphabet’s huge running bet on self-driving technology is partnering with J.B. Hunt Transport Services to test self-driving trucks in the busy Texas market. It’s long been thought that freight vehicles that don’t spend much time on side streets could make good early targets for self-driving tech. Let’s see. While we’re on the subject of autonomous transit, Scale has news on the data side of the equation.
  • Stripe brings sales tax to its payments platform: Stripe, while still private, is worth 84.2 zillion dollars, so it counts as Big Tech. The payments unicorn announced a new piece of tech today, namely the ability for its payments stack to handle sales tax both internationally and domestically. Sales tax is a huge problem, and handling it could provide Stripe with a nice edge over some of its competition.
  • Apple to (probably) kill Dark Sky: After Cupertino bought weather service Dark Sky, it was presumed to be on its way to the wood chipper. Thus ends many a technology exit to a bigco; the larger entity really wants the tech and team, but doesn’t want to keep the company’s app alive. Apple, to its credit, won’t axe Dark Sky until 2022. After that, it’s all bets off.

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

TechCrunch wants to help startups find the right expert for their needs. To do this, we’re building a shortlist of the top growth marketers. We’ve received great recommendations for growth marketers in the startup industry since we launched the survey yesterday, and we’re excited to read more responses as they come in!

Fill out the survey here.

We look forward to publishing more about growth marketing. Check out our most recent offering, Growth marketing amid the pandemic: An interview with Right Side Up’s Tyler Elliston.

We’re excited to continue our editorial coverage about growth marketing with posts from the TechCrunch team and guests. If you’re interested in writing a guest column, read more here.

Community

Come chat with us about Pittsburgh on Twitter Spaces tomorrow 6/11 at 1 p.m. PDT/4 p.m. EDT ahead of our upcoming TC City Spotlight series event.

TC City Spotlight: Pittsburgh. Background is black and yellow city skyline.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/10/daily-crunch-17/

Techcrunch

Tumblr debuts Post+, a subscription service for Gen Z creators

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As Twitter launches Super Follows, YouTube adds new monetization tools, and Instagram embraces e-commerce, the social media sphere is heating up with new ways for creators to make a living. Now, Tumblr is joining the fray with Post+, the platform’s first attempt at allowing users to monetize their content. Post+ is debuting today in limited beta for an exclusive selection of creators in the US, who were hand-picked by Tumblr.

Like Twitter’s Super Follows, Tumblr’s Post+ lets creators choose what content they want to put behind a paywall, whether that’s original artwork, personal blog posts, or Destiel fanfic. Creators can set the price for their subscriber-only content starting at $3.99 per month, with additional tiers at $5.99 and $9.99. The process of making content under Post+ is the same as any other Tumblr post — all creators will have to do is check a box to indicate that the post is for paying subscribers only, whether that’s a video, audio clip, text post, image, etc.

Image Credits: Tumblr

“Not reserved only for professionals, or those with 10K followers or higher, Tumblr’s Post+ will push the boundaries of what’s considered money-making content on the internet: Shitposters, memelords, artists, fan fiction writers, all of the above and everyone in between will be able to create content while building their community of supporters, and getting paid with Post+,” a Tumblr spokesperson told TechCrunch.

For millennials who live-blogged their reading of the last Hunger Games” book on its release day in 2010, Tumblr might seem like a relic of the past. Founded in 2007, the platform has gone through plenty of change over the years. In 2013, Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, and then Yahoo was later acquired by Verizon.

But a massive shift came for Tumblr in December 2018, when the platform banned all sexually explicit content and pornography. A month prior, the Tumblr app had been removed from the iOS App Store after child pornography passed through the app’s filtering technology, which led the platform to ban pornography entirely. Four months after the ban, Tumblr’s monthly page views had declined by 151 million, or 29%. Since then, the platform has retained a core userbase, hovering between about 310 million and 377 million page views per month, according to SimilarWeb, though the analytics still indicate a slight downward trend. Tumblr declined to provide its monthly active user numbers, but shared that the platform has over 11 million posts per day and 500 million blogs.

In 2019, the platform was sold to Automattic, the company that owns WordPress. Though Tumblr hasn’t exhibited significant growth since the fateful porn ban, under its new ownership, it’s exploring new ways to generate profit by creating features that appeal to its now younger demographic. According to Tumblr, over 48% of users are Gen Z. These Gen Z users spend 26% more time on the platform than older bloggers, and their average daily usage time is increasing over 100% from year to year.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/21/tumblr-debuts-post-a-subscription-service-for-gen-z-creators/

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Techcrunch

Tumblr debuts Post+, a subscription service for Gen Z creators

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on

As Twitter launches Super Follows, YouTube adds new monetization tools, and Instagram embraces e-commerce, the social media sphere is heating up with new ways for creators to make a living. Now, Tumblr is joining the fray with Post+, the platform’s first attempt at allowing users to monetize their content. Post+ is debuting today in limited beta for an exclusive selection of creators in the US, who were hand-picked by Tumblr.

Like Twitter’s Super Follows, Tumblr’s Post+ lets creators choose what content they want to put behind a paywall, whether that’s original artwork, personal blog posts, or Destiel fanfic. Creators can set the price for their subscriber-only content starting at $3.99 per month, with additional tiers at $5.99 and $9.99. The process of making content under Post+ is the same as any other Tumblr post — all creators will have to do is check a box to indicate that the post is for paying subscribers only, whether that’s a video, audio clip, text post, image, etc.

Image Credits: Tumblr

“Not reserved only for professionals, or those with 10K followers or higher, Tumblr’s Post+ will push the boundaries of what’s considered money-making content on the internet: Shitposters, memelords, artists, fan fiction writers, all of the above and everyone in between will be able to create content while building their community of supporters, and getting paid with Post+,” a Tumblr spokesperson told TechCrunch.

For millennials who live-blogged their reading of the last Hunger Games” book on its release day in 2010, Tumblr might seem like a relic of the past. Founded in 2007, the platform has gone through plenty of change over the years. In 2013, Tumblr was acquired by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, and then Yahoo was later acquired by Verizon.

But a massive shift came for Tumblr in December 2018, when the platform banned all sexually explicit content and pornography. A month prior, the Tumblr app had been removed from the iOS App Store after child pornography passed through the app’s filtering technology, which led the platform to ban pornography entirely. Four months after the ban, Tumblr’s monthly page views had declined by 151 million, or 29%. Since then, the platform has retained a core userbase, hovering between about 310 million and 377 million page views per month, according to SimilarWeb, though the analytics still indicate a slight downward trend. Tumblr declined to provide its monthly active user numbers, but shared that the platform has over 11 million posts per day and 500 million blogs.

In 2019, the platform was sold to Automattic, the company that owns WordPress. Though Tumblr hasn’t exhibited significant growth since the fateful porn ban, under its new ownership, it’s exploring new ways to generate profit by creating features that appeal to its now younger demographic. According to Tumblr, over 48% of users are Gen Z. These Gen Z users spend 26% more time on the platform than older bloggers, and their average daily usage time is increasing over 100% from year to year.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/21/tumblr-debuts-post-a-subscription-service-for-gen-z-creators/

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Ecommerce

YouTube to pilot test shopping from livestreams with select creators

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YouTube will begin pilot testing a new feature that will allow viewers to shop for products directly from livestream videos. The feature will initially launch with just a handful of creators and brands, the company says, and is an expansion of the integrated shopping experience YouTube began beta testing earlier this year.

That feature was designed only for on-demand videos, and allowed viewers to tap into the “credibility and knowledge” of trusted creators in order to make informed purchases, the company explained at the time. It said it would roll out to more creators over the course of 2021.

More recently, YouTube tested livestreamed shopping with a one-day shopping event focused on small businesses.

YouTube’s video platform, for years, has been a powerful tool for product discovery, as its over 2 billion logged-in users per month turn to the service to watch product reviews, demos, unboxings, shopping hauls, and other content that could inspire future purchases. But creators who wanted to sell from their YouTube videos would often have to promote affiliate links to online stores through the video’s description or in-video elements, like cards or end screens.

In more recent years, YouTube also introduced a merch shelf that would allow viewers to shop a set of specific products the creator selected.

The integrated shopping experience, meanwhile, allows viewers to shop the products shown in the video itself by tapping on a “view products” button, which brings up a list of the items being featured.

Image Credits: YouTube

This feature allows YouTube to better compete with the growing number of video shopping experiences becoming available from both startups and competitors, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok Pinterest, Amazon, and Snapchat. Many of those include support for livestream videos, too.

Over the past year, for example, startups like Bambuser, Popshop Live, Talkshoplive, Whatnot, and others have raised multi-million dollar rounds to invest in their own live video shopping businesses. Meanwhile, Facebook recently launched Live Shopping Fridays to test live shopping within the beauty, fashion and skincare space. And Walmart partnered with TikTok on livestream shopping events on multiple occasions.

YouTube’s own interest in this space has been heating up, as well, as just this week the company announced it was acquiring Indian video shopping app Simsim — an indication of Google’s interest in further integrating video shopping experiences into its own platform. Google also integrated video shopping into its Shopping search business, which included one effort from Shoploop, a video shopping product that graduated from Google’s in-house incubator, Area 120.

The expansion of YouTube’s integrated video shopping experience was announced today alongside other new Google Shopping features, including the addition of new section that organizes deals and sales on Google’s Shopping tab, which will be free for merchants who want to list.

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/21/youtube-to-pilot-test-shopping-from-livestreams-with-select-creators/

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Startups

Zebra raises $1.1M in a pre-seed round for messaging that pairs photos with voice chat

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A new voice-based social app that cites Clubhouse as its biggest inspiration offers a playful new way to stay in touch with close friends and family. Zebra leaves video out of the equation altogether, inviting users to snap on-the-fly photos and send them off paired with casual voice updates.

Zebra focuses on asynchronous sharing, but it also lets users call one another if they’re both already hanging out on the app. The result is a fun and casual way to stay in touch for anyone who doesn’t feel like accidentally getting sucked into Instagram’s endless, ad-strewn feed every time they want to give a friend a quick update.

For now Zebra is a two-person team consisting of CEO Dennis Gecaj, a product designer based in Berlin and Amer Shahnawaz, Zebra’s Head of Engineering, who previously worked on Snap Maps at Snapchat. With the pre-seed funding, led by Alexis Ohanian’s fresh early stage venture firm Seven Seven Six, which the Reddit co-founder announced in June. The app will launch formally in August but is now open for pre-orders through the App Store and as a beta in TestFlight.

“It’s no secret that we are in the midst of an audio revolution, one that has ushered in a series of new audio-first social platforms and content vehicles,” Ohanian said, noting that Zebra’s unique blend of photos and voice is what caught his eye.

Gecaj sees voice-based social networking as a much richer alternative to text-dominant platforms. While products like Instagram allow voice messages and technically let users make voice calls by disabling the camera, voice usually plays second fiddle to video. But video calls are more taxing and require more commitment — it’s no coincidence more and more Zoom cameras blinked offline as the pandemic dragged on.

Unlike Clubhouse, which Gecaj calls a “huge inspiration, Zebra is social audio designed for your inner circle. “With everything opening back up we saw an incredible opportunity for an asynchronous format for that,” he told TechCrunch.

Gecaj hopes that Zebra’s “talking photos” can capture the collective imagination in a way that makes early growth natural. Anyone who downloads Zebra can invite friends individually without needing to share their full contact list (and they’ll need to since you can’t do anything on the app without friends). Because Zebra’s interface is so clean and streamlined, this process is painless and doesn’t necessitate any extra digging through menus.

The idea of a “zebra” — naturally, Zebra is trying to make “zebra” happen — is that people like to see what they are talking about. On a different messaging app, this would require sending a photo and then sending a voice message in quick succession. But on Zebra, sending a photo is the main thing you can do. The app opens right to the camera where you snap a picture. You then hold the photo to record a snippet of voice to go along with it and send it off to friends and family, who appear in a row beneath the camera.

Zebra isn’t worried about the prospect of talking people into downloading another app. Gecaj sees a natural split emerging as creators and audiences increasingly become the focus of social platforms that were initially designed to help friends stay in touch.

“I think the trend is a division between creator platforms where you go to be entertained and platforms you go to hang out with your friends,” Gecaj told TechCrunch.

On top of that, he hopes that Zebra’s dual focus on voice and photos, two aspects of social networking that platforms either don’t prioritize or are actively abandoning, can make it appealing for people who aren’t as interested in video.

“We really also think that text messaging doesn’t have the same emotion as voice… and voice has been really neglected,” Gecaj said. “There’s really a richness to voice, a power to voice that nothing else has.”

PlatoAi. Web3 Reimagined. Data Intelligence Amplified.
Click here to access.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/21/zebra-voice-messaging-photos-ohanian-seven-seven-six/

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