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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for October 28, 2021. With our SaaS event now behind us — a big thanks to the TechCrunch events and sales teams who keep crushing it for the publication — we can pivot our focus back to, well, the metaverse? — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Facebook goes Meta: By creating a brand above its preceding corporate domicile, Facebook has created a meta-entity to include its various projects. And one of those is the metaverse. Thus, the new name for the company — Meta — makes pretty good sense. Most folks don’t seem to like it much, but it’s hard to weed the General Facebook Snark from the Actually About The Name Snark, if that makes sense. More in our Big Tech section down below.
- NerdWallet writes its way to unicorn valuation: As online finance content empire NerdWallet approaches the public markets, the writing-centric company will garner a valuation north of $1 billion, per its latest IPO filings. TechCrunch, a words-first publication, had thoughts on the matter.
- Facebook is cross with Apple: Facebook — Meta, I suppose — took a few potshots at Apple during its big event today. They are worth considering apart from the larger branding and VR efforts that the company announced. Apple’s changing privacy rules have taken a toll on Facebook, and the social giant is not pleased about it.
Before we get into the startup news, former startup Allbirds is going public, and TechCrunch has the details on just what it is worth. And, in the wake of Rent the Runway, we are starting to see a valuation band created for tech-enabled IPOs.
- Atlys wants to make visa applications quicker: And it just raised $4.25 million for its work. Sure, fewer of us than normal are flying overseas, but eventually we’ll get back on planes and go places. And when we do, well, the paperwork will beckon. Perhaps Atlys can take some of the sting out of stapling photos of yourself to a packet that you then mail to the black hole of an embassy.
- Soon we shall all live in pods: Prefab pods, if Cover gets its way. The startup creates walls and other similar home components in its factory. Those bits are then shipped to building sites and set up sans a crane. Frankly, let’s hope this works? We have a housing crisis in the United States, and any movement toward alleviating it is welcome. The company also just raised $60 million.
- Inrupt’s plans to reclaim internet privacy raising capital: The deal isn’t done yet, but TechCrunch broke news today that Tim Berners-Lee’s Inrupt startup, a company that wants to build “a platform that gives users control of their data” online, is looking to raise between $30 million and $40 million.
- What if Nextdoor was even more insular? Well, that’s what OneRoof is building, an even more hyperlocal Nextdoor, the social network known to bring neighbors together so that they can argue and throw racist invective at one another. Now you will be able to do so in even tighter-knit circles. The company just raised $1.25 million.
- Healthcare remains a lucrative market: That’s our takeaway from Hinge Health raising $400 million in a new round. The company is focused on chronic musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, which encompass things like aching backs and knees. Given how large the American healthcare market is, the company’s $6.2 billion valuation may make a mote more sense than you are mentally giving it credit for.
- Alchemy raises $250M in competitive round: Every venture investor is in awe of Amazon’s AWS group, because it eats growth and shits operating profit. It’s worth a zillion dollars. So it’s perhaps not surprising that the competition to put capital into Alchemy was more than hot. The firm provides basic infra to other crypto companies, and a grip of crypto companies that you know of are already Alchemy customers.
- Yugabyte raises yuge venture round at yuger valuation: Yugabyte is now a unicorn, which feels like a very 2021 sentence. The database company just added $188 million to its own financial database at a valuation of $1.3 billion.
- Dragos raises $200M, soars to $1.7B valuation, sadly isn’t about dragons: Dragos works in industrial cybersecurity, which matters. Keeping IRL infra safe is a pretty big deal. But when I read the company’s name I was frankly hoping for mythical beasts. Alas.
- And to close out our startup notes, TechCrunch’s Neesha Tambe has notes from a chat with Sequoia concerning fundraising tips for today’s startups.
Credit card and payments companies compete for a slice of the growing BNPL market
Giving consumers the convenience of deferring payment for a product is not a new idea, but now that upstarts like Klarna, Afterpay and Affirm have taken the concept to the next level, legacy credit card companies and payment firms are taking notice.
Mary Ann Azevedo and Ryan Lawler have identified a “slow emergence” in the BNPL space “of a symbiotic relationship between traditional financial institutions, payments upstarts and leading companies.”
Visa announced yesterday that many companies are using its technology to power point-of-sale BNPL solutions; last month, its rival rolled out Mastercard Installments, its bespoke offering.
“It’s not really a surprise that these credit card companies are stepping it up when it comes to BNPL,” reported Ryan and Mary Ann. “If anything, it’s a wonder that it took them this long.”
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Big Tech Inc.
Before we get to our Facebook News Roundup, Twitter also made a bit of noise today. Users will now be able to record Spaces, its audio chat rooms. And its subscription “Blue” service will include early feature access.
The rest of what Facebook announced:
- Facebook teases Polar, a mobile app for creating AR filters
- Facebook Messenger audio calls are coming to Oculus Quest
- Facebook opens Oculus Store to 2D progressive web apps
- Slack is coming to the Oculus Quest
- Company formerly known as Facebook unceremoniously kills off ‘Oculus’ brand
And from the rest of Big Tech:
- Digging into majors attacking the BNPL market: While Affirm is best known as an early BNPL startup that made it to the public markets, Big Finance is not going to let tech have all the fun. Mary Ann and Ryan investigate.
- And in news that is sure to make other companies as happy as the privacy changes, Apple’s “App Privacy Report” is now in beta. Do note, please, that the more Apple pisses off other companies regarding data privacy, the better off consumers may be — but also that Apple is only doing this for its own results, not because it likes us.
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