Daily Crunch: Facebook rolls out podcasts and Live Audio Rooms for US listeners

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 21, 2021. The tech industry is skipping any sort of a summer slowdown. Facebook is taking on Clubhouse and Spotify, India is still figuring out how to manage its burgeoning technology industry, and everyone is raising money. Plus, we have notes on a new VC fund that has quite a twist. Let’s get into it! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Facebook wants your voice: Facebook’s live-audio service is out, putting Big Blue in competition with Clubhouse, a buzzy startup, and Spotify. In the wake of Clubhouse’s super-active early 2021, a host of Big Tech companies are looking to capture the magic that the startup managed to bottle. How successful Facebook will be at cutting in on Clubhouse’s game is not clear; so far, Facebook has yet to dominate the dating world, for example, making its entrance into the live-audio space more potential than promise of domination.
  • Consumer fintech is looking good: New numbers from European fintech unicorn Revolut dropped today, with TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet taking a look at the company for our publication. The gist is that Revolut had a deeply unprofitable 2020, but one that showed a real ramp toward smaller losses as it went on. I doodled on the company’s numbers here, if that’s your thing.
  • IPOs keep coming: Sure, we’re still waiting for Robinhood to file to go public, but after WalkMe’s public debut last week, there are new tech companies approaching the public markets. Couchbase filed today, kicking off the process of floating the database software company backed by Accel, Mayfield and Ignition Partners. Expect more filings in the coming weeks.

Startups

To keep proper tabs on both sides of the startup fundraising marketplace, we’re stripping VC news into its own section on occasion. Today is one such day. First, however, some startup news:

  • $10M for e-bikes: Ubco, a New Zealand-based electric utility bike startup, announced a $10 million raise today. The company is best known for its Ubco 2X2, an “all-wheel-drive electric motorbike that looks like a dirt bike but rides like a moped” — and looks rather fetching. Urban transit is changing as cities look to limit their car — and carbon — footprints. If trends hold, startups like Ubco could find themselves selling into a market that is moving in their direction.
  • Consumers love debt: TechCrunch covered news today that Kredivo, an Indonesian buy now, pay later (BNPL) startup, added $100 million to its credit facilities. The new capital access doubles the amount of debt that Kredivo can access. The news illustrates both the global consumer appetite for rejiggered debt products that transcend traditional credit cards, as well as the willingness of investors around the world to provide BNPL companies with ever more capital access. More on the subject here.
  • Music licensing remains complicated, lucrative: When Ludacris rapped that up-and-coming artists should “get a entertainment lawyer in the music profession,” he wasn’t kidding. The musical world is complicated. Mechanical licenses, platform cuts — it’s a lot. And where there’s complexity, there’s opportunity. Songtradr just raised $50 million to help license music to “high-profile names for advertising, films, TV, gaming and the like,” TechCrunch wrote in covering its latest round. Songtradr has now raised more than $100 million to fund its efforts.
  • Are shoes still hot? Backers of SoleSavy think so. They just put $12.5 million into the company’s Series A round. Unlike StockX — which is big business these days — SoleSavy isn’t a retail marketplace. Instead, it’s a company looking to build a sneaker head community. A community is like a subreddit, but on a different CMS and hosting provider, in case you’d forgotten.

Venture Capital News

What educational background generates the best entrepreneurs? Every university will tell you that they are the best. Many founders manage without a degree at all. The Academy Investor Network is betting that graduates of American military academies will prove lucrative. The fund just announced a $2.5 million anchor LP for its first fund, adding to capital from Scout Ventures, where co-founder Emily McMahan is a venture partner. She’s partnering with Sherman Williams in targeting a $50 million first raise.

Let’s see how far their thesis carries them. At least they will be able to brag with confidence that when it comes to rucking they will have the highest founder quality in the world.

Seed is not the new Series A

Usually, a teacher who grades students on a curve is boosting the efforts of those who didn’t perform well on the test. In the case of cloud companies, however, it’s the other way around.

As of Q1 2021, startups in this sector have a median Series A around $8 million, reports PitchBook. With $100+ million rounds becoming more common, company valuations are regularly boosted into the billions.

Andy Stinnes, general partner at Cloud Apps Capital Partners, says founders who are between angel and Series A should seek out investors who are satisfied with $200,000 to $500,000 in ARR. Usually a specialist firm, these VCs are open to betting on startups that haven’t yet found product-market fit.

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

Big Tech Inc.

India’s tech scene deals with more government oversight: The Indian e-commerce industry is huge, with Amazon and Walmart battling with domestic companies — or buying them, in the case of Flipkart and Walmart — for market share in a growing market. All the activity is attracting complaints and possible government intervention. TechCrunch reported today that India “proposed … banning flash sales on e-commerce platforms and preventing their affiliate entities from being listed as sellers as the South Asian market looks to further tighten rules.”

India’s government is also busy battling with Twitter, as we’ve reported at length.

Germany is not enthused with Apple: With a fourth investigation opened, this time involving Apple, Germany’s oversight of competition in the tech world ratcheted up another few degrees today. In the case of Big Phone, the governmental body will “determine whether or not the iPhone maker meets the threshold of Germany’s updated competition law.” If Apple does, it would allow the country’s government to “intervene proactively” regarding the company’s activity.

Apple is also taking fire in its domestic market for what some perceive as heavy-handed tactics regarding its mobile app ecosystem, a market that the Cupertino-based company both moderates and extracts rents from.

Uber buys Cornershop: Today is a notable day for Latin American tech startups as the U.S. ride-hailing giant agreed to buy the 47% of Cornershop that it doesn’t own. The price? 29 million Uber shares. That’s about $1.3 billion worth of Uber equity.

The car service and delivery magnate bought Postmates last year, adding to its ability to deliver more than merely rides. The Cornershop buy fits into the thesis because the smaller company is also in the delivery market.

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Richard Dal Porto