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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for July 6, 2021. We’re back after a holiday here in the United States. Not that that stopped global technology news, mind, so there’s a lot to get into. Before we do, one more reminder about TechCrunch Early Stage later this week -- your humble servant is running a session with venture capitalist Sarah Kunst about fundraising. It’s going to rock. -- Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Today’s Top 3 are all about conflict. Between tech companies, between tech companies and governments, and between tech companies and their shareholders. Enjoy:
Governments versus tech: The scrap between China’s government and Chinese ride-hailing company Didi escalated over the break, from the company having to stop accepting new users to losing its spot in app stores. The company’s stock is down sharply today. Our read? China’s government crackdown on tech is not over, and Chinese companies going public in America just hit a pace better described as glacial. Related: Twitter versus India is still rolling along, and it’s not going well.
A cloudy mess: Remember that huge deal to award a cloud contract from the U.S. military to one major tech company? Microsoft won; Amazon pitched a fit. And now neither company will get the $10 billion deal. Womp.
Box versus investors: Rounding out our conflict coverage, the latest from Box. Former cloud storage darling and present-day public enterprise productivity shop Box is locked in a lengthy argument with activist investor Starboard. Today, Box went the corporate equivalent of supernova by releasing a TikTok video of its communications with the investing group, essentially calling them out for hypocrisy. Not that that charge means much to amoral capital pools searching for above-market returns, but, hey, it made for some good headlines.
Today’s startup news includes a number of funding rounds, a neat new venture capital fund and some SPAC news from space (and Earth):
Super.mx raises $7.2 million: The Mexico City-based insurtech startup has put together a Series A for its “managing general agent” approach to offering coverage. The startup claims to be able to “handle the entire user experience just like a direct-to-consumer carrier, but with the breadth of product choice offered by an aggregator.”
Single.Earth raises $7.9M for crypto-carbon tokens: Here’s an idea that I don’t fully understand: linking carbon credits to tokens that represent the real world. That’s the gist of Single.Earth, which wants to shake up how companies compensate for their carbon footprint. It uses MERIT tokens, and, per its website, is creating a “digital twin” of the natural world.
Wagmo raises $12.5M for better pet insurance: Insurtech is a hot market because insurance is a huge market. So large that even its subdivisions are attracting startup competition. Wagmo -- not Waymo, mind -- wants to bring more pet services into its product to cover your pet more holistically.
Next, a new fund:
iFly.vc raises second fund worth $46M: I don’t bring you many new venture capital fundraises because they seem a bit meta for our startup focus, but here’s one regardless. Why include it? The venture capital group -- which has a neat history, as the post details -- relocated from San Francisco to Austin during the pandemic. That’s notable.
And from the SPAC beat:
Space SPAC: Sattelogic is going public via a SPAC. Its deck is light on past results and heavy on future incomes.
Earth SPAC: Nextdoor is going public via a SPAC. Its deck is far more rooted in terrestrial things, like trailing revenue.
Finally, TechCrunch covered upcoming headphones from Nothing, a hardware upstart that we don’t know much about. But it thinks its $99 headphone offering can compete with Apple’s AirPods Pro line. Which cost 2.5x as much. If a startup can manage that, we’ll be super impressed. And Nothing will be worth several somethings.
Nothing founder Carl Pei on Ear (1) and building a hardware startup from scratch
In an exclusive interview with TechCrunch Hardware Editor Brian Heater, Nothing Founder Carl Pei discussed the product and design principles underpinning Ear (1), a set of US$99/€99/£99 wireless earbuds that will hit the market later this month.
"We’re starting with smart devices," said Pei. "Ear (1) is our first device. I think it has good potential to gain some traction."
Despite Apple's market share and the number of players already competing in the space, "we’ve just focused on being ourselves," said Nothing's founder, who also shared initial marketing plans and discussed the inherent tensions involved with manufacturing consumer hardware.
"Everything is a trade-off. Like if you pursue this design, that has a ton of implications. Battery life has ton of implications on size and on cost. The materials you use have implications on cost. Everything has an implication on timeline. It’s like 4D chess in terms of trade-offs."
Read the full interview on Extra Crunch.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
We got through most of the Big Tech news in our Top Three today, but there’s still a bit more for your enjoyment:
Twitter shares its ideas around new privacy features, including a way to hide your account from searches: This matters because it underscores how Twitter’s product team has somehow found top gear and left the engine in it; the company seems to have discussed and released more stuff in the last few quarters than in the last few years. We’re here for it.
Verizon demos THOR, its new vehicle for frontline rapid humanitarian response: What’s big, red and intimidating? No, it’s not Verizon’s debt load, it’s THOR (for Tactical Humanitarian Operations Response), a huge truck-thing that Verizon is tinkering with that could bring connectivity to disaster zones. Frankly, cool. Not that I am forgiving Verizon for all the rest, but at least it can demo up a neat monster truck.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images
Are you all caught up on last week’s coverage of growth marketing? If not, read it here.
As usual, if you have a recommendation of a growth marketer we should know about, fill out the survey here.