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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for June 24, 2021. There’s an ocean of tech news to get through today, but up top if you care about the advertising market, head here first. Google is pushing back cookiegeddon, and the decision could impact companies from the smallest startup to, well, Google. -- Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Instagram’s slow embrace of computers continues: After a long history of being a mobile-first, or mobile-only product, Instagram is now testing the “ability to create a Feed post on Instagram with [a] desktop browser,” the company told TechCrunch. As a PC user, huzzah.
BuzzFeed is going public: Digital media company BuzzFeed is going public via a SPAC at a valuation of $1.5 billion. Want to know why it’s worth that much? We’ve got you covered. (Don’t forget that BuzzFeed raised hundreds of millions of dollars while private.)
How some companies are working on vaccine passports despite the controversy: TechCrunch’s Ron Miller dove into the world of vaccine passports, the tech companies that are backing them and how they’re handling a dicey political environment. It’s a great read.
Doubling down on crypto: The a16z investing house is redoubling its bet in the crypto economy with a new $2.2 billion fund. And the venture capital firm is going to do more than just write checks: It intends to take part in crypto projects and even help clear regulatory brush for the sector. It’s a big commitment.
Visa tries again: After Visa’s deal to acquire fintech API provider Plaid died, you might have thought that the American payments giant would have thrown in the towel on big deals. Nope. Visa is dropping $2.15 billion to buy Tink, a company that TechCrunch described as “a leading fintech startup in Europe focused on open banking application programming interfaces,” or APIs.
Don’t trip about Tripp’s (virtual) trips: Tripp, a startup that wants to provide mental-health services via VR that mimic psychedelic experiences sans drugs, has just raised $11 million. If that sounds far out, understand that some startups are flat-out working with psychedelic drugs for different therapeutic approaches to mental health. So, this is the less aggressive version of the idea. Because VR is pretty neat, we dig it.
The intersection of no-code, automation and humans: That’s where Tonkean plays. The company’s software helps ops teams at startups build automated business logic across applications, allowing data to flow between them. And it allows for humans to be in the loop, separating its offerings from what UiPath and other RPA companies offer. Oh, and Tonkean just closed a $50 million round.
The online video boom powers JW Player to $100M in new capital: While not quite yet a unicorn, JW Player’s nine-figure round caught TechCrunch’s attention. The company sells a video platform for publishers and others, and it had a good 2020. COVID led to a boom in video watching, so the company’s recent growth is not a huge surprise. And now it has a tower of new capital to fuel even more expansion.
Reform your startup’s meeting culture
Meetings should have a clear purpose, but at many startups, they've become a way to perform in front of a crowd instead of share information.
Workplace politics can make the matter even more complicated: How secure do you feel declining a meeting invitation from a co-worker, or worse yet, from a manager?
"Every time a recurring meeting is added to a calendar, a kitten dies," says Chuck Phillips, co-founder of MeetWell. "Very few employees decline meetings, even when it’s obvious that the meeting is going to be a doozy."
Changing your meeting culture is difficult, but given that 26% of workers plan to look for a new job when the pandemic ends, startups need to do all they can to retain talent. Here are four actionable steps that will help you boost productivity and say goodbye to poorly run, lazily planned meetings.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Today was a big day for Microsoft, so we’ll start there, yeah? Here are TechCrunch’s notes from the day’s Windows 11 event:
Android apps are coming to Windows: Via the Amazon store, but still. Microsoft’s effort over time to make its operating system more open reached a new zenith today with the news that Windows 11 will support a host of Android apps. We want to play with it before we grade it, but the idea is super neat.
We hope you like Teams: Microsoft is all-in on Teams, so much so that it’s getting the Windows treatment. TechCrunch reports that “Windows 11 will have Microsoft Teams built in, in a bid to compete more directly with communication platforms like Apple’s FaceTime.” Honestly, Teams is way better than Skype was, so that sounds fine. It does prickle our antitrust early warning system, however.
It’ll be a Windows Christmas: Per Microsoft, Windows 11 should land later this year. In time for Christmas, it turns out. So if you are a gamer or a corporate drone or merely someone who prefers the Microsoft approach to computing, get hyped. The new build is coming your way, and quickly. If you can’t wait, there are leaks out there. But don’t install those on a computer with data you actually need.
Next up, a little from Google:
Google and Jio team up for a budget smartphone: The JioPhone Next, a low-cost Android smartphone, could help the next few hundred million folks in India get online with faster service if the telco and American tech giant have their way. Jio wants more mobile subscribers, and Google wants more internet users, period. Call it a match made in heaven, provided that the hardware is good.
And to close out, one for the Zoomers:
Ephemeral tunes? In today’s TikTok world, having access to popular music is a must for social networks. So it’s not a surprise to see Snap close a multiyear deal with Universal Music Group. Snapper, rejoice!
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images
TechCrunch is building a shortlist of the top growth marketers in tech. If you’re a founder, we’d love to hear who you’ve worked with. Fill out the survey here.
Here’s one of the many excellent recommendations we’ve received:
Name of marketer: Dylan Max
Name of recommender: Kris Rudeegraap, Sendoso
Recommendation: “Dylan Max's creativity is what sets him apart from 99% of those that practice growth marketing. One of his first campaigns went viral on LinkedIn. We ran a special campaign where we sent real cans of Spam to the best marketers and salespeople (our target demographic), with the idea that traditional spamming has become impersonal and we're out to change that. Those that were nominated could "spam" other marketers or salespeople in their network, leading to a viral sensation that took over LinkedIn. We got a ton of business from it and our sales team still lists it as one of the most creative ways to leverage direct mail and gifting. Today it is still LinkedIn's most viral grassroots campaign in the B2B space. Dylan is part of a rare breed of growth marketers, excelling in many different marketing channels including SEO, paid search, conversion rate optimization (CRO) and A/B testing. Dylan also spun up our first ever ABM campaign where we leveraged hypertargeted social media ads to earn seven-figure revenue on less than $20,000 of ad spend. I love his hackiness and he needs to be on this list.”