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Hello and welcome to the Daily Crunch for January 18, 2022! Today started the work week with a bang, thanks to Microsoft and another public company. But will all announced deals become completed deals? We’ll see. We also have an acre-feet of boot news for your enjoyment. Come on! – Alex
Ploonge top 3
- Microsoft buys Activision Blizzard: After months of internal turmoil – what Ploonge described as “sexual harassment controversies and ongoing executive turmoil” – Activision Blizzard is selling itself to Microsoft for a hefty premium on its pre-deal share price . Microsoft has purchased other game studios in recent years, making the purchase not entirely impossible to analyze. But we have to wonder if the transaction will not catch the attention of regulators, given a generally more active antitrust vibe around the world today. We will see.
- Apple regains the smartphone crown: Smartphone shipments grew by 1% in the last quarter of 2021, with Apple overtaking Samsung as the category-leading global manufacturer. The two companies have traded for the top spot over time, however – thanks to the chip crisis, global pandemic and greater supply chain issues – volatility in this type of metric is hardly a surprise. Still, it’s good news for Apple fans.
- China’s digital yuan matures: Following China’s ban on cryptocurrencies and related activities – read: mining – the country’s own digital currency is gaining market share. Dubbed the digital yuan in English, the electronic variant of the Chinese currency has been installed by 261 million people, or about a fifth of the country’s population.
Before we dive into the list of startup news, our own Anna Heim has a fascinating interview on the site investigating the impact a changing workplace will have on the startup market; it is not only communications software and HR technology that will see a world changed. Give it a read!
- British startup raises $200 million for autonomous delivery: Wayve has just raised nine figures in capital to continue working on “robotic delivery and logistics” through the power of autonomous vehicles. This round caught my attention not just for its scale, but also for the fact that I wasn’t, until reading, completely familiar with Wayve. The startup market is now so huge that even mega-rounds can appear seemingly out of nowhere!
- Roll is betting that private photos are the future of creator-fan relationships: The creator economy continues to grab founders’ attention in 2022, recalls today’s Roll release. The app wants to “give fans access to their favorite creators’ camera rolls,” according to the startup’s CEO. Not that literally give access to camera rolls, as that would be, we note, “a disaster waiting to happen”, but the idea is never-before-seen photos from creator to fan, for a recurring fee. Let’s see how it behaves in the market.
- Mustard’s sports training software raises more capital: After securing $1.7 million in 2020, Mustard has returned to capital to raise another $3.75 million, it announced today. The startup is expanding its “sensorless approach to [sports] data capture” for new domains, reports Ploonge. The app received funding from several athletes as part of the round, which could help it secure a larger audience.
- Yes, vertical farming: the idea behind vertical farming – that we should grow food above, rather than wide in urban environments — rules. Why? The potential for fresher food and lower carbon footprints for our food. Upward, a startup in the vertical agricultural space, has announced that it will build a 250,000 square foot facility in Pennsylvania next year. We want a ride.
- Clockwise wants to make its clock, well, wiser: the meeting culture is productivity hell, and while everyone claims their company doesn’t excessively index meetings, most do it independently. Clockwise, it got $45 million on a Series C for its solution to the problem. According to Ploonge, the startup “uses artificial intelligence to help teams free up their workdays and avoid the challenges associated with remote and hybrid workplaces, such as burnout.” If it works, it sounds pretty cool.
- Appcues raises $32.1 million for no-code user onboarding: Taking the no-code approach and applying it to different pain points in the user journey is a big deal. Appcues’ focus on integration is apparently gaining traction, its new round of funding suggests. It’s worth noting at this point that no-code has gone from buzzword to fad to standard business practice for startups. Why? My guess is that it’s a result of a general shortage of developers around the world – and people have grown tired of waiting for engineering teams to come to their ticket.
And that’s just the beginning. The startup game is in full swing in January, with news falling like raindrops in a storm. Also on Ploonge today there was news about what Castiron is up to and what the term “food artisans” means, Pinwheel raising $50 million in a massive Series B and a great column by Owen Williams about the open source world and how the free workers who help keep the world running are discovering their true power – which, you know, impacts essentially every startup on the market today.
Will quantum computing remain the domain of the VC specialist?
Potential applications of quantum computing include machine learning and computer-aided drug design, but the industry is still in its early days.
In 2021, there were approximately 90 quantum investments totaling $1.4 billion. A significant jump from $700 million from the previous year, but compared to SaaS, not even a drop in the bucket.
Even so, we are already seeing quantum outputs: IonQ reached a valuation of $2 billion after its 2021 SPAC, and Rigetti plans to do the same this year when developing its superconducting quantum computer.
In a comprehensive market map of the quantum computing industry, Maria Lepskaya, Senior Associate at Runa Capital, ranked the top 12 companies in the industry.
(Ploonge+ is our membership program, which helps startup founders and teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Snap cracks down on drug business: Following an outside investigation into people who died after buying pills on social services that contained fentanyl, Snap says it is making progress in discovering and removing sales-related content.
- GM uses Blink Charging for EV chargers: As traditional car companies jump headfirst into the electric car game, they sometimes need help. US transit giant GM, for example, is hiring an outside company to help equip its dealerships with charging points. Ploonge notes that Blink has “about 30,000 EV chargers installed in 13 countries,” meaning it has the experience to handle GM’s physical footprint.
- And to wrap up the day’s news roundup, Twitter is expanding its disinformation reporting feature to more international markets, which seems like a good idea, albeit a late one.
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