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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for November 2, 2021. Today has been a fun one, namely because your humble TechCrunch was in the news. Not for reasons that we’re stoked about, but the larger China-world digital decoupling is real, and we got caught in it. Let’s talk about it. — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Yahoo leaves China: TechCrunch parent company Yahoo is leaving the Chinese market, pulling what was left of its services lineup from the market. TechCrunch, and its sister publication Engadget, are no longer accessible in the country. The news comes after Epic Games announced the end of its project to bring Fortnite to the Chinese market, and Microsoft decided that it was also time for LinkedIn to leave the country.
Bird is going public: Well-known scooter unicorn Bird’s planned merger with a blank-check company has been approved and should consummate later this week. Public-market investors responded by selling stock in Bird’s SPAC partner, a somewhat embarrassing result. Precisely how much capital will be raised is not clear. For more on Bird’s changing economics, TechCrunch has your back.
Microsoft goes metaverse: Amidst a wave of news items today — see our Big Tech section for more — Microsoft announced that its Teams product is heading to the metaverse. But unlike what Facebook Meta has planned, Microsoft’s “Mesh for Teams” service will power “shared experiences in virtual reality, augmented reality and elsewhere, with Teams and its built-in productivity tools,” TechCrunch reports.
Not into NFTs? How about PE? The acronym soup that is the modern finance world may have your head spinning. But don’t worry, startups are here to help. Aqua, for example, wants to help mom-and-pop investors gain exposure to private equity investments. Which, as you may know, tend to require more advanced net worths. As Natasha Mascarenhas points out, however, interest in alternative investing products has risen, which could provide a nice boost to what Aqua has on offer.
Backblaze sets IPO price range: Amidst a wave of unicorn IPOs, the Backblaze public offering is notable for its modest size. That’s not a diss. It’s good to see smaller tech companies go public. If Backblaze trades well, it could help more companies pull the trigger. We hope.
App monitoring is big business: That’s the lesson from Lumigo’s $29 million Series A that TechCrunch wrote about today. The company’s product is also expanding from serverless platforms (DynamoDB, S3 and others) to now also include containers and virtual machines as well.
Tim Draper backs startup that wants your piss: Yep, no shit. Well-known investor Tim Draper has led a Series A round worth $6 million into Vivoo. TechCrunch writes that the “personalized nutrition and lifestyle startup sells subscription-based at-home urine test kits that work in conjunction with an app.” I for one do not need an app to tell me that I need to drink more water. I already know. But perhaps more of us could use a reminder.
Firefox updated its mobile browser to limit clutter, if you are the type of person who doesn’t merely use default mobile software.
To close out our startup news, Nuro has raised a $600 million round from Google and Tiger Global for its autonomous delivery vehicles.
What Netflix’s move into gaming means for developers
Some analysts predict that Netflix will spend as much as $19 billion on original and acquired content in 2025, but that figure leaves out a new frontier for the global media platform: gaming.
Netflix hired a lead for its gaming division in July and purchased Night School Studio in September, giving it access to more developers.
“It makes one wonder how Netflix’s plans will influence game developers and studios around the world,” says Sendbird CEO John S. Kim. “More importantly, how will developers respond to Netflix’s entry into the space?”
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Big Tech Inc.
It’s a Microsoft day, so here’s the rest of our coverage from the company’s event:
Microsoft announces new tools to modernize supply chain and manufacturing
Microsoft’s new Azure OpenAI Service brings GPT-3 to (a few) more developers
Microsoft Azure wants to make working with data on its platform easier
Microsoft Azure expands its hybrid and multi-cloud reach
Azure gets a Chaos Studio
And, Microsoft is building a product called Loop that we feel shares more than a little heritage with Google’s long-dead, if yet-beloved Wave service. Frankly I cannot wait to play with it.
From elsewhere in Big Tech-land:
Netflix’s gaming ambitions continue: Just as Spotify wants to be a serious player in podcasting, Netflix really does appear to think that games are part of its future. The company’s titles are coming to all Android-using members starting this week. Enjoy.
Roblox’s outage Not Good: Not only did Roblox suffer a multiday outage, but the public gaming company’s downtime provided a boost to rival games. Because just as shooters shoot, gamers game, and if your platform goes down, Steam is just a few clicks away.
Zoom is looking to cash in on the advertising boom, fueled in part by rising tech wealth, with an ad-supported version of its video chat service.
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