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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for November 1, 2021. TechCrunch hopes that you had a lovely Halloween, if you celebrate. Yes, your humble scribe had some leftover candy for breakfast. No, he doesn’t feel well.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Nubank files to go public: Brazilian neobank Nubank has filed to go public, and TechCrunch has first notes out concerning its economics. Our read of its filing left us impressed at its low-cost customer acquisition, ability to drive long-term revenue from its customers and the fact that its sales and marketing spend is minimal compared to its aggregate revenues. More to come on the intricacies of its business model.
- Epic pulls Fortnite from China: The China-world decoupling takes on many forms. One way to view it is through a rising inability for non-Chinese companies to bring their products to the country’s shores. LinkedIn is out. And now Epic Games is ending its work to make a Fortnite version for China, despite having Tencent as a key shareholder.
- Chromebook sales crash: News that global PC sales fell 2% in the third quarter might sound like bad news, but computer sales are still above their pre-pandemic levels, Ron Miller reports. But of the PC varieties out there, it appears that Google’s own Chromebook effort is taking the most stick. It dropped from 18% market share to just 9%. Good news for Windows, we reckon.
Before we get into our regular run of startup news, let’s talk satellites. News that gigantic private company SpaceX’s Starlink has formed an Indian subsidiary was not a surprise. But that it came the same day that Amazon’s Project Kuiper wants to put two prototype satellites into orbit by the end of next year caught our eye. We’re seeing American companies continue to push ahead on space tech despite a more national-level space rivalry forming between China and the United States.
- OctoML raises $85M: The work of building and deploying machine learning (ML) models is big business. Startups Mage and Spice AI are working in similar areas of technology. Or more simply, in time there will be ample tooling to help companies of all sizes — and, we presume, levels of technical know-how — to get busy with ML at scale without having to fight tooth and nail to hire a full-stack, in-house data science team.
- Zendesk v. Twilio? Everyone wants to own customer data. Last year Twilio announced a multibillion dollar deal to buy Segment, allowing it to scoot into the customer data world (more here). And more recently Zendesk announced that it was dropping even more billions of dollars for SurveyMonkey, which will help it also better understand customers. They are not yet competing directly, but as we see tech companies get busy buying rivals, it’s going to be a recurring theme that two giants that previously played somewhat separately are now a bit closer to one another.
- $550M for hard venture bets: Any yahoo can stick $50 million into a growth-stage software startup that is cruising toward an IPO. Just make sure that its various SaaS ratios are in good shape and write the check. Walden Catalyst just put together a huge fund to invest in harder technology solutions to perhaps more intractable problems. The result should be higher returns on home runs. (TechCrunch also covered a new fund from White Star over the weekend.)
- Mosaic raises $44M for its construction tech: By working to automate certain parts of the residential construction process, Mosaic wants to lower the cost of such projects. Given that many nations around the world are enjoying related housing crises, anything to get more homes built sounds like a win to us.
- When I Work wants to help you tell others when you work: Shift-based work has often been organized, managed and crisis-controlled via text messages and phone calls. Stonehenge-era tech, in other words. When I Work wants to bring modern messaging to shift-based workers, allowing them to better swap, miss and snag work as they need to. It also just raised $200 million.
- Finally from our startup-related notes, Twiga raised $50M to scale its food logistics work in both Kenya and surrounding nations. As our own Tage Kene-Okafor notes, Africans spend more of their household income on food than folks living on other continents. It wants to shake up that dynamic and bring lower-cost foods to more, by our read.
When should your B2C startup enter a new market?
Many entrepreneurs say fortune favors the brave, but French microbiologist Louis Pasteur got it right: Fortune favors the prepared mind.
Bold is good, but smart is better, especially when it comes to expanding the range of a B2C startup. Introducing yourself to customers (not to mention regulators) in a foreign market comes with a lot of known unknowns.
“It may be that through luck or ingenuity, your business has thrived in your home country with minimal marketing spend, but there is absolutely no guarantee this will happen abroad,” says Jim Mann, director of acquisitions at Thrasio, a consumer goods company.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Our own Natasha Lomas has a great look into how major American technology companies worked to limit the power of European privacy laws. You won’t believe that a lot of wealthy companies worked hard out of sight to ensure that regulation fit their own requirements versus those of consumers!
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