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Welcome to the Daily Crunch for Friday, April 15, 2022, where we are continuing to stick our heads in the sand regarding the war in Ukraine and the Earth slowly roasting itself to a crisp in favor of … a loudmouthed billionaire wanting to buy a deranged bird sanctuary.
On our Equity podcast today, which we recorded at our amazing, fully sold-out Early Stage event, Alex and Natasha dug into social fintech. A propos events – are you coming to our mobility event? If you want to pitch, it’s your last chance to get your applications in. A propos podcasts – Found, the TechCrunch podcast where founders talk about the stories behind their startups, is nominated for a Webby for best technology podcast! Cast your vote before April 21! – Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Twitter adopts ‘poison pill’ to block Elon Musk’s proposed purchase: For what seems like the whole week now, Twitter is in the news again today. This time, it announced that it was taking steps to block the purchase by “he who shall not be named.” Literally, the company did not mention Elon Musk by name. Hopefully, you’re not like, “What happened?” but if you are: Musk said he wanted to buy the social media giant. Some of his language in the proposal suggested a hostile takeover, so Kyle took a look at hostile takeover history and what it might mean for Twitter’s case.
- U.S. links North Korea to latest crypto hack: The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said that a North Korean state-backed hacking group known as Lazarus is responsible for the recent theft of $625 million in cryptocurrency from the Ronin Network, an Ethereum-based sidechain made for the popular play-to-earn game Axie Infinity. We report that “this is the largest decentralized finance hack to date.”
- Europe startups are having a good year so far: We’ve written about a slowdown in venture-backed deals in different regions, including the U.S., Asia and Latin America, so it is refreshing to see Europe come out ahead in the first quarter — a 20% quarter-on-quarter increase, in fact.
Startups and VC
You’ll be forgiven for humming a bit of Aloe Blacc under your breath as you file your expenses. Those on the other side of those expense reports tend to be more prone to swearing than whistling a tune – and Itilite just raised $29 million to put a smile on their faces and a spring in their step by automating corporate expensing workflows.
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go, cat, go, and don’t you, step on my shrewd, weighed views:
- Like Affirm, but for your business: The buy now, pay later market, spearheaded by Afterpay, Affirm, Klarna and others, is mostly focused on consumer spending. Slope wants to bring the same mechanics to B2B purchases and just raised $24 million to put that dream on layaway.
- Like Uber, but on two wheels: Indian food delivery giant Swiggy just plunged $180 million into the bike taxi startup Rapido.
- Like Chrome, but scrambled: Opera is one of those companies that just refuses to die, even though it has only found an extremely niche audience. Today, it launched an iOS version of its web3 and crypto-friendly browser.
- Like HubSpot, but HubSport: TeamSnap is making it easier to manage youth sports organizations — scheduling, team management, etc. The company has been around since 2009 and just launched a new set of tools.
MLB forays into the future with new tech for the old ball game
Baseball has come a long way since 1897, when a Princeton math professor designed a pitching machine that ran on gunpowder.
Today, baseball is a technology-driven enterprise where team owners, players, media organizations and individual fans have access to reams of raw statistics.
To learn more about Major League Baseball’s tech stack, enterprise reporter Ron Miller interviewed its CPO and head of engineering, Vasanth Williams.
“MLB has a long history of leveraging data and technology, and being an early adopter of a lot of the technologies, which I love doing,” he said.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- China changes its foreign games policy: Continuing from yesterday with some news out of China, it looks like the country is getting ready to close a loophole that was left open for people to access unauthorized video games. This week, online gaming company Tencent said it will “terminate its gaming booster that allows users to play overseas games,” meaning any games without the government-issued license to operate in the country will go bye-bye.
- Meta bringing Horizon Worlds to the web: Meta’s social virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds is getting a web facelift so that people with Quest VR headsets can try it out. We point out that with all of the company’s talk about the metaverse, it seems counterintuitive to have VR and web versions of the same things, but we’re guessing lots of someones asked for this, otherwise it would not be made.
- Take a trip inside the 2023 Toyota bZ4X: Buckle up, we have the “nuts and volts” on one of Toyota’s newest electric vehicles. For a rather awkward name, we report this one promises an all-in price tag of just under $50,000 for what is an “impressive” range on a single charge.