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Daily Crunch: Adobe snaps up Figma in proposed $20B deal that has some scratching their heads

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Happy Thursday! Has everyone recovered from Zoom going down this morning? Don’t worry, Zoom is back up, but if anything, we hope it helped you have a quieter day…for a while at least.  — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
One rival at a time: The digital design world got a treat today when Adobe announced it was buying Figma, one of its biggest rivals, in a $20 billion deal that has both investors and Figma enthusiasts pondering what will change and if those changes will be bad, Ingrid reports. Meanwhile, Alex gives his take on the deal over in TechCrunch+ land.
“The Merge” is here: Talk of “The Merge” has been with us for weeks, and today it is finally here. If you don’t follow cryptocurrency, this means that Ethereum, one of crypto’s most popular blockchains, has now switched to proof-of-stake consensus, which also means it will now consume a lot less electricity, Romain writes. And for TC+, Jacquelyn tells us why it matters that Lido, Coinbase, Kraken and Binance have a majority stake of ETH.
There’s a fix for that: Apple is clearing a path for easy iPhone 14 integration with a setup fix. Ivan has more.
Startups and VC
Today, Haje has been running around at Micromobility America. They insist on using the MMA acronym, so he’s expecting a fist to the face any moment, but so far the only risk of injury has been from neck-breaking micromobility in the form of electric rollerblades. It’s probably a coincidence that Kav announced it is spooling up a 3D printing factory for bike helmets on the same day.
Looks like mobility is everywhere these days — Matt notes that mobility startups are filling the void in a Detroit auto show that’s a shell of its former self.
The TechCrunch team has been extraordinarily busy. There’s a wall of news on the TechCrunch homepage; here’s a few of the ones that caught our eye this fine Thursday:
Like private equity, but with pocket change: Anita reports that Allocations just raised at a beefy $150 million valuation in its mission to help private equity funds lure smaller investors.
You and me, baby, ain’t nothing but mammals, so let’s invest across multiple channels: U.K.-based fintech Lightyear is extending its stock-trading offering to include a wide selection of stocks and traded funds (ETF), Paul reports.
From the shirt off your back to the shiz in your bag: Reusable packaging startup Olive creates a new model to keep clothes out of landfills, Christine reports.
We’re sure more money will fix this: VCs look the other way as they give $205 million more to Verkada, whose tech (and lax security) has been abused repeatedly, Connie reports.
To Infinity and beyond: Morpheus Space’s satellite thrusters are propelled forward with a $28 million Series A, reports Stefanie.
Pitch Deck Teardown: Helu.io’s $9.8M Series A deck
Image Credits: Helu (opens in a new window)
Helping small- and medium-sized enterprises with their controlling, reporting and budgeting may not sound exciting, but Austrian fintech startup Helu.io’s storytelling skills excited investors enough to raise a $9.8 million Series A in July.
With the exception of some details regarding unit economics and revenue, Helu shared its entire winning pitch deck with us. As these slides suggest, its founders took a straightforward approach:
Problem: “The CFO’s pain is Excel.”
Solution: “Good-bye Excel sheets.”

Pitch Deck Teardown: Helu.io’s $9.8M Series A deck

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!)
Big Tech Inc.
Whenever Call of Duty is mentioned, we can’t help but recall Rashida Jones’s character in “The Office” giving the game a shout-out. In today’s case, Jordan was there as Activision unveiled what the game’s next generation will look like.
We won’t be undone: Amanda got “BeReal” with TikTok’s newest feature, which will have you experiencing a bit of déjà vu.
“The Merge,” take two: We know you enjoyed Romain’s coverage of “The Merge”; now Rita reports on how this has affected cryptocurrency miners.
Two giants make an even bigger giant: Want to know what happens to customer data when Salesforce and Snowflake partner? Ron can tell you.
All eyes on gaming: While Activision was over there unveiling the new Modern Warfare game, the company’s proposed tie-up with Microsoft is getting a deeper look from the United Kingdom’s antitrust investigators, Natasha L reports.
Back in the hot seat: Taylor watched the latest Senate Homeland Security Committee meeting featuring executives from Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter so you don’t have to. Spoiler, they  dodge questions about social media and national security.
Daily Crunch: Adobe snaps up Figma in proposed $20B deal that has some scratching their heads by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch
Daily Crunch: Adobe snaps up Figma in proposed $20B deal that has some scratching their heads

Daily Crunch: Embedded finance fintech Pezesha raises $11M pre-Series A equity-debt round

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.
Hey, hey, hey! Good to have you back with us again. Today, we’re mostly amazed at how quiet Twitter gets during Burning Man, and excited that we’re doing a Labor Day sale for TechCrunch Plus, if you’ve been wanting to read our subscription site but you’ve been holding off for whatever reason. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
Embed that finance: Pezesha, a Kenyan-based fintech startup, is flush with $11 million in new capital as it seeks to bridge the gap between access to financial products and what is a “$330 billion financing deficit for the small enterprises that make up 90% of Africa’s businesses,” Annie reports.
We’re all connected: If you haven’t yet seen yourself in one of your Twitter connection’s Circles, you may soon. The social media giant is launching the “Close Friends” features globally, Ivan reports. Add a bunch of people to your Circle and get tweeting.
No delivery for you: Delivery platform Gopuff has only been in Europe since November 2021, but Natasha L writes it made the decision to discontinue its service in Spain. She cites that perhaps this is to focus more on the United Kingdom market where revenue there is increasing 30% month over month.
Startups and VC
Initialized Capital was VC Garry Tan’s answer to a need first highlighted by Y Combinator. As a partner at the accelerator from 2010 to 2015, Tan spent time working with companies to better understand what they needed from investors after they graduated. This week, he announced he’s back at the helm at YC, and Natasha M interviewed him about what’s next for Y Combinator.
The company behind last summer’s hot social app, Poparazzi, appears to be readying a round two following its $15 million Series A announced in June. A new listing in the App Store under the developer’s account, TTYL, is teasing a pre-release app called Made with Friends, Sarah reports.
When the news hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s a-more-news:
Notification bubbles: Devin reports that, at long last, there’s an underwater messaging app.
Money for laundering: Flush with fresh funds, U.K. “eco laundry” startup Oxwash raised $12 million to spin up its growth plans, Natasha L reports.
Faster when further afield: The U.K.’s £5 billion Project Gigabit gives out its first contract to connect rural areas to high-speed broadband, Paul reports.
PriceOye gets the Thiel seal of approval: Islamabad-based startup PriceOye offers a range of electronics products, including smartphones, TVs and home appliances. It just closed a round of funding from investors, including Peter Thiel, reports Jagmeet.
Dodging the SPAC bullet: Alex and Anna wrote a really interesting piece on TC+ (use “DC” for a 15% discount if you’re not a subscriber yet) about SPACs, how they are falling apart, and how Europe may have dodged a bullet on that front.
How to communicate to your crypto community when things aren’t going well
Image Credits: Peter Dazeley (opens in a new window) / Getty Images
Because it’s a nascent industry that’s largely unregulated, crypto companies are not generally skilled at crisis communications. (We’re being generous here.)
When a bank or financial services company experiences a massive security failure or a volatility shock, federal laws dictate how it must communicate with its customers. Crypto startups, however, must rely on their own best judgment.
“There’s little benefit in declaring that the sky is falling and begging your community for investment, but an overly rosy outlook won’t fool anyone either,” says Tahem Verma, co-founder and CEO of Mesha.

How to communicate with your crypto community when things aren’t going well

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Last chance to get your game on in the Facebook Gaming app. The social media giant said it is shutting down its stand-alone app at the end of October, Aisha reports. Don’t worry, you can still find your games in Gaming on actual Facebook. When launching the separate app two years ago, it seemed to be more difficult than Facebook bargained for, so it decided to join ’em instead of beating ’em.
Data duh!: Millions of faces and vehicle license plates were leaked online in China, Zack writes.
Ghosts can drive?: A Tesla Model 3 owner filed a class action lawsuit against the electric vehicle maker alleging the car keeps “phantom braking,” Jaclyn reports. 
New security regime: Broadband and mobile carriers in the United Kingdom could face fines of up to $117,000 per day or 10% of their sales if they don’t abide by some new cybersecurity rules, Ingrid writes.
More Elon: Taylor has the 411 on Elon Musk’s new strategy for getting out of the Twitter deal — hint, it involves the company’s whistleblower. Meanwhile, Paul goes over the new subpoena related to the ongoing battle.

Daily Crunch: Embedded finance fintech Pezesha raises $11M pre-Series A equity-debt round

Wordle is now integrated in The New York Times Crossword app

The spelling puzzle app phenomenon Wordle is making its debut on The New York Times Crossword application, The Times announced today. After tons of doppelgangers and wannabes of the infamous app, the NYT Crossword app is now appearing at the top of iOS and Android app store searches. 
Users won’t have to worry about losing their scores and streaks because The NYT will allow consumers to create an account to track their gameplay. Though the app itself is free to download, this so-called “free account” is only available for a seven-day trial; users are then prompted to either pay $4.99 per month or $39.99 for the year. The subscription would also include access to puzzles like Spelling Bee, The Mini and The Crossword. 
Image Credits: The New York Times
The move to further integrate Wordle comes after The NYT acquired the rights to the game earlier this year at an undisclosed price. According to first-quarter financial results, the publication said the game drove the company’s best quarter ever, in relation to net subscribers for Games. Since its acquisition, the publication has advertised its other games through Wordle.
Though the game was created to be a passtime for the creator Josh Wardle and his partner, its popularity has become a daily habit for some. Back in July, The Times announced the WordleBot to help users strengthen their skills. The tool gives word enthusiasts a score from 0-99 based on skills and luck, but also provides advice on how they can improve their search. 

Wordle founder Josh Wardle on going viral and what comes next

As The NYT tries to capitalize on the game’s popularity, they announced the online word game would be turned into a board game. The company has partnered with toymaker Hasbro to release Wordle: The Party Game in October. 
TechCrunch previously reported that upwards of two million players were playing Wordle, and it has been mentioned in over 32 million tweets since its launch. According to The Times, “10% of active players have played 145 or more games of Wordle.”
Wordle is now integrated in The New York Times Crossword app

US App Store revenue from non-game apps just topped games for the first time

A major shift in the U.S. app economy has just taken place. In the second quarter of this year, U.S. consumer spending in non-game mobile apps surpassed spending in mobile games for the first time in May 2022 and the trend continued in June. This drove the total revenue generated by non-game apps higher for the quarter, reaching about $3.4 billion on the U.S. App Store, compared with $3.3 billion spent on mobile games.
After the shift in May, 50.3% of the spending was coming from non-game apps by June 2022, according to new findings in a report from app intelligence firm Sensor Tower. By comparison, games had accounted for more than two-thirds of total spending on the U.S. App Store just five years ago.
The trend was limited to the U.S. App Store and was not seen on Google Play, however. In Q2, games accounted for $2.3 billion in consumer spending on Google Play in the U.S., while non-game apps accounted for about $1 billion.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
This shift in the U.S. app market is the most significant finding in the new report and demonstrates how successfully Apple has managed to create a subscription economy that allows a broader range of apps to generate sizable revenues.
The new data also supports this, as it shows it’s not only the biggest players that are benefiting from subscription revenue growth. In Q2 2022, 400 apps generated more than $1 million in consumer spending on the U.S. App Store, which is eight times the total from the same quarter in 2016. In addition, 61 U.S. App Store non-game apps generated at least $10 million in U.S. consumer spending in Q2 2022 — that’s more than the number of non-game apps that had generated $1 million+ in revenue in Q2 2016.
A handful of non-game apps also topped $50 million in U.S. consumer spending in the quarter, including YouTube, HBO Max, TikTok, Tinder, Disney+, Hulu and Bumble.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
Subscriptions are the major revenue growth driver here, as non-game apps grew at nearly twice the rate  — at a 40% compound annual growth rate — since June 2014 compared with less than 20% for games, the report found.
The trend is a significant reversal of what mobile app spending looked like just a few years ago.
In 2019 and early 2020, for instance, mobile game spending growth was consistently higher than non-game spending. Game spending then surged again at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But by late 2020, non-game growth had caught up and the gap widened in 2021.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
While non-games are enjoying their new dominance, it’s not all great news for the app economy in this most recent quarter. The report also found that U.S. app spending overall declined for the first time in Q2, following the wind down from the spike generated by the pandemic.
At the start of the pandemic (around April 2020), year-over-year growth in consumer spending had jumped from around 20%-30% in 2019 to 35%-55% over the next 12 months. But in May 2022, U.S. spending declined for the first time as consumers began to shift their dollars back to other non-mobile activities like restaurant dining and travel.
Despite this decline from the pandemic highs, consumer spending in Q2 2022 was still up 71% over Q2 2019.
In other key findings from the quarter, summer travel drove travel apps to record high downloads in the U.S. and U.K., and airline app downloads in these markets were up 30%+ compared with Q2 2019, before the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the top-five ticketing apps saw 10 million downloads, up 70%+ from Q2 2019 as consumers returned to concerts, sports games and other events.
Image Credits: Sensor Tower
Worldwide app downloads slowed also slowed in the quarter, as installs totaled 35 billion in Q2, down 2.5% year over year. App Store downloads fell 1.3% to 7.8 billion and Google Play installs dropped 3% to 27.2 billion.
The most downloaded non-game app worldwide was TikTok, which has held the top position eight times out of the past 10 quarters. It was followed by Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat. TikTok (including Douyin in China on iOS) had 187 million downloads in the quarter.
The top mobile game globally was Subway Surfers, with over 80 million downloads — its highest total since 2014, and following the game’s maker Sybo’s acquisition by gaming giant Miniclip in June 2022. The number two title was Garena Free Fire with 70 million installs for the third quarter in a row.
China was still the larger contributor to iOS gaming revenue, despite a pause on game approvals in May 2022. In Q2, 65% of consumer spending on China’s App Store was on mobile games, while 35% was on non-game apps in Q2 2022 — percentages that remained unchanged from a year ago in June 2021. Japan’s App Store still generates the third-most gaming revenue on iOS and it maintained this position, though games’ share shrank a bit to 68% of the total spend, down from 70% in June 2021.
US App Store revenue from non-game apps just topped games for the first time

Game studio HiDef partners with Snap to develop a Bitmoji dance social mobile game

A game studio, HiDef, announced today that it is teaming up with camera company Snap Inc. to develop an off-platform Bitmoji-based dance and music social game. The game will leverage Snap’s augmented reality tech as well as Bitmoji, the personalized cartoon avatar maker. Bitmoji joined the Snap family over five years ago, and today over a billion avatars have been created.
The Bitmoji-based dance expression game will be a standalone title and is expected to launch in 2023. Snap will also support HiDef’s upcoming flagship dance party game IP, which aims to host a dance party for billions across the globe.
Pany Haritatos, head of Snap Games, said in a statement:
We’re working with HiDef as a marquee partner because of their leadership in the gaming and entertainment space, as well as our shared goal of engaging audiences through creative expression. Games have already captured the interest of 320 million Snapchatters and we are excited to team up with HiDef on this exciting new music and dance game.
“There are over 1 billion Bitmoji avatars just waiting to dance! We’re honored Snap chose HiDef to bring their community onto the virtual dance floor. Our game will offer a new place for Snapchat’s audience to express themselves creatively through music and dance,” said Chip Lange, CEO at HiDef, Inc.
HiDef was co-founded in 2019 by Jace Hall, Anthony Castoro and Rick Fox, as well as Chief Impact Officer David Washington, to build new gaming experiences via a proprietary technology platform.
Game studio HiDef partners with Snap to develop a Bitmoji dance social mobile game