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Daily Crunch: WhatsApp responds to privacy backlash

WhatsApp delays enforcement of a controversial privacy change, Apple may get rid of the Touch Bar in future MacBooks and Bumble files to go public. This is your Daily Crunch for January 15, 2021.
The big story: WhatsApp responds to privacy backlash
Earlier this month, WhatsApp sent users a notification asking them to consent to sharing some of their personal data — such as phone number and location — with Facebook (which owns WhatsApp). The alert also said users would have to agree to the terms by February 8 if they wanted to continue using the app.

This change prompted legal threats and an investigation from the Turkish government. Now the company is pushing the enforcement date back three months.
“No one will have their account suspended or deleted on February 8. We’re also going to do a lot more to clear up the misinformation around how privacy and security works on WhatsApp,” the company said in a post. “We’ll then go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15.”
The tech giants
Uber planning to spin out Postmates’ delivery robot arm — Postmates X is seeking investors in its bid to become a separate company.
Apple said to be planning new 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros with MagSafe and Apple processors — This could be the end for the Touch Bar.
Amazon’s newest product lets companies build their own Alexa assistant for cars, apps and video games — Yes, that means your next car could have two Alexas.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Bumble files to go public — The company plans to list on the Nasdaq stock exchange, using the ticker symbol “BMBL.”
Tracy Chou launches Block Party to combat online harassment and abuse — Currently available for Twitter, Block Party helps people filter out the content they don’t want to see.
Everlywell raises $75M from HealthQuest Capital following its recent $175M Series D round — Everlywell develops at-home testing kits for a range of health concerns, and it added a COVID-19 home collection test kit last year.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
Fifteen steps to fundraising a new VC or private equity fund — Launching is easy; fundraising is harder.
Lessons from Top Hat’s acquisition spree — The acquisition of Fountainhead Press marks Top Hat’s third purchase of a publishing company in the past 12 months.
Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson says wisdom lies with your developers — Takeaways from Lawson’s new book “Ask Your Developer.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Everything else
Video game spending increased 27% in 2020 — According to the latest figures from NPD, spending on gaming hardware, software and accessories was up 25% in December and 27% for the full year.
DOT evaluated 11 GPS replacements and found only one that worked across use cases —  The government wants to create additional redundancy and resiliency in the sector.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: WhatsApp responds to privacy backlash

Facebook highlights small businesses as it ramps up Apple criticism

Facebook already made it clear that it isn’t happy about Apple’s upcoming restrictions on app tracking and ad targeting, but the publicity battle entered a new phase today.
Over the summer, Apple announced that beginning in iOS 14, developers will have to ask users for permission in order to use their IDFA identifiers for ad targeting. On one level, it’s simply giving users a choice, but because they’ll have to opt-in to participate, the assumption is that we’ll see a dramatic reduction in app tracking and targeting.
The actual change was delayed until early next year, but in the meantime Facebook suggested that this might mean the end of its Audience Network (which uses Facebook data to target ads on other websites and apps) on iOS.

Then, this morning, Facebook placed print ads in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post declaring that it’s “standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere,” and it published a blog post and website making the same argument.
While it’s easy to see all of this as an attempt to put a more sympathetic face on a PR campaign that’s really just protecting Facebook’s ad business, Dan Levy — the company’s vice president of ads and business products — got on a call with reporters today to argue otherwise.

Image Credits: Facebook

For one thing, he said that with its “diversified” advertising business, Facebook won’t feel the impact as keenly as small businesses, particularly since it already acknowledged potential ad targeting challenges in its most recent earnings report.
“We’ve already been factoring this into our expectations for the business,” he said.
In contrast, Levy said small businesses rely on targeting in order to run efficient advertising campaigns — and because they’ve got small budgets, they need that efficiency. He predicted that if Apple moves forward with its plans, “Small businesses will struggle to stay afloat and many aspiring entrepreneurs may never get off the ground.”
Levy was joined by two small business owners, Monique Wilsondebriano of Charleston Gourmet Burger Company in South Carolina and Hrag Kalebjian of Henry’s House of Coffee in San Francisco. Kalebjian said that while business in the coffee shop is down 40% year-over-year, his online sales have tripled, and he credited targeted Facebook campaigns for allowing him to tell personal stories about his family’s love for Armenian coffee.
Wilsondebriano, meanwhile, said that when she and her husband Chevalo started a business selling their homemade burger marinade, “we did not have the option to run radio ads or TV ads, we just didn’t have a budget for that” — and so they turned to Facebook and Instagram. With the marinade now available in 50 states and 17 countries, Wilsondebriano said, “It makes me sad that if this update happens, so many small businesses won’t get that same opportunity that Cheval and I had.”
Levy also suggested that Apple’s bottom line might benefit from the changes — if developers make less money on ads from Facebook and other platforms, they may need to rely more on subscriptions or in-app transactions (with Apple collecting its much-discussed fee), and they might turn to Apple’s own targeted advertising platform.
A number of ad industry groups have also taken issue with Apple’s policy, with SVP Craig Federighi fighting back in a speech criticizing what he called “outlandish” and “false” claims from the adtech industry. In that speech, Federighi said Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature is designed “to empower our users to decide when or if they want to allow an app to track them in a way that could be shared across other companies’ apps or websites.”
Update: Apple sent out the following statement.
We believe that this is a simple matter of standing up for our users. Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not. App Tracking Transparency in iOS 14 does not require Facebook to change its approach to tracking users and creating targeted advertising, it simply requires they give users a choice.

Facebook isn’t happy about Apple’s upcoming ad tracking restrictions

Facebook highlights small businesses as it ramps up Apple criticism

Daily Crunch: Pakistan un-bans TikTok

TikTok returns to Pakistan, Apple launches a music-focused streaming station and SpaceX launches more Starlink satellites. This is your Daily Crunch for October 19, 2020.
The big story: Pakistan un-bans TikTok
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocked the video app 11 days ago, over what it described as “immoral,” “obscene” and “vulgar” videos. The authority said today that it’s lifting the ban after negotiating with TikTok management.

“The restoration of TikTok is strictly subject to the condition that the platform will not be used for the spread of vulgarity/indecent content & societal values will not be abused,” it continued.
This isn’t the first time this year the country tried to crack down on digital content. Pakistan announced new internet censorship rules this year, but rescinded them after Facebook, Google and Twitter threatened to leave the country.
The tech giants
Apple launches a US-only music video station, Apple Music TV —  The new music video station offers a free, 24-hour live stream of popular music videos and other music content.
Google Cloud launches Lending DocAI, its first dedicated mortgage industry tool — The tool is meant to help mortgage companies speed up the process of evaluating a borrower’s income and asset documents.
Facebook introduces a new Messenger API with support for Instagram — The update means businesses will be able to integrate Instagram messaging into the applications and workflows they’re already using in-house to manage their Facebook conversations.
Startups, funding and venture capital
SpaceX successfully launches 60 more Starlink satellites, bringing total delivered to orbit to more than 800 — That makes 835 Starlink satellites launched thus far, though not all of those are operational.
Singapore tech-based real estate agency Propseller raises $1.2M seed round — Propseller combines a tech platform with in-house agents to close transactions more quickly.
Ready Set Raise, an accelerator for women built by women, announces third class — Ready Set Raise has changed its programming to be more focused on a “realistic fundraising process” vetted by hundreds of women.
Advice and analysis for Extra Crunch
Are VCs cutting checks in the closing days of the 2020 election? — Several investors told TechCrunch they were split about how they’re making these decisions.
Disney+ UX teardown: Wins, fails and fixes — With the help of Built for Mars founder and UX expert Peter Ramsey, we highlight some of the things Disney+ gets right and things that should be fixed.
Late-stage deals made Q3 2020 a standout VC quarter for US-based startups — Investors backed a record 88 megarounds of $100 million or more.
(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Everything else
US charges Russian hackers blamed for Ukraine power outages and the NotPetya ransomware attack — Prosecutors said the group of hackers, who work for the Russian GRU, are behind the “most disruptive and destructive series of computer attacks ever attributed to a single group.”
Stitcher’s podcasts arrive on Pandora with acquisition’s completion — SiriusXM today completed its previously announced $325 million acquisition of podcast platform Stitcher from E.W. Scripps, and has now launched Stitcher’s podcasts on Pandora.
Original Content podcast: It’s hard to resist the silliness of ‘Emily in Paris’ — The show’s Paris is a fantasy, but it’s a fantasy that we’re happy to visit.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: Pakistan un-bans TikTok

Daily Crunch: Judge delays TikTok ban

Americans can continue using TikTok for now, Google updates its developer policies and Uber gets approval to resume operations in London. This is your Daily Crunch for September 28, 2020.
The big story: Judge delays TikTok ban
The saga continues! The Trump administration’s ban on TikTok was scheduled to take effect today — but over the weekend, a federal court ruled that Americans can continue using the app while a legal challenge over the ban’s legality moves forward.

A federal judge had already put a similar injunction in place to prevent a ban on WeChat from moving forward.
Meanwhile, Oracle, Walmart and TikTok’s owner ByteDance have also reached a deal that’s been approved by the U.S. government and would allow the app to continue operating here. However, it seems like the various companies and governments involved in the deal aren’t exactly on the same page.
The tech giants
Google to better enforce Play Store in-app purchase policies, ease use of third-party app stores — Under threat of regulation, Google announced that it’s updating its Google Play billing policies to better clarify which types of transactions will be subject to Google’s commissions on in-app purchases.
Uber wins latest London licence appeal, but renewal is only for 18 months — The ride-sharing giant has faced a multi-year battle to have its license reinstated after the city’s transport regulator decided not to issue a renewal in 2017.
Roku introduces a new Ultra player, a 2-in-1 ‘Streambar’ and a new OS with support for AirPlay 2 — The Streambar combines 4K HDR streaming and premium audio into one product.
Startups, funding and venture capital
SoftBank will bring Bear’s serving robots to Japan, amid restaurant labor shortages — The investor detailed plans to bring Bear’s Servi robot to Japan in an effort to address restaurant labor issues.
GV bets on young team behind high school social app HAGS — The team is building an old-school social play focused on Gen Z high school socialization.
N26 hires Adrienne Gormley as its new chief operating officer — Gormley has spent the last six years working for Dropbox in Dublin.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
2 strategies for creating top-of-funnel marketing content — Even when you’re excellent at making the sale, you still need people to know you exist in the first place.
Deep Science: Robot perception, acoustic monitoring, using ML to detect arthritis — Devin Coldewey rounds up the latest research and discoveries.
(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Everything else
Healthcare giant UHS hit by ransomware attack, sources say — The attack hit UHS systems early on Sunday morning, according to two people with direct knowledge of the incident.
Cannabis vape companies are experiencing a sales boom during the pandemic — From startups to major players, several leading manufacturers told TechCrunch that their companies are seeing a boom in sales since the start of the crisis.
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: Judge delays TikTok ban

Daily Crunch: Apple files countersuit against Epic

Apple strikes back at Epic Games, Android 11 is here and Microsoft announces a new stripped-down Xbox. This is your Daily Crunch for September 8, 2020.
The big story: Apple files countersuit against Epic
Apple has made the latest move in a legal battle against Epic Games, filing a lawsuit claiming that the company behind Fortnite is in breach of contract.

“Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store,” Apple wrote in its suit.
This follows Epic’s attempt in August to avoid Apple’s 30% App Store fee, which led to Apple removing Fortnite and eventually Epic from the App Store. (Accounts tied to Epic’s Unreal game engine have not been removed.) Epic then launched a lawsuit and a PR campaign against Apple, arguing that the company is abusing its market power.
The tech giants
Android 11 has arrived — Android 11 isn’t a radical departure, but there are a number of interesting new user-facing updates that mostly center around messaging, privacy and giving you better control over all of your smart devices.
Microsoft confirms compact, $299 Xbox Series S arriving on November 10 — The Series S is essentially a stripped-down version of the upcoming Series X, without true 4K rendering and with a lot less processing power.
Apple’s next event is September 15 — The event will almost certainly feature the new Apple Watch.
Startups, funding and venture capital
General Motors takes $2 billion stake in electric truck startup Nikola — Through the deal, GM gets 11% ownership in startup Nikola, and will, in turn, produce Nikola’s wild fuel cell pickup truck by the end of 2022.
Silver Lake leads $500 million investment round in Indian online learning giant Byju’s — The round values the Indian online learning platform at $10.8 billion.
Progress snags software automation platform Chef for $220M — Progress, a Boston-area developer tool company, is boosting its offerings in a big way.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
How to respond to a data breach — How a company responds to a data breach can make or break its reputation.
9 proptech investors talk co-living, home offices and other pandemic trends — TechCrunch surveyed nine firms that are writing checks today, and this second installment focuses on the opportunities and risks for startups.
JFrog’s IPO strong initial price range values it ahead of the larger Sumo Logic — The IPO wave continues to crest as a number of well-known technology companies line up to float their equity on American exchanges.
(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)
Everything else
‘Mulan’ drove Disney+ app downloads up 68% week-over-week, but didn’t beat ‘Hamilton’ — According to early data, the launch helped grow Disney+ mobile installs by 68%, compared with one week prior.
Original Content podcast: ‘Teenage Bounty Hunters’ is more interested in relationships than bounty hunting — Despite the show’s silly name, we ended up surprisingly invested in the characters.
Drew Houston will talk about building a startup and digital transformation during COVID at TechCrunch Disrupt — This is next week!
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

Daily Crunch: Apple files countersuit against Epic