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Daily Crunch: Snapchat adds Spotlight

Snapchat introduces a TikTok-style feed, Amazon Echo Buds add fitness tracking and Vettery acquires Hired. This is your Daily Crunch for November 23, 2020.
The big story: Snapchat adds Spotlight
Snapchat has introduced a dedicated feed where users can watch short, entertaining videos — pretty similar to TikTok. This comes after the app also added TikTok-like music features last month.

Starting today, users will be able to send their Snaps to the new Spotlight feed. Viewers will be able to send direct messages to creators with public profiles (Spotlight will also include anonymous content from private accounts), but there will be no public commentary on these videos.
To encourage creators to post to Spotlight, Snapchat says it will be distributing more than $1 million every day who create the top videos on Spotlight.
The tech giants
Amazon’s Echo Buds get new fitness tracking features — Say “Alexa, start my workout” with the buds in, and they’ll begin logging steps, calories, distance, pace and duration of runs.
Uber refused permission to dismiss 11 staff at its EMEA HQ —The Dutch Employee Insurance Agency has refused to give Uber permission to dismiss 11 people at the company’s EMEA headquarters.
Facebook launches ‘Drives,’ a US-only feature for collecting food, clothing and other necessities for people in need — The feature is being made available through Facebook’s existing Community Help hub.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Relativity Space raises $500M as it sets sights on the industrialization of Mars — LA-based rocket startup Relativity had a big 2020, completing work on a new 120,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Long Beach.
Resilience raises over $800M to transform pharmaceutical manufacturing in response to COVID-19 — The company will invest heavily in developing new manufacturing technologies across cell and gene therapies, viral vectors, vaccines and proteins.
Video mentoring platform Superpeer raises $8M and launches paid channels — The Superpeer platform allows experts to promote, schedule and charge for one-on-one video calls with anyone who might want to ask for their advice.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
Seven things we just learned about Sequoia’s European expansion plans — Steve O’Hear interviews Luciana Lixandru and Matt Miller about the firm’s plans.
Founders seeking their first check need a fundraising sales funnel — Start digging the well before you’re thirsty.
Will Brazil’s Roaring 20s see the rise of early-stage startups? — In September, homegrown startups raised a record $843 million.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. And until November 30, you can get 25% off an annual membership.)
Everything else
Vettery acquires Hired to create a ‘unified’ job search platform — Vettery CEO Josh Brenner said the two platforms are largely complementary.
Gift Guide: Which next-gen console is the one your kid wants? — This holiday season, the next generation of gamers will be hoping to receive the next generation of gaming consoles.
Original Content podcast: ‘The Crown’ introduces its Princess Diana — The new season focuses on Queen Elizabeth’s relationship with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and on Prince Charles’ troubled marriage to Diana, Princess of Wales.
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: Snapchat adds Spotlight

Snap lets you play as your Bitmoji in third-party games

Snap is announcing at its Snap Partner Summit that the first games that will take advantage of Bitmoji will roll out soon. The feature was announced last year, and it looks like developers can finally take advantage of that SDK. You’ll be able to play a game with you as the hero — or at least the Bitmoji representation of you.
While this feature is reminiscent of Xbox Avatars or Nintendo’s Mii on the Wii, 3DS and Wii U, Bitmoji for Games is a cross-platform solution, from mobile games to console games and PC games. The issue with console-specific avatars is that you can’t support Xbox Avatars on PlayStation consoles for instance — that could be the reason why console manufacturers have been slowly phasing out those avatars. Bitmoji for Games could potentially solve that issue.
Having said that, the initial list of partners only includes mobile games on iOS and Android. Games include Super Brawl Universe from Nickelodeon and Playsoft, Uno from Mattel, Scrabble GO from Scopely and a soon-to-be-announced game from French startup Voodoo.
Let’s hope that Snap will be able to expand its list of partners beyond board games and casual mobile games. For instance, I would totally see Bitmoji for Games in Just Dance.
Here’s a concept video presenting the feature. As you can see, you just have to connect with your Snapchat account to import your Bitmoji to third-party games:

In other news, Snap is adding more games to Snapchat. There are already more than a dozen games that you can play with your friends when you’re chatting with them. Some of them are built in-house while others are developed by third-party game makers.
According to the company, 100 million Snapchat users have played a game since the feature launched last year. On average, users who choose to play Bitmoji Party, a Mario Party-inspired game that lets you compete with your friends in mini-games, spend 20 minutes in the game in a given day.
There’s a direct correlation between engagement and monetization as Snap doesn’t rely on micro-transactions and in-app purchases with Snap Games. The company monetizes this feature with video ads.
“We took a look at the state of mobile gaming a few years back and observed that so many successful games on mobile didn’t have your friends that deeply integrated into the experience,” Director of Product Will Wu told TechCrunch. “There’s a lot of games you just play solo on the bus or on the airplane or something like that. For us, we were really looking to recreate that experience that we may have had growing up, sitting side by side with our friends playing a game on a couch together. You’re actually looking at the same screen.”
The most interesting new game that the company will release in the coming months is Bitmoji Paint. This game is a sort of casual Minecraft-inspired creativity game. Users play together on the same planet and can paint tiles on the ground. It lets you create pixel art and look at other creations.

Other new games include Bumped Out (Zynga), Friend Quizzes (Game Closure), Ready Set Golf! (PikPok) and Sling Racers (Madbox). They will be released over the coming months.

Snap lets you play as your Bitmoji in third-party games

Snapchat launches Bitmoji widget chat shortcuts for your home screen

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Snapchat launches Bitmoji widget chat shortcuts for your home screen

Snap opens second Spectacles pop-up shop in Venice, LA

 Snap today took another step on its quest to truly become the “camera company” it says it is. Following the November 21st launch and subsequent February 20th close of its NYC pop-up shop, it’s now opening a temporary store on the Venice boardwalk near its Los Angeles headquarters. Of course, would-be camera sunglasses buyers don’t have to trek to a physical location… Read More

Snap opens second Spectacles pop-up shop in Venice, LA

Leaked emails put spotlight on Snapchat sales tactics

 Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun safety and gun control nonprofit backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, faced an awkward decision while working with Snapchat last year, according to leaked emails obtained by Mic. Everytown was collaborating with the Snapchat news team on a “Guns in America” Live Story tied to National Gun Violence Awareness Day. This… Read More

Leaked emails put spotlight on Snapchat sales tactics