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Why, hello there, and welcome back to another installment of the Daily Crunch! It’s lovely to have you here with me. Also, give Freelance Whales a listen. I discovered the band when I was going to play a different (also excellent) song, Freelance, for a friend. Gotta love a lucky coincidence. This is also, incidentally, how I discovered the band Queensrÿche — I was looking for some Freddie Mercury, but ended up with a new heavy metal band to love. What’s your favorite accidental discovery?
Oh! And did you know — our Found podcast debuted its new mini-sodes, where they check in with past guests to see how founder life is going. In the first installment, Maggie Stamets speaks with our very first guest: Iman Abuzeid from Incredible Health, which helps nurses get connected to better jobs and career growth opportunities.
Okay, enough with the asides, we have serious tech bidniss news to share. Let’s goo~oooooo — Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
Battleground: 0. Indian government: 1: It was unclear why the Indian government had ordered to block Battlegrounds Mobile India, Manish reports, but whatever the reason, Google yanked the game from the Play Store in India.
The free-fall descent of Instagram: Amanda takes a closer look at Zuck’s plans for Instagram and discovers that he wants to double the amount of "recommended content." Suffice it to say that neither Amanda nor the author of this newsletter are effusive with enthusiasm.
Dude, where’s my truck: Even as Amazon starts delivering parcels with Rivian-made electric delivery vans, Kirsten reports that electric truck, SUV and van maker Rivian is starting the process of laying off 6% of its workforce.
Startups and VC
Co-founder of Evabot Rabi Gupta argues there’s “a lot of clutter” in the corporate gifting space. He argues that many vendors do little more than send company-branded swag like T-shirts and thermoses, which don’t exactly foster loyalty, Kyle reports. The company announced that it raised just under $11 million to make corporate gifting less of a mess.
We are now reaching a sort of tipping point where we will see many more commercial applications of natural language processing hit the market. A gold rush has begun of startups trying to build on this technology, with an arms race developing between the large language model providers, Mike reports.
Go on then, a few more:
Boop, you’ve got money: South African startup Qwili raises $1.2 million to scale both its app and its low-cost NFC-enabled smartphone called Qwili Pula. It enables merchants to send and receive payments, reports Tage.
It’s a deal! It’s a steal! It’s the sale of the century. In fact, Nick, I think I’ll keep it: DealCart announced today that it has raised $4.5 million in pre-seed funding just three months after their operational launch. Catherine reports that the company is focused on price-conscious Pakistani consumers.
An index fund for houses: Nada is rolling out a property portfolio you can buy shares in, creating a de facto index fund for houses, Anita reports. The company aims to raise $75 million from retail investors by offering funds focused on new cities.
Pitch Deck Teardown: Alto Pharmacy’s $200 million Series E deck
Image Credits: Alto Pharmacy (opens in a new window)
If your company raises a $200 million Series E, it's fair to debate whether you can still call it a startup.
Still: Convincing investors to part with enough money to produce your own sequel to "The Gray Man" is an impressive feat, which is why we were eager to review the deck that helped Alto Pharmacy close such a large round.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Instagram announced today that it will start prompting a random assortment of people on its platform in the United States to participate in an optional survey about their race and ethnicity, Aisha reports. The company says the survey will help it to better understand different experiences people may have on Instagram in order to ensure that the platform is fair and inclusive for all users.
According to a report, developers on the western side of London, U.K., may be prevented from working on larger multitenant properties due to the state of the electricity grid, and strains caused by nearby data centers, Paul reports. Bad news for people who had hopes that London might hit its growth trajectory of 65,000 new homes per year.
Yesterday, Ford reported $40+ billion in revenue, a 50% increase from the same period last year. The company also reported it was building 14,000 electric vehicles per month. Wall Street was positively surprised, sending shares up by as much as 6% in after-hours trading, Rebecca reports.
Grab a few more, why dontcha:
Google Pixel Bud review: It’s not hard to imagine the Google Pixel Buds Pro really impressing, Brian writes, but he's disappointed that they seem to be a few years behind the curve.
We’ve Already Come Too Far to End This Now: We are beyond psyched to see what interactive gaming company Immersive Gamebox will do with the plans it has to build a Squid Game experience with Netflix, Lauren reports.
Skipping a generation: In China, smartphone sales drop sharply, reports Brian. Virtually all of the major players took a big hit compared to this time last year. Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi and Huawei all saw double-digit drops from Q2 2021.
Pass the gapple sauce: Apple has hired a 20-year veteran of supercar maker Lamborghini to work on the tech company’s not-so-secret electric autonomous vehicle program, Kirsten writes.