Daily Crunch: Google dumps FloC plan, proposes new Topics API for ad targeting

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 25, 2022! Today our cup overflows with news. There’s simply too much going on to cover in a single newsletter, so I’ve tried to fit as much as possible below. Some sections are condensed, but you’ll see why. No more delay, the news! – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 4

  • Google proposes Topics to replace cookies: The American search giant’s idea of building Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoCs is over. The company is instead proposing Topics. What are they? Per our own Frederic Lardinois, the idea behind Topics is that “your browser will learn about your interests as you move around the web,” storing around three weeks of data, focused on 300 different thematic groupings. This is a big deal, if it comes to be.
  • Nvidia could walk away from ARM deal: With regulatory progress slow, the huge chip deal between Nvidia and ARM could be off. Will ARM instead go public? What does SoftBank think of the changing regulatory winds? We’ll find out.
  • VCs fell in love with Europe last year: While the global venture capital market was hectic last year, few regions can boast similar gains as Europe managed during 2021. TechCrunch dug into the data, looking at individual countries that stood out from the bloc, and asked what’s coming next.
  • YouTube considers NFTs: According to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the online video giant could be looking at blockchain technologies as a way for its creators to make money. Precisely how NFTs will work for the platform is not clear, but what is plain at this juncture is that nearly every major digital brand is going to at least try NFTs out in case they work for their users.

Startups/VC

TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield startup Cellino Bio raises $80M: This is the leading story from startup-land today, I reckon. Just a few months after winning our own startup pitch competition – and $50,000 of our money, sans equity cost – Cellino has raised a massive Series A that should provide the startup with plenty of runway. For more on what the startup does, head here.

And now, highlights from the day’s startup news:

  • Substack hits play: No, the popular publishing platform is not pivoting to video, but it is working to allow its creators use video as part of their subscription offerings. Users will be able to put videos behind the paywall, of course, perhaps helping them drive more revenue – and thus more income for Substack itself.
  • $32M for carbon honesty: Startup Sylvera is back in the news, raising a huge Series A after closing a $5.8 million Seed round last year. What does the company do? It “uses machine learning technology to analyze a variety of visual data like satellite imagery and lidar with the goal of boosting accountability and credibility around carbon offsetting projects,” TechCrunch reports.
  • The future of autonomy is grass: With the iRobot self-driving lawn mower not yet in the market, there is perhaps space for another company to build such a device. Electric Sheep Robotics wants to be that company, and it just raised $21.5 million for its work. Given the hours I spent mowing the lawn growing up, I resent the fact that future kids won’t have to endure similar punishment.
  • Billion-dollar green drink: Athletic Greens has raised $115 million in a round that values its business at $1.2 billion, TechCrunch writes. The company sells AG1, a “powdered beverage designed to provide daily nutrition,” per our reporting. The company has scaled to a nine-figure run rate, but we’re always curious when non-software companies are valued along similar lines. Perhaps the margins are high and the revenue recurring?
  • There’s still room for more salestech: Devtools, designer support, and marketing automation are all big niches, and the salespeople of the world desire their own tooling, too. And VCs are stepping up to finance it. Enter Scratchpad, which just raised a $33 million Series B. The company’s product helps sales folks get data into their CRM, and to their larger org as well.
  • Cybersecurity co raises rapid-fires Series C: After raising last August, Hunters has taken down another funding round. My knowledge of cybersecurity is minute, so I simply have to trust Frederic when he writes that the startup wants to help “enterprises replace traditional Security and Information Event Management (SIEM) solutions with its own tools.” If that makes sense to you, excellent. All I know is that Crowdstrike sponsored the F1 safety car last season.
  • Bokksu raises at $100M valuation for Asian grocery delivery: There are a few companies working on providing Asian foodstuffs to various markets. HungryPanda, for one. Bokksu is another, focusing its efforts on grocery in particular. The company started life as a Japanese snack subscription service way back in 2016, and has since expanded greatly. Now with $22 million in new capital, it can grow even faster.
  • Tunisian startup raises $100M: We don’t hear about startups from Tunis, so the InstaDeep round caught our eye. The company “creates decision-making systems for solving real-world problems,” TechCrunch writes, and just raised from Google, among others.
  • A great host of other things happened, so give the front page a scroll if you want to learn even more about what’s happening in startup-land.

To close out our early-stage coverage, Greg Kumparak takes a look at the 29th batch of startups from the Alchemist Accelerator, which has an enterprise focus.

Crypto pioneer David Chaum says web3 is ‘computing with a conscience’

Founder and CEO of the privacy protecting transaction platform Elixxir David Chaum holds a conference on the impact of tech on our privacy, during the Web Summit in Lisbon on November 6, 2019. - Europe's largest tech event Web Summit is held at Parque das Nacoes in Lisbon from November 4 to November 7. (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP) (Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

Image Credits: PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In 1982, computer scientist David Chaum wrote a dissertation that described a blockchain protocol, along with the code for implementing it.

Since then, his cryptologic research has led to developments like digital cash and anonymous communication networks. Today, he launched xxmessenger, which the company describes as the first “quantum-resistant” messaging app.

When we asked him what has changed in the past few years, Chaum said, “Seems to me that Bitcoin and the like have created something that could no longer be ignored. Now the question is: How can it be brought to the general public in a way that they can readily adopt this next generation of information technology?”

Big Tech Inc.

  • The pride of Rhode Island says chip shortage end not in sight: The United States Department of Commerce’s boss Gina Raimondo – former governor of the Ocean State before being tapped for her new role – says that “we aren’t even close to being out of the woods as it relates to the supply problems with semiconductors.” So that’s bad news, but at least we know where we stand.
  • IBM’s growth wins investor plaudits: Yesterday IBM reported its best growth results in some time. Its stock went up. Then the company said that it wasn’t going to provide per-share profit guidelines. And its stock went down. Today, however, investors weighed the balance and pushed the company’s value up by more than 5%.
  • From BigTech -> Blockchain: There is something of a talent shuffle going on in tech as folks leave major concerns for younger, smaller, crypto-related efforts. The head of YouTube Gaming appears to be the latest defector.
  • Old man shouts at Joe: There’s more drama in the Spotify world, with musician Neil Young trying to use his influence to get the music streaming service to stem vaccine misinformation via its podcast host Joe Rogan. I don’t know how this shakes out, but it’s an interesting place for the European company to find itself.
  • And finally today, GM has big plans for its electric vehicle production.

TechCrunch Experts

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ICYMI, check out this interview Miranda Halpern did with Georgina Lupu-Florian last week: “How should nontechnical founders collaborate with software developers?”

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