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It’s hot all over the world, and even hotter in today’s newsletter. We’ve procured a steaming pile of TechCrunch deliciousness for you to devour. If you can believe it, it is only Tuesday. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Well that’s one way to do propaganda: The search engine giant Google was hit with $375 million by Russia for failing to take down certain content, Ivan writes. Much of it was on YouTube and was related to the country’s invasion and subsequent war with Ukraine. The fine came a month after Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecommunication watchdog, warned the company it could face penalties for violating local laws.
- Blossoming business: Bloom, a Sudan-based fintech, banked $6.5 million by a gaggle of investors, including Y Combinator, GFC and Visa. In particular, the partnership with Visa landed Bloom as the first Sudanese startup to get admitted into Visa’s Fintech Fast Track program, Tage reports.
- Streaming and shopping: Or in this case, streaming while shopping. YouTube and Shopify have teamed up to enable YouTube creators to link their stores and display their products across their channel and leverage Shopify’s real-time inventory syncing, Aisha writes. This is part of YouTube’s rollout of new shopping features.
Startups and VC
Crunchbase lists almost 1,400 unicorns, but on TechCrunch+, Alex wonders how many unicorns are just ponies now? It’s a question worth asking, as Instacart takes a serious haircut.
Also, a bunch of new funds announced again today. Jacquelyn reports that Tribe Capital raised $25 million to launch a crypto incubator program. AM Ventures raised $100 million for industrial 3D printing, writes Haje. And Valkyrie looks to raise $30 million for its new crypto VC arm, Anita writes.
Go on, then, here’s a few more stories (and some delightfully weird music by Cosmo Sheldrake to go with it):
- Ramp ramps rev growth: Mary Ann reports that Ramp reports accelerating revenue growth, showing that fintech companies with good product-market fit still have plenty of growth in them.
- OnlySims: A first for OnlyFans, the platform invests in U.K. creator Chloe Sims and her sisters, reports Lauren.
- Like a museum, but on the blockchain: Despite his usual misgivings for crypto tech, we spot Haje covering a rare blockchain story, about Arkive, and its building of the world’s first decentralized museum.
- Resourceful Humans: On TechCrunch+, Kyle reports that investors remain bullish on HR tech as the Great Resignation slows.
- Shift happens: Persephone Biosciences is a biotech startup that — with the help of $15 million and a lot of poop — is building a library of the human microbiome that could do everything from easing digestion to fighting serious disease, reports Devin.
- for : Kyle reports that Strac, a company that automatically redacts sensitive info on Slack, OneDrive, and other platforms, raised $3.5 million seed investment.
Can Medicare save the insurtech market?
In 2020, the U.S. spent nearly 20% of its GDP on healthcare. Every day, approximately 11,000 people turn 65, making them eligible for Medicare, a federally funded health insurance program that’s enrolling new patients faster than ever.
Companies that can help consumers navigate the complicated Medicare market have a major opportunity: “The average senior must choose between 57 different plan options, and most can’t tell them apart,” said TX Zhuo and James Shecter of Fika Ventures.
They’ve shared their six-point investment thesis with TC+ readers to show how Medicare is the “bright spark” that could light up “the entire insurtech market.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
If you are looking for an easier way to get through the airport, Alaska Airlines is here to deliver. The airline has a new electronic bag tag that is making everything about checking a bag easier, Frederic writes. We’re not sure this news could have come at a better time considering what we are hearing about flight shortages and thousands of bags being left at airports all over the world.
Another day, another Twitter and Elon Musk story. We aren’t sure which day on the Captain’s Log it is, but a judge ruled that Twitter can proceed and even expedite its trial against Elon Musk, Amanda reports.
Meanwhile, Zack writes about BitSight, a cybersecurity startup that uncovered a handful of vulnerabilities in a popular GPS tracker built by Micodus. The security flaws potentially exposed some million vehicle locations.
Let’s get into more, shall we?
- Car talk: Lots to talk about here. First, to get you ready for Tesla’s second-quarter earnings, Jaclyn sets up four things to watch out for, while Rebecca reports on an investigation into another Tesla crash, this one involving a motorcycle. Jaclyn also reports on Rolls-Royce and Hyundai partnering on air taxi hydrogen fuel systems. Meanwhile, Kate brings you news that South Korean e-scooter company Gbike acquires Hyundai Motor’s ZET.
- Mo’ Microsoft: Frederic, Kyle and Paul, respectively, bring us some enterprise news about Microsoft launching its Cloud for Sovereignty, targeting public sector customers in Europe; wanting to add a Stories feature to its corporate portals; and confirming that it won’t institute a policy that would have banned commercial open source apps.
- Throw that copypasta up against a wall and see if it sticks: Amazon has had enough of fake reviews and is suing some 10,000 Facebook group administrators that it alleges are being paid to post product reviews that are not on the up-and-up, Taylor writes.
- Space walk: Aria has a pair of stories from out of this world. First, NASA is delaying its water-hunting rover launch for a year. This may have it going mission-to-mission with Relativity and Impulse, which are planning to launch a rover to Mars in 2024.