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Hello and welcome to the Daily Crunch of January 6th, 2021! Today we have not only killer notes on this year’s weird CES confab, but breaking media news and even an editorial from United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. And, of course, several updates from Startup Land. let’s have some fun! ,alex

Nerdshala Top 3

  • Another pandemic thoughts at CES: Our own Brian Heater is a must-read from this year’s slightly-IRL CES event. Nerdshala decided not to appear in person due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, but that doesn’t mean we’re not paying attention. If you want to learn more about what it looks like to cover the event from afar, Devin Coldaway has the fine-grained look you’re looking for.
  • Buying the NYTimes Athletic: After The Athletic hired sports journalists for all newspapers nationwide, the company is reversing its model and selling instead on one’s own to the New York Times. For an alleged price of $550 million. It’s a lot, but no She So much in today’s startup terms. Media remains a tough game.
  • Mark Cuban-backed fintech goes public Remember SPAC? Dave does, as the fintech startup finally took its chosen blank-check company to the public markets. Nerdshala spoke to the company’s CEO about the transaction, its timing, and what’s next for the company.

Rounding out the top stories of the day is this entry from United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. He talks about innovation from a transit perspective and the role of government in building what’s next.



Before we jump into our usual mix of startup updates, some fun. Nerdshala’s own Natasha Lomas spent four weeks testing Ultrahuman’s “metabolic fitness” service. “Being a cyborg isn’t as sci-fi now as it sounds,” she says, but this post is a great look at how we might take care of our bodies in the future.

  • How will crypto selloff affect NFTs? In the last day, there was a sharp selloff in crypto, before a partial recovery. Nerdshala wants to know how the fall in cryptocurrency prices will affect NFTs and other assets priced in crypto terms.
  • Crypto Lending Without Crypto Collateral: Lucas Matney reports that “most [crypto] Lending platforms rely on the end user’s existing crypto collateral,” while DeFi startup Goldfinch is taking a different approach. It just raised $25 million for its efforts, led by a16z.
  • Zuddl raises $13M for virtual events: In particular I haven’t heard that Hoppin’ raised another trillion dollars in several months, which seems like a surprise now considering how busy that company was over the past few years. Despite this, the virtual event space is still attracting capital, Zoodle shows. While it’s nice to see competition in the online confab market, I have to protest gently against Zoodle’s name, which reads like a mix of Zoodle (which are gross) and Grumpy (which is what the company name reminds me of).
  • The mental health startup market is hot: There are notes on Nerdshala’s blog today about Little Otter ($22 million, focused on child mental health) and mining ($3.5 million, focused on emotional wellness). Two rounds in the same place on the same day is like a data point for me.
  • RIP Popcorn Time: The golden age of online piracy is behind us, but that doesn’t mean some services broke copyright law, but they didn’t keep the flame of the past alive. For a while. Now that Popcorn Time is no more, I’m sure some of you will mourn.
  • Dunzo raises $240 million from Reliance Retail With a focus on hyperlocal delivery across seven Indian cities, Dunzo has entered a major new round led by Reliance Retail, which has invested a total of $200 million for a 25.8% stake in the company. Hyperlocal, rapid delivery is a big push across the globe. We are curious about the economics involved, but it is clear that there is an appetite to invest in the thesis.

There was more. Rupifi raised $25 million to build its B2B payments business in India, while JABU raised $3.2 million for its B2B e-commerce business, and Payfit became the latest unicorn from France to raise $259 million. It’s busy out there — so busy that even some in the enterprise world are curious about the rapid pace of today’s private-market investing.

5 Growth Marketing Predictions For 2022

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Our latest guest column with predictions for the coming year isn’t just predictions: Growth expert Jonathan Martinez shares several strategies early-stage companies can use to capitalize on these trends.

Among other topics, Martinez shared some thoughts on how to increasingly test ads, his thoughts about video ads and influencer marketing, and the Facebook and iOS 14 privacy changes.

Martinez writes, “I believe we will begin to see huge investment by Facebook and other social media platforms to put users on our platform, where they will still have access to first-party data.”

(Nerdshala+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams grow. You can sign up here,

Big Tech Inc.

  • Meta has a nice VR holiday cycle: It appears that Facebook and Meta, the company behind the Oculus VR platform, had a good holiday sales cycle, reports Nerdshala. The mobile companion app for the Oculus VR hardware was downloaded “about 2 million times globally since Christmas Day” per third-party data download. That’s a lot of headsets.
  • Spotify makes an innovation: Spotify has introduced a new podcast ad format. Cue the parade. I want Spotify to create new ways for me to support my favorite music artists. In contrast, Spotify is busy working on the podcasting side of its business. I guess part of my gig is podcasting, but, Spotify. Let us go. Back to the music!
  • European cookie fines on Facebook, Google: Thanks to the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes, or CNIL, Google and Facebook have been fined nearly a quarter-billion for “failing to respect local (and pan-EU) cookie consent rules”. One must add up all the fines that US tech companies have paid at any one time to various EU countries and bodies; It’s starting to add up.

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