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Daily Crunch: Here’s what happened at Apple’s virtual 2021 fall event

Hello friends and welcome to Daily Crunch, bringing you the most important startup, tech and venture capital news in a single package.

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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for September 14, 2021. It was an Apple day on the internets, so we’ve all spent the afternoon trying to figure out if we need a new smartphone. Answer? Probably not, but that won’t stop a good portion of the TechCrunch crew from deploying fresh Yahoo lucre into Cupertino’s market cap. We love this stuff.

On the TechCrunch front, Disrupt is in a week’s time. Your humble servant is going shopping later this afternoon so that he can look slightly less disheveled. Jordan, of course, will look brilliant on the Disrupt Desk. See you there! — Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Apple drops grip of new hardware: Anytime Apple hosts an event, it’s like time stops in the technology world. If that should still be the case is up to you, but it remains fact. Here’s our rundown of iPhone news, Apple Watch news, iPad updates and a general roundup in case you want to go meta. Enjoy!
  • Atlanta booming: TechCrunch continued its tour of U.S. cities today after hitting up Chicago and Boston in recent weeks. This time, we dug into Atlanta’s booming startup scene, which is seeing record capital inflows. We talked to some founders and investors to get the latest. Don’t forget that Atlanta just produced a decacorn exit.
  • And speaking of decacorns, Canva just raised $200 million at a $40 billion valuation. In percentage terms, the Australian design software company managed to raise two bills for 0.5% of its equity value. A steal at twice the price. Why is Canva worth so much? Huge scale, as our notes regarding its revenue growth illuminate.

Startups/VC

Before we dive into our usual rundown of startup news, TechCrunch did a dig into the value of the myriad BNPL startups around the world through the lens of some recent acquisitions. I wrote it. Read it if that’s your jam.

  • In light of the day’s Apple Fitness news, it matters that Tonal just announced live classes are coming to its service. Tonal competes in the hardware-and-software market against Peloton and other players. Notably it’s the startups of the world that are fusing hardware and software more than Apple in this case, which is mostly bundling services into its existing products. Regardless, good news for you Tonal users out there.
  • 1047 Games closes $100M: If you are hot, Brian Heater writes, you are hot. And 1047 games with its hit title Splitgate is more than warm. So sweltering that it just closed a third round since May. What’s Splitgate? An FPS that includes portals. (Which frankly sounds awesome.)
  • Grammarly opens up for developers: Grammarly is well known as a product that folks use to help tighten up their writing. But what if you wanted to bake Grammarly tech into your own product? Well, now you can. The company just announced a developer product. The finance nerd in me wonders how lucrative the new business line will prove, and if it will help the company file its damn S-1 already.
  • EverAfter raises $13M, underscores that HRtech is still hot: Per our own reporting, EverAfter has built a “no-code customer-facing tool that streamlines onboarding and retention.” That’s a bit like Sora, a startup that TechCrunch has also written about. A few rounds focused on the same space is signal!
  • Today’s Tiger round is Indonesian fintech Xendit: Xendit is now a unicorn thanks to a $150 million check led by Tiger. At this point, we reckon that every time Tiger’s managing partners go to dinner they tip $150 million. It’s the only number that they know! Regardless, the Jakarta-based fintech with a payments focus has big expansion plans that are now well financed.

Is it so bad to take money from Chinese venture funds?

Are founders in fundraising mode short-sighted when it comes to working with Chinese investors?

Asia Business development manager for Runa Capital Denis Kalinin studied data from iTjuzi, a database of Chinese venture capitalists and found:

 … Chinese funds invested around $250 billion in 2020 (three times higher than the figure reported in Crunchbase). This figure puts Chinese VC investments only 30% lower than investments by U.S. funds, but three times that of U.K. funds and 12.5 times more than German funds.

The pandemic, geopolitical tensions and other factors led many Chinese venture funds to reduce their international investments, but that’s largely “because during COVID, China’s economy recovered much faster than other countries,” writes Kalinin.

His analysis covers multiple angles: Chinese investments in Europe are catching up with those in Asia and the United States, half of China’s top cross-border investors are CVCs, and investors are particularly interested in fintech, deep tech and digital health at the moment.

“Chinese investors can bring value to foreign startups, but you need to study their expertise and how it can be useful for you.”

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Big Tech news, an update from the U.S. government: “Biden’s new FTC nominee is a digital privacy advocate critical of Big Tech,” it turns out. That matters.

  • LinkedIn pledges $25M to creators: In case your LinkedIn feed was lacking in pizazz, the Microsoft subsidiary has plans to bolster your content influx. A $25 million “Creator Accelerator Program” has been established to encourage more, well, creation. Also LinkedIn is getting into live audio.
  • 51 more Starlink satellites take flight: We’re including this news item in Daily Crunch today in case you are also considering a move to rural Montana but need to stay employed.
  • Spaceflight looks to fly to the moon: Elon’s space company is not the only player looking to get humans off the plant. Spaceflight will “shuttle customers on a lunar flyby mission next year,” which is more than neat. How much for a ticket?

TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing

Illustration montage based on education and knowledge in blue

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

We’re reaching out to startup founders to tell us who they turn to when they want the most up-to-date growth marketing practices. Fill out the survey here.

Read one of the testimonials we’ve received below!

Marketer: Andrew Race, Juice

Recommended by: Orin Singh, Merchant Industry

Testimonial: “We were referred to Juice by a family friend of my company’s owner, and as a personal courtesy, they said they were giving us their best guy. Naturally, we thought that is what everyone says, but they were not kidding. Andrew was singularly leagues above our previous marketing company. Having someone so knowledgeable and willing to learn a new industry proved to be the turning point for us.”

Community

Image Credits: Basic Books

From planned Twitter Spaces to impromptu chats with the Equity crew, the TechCrunch team is constantly on Twitter. Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 15 at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT, the Disrupt Battlefield judges will be talking on Twitter Spaces. On Thursday, September 16, at 3 p.m. PDT/6 p.m. EDT, Danny Crichton will be joined by Martin Ford, author of “Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything.” Make sure you’re following the TechCrunch Twitter account to stay up to date with our news and events.

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Government

China Syndrome? Is Evergrande A Symptom Of Deeper Malaise

China Syndrome? Is Evergrande A Symptom Of Deeper Malaise

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“If that’s true, we are very close to the China Syndrome ”

Evergrande’s imminent default is rocking markets – but few believe…

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China Syndrome? Is Evergrande A Symptom Of Deeper Malaise

Authored by Bill Blain via MorningPorridge.com,

“If that’s true, we are very close to the China Syndrome ”

Evergrande’s imminent default is rocking markets – but few believe the collapse of a Chinese property developer could trigger a global financial crisis. What if Evergrande is just a symptom of a deeper malaise within the Chinese economy and its political/business structures? Maybe there is more at stake than we realise? What if Emperor Xi decides he needs a distraction?

Amid this week's market turbulence, and the overnight headlines, Evergrande dominates thinking this morning. The early headlines say the risk is “easing”. Don’t be fooled. S&P are on the wires saying it’s on the brink of default and is unlikely to get govt support. It’s Asia’s largest junk-bond issuer. Anyone for the last few choc-ices then?

The market view on the coming Evergrande “event” is mixed. Some analysts are dismissing it as an internal “China event”, others reckon there may be some systemic risk but one Government can easily address. There is some speculation about “lessons” to be learnt… There are even China supporters who reckon its proof of robust China capitalism – the right to fail is a positive!

I’ve got a darker perspective.

The massive shifts we’ve seen in China’s political/business public persona over the past few years have been variously ascribed: a reaction to Trump’s protectionism, China taking its place as a leading nation, Xi flexing his military muscle, and now a clampdown on divisive wealthy businesses to promote common prosperity.

What if Evergrande is just a symptom of something much deeper?

That that last 30-years of runaway Chinese growth has resulted in a deepening internal crisis, one that we barely perceive in the west? What if the excesses that have spawned Evergrande and the illusion every Chinese can afford luxury flats and a western standard of living is about to implode? Crashing oriental minor chords!

The looming Chinese property debacle will be fascinating, but it many respects will be similar and yet very different to the multiple market unwinds we’ve seen in the west. How it plays out will have all kinds of implications for growth, speculation and how global investors perceive China in the future. Folk are variously describing it as China’s Lehman Brothers, or the next “Minsky Moment” when speculation ends with a sharp jab of reality to the kidneys.

I’m thinking back to a story I read a few years ago about the Shanghai Auto-fair pre-pandemic. Evergrande New Electric Vehicles had the largest stand and was showing off 11 different EVs. Not one of these were actually available to buy – they were all models of as-yet unproduced cars. The company was valued at billions and yet never sold a single vehicle. This morning, it’s just another worthless business Evergrande is trying to flog. (See this story on Bloomberg TV: China’s Zombie EV Makers.)

The market is asking itself a host of questions about Evergrande’s collapse: How bad will its tsunami of Chinese contagion deluge global markets? When it’s going to happen? What knock-on effects will cascade through markets?

Perhaps the most important question is: Who will be exposed “swimming naked” when the Evergrande tide goes out? Who will be left with the biggest losses? As the company is definitely bust, these losses rather depend on just how China’s authorities respond.

Step back and think about it a moment – try putting these in context:

  • Fundamentally all business is about identifying a consumer need and filling it.

  • Fundamentally, greedy businessmen tend to get carried away because the political-financial system enables them.

  • Fundamentally, it’s just another burst bubble and who cleans up the mess.

  • In Evergrande’s case a thousand flowers of capitalism with Chinese characteristics grew into an unsustainable business – fundamentally no different from debt-fuelled sub-prime mortgages, or CDOs cubed, in the West.

The big difference this time is its China! China has done things… differently. The path China pursued in its recovery and growth since 1980 has not been without… consequences.

Thus far we’ve praised China for its spectacular growth and the creation of valuable companies under the red banner of Chinese capitalism. It is going to be “interesting” to see how the subsequent mess is cleared out. Questions about Moral Hazard are going to be shockingly simple – Government has made it abundantly clear that any wrongdoing by company executives will be punished in the harshest possible way.

More importantly, Chinese politics and business works on a very different playing field to the west. Forget the rule of law or the T&C’s of Evergrande bonds. It easy to dismiss and characterise the way Chinese business works as institutionalised systemic corruption – but it’s a system Ancient Roman Emperors would recognise as a patron/client relationship. Emperor Xi’s clients and his princelings will continue to benefit from his patronage in return for their support at his court, and will be protected in a meltdown. The system Xi presides over will have little motivation to intervene to protect western investors who find themselves caught in the Evergrande fiasco.

Where Xi will have to take notice is outside the rich, wealthy princeling cadre which increasingly owns and runs China. There will be massive implications for wealth/inequality among the Chinese people from a property collapse. With a third of Chinese GDP dependent on the property sector, (and about 4 million jobs at Evergrande), the collapse of one of the biggest players, and the likelihood others will follow is much more than just a systemic risk.

Property is a key metric in the aspirations to wealth of the rising Chinese middle classes. The same smaller Chinese investors and savers will likely prove the largest losers from the property investment schemes they were sucked into. These real losses will rise if hidden bank exposures trigger a domestic banking crisis – which apparently isn’t likely (meaning it is..). There are reports of investor protests in key China cities – putting pressure on the govt to act to mitigate personal losses.

Xi’s clampdown on big tech is painted as the Party’s programme to engineer a more socially-equal economy. He has pinned the blame for rising inequality on “corrupt” business practices and has his cadre’s waving books on Xi thought, mouthing slogans about “common prosperity” and “frugality”. These are going to look increasingly hollow if the middle classes bear the coming Evergrande pain, and the Party Princelings continue to prosper.

The really big risk in China is not that Evergrande is going to default – it’s much bigger. If the Party is seen to fail in its promise to deliver wealth, jobs and prosperity for the masses – then that is very serious. China’s host of failed EV companies, an economy still reliant on exporting other nations tech, and a massively overvalued property sector (that the masses still equate with prosperity) all suggest a much less solid economy than the Party promotes.

If the illusion of a strong economy is unravelling – who knows what happens next, but in Ancient Rome the answer would be simple… Blame someone else, and invade..

This could get very “interesting…” and not in a good way.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 08:45

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Government

White House Reporters Have Launched ‘Formal Objection’ About Biden Refusing To Answer Questions

White House Reporters Have Launched ‘Formal Objection’ About Biden Refusing To Answer Questions

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

CBS News reported Tuesday that the press pool of White House reporters have launched a formal objection

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White House Reporters Have Launched 'Formal Objection' About Biden Refusing To Answer Questions

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

CBS News reported Tuesday that the press pool of White House reporters have launched a formal objection over the fact that Joe Biden refuses to answer any questions, with reporters routinely being yelled down and physically pushed away by Biden’s handlers.

The revelation came after an embarrassing scene in the Oval Office with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson answering questions, but Biden not being allowed to by aides.

Watch:

Johnson took the three questions from British reporters

CBS reporter Ed O’Keefe said that “Johnson took 3 questions. White House aides shouted down U.S. attempts to ask questions. I asked Biden about southern border and we couldn’t decipher what he said.”

CBS radio correspondent Steve Portnoy later reported that “The entire editorial component of the US pool went immediately into Jen Psaki’s office to register a formal complaint that no American reporters were recognized for questions in the president’s Oval Office.”

Portnoy, also president of the White House Correspondents Association, added that the complaint also extended to the fact “that wranglers loudly shouted over the president as he seemed to give an answer to Ed O’Keefe’s question about the situation at the Southern Border. Biden’s answer could not be heard over the shouting.”

“Psaki was unaware that the incident has occurred and suggested that she was not  in a position to offer an immediate solution,” Portnoy continued, adding “Your pooler requested a press conference. Psaki suggested the president takes questions several times a week.”

In addition, National Review notes that after Biden’s UN speech yesterday, French reporter Kethevane Gorjestani “was asked by a very startled Australian reporter whether WH wranglers were always so strict about ushering the pool out without questions.”

The pathetic display is a continuation of the way Biden’s handlers have been acting since even before he took office, shooing away reporters, giving Biden strict instructions on who he can take questions from, and even muting his mic when he goes off script.

A week ago, Republican Senator James Risch demanded to know who is in charge of controlling when the President is allowed to be heard, noting during a Senate hearing that “This is a puppeteer act, if you would, and we need to know who’s in charge and who is making the decisions.”

“Somebody in the White House has authority to press the button and stop the president, cut off the president’s speaking ability and sound. Who is that person?” Risch asked.

Tweeting out the video, leftists insisted the claims were ‘bizarre,’ ‘ridiculous’ and ‘absurd’:

*  *  *

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In the age of mass Silicon Valley censorship It is crucial that we stay in touch. We need you to sign up for our free newsletter here. Support our sponsor – Turbo Force – a supercharged boost of clean energy without the comedown. Also, we urgently need your financial support here.

Tyler Durden Wed, 09/22/2021 - 10:15

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Spread & Containment

Addressing the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Working in partnership will be key, says Alex Kalomparis, vice president, public affairs, international at Gilead Sciences. 2021
The post Addressing the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia appeared first on .

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Working in partnership will be key, says Alex Kalomparis, vice president, public affairs, international at Gilead Sciences.

2021 marks 40 years since the first cases of HIV were reported. In that time, over 79 million people have been diagnosed with HIV, with more than 36 million dying from AIDS-related illnesses, more than any other infectious disease.

While there has been incredible progress in the HIV response, nearly 38 million people are living with HIV, with more than a million new cases every year, jeopardising the goal to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

HIV places enormous burdens on the communities it affects most, straining health systems and government budgets. In the era of the global COVID-19 pandemic, where health systems are already stretched to breaking, it is tempting to cut costs in other areas, including HIV. If commitment to the HIV response wanes, the progress we have made is at risk, leading to increases in new infections in regions that can least afford to tackle them.

“An epidemic somewhere is an epidemic everywhere”

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the temptation to focus on one’s own backyard, isolate oneself from the rest of the world, and believe one is safe and protected. We know now that this protection is an illusion. Regardless of the protections we erect in our own countries, allowing public health crises to persist in other parts of the world threatens our own progress and safety.

The message is clear: an epidemic somewhere is an epidemic everywhere. To find our way out of a pandemic, we must broaden our ideas of how to respond, and address the problems and inequities that allow diseases to thrive in other parts of the world. To be effective, our response must be global.

The same is true for HIV. HIV has persisted for 40 years, and is still here because root problems continue to drive the epidemic: stigma and discrimination, poverty, lack of access to services and treatments, lack of access to education, and the marginalisation of the people and communities most at risk of HIV. These are not issues that can be addressed by any one government, group, or company. They can be addressed only in partnership with one another, and by engaging those key marginalised communities in our effort to end the HIV epidemic.

Whilst the global community has the tools it needs to meaningfully address new HIV infections, HIV is on the rise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). Unlike other regions in the world, rates of HIV in EECA have increased, with infections up by 72 per cent, and AIDS-related deaths up by 24 per cent since 2010.

Working with the Elton John AIDS Foundation

However, across EECA, a range of community partners are making significant contributions in the fight against HIV, such as the first wave of the RADIAN ‘Unmet Need’ fund and Model City grantees, previously announced in 2020. In the first nine months of the programme, these partners have already reached more than 12,000 people from vulnerable communities directly with services, initiating life-saving care in over 2,000 people living with HIV.

RADIAN, a ground-breaking partnership between Gilead Sciences and the Elton John AIDS Foundation, works with local experts to target new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in EECA in the communities most vulnerable to HIV.

Focusing on the groups most affected by HIV in EECA (eg men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers, and people who use drugs), RADIAN engages with groups led by these communities and are sensitive to the difficulties unique to the region.

“We all have one common goal: ending HIV”

Anne Aslett, CEO of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, is clear that for the partnership to reach its goals, it’s crucial to listen to and amplify the voices of people for whom HIV is a tangible, daily reality.

“They understand better than anyone the challenges associated with the virus, and what works to stop it. No matter where we are in the world, we must partner with them, and follow their leadership. We are proud of our RADIAN partnership with Gilead, to champion the vital work of communities to bring an end to the AIDS epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.”

Companies like Gilead Sciences provide industry leading expertise, while Governments bring an understanding of health systems and funding, developing an infrastructure that enables access.

However, these efforts need community leadership because they know best how to ensure people can access those systems to get tested, and adhere to medication. They understand the fears and sensitivities, the strengths and stigma within those communities, the nuances that make the difference in linking their members to the care they need. No two regions of the world experience the ‘same’ HIV epidemic. People living with HIV are critical to the success of any HIV response.

This autumn, RADIAN will launch a campaign telling the inspirational stories of ordinary, yet remarkable, community members who are taking action to turn the tide of the HIV epidemic in EECA.

We all have one common goal: ending HIV. It is crucial that we all understand the role we can play to achieve this. Our access to global networks of public health expertise, government funding, and innovative HIV treatments are meaningless unless they are used in service of people living with, and at risk of, HIV. They are the core of any successful response, regardless of country or region. Working in partnership with them is the key to ending HIV. By respecting them as leaders and giving them the seat at the head of the table, we make our work more effective and responsive to local needs, bringing us closer to the end of the HIV epidemic globally.

About the author 

Alex Kalomparis is vice president, public affairs, international at Gilead Sciences. He joined the company in January 2017 and is responsible for all communications and patient advocacy activities across Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Prior to that Alex held senior communication roles with a number of consumer and pharmaceutical companies, including Unilever, Rolls Royce, Novartis, Roche, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

The post Addressing the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia appeared first on .

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