Daily Crunch: Spotify and Ford make acquisitions

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Welcome back to the Daily Crunch for Friday, June 18. Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the week without Alexander, who will return bright-eyed on Monday.

TechCrunch has the day off for Juneteenth, so this will be a tad pared down. And by “a tad pared down” I mean a lot pared down.

To start off, how about you have a listen to the latest episode of our award-winning podcast, Equity. Natasha and Danny managed to fill the half hour even sans Alex, so check it out.

TechCrunch Top 3

Speaking of podcasts, Spotify announced it acquired Podz, a podcast discovery app. With more and more podcasts popping up in various categories, it’s getting harder and harder to settle on ones you love, let alone find them. Spotify is hoping this will help shore up its platform by providing short clips that apparently give you enough information to subscribe, or not, and keep using the platform for your podcast listening purposes.

Spotify logo illustration

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Ford is enjoying its EV moment. The company just announced its E-Transit cargo van and F-150 Lightning Pro. The automaker has added to its EV stable with the acquisition of Electriphi, a battery management and fleet monitoring software startup.

And speaking of fleets! Gopuff, an on-demand goods, food and alcohol delivery service, acquired rideOS, a fleet-management platform. The $115 million acquisition should help the company with its plans to expand into New York.

Startups and VC

Indian fintech startup BharatPe is in advanced stages of talks to raise about $250 million in a new financing round led by Tiger Global. The Series E round gives the firm a pre-money valuation of $2.5 billion. The round hasn’t closed, so terms may change, sources cautioned.

More fleet action is afoot! KeepTruckin, a hardware and software developer that helps trucking fleets manage vehicle, cargo and driver safety, raised $190 million in a Series E round. The company, now valued at over $2 billion, hopes to invest the dough into its AI-powered products (GPS tracking, ELD compliance and dispatch and workflow) and improve its smart dashcam, which it claims instantly detects unsafe driving behaviors like cell phone distraction and close following and alerts drivers in real time.

Mediflash is a new French startup that wants to improve temp staffing in healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes, clinics and mental health facilities. The company acts as a marketplace that connects health facilities with caregivers who, it says, can expect more revenue — up to 20% — while facilities end up paying less.

Big Tech Inc.

The London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research organized a couple of panel discussions to examine the need for markets-focused competition watchdogs and consumer-centric privacy regulators to think outside their respective “legal silos” and find creative ways to work together to tackle the challenge of Big Tech market power. Read analysis by Natasha Lomas about the conversations, which brought together key regulatory leaders from Europe and the U.S. She says the discussions provided a glimpse into what the future shape of digital markets oversight might look like at a time when fresh blood has just been injected to chair the FTC.

The U.K.’s chief data protection regulator has warned over reckless and inappropriate use of live facial recognition in public places. The information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, noted that a number of investigations already undertaken by her office into planned applications of the tech have found problems in all cases.

Revisiting EC-1s

Since it’s an off day for us here, now’s a perfect time for you to catch up on the EC-1s we have published so far this year. Grab a few buckets of popcorn and your beverage of choice and settle into some weekend reading.

Tonal

Tonal is a unique entrant in the upscale fitness market, using a proprietary blend of hardware, software and content to bring comprehensive strength training to the home in as small and efficient of a package as possible. (Written by JP Mangalindan)

StockX

StockX sits at the nexus of two radical transitions that isn’t just redefining markets, but our culture as well. StockX’s online-only marketplace is used for buying and selling sneakers, streetwear, electronics, collectibles, handbags and watches that are primarily sneaker and streetwear culture-adjacent. Now valued at $2.8 billion, StockX has facilitated over 10 million transactions. (Written by Rae Witte)

Klaviyo

Klaviyo helps marketers personalize and automate their email messaging to customers. It may not be a household name to consumers (at least, not yet), but in many ways, this startup has become the standard by which email marketers are judged today, triangulating against veterans Mailchimp and Constant Contact and riding the e-commerce wave to new heights. (Written by Chris Morrison)

Duolingo

Duolingo is a language-learning app that is used by 500 million people across the world to learn Spanish, English, French and more, all while generating bookings of $190 million in 2020. It’s a smashing success, but a success that was hard earned after a years-long effort of product and revenue experimentation to find its current niche in the edtech space. (Written by Natasha Mascarenhas)

Expensify

If expense management is about avoiding corporate plunder, then letting the pirates and hackers run the ship is probably the best approach. And now, Expensify is plundering the corporate spend world one travel ticket and business meal at a time just as the world is rebuilding in the wake of COVID-19. (Written by Anna Heim)

Nubank

Brazil’s banking system is a massive market, and one ill-served by incumbents. If someone could thread the needle of product development, strategy and political horse trading required to build a bank in a country where it is nearly impossible for foreigners to own or invest in a bank, it would be one of the great startup and economic success stories of this century. Nubank is on its way to realizing that objective. (Written by Marcella McCarthy)

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