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Daily Crunch: Facebook acquires Kustomer for $1B

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Facebook makes a billion-dollar acquisition, we learn more about Twitter’s Clubhouse-style feature and Moderna applies for emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine. This is your Daily Crunch for November 30, 2020.

The big story: Facebook acquires Kustomer for $1B

Kustomer says it can give customer service teams better data and a more unified view of the people they’re interacting with. So with this acquisition, Facebook can improve its offerings for businesses that have a presence (in some cases, their primary digital presence) on the social network.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but TechCrunch has confirmed that the deal price was around $1 billion.

Facebook isn’t the only social media company making acquisitions to improve its customer service features. Earlier this month, Snap bought Voca.ai, a startup creating AI-based voice agents for call centers.

The tech giants

Alphabet’s DeepMind achieves historic new milestone in AI-based protein structure prediction — The advance in DeepMind’s AlphaFold capabilities could lead to a significant leap forward in areas like our understanding of disease, as well as future drug discovery and development.

Twitter’s Audio Spaces test includes transcriptions, speaker controls and reporting features — Earlier this month, Twitter announced it would soon begin testing its own Clubhouse rival, called Audio Spaces.

With an eye for what’s next, longtime operator and VC Josh Elman gets pulled into Apple — Elman said he will be focused on the company’s App Store and helping “customers discover the best apps for them.”

Startups, funding and venture capital

HungryPanda raises $70M for a food delivery app aimed at overseas Chinese consumers — HungryPanda makes a Mandarin-language app specifically targeting Chinese consumers outside of China.

Materialize scores $40M investment for SQL streaming database — CEO Arjun Narayan told us that every company needs to be a real-time company, and it will take a streaming database to make that happen.

Curio Wellness launches $30M fund to help women and minorities own a cannabis dispensary — The new fund, started by the Maryland-based medical cannabis company Curio Wellness, aims to help underserved entrepreneurs entering the cannabis market.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

DoorDash aims to add $11B to its valuation during public offering — The delivery platform gave a range of $75 to $85 per share.

Strike first, strike hard, no mercy: How emerging managers can win — Investors at Fika Ventures argue that “Cobra Kai” offers valuable lessons for VC.

The road to smart city infrastructure starts with research — The right technology can upgrade any city, but we need to understand its impacts.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. And until November 30 — that’s today! — you can get 25% off an annual membership.)

Everything else

Moderna claims 94% efficacy for COVID-19 vaccine, will ask FDA for emergency use authorization today — If granted the authorization, Moderna will be able to provide it to high-risk individuals such as front-line healthcare workers.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will step down to make way for the Biden administration — Pai’s tenure has been a controversial one.

Original Content podcast: Just don’t watch Netflix’s ‘Holidate’ with your parents — But if you avoid parental awkwardness, it’s a perfectly adequate holiday-themed romantic comedy.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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George Santos, Who Falsely Claimed His Grandparents Fled Hitler, Reportedly Joked About Killing “Jews and Blacks”

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George Santos, Who Falsely Claimed His Grandparents Fled Hitler, Reportedly Joked About Killing “Jews and Blacks”

One of George Santos’s biggest and most offensive lies was the one he told, on multiple occasions, about having grandparents who’d had to run for their lives during the Holocaust. In 2021, the then candidate claimed in a campaign video that his “grandparents survived the Holocaust.” Several months later, he told the Jewish News Syndicate: “I’m very proud of my grandparents’ story,” which he said included “fleeing Hitler.” Perhaps laying the groundwork for his explanation in the event he got caught in this specific fabrication, he told Fox News Digital in February: “For a lot of people who are descendants of World War II refugees or survivors of the Holocaust, a lot of names and paperwork were changed in name of survival.”

Like so many things that have come out of Santos’s mouth, the one about his grandparents and the Holocaust does not, in fact, appear to be true, as multiple genealogy records indicate his grandparents were born in Brazil and, according to one genealogist who spoke to CNN, “There’s no sign of Jewish and/or Ukrainian heritage and no indication of name changes along the way.” Perhaps another sign that Santos does not have family members who were hunted by Adolf Hitler? His alleged willingness to joke about Hitler killing Jews, and Black people too.

Patch reports that in March 2011, Santos commented on a Facebook photo shared by a friend showing “someone making what appears to be a military salute with the caption ‘something like Hitler’.” Commenting below, Santos allegedly wrote: “hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh hiiiiiiiiiiiitlerrrrrrrrrrr (hight hitler) lolololololololololololol sombody kill her!! the jews and black mostly lolllolol!!! Dum.” A former friend told the outlet they recalled seeing the offensive comment, took a screenshot and sent it along. Patch says it also “verified through another former friend, Gregory Morey-Parker, that the original Facebook post under which Santos wrote the Hitler comment existed.” Presumably that will not be the case for very long. Morey-Parker, who was also once roommates with Santos, also told Patch that the newly sworn-in congressman would regularly make offensive jokes, typically about paying the bill for meals, “but he brushed it off saying he was Jewish. He’d always say that it was okay for him to make those jokes because he was Jewish,” Morey-Parker recalled. (Santos has copped to the fact that he is not actually Jewish, by insisting he never said he was. “I never claimed to be Jewish,” he said in an interview with the New York Post shortly after many of his lies initially came to light. “I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’”)

In an email, Santos’s attorney claimed to Patch that the comment was somehow fake, writing: “the Facebook comment that you reference…is completely false, absolutely disgusting — There is absolutely nothing to talk about.”



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Sui-Based Ethos Wallet Raises $4.2M in Seed Round

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Sui-Based Ethos Wallet Raises $4.2M in Seed Round

“When we first set our sights on developing a wallet on the Sui blockchain, it became our mission to evolve what a crypto wallet is. Currently, they are viewed as a place to store crypto assets, however, they have the capability to do much more,” Eldeib said in the press release. “With Ethos, we’re working on developing, discovering and interacting with blockchain-based applications and to make those interactions safer and easier to use.”

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Donald Trump allowed back on Instagram and Facebook, Meta announces

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Donald Trump allowed back on Instagram and Facebook, Meta announces

Donald Trump will be allowed back on Facebook and Instagram, as parent company Meta announced it would be ending its two-year suspension of his accounts. His suspension will end “in the coming weeks”, the social media company confirmed, with Sir Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, saying the public “should be able to hear what their politicians are saying”. Sir Nick added that the company will add “new guardrails” to Mr Trump’s account “to deter repeat offences” just over two years after he used social media to incite an attack on the US Capitol. Sign up for our newsletters.

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