Facebook reveals its Clubhouse competitor, Parler will return to Apple’s App Store and a helicopter flies on Mars. This is your Daily Crunch for April 19, 2021.
The big story: Facebook announces new audio products
Yes, these products include new Clubhouse-style Live Audio Rooms, as well as the ability for podcasters to share long-form audio, some new Spotify integration and a shorter format called Soundbites. Facebook is starting off by testing Live Audio Rooms in Facebook Groups.
“When we launched video rooms earlier last year, groups and communities were one of the bigger areas where that took off,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an interview with Platformer. “So, I think around audio, just given how much more accessible it is, that’ll be a pretty exciting area as well.”
The tech giants
Apple confirms it will allow Parler to return to App Store — Apple says that after Parler’s proposed updates, it should be approved for reinstatement to the App Store.
Consumer agency warns against Peloton Tread+ use, as company pushes back — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is warning consumers to stop using the Tread+.
Xbox Cloud Gaming beta starts rolling out on iOS and PC this week — The service has been available in beta for Android users since last year, but it has been slow to expand to other platforms.
Startups, funding and venture capital
Clubhouse closes an undisclosed $4B valuation Series C round, as tech giants’ clones circle — We don’t know how much it raised, but it looks like Clubhouse has tripled the valuation it attained in January.
Alan raises $220M for its health insurance and healthcare super app — The company now covers 160,000 people.
General Motors leads $139M investment into lithium-metal battery developer, SES — GM is the latest big automaker to pick a horse in the race to develop better batteries for electric vehicles.
Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch
The Klaviyo EC-1 — Klaviyo may not be a household name yet, but in many ways, this startup has become the standard by which email marketers are judged.
European VC soars in Q1 — The blockbuster first quarter was not just an American affair.
Outdoor startups see supercharged growth during COVID-19 era — Startups that provide services like camper vans, private campsites and trail-finding apps became relevant to millions of new users when COVID-19 shut down indoor recreation.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
NASA makes history by flying a helicopter on Mars for the first time — This is a major achievement, in no small part because the atmosphere is so thin on Mars that creating a rotor-powered craft like Ingenuity that can actually produce lift is a huge challenge.
An interview with Andrew Yang — The New York mayoral candidate talks Amazon, cryptocurrency and automation.
Geico admits fraudsters stole customers’ driver’s license numbers for months — The second-largest auto insurer in the U.S. has fixed a security bug that allowed fraudsters to steal customers’ driver’s license numbers from its website.
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.
Sam Bankman-Fried Lawyer Says Agreement Has Been Reached on Use of Messaging Apps
The two sides are asking the court to modify Bankman-Fried’s bail conditions to allow him to use various messaging apps, including FaceTime, Zoom, iMessage, SMS texts, emails, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. (For WhatsApp, Bankman-Fried’s cell phone must have monitoring software installed to record those messages.)
Kenya labor court rules that Facebook can be sued
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A judge in Kenya has ruled that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, can be sued in the East African country.
Meta tried to have the case dropped, arguing that Kenyan courts do not have jurisdiction over their operations, but the labor court judge dismissed that in a ruling on Monday.
A former Facebook moderator in Kenya, Daniel Motaung, is suing the company claiming poor working conditions.
Motaung said that while working as a moderator he was exposed to gruesome content such as rape, torture and beheadings that risked his and colleagues’ mental health.
He said Meta did not offer mental health support to employees, required unreasonably long working hours, and offered minimal pay. Motaung worked in Facebook’s African hub in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, which is operated by Samasource Ltd.
Following the judge’s decision that Meta can be sued in Kenya, the next step in case will be considered by the court on Mar. 8.
Meta is facing a separate court case in which two Ethiopians say hate speech was allowed and even promoted on Facebook amid heated rhetoric over their country’s deadly Tigray conflict.
That lawsuit alleges that Meta hasn’t hired enough content moderators to adequately monitor posts, that it uses an algorithm that prioritizes hateful content, and that it responds more slowly to crises in Africa than elsewhere in the world.
The Associated Press and more than a dozen other media outlets last year reported that Facebook had failed to quickly and effectively moderate hate speech in several places around the world, including in Ethiopia. The reports were based on internal Facebook documents leaked by former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen.