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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 7, 2021! It’s Friday and the snow is falling like the dickens in my neck of the woods. But it was no snow day in the tech world. Not at all. In fact, one venture firm raised 10 figures of capital today. Can you guess who?

Before we jump in, today’s TechCrunch staff highlight is Grace Mendenhall, a member of the Equity team who is also a documentary film editor. And she’s frankly just the best. Now, the news! —Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • a16z reloads with $9B in new capital: The venture capital money arms race continued this week with news that Andreessen Horowitz has put together $9 billion to invest in venture deals, growth deals and biotech more specifically. As TechCrunch notes, the resulting dollar figure is a boost on the group’s last trio of similar funds. There is, it appears, an infinite capital appetite in today’s startup market.
  • Roblox pulls Chinese app: Five months after launching with Tencent in China, Roblox’s LuoBuLeSi was taken down. What happened? It may be that Roblox has some work to do on the data side of its service, something that it hinted at in a statement. Regardless, the move is yet another example of how hard it is for non-Chinese companies to build and sell digital products in the country.
  • India to investigate Google: In the wake of industry complaints from news groups, India’s Competition Commission “said Friday that Google dominates certain online services and its initial view is that Google has broken the local antitrust laws,” TechCrunch reports. Given how big and lucrative the Indian market is, this is not good news for Mountain View.

Startups/VC

Before we jump into all the startup news of the day, TechCrunch has a little treat for you. We got veteran venture capitalist Matt Murphy on the phone as 2021 came to a close to chat about prior tech booms, prior tech busts and what he sees as the strengths and weaknesses of today’s venture game. It’s a great weekend read.

And now, the news:

  • Pendulum raises $5.9M for narrative tracking: This is a fun one, as the company’s target market is utterly new to me. Per our reporting, Pendulum “helps companies, governments and other organizations track harmful narratives on social media platforms and elsewhere on the web.” I guess you and I currently do this by reading lots of tweets, but seeing a company build software for it makes good sense.
  • Peter Reinhardt leaves Twilio: Remember when Twilio bought Segment for $3.2 billion? It also bought Segment’s CEO, Peter Reinhardt, as part of the deal. Now, however, the exec is leaving to “be full-time CEO at Charm Industrial, a carbon mitigation startup he co-founded in 2018,” Ron Miller reports. I can’t quite connect charm and carbon, but we’ll keep an eye out for what the startup does next.
  • Avataar raises $45M for “life-sized 3D product evaluation”: No, this is not “Avatar,” like the movie. It’s Avataar, a U.S.- and India-based startup that helps consumers “visualize products in real-life size and feel in their living room” using their phones. Given that we all want to buy more stuff online, but it’s not always easy to picture a new footstool in situ, I like what the company is up to. Unsurprisingly, Avataar is working with e-commerce brands in categories like furniture.
  • Bfree wants to update the irksome business of credit collections: If you have ever gotten a call from a person who thinks that you owe them or someone that they represent money, you may have harkened back to how much more fun it was to get a root canal. Bfree, a “Nigerian credit management fintech,” as TechCrunch puts it, is working to build something that it considers to be more ethical debt collection. The company just raised $1.7 million and is busy recruiting in 16 markets, we report.
  • From the CES Beat: TechCrunch’s coverage of the great consumer electronics confab continued today, with posts up on the promises of elder tech and, well, all things metaverse, good and bad.

If you need even more startup news and notes and analysis this weekend, the Equity team has you covered.

After talking to marketing leaders for a year, here’s my advice for CEOs

paper head with puzzle pieces-Autism concept.Blue background

Image Credits: Carol Yepes (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

This is a fantastic time to launch a startup, but if you’re trying to grow one — well, winter is coming.

We’ve already noted the impacts of new data regulations and consumers’ growing desire for more privacy, but here’s another log to toss on the bad news fire: As a percentage of company revenue, marketing budgets plummeted from 11% in 2020 to 6.4% last year.

“This is the lowest proportion allocated to marketing in the history of Gartner’s Annual CMO Spend Survey,” the research company reported.

Rebecca Lynn, co-founder and general partner at Canvas Ventures, has had dozens of conversations with early-stage founders in recent months.

In a TechCrunch+ guest post, she covers the “downward pressure on the efficiency of marketing dollars” and shares several strategies that are producing results — as well as some “crazy” ideas “that seemed ridiculous at the time.”

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

Big Tech Inc.

  • Apple keeps working on its fitness product: TechCrunch has news up today regarding Apple’s fitness product, the somewhat lamely named Fitness+. What’s new? Collections, which we write are ”curated series of workouts and meditations” that are targeted at a particular goal. Also new is what’s called “Time to Run,” an “audio running experience,” as we put it. Why doesn’t Apple just buy Peloton? I don’t know.
  • When does a Twitter Space become a podcast? We’re going to find out. Twitter is working on recording its live-audio product, called Spaces. And the social network is saying that it will include replay analytics. Which is super cool? Twitter’s product team is seemingly bringing its really solid 2021 product cadence into the new year.
  • And finally, from CES, a roundup of electric mobility two-wheelers for everyone out there who lives in a city that hasn’t given up its soul to provide more parking for lazy folks.

TechCrunch Experts

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Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL / Getty Images

If you have a software consultant that you think other startup founders should know about, fill out the survey here.

Read one of the testimonials we’ve received below!

Marketer: Ridhi Singh, founder, 91Ninjas

Recommended by: Anish Khadiya, itilite

Testimonial: “Ridhi and team 91Ninjas bring in good domain knowledge, high-quality thinking and focused execution. We chose them for their expertise, disciplined approach and excellent work ethic. Thanks to team 91Ninjas, our inbound marketing engine has picked up good momentum. After coming onboard, they rapidly kick-started work on multiple fronts. In particular, we witnessed good traction on the social media and content front. We saw a good surge in organic traffic on blogs and our search appearance on domain-specific keywords has improved a lot.”