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VentureBeat

ControlZee raises $3 million for ‘massively interactive swarm games’


ControlZee has raised $3 million to bring instantly playable multiplayer worlds to life. The company refers to its titles — which are controlled by masses of players at the same time — as “massively interactive swarm games.”

The San Mateo, California-based company has created a platform, or game engine, dubbed Dot Big Bang that enables people to play and create games with friends anywhere, on any device, instantly, and then share the games via simple web links. To showcase this platform, ControlZee created a game called Straits of Danger with a popular streamer. Read More

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TechCrunch

Zetwerk, an Indian B2B marketplace for manufacturing items, raises $21 million – TechCrunch


Zetwerk, an Indian business-to-business marketplace for manufacturing items, has raised $21 million in a new financing round as it looks to scale its operations in the nation and help local businesses find customers overseas.

San Francisco-based investment firm Greenoaks led the two-year-old Indian startup’s Series C financing round. Existing investors Accel, Kae Capital, Lightspeed and Sequoia Capital India also participated in the round, which brings Zetwerk’s to-date raise to $62 million. Read More

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TechCrunch

OurPeople, the team communication and engagement platform, raises $2M – TechCrunch


OurPeople, the U.K. startup that’s built a team communication and engagement platform for desk-less workers, has raised $2 million in Series A funding.

Leading the round is Alpine Meridian, an investment firm that specialises in digital media, e-commerce and healthcare, and entrepreneur Robert Neveu, who also joins OurPeople as managing partner. It brings total funding to $3 million.

Founded in 2016 by Ross McCaw, Bristol-based OurPeople offers a secure mobile platform to let businesses communicate digitally with employees, ensuring teams can stay connected. The startup primarily works in industries with large numbers of desk-less workers, such as fitness and leisure. Clients currently include West Ham United Foundation, Virgin Active UK, Paulton’s Park and Serco Leisure. Read More

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VentureBeat

Pudu Technology raises over $15 million for ‘contact-free’ autonomous delivery robots


Shenzhen-based robotics R&D startup Pudu Technology today announced an over $15 million round. The company claims over 2,000 hotel, restaurant, and hospital customers — including Sheraton and JD.com — across 20 countries. It will use the funds to develop new products, expand sales, and explore markets overseas.

The pandemic has accelerated the demand for robotic solutions, as they’re inherently contactless. Because customers and delivery workers are exposed to disinfected robots rather than each other, robots promise to limit the spread of infection while addressing gaps in on-demand delivery capacity. Read More

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TechCrunch

Insurtech unicorn Lemonade raises IPO range ahead of debut – TechCrunch


Ahead of its expected IPO pricing later today, SoftBank-backed insurtech startup Lemonade has raised its expected price range. After initially targeting $23 to $26 per share in its debut, Lemonade now intends to sell its equity for $26 to $28 per share.

The Exchange is a daily look at startups and the private markets for Extra Crunch subscribers; use code EXCHANGE to get full access and take 25% off your subscription.

The new range boosts Lemonade’s expected value, a boon for insurtech startups like Root, Kin, MetroMile, Hippo and others. Had Lemonade been forced to reduce its pricing, the valuations of its contemporaries could have come under pressure when they went to raise more capital. But with Lemonade noting that the market will bear a higher price for its equity, it’s a good day for startups looking to rebuild insurance products in a digital-first manner. Read More

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VentureBeat

Voicemod raises $8 million for silly or serious voice filters in games


Voicemod has raised $8 million to expand its business of offering voice filters. People use these filters to change their voices in video games or in virtual worlds, where animated avatars can make your words sound silly.

The Valencia, Spain-based company was founded by three brothers who were musicians in 2009, but it really picked up after shifting a couple of years ago to focus on real-time voice modification for gamers and content creators on the PC. Now Voicemod has more than 10 million downloads and 2.5 million monthly active users. Read More

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VentureBeat

Spiketrap raises $3 million for AI-based social media intelligence platform


Spiketrap has raised $3 million for its AI platform that helps brands understand how they are engaging with consumers on social media. The San Francisco-based company processes tons of text-based social data — like Twitter posts — to discern how consumers view a brand or a game in real time. When a big event happens, such as the launch of a new game like Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Spiketrap can collect the prevailing sentiment about the game.

“This is really exciting for us to raise money with a fantastic syndicate of people,” said Spiketrap CEO Kieran Fitzpatrick in an interview with GamesBeat. “We continue to grow our core product with a focus on understanding language, specifically the language of the internet.” The company is also expanding from PC and console games to include mobile games. Read More

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VentureBeat

Rios raises $5 million for robots that can grasp ‘thousands’ of types of products


Rios, a Stanford robotics spinout founded by former Xerox PARC engineers, emerged from stealth today after 18 months with $5 million in funding. The company plans to use the funds to bolster product R&D and to accelerate its go-to-market efforts as it signs on “global” customers and partners.

Around $1.2 billion in U.S. venture capital deals have targeted logistics-focused robotics and automation companies since 2015, according to PitchBook, and investments are poised to accelerate. During the pandemic, ecommerce order volume has increased by 50% compared with 2019 and shipment times for products like furniture more than doubled. At the same time, Datex found that warehouse positions being created to accommodate the expansion is outpacing the labor pool’s growth by six to one, signaling a talent shortage. Read More

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The Next Web

YouTube TV raises price another $15, so I’m cancelling my subscription

When YouTube TV launched in 2017, it felt like the future of television. It provided the live playback nature of cable channels, with the convenience of also being able to watch later if you wanted. You could watch on any of your devices, and the automated, unlimited Cloud DVR was a godsend.

But it worked because of the $35 price. Even if it was missing a few channels, the convenience and implementation made it worth it. Then, in 2018, the price went up to $40. Okay, five bucks isn’t too bad. Then again, in 2019, the price went up to $50 for just eight more channels. Read More

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The Verge

Discord raises $100 million and plans to move beyond gaming


Discord on Tuesday announced it’s making a number of changes to expand its service beyond the gaming community. The company says the change is one its users have requested as Discord has become more of a tool for “day-to-day communication.”

“Games are what brought many of you on the platform, and we’ll always be grateful for that,” reads a blog post by Discord CEO Jason Citron and CTO Stanislav Vishnevskiy. “As time passed, a lot of you realized, and vocalized, that you simply wanted a place designed to hang out and talk in the comfort of your own communities and friends. You wanted a place to have genuine conversations and spend quality time with people, whether catching up, learning something, or sharing ideas.” Read More