With Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepping back (again\!), Google CEO Sundar Pichai is now in charge of Alphabet—and its dysfunction.
Photographer Justin Sullivan’s snapshot of the California senator’s campaign office questions her ultimate message.
Catch up on the most important news from today in two minutes or less.
“Airbnb’s unit economics are quite legendary — the S-1 is going to be MOST disrupted FASTEST in the next 3 YEARS? Caps for effect.”
No, it was Parrot.VC, a new Twitter account and website dedicated to making light of VC Twitter. Brother-sister duo Samantha and Nick Loui, the creators of the new tool, fed 65,000 tweets written by some 50 venture capitalists to a machine learning bot. The result is an automated tweet generator ready to spew somewhat nonsensical (or entirely nonsensical) <280-character statements.
According to Hacker News, where co-creator Nick Loui shared information about their project, the bot uses predictive text to generate “amazing, new startup advice,” adding “Gavin Belson – hit me up, this is the perfect acquisition for Hooli,” referencing the popular satirical TV show, “Silicon Valley.”
This isn’t the first time someone has leveraged artificial intelligence to make fun of the tech community. One of my personal favorites, BodegaBot, inspired by the Bodega fiasco of late 2017, satirizes Silicon Valley’s unhinged desire to replace domestic service with technology.
Although the 2008 global financial crisis sparked the fintech movement, in Latin America, the rise of ecommerce was responsible for the first wave of fintech startups.
Because digital payments were key to enabling the growth of ecommerce, investors funded companies like Braspag, PagSeguro, PayU, Mercado Pago and Moip in the early 2000s to take advantage of this opportunity.
Payment is still the most relevant segment, with successful cases like Stone and PagSeguro, but after the financial crisis, we started to see the rise of financial technology in lending and neobanking, generating impressive cases like Nubank, Neon, Creditas, Credijusto and Ualá.
As the ecosystem evolves and expands, let’s take a closer look at emerging trends in Latin America that might give us a hint about where to expect its next fintech unicorns.
Financial services for the gig economy
Latin America has seen explosive growth in ride-hailing and food delivery platforms such as Uber, Didi, Rappi and iFood, creating a totally new market opportunity — many gig economy workers can’t access basic financial services such as bank accounts, personal loans and insurance. Even those who have access often struggle with financial products that that don’t suit their needs because they were designed for full-time workers.
Spotting this opportunity, Uber Money launched at Money 2020, focusing on providing drivers with financial services. As 50% of the population in Latin America is unbanked where Uber has more than 1 million drivers, the region is definitely a ripe market. Cabify is going even farther by spinning off Lana, its company that provides financial services, so it can expand its market beyond Cabify drivers to include other gig economy professionals.
Although established players in this sector have a clear advantage, they aren’t the only ones looking to explore this opportunity; Brazilian YC alumni Zippi is offering personal loans to ride-hailing drivers based on their driving earnings. As the gig economy tends to keep growing in the region, I believe we will start to see more solutions for those professionals.
As the banking world has been shaken by fintechs, insurance companies are growing aware that high regulatory barriers won’t protect their industry from disruption.
Insurance penetration in Latin America has been historically low compared to developed markets — 3.1%, compared to 8% — but the insurance market is growing well and tends to close this gap. Adding this to bad services and complex products that insurances provide, insurtech has an immense opportunity to grow.
Because purchasing insurance is historically a complicated and painful experience, the first insurtechs in the region focused on providing a better experience by digitizing the process and using online channels to acquire customers. Those insurtechs worked together with the insurance companies and operating as online broker, but now, we’re starting to see startups providing new insurance products, as well as traditional insurances in different models.
Some are partnering with insurance companies while others are competing directly with them; Think Seg and Miituo partnered with larger players to provide a pay-as-you-go model for car insurance, while Mango Life and Kakau are offering a better purchasing experience. On the other end, Crabi and Pier are rethinking the insurance model from the ground up.
As insurtechs emerge as a potential threat, incumbents are more willing to work with startups that can improve their services to enable them to compete on better grounds, which is exactly what companies such as Bdeo, Lisa, and HelloZum are doing.
Although penetrating the insurance industry is more complicated than other financial services due to high regulatory demands and steep initial operating costs, insurtechs fueled by VC investment will without any doubt try to do it. And, if we’ve learned anything from other fintech segments, it’s that entrepreneurs will find ways to overcome initial challenges.
The US is charging Maksim Yakubets over two of the biggest cybertheft campaigns of the last decade, and offers a record reward for information on the case.
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 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.
Melee, the company’s first app beyond its flagship product, lets users subscribe to the games from which they love to get memes and gameplay clips. You also can scroll through a popular post’s feed if you’re curious about unfamiliar games.
If you’re worried about the risk that gaming communities might turn toxic, Imgur says Melee has multiple layers of community and staff moderation, will remove obscene content and won’t tolerate bullying.
SpaceX is keeping relatively close to schedule on one of the bold timelines pronounced by its CEO Elon Musk. Specifically, the company notes that it has now completed seven system tests of the latest, upgraded version of the parachutes it plans to use with its Crew Dragon capsule when it launches with astronauts on-board.
Shadowfax operates a business-to-business logistics network in more than 300 cities in India. The startup works with neighborhood stores to use their real estate to store inventory, and with a large network of freelancers for delivery.
A contractor working for cell giant Sprint stored hundreds of thousands of cell phone bills for AT&T, Verizon (which owns TechCrunch) and T-Mobile subscribers on an unprotected cloud server.
Qualified Small Business Stock (QSBS) presents a significant tax savings opportunity for people who create and invest in small businesses. (Extra Crunch membership required.)
Apex.AI is working on developing a robotic operating system qualified for use in production automobiles. Its offerings include a set of simple-to-integrate APIs that can give automakers and others access to fully certified autonomous mobility technology.
One team gets $5,000, but we’ve got additional prizes from a range of sponsors. Also: This is next week!