Airbnb turns to private equity for new funding, WhatsApp takes new steps to fight disinformation and another potential COVID-19 vaccine enters human trials. Here’s your Daily Crunch for April 7, 2020.
1. Airbnb turns to private equity to raise $1 billion
Airbnb said Monday that it has raised $1 billion in debt and equity from PE firms Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners, even as the online rental marketplace has seen its business plummet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It’s also unclear how this funding might alter Airbnb’s previously shared plans to go public.
2. WhatsApp introduces new limit on message forwards to fight spread of misinformation
The Facebook-owned instant messaging service said that any message that has been forwarded five or more times will now face a new limit, preventing a user from forwarding it to more than one chat or contact at a time.
3. A second potential COVID-19 vaccine, backed by Bill and Melinda Gates, is entering human testing
The Inovio DNA vaccine candidate works by injecting a specifically engineered plasmid (a small, independent genetic structure) into a patient so that their cells can produce a desired, targeted antibody to fight off a specific infection. DNA vaccines, while available and approved for a variety of animal infections in veterinary medicine, have not yet been approved for human use.
4. CNN has acquired Canopy, a privacy-focused content personalization engine, for its upcoming news platform
CNN isn’t talking much yet about its new project, currently codenamed “NewsCo,” except to say that it is a “news and information platform connecting users to trusted sources, storytellers and creators across a wide range of topics.”
5. How SaaS startups should plan for a turbulent Q2
TechCrunch spoke with Matt Murphy — who spent 16 years at Kleiner Perkins before joining Menlo Ventures in 2015 — late last week, discussing how startups should plan for what could prove a difficult Q2 and how churn expectations should adapt as the economy changes. (Extra Crunch membership required.)
6. Foursquare merges with Factual
The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The merged company will keep the Foursquare moniker, and Foursquare CEO David Shim will remain at the helm, with Factual’s founder and now-former CEO Gil Elbaz joining Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley as a member of the board and executive team.
7. The US is formalizing Team Telecom rules to restrict foreign ownership of internet and telecom assets
Team Telecom, a mostly informal working committee of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice, has been quietly tasked with evaluating and maintaining the security of America telecom infrastructure in concert with the FCC. That informal arrangement is disappearing, as the administration published a new executive order formally instantiating Team Telecom as a legal process for reviewing applications for telecom licenses, deals and other requests made to the FCC.
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