Daily Crunch: Apple seems pretty interested in search

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Apple might be building a Google competitor, Audible adds more podcasts and an ad measurement company raises $350 million. This is your Daily Crunch for October 28, 2020.

The big story: Apple seems pretty interested in search

Apple has a growing interest in search technology and might even be working on a product to compete with Google, according to The Financial Times.

The most visible change is the fact that in iOS 14, Apple is now showing its own results when you type queries in the home screen. In addition, there seems to be an increase in activity from Apple’s web crawler.

There may be more of an opportunity here as the U.S. Justice Department has sued Google over what it claims are anticompetitive behaviors around search. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean Apple and Google will soon be going head-to-head in search — it could just be a sign that Apple’s Siri voice assistant is getting more search queries.

The tech giants

Joe Rogan, Alex Jones and Spotify’s illusion of neutrality — Spotify is facing criticism after Joe Rogan brought Alex Jones of InfoWars onto his show.

Audible further expands into podcasts — Audible is adding approximately 100,000 podcasts.

Apple eyes the TikTok generation with an updated version of Clips — The update brings much-needed support for vertical videos, allowing for sharing to TikTok and the “Stories” feature in other social apps.

Startups, funding and venture capital

DoubleVerify, a specialist in brand safety, ad fraud and ad quality, raises $350M — DoubleVerify’s technology can detect fraud, viewability and brand safety.

Outrider raises $65M to bring its autonomous tech to distribution yards — The startup has built a three-part system that includes an autonomous electric yard truck, software to manage the operations and site infrastructure.

Lunchbox raises $20M to help restaurants build their own ordering experiences — CEO Nabeel Alamgir said that if restaurants can handle more online orders themselves (rather than just relying on delivery apps), they’ll make more money while also maintaining a direct relationship with their most loyal customers.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

As venture capital rebounds, what’s going on with venture debt? — While venture capital is back setting new records, it appears that its lesser-known sibling won’t be able to match the past few years’ results.

Current and upcoming trends in Latin America’s mobile growth — Latin America is home to one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world.

Dear Sophie: Any upgrade options for E-2 visa holders interested in changing jobs? — Another edition of Sophie Alcorn’s column answering immigration questions about working at technology companies.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith is buying majority stake in the Utah Jazz for $1.6B — Smith sold Qualtrics to SAP for $8 billion in 2018.

US online holiday sales to reach $189B this year, up 33% from 2019 — That’s according to a new forecast from Adobe Analytics.

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.

Lotame unveils its new cookie-less tech for ad targeting

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Data management company Lotame is announcing a new way for publishers and marketers to track identity that it calls Panorama ID .

For years, online advertisers have relied on cookies to track and target audiences, but they need new approaches as the major browsers phase out support for third-party cookies. (This shift isn’t limited to cookies. For example, Apple is forcing developers to allow users to opt out of ad tracking next year.)

To adapt to an internet without cookies, a Lotame spokesperson told me that the Panorama ID is built on top of the company’s Cartographer technology, which helps publishers unify their first-party data.

This approach combines different elements of user identity — such as device identifiers, customer IDs and hashed email addresses — with associated behaviors. The company says that on average, a single pseudonymous ID will include 119 web and 89 mobile attributes.

Lotame says that the Panorama ID will be able to unite user behavior across devices, enabling advertisers to target audiences through header bidding. They’ll also be able to effectively employ strategies like capping the frequency with which a person sees their ad.

“Consumers are changing all the time, even more so in the last 8 months,” said Lotame CEO Andy Monfried in a statement. “Marketer and publisher relationships have to evolve with each other and with customers to reflect these profound shifts. Panorama ID provides that new common language or bridge to make relevant advertising possible and impactful for marketers, publishers, and consumers.”

At the same time, the company says the Panorama ID is privacy friendly and compliant with a variety of regulations including GDPR and CCPA. Users will be able to to opt out of from Panorama ID tracking across their devices.

Priori raises $6.3M to help large companies hire outside legal help

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Priori Legal, a startup rethinking the way that large corporations hire outside counsel, has raised $6.3 million in Series A funding.

Founded by CEO Basha Rubin and CPO Mirra Levitt (who met while classmates at Yale Law School), Priori launched as a legal marketplace for small and medium businesses before finding its current model in 2016.

Rubin explained that although Fortune 500 companies have their own in-house legal teams, they still spend an average of $150 million a year on outside legal counsel. And finding that counsel can be an arduous process — a consumer goods company, for example, might need to hire lawyers in all 50 states.

So by creating created a marketplace of vetted lawyers (it says it only accepts 10% of applicants), by running a bidding process for the work and by streamlining the billing and on-boarding process, the startup can save companies an average of 60% of the money they spend on outside counsel and reduce the search time by 80%.

“We don’t get involved in the substance of the lawyer-client relationship,” Levitt added. “We are not a law firm, we don’t do any of the legal work. Our innovation is focused entirely on the process of rapidly identifying the right talent and, once the matter is up and running, making billing seamless.”

There are currently more than 1,500 lawyers in the marketplace, representing all 50 states in the U.S., as well as 47 countries and 700 practice proficiencies. Levitt said that while the first lawyers to join the platform were usually independent or worked at small firms that might not previously had access to these kinds of clients, there are now larger firms signing up as well.

Priori founders Mirra Levitt and Basha Rubin

Priori founders Mirra Levitt and Basha Rubin

And Rubin said interest in Priori has only grown during the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. Large clients are trying to do “more with less,” and “part of our value proposition is fundamentally cost savings.” For example, she noted that client spending on the platform has increased 200% in the last year.

“We began to see so much inbound demand log that we would onto Slack at 11pm and the entire team would be working,” she said. “We have a truly extraordinary team, but a) that’s not sustainable from a human perspective, and b) we saw an opportunity to really grow dramatically if we could throw resources at it.”

The Series A comes from Hearst Corporation (also a Priori customer), Great Oaks Venture Capital, Jambhala, Tim Steinert (former general counsel of Alibaba Group), Mindset Ventures; Bridge Venture Fund and and Orrick’s Legal Technology Fund.

In addition to growing the team, Rubin said that the new funding will allow Priori to expand its network of lawyers, especially internationally.

“From a product perspective, we’re really building out our use of data throughout the platform,” Levitt said, adding that the company plans to use machine learning to improve attorney vetting, matchmaking, bidding, project scoping and more.