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Daily Crunch: Biden’s labor secretary says gig workers should be reclassified

The Biden administration hints at gig economy changes, Blue Origin will be taking passengers and we interview Jim Belushi about weed. This is your Daily Crunch for April 29, 2021.

The big story: Biden’s labor secretary says gig workers should be reclassified

The Biden administration’s labor secretary Marty Walsh recently said in an interview with Reuters that he’s “looking at” the gig economy.

“In a lot of cases gig workers should be classified as employees,” Walsh said. “In some cases they are treated respectfully and in some cases they are not and I think it has to be consistent across the board.”

For now, this is just talk, but it suggests that new regulations and gig work reclassification could be a priority for the new administration.

The tech giants

Google Pay update adds grocery offers, transit expansions and spending insights — Through partnerships with Safeway and Target, Google Pay users will now be able to browse their store’s weekly circulars showcasing the latest deals.

Zynga and Rollic acquire the hyper-casual game studio behind High Heels — The company said High Heels (or, if you insist, High Heels!) has been downloaded more than 60 million times since it launched in January.

IBM is acquiring cloud app and network management firm Turbonomic for up to $2B — Turbonomic provides tools to manage application performance, along with Kubernetes and network performance.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Blue Origin will start selling tickets for New Shepard space tourism flights on May 5 — The “when and how much” are the two burning questions that remain around the Jeff Bezos-backed space company’s first commercial passenger flights.

TravelPerk raises $160M in equity and debt after a year of derailed business trips — TravelPerk lets users compare, book and invoice trains, cars, flights, hotels and apartments from a range of providers.

MoviePass co-founder’s PreShow Interactive raises $3M to expand into gaming — The startup will give PC and console gamers a new way to earn in-game currency in exchange for watching ads.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Healthcare is the next wave of data liberation — David Jegen and Carl Byers of F-Prime Capital argue that the winners of the healthcare data transformation will look different than they did with financial data.

Fintech startups set VC records as the 2021 fundraising market continues to impress — New data indicate Q1 2021 was the biggest fintech VC quarter ever.

How to fundraise over Zoom more effectively — A year ago, many of us probably thought that virtual fundraising would be impossible.

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

Everything else

Jim Belushi is chasing the magic in cannabis — We interviewed Belushi about his new greenhouses, supplied in part by GrowGeneration.

U.S. video game spending increased 30% in Q1 — Content was up 25% for the quarter, accessories jumped 42% and hardware went up 82%, according to NPD.

Sequoia’s Shaun Maguire and Vise’s Samir Vasavada will talk success in fintech on Extra Crunch Live — Join us on May 19 to discuss what brought the pair together, key tips for fundraising and how to be successful in the fintech space.

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.