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Goodness! Have a scroll through the TechChrunch homepage today — it’s like drinking from a fire hose here the past couple of days! There’s so much news that it’s legitimately hard to pick our selection for the newsletter today. We’ve done our best, but it’s def worth giving the homepage a look to see if we left something out that you might be particularly interested in. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Get your game on: Unity and ironSource confirmed that they are merging of “two powerhouses” in interactive development and app monetization, Ingrid writes. She says of the union, “Pursuing M&A as a route to product and user growth has long been a strategy for larger tech companies, but the last several months have seen a number of M&A deals surface among smaller players, too, as funding sources become less free flowing, performance targets are tightened and valuations drop.”
- Ding dong indeed: While we are always worried about data some large entity collects about us, we can’t say it makes us feel good that Amazon’s Ring was apparently one of them. In fact, Zack reports that the Ring “gave a record amount of doorbell footage to the government” last year. Time to slam the door on that.
- Don’t pass ‘go,’ don’t collect crypto: We introduced you to Jagmeet yesterday, and already he has a hit on his hands covering Sri Lanka’s central bank warnings to users not to use cryptocurrency. The country doesn’t consider it legal tender anyway, but with it being unregulated and a “sovereign-debt crisis” going on there, the government is saying it's better to be safe than sorry.
Startups and VC
What started as a pet project to electrify food trucks in the San Francisco Bay Area — an enterprise inspired by the cacophony of generators that greeted Ben Parker every day during his lunch break at Tesla — has evolved into a much larger, complex and potentially more lucrative undertaking of creating electric recreational vehicles, reports Kirsten.
Also in the hardware world, Magic Leap detailed the availability and pricing of its next release: the Magic Leap 2, Lucas reports. Unlike its first release, this headset will be geared entirely toward professional users with less intentional vagueness. That professional focus is apparent with the device’s pricing.
We also loved the most recent episode of our Equity podcast, where the team discusses how Roe v. Wade’s reversal will change how startups need to be built.
- A little bit of Itica, all night long: Yes, that’s a size 5 mambo reference, and Ivan reports that Here lets you make fractional vacation rental investments starting at $100, following in Arrived’s footsteps, who does the same for non-vacation rental properties, as Mary Ann reported a while back.
- All fly myself: Autonomous flight is a grand challenge in aviation — and a gold mine. No wonder Merlin Labs raised $120 million along with an Air Force partnership, Kyle reports.
- Meet the newest Indian unicorn: Manish reports that FPL Technologies is the latest in the South Asian market to join the unicorn club following a new round of funding.
- Moar money for crypto: Over the past 18 months, Inflection Points has been working in stealth mode to build out a crypto-focused employment and corporate training business and just secured $12.6 million in funding, writes Jacquelyn.
- A faster horse at last: China’s Tesla challenger XPeng isn’t content with just making electric vehicles. It’s also betting on ridable robot unicorns for kids. It raised $100 million, Rita reports.
- Much metal, such shapes: Metal and carbon fiber company Markforged (best known for its Digital Forge platform) announced today that it acquired Digital Metal to further increase its lineup of machines that can produce metal parts, writes Haje.
- Virtual descent: We reported earlier this week that virtual events platform Hopin slashed 29% of its staff. Today Natasha M follows up that the company is doing rotation of its senior staff, too, with its COO, CFO and chief business officer on the way out of the door.
Here’s how to protect your equity if you get laid off
Take note, startup workers: the same people who welcomed you aboard when you signed your offer letter are now looking for places to save money so they can keep your company afloat.
Reducing headcount is another way for founders to claw back equity, as many workers who've been laid off lack enough cash to exercise all of their vested options. Once those options expire, they’ll go back to your employer.
If you work for a startup that extends the traditional 90-day post-termination exercise window, count your blessings. If you don't, this TC+ guest post contains useful advice for budgeting, negotiating and strategizing to save your hard-won equity.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Before we get into it, we just want to touch on the latest regarding Twitter v. Elon Musk. First, Taylor notes that a lawsuit has happened to force Musk to close the deal. And when you dig into the lawsuit, you will find something that Amanda felt needed to be made fun of a bit, namely that Musk’s own meme tweeting made it into the lawsuit.
Holberton, a coding school in Africa, agreed to be acquired by African Leadership Group. Frederic spoke with Holberton co-founder Julien Barbier, who told him that after co-founder Sylvain Kalache left the company 2 years ago, he had not found the right fit until now.
Lime squeezed some of its fruit to share the camera-based sidewalk detection technology it was working on, Rebecca writes. We thought maybe it was to help know when pedestrians were nearby, but no — it’s so the company can alert riders that they are on the sidewalk when they aren’t supposed to be.
As mentioned above, today was an insane news day, so here is more of the best of the best:
- Giving up some control: TikTok is counting down until it rolls out some new content filters and maturity ratings in an effort to make its app safer, Sarah writes.
- What will these social media companies think up next?: Meta’s Ray-Ban Stories now enable users to make calls and send messages via WhatsApp, Aisha reports. Taylor writes that all Reddit users can now use GIF in comments. Snap is looking at adding NFTs so that creators can show off their skills in AR, Ivan writes.
- There’s something about Google: Frederic has the latest on the company’s first Arm-based VMs, while Harri reports that Google warns employees of consolidation, and Sarah digs into a report that says Instagram and TikTok are muscling in on Google’s hold of Search and Maps.
- Hacker news: Zack takes us inside a ransomware attack on a debt collection firm that may top 2022’s list of “biggest health data breaches.” Meanwhile, Carly reports on some trouble over at Bandai Namco, a game maker that said hackers may have stolen some customer data.
- A moose, goose, pink heart and wireless sign walk into a bar: Those are some of the new emojis slated to be part of a big emoji update, Ivan writes.