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Presumably you’ve been in the nightclubs (or at least your living room with the music turned to 11) doing the Robot and other amazing dance moves all weekend. Continue the fun into your workweek! We’ve got a free (!) robotics event and here’s five lovingly curated reasons to attend TC Sessions: Robotics on Thursday. Have a splendid and inspired week! — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- I always feel like somebody’s watching me: And if you also feel like you have no privacy, you are probably right. Carly writes that new documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show just how much the U.S. government has been tracking data about us via our phones. Might want to turn that location off.
- Yet another blow to crypto: Jagmeet and Manish team up on the latest regarding India’s central bank decision to ban cryptocurrencies. This follows a move by one of the country’s largest tech advocacy groups saying it would drop crypto.
- Lots of people's cards did not go through: Some African virtual dollar card creators had to halt service when their card issuer, Union54, said there was some chargeback fraud, Tage writes. It looks like it might be a few weeks before things are somewhat resolved.
Startups and VC
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been keeping an extra close eye on the electric vehicle market, and all the things happening on that front. In Kirsten’s newsletter The Station, she summarized everything you need to know, and teases that there’s reviews of the F-150 Lightning and the Rivian R1T on the way.
“Wow, super lame… If you are leaking company information, you are exhibiting a low level of consciousness and respect,” writes one of the Winklevoss twins after an internal Gemini ops memo was leaked, as Jacquelyn reports.
Taking the bull by the horns, and reducing them to bullet points:
- Putting cred into credit card: X1’s income-based credit card is finally available to the public reports Anita.
- Putting good into CPG: SupplyPike, a supply chain SaaS company, raised $25 million to develop software so that CPG brands can be compliant with retailer needs and able to more efficiently deliver products on time, reports Christine.
- Putting ack! into acquisition: Podchaser, the “IMDB for podcasts,” closed a $4 million Series A round of funding last year. It was just acquired by Acast for $27 million, reports Paul.
- Putting no into renovations: In late June, Modsy, an online interior design services startup, abruptly ceased offering design services, laid off its designers, and left customers with unfinished renovations and project orders in process, Kyle reports.
- Putting art into artificial intelligence: Kyle and Devin summarize the state of AI, and how machines are making remarkable progress at solving math problems, translating 200+ languages, and drawing kangaroos.
- Putting Mouse into Autonomous(e): Syrius Robotics, a Chinese startup that makes autonomous robots for warehouses, just secured $7.4 million in a Series B funding round, lifting its total raised so far to $40 million, Rita reports.
Yeah, these jokes completely stopped making sense, so I’m putting the “LOL” into “philolsophy” and I think I’ll call it a day.
As fundraising gets harder, founders should ask investors for a flat round
Aiming for the sky is well and good when you’re building a startup, but when capital dries up and survival becomes an issue, it can be best to err on the side of caution and take a flat round.
According to Matt Cohen, founder and managing partner of Ripple Ventures, if you’re struggling to find an investor to extend your runway to at least 24 months, your best course of action may be to “go to the well once and get what you need to see this volatility through.”
“Macroeconomic cycles happen and are completely out of everyone’s control. But the founders who can get in front of these tough conversations will be the ones to reach the next milestone, albeit on a less attractive path, and remain alive to see their mission through.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
In case you were missing those Better.com updates, you are in luck today. The digital mortgage lender, which you might remember had some less-than-stellar downsizing techniques, is moving forward with its decision to go public via SPAC, Natasha M reports. The company already has a lawsuit against it for misleading investors during its first time around trying to go public. So we’ll see how this one goes.
Speaking of things that captured our attention for a while, Lucas and Anita reported in their latest “Chain Reaction” newsletter that GameStop is cashing in on its meme money fame and launching an NFT marketplace in an effort to diversify its revenue stream. In other crypto news, Anita also wrote about a crypto technique poised to address privacy concerns in web3.
Our colleagues were busy in Big Tech, too, so here goes:
- Snap, crackle and Insta: We always enjoy Aisha’s coverage of social media, and today she writes about Snap’s launch of Snapchat for Web, which brings the long-time app to a desktop. In addition, Instagram is coming out with a new payments feature that enables users to buy promoted products via direct message.
- Not as “clear” as you might think: Cleartrip, a travel-booking platform in India, confirmed to Jagmeet that it experienced a data breach. Exact details are not yet known, though the dark web post where the data was being sold was taken down.
- These schools will not be able to “Google” much: A new Denmark ruling citing data transfer risks means that schools across the country will no longer be able to use Chromebooks and Google Workspace, Paul reports.
- Press pause: It was Meta’s day today, Ingrid reports. The company was battling some antitrust legislation in the United Kingdom regarding an order for Meta to sell GIF marketplace Giphy, and an appeals tribunal has sent the case back to the antitrust regulator for reassessment.
- And here we thought sports were already lucrative: ESPN+ lovers are going to see their monthly and annual bills rise in August, Lauren writes.
- Same with smartphones: Smartphone shipments dropped 9% in the second quarter, and a new study that Brian read and dissected for us is pointing to the same thing going on with everything else — inflation is keeping people from trading up.