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As January is coming to a close, the TechCrunch team is firing on all cylinders (do we still say that, in a time of electric cars? What is a better expression these days?), with a wall of amazing content for you to download straight into your brain. We’ve picked the cream of the crop, even as we are further confused as to why there was cream on the crops in the first place. In summary, idiomatic English continues to confound even the biggest language nerds among us. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Who’s calling?: T-Mobile’s data breach last week seems to have spilled over into Google Fi, which now says hackers accessed customers’ information. Carly has more.
- Home sweet HomePod: Brian plugged in the 2023 Apple HomePod and shares what he likes and doesn’t like about it.
- More layoffs: Cloud data management giant NetApp will lay off 8%, or around 960, of its employees across multiple geographies, Ingrid reports. And yes, it’s citing the economic climate as the “why.”
Startups and VC
There are some people on the internet who don’t want to be found. That seems to be the case for the elusive, mysterious owner of Stripper Web, a 20-year-old forum for exotic dancers and sex workers. With just one week of advance notice, the forum’s unknown owner announced that the website will shut down on February 1, erasing the decades-long digital footprint of a community on the margins. Amanda’s feature story tries to get to the bottom of things and is fantastic — give it a read!
This January, Germany’s largest vaccine maker, BioNTech, announced that it had agreed to acquire Tunisian-born and London-headquartered AI startup InstaDeep for up to £562 million, including a performance-tied £200 million tranche investment. Tage argues that InstaDeep’s acquisition is a classic case of an African startup gone global.
Not enough to keep you busy? Well, here’s another handful:
- At your cervix: Teal unwraps $8.8 million to build out a telehealth platform for women — starting with cervical cancer screening, Natasha L reports.
- Insects gettin’ busy: Romain covers that Entocycle grabs $5 million for its insect breeding technology.
- Call me on my fair phone: Natasha L also covers that Fairphone nabs $53 million in growth capital for “sustainable” consumer electronics.
- Tele-sexual health: Haje reports that TBD Health is rolling out at-home sexual healthcare to all U.S. states, raising $4.4 million.
- Your brain in the fast lane: Precision Neuroscience is making brain implants safer, smarter and reversible, writes Devin.
When to build a freemium plan and how to get it right
SaaS pricing comes in three flavors: the classic sales-led model, free trials that eventually force users to make a decision, or freemium plans that hopefully deliver enough value to keep users coming back.
“Given the obvious differences between these models, choosing one should be fairly straightforward,” writes Konstantin Valiotti, product director of growth at PandaDoc. “However, current market conditions do not support having just a single model.”
In this TC+ article, he explains how to identify the right time to roll out a freemium plan and, equally importantly, when not to. He also includes a tactical framework for developing freemium products that includes use cases for limited and unlimited usage.
“Every strategy is unique and depends on the company’s idea of how it wants to proceed,” writes Valiotti. “Therefore, you should consider freemium as an extension of your strategy and see if it is right for you.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Teaming with good advice: Haje goes deep on the team slide, and why it is the most important slide in a startup pitch deck.
- Your bankruptcy crypto is probably gone: Jacquelyn writes that if you lost your crypto amid Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings, you’re probably not getting it back.
- Let’s roll that back a bit: Eldar Tuvey explains how you can cut your SaaS spending by 30% in 2023.
TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Big Tech Inc.
Finally someone is turning tablets into something you can use other than surfing the internet or watching Netflix. Haje has your look at Plugable’s new dock that turns your tablet or phone into a workstation.
Meanwhile, Rita ponders what would happen if China-based Baidu developed an answer to ChatGPT. Would it make a difference? And what kind of limitations would it have?
Now here’s five more:
- Extra extra, read all about it…on a personalized news reader: Sarah writes that Instagram’s co-founders are connecting the past and present of news content with a new social app for news reading.
- General Motors — Raw: GM is reaching into its pocketbook to the tune of $650 million to lock down lithium supply for its electric vehicles, Kirsten reports.
- Big changes for Big Tech: Natasha L writes that changes are coming for GDPR enforcement on Big Tech in Europe.
- Clipping jobs: In a second round of job cuts, Groupon laid off another 500 employees, Ivan reports.
- Exposed!: Taiwan-based automotive giant Hotai Motor enabled thousands of iRent customer documents to be accessible via the internet. Zack and Rebecca have more on how this happened.