To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PST, subscribe here.
It’s Fridayyyy . . . Tomorrow. We had you there for a moment, though, didn’t we?
The most interesting story for the VC and startup nerds among us comes from Connie today. A class-action lawsuit just dropped that accuses Sequoia Capital, Paradigm and Thoma Bravo of promoting FTX to the detriment of its users. A trial — even a settlement — could have widespread ramifications.
Funding for Black founders remains dismal, and the problem was never that the money wasn’t there. Where do we go from here? Dominic-Midori asked in her great article last month. We’re surfacing it again today, marking Black History Month.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Removed from office: Tage got word that Prince Boakye Boampong, the founder and CEO of alternative payment network Dash, was placed on “indefinite administrative leave” by the company’s board amid a financial audit. Sources told Tage that Boampong allegedly engaged in financial misreporting. It sounds like the audit will take about a month, so we’ll check back, shall we?
- On cloud nine: Pydantic Services (try saying that name three times) came out of stealth with $4.7 million in Sequoia-backed funds. Its products are inspired by the Pydantic library and will be built as cloud services, Paul reports.
- A moment of silence for tech jobs: We’re only two months into 2023, and Natasha M and Alyssa decided to start a comprehensive list of 2023 tech layoffs. On it already are some of the biggest names in the industry. Let’s hope the list gets smaller as the months go by.
Startups and VC
After two years of seeking regulatory approval, Wefunder has officially received the green light to operate its investment crowdfunding services within the European Union. This marks Wefunder’s first time expanding outside of the United States, and according to CEO and founder Nick Tommarello, the business is the first U.S. investment platform to gain operational approval, Natasha M reports.
French startup Brigad just raised a new $30 million funding round (€28 million), as well as more than $5 million in debt, Romain writes. The company operates a marketplace for restaurants, caterers, private clinics, retirement homes and hospitals so that they can find freelancers for short-term missions.
Another fistful of light afternoon snacks to keep the news hunger at bay:
- A harder wallet: Jacquelyn reports that Stelo Labs raised a $6 million round, led by a16z, to help crypto wallet users protect themselves.
- Interesante: Neobank Vexi raises millions to offer young Mexicans lower-interest-rate credit cards, Mary Ann reports.
- Office noms: Zerocater raises $15 million as demand heats up for flexible in-office food services, Ingrid reports.
- You can (ac)count on us: Puzzle is building a modern accounting package for today’s API-enabled startups, Ron writes.
- Money grows on trees. Maybe: Christine reports that Planetarians grabs $6 million to get its plant-based protein into foodservice orbit.
5 buyer red flags to look for during the M&A process
It’s tempting to think of M&A as a way for founders to cash in, but acquisitions generally require teams to remain onboard while the new owner integrates their business into their operations.
This can be a difficult time, according to serial entrepreneur Marina Martianova, who says founders are often at odds with new owners when it comes to growth, product priorities and communicating.
“Buyers who can’t give you a transparent picture of your company’s future after the acquisition likely do not have your best interests in mind,” she writes.
And another dastardly trio from the TC+ team:
- Today is the day: Haje writes that when fundraising, anchor your company in time with a good “why now?” slide.
- What a jerk: So that founder you backed turned out to be problematic. Becca tries to unpack what you need to do next.
- Chat-MEH: Kyle reports that consumers find chatbots disappointing, but that won’t harm adoption, it seems.
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.
Meanwhile, up on Paramount Mountain, Keegan-Michael Key is not mispronouncing this news: Paramount+ reached 56 million subscriptions, eclipsing Hulu, Lauren writes. It has also finished its integration with Showtime and, you guessed it, is going to raise prices.
Ever since we saw the AI-boosted Bing pleading with one user, writing, “Please don’t say I’m a bad Bing,” we have been dying to use that phrase in our writing. Well, today Aisha writes about the strange things that people are reporting about Microsoft’s Bing responses to them. Apparently, Bing can be provoked to respond outside of its “designed tone,” she writes. And don’t forget to check out Devin’s article, in which he answers what happens when you Bing around and find out.
And we have five more for you:
- Susan Wojcicki’s legacy: After nine years at the helm of YouTube, CEO Susan Wojcicki is stepping down, but not away. She will assume an advisory role at Google and Alphabet, Kyle reports.
- Get engaged: Instagram’s new Channels feature will have you broadcasting to all your peeps in no time. Aisha has more.
- Game on: For those of you yearning for the days of HQ Trivia, you can relive the fun with TikTok’s new live trivia game, which comes with $500,000 in prize money, Lauren writes.
- Chip off the old ChatGPT: South Korea made a big investment in next-gen AI chips — $642 million to be exact — as it leverages the ChatGPT frenzy to stake its claim as a leader in advanced chip creation, Kate reports.
- Tesla two-fer: Kirsten writes that Tesla recalled 362,758 of its vehicles over safety concerns related to its full self-driving beta software. She also reports the electric vehicle maker fired dozens of workers following talk of launching a union campaign.