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Okay, NOW it’s Friday. Got any fun plans for the long weekend? Haje is moving house (ugh), and Christine is browsing GIFs of puppies until her battery runs out. Probably.
Most people aren’t straight-up racist, but it turns out unconscious biases sneak into our brains in all sorts of nasty, sneaky little ways. Stereotypes and prejudices exist, and being aware of yours is a good place to start working on. The Cornerstone Foundation has a free 30-minute course you can take to uncover and work on them.
We hope you have a fine Monday and don’t miss us too much while we are off for the holiday. Look for our return on Tuesday. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a drone: Dronamics raised $40 million in a pre-Series A round (or really big seed round if you’d rather look at it that way) to start an autonomous cargo drone airline in Europe, Mike writes. It has some ambitious goals, too: The CEO says it will be able to deliver to all of Europe in the same day from a single warehouse.
- Preempted: Some Disney+ Hotstar customers were none too pleased when the stream went down in the middle of a popular cricket match. Manish has more, including details that this type of thing is not an isolated incident.
- Pointing fingers: Carly and Zack report that a data breach has Atlassian and Envoy briefly blaming each other for what went down that led to thousands of Atlassian employees having their data exposed.
Startups and VC
With so many fintechs laying off staff, it can be easy to assume that the entire industry is in distress, but that’s not the case. In fact, some companies are finding opportunity in the masses of layoffs, Mary Ann discovers. Here’s who is hiring. Meanwhile, Natasha M and Alyssa collected a comprehensive list of 2023 tech layoffs.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged the collapsed blockchain firm and stablecoin operator Terraform Labs and its founder Do Kwon with defrauding U.S. investors who purchased the digital assets Terra USD and Luna, Kate reports.
And we have five more for you:
- Internet at the speed of light: Catherine reports that Singapore-based Transcelestial uses lasers to build affordable internet networks.
- Bike and subscribe: Mike reports that micro-EV subscription startup Dance pulls in another €12 million from existing investors.
- Fantas3 sports: Binance-backed web3 gaming startup Unagi gets funding to expand fantasy sports platform, Paul reports.
- Keeping an eye on those drivers: VivaCity raises at a $42 million valuation to make U.S. cities safer, starting with New York, Haje writes.
- The check’s in the mail: Ledge aims to build automation tools for finance teams, reports Kyle.
So that founder you backed turned out to be problematic. Now what?
Early-stage investors don’t closely manage the entrepreneurs they shower with cash, even when things go off the rails. And in some cases, they may not be able to exert much authority.
Assuming a VC makes an investment via a SAFE note, “if that stake hasn’t converted to equity, they don’t have much say if things start to go wrong,” reports Rebecca Szkutak.
To learn more about how investors handle problematic CEOs, she spoke to:
- Cameron Newton, founder and general partner, Relevance Ventures
- Eric Bahn, co-founder and general partner, Hustle Fund
- Angela Lee, venture partner, professor, Columbia Business School
We also have a few more for the weekend:
- A highly charged decision: Tesla opening its Superchargers to all EVs might be a masterstroke — or a terrible mistake, Tim writes.
- We’re okay?: The tech jobs market might not be as shaky as it feels, writes Ron.
- You definitely have competitors: Haje discusses how to think about your competitor slide for your pitch deck.
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.
The pandemic forced us to find new ways to collaborate in a remote workplace, and some companies have been able to leverage that need. Rita reports that Feishu, ByteDance’s Slack-like tool, was one of them, generating $100 million in 2022. She writes, “ByteDance’s heavy investment in Feishu is telling of the state of enterprise software in China. At a time when Silicon Valley investors are heralding product-led growth — services that convert users through their products, as exemplified by Calendly — software in China still largely counts on sales, marketing and services to recruit users.”
Now here’s five more for you:
- Fee for service: Some Lyft drivers say they have not yet seen the benefits of the company’s new wait-time fees charged to customers in their wallet, Rebecca writes.
- A-I believe it: Connie speaks to a technologist who says it is going to be one heck of a ride trying to keep AI in check.
- Get your grilling on: If your ground still has snow on it, perhaps Matt’s review of Traeger’s latest pellet grill will help you envision your first spring cookout.
- What’s new in iOS: Ivan runs down the list of features coming to iOS 16.4, from emoji to push notifications.
- Your new shopping buddy: Brian spent a day at the Toyota Research Institute getting to know its robot residents.