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Hello, and Happy Thursday. Just one more day to go for the workweek. Haje is in Boston taking fabulous photos of the activities going on at TechCrunch Early Stage today, so I’m holding down the fort. And I’m also mourning my blue Twitter check mark, which left me today. Enough about that. Let’s get on with the news! — Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Passwords are hard to remember: The company behind the encrypted email service Proton Mail has now unveiled the Proton Pass password manager so you don’t have to do any remembering. Romain has more.
- Don’t worry, this is a Primo tool: Also by Romain, French startup Primo raised $3.4 million to continue developing an IT tool for companies that are too small for an IT manager.
- Blue skies, smiling at me: Bluesky, the Jack Dorsey–backed Twitter alternative, is now available on Android, writes Sarah.
Startups and VC
Three former managing directors at Amex Ventures went out on their own to start Vesey Ventures, and now they have closed on their debut fund with $78 million in capital commitments to back early-stage fintech startups. Mary Ann has more on their journey.
Now over to CoreWeave, which landed a mega-round of $221 million in Series B investment, of which half came from lead investor Magnetar Capital. Kyle writes that this values the general-purpose cloud computing company at $2 billion pre-money.
Here’s SIX more for you:
- Game on: Rita peels back the layers of Bitkraft Ventures’ vision to invest in Asian gaming startups.
- A Robust view of robotics: Robust.AI raised $20 million to scale robot deliveries for pilot customers, reports Brian.
- From hospitality to fleet management: Two brothers in Senegal are putting their hospitality management skills to work helping trucking companies with their logistics. Their company, Chargel, has now raised $2.5 million in seed funding, Annie writes.
- Focus on mental health: Tage spoke with investors who say that if founder mental wellness is tied to innovation and success, then there needs to be a light shown on it, especially during this difficult capital crunch environment.
- It’s like Barbie’s Jeep, but in human size: French microcar startup Kate raised another $7.6 million in its quest to produce more tiny electric vehicles, like its K1, reports Romain.
- We assure you, they’re real: Singapore-based document verifier Accredify is now flush with $7 million to continue to tell you if your documents are real. Catherine has more.
4 problems venture capital can’t solve
Fundraising is a key aspect of every founder’s journey, but Techstars managing director Collin Wallace says it can also hasten a company’s demise.
For example, raising funds to scale up sales and marketing efforts might sound great, but what if the business itself has negative unit economics?
“Most of the time, what stands between a company and its ability to achieve scale is not a lack of money,” says Wallace.
“It’s better to ask: Do we have hustle problems? Product problems? Process problems? People problems? Is my business model fundamentally flawed?”
Two more from the TC+ team:
- Ooey gooey pitch deck goodness: In the latest installment of Pitch Deck Teardown, Haje looks at the pitch deck that got Honeycomb a $50 million Series D.
- Threading the needle: Dominic-Madori spoke with Lisa Lambert, the head of National Grid’s CVC National Grid Partners, who discussed that “environmental and social concerns should be top of mind right now for any smart investor.”
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.
SpaceX finally had liftoff of its Starship rocket, which went to orbit for the first time. Darrell writes that “all told, this should definitely be considered a success: SpaceX founder Elon Musk had said previously that there was essentially a significant chance Starship wouldn’t even make it off the pad on this first try.”
Tricks are for kids, but in Discord’s case, tricks are for its new chatbot. Lorenzo reports that some users performed a trick called “jailbreaking” on Discord’s Clyde chatbot, getting it to share napalm and meth instructions.
And now here’s five more for you:
- Explicit content ahead: Imgur will ban explicit images on its platform, Ivan reports.
- From the mind of…: Kyle writes about Google consolidating its AI research divisions into Google DeepMind.
- Getting a word in: It’s no secret that group chats tend to suck when there are more than about three people in one. A new app called Wavelength is trying to make group chats suck less. Ivan has more.
- We got ourselves a convoy: Kodiak Robotics has a new gig to haul freight autonomously for Tyson Foods, reports Rebecca.
- Respect my authoritah!: Lauren has details about Paramount allegedly owing Warner Bros. Discovery $52 million for “South Park” streaming rights.