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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Thursday, February 10, 2022! Trying new stuff is always risky, but I wanted to say thanks to everyone who came out today to watch Equity record live. Up next: Found, next Thursday! – Alex
TechCrunch Top 3
- Investing in digital land: Spinning out of alt-asset crowdfunding platform Republic, Everyrealm just raised $60 million to become the “gateway to the entire metaverse ecosystem.” Having visited virtual land in recent weeks, I am slightly skeptical of the maturity of the metaverse (more here, here), but you have to hand it to Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto team – they have conviction.
- Chinese tech working conditions criticized after worker death: Once praised by U.S. venture capitalists, working conditions at some Chinese tech companies are being criticized after a “25-year-old man who monitored content at Chinese video streaming site Bilibili suddenly passed away on February 5 during Chinese New Year,” TechCrunch reports. This isn’t the first time that this has happened.
- Tech stocks at risk: A hot inflation report from the United States has stoked expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will tighten rates sharply this year. Stocks sold off. Tech stocks may be at even more risk than other equities – though not everyone agrees with that perspective.
- Respira Labs raises $2.8M: Respiratory care startup Respira Labs has compiled $1 million in funding and $1.8 million in grants to “continue building its acoustic resonance technology to assess lung function and changes therein,” TechCrunch reports. Hardware is hard, but this sounds like an idea worth pursuing.
- Astra launch fails to reach orbit: SpaceX is not the only company working to make cheaper transit to space a reality. Astra is another company in the fight, but its latest launch – and its first from Florida – did not go well. Some small satellites were lost. Hardware is hard, especially when you have rockets involved.
- OnlyFans 🤝 NFTs: In the wake of Twitter bringing NFT profile pictures (PFPs, if you are cool) to its service, other companies are following suit. OnlyFans is the latest, though we fully expect it won’t be the last. At this juncture, any quip I could make would fall afoul of the censors, but I suppose that NSFW content and blockchains had to fuse at some point.
- What will come first: Self-driving cars, or VTOL consumer travel? A handful of technologies have been discussed for a long time, yet remain a little out of reach. Self-driving cars are close, perhaps, to commercial viability. But what about vertical takeoff aircraft that could “reinvent regional air travel”? Well, with $12.4 million in new capital, Odys Aviation (formerly Craft Aerospace) wants to tackle the challenge. Place your bets.
- $130M more for BNPL: The buy now, pay later craze is still attracting buckets of duckets. That’s the news from French startup Alma, which is taking on the European payment market. The company also secured $109 million in debt, which makes sense given its product. All BNPL startups are wagers on consumer spending, making them macro-sensitive, right? Just thinking out loud.
And because I exist to test my editors’ patience, if crypto companies are going to spend this much money, can we at least get an 11th F1 team?
Dear Sophie: How can early-stage startups compete for talent?
As a first-time, early-stage startup founder, I find it difficult to compete against other startups on compensation.
We’ve had some interest from individuals who need visas or are demanding green cards, but paying the government and legal fees would be a stretch for us.
Any advice for reducing the cost of recruiting from abroad?
— Fledgling Founder
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- How Peloton pedaled into a ditch: TechCrunch’s Haje Kamps has a great piece on the site today tracking Peloton’s epic ascent during the pandemic and its full-speed coast after folks started going back outside. We doubt it’s the last company to suffer from a post-pandemic – such as it is – period of turbulence.
- Apple to address AirTag stalking: Any technology can be misused, and must be designed to prevent potential misuse. But we humans keep forgetting that lesson, and thus keep relearning it time and time again. Apple, at least, is going to work on its AirTags product to help keep people safe.
- Disney+ posts solid growth: Let’s play a game. Guess how many Disney+ subscribers there are today. Have your guess? Good. Did you guess closer to 10 million, or 100 million? In reality, Disney+ just added “11.8 million new subscribers last quarter to reach 129.8 million,” TechCrunch reports. That’s more than I expected, at least.
- Android 13 is here for developers: Android fans, good news. The next major version of your mobile OS has reached the developer-testing stage.
- The state of self-driving testing: The TechCrunch transit team has been kicking butt lately, meaning that we’re keeping tabs on the intersection of technology and moving about like never before. The Wheels and Dollars crew has notes up today on the fact that “fewer companies tested autonomous vehicles on California’s public roads last year versus the one before — and yet they logged nearly twice as many miles driven.” So is that good, or bad? Rebecca Bellan notes that the surviving players tend to be Big Tech companies, so it’s a little hard to say.
- Tesla sued over racial discrimination complaints: Citing “hundreds” of worker complaints, the Tesla facility in Fremont is being sued for “alleged racial discrimination and harassment.” California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing says that “Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay, and promotion, creating a hostile work environment.”