Daily Crunch: Amazon says it’s ‘disappointed’ after Staten Island fulfillment center workers unionize
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A fine day to you, and welcome to Daily Crunch for Friday, April 1, 2022! It was a slow news day at TC Towers because we double-checked every PR pitch for April Fools’ Day silliness and every PR agency in the world advised their clients to set embargoes to literally any other day of the year.
Alex and Mary Ann held down the Equity fort this week in a particularly enjoyable episode covering – among other things – Instacart lowering its valuation. Now if you’ll forgive us, we’re just going to listen to Rick Astley on repeat. Trick’s on you, 900 people who were trying to fool us into clicking on those links. – Christine and Haje
P.S. Before we forget – TechCrunch Disrupt is back with an in-person event in October. Join us! We even have a twofer offer code for you, so you can bring a friend!
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Another Amazon center votes to unionize: The big news for today was not a laughing matter for Amazon, but had employees at the e-commerce giant’s JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island happy to go into the weekend. They voted to unionize. Brian has been keeping a close eye on this for TechCrunch, and he reports that Amazon is likely to challenge the vote results and has seven days from today to do so.
- This is not a drill: In case you missed this one from last evening, President Joe Biden plans to enact the Defense Production Act so that the U.S. can stave off a possible shortage of minerals and materials necessary for batteries used for electric vehicles and energy storage.
- Sad SaaS?: Speaking of valuations, it’s not just Instacart that might see lowered valuations. Alex Wilhelm unpacks a Silicon Valley Bank report that suggests that late-stage software-as-a-service companies may also see lower valuations, and startups trying to raise some later-stage capital may not have as attractive a price.
Startups and VC
A quiet news day today, but a few fun gems bubbled to the surface:
- U.K. fashion rental company By Rotation is expanding its rent-from-the-community platform to the U.S.
- Gotta love how pizza has become one of the measures of how agile robots are, and I, for one, am delighted to see MIT leaning into the phrase “complex dough manipulation.”
- These robots are berry gentle: A propos robots, a team of researchers found a way for robots to pick very fragile fruit, such as raspberries.
- Game over: E3, one of the biggest games trade shows in the world, announced it’s canceling E3 for another year and promised they’ll try to continue next year.
- Loyal Wordle players got the fuzzy end of the lollipop this week when the answer word didn’t match the word their friend came up with. I truly wish that this was the biggest issue the world was facing right now, but as someone who uses word games as part of my mental health regime … thank you, Sarah, for getting to the bottom of this mystery!
As a startup nerd with a particular penchant for the art of VC pitching, I’m psyched to attend Lotti Siniscalco’s Pitch Deck Teardown at TC Early Stage in a couple of weeks.
The how and why of raising OT security capital
Operational technology, which allows critical infrastructure to operate 24/7, is one area facing significant cybersecurity risk, and with the U.S. government taking steps to mitigate the threat, security firms addressing this area stand to benefit the most, writes Matt Gatto, a managing director at Insight Partners.
In a guest post for TC+, he explains how recent attacks on critical infrastructure, pending regulation, and rising concerns over Russian cyberattacks are creating new opportunities in OT.
“It’s a good time for OT security providers to seek funding,” says Gatto. “The combination of increasing OT cyberattacks and the emergence of government regulations is fueling a funding frenzy.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- It’s electric!: The U.S. Department of Transportation announced some new domestic fuel economy standards for 2024 that will put the country closer to President Joe Biden’s goal that half of the vehicles sold in the U.S. be battery-electric by 2030. This means carmakers will have to figure out how to go from the industry standard of 37 miles per gallon to 49 mpg.
- GoPro’s new battery packs a triple punch: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into your camera bag for a new battery, GoPro unveils a new Volta battery grip that gives you three times the amount of shooting time. It’s great for perfecting your next Michael Bay impersonation.
I don’t know about y’all, but I’m on my very last nerve, and between elections, pandemics, invasions, and the drummer of my favorite band passing away recently, I’ve lost at least 95% of my sense of humor over the last couple of years. Still, tech startups try to prank the ever-loving bejesus out of us every year. Here are the top five least cringe April Fools’ Day jokes this year.
- 3D printing darlings Formlabs announced it is launching a 2D printer. Given my extremely mixed results with the early printers I had from Formlabs, I’d be hesitant to order one, but let’s face it; if they launched a 2D printer, it’d probably be better than a lot of the other garbage I’ve had on my desk over the years, so who knows. I’m 99% sure that this is a joke, unfortch.
- Twitter trolled its user base, saying it is working on an edit button. It’s been the platform’s most-requested feature since we all first commenced tweeting in the aughts, and everyone knows at this point that it probably ain’t gonna happen. (Besides, it’s an awful idea.) But yeah. Way to rile up the masses!
- Heardle makers had a subtle April Fools’ Day joke that 100% got me this morning. The Wordle knock-off for music fans is super fun; the indignation I had that it wasn’t available to play today really let me down, made me cry, and hurt me.
- tvTV launched a TV made especially for Apple TV. I particularly appreciate the lengths the company went to to make renderings for a product that doesn’t make sense in so many dimensions that I’m worried it might create a wormhole and suck us all into an alternate universe, where 2D printers exist, there’s a Twitter edit button, and Apple TV becomes a cartridge for a toaster.
- And finally, a dumb beer subscription site pulled a dumb stunt to sell its dumb products through what can only be described as dumb bait-and-switch dumbness. I hope their dumb marketing team and the dumb executives that greenlit the dumb idea get it into their dumb heads that you can’t just defraud people and get away with it. They say that all attention is good attention, but consider this my dumb hot take: That was dumb. Let’s not do that sort of dumb thing again, and don’t give dumb companies your money. </soapbox>