What is that we hear? Is that the Friday, May 20, 2022, on the calendar and the soft, alluring siren’s song of a weekend that’s right around the corner? Why, yes, that must be it!
Our events team is busy putting together an awesome TechCrunch Disrupt, and we are psyched about Startup Battlefield, where the winner will walk away with a $100,000 check to continue building the future it is envisioning. Here’s how to be in the running. — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- UST UGH: Terraform Labs founder Do Kwon has some ’splaining to do with South Korea’s special financial crimes unit, which has launched an investigation into the collapse of Terraform’s stablecoin TerraUSD (UST) and its sister token Luna earlier this month. Prosecutors might be first in line, but the line is growing, with investors filing a lawsuit against Kwon and his co-founder Daniel Shin over alleged charges of fraud and other financial regulation violations. Also joining are Luna Foundation Guard advisors who tell Jacquie that they have not heard from Kwon in weeks.
- Standoff: We enjoyed reading Carly’s piece outlining what happened with Costa Rica’s ransomware attacks — the Conti gang is attempting to overthrow the government — and who could be next. As of our newsletter time, the ransom part was still going on. The deadline given was May 23.
- Klarna konundrum: The payments company is reportedly the latest to be fine with lowering its valuation, and in its case, there is some capital attached. We think Alex sums it up well saying, “No one likes a down round. They are dilutive, messy and demoralizing. But they are also miles better than not raising money and dying, so companies raise them when required.” He goes into why Klarna taking an insider round with a cut valuation is worth it or not.
Startups and VC
Today, we got a wee bit excited about Haje’s somewhat-expletive-filled rant about Coca-Cola’s new bottle caps that don’t detach from the bottle, against a backdrop of greenwashing.
We also loved Brian’s piece about Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky’s love for small phones. “If no one else makes one I guess I will be forced to make it myself,” Migicovsky laments.
Also, Brian and Haje tag-teamed on a pair of articles about Sony’s new earbuds. Brian covers the buds themselves (“As someone who tests a lot of earbuds over the course of a year, the LinkBuds S are among the best sounding and most comfortable I’ve had in my ears”), and Haje double-clicked on the Endel soundscape-creating app.
Strap on your dancing shoes, there’s a veritable dance party of more news coming your way:
- Not half baked: Galley Solutions, a food data company providing food operators with technology to make more profitable decisions around their culinary operations, raised $14.2 million in Series A funding, Christine reports.
- Covid has us feline fine: Tell you who isn’t upset by COVID: The litany of apps offering pet insurance. Mike reports that “Some seven in 10 pet parents take their pet’s physical and mental health more seriously than their own.”
- Taking stock of what’s next: Not happy with just trading crypto, FTX launches a stock-trading feature as well, Anita reports.
- Pumping the brakes: Brian has the behind-the-scenes on what’s going on with the startup slowdown.
- Getting ships in shipshape: Shipping is dirty business, and Harri reports on Seabound, a startup that is gearing up to help decarbonize the big boats that bring us our goods.
We also have a roundup of some of the awesome stories that came out of our Mobility event:
- Pitch-off winners: Swyft Cities is the winner of the TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility 2022 pitch-off!
- Lidar ftw: Luminar’s Austin Russell: ‘We probably shouldn’t have existed’ but lidar will drive next-gen safety anyway.
- Arrival prototype arrives: Arrival unveils prototype of dedicated ride-hail vehicle at TC Sessions: Mobility
- What we learned from Nuro: Top three takeaways from Nuro’s session at TC Sessions: Mobility
- A certifiably strategic acquisition: Joby Aviation acquires Avionyx to accelerate aerospace software certification
- Keep on trucking, now with less trucker: Aurora expands autonomous freight pilot with FedEx in Texas
- More driverless in Phoenix: Waymo is expanding its driverless program in Phoenix
Three things to remember when diversifying your startup’s cap table
Just as a sales team builds and refines its funnel, early stage founders in fundraising mode can create an investor funnel that will help sustain their company for years to come.
Oriana Papin-Zoghbi, CEO and co-founder of women’s health startup AOA Dx, shared her investor breakdown with TC+:
- 35% private investors
- 34% women (female investors or female-headed funds)
- 26% venture capitalists
- 23% family and friends
- 18% international investors
- 15% angel groups
“When building an investor funnel, vocalizing what you want is crucial to finding the right investors,” says Papin-Zoghbi.
“Finding the right investors is like finding the right team members — you need to be upfront about your expectations and address what you want them to bring to the table.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Deposit 25 cents: If you’re a gamer, we presume you have some thoughts on God of War: Ragnarök. Devin’s take is that this game “may be the most accessible title yet, and that’s saying something.” It’s good to see Microsoft create a game that offers features that are customizable for people with certain specific disabilities, like a visual or hearing impairment.
- The family that Snaps together stays together: For every parent dying to know who their teen is interacting with on Snapchat, the social media giant is close to launching its parental control feature, “Family Center.” For those of you not on Snapchat, or don’t have children, Sarah tells us this is important because it is one of the few social networks where you can’t see someone’s friend list.
- Holy Poké Balls!: There’s now a Poké Ball reward for being both a Pokémon GO player and an Amazon Prime member.
- Dating update: It looks like Match Group, the parent company of dating apps Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid, is on good terms with Google again. Crisis averted?