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Happy Fri-yay the 3rd of June 2022. Or, as this cursed pandemic is still doing its thing, perhaps it’s March 824, 2020, who knows. Whatever is happening in your world, we hope that you are experiencing peace and that you know the source of peace. Can you tell we’ve been reading some hippie literature recently? Those folks do seem pretty peaceful — maybe they’re onto something. Happy weekend and catch you on the flip side! — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Brrrr, it’s cold in here — there must be some hiring freezes in the atmosphere: It’s been quite the week for layoffs and hiring freezes, as you will see farther down in our fair newsletter. So perhaps it is not a surprise that after telling Tesla employees to get thee into the office, it has now come out that Elon Musk told executives to freeze hiring for salaried workers. Not only did the news do a number on Tesla shares, but it also gave President Joe Biden some fodder for his jobs report.
- The delivery kids aren’t all right: Delivery startups, once the “darlings” of venture capital investment as Kyle put it, found their stride when none of us could go places over the past 2 years. But it seems the faster the delivery times got, or the promise of it, the more certain companies failed to, well, deliver. Sources say correction is a comin’.
- “Inflation and layoffs and supply chain problems, oh my!”: That was Ron’s evaluation of what is going on out there. However, as he found out while listening to Salesforce’s first-quarter performance call, CEO Marc Benioff revealed his company did not see the downed quarter as some other companies did.
Startups and VC
Sometimes, you come across companies that speak with a forked tongue. I’m not saying that’s the case for Blackbaud’s self-proclaimed ‘social good’ cloud provider business, but it’s definitely a little whiffy to have had the National Rifle Association as a customer since 1997, as Devin reports.
A propos calling bovine excrement when we see it; the A team (Amanda and Anita, obvz, that other A-team has a lot less finger-on-the-pulse cred) argue that perhaps we should just cool it with the ‘girlboss’ moniker.
But wait, there is more:
- Bad contractor, no customer data for you: Kyle reports that Reco, a company using AI to map a company’s data sharing, today announced that it raised $30 million.
- You pivot me right round, baby, right round, like a startup, baby, right round: Matt hosted one of our favorite sessions of TechCrunch’s City Spotlight this week, exploring how the 10-year-old startup Olive ended up pivoting 27 (!) times before accelerating the company into a $4 billion valuation.
- Bosch cleans up: Famous for hand tools and washing machines, and less famous for (but extremely well known within the industry) for automotive components, the 135-year-old company Bosch just announced it has a $295 million corporate venture capital fund to invest in climate, IoT, and autonomous vehicles, Harri reports.
- Chips for the dip: South Korean AI chip maker Rebellions just collected a $50 million investment from Pavillion Capital, Kate reports.
- Yes please to AI: As Pinterest sets its eyes on improving the online shopping experience on its platform, the company announced this afternoon it’s acquiring the AI-powered shopping service for fashion known as The Yes, Sarah reports.
- Moar layoffs today: Both Social app IRL and Insurtech company PolicyGenius cut 25% of their respective workforces, as the Great Belt-Tightening of 2022 continues.
Black Founders Matter presses VCs to pledge commitment to diversity
In an interview with new TechCrunch reporter Dominic-Madori Davis, Marceau Michel, founder and managing partner of Black Founders Matter VC Fund, spoke about a new initiative to boost diversity in tech.
“This is about changing the power dynamics in venture capital,” he told TechCrunch. “You have to start at who is left behind and bring them to the starting line.”
Under the 25 by 25 Pledge, investors would promise to direct 25% of their funds to BIPOC women founders by 2025.
“If a fund does not want to do this pledge … the question is why,” Michel said. “The status quo just doesn’t hold up anymore. Keeping people that look like us out of the picture just doesn’t work.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Microsoft said it thwarted a plan by a Lebanon-based hacking group, believed to be working with Iranian intelligence, to allegedly target Israeli organizations. The group, called Polonium, was creating Microsoft OneDrive accounts and then using them to attempt the hacks.
Amazon’s long-time consumer division CEO Dave Clark said he was stepping down from the company in July after 23 years with the company. It’s unclear why he is leaving after having only taken on the role two years ago, but Clark did tweet that “it’s time for me to build again.”
In new features news:
- TikTok is expanding on its live subscription offering with a new comedy series in collaboration with creator Jericho Mencke and Pearpop. The subscription price is $4.99.
- Snapchat users will now see restaurant recommendations on their Snap Maps in select cities. The feature is part of a collab with restaurant review website The Infatuation.
- Mozilla now has a translation option for Firefox that is based on a machine learning process from your computer versus a cloud-based process.
- Your Ring doorbell will get some enhanced alert and video download features in about a month. However, the video doorbell company is not making subscribers happy with a rise in its Protect Basic plan, which is poised to increase to $3.99 a month in July.
You may have missed these gems from yesterday, but Coinbase surprised us by announcing that it was freezing its hiring process. Initial reports said the company was rescinding offers to new employees that were already accepted, but those people had not yet started. Now we are getting word that their jobs are safe. Don’t worry, we are on it and will hopefully be able to clear this up soon. Next up, General Motors’ autonomous vehicle unit Cruise is now able to charge for driverless robotaxi rides in San Francisco. And we take a look at a report showing just how hard it is to get an app at the top of the App Store.