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On this beautiful June 8, 2022, we celebrate Dominic-Madori Davis joining the TechCrunch team. Check out her first article on the site and her first TechCrunch Plus feature, and give her a follow on Twitter! Woohoo, new colleagues!! — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Shake down, take down: Several U.S. law enforcement agencies are popping bottles following an announcement that they were able to seize website domains said to belong to SSNDOB, a notorious marketplace known to be cashing in on Americans’ Social Security and credit card numbers. This group had listed information on some 24 million individuals and generated $19 million in revenue.
- Going out on a limb: Branch may have had some struggles getting early funding, but even amid a cooling off of insurtech stocks, the company is finding its money tree is growing tall. Branch collected $147 million in Series C funding. Its tree is so tall there is now room for a unicorn to frolic underneath.
- All the iOS 16 features that are fit to print: We know you have been following Apple’s WWDC this week, but there are so many new features that Ivan, our new consumer tech reporter, pulled together some that you may not have heard about yet.
Startups and VC
NGL, we like to bask in some solid anarchy on a Wednesday morning, and Tux has that going on in spades. Anita’s interview with them today is :chef’s kiss: well worth a read.
- Try (with fake data) before you buy (with real money): TestBox has a goal of making it easier to test software you want to purchase in your own environment. What’s more, it comes prepopulated with synthetic data that is similar to yours to make that even easier, Ron explains, and he covers its $10 million seed round.
- Om nom, and indeed, nom: Christine reports how SCiFi Foods, formerly Artemys Foods, is combining plant-based and cultivated meat technology to create its first burger product, and its mission just got a big venture capital boost from a16z.
- Eat healthy, stretch and keep an eye on your pennies: Fruitful emerges from stealth with $33 million in funding and an app that aims to fuel healthy financial habits, Mary Ann reports.
- Out of the beta and into the fire: Continual, a startup that focuses on simplifying operational AI on top of a modern data stack, today announced that it has raised a $14.5 million Series A funding round. In addition, the company today announced that its cloud platform is now generally available, reports Frederic.
- Just look after our damn data, already: A massive trove of more than 120,000 passports, driver’s licenses and identity documents uploaded by users of bike-sharing service Mobike have been found online, Zack and Rita report.
- Zoom! Enhance! To photographers sitting on an old library of photos that leave something to be desired in the resolution and clarity front, Picsart just launched an AI enhancing tool that is rather close to magic, Haje reports.
As markets go down, government tech spending stays steady: How can investors tap in?
Federal spending on technology is expected to hold steady even as a recession looms, and investors and startups should tap this opportunity, write Josh Mendelsohn and Mike Ference, co-founders of Hangar.
“The current government spending, much of which will only begin moving in the states as they complete their legislative sessions this summer, means that companies have a once-in-a-decade (or more) chance to enter a funded marketplace looking for new ideas.”
Since the infrastructure spending bill included $110 billion for more than 4,300 projects, “for investors, it’s an incredible opportunity to back the next wave of innovation.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
You didn’t think you would get away from the day without some Twitter and Elon Musk news, did you? Musk’s legal team asked for more transparency on spam and bot accounts earlier this week, and now there are new reports that suggest he just might get them. It’s not going to be a neatly arranged package, though. More like a “firehose,” Amanda reports. Oh, and Twitter also dropped a new merchant teaser feature so you can let your customers set a reminder to know when a new product is on the way.
While we’re thinking about features, we have some bad news to share: GitHub has decided to send Atom out to pasture. The text editor for software development was getting on in years — it’s over 10 years old — and GitHub says it wants to refocus efforts on other tools. Despite this, we also have some good feature news. YouTube TV is expanding surround sound to additional devices — Meta’s Crayta game development platform will now enable you to play games with friends in real time.
- I’m just a crypto bill, sitting here on Capitol Hill: Jacquie gives you an inside look at a new bipartisan bill meant to, as she put it, “address the trillion-dollar elephant in the room: the digital assets market.”
- Hearing a different tune: Spotify spent the day hyping the potential of podcasts and audiobooks to bring in more revenue.
- Cloudy with a chance of NFTs: Salesforce is getting into the crypto game and is testing NFT Cloud, a new platform for the buying and selling of crypto assets.
- Compliance reliance: European regulators are on a roll today, telling WhatsApp it has 1 month to clear up the confusion in its terms of service policy, while France’s data watchdog group CNIL issued new guidance to organizations to get their use of Google Analytics into compliance.