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Today, we will mostly be listening to this delightful end-of-week gratitude meditation, and contemplating all the weird and wonderful things that have happened this week. Because, by golly, has there been a lot of weird. And, for that matter, a lot of wonderful.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Cut.it.out: We mean pictures, not reading this newsletter. We enjoyed seeing how creative some iOS 16 users were in utilizing the new background removal feature for photos. Ivan has more and even created a shortcut of his own.
- Uber eats? More like Uber defeats: That notification you got asking for you to unlock your Uber account was actually something to be alarmed about. The ride-hailing giant is investigating its cybersecurity processes after a hacker got in, Carly reports.
- Don’t fear the hyphen: Polywork raised $28 million to help you embrace all the job title hyphens you have. Natasha M even tried it out herself.
Startups and VC
Shervin Pishevar, an investor who left Silicon Valley for Miami after being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women in 2017, has resurfaced as the “vice chairman” of Yeezy, the consumer brand controlled by Kanye West, Connie reports.
In gig economy land, things are about to get interesting. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into the complex and potentially unfair economics and policies of the gig economy for “deceptive, unfair, and otherwise unlawful acts and practices.” Whether it’s forced arbitration, labor misclassification, or algorithmic pay and job distribution, the agency says it will go after any dubious tactics that hurt workers, Devin reports.
And for your final piece of startup drama today, Natasha M and Becca report the Launch House community reacts to media reports of alleged misconduct and harassment.
Okay, fine, a few more:
- Over the moon with Loona: Consumer robot Loona is Anki’s spiritual successor, and just went live on Kickstarter with some impressive moves. It’s totes adorable, and Brian’s piece includes a video to prove it.
- It goes how fast?!: Haje checked out the Apollo Pro, and the company’s CTO says he wants the new scooter to be “the Cybertruck of scooters.”
- Edtech at a discount: Ingrid reports that General Atlantic buys out SoftBank’s 15% stake in edtech Kahoot, now valued at about $152 million — that’s $63 million less than the valuation SoftBank invested at two years ago.
- In a way, aren’t we all squid- or octopus-like humanoids in a post-apocalyptic world?: Amanda celebrated her 420th post on TechCrunch by covering Splatoon, a video game version of those ASMR-like “oddly satisfying” videos.
- The highs and lows of scooter land: Haje also had a pair of stories about the scooter company Unagi. It announces it isn’t going to manufacture the Model Eleven scooter after all, even though it raised more than $700,000 via Indiegogo to bring the micromobility product to market. Instead, it launches the updated Model One Voyager, and offers its crowdfunding backers some of those scooters instead.
3 investors explain why earned wage access startups are set to cash more checks
Workers with low-wage jobs often experience cash-flow problems.
Because so many don’t have access to credit or savings, a growing number that once depended on predatory lenders can now tap into their wages before payday via earned wage access (EWA).
“The potential for this model is huge, but the industry is still very much in its early stages,” reports Karan Bhasin, who interviewed three active EWA investors to learn more about where the industry is headed:
Jennifer Ho, partner at Integra Partners
Aris Xenofontos, partner at Seaya Ventures
Aditi Maliwal, partner at Upfront Ventures
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!)
Big Tech Inc.
For you Apple Watch enthusiasts, Brian packs in the puns and postulates about the Series 8 (“The new features aren’t flashy, but some of them might save your life”) and the SE (“The SE is the Apple Watch for people on a somewhat tighter budget, who recognize that they don’t need absolutely every annual addition to the device”). He talks a lot about choice — which one will you choose?
- “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up…”: Totally had to steal that line from Natasha L’s story about what happened when a couple of documents were unsealed related to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica privacy debacle.
- Nothing “Short” about this YouTube feature: Ivan and Aisha bring two different takes on YouTube’s Shorts news. One is that YouTube encourages creators to make Shorts directly from replies and the other is that Shorts creators will get a cut of ad revenue.
- Taken down a notch: Everyone eager to customize their iPhone with the new iOS 16 features put Top Widgets at the “top” of the App Store, unfortunately knocking BeReal out of the No. 1 spot, Sarah writes.
- Who’s next on the acquisition train?: Following the news that Ingrid brought to us about Adobe acquiring Figma, Alex and Anna took a look at who might be the next Figma and who might be the next M&A target. Also, Ron spoke to 10 people about how this deal even came about.
- A SPAC out of this world: We’re not sure if companies who went public via special purchase acquisitions are recovering, but Intuitive Machines, a Houston-based company developing lunar landers and other technologies, is taking a stab at it, Aria writes.