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Hot damn, it’s happening: A bunch of the TechCrunch team are on airplanes, aeroplanes and other spellings of flying vessels to come join us in San Francisco for Disrupt. To say that we are excited would be using altogether too few syllables. Lauren S made us a user’s guide to TechCrunch Disrupt along with a guide to all the receptions, parties and other cool extracurriculars. See you soon! — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- What’s another word for Synonym?: Ever heard of a “fermentation farm”? Well you have now. Christine covered Synonym Biotechnologies’ pre-seed round, with big backer Andreessen Horowitz, in which the company plans to build giant fermentation farms so nonpharmaceutical companies can mass-produce bioproducts like dairy proteins.
- A rose by any other name: “Ad,” “Sponsored,” whatever you want to call it, Google is making it so when you perform a mobile search, you will definitely know if it is some sponsored content or an organic search result. Ivan has more.
- Legless for a while longer: We were promised legs, but now Ivan writes that it could be another year for any Meta leg-equipped avatars to appear in Horizon Worlds.
Startups and VC
Even the largest landfills in Indonesia are at (or nearing) capacity, and the government has set an ambitious target of 30% waste reduction by 2025, reports Catherine. Waste4Change is one of the companies that wants to help by increasing rates of recycling and enabling better waste management. The startup, which currently manages more than 8,000 tons of waste every year, announced today that it has raised $5 million in Series A funding, co-led by AC Ventures and PT Barito Mitra Investama.
And we have five more for you:
- What is this, a VC for ants 💿?: Connie reports that some new venture firms are so niche that, at first glance, it’s easy to laugh off their focus.
- Beyond jobs 🎹: Christine reports that Beyond Meat is cutting 19% of its workforce amid sales slump.
- The sweetest taboo 🎵: Haje gets all fanboy about Sugar Lab buying back its company from 3D Systems, to take 3D-printed foods mainstream.
- Runaway train, never coming back 🎶: Natasha M reports that Getaway launches a way for you to enjoy and own vacation homes.
- Put the Equity team in your ear-holes: We loved the newest Equity podcast and can’t wait to hear them live onstage at Disrupt next week!
DIY: 5 ways disruptive component startups can win over OEMs
Ori Mor writes that hardware startup founders have a uniquely hard time. Only a small fraction of tech investors will even take meetings with them, and building product pipelines is often an irregular, even chaotic process.
Instead of relying on sales and marketing teams to build a customer base for his hardware components startup, Mor’s company started building devices that used his company’s tech.
“There’s no point rushing when building a hardware startup,” says Mor. “Instead, start by making just a single prototype that you can use to show OEMs.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Venture debt has downsides: Q3 data reminds us that venture debt is not a Hail Mary, by Becca.
- Just bouncing along: Is the venture market slowing or did crossover funds just bounce? by Alex.
- One of the best pitch decks Haje has ever seen: Pitch Deck Teardown: Supliful’s $1 million seed deck, by Haje.
Big Tech Inc.
Rebecca got the scoop on Sono Motors’ new Sion solar electric vehicle and some face time with Whoopi Goldberg (pictures to prove it). Though the family-friendly vehicle comes in at $25,000, Rebecca points out that the interior is roomier than it looks from the outside, but also that no cup holders in the back might not go over with some American families.
And we have five more for you:
- More layoffs: Jagmeet has more on Momentive Global’s layoff announcement of 11% of its workforce. If you’re thinking, “Who?” that would be SurveyMonkey’s parent company. Real estate valuation technology company Clear Capital is also reducing its staff by 27%, reports Andrew.
- Get the popcorn ready: Peacock is making the “Real Housewives” franchise its guinea pig as it tests out some new interactive features that will give viewers extended clips and interviews, Lauren reports.
- Don’t @me: Meanwhile, over at Twitter, the company is developing a way for users to control who can mention them, writes Aisha.
- It puts the lotion on its robotic skin: Brian reports that Touchlab, which won the TC Sessions: Robotics pitch-off event a few months ago, began piloting its robotic skin sensors in a hospital setting.
- Time, time, time, see what’s become of me: The owner of the Shein fashion e-commerce site was fined $1.9 million for not properly handling a 2018 data breach that compromised millions of users’ information, Rita writes.