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Hello, dear crunchers! We hope you’ve had a peaceful weekend and that you were able to stay clear of social media for a few days. LOL Who are we kidding? We’ve all been glued to the slow-moving, painful, Elon-catalyzed bird crash over at Twitter. Now, if only Mastodon would call its posts something other than “toots,” we might be able to get behind those. In the meantime, come say hello to us on Mastodon!
Much love from Christine (@ChristineHall@mastodon.social) and Haje (@Haje@mastodon.social). And, given that those social handles don’t exactly roll off the tongue, we’ll probably go back to linking to our Twitter accounts tomorrow. We are nothing if not creatures of habit, after all.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Get ready for your close-up: PhotoRoom, a photo-editing app for e-commerce sellers that enables users to remove the background behind objects, has attracted 40 million app downloads and now raised $19 million, Romain reports.
- Twitter wants you back: If you were recently laid off from Twitter, would you return? Ivan writes that after laying off half of its staff, the social media giant is reportedly compiling a list of people who could be asked to come back. Better read the fine print on that rehiring contract.
- Putting the “super” in super app: Organizing all the facets of your life in one app seems to be quite popular, and Yassir is proof of that. The Africa-based super app, offering ride-hailing, food and grocery delivery and payments, grabbed $150 million. Tage has more.
Startups and VC
Evidently, the downturn hasn’t soured investors on the travel industry. Travel booking startup Hopper today announced that it closed a $96 million follow-on investment from Capital One, bringing the company’s total raised to close to $730 million, Kyle reports. The fresh cash will be put toward several efforts, CEO and co-founder Frederic Lalonde said in a press release, including supporting Hopper’s new social commerce initiatives.
Want to start a DAO? It’s not that hard. Want to join a DAO? It’s even easier, but there are several steps to get connected. Some of those steps are daunting. Matt is here to help, and he’s invited Alex Taub and one of his investors to learn more about how starting and onboarding for a DAO is about to become a lot easier, at least if they have something to do with it. Tune in to our next episode of TechCrunch Live on Wednesday to hear from Alex and investor Karin Klein from Bloomberg Beta.
A smattering more:
- Like concrete, but a little less carbon-y: Carbon Re spins out of academia-land to take on cement pollution, Haje reports.
- More money from more places: Ron explores the story behind the folks who are working to bring more diversity to the venture LP investing pool.
- Fintech free fall: Mary Ann and Kyle tag-team a summary of what’s happening in the land of fintech in our newsletter the Interchange. “The fintech layoffs just keep on coming,” they report.
- The rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated: Benitago Group exec confirms it didn’t close, but did lay off some employees, reports Christine.
- Co-CEOs no more: Tage reports that Jumia co-CEOs Jeremy Hodara and Sacha Poignonnec step down.
Dear Sophie: How can I stay in the US if I’ve been laid off?
I was laid off and I’m on an H-1B. I have enough savings to survive for a while. What should I do if I have been let go from my job? I am on an H-1B, have an approved I-140, and an I-797 that expires in March 2024.
If I have to leave the U.S., can my current I-797 be transferred to my next employer? Are there any issues I should be aware of?
— Upended & Unemployed
Three more from the TC+ team:
- New math: Alex wonders if perhaps we were valuing software companies the wrong way all along.
- The high highs, the low lows: Anna dives into new data, which suggests that SaaS founders have been dealing with whiplash from public markets.
- Where’s the beef?: Haje explored how ButcherBox grew to $600 million in revenue, without taking external investment.
Big Tech Inc.
Romain has your look at the Devialet Mania, a $790 high-end portable speaker. And he actually uses the term “portable” lightly because it weighs five pounds, so more like a speaker you can pick up and change rooms with, not one you carry around in a backpack.
Business marriage is in the air, with Ouster and Velodyne agreeing to merge. Rebecca writes that this move “signals consolidation in the lidar industry” and also describes the background and what led up to this.
Ready for five more?
- That’s a lot of cryptocurrency: The U.S. Department of Justice said it seized $3.36 billion in cryptocurrency from James Zhong, who Jacquelyn reports is accused of unlawfully obtaining that large chunk from the dark web.
- Game on: Paul updates us on the completion of the $4.4 billion merger of Unity and ironSource. Together, the companies are building a platform for the development and monetization of games.
- Flocking to something new: Boosted by all the Twitter drama over the past week, people have been on the lookout for another place to enjoy social media. Mastodon has been one of the benefactors, reaching 1 million active monthly users, Kyle reports.
- All the prices that are fit to post: Airbnb is tweaking its search so that it will soon show prices inclusive of all fees in search results, Ivan writes.
- Say farewell: Over the weekend, Lauren had a story about HBO canceling “Westworld.”