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On this fine day of April 21, 2022, we celebrate a shiny new podcast from our crypto team: Chain Reaction. Q: Why is the podcast so loud? A: Because it’s immutable.
This is why we don’t get to write the crypto puns on the site.
Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be; it’s events season at TechCrunch! Waymo boss Dmitri Dolgov is coming to Mobility, and we’re hosting a pitch competition as well. Get your applications in! Our flagship event, TechCrunch Disrupt, is coming back in October, and you can snag your tickets now!
The TechCrunch Top 3
- It’s ‘Elon Musk Time’ all the time now: Captain’s Log, Day 421: The crew is getting restless with nothing to do but talk about the latest on what Elon Musk plans for Twitter. Today, Alex reads a new SEC filing so you don’t have to. It outlines Musk’s proposal to purchase all outstanding shares of the social media giant and where he is getting the money to do it. At the same time, we learn how much Musk has in his private holdings — at least how much he is willing to part with. In non-Twitter news, it looks like Musk has no shortage of money-making opportunities: Rebecca reports on The Boring Company raising $675 million for Loop projects, which is his project to build underground highways to alleviate traffic congestion, his prediction that the Optimus robot Tesla is building will one day be worth more than the company’s full self-driving business, and that Tesla aims to mass-produce robotaxis. Whew!
- No need to commute to work. Swap homes instead: Andreessen Horowitz led a funding round into Kindred, a startup founded by some Opendoor alums who wanted to travel while working remotely but didn’t want just anyone using their homes while they were away. What’s interesting about Kindred’s approach is that it is “a give and get policy,” where members pay an annual $300 fee to allow someone to stay in their home while they are in another.
- Now we know what William Hockey has been doing: The Plaid co-founder stepped down in 2019 and founded a bank, Column. Surprising for a fintech founder, where many were unbundling bank services over the years, and yet not surprising as now many are rebundling them. In Column’s case, Hockey says the bank’s direct connection to the Fed means that “developers can use Column to build apps that pull and push money to any bank account, for example, or maintain FDIC-insured checking and savings accounts” without having to go through another entity to access federal deposit insurance.
Startups and VC
I’m an absolute sucker for VC firms with unusual investment theses, and Tofino Capital has a truly rare example of that: The firm just closed the first $10 million of a fund that aims to invest in markets where investment dollars fall under $5 per capita. Can’t say I’ve heard anyone approach it that way, and it certainly focuses the attention – very cool, and I hope they show an outsized return. Of course, that’ll probably make other VC shops wake up and increase the investment to above that dollar amount, but that’s half of what makes this interesting!
Carta is the go-to ownership management platform for startups, simplifying and making transparent the sometimes complex ownership structures of startups. Pretty curious to see how Liquifi is going to evolve – it aims to do the same for web3 and companies issuing blockchain tokens.
Let’s climb into some prime-time news grime – today, in rhyme!
- Aim to tame the shame: Sexual health, mental wellness, weight management and fertility are all taboo topics to some – and Singapore-based Ordinary Folk is adding a layer of telehealth to shed the taboos. It also raised $5 million to go harder, better, faster, stronger.
- Causing an injury to the mystery of the credit history: Cash-rich but credit-history poor, immigrants are often met with a shrug in their adoptive countries. Fintech Pillar raises $17 million to fix that.
- This drone picks a bone when an unknown enters the wrong zone: By sacrificing its own rotors and snaring its enemies in a net, this super-cool kamikaze drone takes down other drones.
- A clever sleuth found the truth about a problem with Bluetooth: It turns out that Cue Health’s COVID-19 tester has a security flaw that means it’s possible to flip a negative result to a positive, or vice-versa. Mind you, it’s kinda hard to see what the big dealeo is; it is easy enough to cheat pretty much all at-home tests from positive to negative with a deliriously no-code hack: Don’t stick the swab up your schnoz.
- A mighty fine headline wins a shrine in this newsletter of mine: Sometimes all it takes to get a feature spot in the Daily Crunch is making me laugh — and Lauren earned a spot with the headline for her story about Netflix’s subscriber numbers.
How to pitch me: 6 investors discuss what they’re looking for in April 2022
The VC market is slowing down.
Teams that successfully close a funding round will find themselves with a shorter runway than they planned on. And partnering with an investor who understands the business well enough to add value is more critical than it was a year ago.
A founder’s pitch is the first step on that journey, so we’re running a series of interviews with active investors to learn more about what they’re looking for and how they prefer to be approached:
- Christine Tsai, CEO and founding partner, 500 Global
- Marjorie Radlo-Zandi, angel, Launchpad Venture Group, Branch Venture Group
- Clelia Warburg Peters, managing partner, Era Ventures
- Anarghya Vardhana, partner, Maveron LLC
- Frederic Huynen, partner, and Wijnand Bekker, associate, HPE Growth
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- Amazon breaks out the serverless offerings: Among the product launches at the AWS Summit going on is the expansion of Amazon’s serverless offerings, which include being able to scale up or down quicker. What this means is customers don’t have to worry about managing data capacity or the high costs associated — the company says “this new system can save users up to 90% of their database cost when compared to the cost of provisioning for pre-capacity.” When was the last time you saved 90% on anything?
- HBO’s streaming service gives us some good news: Sorry Netflix, HBO Max and HBO saw subscriber numbers go up in the first quarter. Though it’s not mentioned, I think it was the L.A. Lakers show that helped. Meanwhile, CNN did not have a good day.
- Russia sanctions Vice President Kamala Harris, Mark Zuckerberg, others: I enjoyed Ingrid’s intro to this story, “From the department of Tit for Tat,” Harris, Zuckerberg and a list of other high-profile U.S. figures are now barred from entering Russia, indefinitely it seems. Such a shame, we heard it was lovely there in the springtime.