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Is it already Wednesday? The calendar tells me that’s it. (Fun fact: My apartment is so full of date-smart screens that it’s a struggle not to stumble across them.) Time flies when the Daily Crunch team leaves you – that is, me – Technewscity’s record-breaking newsletter. As always, there is plenty of land to cover, but I have done my best to ensure Haje and Christine have nothing to worry about while enjoying the much needed time away from everyday life. Rest, folks. You all deserve it.
African fintechs are experiencing stratospheric growth – last year the number of startups in the category increased 17.3% to 573, from 491 in 2019, according to local publication Disrupt Africa. An exciting new player is Thepeer, which operates infrastructure for primarily fintech companies, from small to medium-sized. take writes that the company experiences success one year after the foundation, with an average growth of 161% month-on-month. It’s impressive no matter how you cut it.
On an unrelated (but equally important) note, if you haven’t gotten tickets to Technewscity’s summer party, you really should consider it. We do not bite – at least not without justification. – Kyle
Technewscity Top 3
- Not for the cautious – or the cautious: MindGeek, the parent company of porn streaming giant Pornhub, has experienced less disastrous days. Devin writes that the CEO and COO – Feras Antoon and David Tassillo, respectively – abruptly resigned about a week after a New Yorker report on the company’s less than stellar moderation policies. That’s all speculation at this point, but financial uncertainty may have played a role. As profitable as adult movies tend to be, MindGeek carried the bulk of a payment processor crusade against pornography platforms 2 years ago, in which processors, including Mastercard, suspended payments to the company’s brands.
- Shortness is (n’t) the soul of the vastness: Do you remember when Twitter, limited by the limitations of text messages, limited its bad users to 140 characters? I do. But I’m old. New tweeters (twitterers?) May never know that tweets were once an exercise in self-editing, thanks to Twitter’s new feature – Twitter Notes – that would support the release of long-form content on the platform. Sarah has the story.
- Rather get away from here: Mary’s reporting on Better.com’s problems has been unparalleled, and this week she announced another big scoop: A large portion of the mortgage bank’s top management has resigned, including SVP and VP of Sales. Their departure follows exit from EVP for customer experience, SVP for capital markets and growth and a trio of senior PR people. Faced with a delayed IPO and continued bad publicity, including a lawsuit, a turnaround for Better.com looks more and more distant.
Startups and VC
The economic downturn is hitting some industries harder than others, but one that seems immune – at least for now – is app development. App appetite has not dropped, nor has the demand for low-code platforms and APIs that make building them faster and easier. Appsmith, a low-code platform for building business apps, landed $ 41 million this week. Meanwhile, Courier snatched $ 35 million to build an app notification service.
The hardware industry has been less forgiving lately. Example: Nothing, the new company from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, announced that it will not bring its first phone – the Phone (1) – to the US. The barrier was partly one of achieving mobile carrier adoption in the US, as US carriers are notoriously hostile to bad brands – especially in a low market. But it’s a shame anyway.
Elsewhere in start-up country:
- Boxing on the go: Liteboxer debuted an ultra-portable, subscription-based fitness laptop that guides the user through training, possibly paired with music from a preloaded catalog. Especially for those with small occasions, it could be a gift from god, writes Brian.
- Warmer than a warming planet: “Climate tech” may not be new, but it is certainly hot – which is not surprising in light of gloomy predictions about the climate crisis. To underscore the state of affairs, Kiko Ventures emerged this week with a $ 450 million (£ 375 million) fund to invest in climate technology and “regenerative” technologies, Mike reports.
- The accent, I can not place it: A fascinating startup called Sanas has built AI that can change a person’s accent. Supported by Google, the company has announced $ 32 million in financing and claims to have a number of customers, including insurance giant Assurant and BPO leviathan Alorica. Som pr Ingridthe technology sounds a bit robotic and emotionless, but it’s seemingly deliberate – Sanas designed it with call centers in mind.
- Let me handle this data for you: As proof that there is money in data management, Ataccama today secured an infusion of $ 150 million from Bain Capital Tech Opportunities. As I wrote in my map, Ataccama’s success reflects recent years’ explosion of tools that enable companies to connect, transform, analyze, and serve data from all kinds of sources.
- Avoidant soft landings at SoftBank: The bad news at SoftBank got worse this week. On the heels of the company’s disappointing performance, French businessman Michel Combes – who was appointed CEO of SoftBank Group International in January – left the company. Connie reports. Troubled waters lie ahead as SoftBank plans to cut back on the pace of new investment.
- Charging towards M&A: In a fascinating piece, Rebecca writes about consolidation in the electric charging market, which has experienced a supply of cash in recent years amid enthusiasm – and government funding – for the technology. On the horizon is a wave of startups wanting to commercialize and scale so-called DC Fast chargers.
- Boring but profitable: Let this be a lesson for HR technology no-sayers: Investors will still have a share of the action. Personio, a startup from Munich, Germany that shapes itself as a workday, and ServiceNow focused on small and medium-sized businesses, closed a $ 200 million round this week, estimating it at $ 8.5 billion. Ingrid has the story.
3 tips for biotech startups seeking non-dilutive capital to cope with the downturn
This is a particularly difficult time for life science startups. Even if their technology changes the world, it will still be years before it hits the market.
Most biotech founders seeking to travel in this environment assume that diluting capital is their only option, but it is short-term, writes James Coates, Health and Human Performance Principal at Decisive Point.
“In a downturn, non-dilutive subsidies or government contracts should be seen as more appealing than ever because they provide runway without dilution and make big headlines.”
(Technewscity + is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams move forward. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Thought the NFT trend was over? Hah. Far from. As a sign of urgent interest from Big Tech, eBay this week acquired the Manchester-based NFT marketplace KnownOrigin, Aisha reports. Shopify, meanwhile, launched Tokengated commerce, a feature that the company describes as a way to “reward true fans and VIPs by giving NFT holders exclusive access to products, perks and experiences” by linking cryptocurrencies to Shopify online stores, Ingrid writes.
In other buzzwordy news, the meta-verse – the hazy mix of virtual and augmented reality – can be interoperable if certain technology giants have their way. This week, Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, Unity, and others formed the Metaverse Standards Forum, which seeks to make it easier for developers to build across platforms. But there are also some glaring absences, like Amanda notes, including companies like Niantic, Apple, Roblox and Snapchat – which also build consumer “metaverse” products.
Does all this talk about digital experiences make you long for something tangible? Give Ikea’s new tool a go. Lauren, who talks about her experience with it, describes it as a way to visualize your own living space with furniture on your smartphone instead of traveling to an Ikea store. You will miss the Swedish meatballs, but the convenience may just make up for it.
- Hot tub hack machine: Carly writes how a security researcher found vulnerabilities in Jacuzzi’s SmartTub interface that allowed access to the personal data of any hot tub owner. How awful is that?
- Mac attack: Brian reviewed Apple’s M2-powered 13-inch MacBook Pro. The verdict? No spoilers, but silicon is one of the few highlights in a largely incremental update.
- We do not have the votes: In the face of numerous lawsuits and sexual harassment investigations, Activision Blizzard has rejected an attempt by employees to get a seat on the company’s board to represent employees’ voices. Disappointingly, only 5% of shareholders voted in favor of Amanda writes, while the majority re-elected the controversial CEO Bobby Kotick to the board.
- Lawsuits abound: A black former worker at Tesla’s assembly plant in Fremont has denied a $ 15 million payout from the automaker in a lawsuit alleging racial abuse by colleagues, Rebecca reports. It is the latest legal case involving the company after two former employees filed a lawsuit in which they claimed the automaker did not give the 60 days prior notice required by federal law during the latest round of layoffs.
- Nuclear glow: NASA has the moon in mind – and nuclear fission. This week, the agency announced that it is entering into a contract with three suppliers to supply concept designs for nuclear fission energy systems designed for use on the moon. Exciting things, given the potential. Read Darrell‘s report for the review.