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Welcome to the Daily Crunch for Thursday, April 14, 2022!
As we put this together, we are listening to TED’s Chris Anderson interview with Elon Musk about his attempt to buy Twitter. There will be many viewpoints on this coming fast and furious. One example is Taylor’s hot take, which can be summarized as face-palming so hard that we’re a little worried she might need medical attention. For now, all we know is that Musk shared he is “unsure” whether his takeover bid will succeed, and if it doesn’t, he has a “Plan B.”
Looking for an excuse to wander away from Twitter? Found, the TechCrunch podcast where founders talk about the stories behind their startups, is nominated for a Webby for best technology podcast! We got our votes in, but we’d love your help, too. Cast your vote before April 21! – Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- ‘How is Twitter doing?’: That was one of Alex’s questions today as he examined the social media giant’s performance and stock prices in light of Elon Musk’s unsolicited bid — can we keep calling it that even though it probably surprised no one? Anyway, the company is doing “pretty well,” Alex reports, but as to Musk’s bid of a “38% premium over the day before [his] investment was publicly announced”? Alex says that “what we should care about is not precisely the sheer premium between pre-Musk and post-Musk Twitter value; instead, we should consider the company’s worth, and then stack that against the Musk figure.” What might explain some of that is something we also learned during the Musk interview: He “doesn’t care about the economics” of buying Twitter. However, Alex still thinks “the offer doesn’t seem quite large enough to be serious. Throw another $10 billion on it and then let’s talk.”
- WhatsApp throwing its weight into communities: We’re sure a lot of people are already using WhatsApp to connect with a bigger community, but now the Meta-owned service is formalizing that a bit more with its new “Communities” feature that includes more support for sharing files, the ability to get on a group call with 31 others, admin tools and moderation controls. The beauty is that you can link an existing group instead of starting over.
- Zaraye inks small round from some big players: It’s been an interesting couple of years for anyone needing raw materials, and no country is immune to the shortages, it seems. Pakistan’s Zaraye wants to change that with its platform that connects manufacturers directly with suppliers. Tiger Global (making its first pre-seed investment in a Pakistani startup, we report) and Zayn are hitching their wagons to this one, so we are eager to follow along.
Startups and VC
Lots of movement in mobility (if there wasn’t, would it be called immobility?) today. Electric vehicles are charging ahead at the World Car Awards. Meanwhile, Vinfast announced it wants to sell its cars but rent out the battery packs, leading Rebecca to wonder whether that’s going to work. Finally, the Chrysler brand is starting its transition to EV-dom (as Kirsten reported earlier this year), showing off its rather snazzy Airflow crossover EV concept.
From our moving-things-from-place-to-place desk, we’re passing a lot of parcels around. Backbone wants to make package delivery more like Wi-Fi mesh networks in what sounds to me like a recipe for utter chaos. It would be fantastically clever if they can get it to work, though! Also, whether you love or loathe Amazon, you’ve got to give ‘em cred for having their supply chain tech sewn up tight. Shipium wants to give other e-commerce retailers access to comparable tools.
Let’s do a proverbial cannonball into the startup pond:
- Software eats food distribution: Cerve raised $2 million for a wholesaler platform as post-COVID food distribution digitizes.
- More for your health, less for the tax man: In the U.S., a common employment benefit is a “health savings account,” where you take some pre-tax money off the table if you invest in your health. The systems are often clunky, but Sika wants to make it easier for folks to actually spend their dosh.
- Looking perky: A propos employment benefits, Compt just raised $13 million to make employee perks a bit more personalized.
- Doing good when doing well: Beam Impact’s clever platform helps everyday humans like you and me do more good in the world by directing our spending toward brands that partner with causes we care about.
- PenguinFaceplant.gif: Club Penguin was shut down in 2017, but fans rebooted it — without authorization from Disney. Yesterday, it all came crashing down when the City of London police pulled the plug on the site.
- Something is up in VC land, observes Hans Swildens, as VC distributions are down 90% in Q1 this year. His interview with Connie is fascinating and shows a great snapshot of what’s happening on the other side of the table.
8 cannabis investors share their outlook on the European market in H1 2022
Europe is all set to take on the U.S. as the world’s biggest cannabis market as countries like the U.K. and Germany mull legalizing recreational use of the flower by adults.
But the regulatory landscape is similar on both sides of the pond — much like the U.S., laws around cannabis use differ across EU member nations, leading companies to navigate a complex framework of laws.
Investors see hope, however: Medical cannabis is gaining momentum, and because cannabis isn’t illegal at a federal level across the EU, companies are free to sell their products across borders.
For our latest survey, we talked with eight investors who are actively signing checks for cannabis tech companies. Beyond sharing their investment thesis, they also told us what they’re looking for, how they measure success, and the best way startups can get their attention.
We spoke with:
- Todd Harrison, founding partner and CIO, CB1 Capital Management
- Yoni Meyer, partner, Casa Verde Capital
- Viken Douzdjian, managing partner and co-founder, Argonautic Ventures
- David Bonnier, founding partner, Enexis AB
- Will Gibbs, principal, Octopus Ventures
- Oliver Lamb, co-founder and investment manager, Óskare Capital
- Leah Fletcher, founder and director, Arbutus Innovation Centre
- will.i.am, investor, Sanity Group
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Continuing along with what feels like a mobility theme today, Uber suspended its Tanzania operations, citing an unwelcoming regulatory environment.
And, speaking of “communities, Tinder launched a new feature called “Festival Mode” that enables users to connect with each other before a big concert or, you guessed it, a festival. The dating app is partnering with Live Nation and event producers AEG Presents and Superstruct Entertainment, which means this will cast a wide net.
In the comments section, both Reddit and TikTok have some news: Reddit is rolling out the ability to search comments, making it so you don’t have to click on several comments to find threads you are interested in. Meanwhile, TikTok is testing a feature that will allow users to essentially dislike an “irrelevant or inappropriate” comment and make it become private without the commenter knowing what happened.
Here are some others we think you might enjoy today:
- In China news, Rita writes that the country’s banking association proposed restrictions on NFTs and that startups are rethinking their mainland strategies in light of stricter policies.
- U.S. government agencies are warning that state-backed hackers have developed custom malware that enables them to compromise and hijack commonly used industrial control system devices.
- Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny is calling on Google and Meta/Facebook to use their ad targeting tools to “help circumvent Putin’s grip on the media and get information out to ordinary Russians about what’s actually going on in the war in Ukraine.”
- Natasha interviewed Lydia Hylton, who joined Bain Capital Crypto after its whole International Women’s Day debacle, to give her perspective on what’s really going on.