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It’s Thursday, May 26, 2022, and we have a busy day of news on the site today. Here are the gems sparkling in the spotlight of our journalistic gaze.
For later in the year, we’re pretty excited about this panel at TechCrunch Disrupt, where VCs will discuss how you can raise money when you’re not at one of the major tech hubs. We’re running a Memorial Day 2-for-1 deal, so you can get your ticket and bring a friend this weekend! — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Confirmed: Broadcom made its proposed merging with VMware official, and with it comes a few kids in the way of some acquisitions VMware made along the way. As we noted earlier in the week, we are still not sure the two companies are a match made in heaven. However, while both are still getting the agreements signed, sealed and delivered, we raise our collective glasses in a toast that regulators will bless this union.
- Gucci, Gucci goo: How do you feed a need for fancier things? Look no further than Oura’s new collaboration with Gucci. The Gucci x Oura Ring is indeed a pretty thing and its charging station is one you’ll want to leave out in view so people can see how fabulous you are, or see that you’re $950 poorer — take your pick.
- Perhaps it paid to be slower: The quest to have the fastest delivery may have been the stone in some quick-commerce companies’ tires. Alex discusses how the race to create business models, like dark stores, to get closer to the customer worked for some, but not everyone, prompting even investors to call the industry “overhyped” in some regards.
Startups and VC
What is a reporter to do when they get a pitch from a company that had its name “stolen” by Apple, but it turns out the company failed to register a trademark because they thought it would be pointless? Well, if that reporter is Haje, he grabs it by its cautionary tail and holds it up to the light to see what other startups can learn from the experience. Spoiler: It boils down to “just get a damn trademark, you fools.”
We keep being surprised whenever another company raises money to do asteroid mining, but Aria reports that Y Combinator alum AstroForge thinks it has a fresh take on the trope, raising $13 million to zip up to a floating rock and bring back some sweet, sweet zero-G space minerals.
And a smattering of other goodies for you to snack on this afternoon. Buen provecho!
- Making you ’appier, one swipe at the time: Friendly Apps raises $3 million to build apps that make you more connected and happier, Sarah reports.
- One carbon, two carbon, three carbon: Consumer products have long been challenged to measure its actual carbon impact, but Planet FWD counted $10 million to help track — and eventually reduce — their carbon footprints, Christine reports.
- Just pollen the room on this real quick: Humble Bee Bio is on a mission to create a biodegradable alternative to plastics by synthesizing the biology of bees, raising $3.2 million to fulfill its mission, Rebecca writes.
- Building building startup startups: Early-stage proptech startups have a potential new source of capital in 1Sharpe Ventures, which recently closed its $90 million inaugural fund, Mary Ann writes.
- Up, up, and a tray: Vertical farming startup Bowery says its newest facility, built on a former brownfield lot in Pennsylvania, is its most technologically advanced to date, Brian reports
- Buy-nance? More like buy-crypto: A group of former executives from Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges globally, has created a $100 million venture fund, the team told Jacquelyn.
To fully embrace product-led growth, build a strong product ops team
Product managers transform customer needs and business requirements into services and features that make money, but it’s a limited role.
Even though PMs interact with customers and internal stakeholders from sales, marketing and engineering, they’re rarely empowered to implement best practices, select tools or manage operational aspects of the product pipeline.
That’s changing as more companies carve out roles for product operations, writes Todd Olson, co-founder and CEO of software platform Pendo.
“It’s similar to how sales and marketing ops help their departments,” he says, and “it’s a critical function for any company that wants to make its product the ‘center of the wheel.’”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Continuing with the Twitter train for a moment, yesterday we brought you the news that former CEO Jack Dorsey left the board, AND news that the company’s stock jumped when Elon Musk said he still has plans to buy Twitter and finance more of the deal himself. Today, investors are not thrilled with Musk and are suing him over what they perceive as manipulation of the stock price in his favor. We’ll keep on this one.
In vroom, vroom news, Luminar nabbed itself a couple of executives from the likes of Apple, Nvidia and Tesla to continue developing its autonomous technology. Joby Aviation is one step closer to its goal of becoming a commercial aerial ridesharing service after receiving certification from the FAA to operate a commercial air-taxi operation.
Do you give up, or are you thirsty for more?
- Epic battle: Epic Games filed a new suit against Apple, challenging the tech giant’s use of third-party apps, saying it could compromise the iPhone’s security.
- That’s what friends are for: TikTok is making friends left and right with the likes of Sprout Social, Hootsuite and Sprinklr as part of an extension to its Marketing Partner Program that will enable marketers to manage their TikTok accounts without having to leave third-party content marketing platforms.
- Box-y earnings: Document-sharing platform Box reported its fifth straight quarter of increased growth, and Ron was there with CEO Aaron Levie to get all the details