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Oh hey, and welcome to Thursday! It’s been another intense day with a lot of news happening. We’ve picked the cream of the crop for you. Oh! And if you want to be part of Disrupt with your startup, don’t forget to apply to the Startup Battlefield 200!
On July 21, we’ve got an incredible lineup for our TC Robotics event — and something is wrong with the folks up in marketing, because they decided to make the event free of charge. Get your ticket today in case they change their minds… — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- In the Air tonight: Brian gives us an inside look at the new Apple MacBook Air M2. Let the pluses and minuses commence!
- Losing a couple of stripes: Anita, Natasha M and Mary Ann teamed up to tackle Stripe’s news that it is the latest to cut its internal valuation. For those who are like, “What?” they explain that this means the pricing of preferred shares sold is chosen by a third party versus startups or venture capital investors. Also interesting is that this is uncommon for a company to do.
- Into the looking glass: We enjoyed Dominic-Madori’s deep dive on TechCrunch+ into some predictions of what Black VCs and founders can expect from the investment community in the second half of this year.
Startups and VC
“We could’ve taken money from crypto funds, but it’s stronger to take it from the game industry and believers,” Raz Friedman, co-founder of UnCaged, told Jacquelyn in an interview regarding the company’s $24 million fundraise. “We are a gaming company first that is utilizing and bringing web3 into games, rather than being a web3-first company.”
“We envision You.com becoming a search platform that is open and allows others to build on top of all of the search technology that we’ve created,” Richard Socher told Kyle for his story about You’s $25 million fundraise. “Data transparency, user customization, summarization, privacy and state-of-the-art search are the foundation of our platform, and we beat Google in the long run by empowering the world to build the next search experience together.”
More, more, give me more (what an amazing tune).
- And how does that make you feel, |*FNAME*|: Therapist chatbots are continuing to rise in popularity, and Wysa raised $20 million to further expand its services, as Jagmeet reports.
- One star, would buy for mortal enemy: Customer reviews are a well-known and powerful way to influence shoppers. Okendo wants to turn your shoppers into buyers by leveraging them, Christine reports.
- AI caramba: AssemblyAI is expanding its AI-as-a-service business, as it raised $30 million in a Series B round, reports Kyle.
- Is this seat taken?: The world is shifting into hybrid work, and offices are scratching their heads to figure out how to allocate office space to reflect that. Robin raised $30 million for its office reservation software to help figure that out, Kyle reports.
- Do you even lift, bro: At-home fitness startup Tonal — last valued at $1.6 billion — shed over a third of its staff to help it become a “self-sustaining and profitable business,” Natasha M reports.
Five investors explain why Latin America is poised to weather the crypto winter
Even as a cohort of crypto companies continue their calamitous collapse, investors who back DeFi startups in Latin America are “positioning themselves for a rebound,” reports Anna Heim.
She surveyed five investors who have staked companies in the region’s crypto and DeFi sector to learn more about how their ethos has changed since winter began and why consumer adoption in LatAm is stronger than other markets:
- Matias Nisenson, co-founder, DeFi Wonderland
- Christine Chang, head of corporate development and ventures, Tribal
- Patricio Jutard, co-founder and general partner, Newtopia VC
- Claire Diaz-Ortiz, startups committee chair, VC3; scout, Kleiner Perkins
- Andy Areitio, general partner, TheVentureCity
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Before diving into today’s big tech stories, we wanted to point out a few stories from late yesterday that have continued to capture our attention a second day.
The first is Kirsten’s report answering the question of whether Tesla’s top AI executive for its Autopilot vision team would be returning. We can now confirm that is a negative. For all those DoorDash lovers out there in the U.S., the subtotal minimums are likely to increase in your area, Rebecca writes. Meanwhile, Sarah leans into a report that TikTok has overtaken YouTube as the place where all the kids and teens are spending their time. And Rebecca also covered how Uber is being sued by over 550 women regarding claims of sexual assaults by drivers.
Alrighty, now on with the show. Our colleagues did so well for a second day that there is a lot to dig into. By now you already know that Twitter went down this morning for users across the globe, Amanda reports. Alex was not amused. During the chaos, Twitter started testing some new features. Amanda also wrote about the users being reminded to add alt text descriptions for photos, while Ivan described its new custom timeline test.
In financial news, Kyle reports on Plaid adding read-only support for cryptocurrency exchanges. Finally, Manish covered the Internet and Mobile Association of India, a technology advocacy group that decided to drop cryptocurrency over regulatory uncertainty.
- So you want to play a game?: Non-game app revenue beat out games in the U.S. Apple App Store for the first time, Sarah reports. Meanwhile, Lauren writes about Nintendo’s new acquisition in the CG animation space and Sony’s new loyalty program for PlayStation.
- Plugged in: Panasonic is embarking on a $4 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Kansas that Jaclyn writes could be the largest in the world. Commercial EV company Arrival is making some tough financial and workforce decisions, if you know what we mean, to meet its van product target, Kirsten reports. Kirsten also reports that the ink on Walmart’s deal with Canoo is barely dry, and Rebecca writes about one of the caveats — that it doesn’t want Canoo selling EVs to Amazon.
- Brrrr, it’s cold in here: In another hit for cryptocurrency, one of the sector’s biggest lenders, Celsius, filed for bankruptcy, claiming the need to stabilize its business. Manish has more.
- Trust, more like antitrust: Natasha L has a pair of compelling stories today. One is about Google facing some new antitrust investigation in Italy over a claim that the search engine giant may have “abused a dominant position by hindering data portability rights which are afforded to individuals under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation.” The other is about how Amazon is in talks with the EU to try and settle its antitrust investigation regarding use of merchant data.