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Hey, folks. It’s Kyle, filling in for the Daily Crunch stalwarts Haje and Christine. I can’t match my esteemed colleagues’ pith and wit, but — unlike a certain megalomaniac billionaire who shan’t be named — I’ve promised to avoid any passive-aggressive language about committing to “hardcore” work culture. You won’t have to press a button to pledge your loyalty here, not to worry.
While Twitter under Elon Musk remains the talk of the town (for all the wrong reasons), I’d like to draw attention for a moment to TechCrunch Sessions: Crypto, our event that took place in Miami this week — coincidentally as crypto exchange FTX and its tangled web of investments imploded. (We swear we didn’t plan that, honest.) Happened to be in attendance? Great! If not, we’ve got you covered with in-depth reviews of all the major sessions. Check them out here.
If you’d much prefer a break from the current news cycle — and I can’t blame you, really — please considering giving this feature from Ron Miller and Anita Ramaswamy a read. (You’ll need a TC+ subscription.) While touching on the FTX debacle, it takes a higher-level, detailed look at web3 and tries once and for all to answer the question: “Is web3 truly innovative or a simple repackaging of existing tech?” The answer might surprise you.
Now, without further ado, here’s a roundup of this week’s happenings. — Kyle
The TechCrunch Top 3
No Blue for you: For the masochists out there who signed up for Twitter within the past few weeks, you’ll have to wait before you can buy a subscription to Twitter Blue, Twitter’s premium plan that adds — among other benefits — a blue “verified” checkmark. In a policy change this week reported by Ivan, Twitter said that new Twitter accounts will have to wait 90 days before they can buy Blue. It’s likely aimed at stemming the torrent of impersonations that have been increasingly pervading the platform in recent weeks.
Swifties revolt: Taylor Swift fans are none too pleased with Tickemaster’s handling of presales to the megastar’s upcoming Eras tour. Neither are regulators. Tennessee attorney general Jonathan Skrmetti is among those looking into whether Ticketmaster violated consumers’ rights and antitrust regulations by subjecting customers to technical glitches and hours-long wait times, with many ultimately unable to buy a ticket, Catherine reports.
Shop while you…you know: Merch is coming to OnlyFans. Amanda writes about the platform’s new partnership with Spring, the e-commerce company formerly known as Teespring, which will allow OnlyFans creators to list physical products directly on their profile pages. OnlyFans isn’t taking a cut of the transactions, but, as Amanda notes, the feature incentivizes creators to integrate their businesses more deeply within the platform.
Startups and VC
Is Patreon still the hip place to be for content creators? Fanfix argues that it isn’t. A Gen Z–focused rival, Fanfix today launched SuperLink, a stand-alone “link-in-bio” tool for existing apps like Instagram and Snapchat that displays a creator’s Fanfix page. It might not be novel — Linktree has long dominated the link-in-bio space — but, as Lauren writes, one-year-old Fanfix sees SuperLink as a path to grow its base of more than 9.6 million users, which are reportedly earning millions of dollars on the platform. Certainly there’s ample opportunity for expansion. A recent Adobe survey found that the creator economy — that is, adults who participate in “creative activities” and post and promote their work online — has grown by over 165 million globally in the last two years.
Turing our gazes skyward, India’s first private rocket, built by startup Skyroot Aerospace, made a successful liftoff this week. Jagmeet reports that the launch of the rocket — called Vikram-S — came after much anticipation and years-long work by Skyroot, which was founded by former Indian Space Research Organization scientists Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka.
In other news of note:
- Layoffs in self-driving: Nuro, the autonomous vehicle delivery startup backed by SoftBank, Google and other titans in tech, is laying off about 300 people, or 20% of its workforce, in an effort to preserve cash amid a stormy economic outlook. Kirsten has the exclusive.
- Revenue drivers: Jumia, the Pan-African tech startup built around a marketplace, logistics service and payment service, is cutting products and overhead as the company’s new management chases profits. Tage has the details.
- Power up: Electric vehicle startup Nio is accelerating its expansion in Europe. The premium EV maker just launched its first power-swapping station in Varberg, Sweden, Rita reports.
- Reducing headcount for profit: Indonesia’s largest internet company, GoTo, cut 1,300 jobs on Friday as the firm attempts to trim costs and improve finances. As Manish writes, GoTo joins scores of local and global peers in its decision to cut workforce to navigate the economic slowdown.
- Connecting citizens with aid: Beam, a startup that helps citizens access government financial aid, has raised $6.4 million in Series A funding. Andrew dives into the business model, which involves partnering with governments and operating as an end-to-end cash assistance administration system to handle applications, ID verification, case decisions and payments.
- I always feel like somebody’s watchin’ me: There’s cash in layering AI tech on top of CCTV feeds. Spot AI is the perfect example — the company raised $40 million this week for its cloud-based analytics system that “reads” camera footage for insights. Ingrid has the scoop.
- Would you surrender your home equity stake in exchange for a bigger apartment? Virgil thinks you will. The French startup — which invests in apartments alongside home buyers before they even get the keys for their new home — raised $15.6 million in its recent funding round, Romain reports.
- Monetizing AI-generated porn: Amanda and I took a deep dive into the fascinating — and terrifying — new world of AI-generated porn. One group is trying to monetize it. Whether they’ll be successful is unclear, given the legal, ethical and technical challenges ahead.
How much tax will you owe when you sell your company?
Getting a startup off the ground is hard work, so asking founders to prepare for an acquisition may sound just as silly as telling them to practice their Academy Award speech in the bathroom mirror.
Still . . . if you’re ready to launch a startup, you must also be prepared to sell one.
In an explainer for TC+, Peyton Carr, managing director of Keystone Global Partners, offers a framework for calculating taxation upon an exit and lays out the differences between short-term capital gains and long-term capital gains rates.
“As a founder, you’ll need to plan for your personal tax situation to optimize the opportunity set that is presented to you.”
Here’s a few more from the TC+ team:
- What we stand to lose with Twitter: In a fabulous column, several TechCrunch staffers contributed what they would miss most if Twitter went away — while hoping it’ll still be up tomorrow. The high-level takeaway? Twitter has value beyond driving traffic for journalists and other users, despite what some critics would have you believe.
- Taking action on open source security: Javier writes about the Securing Open Source Software Act, a bipartisan legislation in the U.S. that acknowledges the importance of open source software and states that the federal government should play a supporting role in ensuring its long-term security.
- Measuring the e-commerce shift: Is it possible to quantify the global e-commerce slowdown? Alex and Anna give it their best shot, examining how pandemic stressors on e-commerce businesses have slowly begun to lift and change the way those businesses operate.
Big Tech Inc.
Kenya and Nigeria have both witnessed a proliferation of loan apps in recent years, many of which offer quick unsecured personal credit lines up to $500. The lack of regulations has attracted rogue operators, unfortunately — roughly 40 loan apps in Kenya are under investigation by the office of the data protection commissioner over data breach complaints from users. Following the passage of new laws in the countries to clamp down on the industry, Google has begun booting nefarious loan apps available on Android from the Google Play Store, reports Annie. That’s welcome news, I’d say.
On the subject of regulation, the FCC this week announced that it’ll require broadband providers to display a “nutrition label” with all fees, catches and caps clearly stated for any plan they offer. As Devin explains, the labels will show things like price and contract length, whether the price will change after a certain period and “typical” download and upload speeds as well as latency. Don’t expect labels to show up right away — the FCC’s rules must first be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget and published in the federal register, at which point broadband providers will have six months to a full year to comply — but greater transparency in internet plans can only be a good thing, I’d argue — even if it comes slowly.
Here’s the rest of this week’s happenings:
- New chips abound: Qualcomm debuted its latest flagship Snapdragon chip and a new AI platform at the company’s annual Snapdragon Summit, Brian reports. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, as the chip’s called, boasts improved AI processing and computational photography like recognizing and segmenting different aspects of an image before the photo is taken.
- Get crunchy: Thanks to a partnership between the two companies, Discord users can now display the movie or TV show they’re watching on Crunchyroll via their personal Discord profile. Lauren notes that Crunchyroll is the latest media company to support “Rich Presence,” Discord’s “now playing” functionality that automatically displays the video you’re watching, game you’re playing, song you’re listening to and more right in Discord.
- Privacy first: Jagmeet and Manish cover India’s proposed data privacy law that will mandate how companies handle the data of its citizens, including permitting cross-border transfer of information with certain nations. It comes three months after the country’s regulators abruptly withdrew the previous proposal following scrutiny and concerns from privacy advocates and tech giants.
- Hydrogen powered: Hyundai on Thursday at the Detroit Auto Show revealed a hydrogen fuel cell hybrid concept vehicle called the N Vision 74 that the company says demonstrates the performance sub-brand’s vision for electrification. The car’s hydrogen W fuel cell converts hydrogen to electricity to charge the internal 62 kWh battery — a clever concept. But, as reported by Abigail, Hyundai wouldn’t say whether this kind of powertrain will go into production.