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Hello, and welcome to Wednesday Crunch!
On everyone’s mind today is the power of AI and whether we’re all doomed. Connie reports that 1,100+ notable signatories just signed an open letter asking “all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months.” Meanwhile, Amanda explores how everything is “Goncharov” as the meme-makers are going mainstream with a huge assist from AI tech.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Future of work is borderless: Payday, now flush with $3 million in new capital, plans to expand its Africa-based operations to Canada and the United Kingdom, Tage writes. The company provides a way for those working remotely to receive payments in their currency of choice.
- “Alexa, call Grandma”: A new Amazon capability brings T-Mobile customers into the fold for making and receiving calls via an Alexa-enabled device, Ivan reports.
- In-suring new funds: India-based insurtech company Acko, which is already backed by Amazon, is in talks for $120 million in new funding. Manish has more.
Startups and VC
With a drier than normal investment scene, founders are looking for more effective ways to reach the right VCs. Thousands of founders have applied to land capital through a common app, Natasha M reports. The platform they’ve been using is Seed Checks. Founders are invited to apply using a one-minute form that asks for a deck, memo and region. The app is then blasted to 16 investors.
Autio, a location-based audio entertainment app co-founded by actor Kevin Costner and formerly known as HearHere, has raised $5.9 million. The funding round was led by iHeartMedia, Aisha reports. Autio uses GPS to narrate stories of landmarks, cities and towns nearby with the aim of fostering deep connections and understandings of the places users are traveling through.
And we have five more for you:
- Yeah, but does it use outside-in compression: Deep Render lands $9 million for its AI-powered video compression tech, Kyle reports.
- A growing market: Christine writes that Italy’s ban on cultivated meat could set the industry back.
- Wait, you can’t say that: Kyle reports that LeapXpert raises $22 million to monitor employee chats for compliance.
- Is that you, Bob?: Spera raises $10 million for its identity security posture management platform, Frederic reports.
- Putting the pieces back together again: Distressed Indian startup GoMechanic acquired by Lifelong Group-led consortium, reports Manish.
Ask Sophie: What to do if selected/not selected in H-1B lottery?
After three tries, I was finally selected this year in the H-1B lottery! What do we do next?
— Wondering Winner
I’m on STEM OPT. My employer put me in this year’s H-1B lottery for the third time, but I wasn’t selected again! What do I do?
— Lottery Loser
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Substacks of cash: Alex takes a look at Substack taking a different tack to raise more capital.
- Speak up!: Carly points out that Silence gets you nowhere in a data breach.
- So which one is it?: Are cryptocurrencies commodities or securities? Well, Jacquelyn discovers that depends on which U.S. agency you ask.
Big Tech Inc.
Lots of Google-related news today, so let’s summarize, shall we? The TechCrunch audience was particularly enamored with Aisha’s story about a new feature on extreme heat alerts. Why? Perhaps it’s because our weather is not cooperating with the current month. Meanwhile, Frederic reports on Google Cloud launching AlloyDB Omni; Ivan has your look at Google’s new ad transparency center; Manish reports on an Android antitrust case in India; Aisha writes about new Google Search features; and Lorenzo and Carly round it out with a story on hackers using spyware to target users in the UAE.
And with that, we hope you have a Google day!
Now here’s five more for you:
- Spot-ify the new changes: Spotify is testing out new card-style user profiles so that users can have more of a social profile on the platform, Sarah reports.
- Gone fishing for competition: The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority is moving forward with an in-depth probe of the $61 billion Broadcom-VMware deal. Ron has more.
- WWYD with tickets to this show?: Apple’s developer conference, WWDC, returns to Apple Park in June, Brian writes.
- Get your digital scissors ready: Amazon Pharmacy now automatically applies coupons on select brand name drugs, Aisha reports.
- Goooooaaaal!: Sarah writes that Apple is developing a “multiview” feature for watching sports that will enable Apple TV users to watch up to four streams at the same time.