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Helloooooo, Crunchers! It’s Monday, and it’s time for premature lovers to celebrate Valentine’s Day (it’s tomorrow, you eager lovebirds).
Lots of fun things are coming down the pike here at TC Towers: TechCrunch Disrupt is back in September, so now’s the time to grab the super-early-bird tickets at a ludicrous discount.
In connection with last year’s Disrupt, we created a podcast documentary called Inside Battlefield, where we follow some of the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield hopefuls as they pitch their way through to the finals. You may even hear a familiar voice or two in there: Haje shared a bunch of his pitch expertise for the podcast!
For our Black History Month entry today, we recommend The Antiracist Deck, a deck of 100 cards with discussion prompts and things to think about, presenting ways for everyone to fight back against racism in small and big ways in all aspects of life — at work, among friends, and out in the world.
Okay, that was a lot for our usually pretty brief intro, but what can we say, there’s a lot of things happening in the world of TechCrunch!
Much love from your friendly hosts, Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Who asked for more ChatGPT?: Neeva is getting its generative AI search engine out to a wider audience, Paul writes. Unlike some of the other versions of ChatGPT we are seeing that have some factual and some not-so-factual responses, Paul notes that “the onus is very much on NeevaAI to ensure that it understands the question, and gives an appropriate response. Or no response at all, which is what it will do with questions where it’s not confident of the answer.”
- “Premature electrification”: Come on, you know you chuckled when you heard that phrase during last night’s Dodge Ram commercial. Matt reports that the electric Ram 1500 REV is packed with screens and, surprisingly, buttons and knobs, but sadly won’t be available until 2024.
- Another round of cuts: Five months after laying off 11% of its workforce, Twilio made an announcement today that it will let go of another 17% of its employees as it seeks to spend less, Romain writes. The strategic move comes as the company forms two business units in an effort to do just that.
Startups and VC
Highbeam, a startup that provides banking features, credit and cash flow insights to e-commerce customers, today announced that it raised $10 million in debt from TriplePoint as it looks to expand the reach of its digital product portfolio, Kyle reports.
Tesla got itself some high-profile criticism as safety advocacy group The Dawn Project took its campaign to ban Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) system to the Super Bowl, Rebecca reports. The 30-second ad, which was broadcast to millions of football fans, outlined several alleged critical safety defects of Tesla’s FSD, the automaker’s advanced driver assistance system.
Here’s another handful:
- A future as bright as the sun: Clean tech Qotto embarks on a growth plan backed by $8 million in funding, Annie reports.
- Oh great, more energy spritzes: Christine reports how this startup pledges to “deliver a cup of coffee’s worth of energy in just three sprays.”
- Deeper dating: Lauren reports that matchmaking service Tawkify picks up “anti-superficial” dating app S’More in mobile expansion.
- Whoa, that’s a hell of a valuation curve: Rita tells the story of how Zeekr — the two-year-old luxury electric vehicle brand of Geely, China’s largest private carmaker — raises $750 million at $13 billion valuation.
- Unsolicited dock pics: Dockhunt is a new way to discover Mac apps by looking at other people’s docks, Ivan explores.
A Black YC alum explains how he raised $107M
Black entrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges, but Captain founder Demetrius Gray raised $107 million after his Y Combinator experience.
“People see the headline, ‘$107 million raised.’ What they don’t really understand is that it was a progressive process of building relationships over time that made that possible,” says Gray.
In an interview for TC+, he broke down his fundraising strategy and shared several tactics for connecting with investors.
“You gotta get social; you gotta get out in front of people and start building relationships.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
- The hype machine screeches to a halt: Grant Easterbrook breaks down a decade of fintech failures, exploring four innovations that didn’t live up to the hype.
- SF is spooling back up: Cities, cycles and San Francisco’s “return,” writes Natasha M.
- Diversity on the upswing: Dominic-Madori asks, “Who’s afraid of diversity quotas?”
TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Big Tech Inc.
Aisha reported today that more job cuts are on the way for Meta. She notes these new possible layoffs follow Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s earnings call with analysts earlier this month where the company said it plans to continue to contain costs, promising a “year of efficiency.” Zuckerberg noted that Meta would be flattening its organization structure and “removing some layers in middle management to make decisions faster.”
Whether you are a Kansas City Chiefs fan (yay!) or a Philadelphia Eagles fan (sorry), there was a whole crop of new commercials from last night’s Super Bowl to talk about. Lauren has your look at all of the cool movie trailers (Spoiler: Michael Keaton returns as Batman), while Amanda takes us through the tech industry commercials, where fewer crypto commercials were noticeable. Oh, and if you didn’t catch the Super Bowl Rakuten commercial with Alicia Silverstone reprising her role from “Clueless,” here it is.
It’s Monday, so here’s five more for you:
- Picture this: For a while there, everyone was dolling up their photos AI style, but Sarah writes that new data shows the AI photo app trend has already fizzled.
- Teeny, tiny headset: Brian shows us how small Bigscreen’s new VR headset is.
- Rollin’ with the homies: Zoox autonomous robotaxis are now out on California public roads, Kirsten reports.
- Greenlight: Four of the European Union’s biggest adtech companies were told their joint venture didn’t violate antitrust, but they’ll have to see if it passes the data protection gauntlet, Natasha L reports.
- Temperature check: If you’re tracking your fertility, Samsung has an app for that. Its Galaxy Watch5 now has temperature-based period tracking, Sarah writes.
Daily Crunch: Generative AI search engine NeevaAI rolls out subscription service to more countries by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch