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It’s Wednesday the 25th of May, 2022, and we are devastated by the events of the last couple of days. It’s hard to put together a newsletter about tech against the backdrop of a school shooting. Big news events impact everyone differently, so please remember to give yourself and those around you a bit of extra space. We love you. — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Going, going gone: Twitter confirmed that its former CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down from the company’s board today. No, it’s not a surprise. He and the company were vocal about when his final days would be. We assume Dorsey is happy with how he is leaving things.
- No crypto slowdown to see here: Even with a grim cryptocurrency market report, there are still dollars to be raised if you are developing viable blockchain infrastructure. StarkWare Industries grabbed 100 million of them, bringing the company’s valuation to $8 billion, essentially a four-time boost from its previous round. Why is blockchain infrastructure so important? Why, integrity of the whole system of course, Jacquie reports.
- Creepy crawlers: What’s half a millimeter wide and crawls? We’re sure there’s so many gross things running through your mind right now, but in this case it is a remote-controlled crab “robot” created by some geniuses at Northwestern University. Not sure what use there is for a teeny crab, but it’s cute anyway.
Startups and VC
In startup land, it’s all crypto all the time today. Lucas covers how a16z announced a $4.5 billion web3 fund less than a year since it announced its $2.2 billion Crypto Fund III. Meanwhile, Volt Capital debuts a $50 million fund, also backed by a16z.
DJ Gabeau, one of Snapchat Stories’ earliest engineers and founder of web3 social network Primitives, told TechCrunch that he thinks NFTs can be an enjoyable way for people to connect, Anita reports.
As members of the Terra community try to pick up the pieces from its currently defunct economy, Polygon launches a fund to entice the dozens of developers who had projects built on the inoperative blockchain, Jacquelyn reports.
And finally, the IRS’s tax partner ZenLedger was already off to the races, but it is leaning on the accelerator with a $15 million series B, Anita reports.
Don’t worry, there’s non-blockchain news too:
- Jesus, take the wheel: Pony.ai loses permit to test autonomous vehicles with driver in California after one too many instances of its safety drivers not paying attention, Rebecca reports.
- Taking a bite out of food tech: Synthesis Capital closed its inaugural $300 million fund to invest in the future of food, Christine writes.
- A high-flying market: Anna did a series of interviews with cannabis tech investors to figure out where the market is going.
- All the things, everywhere, via the internet: Namibian B2B e-commerce retail platform JABU raises $15M led by Tiger Global, reports Tage.
- Signed, sealed, delivered — your severance package: Getir, valued at $12 billion, plans to axe 14% of staff globally and cut aggressive expansion plans, reports Ingrid.
- They won’t need your TPS reports: The process to make any purchase within a business can be long and cumbersome. Zip raised $43 million in a Series B to help ease the pain, Mary Ann writes.
- Post-COVID reboot for femtech hardware: Inne was about to launch when the pandemic hit. Natasha has a great feature about how it regrouped and is gearing up for the future.
- And finally, the $3,000 podcasting microphone: Haje took a closer look at the newest podcasting microphone array from Nomono, wondering who would get in line to spend $3,000 on a spatial audio microphone array.
Despite regulatory roadblocks, these four US cannabis investors are planting seeds for tomorrow
The cannabis industry is doing very well in the United States.
A state-by-state patchwork of regulations has created a limited market for public and private companies that handle grow operations, distribution and transportation, inventory control, testing and point-of-sale software.
Budtenders are a frequent sight at California weddings, but Anna Heim found that the industry still has a long way to go before it reaches maturity, largely because federal laws continue to prevent cannabis-related business from using traditional financial services.
To learn more about the underlying market forces and hurdles facing entrepreneurs and investors in this maverick industry, she spoke to four investors:
- Jacqueline Bennett, managing partner and co-founder, Highlands Venture Partners
- Yoni Meyer, partner, Casa Verde Capital
- Matt Hawkins, managing partner and co-founder, Entourage Effect Capital
- Emily Paxhia, managing director, Poseidon Investment Management
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
In anticipation of a possible reversal of abortion privacy law Roe v. Wade, a group of Democratic congressional members penned a letter to Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, urging the company to consider changing the way it currently collects and retains cell phone location data records. Carly reports the fear is that it could become a tool for “far-right extremists looking to crack down on people seeking reproductive health care.”
Apple says its iOS App Store supports some 2.2 million jobs and was responsible for a 118% increase in U.S. small developer earnings over the past 2 years. Sarah and Natasha provide some analysis of the numbers, noting, “these figures highlight how important the App Store is to a wide range of global developers. That, in turn, could also help demonstrate why a system this large and powerful could also be due for more regulation and competition.”
Speaking of Apple, if you live in Maryland and have an Apple Wallet, you can store your driver’s license or state ID there. The state became the second, behind Arizona, to offer the feature.
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