Connect with us


Be aware: Your company is watching you



Call it the public service announcement to start off your year: If you’re working at a startup where IT is a little fuzzy, policies are evolving as the company is being built and the organization is evolving quickly, you’re at higher risk than usual that your employers are willing to move fast, do things and ask for permission later. It makes sense almost intuitively: Early-stage startups generally don’t have their crap together, and are moving at a breack-neck speed. Is it legal? Of course not, but in a lot of startup circles, it seems as if the attitude is that if the company is unsuccessful, it’s a moot point. And if it grows at the speed of a top-tier rapid-growth company, well, you will have enough money and lawyers to figure it out later.

This article was triggered by a conversation I had with a couple of startup employees that wished not to be named at a company you’ve almost certainly heard of. I wasn’t able to get enough corroborated information to name the company (don’t worry, I’ll keep trying). For now, here’s a couple of annual reminders, as you’re leaping into 2022 all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Be careful what you say in the company Slack – It may feel like DMs are private, but did you know that a company admin can export all the DMs that have ever been sent on a Slack instance? Of course, there may be laws against exporting the data, but if you discussed something illegal or immoral in the DMs, you’re going to have as hard a time explaining that as your boss has explaining how they ended up with a copy of your DMs. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and you may have a case for suing your employer if your suspicious, over-eager head of IT decides to do some digging around, but that sort of thing is easily avoided by just keeping personal talk to personal channels, and work talk to work channels. Of course, even your texts may not stay private, but at least there’s a higher bar for getting access to those. And, y’know, if you are particularly paranoid, there’s always Signal or Telegram, with expiring messages.

Your bosses can monitor your company equipment – There’s often a clause in contracts about how you can and cannot use equipment provided by your company. Some of those things are obvious — don’t do illegal things — but others are more obscure. That’s all good and well, but read your contract carefully. There may be language that says that your company is allowed to monitor what you do on your computer. I don’t think that sounds particularly innocent, but it is worded obliquely in a lot of work contracts. In a world where AI tools are becoming more and more powerful, and where you sign a contract that says you’re completely cool with being tracked, there are a ton of companies (AktivTrak, ActiveOps, Veratio, to just name a few) that make software that can keep an eye on you, and your employers can install these on your computer with various degrees of stealth and permission from you.

AktivTrak claims it is used by 9,000+ organizations, and that its tool can be used to “Reference detailed logs of user activities and security events to better understand what transpired, when and by whom, while simultaneously providing insights to help ensure compliance.” I don’t know about you, but I feel safer already. (Screenshot: AktivTrak website)

HR is not on your side – The human resources department at your company might be friendly and helpful and lovely, and they may try their best to help resolve workplace issues, but they aren’t on your side: HR works for the company. They are there to protect the company’s interests. And when your interests and those of the company are at odds, remember that the people who work in HR — no matter how friendly they are — still need to pay their bills and have a good working relationship with their bosses after you’ve quit, been fired or otherwise get moved around within the company. And as James Altucher points out in his column, eventually, they will fire you.

You don’t owe a company your loyalty – Especially in the U.S., where a lot of employment is “at will,” i.e. you can be laid off at any time for any reason, you remain employed for as long as the company can afford you, and you’re contributing to the bottom line. Especially in startups, this is a mercurial universe, because goals and targets can shift from board meeting to board meeting. One month, the engineering department is the be-all and end-all of a company’s life blood. But the amount of money in the bank account and the fundraising environment can change quickly, and the next month, it could all change. Especially when the going gets tough, it may become tempting for leadership to run the company to its KPIs, and focus only on growth and customer acquisition. In that universe, engineering is of low importance in the short term, and suddenly advertising spend and the sales operation becomes top priority. Even great leaders with solid long-term visions can be forced into making abrupt changes. Loyalty in the professional world is a myth that benefits only the employers; if they need to let you go, they will, so when a recruiter comes knocking, take the call to see how you are priced in the market.

Don’t quitIf a manager or someone from HR is trying to make you quit on your own accord, as a rule of thumb, it’s best to resist. Don’t quit! A lot of mechanisms (including, in some states, unemployment benefits) only apply to you if you’re laid off. If you quit — and especially if you sign an agreement that you promise not to sue the company — you hugely weaken your options further down the line.

Did HR use your Slack DM messages or your emails against you? I’m talking to a number of startup employees at the moment — at a few different companies. I want to hear from you. Find me at

Source: Tech


Dashworks is a search engine for your company’s sprawling internal knowledge



As a company grows, the amount of important information employees need to keep track of inevitably grows right along with it. And, as your tech stack gets more complicated, that information ends up split up across more places — buried in Slack threads, tucked into Jira tickets, pushed as files on Dropbox, etc.

Dashworks is a startup aiming to be the go-to place for all of that internal knowledge. Part landing page and part search engine, it hooks into dozens of different enterprise services and gives you one hub to find what you need.

On the landing page front, Dashworks is built to be your work laptop’s homepage. It’s got support for broadcasting company wide announcements, building out FAQs, and sharing bookmarks for the things you often need and can never find — your handbooks, your OKRs, your org charts, etc.

More impressive, though, is its cross-tool search. With backgrounds in natural language processing at companies like Facebook and Cresta, co-founders Prasad Kawthekar and Praty Sharma are building a tool that allow you to ask Dashworks questions and have them answered from the knowledge it’s gathered across all of those aforementioned Slack threads, or Jira tickets, or Dropbox files. It’ll give you a search results page of relevant files across the services you’ve hooked in — but if it thinks it knows the answer to your question, it’ll just bubble that answer right to the top of the page, Google Snippets style.

Image Credits: Dashworks

Right now Dashworks can hook into over 30 different popular services, including Airtable, Asana, Confluence, Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive, Intercom, Jira, Notion, Slack, Salesforce, Trello, and a whole bunch more — with more on the way, prioritized by demand.

Giving another company access to all of those services and the knowledge within might be unsettling — something the Dashworks team seems quite aware of. Kawthekar tells me that their product is SOC-2 certified, that all respective data is wiped from their servers if you choose to disconnect a service, and that, for teams that are equipped to host the tool themselves, they offer a fully on-prem version.

This week Dashworks is announcing that it raised a $4M round led by Point72 ventures, backed by South Park Commons, Combine Fund, Garuda Ventures, GOAT Capital, Unpopular Ventures, and Starling Ventures. Also backing the round is a number of angels, including Twitch co-founder Emmett Shear and Gusto co-founders Josh Reeves and Tomer London. The company was also a part of Y Combinator’s W20 class.

Image Credits: Dashworks

Source: Tech

Continue Reading


Daily Crunch: Google will offer G Suite legacy edition users a ‘no-cost option’



To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PST, subscribe here.

Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for January 28, 2022! It’s nearly blizzard o’clock where I am, so please enjoy the following newsletter as my final missive before hunkering down. In happier and better news, TechCrunch Early Stage is coming up in just a few months and not only am I hype about it, I’ll hopefully be there IRL. See you soon! – Alex

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Google invests up to $1B in Airtel: With a $700 million investment and $300 million in “multi-year commercial agreements” with Airtel, and Indian telco, Google has made its second major bet on Indian infra. Recall that Google also put money into Jio, another Indian telco. The deal underscores the importance of the country in the future of technology revenues.
  • What’s ahead for Europe: On the heels of news that European startups had an outsized 2021 when it came to fundraising, TechCrunch explored what’s ahead for the continent. Some expect a slowdown from peak activity, while others anticipate further acceleration. Regardless of which perspective you favor, European venture investment is expected to remain elevated for some time to come.
  • Zapp raises $200M: And speaking of European startups, Zapp, the U.K.-based quick-convenience delivery startup, just raised a massive Series B. The company previously raised $100 million, meaning that this round was big in absolute and comparative terms. As we see some consolidation in the fast-delivery space, this deal caught our eye.


  • Are charter cities the future for African tech growth? TechCrunch’s Tage Kene-Okafor has a great piece up on the site noting that “African cities have the fastest global urban growth rate,” which is leading to overcrowding. Some folks think that “charter cities offer a solution.” Special economic zones of all types have been tried before – will they offer African tech a faster route forward?
  • Personalized learning is hot: Our in-house edtech expert Natasah Mascarenhas has a great piece out today on personalized learning startups – Learnfully, Wayfinder, Empowerly, and others – that are taking the lessons of remote schooling to heart and working to make products that work better for our kids. It’s an encouraging, fascinating story.
  • Rise wants to remake team calendaring: There is no shortage of apps in the market to help individuals and teams work together. But we might not need as many as we have. That’s why Rise is making me think. The team calendaring app just raised a few million, and could replace a few tools that myself and friends use. I wonder if the solution to the Tool Overload of 2022 is tools that do less, intentionally.
  • Canvas wants non-tech folks to be able to squeeze answers from data: Developers are in short supply, so no-code tools that allow folks who don’t sling code to do their own building are blowing up. Similarly, a general dearth of data science talent in the market is creating space for tools like Canvas, which “is going all in with a spreadsheet-like interface for non-technical teams to access the information they need without bothering data teams,” TechCrunch reports.
  • Zigbang buys Samsung IoT business: The IoT promises of yesteryear are coming true, and not. Samsara recently went public on the back of its IoT business. That was a win for the category. That Zigbang, a South Korean proptech startup, is buying Samsung’s IoT unit feels slightly less bullish.
  • Series F-tw? Once upon a time I would have mocked a Series F as indication that the company in question had failed to go public. But that was then. Today Series Fs are not that rare. Indian B2B marketplace Moglix just raised one, which doubled its valuation to $2.6 billion. Tiger co-led the $250 million round.

And if you are looking down the barrel of a blizzard, TechCrunch’s Equity podcast has your downtime covered. Enjoy!

European, North American edtech startups see funding triple in 2021

Image Credits: Bet_Noire (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Pre-pandemic, VCs were notoriously reluctant to invest in education-related companies. Today, edtech startups are seeing higher average deal sizes, more seed and pre-seed funding from non-VC investors, and an influx of generalists.

According to Rhys Spence, head of research at Brighteye Ventures, funding for edtech startups based in Europe and North America trebled over the last year.

“Exciting companies are spawning across geographies and verticals, and even generalist investors are building conviction that the sector is capable of producing the same kind of outsized returns generated in fintech, healthtech and other sectors,” writes Spence.

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

  • Northern Light Venture Capital’s He Huang says the Chinese robotics market is overheated: Per the investor, robotics in China is “riddled with speculation and overvalued companies,” calling the situation a bubble. It’s worth noting that China’s central government is working to retool where its tech investment dollars flow.
  • Robinhood goes down, back up: This morning, in the wake of the company’s lackluster earnings report, TechCrunch dug through why Robinhood’s stock sold off in after-hours, pre-market, and early trading sessions yesterday and today. And then Robinhood turned around and gained ample ground during the rest of the day. It’s a weird market moment, but good news for the U.S. fintech all the same.
  • Google to allow legacy G Suite users to move to free accounts: After angering techies still using the “G Suite legacy free edition” by announcing that it was ending the program and requiring payment, the search giant has decided to ”offer more options to existing users,” TechCrunch reports. Somewhere inside of Google, a business decision just met the market and was flipped on its head. Makes you wonder who is calling the shots over there, and if they previously worked for McKinsey.

TechCrunch Experts

Image Credits: SEAN GLADWELL / Getty Images

TechCrunch wants you to recommend growth marketers who have expertise in SEO, social, content writing and more! If you’re a growth marketer, pass this survey along to your clients; we’d like to hear about why they loved working with you.

Source: Tech

Continue Reading


3 experiments for early-stage founders seeking product-market fit



At Human Ventures, we have a fund for pre-seed and seed-stage investments, a venture studio and an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) program.

Through this work, we’ve discovered a lot about how different founders fulfill their journey of customer discovery and product-market fit. One of the largest challenges for pre-seed and seed stage founders is determining where to start: There are a million things to do. What should you do at each stage?

We interviewed three founders from our portfolio, all of whom ran discovery experiments to find their product-market fit at different stages of their company’s development.

Here’s what they had to share:

Pre-MVP/customer discovery phase: Tiny Organics

Tiny Organics is a plant-based baby and toddler food company on a mission to shape childrens’ palates so they’ll choose and love vegetables from their earliest days. The company raised $11 million in their Series A in 2021 and is growing at over 500% annually.

Founders Sofia Laurell and Betsy Fore joined our venture studio as EIRs and went through a six-week discovery sprint. As Sofia explains, they knew they wanted to build something to make parents’ lives easier and threw a lot of initial ideas at the wall from the Finnish baby box 2.0 (Sofia is Finnish) to an easier way to create Instagrammable baby pictures.

They went through multiple exercises to test the viability of new parents’ most pressing and urgent needs:

  • Conduct a “Start with Why” exercise
  • Define the “Jobs to be Done”
  • Create a lean canvas for each (viable) concept
  • Define the user journeys
  • Conduct user surveys using platforms like and 1Q (instant survey tool)
  • Identify and define their customer personas
  • Conduct customer interviews and synthesize them
  • Construct concept prototypes

They also met prospective customers, conducting a focus group of 10-15 moms. When the founders asked them to text them what they were feeding their children along with pictures for a week, they realized the lack of healthy finger foods in the market, thus sparking the idea for Tiny Organics.

Source: Tech

Continue Reading