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Welcome to the Daily Crunch for Friday, April 8, 2022! Today, Haje has mostly been reading the most recent IPCC report and gobbling anti-anxiety meds by the fistful, while Christine was talking and writing all day.
If it turns out that saving the planet is the wrong thing to do, we can always choose to burn it to cinders at a later date. Until then, can we just agree to try and help out, collectively?
On that cheerful note, may your weekend contain the appropriate amount of the right kind of surprises. – Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Executive parts ways with Better.com: CTO Diane Yu is among employees agreeing to take part in the voluntary separation plan that the digital mortgage lender offered earlier this week, though we report she will stay on as an adviser. Yu joined the company in January 2021 after leaving a similar role at Comcast. The news follows yesterday’s story that discussed what happened at Better.com’s December meeting where it laid off 900 employees.
- Late-stage slowdown in aisle 5!: Earlier this week, Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim took a look at global venture capital, finding that later-stage investments are declining. Alex is back again, this time diving into what happened with late-stage deals — and what kind of slowdown we’re talking about here. Like leaving the gallon of milk in the chip aisle to grab the last bag of Doritos, he opines there will be some hard decisions to make going forward.
- Didi puts South Africa in its rearview mirror: Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chixung is sticking out its thumb and grabbing a ride out of South Africa today. The company didn’t give a specific reason for its departure, but it seems its year-long ride in the country hit some speed bumps early on.
Startups and VC
Tesla is lovely and all, but the company cannot be accused of making EVs financially accessible. Great news for EV lovers, then: Vietnamese EV company Vinfast is leaning on the accelerator into its IPO process, promising a new generation of affordable electric vehicles alongside offerings from GM, Hyundai and Kia. I, for one, can’t wait until gas-guzzlers are a thing of the past.
I’ve lived on four different continents, and I’m infuriated that in 2022, sending money internationally is still an industry full of “solutions” that make you wonder who’s in charge around here. SwooshTransfer raised a multimillion-dollar angel round to solve this problem once and for all, “making transactions simple.” Nobody tell them about Wise, Xe, Western Union, WorldRemit, HiFX, Remitly, OFX, MoneyGram, Xoom, or any of the other dozens of well-funded companies already out there.
Let’s do a quick lap to see what else you may have missed:
- WhatsApp, doc: Truora finds backing for its tools helping LatAm users onboard via WhatsApp.
- Keeping it on the DL: ProtonMail buys email alias startup SimpleLogin.
- We have liftoff: Marking a new era in space flight, Axiom Space is launching its first fully private crewed mission to the ISS. Incredible.
- Geopolitics of Space: Guest columnist Raquel Jorge argues we should keep an eye on what’s happening in the great inky beyond when it comes to safety and security.
- NFT? More like No FT: Apple’s App Store gives Sticky the boot after being live on the store for several months, for not offering actual NFTs in the way we typically understand them.
Does your startup have enough runway? 5 factors to consider
If your early-stage startup doesn’t have enough cash on hand to last until the fall of 2023, you might have a problem.
As a general rule, “seed-stage and Series A-stage companies should plan to have at least 12 to 18 months of runway,” says angel investor Marjorie Radlo-Zandi.
In a follow-up to her last column about calculating TAM, she shares her burn rate calculator and five tips for managing cash on hand.
“Projections are useful,” she says, “but you can’t account for unexpected problems or opportunities.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Put a tally in the Microsoft column. Six years into a broader investigation of Russian state-sponsored hacking group APT28, Microsoft announced this week that it successfully seized domains the group, operated by Russian military intelligence, used to target institutions in Ukraine.
Spotify gives us some TikTok vibes today. The streaming service is on a roll with yet another new discovery feature that it is testing. We report that this time it is “a personalized feed on the app’s home screen, which introduces users to new music through a feed of canvas loops (aka those GIFs that appear when you’re listening to certain songs — Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Brutal’ is accompanied by loop of a cake being smashed, for example).” This follows last week’s test of an “audio news feed” for podcasts.
Twitter, Twitter, Twitter! We know Jan would be rolling her eyes at Marcia right now for discussing the social media giant yet again this week, but there is just too much going on to not mention it. Twitter offered up new additions to its alt text feature (images with alt text will contain an “ALT” badge in the corner of the image) and you can now untag yourself from tweets (we’ll have to learn not to take that one personally).
Here are some other stories to put on your reading list for today:
- Apple’s study of app tracking transparency yields competition concerns: Natasha Lomas broke down some of the study results, which show Apple’s requirement that developers ask permission to track app users caused tracking to actually be more difficult. And that many apps still collected tracking data despite the user having asked them not to do that.
- Google Pixel users, rejoice!: Google is teaming with iFixit to offer some tools for self-repair of Pixel handsets. The kits will launch later this year and include all the fixings for common repairs like replacing batteries, displays and camera modules. Next on the list, Chromebooks.