Daily Crunch: Citing ‘uncertain mortgage market,’ Better.com rolls out employee buyout plan
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Welcome to the Daily Crunch for Wednesday, April 6, 2022! Today, Pinterest announced it was banning all climate change misinformation on its platform, and can we just say … about time! May all other platforms follow.
Also, while we’re on our little soapbox: The earth ain’t flat, and vaccines have little impact on your 5G reception. Which is unfortunate, because we still can’t get more than a couple of bars in the supermarket.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Sources say Better.com losing ‘$50M a month’: We think reporter Mary Ann Azevedo has done a bang-up job keeping her eye on the Better.com drama. In the latest episode, sources revealed to her some internal meeting details that the digital mortgage lender is losing “around $50 million a month.” Unsurprisingly, the company is now offering a severance package to employees it didn’t already lay off. There’s a town hall meeting today, so Mary Ann will most likely have more to share in the coming days.
- Navigating the choppy e-commerce seas: As reporter Ingrid Lunden writes, “e-commerce is synonymous with shopping on Amazon, but the reality is that a retailer has the option to use a bundle of different channels to sell and market products.” Productsup wants to help retailers decipher this complex and fragmented world with some marketing and sales tools you can manage from one place.
- Yes, Twitter is looking at an edit button: We’ve already played out this edit button thing, but even after joking about it last week, Twitter now says that it’s been working on an edit button for the past year, and it wasn’t because Elon Musk took a poll. To edit or not to edit has been TC Slack fodder this week, and it seems it people anticipate one of two scenarios: Typos will be fixed or misinformation will run rampant.
Startups and VC
TechCrunch has gone Texas-sized today, with our inaugural City Spotlight for 2022, where we do what we can to help Keep Austin Wired. Connie talked to billionaire investor Jim Breyer about why he high-tailed it out of Silicon Valley in favor of Austin, Brian took a look at how global politics and finance might bring more manufacturing to central Texas, Laura Lorek did a profile on Austin tech eccentric Whurley, and Mary Ann summarized how Austin re-invented itself, earning its current reputation as a tech hub.
Outside the Lone Star State, it was a big day of EV news. Rivian celebrated the production milestones that put it on track to hit its 2022 goals, which is great news for me, because it may mean that I’ll at some point clear the waitlist and take delivery of one of the off-road pickup trucks because obviously that’s what I need to drive to my local Whole Foods. General Motors finally figured out its supply chain woes and the recall of 141,000 Bolts and fired up its assembly line again. And the U.S. government finally figured out that if it wants to go fully electric, it has 99,000 problems in the form of a vast shortage of charging stations to energize all the vehicles it wants to run.
Moar News, fresh from the TechCrunch firehose of tasty morsels of news and commentary:
- I’m too sexy for Milan, New York, and Hangzhou: Zhiyi Tech raises $100 million to help fashion brands predict bestsellers.
- You spin me right round, baby, right round, like a rocket, baby: SpinLaunch scores NASA test mission to demonstrate its unique launch method.
- Know when to walk away, know when to run: The only failure is failing to learn, and on the newest episode of TC’s Equity podcast, the team discusses how failure is a choose-your-own-adventure for startups.
- A dollar is what I need (hey, hey): Docyt raises $11.5 million Series A for its AI-powered accounting automation service.
- Non, je ne internete rien: Stackblitz raises $7.9 million to bring a better IDE to your browser.
- Bleep–bloop, that’s the sound of the police: Prepared wants to drag the US 911 system into the modern era.
- Draw me like one of your French grills: OpenAI’s new DALL-E model draws anything — but bigger, better, and faster than before.
- Printing me softly with his song: Mostly known for its battery packs, Anker launches a Kickstarter campaign for its first 3D printer.
6 questions investors should ask when evaluating psychedelic biotech companies
A few years ago, ingesting small quantities of psychedelics to elevate one’s mood or productivity was the subject of small talk in Silicon Valley.
Today, psychedelic therapeutics are being used to treat a variety of mental health issues. And as more regions decriminalize the use of plant-based substances, investors are taking notice.
With plans to raise a $25 million fund and more than $15 million already invested, PsyMed Ventures focuses on early-stage startups developing psychedelic therapeutics.
In a TC+ guest post, partners Matias Serebrinsky and Greg Kubin explore their investment thesis in detail: “We believe in a future where psychedelic therapy will be as common as going to the dentist, but the path won’t be easy.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Intel has joined other Big Tech companies, like Apple, AMD, Adobe and General Electric, in suspending business operations in Russia. This follows its move of stopping shipments to customers in Russia and Belarus. And don’t miss the new feature for TechCrunch by reporter Vadim Smyslov, who is covering the impact the war is having on Russia’s tech workers.
We also learned today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted a massive botnet controlled by Russian intelligence and was able to take it down. Called the Cyclops Blink, this malware had apparently infiltrated thousands of devices, and we report “security researchers say the botnet is capable of collecting information and conducting espionage, launching distributed denial-of-service attacks that overload websites and servers with junk traffic, as well as destructive attacks that render the devices inoperable and causing system and network disruptions.” All of that makes us glad this one is out of commission.
Here are two other news items for you to sink your teeth into:
- CNN+ downloads are more like a minus: CNN+ launched last week and is now seeing around half of the downloads from its opening day. We may be seeing one or two things play out: People are tired of having an app for each channel, and/or the channel needs to up its content game.
- Visa opens first innovation hub in Africa: The Kenya studio gives the global digital payments giant a deeper connection to the country’s developers and partners aiming to create payment and commerce tools.