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Welcome back to Daily Crunch. It’s Monday, May 24, and all I can think about is how much I want a Surface Duo now that it can do two-screen gaming. And one of those new iMacs. I don’t need either, of course, but that doesn’t stop my coveting both of the gadgets. Alas.
Regardless, it was a super busy start to the week, with lots of startup funding rounds, more in the long-running saga of governments trying to control social media platforms, even more IPO news and the latest troubles with Tesla. Let’s cut the chatter and dive in. — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Governments vs. Tech: Indian police tied to the central government showed up at two different Twitter offices today, in what appeared to be an intimidation effort following Twitter’s decision to not unlabel a tweet from a member of the current ruling party as manipulated media.
A few things here. First, India is not alone in trying to force social media companies to behave as local governments want them to. That said, what the current Indian government is doing is particularly egregious and doesn’t bode well for the country’s tech ecosystem as a whole.
- Tesla owes Norway: American electric car darling Tesla appears to be in hot water with Norway after a “Norwegian conciliation council” ordered the company to pay $16,000 each to thousands of Model S owners after “it found that a software update led to longer charging times.” Ouch. Tesla will have to sell lots of American regulatory credits to cover that loss. Norway is a key market for EVs.
- U.S. cities buy abuse-linked tech: From the “you should read this” files, the latest report from our own Zack Whittaker and IPVM states that “at least a hundred U.S. counties, towns and cities have bought Chinese-made surveillance systems that the U.S. government has linked to human rights abuses.” Not good.
Startups and VC
As always we’re picking and choosing the best rounds from the day, so feel free to scrounge around the blog if you need even more!
Solidus Labs raises $20M for crypto-snooping: As the value of cryptocurrencies rose in the past year, so too did business at Solidus Labs, which detects “volume and price manipulation” among bitcoin and its brethren. Per its CEO, Asaf Meir, his company saw a “400% increase in inbound demand over 2020.” That sounds about right. Also, Solidus should drop a monthly report on the level of manipulation on every exchange and crypto. That would rule.
Fireflies.ai raises $14M to record, transcribe and connect your meetings: Former Acceleprise company Fireflies is building software that will record and transcribe your meetings, and then connect the text — and perhaps the embedded tasks — to other bits of software. It’s interesting, and growing like a weed. So Khosla helped put $14 million into it.
Mono raises $2M to power African fintech: From building the Plaid for Africa to “power the internet economy in Africa,” Mono is not short on vision. And now it has had its accounts refreshed to pursue its plans to “[streamline] various financial data in a single API for companies and third-party developers.” APIs are cool. Fintech is cool. Fintech APIs are extra cool. That’s our take.
Flat6Labs raises $13.2M to fund Egyptian startups: This is fund news, but it’s small enough that it fits inside the startup section today. In short, since 2011 Flat6Labs has been an accelerator in Egypt and Tunisia. And now it has a new checkbook to play with.
Inside Zeta Global’s IPO: Finally from the startup world today, Zeta Global is going public. It’s an offering that could set the tone for the martech world for some time to come. So, we dug into its numbers a bit tardily to figure out just what Zeta has that public investors might want.
When to walk away from a VC who wants to invest in your startup
Ofri Ben-Porat flew from London to NYC to meet potential investors, but at the last minute, one canceled, claiming illness. Moments later, he received a DocSend push notification informing him that said VC had just opened the pitch deck he’d sent days before.
Undeterred, he showed up anyway and pretended he hadn’t received their email. The discussion went well; after he flew home, the VCs offered pre-terms and due diligence, “but ultimately, I didn’t feel right taking money from them,” says Ben-Porat.
Securing the right amount of funding at the right moment can make or break a startup, but founders who can’t identify red flags — or worse, ignore them — will live to regret it.
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
What has a zillion hands and likes to copy its friends? Facebook! This time, however, Facebook could be doing something interesting. TechCrunch dug through some creator-friendly feature work that Big Blue is putting into its TikTok clone. So it’s still running the copy machine at full tilt, just with a few upgrades.
Turning back to Apple, not everything is M1 chips and purple iPhones. Some things are less good at the Cupertino-based technology leviathan. Today TechCrunch reported on a few different macOS vulnerabilities that, frankly, don’t sound good. What’s the old adage? Buy a PC; they just work?
In happier Apple news, the company has a pile of new software updates for your enjoyment, especially if you are an iPhone or iPad user.
Don’t fret, Microsoft fans, we have something for you as well. Namely a review of the new Surface Laptop 4. It’s pretty darn good, keeping all its predecessor’s weaknesses and strengths, with new guts.
Wrapping, ByteDance has another chart-topping app; Airbnb is doubling down on guest flexibility, though we have questions; SiriusXM is partnering with TikTok on a new channel; and SensorTower is making sure that there is at least some M&A to report on.
TechCrunch Experts: Email Marketing
TechCrunch Experts is still collecting survey responses to help us identify the top email marketers in tech!
At this time, we’re not looking for self-nominations — we’re only seeking nominations from clients. We want to hear all about your experience and how you found the right expert for your needs. Fill out the survey here.
We’re excited to move this project forward. Visit techcrunch.com/experts to find out more!
Last year, we held our first dedicated space startup event, TC Sessions: Space, featuring some of the industry’s top founders and leaders, including Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, Lockheed Martin’s Lisa Callahan, Amazon’s Dave Limp, NASA’s Kathy Lueders and many more. This year, we’re excited to announce we’re doing it again with TC Sessions: Space 2021, happening virtually December 14-15.
TC Sessions: Mobility 2021 is right around the corner of your calendar (June 9). If you want to place your ground-breaking, edge-cutting, envelope-pushing (no extra charge for clichés) early-stage startup in front of the world’s leading mobility movers, shakers and makers you gotta hustle. You have just one week left to buy one of our remaining three Startup Exhibitor Packages.