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Hello and welcome back to Daily Crunch. Monday, May 24, and all I can think about is how badly I want a Surface Duo now that it supports two-screen gaming. Also, one of the new iMacs. Of course, I don’t need either, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting both. Alas.
Regardless, it was a hectic start to the week, with a slew of startup funding rounds, more in the long-running saga of governments attempting to control social media platforms, more IPO news, and Tesla’s latest woes. Let’s cut the nonsense and get started. — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Governments vs. Tech:Indian police from the central government were seen today at two different Twitter offices, in what appeared to be an intimidation attempt in response to Twitter’s decision not to label a tweet from a member of the current ruling party as manipulated media.
Here are a few thoughts. First, India is not alone in attempting to compel social media companies to behave in accordance with local governments’ wishes. However, what the current Indian government is doing is particularly egregious and does not bode well for the country’s overall tech ecosystem.
- Tesla owes Norway:Darling of the American electric car industry Tesla appears to be in hot water with Norway after a “Norwegian conciliation council” ordered the company to pay $16,000 to thousands of Model S owners after “it found that a software update led to longer charging times.” Ouch. Tesla will have to sell a large number of American regulatory credits to make up for the loss. Norway is an important market for EVs.
- U.S. cities buy abuse-linked tech: According to the latest report from our own Zack Whittaker and IPVM, “at least a hundred U.S. counties, towns, and cities have bought Chinese-made surveillance systems that the US government has linked to human rights abuses.” That’s 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 increased over the last year, so did business at Solidus Labs, which detects “volume and price manipulation” in bitcoin and its peers. According to its CEO, Asaf Meir, the company saw a “400% increase in inbound demand over 2020.” That appears to be correct. Furthermore, Solidus should publish a monthly report on the level of manipulation on each exchange and cryptocurrency. That would be the law.
Fireflies.ai raises $14M to record, transcribe and connect your meetings: Fireflies, a former Acceleprise company, is developing software that will record and transcribe your meetings and then connect the text — and possibly the embedded tasks — to other pieces of software. It’s fascinating, and it’s spreading like wildfire. So Khosla contributed $14 million to it.
Mono raises $2M to power African fintech: Mono has a lot of vision, from building the Plaid for Africa to “powering the internet economy in Africa.” And now its accounts have been updated in order to pursue its plans to “[streamline] various financial data in a single API for companies and third-party developers.” APIs are cool. Fintech is hip. Fintech APIs are especially cool. That is our opinion.
Flat6Labs raises $13.2M to fund Egyptian startups: This is fund news, but it is brief enough to be included in the startup section today. In short, Flat6Labs has been an accelerator in Egypt and Tunisia since 2011. And it now has a new checkbook to experiment with.
Inside Zeta Global’s IPO: Finally, today in the startup world, Zeta Global goes public. It’s a product that could set the tone for the martech industry for quite some time. So, we dug into its numbers a little late to see what Zeta has that public investors might be interested in.
When to walk away from a VC who wants to invest in your startup
Ofri Ben-Porat flew from London to New York to meet with potential investors, but one canceled at the last minute due to illness. He received a DocSend push notification moments later informing him that the VC had just opened the pitch deck he’d sent days before.
Undaunted, he arrived and pretended he hadn’t received their email. The meeting went well; after he returned home, the VCs offered pre-terms and due diligence, “but ultimately, I didn’t feel right taking money from them,” Ben-Porat says.
Securing the right amount of funding at the right time can make or break a startup, but founders who fail to recognize — or worse, ignore — red flags 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 enjoys imitating its friends? Facebook! However, Facebook could be up to something interesting this time. TechCrunch investigated some creator-friendly feature work that Big Blue is incorporating into its TikTok clone. So it’s still running the copy machine at full speed, but with a few improvements.
Returning to Apple, not everything is made of M1 chips and purple iPhones. Some things are less than stellar at the Cupertino-based technology behemoth. Today, TechCrunch reported on a number of macOS vulnerabilities that, to be honest, don’t sound promising. What is the proverb? Purchase a PC; they are simple to use.
In happier news, Apple has a slew of new software updates for you to enjoy, especially if you own an iPhone or iPad.
Don’t worry, Microsoft fans; we’ve got something for you, too. Specifically, a review of the new Surface Laptop 4. It’s pretty darn good, retaining all of its predecessor’s flaws and strengths while adding new guts.
Finally, ByteDance has another chart-topping app; Airbnb is doubling down on guest flexibility, though we have some concerns; SiriusXM is collaborating with TikTok on a new channel; and SensorTower is ensuring 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.