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Hello! If you had the day off for President’s Day, we hope it was a peaceful transition into work today. Please send good vibes to Haje as he figures out what to do with his damaged car (it’s a long story). Meanwhile, today’s Black History Month recommendation comes from Henry on “Blues Legacies and Black Feminism” by Angela Davis. Let’s dig in. — Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- What happens when something is unsecured?: Well, unfortunately for the U.S. Department of Defense, it meant that sensitive military emails get leaked, Zack reports.
- “That’s no moon — it’s a space station”: Vast makes its first acquisition of Launcher in a move that brings it closer to building artificial gravity space stations in low Earth orbit. Aria has more.
- Success breeds IPO: Shared vehicle company Lime reported its first profitable year, with Rebecca writing that “Lime has figured out how to make shared micromobility a sustainable business.” So what happens when you are good at what you do? The company is now eyeing an initial public offering.
Startups and VC
FreshToHome, an Indian meat startup going after a piece of the country’s food delivery market, has a new backer in Amazon, which led a $104 million round in funding. Manish writes that this investment marks the largest check Amazon’s Smbhav Venture Fund has written thus far. Meanwhile, FreshToHome has made a name for itself, expanding its presence by 100% over the past year.
Now here are five more:
- Rolling out the HR red carpet: Human resources payroll provider Workpay grabbed $2.7 million as it prepares to launch its services to 40 countries across Africa, Annie reports.
- “The upstream of getting a college degree”: That’s the term Kempus’ co-founders are using to describe how the company wants to be the ultimate app for sharing college hacks, Rita writes.
- Putting the pep back into presentations: Presentations often lack pizzazz and take more than a hot minute to create. Chronicle wants to change that with its tool for making presentations that won’t put you to sleep, Catherine reports.
- Crypto search acquired: Kaito, an AI-powered crypto search engine, now has $5.3 million in its pocket to improve browsing with AI and ChatGPT, Jacquelyn writes.
- More layoffs: Following its Series C, South Korean agtech startup Green Labs is laying off employees as it restructures after running out of funds, Kate reports.
5 tactics for managing paid customer acquisition during a downturn
When economic conditions change, companies adjust their marketing tactics: When the pandemic began, junk mail volumes fell dramatically. After vaccines rolled out, mailboxes were once again full of irrelevant offers.
Paid marketing is a core tactic for early-stage startups, but this downturn is a good time for founders to reexamine customer acquisition strategies, says Brian Rothenberg, an investment partner at early-stage VC fund Defy.
“Capital is more expensive now than it’s been in years,” he writes in TC+. “Where else can you invest to drive higher returns and to build a more durable competitive advantage?”
Two more from the TC+ team:
- Counting down to Q4: Please welcome Alex back from paternity leave! He knocks out 3 questions for Coinbase as its fourth-quarter earnings come today.
- As long as it’s viable: For all those working on your minimum viable product, Haje has some advice for you: It doesn’t need to be perfect; it needs to be stage appropriate.
TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Big Tech Inc.
It was “game on” for hackers today. First, some hackers allegedly stole Activision games and employee data, Lorenzo reports. The company said the breach happened in December and was confirmed by a gaming blog. Stay tuned for more on that. Also, Coinbase is claiming that the same hackers that targeted hundreds of other companies, the so-called 0ktapus hackers, stole some of its employees’ information, Carly writes.
In the ongoing conversation about how ChatGPT is taking over the world, Mark Harris weaves for us the web of nonprofits accelerating Sam Altman’s AI vision.
And we have five more for you:
- Reaching for the stars and landing in the clouds: Amazon launches two services to build and operate networks in the cloud, Ingrid reports.
- Flashing lights: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into Tesla after one of its vehicles crashed into a fire truck. Rebecca has more.
- Get paid: India and Singapore linked their digital payments systems, Manish reports.
- TikTok on the clock: Aisha has a pair of TikTok updates, including that the social media giant is expanding its research API to nonprofit academic institutions in the U.S. and its “Creativity Program” is now in beta.
- In on the action: Rita reports that a new rule in Hong Kong around large retail crypto trades shows the city’s desire to be a crypto hub.