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Hiiii and welcome to Daily Crunch for December 17, 2021! As Alex noted in yesterday’s newsletter, I’m handling the daily recap today while he takes a much-deserved vacation/personal day. Alex is one of the most hardworking and efficient humans I’ve ever met, so I like to think that one vacation day for him is somehow the equivalent to five vacation days for anyone else.
Let’s dive right in,
The TechCrunch Top 3
- The USB ‘kill cord’: You know the lever you’ve got to hold down to keep a lawn mower running? Imagine that, but it’s a magnetic USB cable for your laptop. Pull the cable, and your laptop automatically locks down or wipes itself. Zack Whittaker takes a look at the project, which was built to help journalists and activists keep their files safe from physical attacks.
- The new spyware-for-hire: Just as Apple moves to sue the group behind one spyware-for-hire tool, it’s becoming clear that this is less “slaying the dragon” and more “battling the Hydra.” Meta/Facebook announced this week that they are banning not one, not two, but seven groups from touching their social networks after detecting that the groups had targeted up to 50,000 people. Citizen Labs reports that one of these banned companies, Cytrox, tried to trick targets into unintentionally infecting their phones with its spyware “Predator,” which gives its operator full control over the mic, camera and more.
- TikTok has a Discord now: Ever wish you could talk about TikTok with other TikTokers while not actually being on TikTok? Good news! For some reason, TikTok launched a Discord. As Amanda Silberling puts it, “If the fast-food chain Wendy’s can have a Discord with over 60,000 members, why not a viral platform like TikTok?”
THIS. IS. SPERTAAAAA: After spending years helping to fight fraud at Uber, a pair of engineers are taking that hard-earned knowledge and building it into Sperta, an anti-fraud “rules engine as a service” system for fintech companies. Just a few months after launch, they’ve raised $3 million to keep the ball rolling.
Hevo raises $30M for its no-code data platform: Successful startups generate a ridiculous amount of data as they grow, but a lot of it tends to get locked up in each individual team’s tools of choice. Hevo taps into all of these tools and pulls that data into a “360-degree view” dashboard, allowing companies to answer complicated questions quickly — and, notably, without writing any code.
Fuzey funding: Fuzey aims to be a “one-stop shop” for small businesses — think plumbers, electricians, mechanics — by handling their messages/invoices/appointments and more in one view. Anything that makes running your own business less of a stress labyrinth is a win in my book. The company has just raised $4.5 million in seed funding, bringing its total raised to $5.2 million.
Cruise’s CEO is out: Longtime GM executive Dan Ammann is out as CEO of Cruise. Neither GM nor Cruise said much about the reasoning behind the departure; according to one of Kirsten Korosec’s sources, the announcement “seemed unplanned and chaotic.” Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt, who was Cruise’s first CEO before shifting to a president/CTO role, will take over as interim CEO.
A few questions about the impending Reddit IPO
Founded 16 years ago, Reddit has raised $1.3 billion, boosting the company to a $10 billion valuation. This week, the user-generated community revealed that it had filed confidentially to go public.
“You know what that means,” wrote Alex Wilhelm. “It’s time to ask questions.”
While he awaits Reddit’s S-1 with a sharpened scalpel, Alex shared his initial questions about the social hub’s operations, specifically:
“We’re curious about content moderation costs, product expansion, the company’s revenue mix, how frequently governments come up in the filing, and what the unicorn has to say about crypto.”
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Who pays when an Uber driver is killed? Rebecca Bellan tells the story of Ahmad Fawad Yusufi, a 31-year old Afghan refugee who was shot and killed in San Francisco, and his brother’s effort to get aid and potentially crucial details from Uber.
TikTok is launching… restaurants? Ever wanted to try those viral recipe videos you see on TikTok, but don’t actually want to… you know, cook? TikTok will be launching a set of around 300 “TikTok Kitchen”-branded, delivery-only restaurants next year, working with creators to ship recreations of their popular dishes. I’m trying not to judge it in advance but … well, let’s just say I’ll be very surprised if these are good.
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