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Hello, dear readers! We’re back once again (like a renegade master) with a wall of great tech news stories. Plug in some headphones and bop your head to that song while you catch up on what’s happening out there in the wider worlds. Remember: There’s no such thing as a standing desk. It’s a dancing desk. Aw yessss. (We may have had a little bit too much coffee this morning. That might explain our ill behavior.) — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Get your woof on: With pet ownership up since the pandemic, veterinarians are being stretched to their limits. Here comes Romania-based Digitail, a company that automates the administrative work for veterinarians so they can focus on our four-legged friends. Mike reports that the company closed on $11 million in new funding to scale its operations in the U.S. and Canada.
- Your move: Amanda writes that proposed changes to Dungeons & Dragons’ Open Gaming License threatens an entire cohort of D&D content creators, and they are fighting to protect their livelihoods.
- SBF starts a Substack: In an effort to explain his side of the FTX debacle, Sam Bankman-Fried took to Substack to say, “I didn’t steal funds, and I certainly didn’t stash billions away.” Mary Ann has more.
Startups and VC
The outlook of investing in China is suddenly brightening as the country gradually phases out its draconian zero-COVID policy, which has caused disruptions in businesses of all kinds and kept the country’s borders shut for the last three years, Rita reports. For venture capitalists, the pandemic has been a tumultuous ride. Tony Wu, a partner at Northern Light Venture Capital, a China-focused VC firm with $4.5 billion assets under management, calls 2022 the “toughest” in his 15 years of investing in Chinese startups.
Another fistful of headlines for your edification:
- That’s a hell of a loot box, y’all: Kakao Entertainment lands $966 million from sovereign wealth funds, including Saudi Arabia’s PIF, Kate reports.
- Irony is not dead: Career Karma’s latest layoff underscores edtech’s new challenge, Natasha M writes.
- Learning how to make the world a better place: The Logic School wants to teach tech workers activism for free, Haje writes.
- From merger to layoffs: The company created by the Citrix-Tibco merger confirms it has laid off 15% of its staff, Ron reports.
- Gimme all your A/S/L: Carly reports that The Guardian confirms ransomware attacks stole employee data.
Why Africa had no unicorns last year despite record fundraising haul
Unicorns are becoming an endangered species in Africa’s startup ecosystem, reports Tage Kene-Okafor.
Although funding in the region increased slightly in 2022, “no unicorns popped up throughout the year, compared to five in 2021,” he writes.
“So what happened in Africa in 2022 that made it so … weird?”
And there’s more for our trusty TC+ subscribers:
- Sunny times ahead: U.S. solar manufacturing gets a $2.5 billion boost, reports Tim.
- What is going on with your team slide?: Haje gets grumpy in his Pitch Deck Teardown of the Mint House’s $35 million Series B deck.
- DeFigure it out: DeFi startups need to experiment with new use cases and build solutions, investors say. Jacquelyn has more.
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Big Tech Inc.
We started some of this yesterday, but Natasha L brings us a warning article to other ad-funded programs to take heed of Meta’s ads being found unlawful in the European Union. She writes that “just because Facebook has — for years — processed and profited off of Europeans’ data by running unlawful ads does not mean other ad-funded platforms are going to get the same free ride from the bloc’s regulators. Enforcement is here at last.”
And we have five more for you:
- Stopping the stealing: Christine reports on Nvidia’s new AI workflows to help the retail industry with loss prevention amid increased organized theft.
- Give your Benz the premium charging treatment: At least that’s what Mercedes-Benz is hoping its electric vehicle customers will want to do. As such, Tim Stevens writes that the carmaker is creating its own charging network.
- Google Meets emojis: Taking a nod from Zoom, Google Meet video calls finally get emojis, Ivan reports.
- Cover girl: Fashion rentals marketplace Rent the Runway’s clothing comes to Amazon, including preworn items and design exclusives, Sarah writes.
- More layoffs: Lauren writes that DirecTV plans to lay off about 10% if its management amid the ongoing shift to streaming.