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Extra, extra, read all about it — Sheryl Sandberg surprised us this afternoon and said she was stepping down as Meta COO. We’re still figuring out the details, so stay tuned for more. And oh Hai! Or rather, Ohio — more specifically, Columbus, Ohio. Today, we’re doing our City Spotlight, and we’ve been exploring who’s building in Columbus, and how it became the tech hub of the Midwest. We also dove into why Intel chose the city to build its $20 billion manufacturing facilities. — Haje and Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Buick going full EV: If you are into electric vehicles, you will love today’s Daily Crunch. First up is Buick, which is full of surprises today — not only did the company say it is transitioning to electric vehicles only, but after a few years of focusing on SUVs, Buick is going back to its coupe and sedan roots. The Wildcat looks like a sweet ride. If it wasn’t already evident, the U.S. is getting more serious about EVs, per Tim. Speaking of a sweet ride, the 1980s are indeed back in style. Jaclyn also wrote about the new DeLorean, which is being reimagined as an electric vehicle. Sorry, no flux capacitor on this one, but thankfully you won’t need the plutonium or the 1.21 gigawatts.
- Tiger gets its claws into Slice: Getting a bank account can be easy; getting credit, not so much. Slice is an Indian fintech company working to change that and is now buoyed by a new Tiger Global–led $50 million round that Manish reports has the company in unicorn territory. Slice is bringing credit to the masses in that country by bringing technology to the underwriting process and is issuing hundreds of thousands of cards per month, putting it at the top of its game in the South Asian market.
- A “Netflix for education”: Spain-based Odilo has a catalog of nearly 4 million educational items and today brought in $64 million to keep hidden. No, really, as Ingrid writes, the “white-labelness” of the company means businesses can build their own customized e-learning offerings, but customers may only see the education portal it’s powering as the front-facing brand, like, ahem, Google, which we talk about a lot today in the Big Tech Inc. section.
Startups and VC
Every time I explain what a SPAC is to someone, they go, “Wait, how is that legal?” It seems like some folks in government agree, Connie reports, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren planning a new bill to tame the wild, wild west a little. The law may be a little late — interest was on the wane already, when the SEC warned in March last year that SPACs weren’t accounting correctly for investor incentives called warrants.
The other thing we want to celebrate is irreverence and joy. Haje needed wafting with palm fronds after getting a little excited about a new photo-forward book about electronics, and Amanda lost her marbles over a couple of new Pokémon, including one called Lechonk.
Other things to get excited about:
- Getting rid of plastic, very fantastic, not even being sarcastic: Kate reports how plastic upcycling startup Novoloop raises $10 million to accelerate commercialization.
- Singing a song of chaos: Frederic reports that application security testing platform Code Intelligence raises $12 million to inject a load of garbage inputs into your apps. Also, this was the day we learned about fuzzing. Fascinating!
- Internet of downswings: IoT has become one of the top vectors of hacker attacks, and Ordr just raised $40 million to monitor the 35 billion devices online, Kyle reports.
- The office doors were left unlocked: China-backed hackers are exploiting an unpatched zero-day vulnerability to execute malicious code remotely on Windows systems, Carly reports.
- I want to re-ride my e-bicycle: French startup Upway raised a $25 million round. Romain reports the company sells secondhand refurbished electric bikes.
- If you fund it, they will build: Constrafor is a SaaS construction procurement platform with embedded financing. It just raised $106 million, Christine reports.
- Strike an expose: Freelance photographers can use Smiler to roam around events, selling event photography, enabling customers to buy photos on the spot or later online, Mike reports.
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Big Tech Inc.
We promised above, and now we are delivering all of the delicious Google-ly goodness. Let’s start with some news that will make you smile — Google is expanding its program aimed at providing job readiness and digital skills for formerly incarcerated people. The company will also invest $4 million in reducing barriers for these individuals to become gainfully employed. Next is a report showing that Chrome still edges out Apple’s Safari for users, though Apple should still celebrate reaching 1 billion users. Not to be undone by:
Not much of a surprise with this next report, but it seems the U.K.’s new social media watchdog group Ofcom has found that social media giants are not taking women’s safety seriously. Its study of some 6,000 people found that even though women spend a bit more time than men online, they still don’t feel like they can express their opinions as freely as their male counterparts. In turn, Ofcom is urging social media companies to do something about it, namely make their platforms more welcoming.
Cryptocurrency has not been feeling the love lately, what with the whole TerraUSD thing, among others, and today the sector takes another hit as one of its own is arrested. Formal charges were made against former OpenSea head of product Nate Chastain for “wire fraud and money laundering in connection with a scheme to commit insider trading.” Chastain was fired from his job last year after being accused of “front-running purchases of NFT collections that he knew were about to be featured prominently on the homepage of OpenSea.”
Please enjoy these other morsels: