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What is up, you delightful beings. Today, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Instagram. Devin wrote about how the platform just keeps getting worse with dark patterns lifted from TikTok, and Amanda made me laugh with her Instagram responds to criticism with shocking revelation that it will ‘continue to support photos’ headline. The platform’s evolution is a matter close to my heart, and I continue to be torn about influencers and “thought leaders.” In a nutshell: I love Instagram as it is, but I’m also curious where photographers can go and frolic these days. Answers on a postcard.
Oh, and you don’t even need to read the article, but do yourself a favor and look at the pictures in this piece I published this morning: BMF’s microscopic 3D printing powers are magnificent, and I’m awestruck by how far 3D printing has come. — Haje
PS: Applications to the Startup Battlefield 200 close this week, so get your applications in pronto!
The TechCrunch Top 3
Sine Qua Non Prime: European customers have had a pretty sweet deal on Amazon’s Prime subscription. The e-commerce giant just hiked the prices by quite a substantial chunk. French customers are une petite bite angry about their 43% price hike, while German subscribers think their 30% hike is just the wurst, Paul reports.
A decimation at Shopify: Lots of e-commerce news today, including bad news for a tenth of Shopify’s staff. As pandemic-driven investment in online shopping slows, Shopify lays off about 1,000 employees, Aisha writes.
After two years at a16z, the first solo album: Mary Ann reports that Rex Salisbury came to the conclusion that adding a fund to his lively Cambrian community was a natural next step of the journey. He began the process of raising capital for his own venture firm, Cambrian Ventures, and today announced a $20 million fund focusing on early-stage fintech companies.
Startups and VC
Brian reviewed the third-gen Oura Ring back in December, but today Kyle reports that the existing hardware picked up a new trick along the way and can now measure blood oxygen levels, with more fitness features to come.
Our Found podcast had a particularly interesting episode this week — Nikki Pechet joins as a guest. She started Homebound to make home-building easier and more accessible after a wildfire ripped through Northern California and thousands of people were put on years-long waiting lists to get started building their homes. The episode is called Why this founder feels confident facing the economic downturn. Get that wisdom into your ears as soon as you can. Here’s a link to Found on all your favorite podcasting platforms.
I was intrigued by Struck Capital’s $15 million venture studio and was a little alarmed when the founders suggested they use the “thousands of pitches” they receive to inform which companies they choose to build.
More startup goodies:
A chain with a sack of cash at the end of it: Based in New York, Interplay is raising $10 million for a new blockchain fund, Anita reports
So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, good night: Based in Germany, Babbel has more than a million U.S. customers on its platform and is extending its business language learning platform to the U.S., too, Frederic reports.
My coins jingle jingle: Mike makes a case for hardware wallets about to make a comeback as crypto markets are getting a little crumbly.
Pogo puts a monetized bounce in your step: If Pogo had its way, you’d get paid every time you stroll down the street. The only catch is that you give your personal data to the consumer-focused fintech in return. The company raised almost $15 million to become the ‘Honey for the real world,’ reports Natasha M.
On the social chain: Blockchain ecosystem Topl has raised $15 million to help companies track and monetize social impact initiatives, Jacquelyn reports.
Feeling good, investing moneys: Mike writes about Europe’s newest health and wellness fund: Exceptional Ventures has a $24 million fund.
Spiders as robot hands: Definitely the weirdest story on the site today, Brian dives in with scientists using dead spiders as robot hands. Weird robotics breakthroughs? I love ’em so!
The right questions to ask investors when fundraising in a down market
Fundraising chats may still start off with small talk, but startup teams are under more pressure than ever to make the best possible use of these rare opportunities.
Blair Silverberg, CEO and co-founder of Hum Capital, says entrepreneurs should resist the urge to become defensive in these sessions.
“In fact, the more a founder can push the questions back to the investor in a way that gives a better understanding of their business and investment strategy, the easier the rest of the conversation will be.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Some nine months after the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) revealed it was carrying out a market study into music-streaming services, the government department has revealed it believes there is no case to answer — for now, at least, Paul reports.
GM is in the news a fair bit today: Jaclyn reports that the automotive giant took a 40% profit nosedive in the second quarter. She also covered the 3 indicators to watch for on GM Q2 earnings day, and Rebecca revealed that the company landed a $2.5 billion government loan for U.S. battery plants.
Go on, then, have a few more:
Faraday future? More like faraway future: the EV manufacturer is on shaky ground as its EV production is delayed again, Kirsten reports.
A Spennier Quest: Meta jacks up the price of its Quest 2 virtual reality headsets by $100, Aisha reports.
Look after that FB Business account: Newly discovered malware hijacks Facebook Business accounts reports Carly.
Flying high(er): Two of the biggest European satellite operators, Eutelsat and OneWeb, agree on a merger, reports Paul.
An even bester buy: Ivan reports that Best Buy is struggling to stay relevant in a world of e-commerce and the expense of running retail locations. Now it is testing a digital-first, smaller retail store.