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Hello and welcome to the Daily Crunch for Thursday, February 10, 2022! Trying new things is always risky, but I wanted to thank everyone who came out today to watch the Equity record live. Up next: Found, next Thursday! – Alex
Ploonge top 3
- Investing in digital terrain: Coming off the alternative asset crowdfunding platform Republic, Everyrealm has just raised $60 million to become the “gateway to the entire metaverse ecosystem.” Having visited the virtual land for the past few weeks, I’m a little skeptical of the metaverse’s maturity (more here, here), but you have to hand it over to Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto team – they have conviction.
- Chinese tech working conditions criticized after worker death: Once praised by US venture capitalists, working conditions at some Chinese tech companies are coming under fire after a “25-year-old man who monitored content on Chinese video streaming site Bilibili died suddenly on Feb. Chinese New Year”, reports Ploonge. It’s not the first time that happens.
- Technology stocks at risk: A hot inflation report from the United States has fueled expectations that the US Federal Reserve will tighten rates sharply this year. Shares sold. Tech stocks may be at even greater risk than other stocks – although not everyone agrees with that perspective.
- Respira Labs raises $2.8 million: Respiratory care startup Respira Labs has compiled $1 million in funding and $1.8 million in grants to “continue building its acoustic resonance technology to assess lung function and changes in it,” reports Ploonge. Hardware is tough, but this sounds like an idea worth pursuing.
- Astra launch does not reach orbit: SpaceX isn’t the only company working to make cheaper transit to space a reality. Astra is another company in the fray, but its latest release — and Florida’s first — didn’t do well. Some small satellites were lost. Hardware is difficult, especially when you have rockets involved.
- OnlyFans 🤝 NFTs: In the wake of Twitter bringing NFT profile pictures (PFPs, if you’re cool) to its service, other companies are following suit. OnlyFans is the latest, although we hope it won’t be the last. At this point any joke I could make would run afoul of the censors, but I suppose NSFW content and blockchains had to merge at some point.
- Which comes first: self-driving cars or VTOL consumer travel? A handful of technologies have long been discussed, but remain somewhat out of reach. Self-driving cars are perhaps close to commercial viability. But what about vertical take-off aircraft that could “reinvent regional air travel”? Well, with $12.4 million in new capital, Odys Aviation (formerly Craft Aerospace) wants to rise to the challenge. Place your bets.
- $130 million more for BNPL: The buy now, pay later craze is still attracting buckets of ducks. This is the news of the French startup Alma, which is conquering the European payments market. The company also secured $109 million in debt, which makes sense given its product. All BNPL startups bet on consumer spending, making them macro-sensitive, right? Just thinking out loud.
And because I exist to test the patience of my editors, if crypto companies are going to spend that much money, can we at least get an 11th F1 team?
Dear Sophie: How can early-stage startups compete for talent?
As the founder of a start-up and early stage startup, I find it difficult to compete with other startups in compensation.
We have had some interest from individuals who need visas or are demanding green cards, but paying the government and legal fees would be an effort for us.
Any advice to reduce the cost of recruiting abroad?
— Inexperienced Founder
(Ploonge+ is our membership program, which helps startup founders and teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- How Peloton cycled through a ditch: Ploonge’s Haje Kamps There’s a great article on the site today tracking Peloton’s epic rise during the pandemic and its speeding coastline after people started heading back out. We doubt it will be the last company to suffer from a post-pandemic period – as it is – of turmoil.
- Apple to address AirTag stalking: Any technology can be misused and must be designed to prevent potential misuse. But we humans keep forgetting that lesson, and so we keep relearning it over and over again. Apple, at least, will work on its AirTags product to help keep people safe.
- Disney+ reports solid growth: Let’s play a game. Guess how many Disney+ subscribers there are today. Got your hunch? Good. Did you guess closer to 10 million, or 100 million? In reality, Disney+ just added “11.8 million new subscribers last quarter to reach 129.8 million,” reports Ploonge. This is more than I expected, at least.
- Android 13 is here for developers: Android fans, good news. The next major version of your mobile OS has reached the developer testing stage.
- The state of the autonomous driving test: The Ploonge transit team has been killing it lately, which means we’re keeping up with the intersection of technology and moving like never before. The Wheels and Dollars team today noted the fact that “fewer companies tested self-driving vehicles on California public roads last year compared to the previous year – and still recorded nearly twice as many miles driven.” So is this good or bad? Rebecca Bellan notes that surviving players tend to be big tech companies, so it’s a little hard to say.
- Tesla sued for racial discrimination claims: Citing “hundreds” of complaints from workers, Tesla’s Fremont facility is being sued for “alleged racial discrimination and harassment.” The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing says that “Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in work assignments, discipline, pay and promotion, creating a hostile work environment.”