Welcome to Startups Weekly, along with your shiny, newly minted host, yours sincerely. For those who’ve seen my name on TechCrunch, it’s probably due to my popular Pitch Deck Teardown series, where I take a startup’s pitch deck and have fun the nice, lambast the bad and use each to learn more about what the world of VC pitching looks like. This week, I published the fiftieth installment of the series (hooray!) with a deep dive into the deck Danish company Ageras used to boost a $36 million round from private equity investors. For those who’re feeling brave, I’d like to take a loving, educational hack-and-slash at your pitch deck, too. Go on, it’ll be fun. Possibly.
Okay, that’s quite enough of the navel gazing, let’s get on to what happened on the planet of startups.
Startups are acquired mostly for his or her staff on a regular basis. Investors generally don’t adore it when that happens — it’s normally not an incredible consequence for them — but it may possibly be an incredible way for startup founders to get a soft landing when an organization is circling the dr… I mean… when a possibility shows itself.
That, it seems, shouldn’t be quite what happened with Ring founder Jamie Siminoff. Brian reports that Siminoff was stealthily working on one other startup named Honest Day’s Work. The corporate was acquired by Latch (best known for its smart locks), who then promptly invited Siminoff to take over as its CEO. The lesson here appears to be that if at first your recruitment efforts fail, buy your complete company your required CEO works for.
Apropos recruitment — if you could have budget to spend, there’s a godawful variety of incredible team members available straight away; we’ve summarized all of the tech layoffs thus far this 12 months.
Generative AI goes mainstream
The primary time I covered generative AI on TechCrunch in any depth back in 2021, it involved an early version of ChatGPT-3. The novelty of asking an AI to cowrite an article with me seemed thrilling — boy howdy how far we’ve come.
Since then, I’ve been experimenting extensively with ChatGPT, and I keep coming to the conclusion that it cannot replace me as a author quite yet, but we’re getting scarily near that time. I also had a little bit of an existential crisis where I co-founded an avocado-oriented octopus cult called the Octo-guacamolians and wondered if perhaps, deep down, I used to be an AI myself.
Fast forward to this week, when Kyle reports that no person really knows what’s written by an AI anymore, and Frederic notes that Google announced PaLM 2, its next-gen large language model. Annoyingly (and maybe suspiciously) the search giant didn’t share much in the best way of details of the way it trained its model. “What we present in our work is that it’s not likely the type of size of model — that the larger shouldn’t be all the time higher,” DeepMind VP Zoubin Ghahramani said in a press briefing, leaving more questions than answers on the table.
Meta, in turn, can also be going heavy into AI. Kyle reports that the corporate is developing custom chips for AI training, and Ivan added that the corporate rolled out generative AI features … for advertisers.
Climate tech continues to have its time within the sun
what scares the crap out of me? The undeniable fact that VCs are finally beginning to take climate change seriously implies that they consider they will get outsize returns throughout the 7-10 12 months time horizon of a enterprise fund (that’s how VC works, in any case). For that to make sense financially, they know something a lot of us have known for a very long time: Climate change is about to alter every part.
The silver lining is that where there may be huge, somewhat predictable, change there are opportunities.
I reported that Pale Blue Dot announced a latest $100 million fund, and it promptly announced that it backed Amini, an African climate tech startup solving environmental data scarcity with a $2 million investment, as Tage reported.
Perhaps that investment into an organization led by a girl of color was prescient, because Tim and Dominic-Midori published a pair of articles on TC+ this week, concluding that without Black representation in climate tech, “the planet will burn,” and that VC funding of girls climate tech founders is abysmal — the pair dug into how the VC community could improve that.
Rough times for startup criminals
In a very baffling story, Kate reports that Terraform’s Do Kwon pleads “not guilty” to charges of traveling on fake documents. The disgraced founder was arrested back in March, reportedly holding Belgian and Costa Rican passports. The founder was released on bail, which seems stupendously silly for an individual arrested for allegedly holding a few false passports. It screams “flight risk,” to me, but what do I do know?
Meanwhile, Amanda reports that point’s up for Elizabeth Holmes, after the court decided it had had quite enough of the previous Theranos founder’s shenanigans. Holmes is to report back to jail at the tip of the month to start out serving an 11-year sentence and pay almost half a billion dollars price of restitution to victims of their fraud.
Criminals are gonna criminal, however it’s somewhat reassuring that the legal system is attempting to keep everyone to roughly the identical algorithm. (LOL, who’re we kidding, but no less than there are startups working on criminal justice reform, too.)
Apropos crime and data hijinks, our security reporting team are knocking it out of the ball park with a ton of incredible stories. Here’s a smattering:
My favorite top reads on TechCrunch this week
Best startup advice from TechCrunch+ this week
Our subscription service TechCrunch+ is the most effective resources for startups to get the within track. Yeah, yeah, I’m hella biased, but … judge for yourself:
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