Citing ‘excessive activism,’ SpaceX allegedly fired workers who spoke out against Musk’s behavior – TechCrunch


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That’s it, today is Friday! We plan to spend some quality time with headphones and an incredible collection of TechCrunch podcasts – here’s our roundup of this week’s episodes, curated and enthusiastically collected by Henry. We take Monday for Juneteenth. If you’re outside the US (or unfamiliar in the US, for that matter), this New York Times article is a great primer.

Also, Haje seems to have a fever today, so if some of the jokes in this newsletter make even less sense than usual, blame him today with three and a quarter brain cells. — haje and Christina

TechCrunch’s top 3

  • Go to Mars with fewer people: I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but commenters on our story yesterday felt that the group of SpaceX employees who circulated an open letter challenging Elon Musk’s behavior on Twitter should to be fired. Today, Darrell tells us that this may have happened for some of this group of employees. He reports that other employees did not appreciate being inundated with unsolicited offers to join the group and made their own approach to the company. See here for more on Musk’s plan for Twitter.
  • Integration with Alibaba: Cainiao, the logistics service operated by Alibaba, got its start in Pakistan to support Daraz, an e-commerce company there that Alibaba acquired in 2018. Rita reports that it is likely that Cainiao will now follow Alibaba as it expands its footprint worldwide.
  • A new perspective for VC: We received a double treat from Dominique-Madori today. She interviewed a number of black Gen Z VCs who have successfully broken into an industry that has traditionally not included them. You can read his interview with Fearless Fund’s Arian Simone here or in today’s TC+ section.

Startups and VCs

Today in Startups, Brex mentions that it is “less suited to serving the needs of small customers” and that the company is moving out of the small business space while continuing to cater to startups, Mary Ann reports.

We’re also intrigued by Immutab’s half-billion-dollar fund to drive adoption of Web3 games, because Jacqueline reports today. Also, can we just say that our reports on crypto, blockchain and web3 have really found their stride over the past couple of months, so keep an eye on that going forward. Start with our web3 beacon on the site and browse some of our previous stuff too!

The best of the rest:

  • Overview of the robotics revolution: If you like robots, definitely subscribe to brianActuator newsletter. This week’s issue, “Funding the Robotics Revolution,” is particularly good, if you ask us, but it’s still a great source to keep your finger on the robotics pulse. Do robots even have impulses? Replies on a postcard or a tweet, pls.
  • Reddit? I barely know: Social news giant Reddit buys machine learning platform Spell, reports taylorpresumably to improve its spam search and recommendation algos.
  • More bank, less bank: For small businesses in Latin America, Mono aims to be the “first bank without a bank”, reports Christina.
  • That’s a lot of cheddar, guys: Rohlik pockets $231 million even in a market that seems a bit bored with food delivery startups, Ingrid reports.
  • That’s it! No crypto for you! Thai crypto exchange Huobi announced July shutdown, writes Rita.
  • Investor? I barely know where: (These puns don’t even make sense! Don’t worry, we’ll send it back to bed as soon as this newsletter is over.) We enjoyed this guest column from Curator Reisswhere he talks about how he turned their investors into a great source of client feedback.

Fearless Fund’s Arian Simone explains why a downturn is business as usual for minority founders

Picture credits: Intrepid Fund

In the United States, black women are the most entrepreneurial demographic, but they are also more likely to fall into a funding gap when they need access to capital.

Of the $330 billion in venture capital funding startups received last year, “fewer than five black women raised funds after the Series A stage, and one of them was Rihanna. “, reports Dominic Madori Davis.

To help level the playing field for minority women working in tech and consumer packaged goods, entrepreneur Arian Simone co-founded Fearless Fund in 2019 with business consultant Ayana Parsons and actress Keshia Knight Pulliam.

The fund has backed 31 companies so far, and despite cooling markets, it has no intention of slowing down.

“Venture-backed companies have seen their fair share of horror stories,” Simone said. “They are generally not shaken by the current macroeconomic climate.”

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams grow. You can register here.)

Big Tech inc.

Privacy is a good thing, so it’s nice to see WhatsApp come up with a new feature that lets you hide your profile picture, bio, and “last seen” status from people you don’t want to see. Aisha reports. The new privacy opt-in is through “My contacts except…” and that’s where you can list those people.

We now go across the pond to a pair of stories by Natasha L. In the first, we learn that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will return to the United States. The UK Home Secretary granted the extradition request after several attempts by the US to bring Assange back to stand trial for conspiracy to hack and misuse computers, she reported. In Natasha’s other story, she dives into studying the region’s data reform, one of which is the replacement of cookie pop-ups with browser-related opt-outs. In case it is tl; dr, she says, “a lot of UK-only red tape is coming in for your digital operations as well.”

Don’t forget to also read these:

  • Snap, uh, snaps with a new paid tier: If you like to be the first to test or learn about new app features, Snap has something for you, Ivan writing.
  • Blocked: Carly reports that popular proxy services company Rsocks, known to be run by Russian cybercriminals, has had its website seized by the US government.
  • Shopping with remote controls: Roku and Walmart claim they are the first streaming and retail partnership to enable purchasable ads while streaming your favorite shows, lauren reported.
  • Well, that prediction came true: pot holder writes about TikTok moving all of its US data to Oracle servers after, you guessed it, new claims that user data was accessed from China.
  • Good news for parents of young children: The FDA has authorized the COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 6 months old, Darrell reported.


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