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Hello and welcome to Daily Crunch for Friday, February 18, 2022! First, a note that much of TechCrunch is off Monday for a U.S. holiday, so some regular stuff might land a day later than usual. But we’re a global team, so we will not be quiet to start next week. That’s a promise. – Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Meta’s fires community dev manager following sting: Meta, the parent company of Facebook and other social properties, has parted ways with a “manager of global community development,” we report. The company tried to talk us out of the story, but the news matters in the context of other issues at the company that we outline in the post. That this news came amid a PR refresh for the company is also worth recalling.
Grow quickly or die even faster: Tracking this particular earnings cycle has been watching a series of heads set rolling. Tech companies big and small have found themselves on the wrong end of investor discontent, thanks mostly to slower-than-anticipated growth projections. For startups, the lessons are pretty stark and clear: You have to grow like hell or watch your valuation implode.
When the founder becomes the story: Ah, Bolt. We just can’t stop talking about you, thanks to the fact that your former CEO keeps annoying the larger technology scene on the socials. This time Ryan Breslow, now merely the Bolt’s executive chairman, went on a tirade about offering loans to help employees exercise their options. At issue are the facts that such action is not new and has led to some financial fiascos in the past.
Smart homes aren’t for normies: Have you wanted to change up your living situation so that it’s more reactive, colorful and maybe even data-driven? Do you want, in other words, a smarter home? Well, maybe you really don’t. TechCrunch columnist Owen Williams writes about his journey with the matter after buying a home. My takeaway is that if Owen is struggling, I’d be flat doomed with trying to get the various tools to play nice with one another.
Soon your package may come in a reusable shipping wrapper: Like you, I buy too much stuff online, which means that I create more waste and recyclables than I really want to admit. Returnity is betting that a “sturdier packaging bag that can be used again and again” will help ameliorate the situation and just raised capital for its efforts.
Portuguese VC fund boosts its capital pool: Venture capital firm Shilling has added $23 million to its “Founders Fund” after raising last year. This is good news for startups in the European country, and also good news for those of us who can come up with more than one joke about a venture capital fund named after what some participants in the asset class love to do on Twitter.
Household-savings-as-a-service? That’s what U.K.-based startup Nous wants to build. The gist is that the company will collect data from its customers and help them “progressively automate the management of essential service switching and/or contact renegotiating.” I never negotiate as I am a huge weenie. But if I had a service to help, well, I too would love to save more money. Nous just raised $9 million.
What happens when a super app isn’t very super? That’s the question that our own Manish Singh asked today. The super app in question? Tata Group’s TataNeu, which has been in testing for some time and apparently needs more polish before it is ready for well, super-wide adoption.
And from the Equity team, do you want to get paid in crypto?
How to grow your organic traffic with earned media
Few entrepreneurs are natural-born storytellers, and maybe it’s unfair to expect them to do any better.
Many startups are paying a PR agency a monthly retainer of $10,000 or more, but their odds of getting a story placed about their company aren’t much better than spinning a roulette wheel.
According to Amanda Milligan, head of marketing at Stacker Studio, startups can increase organic traffic and improve SEO by developing newsworthy content that will get picked up and shared by media outlets.
In a classic TC+ how-to, she explains how to create earned media that organically boosts ranking keywords, referring domains, clicks, and other key SEO metrics.
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
The FBI is taking on ransomware: Apparently the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has deemed malicious, data-hostage-taking hacks a big enough issue as to warrant its own “unit dedicated to tracking cryptocurrency crimes and ransomware profits.” Good, if seemingly a little late given how frequent such attacks have become in recent years.
GM + Walmart = more self-driving deliveries? U.S. auto giant GM and retail giant Walmart are a team in Arizona to use self-driving tech from the former to help deliver stuff from the latter. The pilot is expanding, we report.
The self-driving talent battle is not yet over: Yes, we’re past the days in which self-driving-focused engineers were worth $8 billion apiece. But that doesn’t mean that deals in the space are not still coming to fruition. Another could be ‘round the corner, it turns out, with Volkswagen looking to buy Huawei’s “nascent autonomous driving unit.”
TechCrunch is recruiting recruiters for TechCrunch Experts, an ongoing project where we ask top professionals about problems and challenges that are common in early-stage startups. If that’s you or someone you know, you can let us know here.