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Welcome to the Daily Crunch for May 28, the last edition before a long weekend here in the United States. But impending holiday or not, there’s plenty to catch up on, not the least of which today is Elon Watch in our top-three rundown. Let’s get into it! — Alex
The TechCrunch Top 3
Startups and VC
Let’s wrap this week with startups that are challenging the status quo, shall we?
Penfold just raised $8.5 million to keep pensions alive: In your part of the world the pension may be dead, but Penfold wants to keep the retirement plan alive in the U.K. With a mobile app. Sure, your company has probably given up on the idea that it should materially provide for workers’ post-work existence, but Penfold is betting that its freelancer-friendly pension system will find purchase in its market.
Kitt put together a $5 million round to build out your next office: Parts of the world are slowly circling back to the idea of going to the office. Kitt wants to take advantage of the trend by “a ‘fully customizable’ workspace solution to tenants via its landlord partners,” TechCrunch reports. Everyone seems to agree that post-COVID office life will look different. Here’s a startup trying to help design that future.
Anthropic pulls together $124 million to make AI more steerable: Some of the folks behind GPT-3 have a pile of new money for their AI-focused startup. But unlike most AI-centered startups, the company appears to be working on model tuning over building something to, say, do one particularly focused task.
“Today [in AI] the general rule is: The more powerful the system, the harder it is to explain its actions,” Devin reports, adding that that’s “not exactly a good trend.” Perhaps Anthropic can build the AI tuning dials we’ve long needed. It certainly now has the money to pursue its vision.
Dismantling the myths around raising your first check
The growing complexity of fundraising has the opportunity to make tech either inclusive or exclusive. For new founders looking to raise money, let’s dismantle the myths about raising your first check and instead focus on how investors and other successful founders describe the nuance needed to secure money.
Natasha Mascarenhas spoke to Elizabeth Yin, founding partner of Hustle Fund, and Leslie Feinzaig, founder of Female Founders Collective, to get their candid thoughts about the challenges first-time founders face when fundraising.
According to Yin, all startups should be able to reach one of two goals: by the fifth year, achieve $100 million ARR or a $1 billion valuation.
“This is hard to do,” she said. “And most businesses will never get there — not for a lack of trying — but there’s a lot of luck whether your idea has that much demand that quickly.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
Closing this week with a mote of Big Tech news, once again centered around the rising tension between technology companies and the Indian government. Our own Manish Singh reports that “Google, Facebook, Telegram, LinkedIn and Tiger Global-backed Indian startups ShareChat and Koo have either fully or partially complied with the South Asian nation’s new IT rules, according to two people familiar with the matter and a government note obtained by TechCrunch.”
Singh goes on to note that “Twitter has yet to comply with the rules.” We saw earlier this week how Twitter is pushing back against the Indian government after it tried to use force to intimidate the American social network into going against its own policies in defense of its party’s political goals.
American social networks born in an environment where they had plenty of room to experiment and maneuver have a history of running afoul of foreign governments with either rising autocratic tendencies or a fondness for full-blown control. This is no exception. The question is whether Twitter will wind up a cautionary tale in its argument with the Indian government, or a guiding light.
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