Welcome to Startups Weekly, a nuanced take on this week’s startup news and trends by Senior Reporter and Equity co-host Natasha Mascarenhas. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.
First off, hello to all the new Startups Weekly subscribers who joined us after last week’s newsletter. I’m glad we all still resonate with a comeback story. Second, here are some basics on what to expect.
I start off most of these newsletters with a mini-essay on what is top of mind to me, sometimes pointing toward one of my longer-form pieces from the week or just to share some extra thoughts at the end of the news cycle. Then I jump into three themes that stand out from the week, with extra reading for those that want to dig in more. I end with notes to know from around the tech blogosphere, TC events and, if you look closely enough, personal anecdotes that often have to do with coffee and food. Ok, now onto the aforementioned essay!
It all started with a sound. More specifically, an SEC filing from Sound Ventures, actor and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher’s venture firm, confirmed plans to raise an artificial intelligence-focused venture firm. Bloomberg estimates that the new investment vehicle could total around $200 million dollars upon close.
While Kutcher’s firm has been around for a long time and has lived through enough hype cycles to not be easily swayed one way or another, the filing made me curious. Are we going to see more celebrity-led venture firms jump onto the AI bandwagon? Especially since crypto, the hype train’s ol’ favorite sector, has sputtered and struggled in recent months?
If you ask me, I’d bet that we won’t see the same rush of celebrities looking to promote AI products on their Instagram stories the way they promoted [insert coin offering here]. It’s complicated, and I may be entirely wrong. Read my full take on TC+: “Will AI receive the same celebrity-fueled hype as crypto once did? It’s complicated.”
In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll talk about eggflation, thorny integration and breaking tradition. As always, you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram to continue the conversation. I’m also writing on my personal blog, if you’d like to follow along with the 1,835 other people who come to hang and be too wordy.
One of my favorite pastimes is going to the supermarket, so you can imagine that I am aggressively attuned to the changing prices of eggs these days. Luckily, there’s a startup angle to tell us more. TC’s Christine Hall wrote about how higher egg prices have burst open a bigger demand for alternatives. If you’re like me and just know about Just Egg, this story is illuminating for so many reasons.
Here’s why it’s important, Hall tells me: “There wasn’t a definitive yes or no about pushing the gas pedal on [alternative egg startups] getting more product out there. I was hoping someone would say, yes, startups should go for it, or no, this is just a passing thing and they should wait. So perhaps this kind of environment presents a very scrambled opportunity, pun intended.”
Figma about it
The DOJ is getting ready to file suit to block the $20 billion Adobe-Figma deal announced last year on the grounds it is anti-competitive, early reports from Bloomberg say. If the DOJ succeeds, it may be shattering to both large and small tech companies that were taking notes on what a massive exit could look like.
Here’s why it’s important: It’s not a surprise, but more a confirmation of some early worries. At the time of announcement, the deal was largely seen as Adobe taking out one of its biggest rivals in the design world. Immediately, folks including TC’s Ingrid Lunden rang some alarm bells around Adobe’s future dominance, as both a platform and tooling leader in the space.
Also, Ehab Bandar, founder at design consultancy Bigtable.co, told TechCrunch back in September that “designers, and especially cross-functional teams, hate to switch software. Any new tool would need to excel at so many things that Figma is currently doing that it’s hard to imagine any new competitors coming out of the woodwork.” Others saw a potential liquidity event as an opportunity to usher in a new generation of creative, and perhaps entrepreneurial, designers.
Remember when the IPO market was a bonanza meets party meets nerd stampede? We’re following up on past public market conversations with our latest episode of Equity, titled Scooters and social media companies are surprising IPO candidates. Come for our analysis, stay for our anger at the term “proficorn.”
Here’s why it’s important: Both Reddit and Lime are reportedly eyeing public market debuts this year, which completely took your dear hosts by surprise. We’ve been much more focused on Stripe, which is eyeing an exit over the next 12 months, and Instacart, which has delayed its IPO before. The growing list of potential candidates tells us that some companies believe they are doing well enough that the Nasdaq isn’t a scary acronym. Only FTX, now.
Seen on TechCrunch
Sensitive US military emails spill online
Modernizing 911 calls with Michael Chime from Found
SignalFire’s founder says his VC firm lost staffers who ‘thought we were too cheap’ in prior years
Elon Musk suggests Twitter could open source its algorithm ‘next week’
Seen on TechCrunch+
Pitch Deck Teardown: Uber’s $200K pre-seed deck from 2008
Is ocean conservation the next climate tech? 7 investors explain why they’re all in
The $100M venture round is going extinct
5 questions emerging managers should ask before selecting LPs
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