Citing ‘uncertain mortgage market,’ Better.com rolls out employee buyout plan – TechCrunch

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Welcome to the Daily Crunch for Wednesday, April 6, 2022! Today, Pinterest announced that it was banning all misinformation about climate change from its platform, and we can just say…it’s about time! May all other platforms follow.

Also, while we’re in our little soapbox: the earth isn’t flat, and shots have little impact on your 5G reception. Which is unfortunate, because we yet I can’t get more than a couple of bars at the supermarket.

We wish you a lovely day and flawless cell reception. cristina and Hello

TechCrunch Top 3

  • Sources say Better.com loses ’50 million dollars a month’: We think reporter Mary Ann Azevedo has done a great job keeping an eye on the Better.com drama. In the latest episode, sources revealed to him some details from the internal meeting that the digital mortgage lender is losing “about $50 million a month.” Unsurprisingly, the company is now offering a severance package to employees it hasn’t laid off yet. There’s a town hall meeting today, so Mary Ann will most likely have more to share in the next few days.
  • Navigating the choppy seas of eCommerce: As reporter Ingrid Lunden writes, “E-commerce is synonymous with shopping on Amazon, but the reality is that a retailer has the option to use a different set of channels to sell and market products.” Productsup wants to help retailers navigate this complex and fragmented world with some marketing and sales tools that you can manage from one place.
  • Yes, Twitter is looking at an edit button.: We’ve already played around with this edit button thing, but even after joking about it last weekTwitter now says it’s been working on an edit button for the past year, and it wasn’t because Elon Musk took a poll. To edit or not to edit has been TC Slack fodder this week, and it seems people are anticipating one of two scenarios: typos will be corrected, or misinformation will spread rampant.

Startups and VCs

TechCrunch has become the size of Texas today, with our inaugural City Spotlight for 2022, where we do everything we can to help Keep Austin Wired. Connie spoke with billionaire investor Jim Breyer about why he left Silicon Valley for Austin, Brian took a look at how global politics and finance could bring more manufacturing to Central Texas, Laura Lorek profiled the eccentric Austin Whurley and Mary Ann summarized how Austin reinvented itself and earned its current reputation as a technology hub.

Outside of the Lone Star State, it was a big day for electric vehicle news. Rivian celebrated production milestones that put it on track to meet its 2022 goals, which is great news for me, because it may mean that at some point I’ll clear the waiting list and get one of the off-road trucks because obviously that’s what I need to drive to my local Whole Foods. General Motors has finally resolved its supply chain issues and recall of 141,000 Bolts and fired up its assembly line again. And the US government has finally figured out that if it wants to go all-electric, it has 99,000 problems in the form of a huge shortage of charging stations to power all the vehicles it wants to run.

Moar News, fresh off the TechCrunch firehose of tasty morsels of news and commentary:

  • I’m too sexy for Milan, New York and Hangzhou: Zhiyi Tech raises $100 million to help fashion brands predict bestsellers.
  • You make me spin to the right, baby, to the right, like a rocket, baby: SpinLaunch qualifies NASA’s test mission to demonstrate its unique launch method.
  • Know when to walk away, know when to run: The only failure is not learning, and in the latest episode of TC’s Equity podcast, the team discusses how failure is a choose-your-own-venture adventure for startups.
  • A dollar is what I need (Hey, hey): Docyt raises $11.5 million Series A for its AI-powered accounting automation service.
  • No, not internet at all: Stackblitz raises $7.9 million to bring a better IDE to your browser.
  • Bleep-bloop, that’s the sound of the police: Prepared wants to bring the US 911 system into the modern age.
  • Draw me like one of your French grills: OpenAI’s new DALL-E model draws anything, but bigger, better, and faster than before.
  • Softly impressing me with your song: Known primarily for its battery packs, Anker is launching a Kickstarter campaign for its first 3D printer.

6 Questions Investors Should Ask When Evaluating Psychedelic Biotech Companies

Image credits: Yarygin (Opens in a new window) / fake images

A few years ago, ingesting small amounts of psychedelics to boost mood or productivity was commonplace in Silicon Valley.

Today, psychedelic therapy is used to treat a variety of mental health problems. And as more regions decriminalize the use of plant-based substances, investors are taking notice.

With plans to raise a $25 million fund and more than $15 million already invested, PsyMed Ventures focuses on early-stage startups developing psychedelic therapies.

In a TC+ guest post, partners Matias Serebrinsky and Greg Kubin explore their investment thesis in detail: “We believe in a future where psychedelic therapy will be as common as going to the dentist, but the road will not be easy.”

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, helping startup founders and teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

great tech inc

Intel has joined other big tech companies including Apple, AMD, Adobe and General Electric in suspending business operations in Russia. This follows its move to stop shipments to customers in Russia and Belarus. And don’t miss TechCrunch’s new feature from reporter Vadim Smyslov, who covers the impact the war is having on Russia’s tech workers.

We also learned today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted a massive botnet controlled by Russian intelligence and was able to bring it down. Called Cyclops Blink, this malware had apparently infiltrated thousands of devices, and we reported that “security researchers say the botnet is capable of intelligence gathering and espionage, launching distributed denial-of-service attacks that overload websites and servers with junk traffic, as well as destructive attacks that render devices unusable and cause system and network outages.” All of which makes us glad this one is down.

Here are two other pieces of news for you to sink your teeth into:

  • CNN+ downloads are more like a negative sign: CNN+ launched last week and is now seeing around half of the downloads since its launch day. We may be seeing one or two things: people are tired of having an app for every channel, and/or the channel needs to up its content game.
  • Visa opens the first innovation center in Africa: The Kenya study gives the global digital payments giant a deeper connection with the country’s developers and partners looking to build payment and commerce tools.

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