Daily Crunch: Sources say Times Internet plans to sell Indian streaming platform MX Player to Amazon
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It’s Friday, and we’re slumping back in our office chairs with a hot cup of coffee after a week that’s been as slow as mid-winter molasses.
For Black History Month, we are in awe of the story of Sojourner Truth, who was an American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Born into slavery, she escaped with her infant daughter and became the first Black woman to successfully sue for a family member’s freedom in 1828. To learn more about her, this Ted-Ed mini documentary is a great place to start, and if you want to go deeper, don’t miss the stirring biography by Patricia and Frederick McKissack.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Game on: Amazon is in talks to acquire Indian video streaming giant MX Player from Times Internet, Manish reports. He writes that the video app is “popular for supporting a wide range of video formats and reliability on low-cost Android smartphones, has expanded to original content in recent years and has amassed more than 300 million users globally.”
- Gone phishing: Reddit confirmed that hackers accessed its internal data in what it is calling “a sophisticated phishing attack” that targeted its employees, Carly writes. The company said the attack gave hackers access to documents and source code.
- And, just as quickly as it came, it left: Five days ago, India banned over 90 apps, some associated with China, related to lending. Today, Manish writes that this ban on apps, like PayU’s LazyPay, Kissht, KreditBee and Indiabulls’ Home Loans, was lifted.
Startups and VC
It’s been a pretty slow day on the news front today — I think everyone has a case of the Fridays today. Here’s a few of the stories worth taking a closer look at, though:
How to manage third-party cybersecurity risks that are too costly to ignore
Every early-stage startup relies on third-party vendors to handle some aspect of their operations: No one wants to build a shopping cart, credit card processing or ID verification app from scratch.
But now that third-party data breaches are a regular occurrence, teams need to make managing that risk a part of their day-to-day operations, writes Jon Siegler, co-founder and chief product officer of LogicGate.
“No matter how well you clean things up, the reputational hit to your organization will continue to cost you in lost business down the road,” he writes.
Three more from the TC+ team:
TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Big Tech Inc.
Connected automotive company Otonomo is being acquired by Urgently in a reverse merger, Ingrid reports. Otonomo went public in a 2021 SPAC, at the time valued at $1.4 billion, but that has since dipped to $70 million. Ingrid writes, “It’s been a bumpy road for smart mobility technology — with macroeconomic pressures, the slower development and rollouts of next-generation technology like autonomous systems and the cooling tech investing market all making it harder for younger businesses to sustain and grow their businesses. Otonomo is perhaps the latest casualty in that pile-up, but it may not be the last.”
If you’re into classic games, one of our popular stories from late yesterday was Sarah’s about a remastered, free-to-try version of Myst arriving on iOS.
And we have five more for you:
Just 7 days until the TC Early Stage early bird flies away
Budget-minded entrepreneurs and early-stage startup founders take heed — this is no time to procrastinate. We have only 7 days left of early-bird pricing to TechCrunch Early Stage 2023 in Boston on April 20.
Don’t wait…the early bird gets the…SAVINGS: Buy a $249 founder pass and save $200 before prices increase on April 1 — that’s no joke.
TC Early Stage is our only event where you get hands-on training with experts to help your business succeed. No need to reinvent the startup wheel — you’ll have access to leading experts across a range of specialties.
During this one-day startup bootcamp, you’ll learn about legal issues, fundraising, marketing, growth, product-market fit, pitching, recruiting and more. We’re talking more than 40 highly engaging presentations, workshops and roundtables with interactive Q&As and plenty of time for networking.
Here are just a few examples of the topics we have on tap. You’ll find plenty more listed in the event agenda.
How to Tell Your TAM: Dayna Grayson from Construct Capital invests in the rebuilding of the most foundational and broken industries of our economy. Industries such as manufacturing and logistics, among others, that formed in an analog world have been neglected by advanced technology. Dayna will talk about how, beyond the idea, founders can pitch investors on their TAM, including how they will wedge into the market and how they will eventually disrupt it.
How to Think About Accelerators and Incubators: Founders often hear they should get involved with an incubator or accelerator, but when is the “right” time for early-stage founders to apply to these types of startup support ecosystems, and how can they best engage if accepted? In this talk, Harvard Innovation Labs executive director Matt Segneri will cover everything from the types of incubators and accelerators available to early-stage founders, to what startups should consider before applying, and tips for getting the most out of these ecosystems.
How to Raise Outside of SV in a Down Market: Silicon Valley’s funding market tends to be more immune to macroeconomic conditions than elsewhere in the world. So how do you raise outside the Valley bubble? General Catalyst’s Mark Crane has ample experience on both the founder and VC side from all over Europe, as well as a firm understanding of the funding landscape in the northeastern U.S., so he’ll give practical advice on how to stay alive and thrive.
At TechCrunch Early Stage you’ll walk away with a deeper working understanding of topics and skills that are essential to startup success. Founders save $200 with an early-bird founder ticket — college students pay just $99!
Twitter will kill ‘legacy’ blue checks on April 1
Twitter has picked April Fool’s Day, otherwise known as April 1, to start removing legacy blue checkmarks from the platform.
Despite the significance of the day Twitter chose, the removal of legacy checkmarks has been anticipated for months now. Musk tweeted in December that the company would remove those checks “in a few months” because “the way in which they were given out was corrupt and nonsensical.”
Since then, legacy blue checkmark holders have been seeing a pop-up when they click on their checkmark that reads, “This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.”
Before Musk acquired the company, Twitter used checkmarks to verify individuals and entities as active, authentic and notable accounts of interest. Verified checkmarks were doled out for free.
Today, Twitter users can purchase a blue check through the Twitter Blue subscription model for $8 per month (iOS and Android signups will cost $11 per month, due to app store costs). There are also other checkmark colors and badges available for purchase to denote whether an account is a business or a government, for example.
Twitter says the purchase of a checkmark gives users access to subscriber-only features like fewer ads on their timeline, prioritized ranking in conversations, bookmark folders, and the ability to craft long tweets, edit tweets and undo tweets.
The news comes within hours of Twitter also announcing the availability of the Blue subscription globally.
Twitter did not respond to TechCrunch’s request for more information about how many users have already signed up for Twitter Blue.
Roofstock, valued at $1.9B last year, cuts 27% of staff in second round of layoffs
Proptech company Roofstock has laid off about 27% of its staff today, according to an email sent to employees viewed by TechCrunch. The cuts come just five months after the startup laid off 20% of its workforce.
The company’s website states that it has 400+ employees, or “Roofsters” as they’re dubbed, but it is not known if that figure is current.
Roofstock, an online marketplace for investing in leased single-family rental homes, one year ago raised $240 million at a $1.9 billion valuation. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led that financing, which included participation from existing and new backers including Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Bain Capital Ventures and others. Roofstock has raised a total of over $365 million in funding since its 2015 inception, per Crunchbase.
According to the email seen by TechCrunch, co-founder and CEO Gary Beasley said today’s reduction in force (RIF) was “in response to the challenging macro environment” and the “negative impact” it is having on Roofstock’s business.
He added that the company was not expecting to have to cut more staff so soon but that it needed to “right size” in an effort “to reduce cash burn rate” and ensure it has “adequate capital runway until the market eventually turns.”
Beasley sent the email because apparently, the Zoom meeting where it was addressed “maxed out on attendees.”
Oakland, Calif.-based Roofstock lets people buy and sell rental homes in dozens of U.S. markets. The premise behind the company is that both institutional and retail investors can buy and sell homes without forcing renters to leave their homes. Meanwhile, buyers can also presumably generate income from day one.
At the time of its raise in March 2022, the company said that it had facilitated more than $5 billion in transaction volume, more than half of which had come from the last year alone.
Just days before its last round of layoffs last year, Roofstock made headlines for selling its first single-family home using NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.
Rising mortgage rates and a slowdown in the housing market led to challenges for many real estate technology companies in 2022 that continue this year. Opendoor, Redfin, Compass, Better.com and Homeward were among the other startups that also laid off workers. IBuyer Reali also announced it was shutting down after raising $100 million the year prior.
TechCrunch has reached out to Roofstock but had not heard back at the time of writing but multiple sources confirmed that layoffs had taken place today.
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