So are we banning TikTok or what? Also: Can an influencer really tank an $800M company?

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Welcome to Startups Weekly — your play recap of everything you can’t miss from nan world of startups. Sign up here to get it successful your inbox each Friday.

Ticktock, TikTok: It’s been a chaotic week for TikTok. Even arsenic the institution starts testing its Twitter competitor successful definite markets and launches its luxury secondhand shop successful nan U.K., it’s uncovering a batch of clash successful nan onshore of nan free and nan location of nan brave: In an section of “As nan TikTok Turns,” nan U.S.’s esteemed House of Representatives, successful a uncommon show of bipartisanship, has passed a measure to springiness TikTok’s genitor institution a nine-month ultimatum: Sell aliases look extinction successful nan U.S. This is for illustration giving your teen an other 3 months to cleanable their room earlier grounding them … forever!

The measure besides comes pinch a magic “90-day extension” fastener for nan president’s usage only. How thoughtful! It seems this move has appeased immoderate Senate skeptics, and moreover President Biden is connected board. Critics reason this prohibition could infringe free reside authorities and wounded businesses. (Who knew viral dances were truthful important to our economy?) On nan flip side, arsenic 1 lawmaker puts it — see it little intermezo app prohibition and much spy balloon deflation.

How powerful are influencers?: The weirdest curveball we saw this week was a reminder that group don’t really understand really publicity aliases merchandise reviews work. To wit: Humane Ai raised $230 cardinal earlier nan merchandise moreover near nan factory. The hype was existent until nan Ai Pin dropped astatine a hefty $699 positive monthly fees, and folks realized it’s a batch of ado astir not-a-lot. Don’t sprout nan messenger — successful this lawsuit celebrated YouTuber Marques Brownlee aka MKBHD, whose crime was <checks notes> “Telling it for illustration it is” pinch his review titled “The Worst Product I’ve Ever Reviewed … For Now.”

Now, this YouTuber has much subscribers than immoderate countries person group (18 cardinal to beryllium exact; successful fact, if his YouTube transmission was a country, it would beryllium astir nan 69th astir populated country. Nice.). Apparently, being honorable equates to “potentially sidesplitting personification else’s nascent project,” according to ex-AWS technologist Daniel Vassallo. Funny really an underdog worthy $800 cardinal tin get its feelings wounded truthful easily! And by nan way, this isn’t a first; MKBHD was besides accused of causing Fisker’s downfall pinch different truth-bomb reappraisal past month: “This Is nan Worst Car I’ve Ever Reviewed.” Dom and Amanda deliberation it’s notable that a YouTuber is perceived arsenic having nan powerfulness to make aliases break a company.

Most absorbing startup stories from nan week

Poetry Camera

Poetry Camera takes a photograph and prints a poem. Image Credits: Poetry Camera

The adjacent clip you’re missing nan bully ol’ days of squinting done a mini viewfinder and praying your changeable turns retired okay, retrieve Mood.camera. It’s an iOS app that gives you all nan uncertainty of analogue photography sans trips to nan photograph lab. Created by developer Alex Fox, this app says “no convey you” to unrecorded previews and editing features, alternatively focusing connected vintage filters and letting destiny determine really your photos move out. Because who doesn’t emotion a small enigma successful their life? Just don’t hide to clasp still for 3 minutes aliases truthful while it “develops.” For $1.99/month (or $14.99 one-time fee), you excessively tin acquisition nan thrill of accidentally overexposing each image connected your formation picnic for illustration it’s 1995.

Ever threat a pic of a character and wish it was poetry? Well, Joyce Kilmer didn’t either. But successful nan property of AI tech, Kelin Carolyn Zhang and Ryan Mather person decided to bless america pinch their intriguing spawn — nan Poetry Camera! This ain’t your mean Insta click-creator; alternatively of capturing duck faces and meal plates, it generates thought-provoking (or arsenic thought-provoking arsenic AI tin manage) poesy based connected its ocular encounters. A Raspberry Pi serves arsenic its encephalon while OpenAI’s GPT-4 spins retired verses worthy of Wordsworth (or possibly not). And here’s nan kicker: This camera prints retired your poetic masterpiece connected insubstantial — yes, paper. No integer redeeming for that other touch of nostalgia aliases is it conscionable an easy measurement to debar privateness concerns? The jury’s still out. But hey, if you’ve been yearning for a beingness memento from your integer beingness … threat away!

  • A day shared is simply a consequence halved: Tinder rolled retired a caller characteristic called “Share My Date,” enabling users to nonstop specifications astir their upcoming romanticist escapades straight from nan app. Now your friends tin cognize wherever you’re going, pinch who and when. And let’s look it, who doesn’t emotion a bully digital, distant 3rd wheel?
  • Good grief: Here’s thing that conscionable mightiness beryllium capable to help you navigate that murky maze of sorrow and casseroles. DayNew is simply a caller societal level for dealing pinch trauma and grief, brought to america by 2 widows-turned-entrepreneurs who were fed up pinch nan deficiency of suitable resources disposable during their ain grieving process.
  • No loans for you, students: BloomTech (formerly Lambda School) has been served a large ol’ portion of humble pastry by nan U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). After pulling backmost nan curtain connected their “not-so-risk-free” income stock loans and playing accelerated and loose pinch occupation placement stats, nan CFPB has placed a 10-year prohibition connected BloomTech’s user lending activities.

Most absorbing fundraises this week

Parker Conrad, main executive serviceman of Rippling, pursuing a Bloomberg Television question and reply successful London.

Image Credits: Betty Laura Zapata/Bloomberg / Getty Images

Breaking news successful nan world of bling: Pascal, nan lab-grown gem startup, is making it rainfall pinch astir $10 cardinal successful VC backing and a hefty gross forecast. Who needs Drake’s $400,000 diamond-encrusted iPhone lawsuit erstwhile you tin person affordable ice? These cultured gems are truthful shiny they’ll make your TikTok videos sparkle for illustration a disco ball. Even Andreessen Horowitz couldn’t defy throwing immoderate money astatine this gem of an idea!

Well, well, well! Last week we sewage upwind that Rippling was astir to adjacent a $200 cardinal backing round astatine a jaw-dropping $13.4 cardinal valuation. Now laminitis Parker Conrad has confirmed nan news and spilled immoderate juicy details. They were looking for a measurement to springiness early labor immoderate liquidity (read: rate money), but investor liking was truthful precocious they had to grow their plans. As for going public? That’s location complete nan rainbow, suggests Conrad.

  • Hey, parents, you tin help: Hot connected nan heels of Forta raising $55 million to thief parents attraction for autistic kids, Clarity Pediatrics is for illustration that cool aunt who swoops successful to prevention nan day, with $10 cardinal for their group therapy sessions aimed astatine school parents really to defuse ADHD-induced chaos. Their concealed sauce? Ditching one-on-one kid therapy and focusing connected behavioral genitor training instead.
  • Matterport gets an exit: It’s communicative of nan small digital-twin level that could! Matterport has agreed to waste its psyche (in nan shape of its shares) to 1 of its customers, existent property elephantine CoStar. How overmuch does it costs to ain a company’s psyche these days? Well, $5.50 per stock aliases a cool $1.6 cardinal overall.
  • Startup missions to Mars: Breaking news, folks — NASA’s sewage a small excessively overmuch Mars connected its sheet and it’s looking for immoderate eager abstraction startups to thief chow down. After deeming their $11 billion, 15-year Mars ngo scheme “insufficient,” NASA leader Bill Nelson now wants to bring commercialized providers successful from nan start.

Other unmissable TechCrunch stories …

Oh, Tesla. With profits dropping faster than a Cybertruck pinch a stuck accelerator and EV income emotion nan pressure, it seems nan automaker is successful a spot of a pickle. A 55% dip successful profits? Ouch! It appears that slashing EV prices for illustration they’re Black Friday deals hasn’t worked retired rather truthful good for them. Between wars, arson attacks connected factories, high-profile layoffs, and caller models rolling disconnected nan assembly statement slower than LA traffic, it seems Tesla has a agelong database of challenges. Let’s conscionable dream Musk’s plans activity retired amended than nan Tesla semi-truck accumulation timeline.

Here’s different fistful of stories you mightiness different person missed:

  • Formlabs’ Form 4 breaks cover: Formlabs has been making desktop 3D printing little of a tube dream and much of a reality; it’s been 5 years since Form 3 came on — and what amended measurement to observe than by releasing an upgraded version? Meet nan Form 4. This large boy boasts faster people times (under 2 hours for astir prints), a larger build measurement (30% increase) and solution that apparently rivals injection molding (whatever that means).
  • Bezos’ buzzing brainchild is bailing connected California: Amazon’s Prime Air drone transportation operations successful Lockeford fold faster than a severely flown origami bird. Why? Well, Amazon mumbled immoderate vague reasons, but the research continues successful Texas and soon will travel to Arizona.
  • The past Post: Oh, Post News. We hardly knew ye … chiefly because we still had Twitter. The a16z-funded microblogging level that popped up for illustration an eager freshman aft Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition is closing its integer doors.
  • Wait, what did you say?: Remember erstwhile Rewind promised to thief you grounds your integer life and fto you hunt done it? Well, they’re rebranding arsenic “Limitless,” producing a pendant (or is it a necklace?) that records your conversations.
  • Hiring successful robotics: Dust disconnected your circuit boards and plug into nan occupation market, folks, because Brian compiled a beefy database of 74 robotics companies that are hiring! From Advanced Construction Robotics pinch 4 roles to Exotec pinch 17, there’s opportunity aplenty for each you wired whiz kids retired there.