Subpoenas Fly with Tech Elite Drawn into Musk-Twitter Battle

More than 100 subpoenas have reportedly been issued in the legal battle between Elon Musk and Twitter, creating a full employment act for lawyers recruited to represent Silicon Valley’s elite. In addition to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, those summoned to speak include investor Marc Andreessen, Oracle executive chair Larry Ellison, tech investors David O. Sacks and Joe Lonsdale, and former Twitter security head Peiter Zatko. The matter is set to be heard in Delaware Chancery Court starting October 17. “Every firm in the Valley is salivating like dogs trying to get in on that action,” said University of San Francisco professor of legal ethics Carol Langford. Continue reading Subpoenas Fly with Tech Elite Drawn into Musk-Twitter Battle

Funding for Startups Faces Downturn After 10-Year Bull Run

Following a decade-long boom, funding for startups is in decline, according to PitchBook, which says investments in fledgling U.S. tech firms has dropped by 23 percent in Q2 to $62.3 billion, the biggest fall since 2019. In another dire indicator, startup sales and IPOs have fallen to $49 billion the first six months of 2022, plunging 88 percent compared to the same period in 2021. The slump comes amidst an overall stock market downturn that has seen the technology sector take a particularly brutal hit that appears to have affected private startup valuations. Continue reading Funding for Startups Faces Downturn After 10-Year Bull Run

Gen Z Is Drawn to BeReal, a Photo App with No Ads or Filters

French mobile app BeReal, available for iOS and Android smartphones, has become a hit with Gen Z users. Pitched as an authentic alternative to image-driven social apps like Instagram and TikTok, college students and other young adults have driven what Sensor Tower says are nearly 6.8 million downloads in the past two years. BeReal’s primary feature is it pings all users at the same time, once every 24 hours, prompting them to snap and post a photo. Timing of the prompt changes every day in an effort to catch users at random unprepared moments. Continue reading Gen Z Is Drawn to BeReal, a Photo App with No Ads or Filters

Bored Ape Yacht Club Creator Yuga Labs Raises $450 Million

Yuga Labs, creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, has raised $450 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz, which has been bullish on crypto and Web3, investing in blockchain firm Solana Labs, game developer Sky Mavis and NFT marketplace OpenSea. Yuga has been busy, too, acquiring Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks collection of uniquely generated characters and Meebits library of collectible 3D characters. Collectively, Bored Apes and CryptoPunks are estimated to be worth about $3.6 billion at current prices. The funding round — which includes investments by Samsung and Google Ventures — gives Yuga what it says is a $4 billion valuation. Continue reading Bored Ape Yacht Club Creator Yuga Labs Raises $450 Million

Cybercriminals Target NFTs on OpenSea, Other Marketplaces

Nearly $30 billion was spent on NFTs last year, according to analytics firm Chainalysis, and one of the companies that’s benefitted from the boom is OpenSea. The firm has a $13 billion valuation thanks to its well-timed entry into the hot new sector, becoming one of the biggest NFT marketplaces in the world. With success has come headaches, as scam artists began to target NFTs and the people who buy and sell them. Now the four-year-old New York firm and other marketplaces are struggling to find a balance between boomtown and lockdown. Continue reading Cybercriminals Target NFTs on OpenSea, Other Marketplaces

Streaming Distributor Filmhub Floats $6.8 Million Seed Round

Filmhub, the independent distribution website incubated by German composer Klaus Badelt and Brazilian tech entrepreneur Alan d’Escragnolle, has raised $6.8 million led by Andreessen Horowitz in the company’s first capital raise. Filmhub helps budding cineastes get their work onto more than 100 streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, IMDb TV, Plex, Roku Channel and others. Using its own sales team and technology, Filmhub pushes out content from shorts to episodics to full-length films, taking a 20 percent fee from royalties, which vary by service. Continue reading Streaming Distributor Filmhub Floats $6.8 Million Seed Round

The Web3 Debate: Impending Revolution or Marketing Hype?

Nearly 37 percent of the world’s population has never used the Internet, according to the United Nations. That’s about 2.9 billion people yet to experience the technology most of the other 63 percent now take for granted. But many feel the Internet is ready for its third act, Web3 (also known as Web 3.0). Companies trying to figure out what Web3 means for their business models are not helped by the fact that there is dissent as to what it will be. Decentralized, relying on blockchain, connected to the metaverse are among the themes being discussed. Although there’s a lot being written, it’s all rather fuzzy at this time. Continue reading The Web3 Debate: Impending Revolution or Marketing Hype?

Facebook Targets Substack with Newsletter Platform Bulletin

Social media giant Facebook recently unveiled Bulletin, a near-clone of the newsletter platform Substack. Despite its complicated relationship with journalists, Facebook thinks it can succeed by offering them better terms; whereas Substack takes a 10 percent cut of writers’ revenue, Bulletin will take nothing — at least for now. Best-selling authors Malcolm Gladwell and Mitch Albom will be among the first Bulletin writers. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the goal is to “support millions of people doing creative work.” Continue reading Facebook Targets Substack with Newsletter Platform Bulletin

Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

Andreessen Horowitz launched a $2.2 billion cryptocurrency fund focused on blockchain and digital asset startups. The venture capital firm’s first crypto-focused fund was introduced three years ago, during the last bear market dubbed “crypto winter,” when cryptocurrency’s value plummeted 80 percent from a 2017 high. Andreessen Horowitz partners Katie Haun and Chris Dixon, who run the company’s cryptocurrency group, stated that they “believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto.” Continue reading Andreessen Horowitz Debuts $2.2 Billion Cryptocurrency Fund

Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

Bitcoin is touted as a secure, decentralized and anonymous way to conduct financial transactions, one reason why cybercriminals use it or some other cryptocurrency when conducting illegal business, whether it’s drug trafficking or ransomware. But this week the Justice Department revealed that it traced and recovered 63.7 of the 75 Bitcoins ($2.3 million of the total $4.3 million) that Colonial Pipeline paid in ransom to release its computer systems. The feds declined to detail how they recouped the Bitcoin. Meanwhile, El Salvador has become the first nation to formally adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Continue reading Bitcoin Ransom Recovery May Impact Cryptocurrency Status

Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Roblox Counting on Older Consumers to Join App, Buy Stock

Roblox, valued last month at $29.5 billion, told prospective investors it is trying to lure older users onto its gaming, concerts and educational platform. Chief executive David Baszucki said the company is counting on older adults not just to join the platform but to buy its stock when it goes public next month. The Apple and Google application has been a top earner during the pandemic, with 2020 revenue jumping 82 percent to $923.9 million and number of hours spent on the platform more than doubling to 30.6 billion. Continue reading Roblox Counting on Older Consumers to Join App, Buy Stock

Reddit Receives New Funding and Doubles Valuation to $6B

Community-based social site Reddit raised $250+ million in a new round of funding, doubling its valuation to $6 billion from the $3 billion it was valued after a February 2019 round. Led by Vy Capital, the latest funding included Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Tencent Holdings, all previous investors. The social media company, launched in 2005, hosts topic-based message boards, including WallStreetBets, the message board that recently encouraged amateur investors to drive up the stock price of companies shorted by Wall Street investors. Continue reading Reddit Receives New Funding and Doubles Valuation to $6B

Amazon and Microsoft Boosting Cloud Services with Startups

San Francisco-based startup Abnormal Security is moving its AI-driven email security software to Microsoft’s Azure Marketplace, in exchange for Microsoft’s promise to sell Abnormal’s services to its enterprise clients. This is the first such deal for Microsoft, which is battling Amazon for cloud computing dominance. Amazon has already inked similar deals; in a January agreement, cloud-cost management software company Apptio expanded its use of Amazon Web Services in exchange for Amazon’s help to sell Apptio’s services to its clients. Continue reading Amazon and Microsoft Boosting Cloud Services with Startups

Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups

According to a Treasury Department report, a number of tech startups have received funds from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, forgivable loans intended to pay workers’ salaries. Cloud software company C3.ai, for example, valued at $3.3 billion, got a $5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan. Other startups have been denied loans, however, when the federal authorities deemed their venture capital partners an “affiliated business.” Meanwhile, almost 70,000 employees of tech startups recently lost their jobs. Continue reading Federal Payroll Loans Unevenly Distributed to Tech Startups