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Hello and welcome back to the Daily Crunch for Tuesday, September 7, 2021! Your regular host Alex Wilhelm is AFK for the next few days, so I (Greg Kumparak) will be handling his newsletter duties. Alex may be smarter, nicer and generally a better human than I am, but I’m at least more … well, more not currently on vacation. I’ll do my best.
Most of TechCrunch took a lonnnnng weekend (Labor Day + a surprise all-company holiday bestowed upon us by the higher-ups to celebrate the arrival of new even-higher-ups), so let’s check in on what’s happened since Alex last wrote.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- ProtonMail forced to log a user’s IP: Privacy-minded email service ProtonMail does more than most alternatives to keep user data away from prying eyes, but it’s not going to break the laws of its home country of Switzerland to do it. Last week a story broke about ProtonMail being pushed by French authorities to reveal the IP of a French activist; it didn’t initially comply, but had to once that request was rerouted “to Swiss police via Europol.” The whole story is an evolving back-and-forth that has grown too complicated to wrap up in a single paragraph, so dive into the linked story for all the details.
- VW’s autonomous driving efforts move forward: Volkswagen’s commercial vehicle arm has been working with autonomous driving tech company Argo AI, and the pair showed off the mostly final version of its first test vehicle over the weekend. While there’s no shortage of in-the-works autonomous cars out there, Argo AI is one to watch here; the company is also working with Ford on a self-driving initiative for Lyft, with Argo AI’s valuation said to have cracked $12 billion back in July.
- Hyundai goes heavy on hydrogen: Have doubts about hydrogen as the fuel source of the future? Hyundai seemingly does not — or, at least, it’s hedging its bets. The South Korean company announced this morning that it’ll be making hydrogen fuel cell versions of all of its commercial vehicles by 2028. It’ll keep working on electric vehicles in parallel, but says it hopes to make hydrogen cost-competitive with EV batteries by 2030.
We spent a good chunk of last week covering Y Combinator’s Demo Day, where hundreds of startups (seriously, hundreds!) debuted to an audience of investors. It’s gotten big enough that Demo Day has become Demo Days; if you haven’t already, check out our coverage of Day One here, and Day Two here.
- OLIO raises $43M to help fight food waste: Got food to spare? Snap a picture of the food, share it with your neighbors and hopefully don’t let it go to waste. A super nice idea, but can it be a big business? Mike Butcher has the details on how its founders — and its bevy of investors — expect it to get there.
- Africa’s biggest Series A: Tage Kene-Okafor has the details about some massive milestones from African fintech company Wave — it just raised the largest Series A ($200 million) to date in Africa, and, in doing so with a valuation of $1.7 billion, has become what Tage says is Francophone (French-speaking) Africa’s first unicorn.
- Homage raises $30M for at-home care: Homage, a company out of Singapore that focuses on making it easier to get a caregiver, nurse or doctor to your home, announced this week that it raised $30 million. Considering that no one wants to go sit in a potentially crowded waiting room to see a doctor right now, I have to figure that in-home care is having quite the moment.
A founder’s guide to effectively managing your options pool
“In today’s cash-rich environment, options are more valuable than cash,” says Allen Miller, a principal at Oak HC/FT.
“In turn, managing your option pool may be the most effective action you can take to ensure you can recruit and retain talent.”
In an article squarely aimed at early-stage founders, Miller shares best practices for protecting your option pool, lists the mistakes many founders make and offers multiple tips for course-correcting “if you made mistakes early on.”
(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
- The time Animoto almost brought AWS to its knees: Having a product so successful that it makes Amazon’s cloud infrastructure sweat is kind of a nice problem to have, if only once it’s over. The lovely Ron Miller tells that story this week from the perspective of Animoto, which saw its bandwidth-intensive user base explode from 25,000 to 250,000 pretty much overnight in 2008, making even AWS creak a bit.
- Hulu bumps up the price: The bad news? Hulu is bumping up the price of its on-demand plans. The less bad news? It’s not nearly as big of a bump as the one Hulu’s live TV service got back in 2019, which jumped from $35 to $55 over just a few months. Both the ad-supported and no-ad versions of Hulu will jump up one dollar, to $7 per month and $13 per month respectively. Expect the price hike to go live on October 8 of this year and apply to both existing and new subscribers.
- Apple’s next event: It’s September, which usually means a new iPhone is about to be announced … and sure enough, Apple just sent out invites for an event on September 14. What’ll change this time around? The rumor mill says to expect a better, faster-refreshing display … but as always, we’ll have all the news up on TechCrunch the second it breaks.
TechCrunch Experts: Growth Marketing
TechCrunch wants you to recommend growth marketers who have expertise in SEO, social, content writing and more! If you’re a growth marketer, pass this survey along to your clients; we’d like to hear about why they loved working with you.
If you’re curious about how these surveys are shaping our coverage, check out this interview Anna Heim did with MuteSix, “Performance marketing agency MuteSix bets on content and data to boost DTC e-commerce.”