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The TechCrunch Top 3
- Fake out: Kyle spoke with Stability Diffusion about 4chan getting ahold of its artificial intelligence art model and then to some deepfake experts about what this means and who might be at risk.
- Peloton rides into Amazon: That Amazon box just became more diverse. Peloton has started selling its equipment on Amazon, which opens up a whole new strategy shift and revenue stream for the beleaguered company, Brian writes.
- Spammed: A bug caused by a configuration change was to blame for some Facebook users getting strange celebrity fan posts. It’s since been fixed, but Ivan and Manish have the skinny on what happened.
Startups and VC
We published a really fascinating piece written by Battery Ventures’ Neeraj Agrawal, Brandon Gleklen, and Jack Mattei on TechCrunch Plus (our premium subscription site) today, about how ARR per employee (APE) is one of the most meaningful efficiency metrics for startups. It makes sense; for a lot startups, the number of employees is one of the biggest cost bases — more, even, than customer acquisition. It’s a fresh take on how to measure company success, and well worth a read.
Okay, fine, have a few more:
- Keine Handy für Sie!: Chinese smartphone company Oppo stopped sales in Germany, even though the country is its operational hub. It claims it is still committed to Europe, reports Rita.
- What’s the beef?: Fake or lab-grown meat is sizzlingly hot these days, so it’s a rarity to see new startups wanting to improve the “real” meat industry. One of these companies is Lumachain, which is using computer vision to transform meat production. Christine reports the company raised $20 million or so to keep an eye on things.
- Okay, fine, you can have a mortgage: As more traditional finance products and services find their way into web3, there are some crypto startups emerging with a focus on adding decentralization to old-school practices. Jacquelyn reports that Spectral raised $23 million to bring some web3 juice to credit scoring.
- Putting writers out of business: Catherine reports that Scalenut raised $3.1 million to get AIs to write a first draft of marketing copy.
- Stay focused!: Hardware tag Unpluq locks your phone distractions so you can actually get some work done for once, Haje reports.
ARR per employee is the North Star efficiency metric you’ve been looking for
If you want to break even, go APE.
Cloud companies generally rely on efficiency metrics like CAC payback and LTV-to-CAC, but “they feel more like financial metrics than operational ones, and it is difficult for employees to execute against these concepts,” according to Neeraj Agrawal, Brandon Gleklen and Jack Mattei of Battery Ventures.
Using data from Capital IQ and Battery’s research, this post contains key benchmarks for public companies and privately held SaaS businesses, along with recommended targets for companies with different ARR ranges.
“APE is an extremely simple metric we think could serve as your north star as you navigate these volatile times.”
(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)
Big Tech Inc.
It was a Sarah, Brian, Aisha, Zack kind of day. First up, Walmart+ members have a brand-new feature: cash back. Sarah explains that Walmart+ is its “answer to Amazon Prime.” Here’s how it works: browse the app for offers and clip them for future purchases. Once you make one, you earn cash back in the form of digital rewards that accumulate over time to apply to future purchases.
Now over to WhatsApp’s new group discussions features, a story Sarah has also been following since April. It looks like more users have access to the feature, which is similar to Facebook, but in a messaging capability, and reduces the amount of single chats that occur. The groups are also not public or discoverable and joining one means you need an invite.
- Fruit movie: Not sure we can say it better than Brian did, so we won’t. Someone made a BlackBerry movie starring Dennis from “It’s Always Sunny.”
- It’s settled: Snap told Aisha that it denies that Snapchat’s lenses and filters violate Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, but the company agreed to settle a class action lawsuit with the state for $35 million.
- The unveiling: Come one, come all to Apple’s iPhone 14 debut on September 7. Brian has more.
- If you’re happy and you know it: Tinder created a ring for quantifying mental health, and Brian was here for it.
- Change that password: Zack reports about Plex’s recent data breach, of which the details are a bit slim still.
- Shop till you drop: Instacart dropped a new feature that lets users buy big, bulky items, like furniture and electronics, and get same-day delivery, Aisha writes.
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