Get insights into the funding, growth, and long-term prospects of tech startups across a variety of industries, including climate, crypto, fintech, SaaS, transportation, and consumer tech.

“Collaborative Innovation: Picsart and Getty Images Unite to Create a Tailored AI Algorithm”

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Picsart, a photo-editing startup backed by SoftBank, announced on Thursday that it’s partnering with Getty Images to develop a custom model to bring AI imagery to its 150 million users. The company says the model will bring responsible AI imagery to creators, marketers and small businesses that use its platform. Image Credits: Picsart x Getty Images AI ImagePicsart’s AI lab, PAIR, is building the model. The company is also integrating Getty Images video content into Picsart’s platform and making it available to Plus members. Picsart isn’t the first startup that Getty Images has partnered with for responsible AI imagery, as it also partnered with AI image generator, Bria, and Runway, a startup building generative AI for content creators.

Byju’s Fundraiser Stalls: Court Stops Second Rights Issue

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Byju’s had launched its first rights issue in late January, but a court order directed the company to not tap the funds it had raised through that rights issue after many of its investors opposed the fundraise. Thursday’s court order is the latest episode in the spectacular collapse of Byju’s, once the world’s most valuable edtech startup. TechCrunch couldn’t determine exactly how much Byju’s ended up raising in the first rights issue. In the letter, he urged his estranged investors to give him another chance and participate in the rights issue. “But my benchmark of success is the participation of all shareholders in the rights issue.

“Breaking the Cycle: Aepnus’ Vision for a Sustainable Battery Industry”

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Wastewater from these plants emerges laden with sodium sulfate, a byproduct of sulfuric acid and caustic soda, two chemicals used in battery manufacturing, copper refining and other industries. “We can totally create a circular economy around these reagent chemicals,” Bilen Akuzum, co-founder and CTO of Aepnus Technology, told TechCrunch. The two founded Aepnus to modernize the century-old chloralkali process, which splits salts like sodium sulfate back into the acids and bases that created them. “We don’t use any expensive catalysts in our electrolyzers,” Akuzum said. For customers, fully recycling sodium sulfate waste should reduce disposal and material costs.

“Man-Made Marvel: A Robot with Driving Capabilities”

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Is the key to autonomous cars that don’t run over pedestrians and crash into telephone poles a humanoid robot behind the wheel? The researchers, one of whom consults for Toyota, developed and trained a “musculoskeletal humanoid” called Musashi to drive a small electric car through a test track. With its mechanical hands, it can rotate the car’s key, pull the handbrake and switch on the turn signal. Musashi did use the accelerator in a separate experiment, the researchers say. Fortunately, the researchers say they’re up for the challenge, with plans to develop a next-gen robot and software.

“Affordable Navigation Alternative: Tern AI’s Solution for Decreasing GPS Dependency”

“We’ve got an increased threat from foreign adversaries who have shown capabilities to jam, to destroy, to spoof the signals of GPS, which is scary,” Shaun Moore, CEO and co-founder of Tern AI, a startup that wants to provide an alternative to GPS, told TechCrunch. The current system works by having GPS receivers in cars or phones pick up signals from satellites orbiting the earth. The GPS receivers then use the time it took for each signal to travel to calculate the distance to each satellite. “GPS technology has not meaningfully changed in 50 years, and what we’re seeing put forth as solutions to resolve or mitigate risk are just marginal improvements. “When we first met Tern AI, what stood out the most was how differentiated and scalable their approach was to solving a critical problem in national security,” said Stephen DiBartolomeo, principal at Scout Ventures.

Need a break from layoffs? Snag a 50% discount on an Expo+ admission!

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Layoffs are tough. The silver lining is that with an Expo+ pass, you can engage with a vibrant tech startup community at TC Disrupt, boasting over 10,000 participants, for the entire three days. Here’s the deal: If you’ve been through a layoff, in any industry, and from any country within one year of October 2024, you qualify for a discounted Expo+ pass. At Disrupt, you’ll find a wealth of opportunities to explore, with access to startup founders, CEOs, service providers, and partner companies. *Networking activations access is limited for Expo+ Passes and doesn’t include access to roundtables, small-group sessions, braindates or select receptions.

BONUS Opportunity: Extended Application Deadline for Startup Battlefield 200!

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A big shoutout to the early-stage founders who missed the application window for the Startup Battlefield 200 (SB 200) at TechCrunch Disrupt. Extended Startup Battlefield 200 deadlineIt’s time to stop kicking this task-can down the road. You have one extra week to apply to Startup Battlefield 200. A shot at $100,000: TechCrunch editors will select 20 startups from the SB 200 to be Startup Battlefield finalists. Apply to the Startup Battlefield 200 by June 17 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

RetailReady, a Y Combinator alumnus, secures $3.3 million in funding for its innovative AI-based warehouse application, revolutionizing the potential of reducing costs for businesses.

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Co-founders Elle Smyth and Sarah Hamer came up with the idea while working together at supply chain unicorn startup, Stord. “We met each other and bonded over our love for the supply chain industry,” Smyth told TechCrunch. Warehouse workers have to reference “phone book-sized” manuals of how to ship items to retailers, like Target and Walmart. If shipping/warehouse workers don’t pack these items correctly, retailers will charge the brands fees, known as a chargeback. RetailReady replaces those manuals with a digital version that gives workers a directed workflow on how to pack an order correctly.

Introducing the Third $118M Fund of Friends & Family Capital, Established by Former Palantir CFO and Son of IVP’s Founder

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When they first met in 2007, the now brothers-in-law bonded over their passion for venture capital, eventually leading them to invest together from their personal capital. By 2020, Anderson and Fogelsong decided to take their investing relationship to the next level by launching their first fund with external capital. That fund, which the firm considers its second vehicle, closed at $91.5 million, well above its initial target of $60 million. So,they named their firm “Friends & Family Capital” to capture that spirit, their own family connection, and Fogelsong’s roots in a prominent Silicon Valley VC family. Like its previous fund, Friends & Family’s third fund will be used to invest in “classic B2B enterprise software” companies and hardware businesses with recurring revenue components.

“Energy Crunch: Belgian Startup Gorilla Scores $25M in Funding with Cutting-Edge Data Solutions”

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Gorilla, a Belgian company that serves the energy sector with real-time data and analytics for pricing and forecasting, has raised €23 million ($25 million) in a Series B round led by U.S. venture capital firm Headline. Founded in 2018, Antwerp-based Gorilla works with energy providers across Europe, the U.S. and Australia, including British Gas’ parent Centrica, Shell Energy, and Atlanta, Georgia-based Gas South. Throw into the mix geopolitical factors such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, ever-evolving regulations, increasingly distributed energy sources across fossil and renewables, and the increasing use of connected technology, and we now have fertile ground for data-focused energy startups to flourish. “No one knows what the energy sector will look like 10 years from now,” Gorilla’s co-founder and CEO, Ruben Van den Bossche, said in a statement. Other participants in the round include the startup’s existing investors Beringea and Belgian private equity firm, PMV.