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Kicking off the week, we’ve been thoroughly enjoying Runa Sandvik’s story about how U.S. police use digital data to prosecute abortions in our post-Roe-v.-Wade world. The TL;DR is that healthcare in the U.S. is a weird world, and you should use end-to-end encrypted messages if you’re going to DM your friends about things that are potentially illegal. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- “Power”ing up Marqeta’s portfolio: Marqeta made its first acquisition, securing Power Finance in a $275 million all-cash deal, Mary Ann reports. She writes that this move gives Marqeta, which focuses on debit and prepaid cards, some new capabilities in the way of credit products.
- What was the intent?: In this week’s The Station newsletter, Rebecca and Kirsten have the latest on Tesla, writing about what happened when Elon Musk took the stand related to that class-action securities fraud trial.
- Here’s “One Piece” of a new Netflix series you shouldn’t ignore: If you are a fan of the anime series “One Piece,” you might enjoy Netflix’s attempt at making it a live-action series. Lauren has more.
Startups and VC
“I can’t explain it. It’s weird,” Alphonzo “Phonz” Terrell said to Amanda. After losing his job at Twitter when Elon Musk took over, the former global head of Social and Editorial didn’t want to rest — he wanted to build. “Coming straight out of it, I was just like, ‘Oh, it’s time. It’s time to build, whether we get support or not.’” Now he’s raised just short of $3 million to build a competitor to Twitter.
Speaking of alternatives to Twitter, Aisha and Taylor took to the internet to find the best Twitter alternatives worth checking out. Ultimately they conclude that there isn’t, and will probably never be, a one-for-one replacement for Twitter.
And here’s a handful more, because we love ya:
- That’s a lot of walls, y’all: Connie reports that Fifth Wall, focused on real estate tech and managing $3.2 billion, looks to eat up even more of its market.
- Chaining blocks to other blocks: Jacquelyn had two back-to-back crypto stories today — Crypto security startup Hypernative raises $9 million, and Sovereign Labs collected $7.4 million to help scale blockchains.
- Lemme send myself a note: Ivan explores Stashpad, a notepad for devs with a “DM to yourself” interface.
- To da moon: Manish reports that Walmart-backed PhonePe’s nine-month 2022 revenue surged to $234 million.
- Sharing is caring: Raylo raises $136 million to build out its gadget lease-and-reuse “fintech” platform, reports Ingrid.
What do recent changes to state taxes mean for US SaaS startups?
For SaaS startups, tax time can create a conundrum.
Some states regard software-as-a-service products as, um, services, while others classify them as, er, products.
“There’s also the issue of bundling on its own,” according to startup tax accountant Ardy Esmaeili. “SaaS might not be taxed, but it will be when paired with hardware.”
To help founders better understand their liability, Esmaeili shares tips on how to identify a company’s physical nexus and lists multiple SaaS categories that states are likely to tax.
“Engage an expert as early as you can,” he writes. “Don’t think you won’t have to worry about it yet, because waiting can have big consequences down the line.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Don’t call it a comeback: Connie wonders whether venture funding is already back.
- You’re welcome, I’m late: Natasha M explores the latecomer advantage in startups.
- For you, special price: Where should sales sit in product-led companies? wonders Anna.
Big Tech Inc.
All right, now here you are, checking all the security boxes, getting your two-factor authentication set up, and along comes a hacker — albeit paid by Meta — that finds a bug, which allows someone to bypass that two-factor authentication on Facebook and Instagram. I guess it’s good they caught it, but ugh! Lorenzo has more.
And we have five more for you:
- Grocery game: Amazon raised the threshold for free grocery delivery, now charging fees on Fresh orders under $150, Aisha reports.
- Activating investors: Ron writes that some Salesforce board changes may be a signal that the company is okay with all of the recent activist investor moves.
- EV to EV: Ford is not going to let Tesla have all the fun. The carmaker is meeting Tesla’s electric vehicle price reduction with its own discounts for the all-electric Mustang Mach-E, Kirsten writes.
- Sparking new layoffs: Electric vehicle company Arrival is cutting its workforce by 50% in what Kirsten reports is a third restructuring effort.
- Take Note: Instagram’s Notes feature, which are short posts of up to 60 characters that include text and emojis and appear above your profile photo, is expanding to Europe and Japan. Aisha has more.