US law enforcement charges SBF with fraud as he awaits extradition after Bahamas arrest • TechCrunch

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Why, hello there, Crunchianistas!

Today, Haje is waltzing around the house, candle in hand, celebrating Saint Lucia. Honestly, not because he’s that excited about the traditional Scandinavian celebration or the excitement about candlelight and saffron buns, but because he’s visiting his parents and there’s a power cut. Which means all manner of excitement in the cold, frozen European, –7°C December. Christine, meanwhile, is chillin’ like a villain in 80-degree heat. Luckily, that’s in Fahrenheit, or we’d be looking at pretty severe discomfort.

Okay, that’s enough about the weather outside. Let’s take a look at which way the wind is blowing elsewhere, such as in the world of tech.  — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Trading suits for stripes: After much fodder all over the place of why Sam Bankman-Fried was not behind bars sooner for his involvement in the collapse of FTX, Darrell reports that SBF was arrested in the Bahamas amid fraud charges brought by several U.S. government entities. We’re sure this is just the beginning.
  • Don’t let them get away: If it’s not easy, customers are going to move on. That’s why TheyDo wants companies to own their customers’ journeys and helps large companies get organized with the customer in mind, Mike reports.
  • Blue and gray and gold, oh my!: You’ve probably noticed that Twitter has gotten more colorful lately. That’s on purpose. We can’t keep up with it either, so thankfully we have Ivan to break down what all those check marks and badges mean. More check mark news in the Big Tech section.

Startups and VC

After being bootstrapped for seven years, Ngrok today announced that it raised $50 million in a Series A round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, with participation from Coatue. Shreve tells Kyle that with the fresh capital, Ngrok will grow operations and “make continued investments” to improve its core product offering.

The trillion-dollar construction industry isn’t known for its efficiency, accused of failing to move with the times and ignoring digitization in favor of legacy tools, Paul reports. There is plenty of evidence that things are changing, with countless startups raising large sums of cash to help the construction industry modernize. It’s against that backdrop that German VC firm Foundamental today unveiled its new fund, targeting $85 million at early-stage construction tech startups globally and building on the early success it has seen from its inaugural $65 million fund, which closed back in 2019.

And we have five more for you:

3 methods for valuing pre-revenue novel AI startups

A line of retro toys with stacks of gold coins on a wooden floor

Image Credits: Charles Taylor / EyeEm (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The Berkus method, scorecard valuation and venture capital are the most-commonly used frameworks for costing pre-revenue startups, but when it comes to AI, are traditional yardsticks still useful?

“AI can scale much faster than other technologies, so what works at the beta or minimum viable product stage may not work when an AI product scales to millions of users,” says Ryan E. Long, principal attorney of Long & Associates.

Long identifies some of the limitations of using traditional means to value premoney “prototype or novel AI startups” in an article that identifies regulatory issues and shares tactics designed to “minimize the number of uncertain variables.”

Now three more from the TC+ team:

TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!

Big Tech Inc.

Apple’s iOS 16.2 update is now available for all users, along with iPadOS 16.2 and macOS Ventura 13.1, Ivan writes. He has a look at all of the top features of the update, including improved encryption for iCloud data, Live Activities on the home screen, a karaoke feature for Apple Music and the new collaborative whiteboard app Freeform.

Speaking of Apple, Zack spent some time tracking down information from the consumer tech giant, writing that it confirmed “that an iPhone software update it released two weeks ago fixed a zero-day security vulnerability that it now says was actively exploited.”

And we have five more for you:

  • Bye bye, check mark: Christine just got the coveted blue Twitter check last year after trying for 10 years, and now it’s going away. Rebecca writes that Twitter will remove all legacy verifications “in a few months.” Christine took a photo of her profile for posterity, just to show she was at one time notable.
  • Bye bye, virtual reality world: “Westworld” fans need to set up a binge watch party soon because the show, along with others, may soon be removed from HBO Max, writes Lauren.
  • Hello, new valuation: It’s hard to know what private companies are worth, so it can be a treat when one company tells us. And while a big valuation was the goal for 2021, companies were being more realistic in 2022. In this case, Romain writes about why Checkout‏‎.com lowered its internal valuation.
  • Hello to compensation: Uber’s food delivery business settled with over 4,000 dismissed couriers in Spain and agreed to pay severance to those let go ahead of the country’s labor reform law, Natasha L reports.
  • Bye bye and hello: Paul writes that Microsoft will sunset the Soundscape 3D audio app, but it will release the code in an open source format for developers.

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