March 1, 2024
Former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison explains how FTX hid losses, sandbagged lenders


Good morning! I’m Karyne Levy, managing editor of TechCrunch+, and I’m very excited to be here.

We’ve got quite a lineup for you today, beginning with some key moments from the Sam Bankman-Fried trial. Our reporter Jacquelyn Melinek has been at the courthouse every day; you can check out our coverage of the trial here.


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This week, Caroline Ellison, ex-CEO of Alameda Research and SBF’s former girlfriend, took the stand. She explained how she cooked the books to make Alameda’s finances look a lot cleaner than they actually were. “We were in a bad situation,” is how she aptly put it.

Thanks for reading!

Karyne

@karynelevy

Ask Sophie: Can a bootstrapping solo founder get an O-1A?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

I am a solo founder who is bootstrapping my startup to the point of traction before I even consider raising funding. It sounds like you need VC funding to get an O-1A — is that true? Is it even possible for me to consider getting an O-1A at this stage?

 — Bold Bootstrapper

More money won’t fix your failing startup — here’s how to get investors to back a pivot

Pencil Cracked into Two Colors on Solid Color Block Background.

Image Credits: MirageC (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

If your startup isn’t seeing the kind of traction or growth that you expect, sometimes the best way forward is to actually take a detour and see if there’s some other need you can fulfill.

“If your company isn’t seeing strong growth with customers eager to use the product and share it with others, it might be time to pivot the company in a new direction,” says Sarah Leary, a venture partner at Unusual Ventures.

Leary’s advice is material, because she’s pulled off a successful pivot before: She co-founded Fanbase, a site for fans of different sports to congregate and share information over a network. But when that idea didn’t scale, the team quickly pivoted and started Nextdoor.

Leary lays out five actionable tips that can help founders considering a pivot to do it correctly, and get their investors on board with the new plan.

We asked 52 founders whether events are useful or a waste of time

events, founders, startups

Image Credits: BrianAJackson / Getty Images

Events can be a great resource for founders: You get to network, learn what’s going on in your industry, get a read of the market, find customers and so much more.

But are they really worth all the money and effort, not to mention the time you could otherwise be spending actually building your startup?

To find out, Rebecca Szkutak asked founders how they feel about founder-focused events, what they find useful about them and what they think makes them a colossal waste of time.

Deal Dive: The future of social media is vertical

social media, startups, community

Image Credits: We Are / Getty Images

Social media is very different today from what it was just five years ago. Leaving out what’s happened to X, formerly Twitter (no one could have predicted that), disinformation is now as common as memes, dialogue is more partisan than ever, and it’s hard to avoid recommendations (they’re actually ads) everywhere.

So it’s not surprising that people are flocking to more focused communities that cater to their interests or gives them a place to feel safe in an internet that’s increasingly hateful and divisive.

“Why would someone from a marginalized group scroll through irrelevant content, hate and bots to find their community when there’s already a dedicated space elsewhere?” writes Rebecca Szkutak.

“For social media investors, it’s likely the future riches will be in the niches.”

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Zendesk emerges from last year’s turbulence with strong outlook

Illustration of women meditating, floating above her desk while work swirls around her.

Image Credits: BrownAlex / Getty Images

Zendesk didn’t look so hot at the end of 2022: It rejected a $17 billion takeover bid, and its own investors rejected a $4.1 billion offer to buy SurveyMonkey — all in the same month. But with a new CEO at the helm, the present (and the future) is looking better and better.

Bedrock Energy thinks the solution to decarbonizing skyscrapers is 1,500 feet underground

A cloud hangs over 432 Park Ave, New York City.

Image Credits: Yongyuan Dai / Getty Images

One of my favorite pieces of climate tech is a heat pump, which is at least three times more efficient than traditional heating. I don’t have one in my home, but after a year of big weather events in the Bay Area, and astronomical heating bills, heat pumps are looking better and better. But what about bigger buildings? Bedrock Energy is betting that underground heat pumps, known as geothermal heat pumps, could help decarbonize heating and cooling for large buildings around the country.





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