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TechCrunch+ roundup: Psychedelics VC survey, how to run an AI pilot, Europe’s robotics renaissance

Psychedelic startups want to make psilocybin, ketamine and other substances more mainstream, but how are investors approaching this space?



In professional sports, player-coaches can be extraordinarily effective: Celtics center Bill Russell won two NBA championships between 1966 and 1969.

A recent study suggests that this principle also applies to venture capital. “Recent data from AngelList, pulled for Flex Capital, shows that the founder-led funds raised through its platform outperformed the other funds raised on AngelList,” reports Rebecca Szkutak.

“The reality is, we all have some other thing going on in our lives that we are passionate about,” said Jeff Lu, general partner at Flex Capital. “Dual-threat CEOs, their hobby is to invest. At the same time, the experience makes them better CEOs and investors.”

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However, “it’s important to note that women founders are largely left out of this trend,” writes Rebecca.

“While having these side gigs is largely seen as a positive by VCs for male founders, multiple women founders have told TechCrunch+ that they aren’t given the same luxury. In fact, they are advised against it.”

Thanks very much for reading,

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+

How to avoid AI commoditization: 3 tactics for running successful pilot programs

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

Companies in search of AI-powered business solutions have a lot more options to choose from than they did a few months ago. But where does that leave startups that are trying to differentiate their offerings?

“The real moat is a combination of AI models trained on proprietary data, as well as a deep understanding of how an expert goes about their daily tasks to solve nuanced workflow problems,” says Chaitanya Vaidya, co-founder of

In this TC+ article, he shares three methods AI startups can use to manage iterative pilot programs that create customer delight by studying user behavior.

“Leveraging deep relationships with customers in your domain is a simple, yet effective tactic,” writes Vaidya.

Europe could be on the cusp of a golden era in robotics. Here’s why.

3D rendered two robotic arm manufacturing euro sign as a abstract concept in yellow background

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

Even though the pandemic accelerated our shift to automation, funding to robotics startups decreased globally.

Last year, investors dropped almost $8.5 billion on the sector — a 42% decline from 2021 levels, with the deepest cuts coming from China and the U.S., where USD investment volume was slashed “by over 50%,” according to a report from Picus Capital.

Across Europe, however, funding only fell by “5% in the same period.” In a study shared with TC+, the firm analyzed “a few key trends driving the continent’s recent power play in the robotics market,” including increased demand and a strong education pipeline.

“Although it’s still early, we’re convinced it’s just the beginning of how Europe is finally beginning to find its place within the modern robotics ecosystem.”

Onboarding and automation: What fintechs can learn from big banks

a perspective shot looking down the corridor of a jetway at an airport

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

Onboarding a new fintech user comes with a unique set of challenges: you’ll need to capture and verify their personal information while you teach them how to use your service and induce them to stay engaged.

Getting new customers up to speed is essential, “but in an economic downturn, it becomes doubly so,” says Appian CTO Michael Beckley.

“Investors rapidly lose patience for startups that can’t deliver growth and margin at the same time as regulators crack down on risk across the financial sector.”

Funding for women in climate tech is pitiful. What can be done about it?

Illustration of women amid foliage.

Image Credits: Atlas Studio / venimo [composite] / Getty Images

It’s well understood that the scales are heavily tipped to favor men when it comes to startup funding, and climate tech is no exception.

According to Crunchbase, the amount of venture capital directed to women founders declined from 8.9% in 2022 to 6.9% in Q1 2023.

“We shouldn’t have to separate women versus men when trying to provide a platform for a massive issue like climate innovation,” said founder Kruppa Raghuraman.

11 investors predict a colorful, if difficult, future for psychedelic startups



SaaS startups generally benefit from a loose regulatory environment, but for companies working to bring psychedelics into the mainstream, the struggle is real.

Although consumer attitudes are shifting, they must still navigate a complicated path under the watchful eye of health agencies and law enforcement.

Decriminalization is opening doors for startups working with cannabis, psilocybin, ketamine and other substances, but how are investors approaching this space?

Anna Heim surveyed several of them to learn more about what they’re looking for, their long-term approach to the sector and how they prefer to be pitched:

  • Sa’ad Shah, managing partner, Noetic Fund
  • Ryan Zurrer, founder and director; Ozan Polat, partner; and Daniel Tarockoff, partner; Vine Ventures
  • Tim Schlidt, co-founder and partner, Palo Santo
  • Amy Kruse, chief investment officer, Satori Neuro
  • Clara Burtenshaw, partner, Neo Kuma Ventures
  • Greg Kubin and Matias Serebrinsky, general partners, PsyMed Ventures
  • Bek Muslimov and Nikolay Tretiyakov, co-founding partners, Leafy Tunnel

TechCrunch+ roundup: Psychedelics VC survey, how to run an AI pilot, Europe’s robotics renaissance by Walter Thompson originally published on TechCrunch

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Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?…

This past Wednesday, President of the European…



Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?...

This past Wednesday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen delivered a speech before the 2023 Atlantic Council Awards in New York, where she sounded the alarm over the specter of nuclear war centered on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. But while invoking remembrance of the some 78,000 civilians killed instantly by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WWII, she said her warning comes "especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again". She  actually framed the atomic atrocity in a way that made it sound like the Russians did it. Watch:

There was not one single acknowledgement in Von der Leyen's speech that it was in fact the United States which incinerated and maimed hundreds of thousands when it dropped no less that two atomic bombs on Japanese cities.

Here were her precise words, according to an Atlantic Council transcript...

You, dear Prime Minister, showed me the meaning of this proverb during the G7 summit in Japan last year. You brought us to your hometown of Hiroshima, the place where you have your roots and which has deeply shaped your life and leadership. Many of your relatives lost their life when the atomic bomb razed Hiroshima to the ground. You have grown up with the stories of the survivors. And you wanted us to listen to the same stories, to face the past, and learn something about the future.

It was a sobering start to the G7, and one that I will not forget, especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again. It is heinous. It is dangerous. And in the shadow of Hiroshima, it is unforgivable

The above video of that segment of the speech gives a better idea of the subtle way she closely associated in her rhetoric the words "once again" with the phrase "shadow of Hiroshima" while focusing on what Russia is doing, to make it sound like it was Moscow behind the past atrocities.

Via dpa

Russian media not only picked up on the woefully misleading comments, but the Kremlin issued a formal rebuke of Von der Leyen's speech as well:

In response to von der Leynen's remarks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the European Commission president of making "no mention whatsoever of the US and its executioners who dropped the bombs on populated Japanese cities."

Zakharova responded on social media, arguing that von der Leyen's assertions on Moscow's supposed intentions to employ nuclear weapons "is despicable and dangerous" and "lies."

Some Russian embassies in various parts of the globe also highlighted the speech on social media, denouncing the "empire of lies" and those Western leaders issuing 'shameful' propaganda and historical revisionism.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 13:15

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl…



Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl to 18 years in jail and a travel ban for posting tweets in support of political prisoners, according to a rights group.

On Friday, ALQST rights group, which documents human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, revealed that the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court handed out the sentence in August to 18-year-old Manal al-Gafiri, who was only 17 at the time of her arrest.

Via Reuters

The Saudi judiciary, under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has issued several extreme prison sentences over cyber activism and the use of social media for criticising the government.

They include the recent death penalty against Mohammed al-Ghamdi, a retired teacher, for comments made on Twitter and YouTube, and the 34-year sentence of Leeds University doctoral candidate Salma al-Shehab over tweets last year.

The crown prince confirmed Ghamdi's sentence during a wide-ranging interview with Fox News on Wednesday. He blamed it on "bad laws" that he cannot change

"We are not happy with that. We are ashamed of that. But [under] the jury system, you have to follow the laws, and I cannot tell a judge [to] do that and ignore the law, because... that's against the rule of law," he said.

Saudi human rights defenders and lawyers, however, disputed Mohammed bin Salman's allegations and said the crackdown on social media users is correlated with his ascent to power and the introduction of new judicial bodies that have since overseen a crackdown on his critics. 

"He is able, with one word or the stroke of a pen, in seconds, to change the laws if he wants," Taha al-Hajji, a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant with the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, told Middle East Eye this week.

According to Joey Shea, Saudi Arabia researcher at Human Rights Watch, Ghamdi was sentenced under a counterterrorism law passed in 2017, shortly after Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince. The law has been criticised for its broad definition of terrorism.

Similarly, two new bodies - the Presidency of State Security and the Public Prosecution Office - were established by royal decrees in the same year.

Rights groups have said that the 2017 overhaul of the kingdom's security apparatus has significantly enabled the repression of Saudi opposition voices, including those of women rights defenders and opposition activists. 

"These violations are new under MBS, and it's ridiculous that he is blaming this on the prosecution when he and senior Saudi authorities wield so much power over the prosecution services and the political apparatus more broadly," Shea said, using a common term for the prince.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 11:30

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Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In a symbolic, photo-op…



Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In a symbolic, photo-op gesture to win union votes, Biden will head to Michigan for a token visit.

Biden to Walk the Picket Line

Taking Sides

CNN had some Interesting comments on Biden Talking Sides.

Jeremi Suri, a presidential historian and professor at University of Texas at Austin, said he doesn’t believe any president has ever visited a picket line during a strike.

Presidents, including Biden, have previously declined to wade into union disputes to avoid the perception of taking sides on issues where the negotiating parties are often engaged in litigation.

On September 15, the day the strike started, Biden said that the automakers “should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”

Some Democratic politicians have been urging Biden to do more. California Rep. Ro Khanna on Monday told CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich that Biden and other Democrats should join him on the picket line.

“I’d love to see the president out here,” he said, arguing the Democratic Party needs to demonstrate it’s “the party of the working class.”

UAW Announces New Strike Locations

As the strike enters a second week, UAW Announces New Strike Locations

UAW President Shawn Fain called for union members to strike at noon ET Friday at 38 General Motors and Stellantis facilities across 20 states. He said the strike call covers all of GM and Stellantis’ parts distribution facilities.

The strike call notably excludes Ford, the third member of Detroit’s Big Three, suggesting the UAW is more satisfied with the progress it has made on a new contract with that company.

General Motors plants being told to strike are in Pontiac, Belleville, Ypsilanti, Burton, Swartz Creek and Lansing, Michigan; West Chester, Ohio; Aurora, Colorado; Hudson, Wisconsin; Bolingbrook, Illinois; Reno, Nevada; Rancho Cucamonga, California; Roanoke, Texas; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Brandon, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Lang Horne, Pennsylvania.

The Stellantis facilities going on strike are in Marysville, Center Line, Warren, Auburn Hills, Romulus and Streetsboro, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Plymouth, Minnesota; Commerce City, Colorado; Naperville, Illinois; Ontario, California; Beaverton, Oregon; Morrow, Georgia; Winchester, Virginia; Carrollton, Texas; Tappan, New York; and Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Contract Negotiations Are Not Close

Good Luck Getting Repairs

Party of the Working Cass, Really?

Let’s discuss the nonsensical notion that Democrats are the party of the “working class”.

Unnecessary stimulus, reckless expansion of social services, student debt cancellation, eviction moratoriums, earned income credits, immigration policy, and forcing higher prices for all, to benefit the few, are geared towards the “unworking class”.

On top of it, Biden wants to take away your gas stove, end charter schools to protect incompetent union teachers, and force you into an EV that you do not want and for which infrastructure is not in place.

All of this increases inflation across the board as do sanctions and clean energy madness.

Exploring the Working Class Idea

If you don’t work and have no income, Biden may make your healthcare cheaper. If you do work, he seeks to take your healthcare options away.

If you want to pay higher prices for cars, give up your gas stove, be forced into an EV, subsidize wind energy then pay more for electricity on top of it, you have a clear choice. If you support those efforts, by all means, please join him on the picket line for a token photo-op (not that you will be able to get within miles for the staged charade).

But if you can think at all, you understand Biden does not support the working class, he supports the unworking class.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 10:30

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