Pornhub says, 'Bad Texas! No shit for you!'

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Pornhub has been playing a game of chicken with a bunch of state legislatures for some time now. Last year, smut-peddlers blocked access to users in Mississippi, Virginia and Utah.

And this week, the site is down from the Internet if you live in the Lone Star State. That's right, Texans are now officially banned from the hallowed halls of Pornhub, unless they're crafty enough with a VPN to avoid the digital bouncers. This grand growth has come courtesy of the tussle over age verification laws, which are sprouting up like unwanted weeds in various states.

In a twist that surprises no one, Pornhub isn't thrilled with asking its patrons to flash their digital ID at the door. Rumblings of this have been going on for some time, but, citing concerns that would make any privacy advocate shake their heads vigorously, the site has opted to just shut down Texas rather than risk the data security boogeyman. . This is a bold move, especially considering that they initially played ball with the same laws as Louisiana. As you can imagine, users who want to watch people make two-backed animals aren't necessarily super-eager to upload their driver's license before enjoying the physical feast, so Access is almost over.

Pornhub isn't actually a startup, so why are we featuring it front and center in the Startup Weekly newsletter? Well, as a connoisseur of adult entertainment and deeply fascinated by the power struggles between companies and regulation, I thought you might share those fascinations, too. If not, don't worry, I won't mention the notables again in the remainder of this edition.

Let's continue with some of the less encouraging stories from last week…

This week's most interesting startup stories

Reddit logo on logo silhouette pattern

Image Credit: techcrunch

In the latest episode of “Corporate Drama: The Techstars Chronicles,” we find our hero, Techstars CEO Malley Gavett, in a Zoom meeting with some spicy results. Gavett revealed that the Advancing Cities Fund, an $80 million venture aimed at supporting underrepresented founders, hasn't exactly been the rainbow bridge to diversity she had hoped for. Take cues from the collective gasp of financial giant JPMorgan, whose clients were dreaming of diversified dividends.

“Looks like you've been having some fun lately,” a friend said while having coffee with me. There, in the middle of my dining room table, was a device that, now that he mentioned it, looks an awful lot like a sex toy. Moonbird is not intended to raise your pulse and make you breathe heavily. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Belgian company has helped more than 35,000 customers get sleep and reduce stress through breathing exercises.

Will IPOs get a boost?: Reddit, the digital watering hole for everything from cat memes to existential debates, is headed toward its IPO with the confidence of a peacock in mating season, eyeing a valuation that's both “impressive” and “what Are you kidding me?” Swinging between. With a per-share price tag that could double Scrooge McDuck's profits, Reddit is aiming for a valuation north of $5 billion, presenting itself as “we're like a big deal” and “we're not profitable, but ” placed in between. Have you seen our AI plans?”

We notice some problems: AI-powered fraud detection startup Inscribe has cut its cast by nearly 40%. Despite riding high on a $25 million Series B funding round, Inscribe found itself grappling with missed revenue targets and the harsh reality of a market as unforgiving as a brick wall.

You get a GPU! You get a GPU!: The AI2 incubator has hit a jackpot of $200 million in computing resources from an anonymous source, making it a fairy godmother to AI startups desperate for a sprinkle of computational magic.

The most interesting fundraising this week

An image of the homepage of NFT marketplace Palette Exchange

Image Credit: Pallet Exchange (Opens in a new window)

In the latest “because we definitely need more of it in the world” news, Tavus, a startup that's basically the digital Frankenstein of our times, has perfected the art of cloning humans into digital replicas for personalized video campaigns. Has received 18 million dollars for. Nothing says “personal touch” like a cloned CEO thanking you for your purchase. This four-year-old generative AI wunderkind, now opening up its platform to third-party software integration, is on a mission to make sales and marketing as personal as possible.

The phrase “innovative disruption” gets tossed around like confetti in a parade – but Ted Schlein and his merry band of cybersecurity musketeers at Ballistic Ventures have decided to go full medieval in the industry. Schlein launched Ballistic a few years ago with $300 million, but has now gone even further with a $360 million sequel. In contrast to the “please don’t bother me” approach of their VC peers, the Ballistic Crew is getting so comfortable with their startups that they stop moving forward, bringing a whole new meaning to “value-add investor.” . ,

Brother, won't you buy NFTs?: Remember NFTs? Pallet Exchange is doubling down on the dream that people still have of trading digital knickknacks on the blockchain that no one has heard of. Co-founders Kelvin Wang and Davey Lee, who started their tenure at the Web3 gaming playground, have somehow convinced investors to drop $2.5 million with the thought that NFTs have a future somewhere.

Pint-sized pickup attracts top-tier talent: In a world obsessed with “bigger is better,” Tello Trucks jigs where others tag along, unveiling a vehicle that has surprised both small truck fans and fleet managers. Tello raised $5.4 million and added a Tesla co-founder to its board.

Take it to the grave: Like death taxes are inconveniently certain, and empathy has emerged as a tech-savvy fairy godmother to the bereaved, taking the grim task of postmortem paperwork and $47 million in cash to sprinkle some digital magic on the grieving process. Swoops in with.

Other unforgettable TechCrunch stories…

Every week, there are always a few stories I want to share with you but they somehow don't fit into the above categories. It would be a shame if you forgot them, so here's a random bag of goodies for you:

Surprise, Baby Rivian!: Last week, Rivian suddenly announced an all-electric hatchback called the R3 – giving the company a big Apple-esque “one more thing” announcement at the event, which was apparently about its new R2 SUV.

This is LLM at dawn: Elon Musk's AI startup

Many people are typing: It's not often that an established company loses three CEOs in less than a year. But due to circumstances beyond his control, that's what happened at Slack.

Turning into a dead end: Phantom Auto, a remote driving startup that launched seven years ago amid the buzz about autonomous vehicle technology, is shutting down after failing to secure new funding.

That heavy feeling: Lucid Motors is in danger of losing the trademark on the name of its Gravity SUV, just months before the company is scheduled to begin production.