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DoNotPay chickens out on its courtroom AI chatbot stunt



DoNotPay isn’t bringing its robot lawyer to the courtroom anytime soon. Joshua Browder, the creator and CEO of DoNotPay, announced on Twitter that the company is “postponing our court case and sticking to consumer rights” after receiving threats from “State Bar prosecutors” about the potential legality of the stunt.

The company, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help people challenge parking tickets and sue people, had been planning to use the technology to fight a client’s speeding ticket in court this February. Browder says the AI would’ve “listened” to the case and generated responses using large language models (LLMs) and GPT-3, the same platform used by OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot. The client would then hear these responses through a pair of AirPods and repeat exactly what it said in front of a judge.

While the use of electronic devices is banned at some courtrooms across the country, Browder told Gizmodo at the time that DoNotPay planned on using hearing accessibility standards as a loophole, allowing the client to wear the AirPods during the trial. He also noted that the court wouldn’t know that the client was receiving AI-generated prompts through the earbuds.

Browder even offered $1,000,000 to anyone willing to wear AirPods and repeat what they’re told in front of the Supreme Court earlier this month.

DoNotPay first emerged in 2015 as the “world’s first robot lawyer,” initially providing users with the templates they need to file complaints and cancel subscriptions. Over the years, DoNotPay continued to expand its capabilities and add more services, with the company rolling out an AI chatbot to help you negotiate bills last month. The tool, which also uses the GPT-3 platform, can engage in back-and-forth conversations with various companies through text-based live chats.

Browder says that the company will continue to focus on helping customers lower medical bills, cancel subscriptions, and dispute credit reports using AI. He also adds that DoNotPay has some “incredibly exciting announcements regarding GPT consumer rights products in the next two weeks” and notes that DoNotPay is removing some services, like divorce agreements and defamation demand letters, to focus more on consumer rights.

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Which metrics really matter? • TechCrunch



Without customers, there can be no business. So how do you drive new customers to your startup and keep existing customers engaged? The answer is simple: Growth marketing.

As a growth marketer who has honed this craft for the past decade, I’ve been exposed to countless courses, and I can confidently attest that doing the work is the best way to learn the skills to excel in this profession.

I am not saying you need to immediately join a Series A startup or land a growth marketing role at a large corporation. Instead, I have broken down how you can teach yourself growth marketing in five easy steps:

  1. Setting up a landing page.
  2. Launching a paid acquisition channel.
  3. Booting up an email marketing campaign.
  4. A/B test growth experimentation.
  5. Deciding which metrics matter most for your startup.

In this last part of my five-part series, we’ll cover how to determine which metrics matter for your startup. For the entirety of this series, we will assume we are working on a direct-to-consumer (DTC) athletic supplement brand.

It’s very easy to get lost if you assume upper-funnel metrics are the most crucial for your startup. Don’t fall into this trap.

First, I’ll discuss what metrics mattered the most while I was with Uber and Coinbase, an example of metric analysis, and why it’s important to pivot metrics when necessary.

Uber and Coinbase

Many people will assume that the most important metrics for growth teams at companies like Uber and Coinbase will be new riders and traders. They would be wrong. While those metrics do matter, when I was with both companies, we focused primarily on much deeper metrics that could tell us how valuable various users were.

On the rider growth team at Uber, we measured the performance of each growth channel individually and segmented by city. When we looked at each growth channel and city combination, our guiding metrics were ROAS (return on ad spend) and pLTV (predictive lifetime value). While there were many calculations happening in the background to compute these metrics, they helped us understand how much revenue each rider would ultimately bring to the company.

Similarly, at Coinbase, we weren’t only concerned with how much it cost to acquire a trader, but instead, on the quality of each trader we acquired. The ROAS was calculated by using a rolling average of how much volume each user was trading based on the channel they were acquired from.

Acquisition metrics

It’s very easy to get lost if you assume upper-funnel metrics are the most crucial for your startup. Don’t fall into this trap.

Instead, think about the ideal user of your startup. For our athletic supplement brand, it would be far from ideal if consumers only purchased a one-month initial supply and then never ordered again. At Postmates, we called users “whales” when they consistently ordered a certain number of times every month. We would prioritize acquiring users from channels that net us the highest quality users and as many “whales” as possible.

Here’s a simple exercise you can do to understand which acquisition channel is best for your startup:

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Risilience, a climate analytics and risk assessment platform for enterprises, raises $26M • TechCrunch



Risilience, a SaaS-based analytics platform that helps companies assess their climate risk and plan their transition toward net-zero carbon emissions, has raised $26 million in a Series B round of funding.

The raise comes as ESG (environmental, social, and [corporate] governance) startups across the spectrum have continued to raise cash throughout the downturn, with climate-focused companies in particularly apparently faring well. According to data from Bloomberg, venture capital (VC) and private equity funding found its way into 539 deals in the third quarter of 2022, just fractionally lower than the 547 climate-related funding deals in the preceding three months.

Separately, PwC’s State of Climate Tech 2022 report found that more than a quarter of every VC dollar spent in 2022 was targeted at climate tech, totalling around $15-20 billion per quarter — a figure that’s roughly comparable with the previous year.

There is, of course, good reason why climate tech has perhaps been a little more resilient to economic headwinds than other sectors. The global climate catastrophe is somewhere near the top of the agenda in many political and business spheres, with pressure mounting on corporations to address their carbon emissions and do their bit to counter their impact on climate change. And capturing the right kind of data and generating insights is central to this.

“Organisations are struggling to understand and quantify how climate risk affects their business financially, and plan their way to net-zero,” Rislience CEO Dr. Andrew Coburn explained to TechCrunch. “As we move to a low-carbon economy, businesses are faced with near-term transition risks, such as regulatory change and climate-related litigation; and long-term physical risks, like the floods and weather events.”

Digital twins

Risilience, in a nutshell, promises to enable companies to “turn data into actionable insights,” and measure the (potential) impact of climate-related risks to their business. For example, the company has built “digital twin” technology that allows companies to connect their own internal systems and databases to visualize and “stress-test” the impact of myriad “risks,” which in addition to weather events may include growing regulations, litigation, and even evolving customer sentiment.

By way of example, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed new rules that would require companies to report on any risks to their business related to climate change when filing updates for investors.

“Large organisations face a lot of challenges when it comes to disclosing their impact on the environment,” Rislience CEO Dr. Andrew Coburn explained to TechCrunch. “With the threat of greenwashing, and increasing pressure from investors, reporting needs to be highly accurate but, with increasing regulatory pressures on businesses to disclose this information, they need to act fast.”

Ultimately, Risilience is all about helping companies move toward lower-carbon operations while minimizing the impact on profitability, and at the same time allowing them to report accurately to all stakeholders.

“Another common problem is that net-zero pledges are made with no detailed plan for how to get there,” Coburn added. “Risilience provides the crucial insight required in forming this plan that updates based on the ever-changing landscape organisations are facing.”

Risilience in action Image Credits: Risilience

Spun out of the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Risk Studies (CCRS) back in 2021, Risilience says it has already amassed a number of high-profile enterprise customers, including Nestlé, Maersk, EasyJet, Burberry, and Tesco.

Prior to now, Risilience had raised £6 million ($7.4 million) in a Series A round back in 2021, and with another $26 million in the bank, the company said that it use the fresh cash injection to drive international growth with a particular focus on the U.S. market.

Risilience’s Series B round was led by Quantum Innovation Fund, with participation from IQ Capital and National Grid Partners. 

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Michroma wants to make food colorings, flavors more ‘fun’gi • TechCrunch



Food colorings, like Red 40 and Yellow 5, often include synthetic, petroleum or animal-derived products, but in recent years, the $2.6 billion food colors market has trended toward using natural ingredients as more consumers want more clean labels for the foods they eat.

Startups have come in with their approaches to healthier food colors, ingredients and flavorings. For example, Vanilla Vida, Spero Renewables and Pigmentum are working on vanilla. Motif FoodWorks is developing a beef flavor substitute, while Brightseed and Equinom are creating compounds and proteins to make ingredients for healthier foods.

Similarly, Michroma is developing its novel technology for food colorings and flavorings that uses precision fermentation to scale fungal food colors.

The ingredient biotechnology startup was founded in 2019 by Ricky Cassini and Mauricio Braia, both from Argentina, who met at an accelerator program and moved to San Francisco to begin developing the technology for Michroma.

Braia’s background is developing technology for the food industry, focused on producing enzymes using filamentous fungi. However, rather than stick with enzymes, he wanted to do something different.

Braia, the company’s chief scientific officer, started cultivating fungal strains in soil media and saw it produce a red coloring. He leveraged that information into a new technology for creating fungal “biofactories” to produce small molecules, like colors, more efficiently.

“I thought that this could be a great opportunity to produce natural colorants with a technology that allowed for high efficiency and low costs,” he added. “We turned that idea into a project that evolved into Michroma.”

Michroma founders Ricky Cassini and Mauricio Braia Image Credits: Michroma

The company started with a red colorant replacement for Red 40. CEO Cassini said other methods for producing this color, like beet root or insects, don’t perform well when tested with temperature and food pH stability.

Its first product is called Red+, which is temperature-resistant and stable across the food pH spectrum, Cassini said. This means that the colors are able to maintain viability through the pasteurization, cooking and extrusion processes, which he explained were some of the most intensive processes for natural dyes. In addition to traditional food uses, Red+ can be used to give color to cultivated meat, he added.

The plan is to produce other colors, starting on the warm side, like orange and yellow, and will move to blue and white.

The company has prototyped Red+ with some large food companies and is currently in negotiations with suppliers for distribution and will submit its petition to both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority to scale. In addition, Michroma will move into developing plant-based flavorings that will be sold in combination with the colorings, Cassini added.

To kick all of this off, the company secured $6.4 million in seed financing led by Supply Change Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of General Mills. This gives the company a total of $7.4 million in venture capital.

Joining Supply Change in the round are existing investors, SOSV’s IndieBio and GRIDX, and a group of new investors, including Be8 Ventures, CJ CheilJedang, Fen Ventures, Boro Capital, The Mills Fabrica, Portfolia’s Food & AgTech Fund, New Luna Ventures, Siddhi Capital, Groundswell Ventures and Hack Capital. There is also a group of angel investors, including Allen Miner, Jun Ueki and Steve Zurcher from the Keiretsu Japan Forum; Guillermo Rosenthal; Franco Goytia; Pablo Pla; and Mat Travizano.

The new funding will go into expanding R&D capabilities and growing the Michroma team from 15 to 35 people in the next two years.

Cassini expects the regulatory process to take at least two years and is exploring some ways to generate revenue prior to that. For example, Singapore has already approved the use of cultivated meat.

“Red+ is our MVP for the whole platform, but we want to provide complete solutions for companies that don’t want only red,” Cassini added.

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