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Silicon Valley Bank’s crash is providing valuable lessons all over the world



Welcome to The Interchange! If you received this in your inbox, thank you for signing up and your vote of confidence. If you’re reading this as a post on our site, sign up here so you can receive it directly in the future. Mary Ann is on a much deserved break this week, so I am filling in for her, bringing you the hottest fintech news of the previous week. Now let’s dive into the fintech news because you are probably wondering what’s up with your favorite bank, and I promise to get to that first. Let’s go! — Christine

We’ve learned a lot more about the Silicon Valley Bank collapse since the last time you read this newsletter (lots and lots).

The latest being that SVB Financial filed for Chapter 11. And First Republic Bank, which was ensnared in all this mess earlier this week, found some saviors in the way of some of the nation’s largest banks that reportedly came together to bolster the bank with around $30 billion in rescue deposits.

This week, some of my colleagues took a deep dive into the effects on consumers, businesses, banks, investors, and so on — all over the world — who had made deposits with SVB. If anything, it shows just how connected the startup ecosystem really is.

Annie Njanja and Tage Kene-Okafor got the scoop on African companies affected by the SVB collapse. For example, they spoke to Nala, a mobile money transfer startup, which was able to pull its funds out of SVB before it collapsed. In contrast, Chipper Cash was among several startups that could not access a portion of their funds at the time.

They noted how prolific SVB was in the startup ecosystem when it came to companies opening SVB bank accounts, especially those who were part of a U.S. accelerator program, even explaining how difficult that process was when potential account holders didn’t have a Social Security number or established U.S. address. They also wrote that this type of incident, along with existing high-risk banking options, “have reinforced the need to build homegrown solutions” in Africa.

“If you want U.S.-based banking, which does instill credibility (still) with investors, those are your options,” said Stephen Deng, co-founder and general partner at Africa-focused early-stage VC firm DFS Lab. “I think what changes is that founders must know how they manage counterparty risk. Sweep networks, and treasury management, are all top of mind.”

Meanwhile, Brian Heater reached out to founders and investors in the robotics sector, typically a capital-intensive industry, about what the fallout could mean for them in terms of access to future capital and continuing to diversify sources of funding.

An interesting comment came from Peter Barrett at Playground Global, who said, “If SVB rises from the ashes — and we act to mitigate the weaponization of concentrated digital media — money may not become impossibly expensive for capital intensive technologies like robotics. On the other hand, now that we have motor memory for bank runs, things could get messy. How best would an adversary attack innovation in robotics? We saw how destructive a handful of influential tweets and emails could be in unwinding a valued and respected 40-year-old institution. Why bother with a cyberattack when a few well-placed uppercased words from apparently reputable sources can wound thousands of our most innovative companies?”

Indeed. As you can imagine, all of this is continuing to develop, so stay tuned for more.

Moving on, we are constantly told to diversify our holdings in the financial world — have money in a number of different mutual funds or have some money in checking and other money in savings. Over in TechCrunch+, all of this SVB business got Natasha Mascarenhas thinking about how to do this.

She spoke with some founders and investors about the concept of “single points of failure.” Specifically, where else a business can diversify — for example, founding team and succession plans — to make sure it doesn’t have its eggs all in one basket.

Before I get into more news, I wanted to mention that while people have been pulling money out of SVB, there are some still supporting the bank. For example, Brex announced that it was depositing $200 million of its money into SVB — pulling it from other big banks to do so. CNN also reported on others.

Weekly News

Some companies that provide banking services to startups stepped up following the Silicon Valley Bank collapse to offer their services and help companies maintain cash flow. Mary Ann reported on a few companies, like Rho, that saw a surge in new customers, including Mercury, which moved quickly over the weekend to launch a new product called Mercury Vault. This product “offers customers expanded FDIC insurance of up to $3 million via a new product in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse. That’s 12x the industry standard for institutions of $250,000 in FDIC insurance that other institutions offer.” Then Friday, the company upped that, announcing on Twitter that “by Monday, Mercury customers will have access to up to $5M in FDIC Insurance — 20x the per bank limit.”

Stripe was quite active this week. I updated an earlier story Mary Ann worked on about Stripe going after additional funding. At the time, it was expected it would bring in about $2 billion, but instead, Stripe ended up with $6.5 billion but at a reduced valuation of $50 billion. The Series I proceeds will go to “provide liquidity to current and former employees and address employee withholding tax obligations related to equity awards, resulting in the retirement of Stripe shares that will offset the issuance of new shares to Series I investors.” Also, Stripe was chosen to work with OpenAI to monetize ChatGPT and DALL-E.

Reports Manish Singh: “PhonePe has raised another $200 million as part of an ongoing round, a move that has now helped it pull $650 million in recent weeks despite the market slump as the Indian fintech giant bulks up its war chest following its recent separation from parent firm Flipkart. Walmart, which owns the majority of PhonePe, has invested $200 million into the startup. The ongoing round values the Bengaluru-headquartered company at $12 billion pre-money. The startup has said that it plans to raise up to $1 billion as part of the ongoing round.”

Reports Natasha Mascarenhas: “Founders are still shaking off the dust a week after Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse. Rumors are swirling about who might be looking to buy the beleaguered bank’s assets. Some of the top firms urged their portfolio managers to diversify their assets as the bank was collapsing, and are continuing to do so, even though regulators have stepped in to guarantee that all depositors would get access to their stored cash. While diversifying assets feels obvious in retrospect, actually following that bit of advice is harder than it seems.”

According to Sift’s Q1 2023 Digital Trust & Safety Index, buy now, pay later (BNPL) companies saw payment fraud increase by a whopping 211% in 2022 over 2021. The report looked at over 34,000 sites and apps and highlighted some specific scams that fraudsters are using to steal from BPNL companies and merchants. For example, Telegram is one platform where Sift said “rapid proliferation of scammers advertise the services they could provide with stolen information,” including fake credit cards and sale of compromised email credentials. In one scheme, Sift observed a fraudster posting “unlimited access” to an account on three of the top BNPL providers for just $35.

Adyen, providing end-to-end payment capabilities, said it further advanced its digital authentication solution, combining security and seamless checkout experiences for it customers. In testing, Adyen was able to authenticate the consumer on behalf of the issuer, while they remained on the merchant checkout page, helping merchants get a conversion uplift of up to 7%.

Funding and M&A

Seen on TechCrunch

Wingspan raises $14M for its all-in-one payroll platform for contractors

Here’s a new corporate card startup, backed by $157M in equity, debt, going after Brex, Ramp

Metaverse payment platform Tilia gets strategic investment from J.P. Morgan

Indonesia’s Broom builds out automated asset-backed lending for used car dealers

Nigerian credit-led fintech FairMoney acquires PayForce in retail-merchant banking play

And elsewhere

Masttro secures $43 million growth equity investment led by FTV Capital

Cover Genius, an insurtech for embedded protection, acquires Clyde

Greek fintech Natech grabs €10M in convertible bond to expand

Payments infrastructure startup Payabli closes $12M

Apexx Global, a payments orchestration startup, raised $25M

Chile-based recurring payments company Toku raises $7.15M

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed my takeover of Mary Ann’s column. Don’t worry, she will be back for the March 26 edition! Have a great week, Christine

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Turntable LIVE (née raises $7M ahead of public launch



The Turntable wars were one of the more fascinating stories to emerge in 2021 startup land (though I suspect those involved might dispute the matter). After years away, the beloved but bygone collaborative music streaming service returned for a population that had been stuck inside for a year thanks to a global pandemic.

Things got really interesting, however, when a second claimant to the Turntable thrown emerged. There was, resurrected from the original service by founder Billy Chasen, joined by “Turntable” or “,” which could be found at (they were both technically just “Turntable,” but we were using “” and “” in a bid to avoid confusion). That was founded by early employee Joseph Perla. Whether Perla also deserved the co-founder title is a matter strongly contested by Chasen, however.

A few months after’s relaunch, Chasen announced that the service had raised $7.5 million, led by Andreessen Horowitz, adding to a war chest that had thus far been the product of fundraising through services like Patreon and Venmo. The following month, launched as a beta app.

That service has since rebranded as Turntable LIVE (all caps is their style, but honestly not the worst idea, all things considered), along with the new URL, (“Turntable Live,” incidentally, was also the name of a pivot). This week, the company announced its own seed round just north of $7 million, led by Founders Fund and f7 Ventures. The news also finds a trio of advisors joining up, including Julia Tang (ex-Discord, Instagram), George Howard (Tune Core) and Jonathan Hull (ex-Facebook).

A release tied to the news is not pulling any punches: “Created by Joseph Perla, Turntable LIVE has become what Perla laid out more than a decade ago. If the name sounds familiar, you may be remembering an old, legacy Turntable, which crumbled under co-founder disagreements and did not launch with global music licenses or a mobile app. is an all-new company that is doing things right.”

A completely normal paragraph in a press release about a funding round. is still very much online, though the company’s been quiet on the social front. A few months back, the team launched “Sup,” a free app that describes its function as follows: “Record and share audio clips that play on your friends phone, even when their screen is locked. Conversation is more than text. Speak, be heard, say it out loud.”

It’s clear based on the above names that Turntable LIVE’s approach is leaning far in the social direction. “We’ve created Turntable LIVE with a positive-sum approach in mind,” Perla says in a release. “People need joyful, meaningful social experiences online: music can facilitate that. And music needs more and more compelling ways to reach people and bring them together. Turntable LIVE accomplishes both, as one of the first truly participatory places online for music enjoyment and real-time social interaction.”

The service is still in a waitlisted, invite-only beta, with a public version set for launch later this year. You can signup by entering your number here.

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Twitter is dying | TechCrunch



It’s five months since Elon Musk overpaid for a relatively small microblogging platform called, Twitter. The platform had punched about its weight in pure user numbers thanks to an unrivalled ability to both distribute real-time information and make expertise available. Combine these elements with your own critical faculty — to weed out the usual spam and bs — and it could feel like the only place online that really mattered.

Even if the average Internet user remained baffled by Twitter, it contained essential ingredients that made it a go-to source for journalists or other curious types wanting to earwig on conversations between interesting people — whether subject experts or celebrities. It was also therefore a place where experts and celebrities could find community and an engaged audience — without the need for layers of message-filtering middlemen. Twitter was where these two sides met and (sometimes) meshed in messy conversation.

There was an alluring (sometimes bruising) rawness to the medium. Yes, you could get the thrill of almost unvarnished opinions from celebrities on Twitter — at least compared to more curated social media feeds like Instagram. But the real pull and power of the platform came from the incredible wealth of knowledge any Twitter user could directly tap into — across all sorts of professional fields, from deep tech to deep space and far beyond — just by listening in on a discussion thread or sliding a question into someone’s DMs.

Above all Twitter was an information network; the social element came a distant second. Although it had a notable sideline as an unofficial dating app as it could be a great way to get a feel for someone’s personality without meeting them in person. (There are countless stories of people making friends or even life partners via encounters on Twitter.)

The running joke became ‘how is this site free?!’ Because the interactions could be so remarkable — so show-stopping or fascinating — that it felt incredible to encounter this kind of proximity (to knowledge or stardust) for free.

Well, Twitter is no longer free. Literally and figuratively. And we are all so much poorer for that.

Since Musk took over he has set about dismantling everything that made Twitter valuable — making it his mission to drive out expertise, scare away celebrity, bully reporters and — on the flip side — reward the bad actors, spammers and sycophants who thrive in the opposite environment: An information vacuum.

It almost doesn’t matter if this is deliberate sabotage by Musk or the blundering stupidity of a clueless idiot. The upshot is the same: Twitter is dying.

The value that Twitter’s platform produced, by combining valuable streams of qualification and curiosity, is being beaten and wrung out. What’s left has — for months now — felt like an echo-y shell of its former self. And it’s clear that with every freshly destructive decision — whether it’s unbanning the nazis and letting the toxicity rip, turning verification into a pay-to-play megaphone or literally banning journalists — Musk has applied his vast wealth to destroying as much of the information network’s value as possible in as short a time as possible; each decision triggering another exodus of expertise as more long-time users give up and depart.

Simply put, Musk is flushing Twitter down the sink. I guess now we all know what the dumb meme really meant.

On April Fools Day, the next — perhaps final — stage of the destruction will commence as Musk rips away the last layer of legacy verification, turning up the volume on anyone who’s willing to pay him $7.99pm to shout over everyone else.

Anyone who was verified under the old (and by no means perfect) system of Twitter verification — which was at least related to who they were (celebrity, expert, journalist etc) — will cease to be verified. Assuming they haven’t already deleted their account. Only accounts that pay Musk will display a ‘Blue Check’.

This is just a parody of verification since the blue tick no longer signals any kind of quality. But the visual similarity seems intentional; a dark pattern designed to generate maximum confusion.

If you pay Musk for this meaningless mark you’ll also get increased algorithmic visibility of your tweets and the power to drown out non-paying users’ tweets. Which mean all the fakes and imposters can (and will) overwrite the real-deal on Twitter.

Genuine users are rightly outraged at the idea of being blackmailed into paying Musk to prove who they are. These people — the signal amid the Twitter noise — are, after all, a core component of the value of the network. So of course they shouldn’t (and won’t) pay — and so their visibility on Twitter will decay. Which, in turn, will trigger more damage — as any remaining users wanting to find quality information will find it increasingly hard to come by… It’s death by irrelevance.


In a further twist, only paying users will get a vote in future Twitter policy polls — meaning Musk will guarantee populist decision-making is rigged in his fanboys’ favor. (But actually this just looks like pure trolling since he doesn’t stick to the outcome of poll results he doesn’t like anyway.)

The upshot is Musk is turning Twitter into the opposite of a meritocracy. He’s channeling pure chaos — just like the cartoon ‘chaotic evil’ villains love to. (And, well, as we’ve said before, Twitter is Musk’s calamity masterpiece.)

Nor does this gambit look like a moneyspinner for Musk, either. He’s clawed in just $11M in subscription revenue since relaunching Twitter Blue three months ago, per Sensor Tower. (Reminder: Musk paid $44BN for Twitter last October. And has already destroyed half that value, according to a recent leaked internal memo.) So, yeah, this ‘game of pwns’ has been verrrrrrrrrry expensive for Musk too. It’s an eye-watering lose-lose equation — unless you’re a spammer, basically. (Then, presumably, it’s a cheap way to spam Musk fanboys if that’s a useful thing to do?)

Making money out of Twitter doesn’t seem to be the point for the billionaire/former world’s richest man who obviously has wealth enough to throw plenty of borrowed billions down the sink. Although early in his takeover he trailed (trolled?) the idea of transforming Twitter into a billion user platform. But when it comes to growing revenue and users we must all surely agree that Musk been drastically — spectacularly — unsuccessful.

However if the point is simply pure destruction — building a chaos machine by removing a source of valuable information from our connected world, where groups of all stripes could communicate and organize, and replacing that with a place of parody that rewards insincerity, time-wasting and the worst forms of communication in order to degrade the better half — then he’s done a remarkable job in very short order. Truly it’s an amazing act of demolition. But, well, $44BN can buy you a lot of wrecking balls.

That our system allows wealth to be turned into a weapon to nuke things of broad societal value is one hard lesson we should take away from the wreckage of downed turquoise feathers.

You can say shame on the Twitter board that let it happen. And we probably should. But, technically speaking, their job was to maximize shareholder value; which means to hell with the rest of us.

We should also consider how the ‘rules based order’ we’ve devised seems unable to stand up to a bully intent on replacing free access to information with paid disinformation — and how our democratic systems seem so incapable and frozen in the face of confident vandals running around spray-painting ‘freedom’ all over the walls as they burn the library down.

The simple truth is that building something valuable — whether that’s knowledge, experience or a network worth participating in — is really, really hard. But tearing it all down is piss easy.

Let that sink in.

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Zoom is adding new features to compete with Slack, Calendly, Google and Microsoft



Weeks after laying off 1,300 people (or 15% of the staff), Zoom is introducing new features to compete with numerous companies including Slack, Calendly, Google, and Microsoft. These features include AI-powered meeting summaries, prompt-based email responses, and whiteboard generation along with video “Huddles” and a meeting scheduler.

The company wants you to shift more of your work tasks to its tools. To that end, Zoom is opening up its email and calendar clients to everyone. The video conferencing company started testing these tools last year in a big explore area beyond meetings. There are also hosted email and calendar services on offer with end-to-end encryption protection and custom domains for paid users. Companies could use these services as an alternative to Microsoft Exchange and Google Workspace.

These days it’s difficult to spend a few hours without a company announcing generative AI features. Zoom is expanding its Zoom IQ assistant to provide AI-powered summaries and “ask further questions” even when you join a meeting midway. Once the meeting ends, the bot will post a summary to Zoom’s team chat feature. The assistant can also summarize the chat threads in the team chat.

Until now, Zoom IQ had the ability to record highlights, divide a meeting into chapters, and list action items automatically. Last year, the company also launched Zoom IQ for Sales aiming to provide insights from video calls for sales teams.

Zoom Mail client Image Credits: Zoom

Zoom is promising a generative future with Zoom IQ helping users compose chats, emails, and whiteboard sessions, creating meeting agendas. The company is inviting users next month to try these features out with plans for a wider rollout later. The company said it is partnering with OpenAI for the AI features, but it didn’t specify if the partnership includes just API usage or more.

A demo of composing a message with Zoom IQ Image Credits: Zoom

The company introduced some non-AI-focused products as well. It launched Zoom Scheduler in public beta — a Calendly-like tool to share availability to book appointments. Zoom also introduced virtual coworking spaces called Zoom Huddles where people can drop in or drop out at any time. This feature is similar to the Slack Huddles feature, which was introduced in 2021 to have a quick voice or video-based real-time conversations.

Zoom seems to be fighting many battles here. On one hand, it is introducing generative AI features to create emails, meeting agendas, and whiteboards to fight the onslaught of Microsoft and Google. Both of which have announced new generative AI features for workplaces. On the other hand, it is fighting a battle to be a relevant workplace tool beyond meetings that rivals Slack, Calendly, and Otter.

Recently, Slack announced a ChatGPT bot in collaboration with OpenAI. Meanwhile, the transcription tool Otter launched the OtterPilot assistant that automatically summarizes meetings. But that’s not it. Plenty of other meeting-related tools have been launching AI-powered summarization features in different formats.

Zoom’s stock has tanked more than 40% in the last 12 months. The company faced its first quarterly loss of $108 million since 2018 in the fourth quarter results for the 2023 financial year. It expects slowed growth of 1.1% this fiscal year with expected revenue between $4.435 billion to $4.455 billion.

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