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Top tech news for Wednesday, January 25, 2023

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The M2 Pro Mac Mini fills out its case.

Apple’s new M2 Pro Mac Mini comes with more power than any Mini before it. And unlike the M1 or M2 versions, the M2 Pro model actually fills out the spacious Mini case with a larger logic board and more powerful power supply. Unsurprisingly, the M2 Pro model also borrows some internal design ideas from the Mac Studio.

YouTuber Luke Miani has taken it down to the metal to see exactly what’s different with the M2 Pro Mini and the models before it. And when you’re done watching that, check out Chris Welch’s review.

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Meta wins ruling against FTC to move forward with purchase of VR startup Within • TechCrunch

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Meta can move forward with its acquisition of virtual reality startup Within, a report from Bloomberg says. According to the report, Judge Edward Davila submitted a sealed decision that denied the FTC’s request to take next steps in blocking the transaction.

The FTC sued Meta in July to block the purchase of Within, the creators of the VR fitness app Supernatural, alleging that the acquisition would be anti-competitive. Indeed, Meta has a history of buying up promising VR technology to power its mutli-billion dollar bet on the metaverse.

In court in December, FTC argued that Within’s Supernatural app is a direct competitor to Beat Saber, a popular VR rhythm game that some people use to work out.

Meta bought Beat Games, the studio behind Beat Saber, in 2019. Even Oculus, the hardware company that powers Meta’s flagship Quest headsets, came aboard via a $2 billion acquisition in 2014. And in the final days of 2022, Meta confirmed its purchase of Luxexcel, a smart eyewear company. None of the terms of these deals have been disclosed.

When the FTC called Zuckerberg to the stand, the government lawyers presented email exchanges from March 2021 that proposed a partnership between Beat Saber and Peloton. Zuckerberg said that a deal like this is no longer on the table, in part due to the company’s worsening financial state, and it did not progress further. A partnership between Beat Saber and Peloton would now be impossible, Zuckerberg testified, since Meta is now in a lesser financial situation (in part due to changing Apple policies, he said).

Zuckerberg also said that fitness is not his priority in the VR space — rather, he’s focused on social, gaming and productivity use cases. Meta recently released its Quest Pro, a powerful headset that’s specifically designed for remote work.

Now, Judge Davila could give Meta the go-ahead, but per Bloomberg’s report, Meta will be temporarily barred from completing the deal while the FTC decides on its next steps, since the agency could still appeal the ruling.

TechCrunch has reached out to Meta for comment.

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What H-1B and other immigration changes can we expect this year? • TechCrunch

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Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

I help several startups with HR. I heard the application fees for many visas and green cards are going to increase substantially.

When will those increases go into effect? Are there any other immigration-related changes coming this year? Any H-1B updates?

— Passionate People Person

Dear Passionate,

Thanks for reaching out! Looking into my crystal ball (as well as federal records and drawing on my own decades of experience), I’m happy to provide some thoughts on likely immigration developments ahead. For H-1Bs specifically, it might get easier for founders, including CEOs, to qualify.

Overall, the Biden administration is aiming to reduce case processing delays and backlogs while increasing opportunities for international students educated at American universities and entrepreneurs. The immigration fee increases proposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of State, which oversees consular processing, as well as the Department of Labor’s proposal to raise prevailing wage categories, could potentially hinder the growth of startups, but have the potential to help reduce long-standing backlogs in processing times.

Before I dive in further, here’s the recently announced timeline for this year’s H-1B registration and lottery:

  • Starting on February 23, at 9 a.m. PT, companies or their legal representative can create a USCIS online account if they don’t already have one at myUSCIS.
  • From March 1, at 9 a.m. PT to March 17, at 9 a.m. PT, companies can register H-1B candidates for this year’s lottery and pay the registration fee (currently $10) for each candidate.
  • By March 31, USCIS will notify companies whose candidates have been selected in the lottery.
  • This kicks off the traditional cycle of preparing and filing the full petition to seek an H-1B start date of October 1, 2023.
A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Now, let’s look at the immigration changes that may be coming this year.

Good news for founder H-1Bs?

According to the federal regulatory agenda, DHS is working on a proposal that would affect H-1B petitions filed on behalf of both startup founders and F-1 students on OPT or STEM OPT. The details of the proposed changes are unclear, but DHS is aiming to issue the proposed rule in October 2023.

The proposal seeks to revise the regulations that require employer sponsors to demonstrate an employer-employee relationship between a startup and a founder for the H-1B visa and “provide flexibility” for founders. Again, it’s unclear just what this proposed rule change will entail, but it’s very exciting!

As background, two things that most startups typically find challenging in demonstrating an employer-employee relationship for a H-1B are:

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Be relevant, or get downturned • TechCrunch

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Hello and welcome back to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines.

This is our Wednesday show, where we niche down to a single person, think about their work and unpack the rest. This week, Mary Ann interviewed Hans Tung, prolific investor and managing partner of GGV, a venture firm with more than $9 billion in assets under management.

We had a great conversation about:

  • How he’s advising portfolio companies to weather this downturn
  • What he’s looking for in new investments
  • How startups can stay relevant no matter the economic environment
  • What he’d be if he weren’t a VC (hint: Mark Cuban follows a similar playbook)
  • His new initiative around embedded fintech

With two decades of experience in investing in companies such as Affirm and Airbnb, Hans has been through more than one cycle and his calm, steady approach to handling challenging macro environments comes through. I had a lot of fun learning more about what Hans thinks about investing in addition to what he views as the best advice he’s ever received, and I hope you will, too! 

As always, I’ll be back with Natasha and Becca on Friday, but keep up with Equity in the meantime @EquityPod on Twitter.

Equity drops at 10:00 a.m. PT every Monday and at 7:00 a.m. PT on Wednesdays and Fridays, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the casts. TechCrunch also has a great show on crypto, a show that interviews founders, one that details how our stories come together and more!

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