Daily Crunch: ‘I’ve gotten beat’ on my ‘Shark Tank’ bets, Mark Cuban admits

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Fri-yay! Grab your calendar and mark November 17, 2022, on it, and then snag yourself an airline ticket to Miami, Florida. That’s right, TC Sessions continues, with a Crypto special event. It’s our first dedicated crypto event, so come along, get your NFTs, blockchains, and web3 on. Get yer tickets today and save a couple of hundred bucks! — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Exceptional assessments: That’s our play on Better Opinions, an Indian startup that claims to be building “a prediction market,” and just may be Meta’s next acquisition in the region, Manish writes.
  • Rolling with the defaults: Microsoft users will want to set their calendars for July 27. That is when the tech giant will block Office macros by default to cut down on malware being introduced via email. This is something Carly reports had been paused by Microsoft earlier this year, but now is back in full swing.
  • One company’s cutback is another company’s lesson: Big Tech taking a time-out on hiring may provide some leeway for startups to dive into that expertise talent pool and come back up with some, as Alex puts it, “human capital for their financial capital.”

Startups and VC

“Shark Tank,” America’s favorite television show, masquerading as “this is how investing works,” made Mark Cuban a household name. It may come as a surprise, then, that overall, Cuban hasn’t made a profit off his Shark Tank portfolioAmanda reports.

Ride-hailing services may be getting a quality upgrade: “We needed to employ our drivers so that we could not only select and vet, but importantly, train and performance-manage them to drive a consistent high-quality experience for our passengers,” Alto’s founder told Rebecca.

Oh, and Haje got very excited about interviewing the Sarcos Robotics and Boston Dynamic CEOs about how to take robots from the lab into the real world.

More? More!

How to check for founder-investor alignment before you start fundraising

Thermal image of woman kicking automobile tire on roadside; founder investor alignment

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

Everyone wants to get their company off the ground, which is why it’s critical to find an investor who shares your values and perspective.

It’s particularly tempting to accept the first offer that comes, but “choosing the right partner for the right stage of your business can make the difference between building a billion-dollar company and losing control.”

Partners Evan Kipperman, Paul Hughes and Len Gray at law firm Wiggin and Dana shared a post with TC+ that explores the finer points of working with institutional investors, angels, friends and family and capitalists of other stripes.

“As funding gets harder to come by, your risk tolerance may change, but your process for evaluating investors should not.”

(TechCrunch+ is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Big Tech Inc.

It was apparently a day of people announcing they are leaving companies. First, Kirsten reports about VW Group CEO Herbert Diess, who is leaving after four years at the helm. Porsche boss Oliver Blume was appointed by the board to take Diess’s place starting September 1. The move may have been foreshadowed — Kirsten writes that Diess “has survived a number of confrontations and power struggles with the board and unions over the past two years.”

Next, just as SAP announced its second-quarter earnings, TechCrunch learned that DJ Paoni, the company’s president of SAP North America, was leaving after 26 years. Natasha M and Ron have more.

Natasha M was also all over a late-breaking item about Apoorva Mehta, Instacart’s executive chairman, who announced via Twitter that once the company goes public, he will step down from the board.

Now over to some further second-quarter earnings chat. Snapchat reported revenue was up, but missed analyst expectations and declined to forecast future financial performance, Aisha reports. Later in the day, Lucas writes that Snap’s stock was not doing so well as a result. Meanwhile, Twitter reported a quarterly sales drop and also revealed it spent $33 million trying to close the Elon Musk acquisition, Paul writes.

Even more:

  • Copyright, schmopyright: Kyle digs a bit deeper into commercial image-generating artificial intelligence, and the legal issues therein, in light of DALL E-2’s beta launch.
  • Don’t let that get on you: We enjoyed Amanda’s look into a TikToker who may have gotten in over her head with some Pink Sauce that allegedly had some questionable nutritional information, and some customers reported the sauce bottle had exploded in packages before it got to them.
  • Do you want to ride?:Jaclyn provides us with a bit of car porn today with a look at the Cadillac Celestiq flagship EV and some explanation from the automaker on why it is its “most advanced vehicle in 120 years.”
  • Move over: Oh, and Tesla and its suppliers now have their own dedicated lane when crossing the Mexican border, Rebecca reports.

As you know from reading above, yesterday was TC Sessions: Robotics, and so you don’t miss out, here are some highlights from Brian and Devin:

Mark Cuban hasn’t profited from his ‘Shark Tank’ investments

America’s favorite advertisement masquerading as a television show, “Shark Tank” made Mark Cuban a household name (that is, if you weren’t already a Dallas Mavericks fan). But last week, the billionaire revealed on the Full Send podcast that overall, he hasn’t made a profit from his suite of investments.

“Are you up all time on ‘Shark Tank’ investments?” the podcast host asked.

“Like, up financially?” the venture capitalist said. “Oh no, I’ve gotten beat.”


Mark Cuban on His Worst Shark Tank Investment 😅

♬ original sound – FULL SEND Podcast

“Shark Tank” brought the (dramatized, edited) inner workings of venture capital into the mainstream, but as it turns out, what makes for good television doesn’t always make for a good investment. According to the fan-run website Sharkalytics, Cuban has invested nearly $20 million into 85 companies across 111 episodes of the ABC show, which has aired 13 seasons since 2009. On Cuban’s own website, he lists 54 “Shark Tank” investments, but he’s omitted companies that no longer exist, such as Breathometer, which Cuban said was his worst loss on the show.

Breathometer, a breathalyzer that plugged into your smartphone, made “Shark Tank” history. The product earned investment from all five investors on the episode, including Robert Herjavec, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner and Daymond John, in addition to Cuban.

“It was a great idea and actually a decent product […] but I’d look at his Instagram and he’d be in Bora Bora,” Cuban said. “Two weeks later, he’d be in Vegas partying […] Next thing you know, all of the money is gone.”

Cuban said that he had texted the founder, Charles Michael Yim, reminding him that he needed to be working on his product — but Cuban said the founder claimed he was “networking.”

That wasn’t the only blown-kiss of death for Breathometer, though. In 2017, the company agreed to an FTC settlement after the government agency found that the blood alcohol level readings were often incorrect. That’s a huge problem, seeing as the product was marketed to help people decide whether or not they’re sober enough to drive home after drinking. As a result of the settlement, Breathometer offered refunds on any product sold between 2013 and 2015. Now, the founder is working on Mint, a similar product that detects… oral health and hydration.

So, at least based on Cuban’s stats, it seems like we have some more evidence for what we’ve known to be true for so long: “Shark Tank” is more about theater than business. Who would’ve thought!

BharatPe founder Ashneer Grover resigns from board amid turmoil at Indian fintech

Ashneer Grover, a founder and the public face of BharatPe, has resigned from the board and left the managing director position he held at the Tiger Global-backed Indian fintech startup following weeks-long turmoil at the firm as it undertakes what it says is an an all-encompassing review of business practices and fraud allegations.

On Tuesday midnight (local India time), Grover wrote in a scathing email to the board that he was leaving the firm “effective immediately” following what he described as “baseless and targeted attacks” on him and his family and a “battle of egos” among BharatPe’s other co-founders, investors and board members “under the charade of ‘good governance.'”

The move is the latest in a series of strange events at the fintech startup, which was last valued at $2.85 billion and counts Sequoia Capital India, Insight Partners and Ribbit Capital among its backers.

The 39-year-old Grover, a “shark” in the Indian version of Shark Tank, said in late January that he was going on a two-month leave of absence after an alleged audio clip surfaced on Twitter of a man hurling abusive and life threatening statements over a phone call to a Kotak Bank representative over not getting financing to buy shares in fashion e-commerce Nykaa’s IPO.

The clip created enough pressure on the startup’s board that it announced an investigation into, among other things, financial irregularities charges levelled against Grover and his wife, Madhuri, who served as the startup’s head of controls.

Grover — who rubbished the audio clip in a tweet, which he has since deleted — last month asked the board for the removal of chief executive Suhail Sameer from the board.

A preliminary investigation by Alvarez and Marsal (A&M) commissioned by BharatPe’s board found fraudulent transactions, including payments to non-existent vendors as well as irregularities of invoices being produced to substantiate spends, Indian newspaper Economic Times reported last month.

The board terminated the position of Madhuri Grover last week, following which she tweeted damaging information about the startup’s other co-founders and questioned the integrity of Rajnish Kumar, a board member of BharatPe and who previously served as the chairman of the State Bank of India.

“The fundamental fact is that all of you as investors are so far removed from reality that you’ve forgotten what real businesses look like and have no appreciation for what it took to run this enterprise day in and day out,” wrote Ashneer in the Tuesday email, a copy of which was seen by TechCrunch.

“None of you, including the ones based in India, have ever been to our office even once, since the pandemic turned our lives upside down and sought to suffocate the economy. […] This is how connected you are to BharatPe. Your views of businesses and problems on the ground are so colored by the windows of the Ivory Tower in which you all reside that you have no connect whatsoever with the human element of the business.”

“It is sad that you have even lost touch with the founder. […] For you, the founder of this company has been reduced to a button to be pressed when needed. I cease to be a human for you. Today, you have chosen to believe gossip and rumors about me instead of having a frank conversation. You are easily spooked because you have no touch with reality.”

Grover is — and remains — the largest individual shareholder of BharatPe. He has previously offered to sell his entire stake in the firm.

Extra Crunch Live: Join Mark Cuban for a Q&A on April 30 at 11am ET/8am PT

Billionaire. Entrepreneur. Investor. Shark.

Mark Cuban is one of tech’s best-known entrepreneurs, so we are amped to have him join us for an upcoming Extra Crunch Live, our virtual speaker series that connects the brightest minds in tech directly with our Extra Crunch audience.

Starting out as a salesman for one of Dallas’s earliest PC software resellers, Cuban was fired after he ignored his boss’ orders and asked another employee to cover for him while he picked up a check for a $10,000 sale. He went on to create his own software reseller/system integrator called MicroSolutions, which he sold in 1990 for $6 million to CompuServe, then an H&R Block subsidiary. That marked the beginning of a storied (and, at times, tumultuous) career as an entrepreneur and investor.

Cuban went on to co-found Audionet (later renamed Broadcast.com), which he eventually sold to Yahoo! for $5.7 billion in 1999; that same year, he made history when he purchased a Gulfstream V for $40 million in the largest single e-commerce transaction ever conducted.

The man’s brain is always 20 years in the future.

The Dallas Mavericks majority owner and “Shark Tank” judge has invested in startups for two decades. His portfolio includes Apptopia, The Zebra, Node, UBeam and many other startups; according to Crunchbase, Cuban has made more than 100 investments since 2004.

We’ll ask how he’s advising his portfolio companies in the midst of a crisis and will get his predictions on the economic outlook over the next 12 to 24 months. We’re also interested to hear how Cuban thinks technology may or may not solve for the current situation around live sports, which have effectively been halted by the pandemic.

And if we have time, we’ll ask a bit about workers, equitable capitalism and his thoughts regarding the gig economy in these turbulent times. Given Cuban’s straightforward speaking style, we’re expecting a candid conversation, and as we’re snagging him in unprecedented times, our chat may help you understand how at least one leading capitalist views the new world.

Hit the jump to add the call details to your calendar via the AddEvent link and access the Zoom information directly. We’ll take audience questions toward the end, so weigh in. If you aren’t an Extra Crunch member yet, join here for just a few bucks to start.

Cuban joins a schedule packed with all-stars, including Charles Hudson, Mitch and Freada Kapor, Hunter Walk, Roelof Botha and Kirsten Green. And if you missed it, check out our Extra Crunch Live episode with Aileen Lee and Ted Wang.


Here’s the information you’ll need:

Meet Hatch Baby’s portable, WiFi-enabled sleep device Rest+

Menlo Park-based Hatch Baby has prided itself on introducing “smart” nursery devices — including Grow, a changing pad with a built-in scale and Rest, a device doubling as a sound machine and night light.

Now, the company is introducing an updated version of Rest with Rest+ as part of an effort to help further establish Hatch Baby in the family sleep space.

The Rest+ device will still have the sound machine, night light and a “time to rise” feature found in the original. But, with feedback from many customers and Amazon reviews, Hatch Baby has now included the addition of an audio monitor and a clock.

The audio monitor is essential for letting parents check in on baby while they sleep without going into the room and potentially waking the baby up.

The clock is also a fantastic addition, in my opinion, especially for those with toddlers who can read numbers. These little people are big enough to get out of their beds but not mature enough to know moms and dads need to sleep at 4 a.m. Often advice passed from parent to parent is to put a clock in the baby room and tell kids not to come out until it shows a certain number.

It also helps establish healthy sleep habits in little ones. Most toddlers (ages one to 3) need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep in a day, spread out between nighttime and naps, according to the National Sleep Foundation. However, as any parent knows, the older a baby gets, the harder it is to get them to want to go to bed.

Rest+ features include:

  • Audio monitor: Parents can now check in on their child in their room without the risk of disrupting their little one’s sleep right from their phone — no extra gadgets necessary.
  • Sound machine: Parents can choose from a range of sound options, from white noise to soft lullabies. They can simply crank up the volume remotely when the dog barks or the neighbors throw a party.
  • Night light: This feature, which stays cool to the touch, provides soft and soothing
    lighting for midnight feeding sessions or bright and reassuring light when the dark feels scary for older kids. Parents and kids can choose from a rainbow of colors to make it their own, but the optional patented toddler-lock setting makes sure that parents are the only ones in control when needed.
  • Time-to-Rise: Green means go! This feature enables parents to teach toddlers and
    preschoolers to stay in bed until it’s time to rise once the light changes color (and enjoy those extra minutes of sleep).
  • Clock: Rest+ features an easy-to-read clock so that parents can stay on track with their busy schedules and can help teach children to read numbers.

Any one of these features could cost parents a good amount of dough when purchased separately. A Phillips Avent audio monitor runs just under $100 on Amazon, for example. However, Rest+ is just $80 (slightly more than the original $60 price tag for the Rest device), for all five features.

Something else that may make the Rest+ attractive to parents — it is WiFi-enabled and portable so you can take it with you when you travel.

Whipping a sound machine, nightlight, audio monitor and clock all into one portable, WiFi-enabled device can also save precious space in the nursery and makes this a must-have item for many parents hoping for just a little bit more sleep.

Hatch Baby co-founder Ann Crady Weiss tells TechCrunch the Rest+ will only be available on the Hatch Baby site and is part of a plan to launch a full line of products aimed at getting parents — and their children — more precious sleep. Though she wouldn’t say what the company was working on next, she did mention we’d hear something about it in the coming months. So stay tuned!

Amazon debuts a retail site for ‘Shark Tank’ products

Inventor Jamie Siminoff was rejected by the sharks on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2013 when trying to make a deal for his video doorbell startup. This year, Amazon bought his company, Ring, for a billion dollars. Now, Amazon is looking for another way to tap into breakout products from the popular TV show – by becoming an official retailer partner for “Shark Tank.” The newly announced deal allows Amazon to showcase past and future “Shark Tank” products on its website, and come with a $15,000 Amazon Web Services (AWS) credit for each eligible “Shark Tank” entrepreneur.

The products will be available in a new Shark Tank Collection on Amazon Launchpad, its platform for hardware and physical goods startups, which first arrived in 2015. The idea is to offer a dedicated place on Amazon where consumers can shop products from up-and-coming companies, like Bluesmart’s luggage, eero’s Home Wi-Fi system, Casper mattresses, and hundreds more.

This new collection is not the first time Amazon has featured “Shark Tank” products on its site, however.

Also in 2015, Amazon launched a new online store called Amazon Exclusives, which featured a variety of new brands, including products from “Shark Tank,” like Tower Paddle Boards, for example.

At the time, the “Shark Tank” merchandise selection was limited, though.

With today’s launch, that’s changing.

Amazon says the new collection features over 70 products that successfully received funding from “Shark Tank” seasons 1 through 9, and new products from season 10 and beyond will be featured here in the future.

The products available today include things like smart changing pad and scale Hatch Baby, coffee enhancer Third Wave Water, and storage bags from Stasher, among others. You can even sort and filter products by those that were funded by two or more sharks, or those with over $250,000 in funding.

“For the first time ever, ‘Shark Tank’ has a store on Amazon.com dedicated to helping our entrepreneurs scale their businesses and highlight top products from the show,” said “Shark Tank” investor, Barbara Corcoran, in a statement. “We are excited for the Amazon Launchpad Shark Tank Collection to bring products from our entrepreneurs to retail for customers and fans of the series.”

For Amazon, the deal isn’t just a way to redirect “Shark Tank”-related shopping searches to its site, following an airing of the TV show. It also gives Amazon a first-hand way of seeing which products are becoming viable consumer hits – something that could open the door for an acquisition or further deal-making at some later point, perhaps.

Of course, that would require the TV sharks to not be quite so short-sighted – after all, they thought Ring was overvalued, and passed. (They’re not interested in companies that require too much capital, apparently.) In hindsight, it still seems like a miss on their parts. And with the start of Season 10, the sharks again passed on a product Amazon could like – Boxlock, a smart lock for securing packages left at your doorstep. After all, not everyone will want to let delivery drivers into their home.

“The Amazon Launchpad program is all about empowering creators and inventors, enabling them to reach hundreds of millions of customers,” said Jim Adkins, Vice President, Amazon. “By teaming up with ‘Shark Tank,’ we are making it fun and easy for fans of the show to discover a wide variety of unique innovations and cutting-edge products,” he said.