Daily Crunch: Fairly stagnant since April launch, Coinbase NFT sales volume is under $700K

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PT, subscribe here.

Friday, May 6, is here. The only thing important about that is the “Friday” part – and we are eager and curious to see what this weekend has in store for us, because this week had many of our colleagues using expletives in their reporting, case in point this report by Natasha and Amanda describing all of the tech layoffs we’ve seen this week.

Meanwhile, in the TechCrunch Slack today, Amanda, after some pushback with minimum context, asked: “Ron, are you implying that Britney Spears didn’t single-handedly create more American jobs?” We will have more national job market analyses coming soon. – Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Coinbase NFT is kind of a NOT: The Coinbase NFT marketplace opened to the public this week, and unlike the line to get into an Apple store on the first day a new iPhone comes out, not as many users are flocking to the service as the company may have expected. Maybe we’re seeing some NFT fatigue. You can judge for yourself as Jacquelyn reports some expert takes on what might be the issue — and whether there’s anything that can solve it.
  • We’ve got a ticket to ride, but we may have missed the bike: It looks like Peloton is turning its red knob to the left in order to get the company back on track, Brian reports. In a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the at-home bicycle company that came in handy when we couldn’t go to the gym in 2020 began having some struggles, but is trying to course-correct by possibly selling a 20% stake.
  • Missing a piece of the puzzle: When you read something that says, “Simone Giertz, YouTube’s one-time Queen of Shitty Robots, didn’t renounce her crown so much as outgrow it,” you continue. What follows is a delightful discussion that Brian had with Giertz on how her Yetch (you have to read it to know what this is) product collection came to be. The title gives away what one of those products is.

Startups and VC

In what has to be one of our favorite articles on TechCrunch in recent memories, Brian joins Tony Fadell – the man behind the iPod, iPhone and Nest Thermostat – in his garage to see what prototypes and curiosities the longtime product maestro has kicking around. It’s a deeply fascinating tour of the products that could have been and a must-read for any gadget aficionados out there.

We also loved this piece from Carly discussing whether you should delete your period-tracking apps if Roe v. Wade turns out to be a thing of the past, pointing out that many of the app developers are already sharing details with third parties. “It’s unlikely the sensitive data you share with your period-tracking app is going to end up in the hands of those seeking to outlaw abortion,” she writes. “That’s not to say these tools don’t have extensive privacy problems.”

A smattering of tenuous musical puns and great stories:

  • Runaway chain, never coming back: The NFT ecosystem continues to chug along, but the vast majority of the volume is still moving through the centralized halls of NFT marketplace OpenSea, leaving crypto VCs eager to find new channels. Haun Ventures leads a $50 million bet on Zora Labs.
  • Old MacDonald had a farm, and it’s about time it was kinder to the planet: Tomorrow Farms is fueling a sustainable food train with ingredients to turn the pantry and refrigerator staples we know now into foods that are better for us and kinder to animals and the planet.
  • That’s when I fell for … the leader of the tax: MainStreet, a startup that helps other startups uncover tax credits that was valued at $500 million last year, has laid off about 30% of its staff.
  • Want you back — want you back for good: Metals and fossil fuels behemoth Glencore is pumping $200 million into battery recycler Li-Cycle as part of a larger, symbiotic supply deal inked by the two firms.
  • Don’t call it a comeback; it’s already dawn: Meanwhile, on our subscription site TC+, Alex and Anna conclude that the venture slowdown isn’t comingit’s already here.

6 places where investors look for problems when you’re fundraising

Lowsection View Of A Janitor Cleaning Dirt Under The Carpet With Mop

Image Credits: Andrey Popov (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

According to Bill Petty, a partner with Tercera, these are the six questions investors are most likely to ask while conducting due diligence:

  1. How is your historical business performance?
  2. How are you thinking about and planning for growth?
  3. What is the ownership breakdown?
  4. Who are your key clients and what is the nature of the work you are completing for them?
  5. How are you managing the business? What is your attrition, utilization, bill rates, etc.?
  6. Are there any outstanding risks?

If you can’t answer these off the top of your head, you’re probably not ready to fundraise. Investors have higher expectations than the friends and family who may have helped you get this far.

“It’s the difference between inviting a friend over for dinner and preparing for an open house,” says Petty.

“With a friend, you might tidy up and shove a few things in the closet. If you have buyers coming to look around, they’re going to open that closet.”

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

Big Tech Inc.

Since it’s about to be the weekend, let’s kick it off with some drive time: China electric vehicle company Nio is pulling into a Singapore stock market parking space. The company was said to be seeking a secondary listing of its Class A ordinary shares to match one in Hong Kong as the company awaits news on whether its shares will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. Meanwhile, Lucid, the maker of the luxury Air sedan, said demand is so good that it will be raising prices on its line of vehicles.

Regulators, mount up: The U.K. is cracking down on what it perceives as Big Tech’s unfair advantage, and Natasha has read all the long documents about some new regulations so you don’t have to. The tl;dr — the government is laying down some rules for Big Tech companies that it says will be necessary to boost competition and let consumers more easily and safely do things like swap between Android and iOS, switch social media accounts without losing data (ouch!) and have more control over who has access to their data.


  • Can’t stop (won’t stop) did stop the beat: Spotify Stations, the streaming service’s lightweight listening app offering easy access to curated playlists, is shutting down on May 16.
  • Causing a commotion: And in case you missed it yesterday, to help fend off the TikTok threat, Meta announced this week it will now dole out additional bonuses to Reels creators who publish original content on Facebook.

Simone Giertz goes from projects to products

“I’m happy to not be royalty,” Simone Giertz laughs. “I’m happy to be a women who does things.”

YouTube’s one-time Queen of Shitty Robots didn’t renounce her crown so much as outgrow it. A few years back, the time came to put away the breakfast machine, the lipstick robot and the Styrofoam mannequin head that slams into a keyboard and kind of rolls back and forth in a rough approximation of internet commenting.

“It just started feeling disingenuous,” she explains. “If I’m not proud of it, what should I do? It’s been really interesting to find ways to shift it as I shift.”

Outside of online videos, that meant moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles at the tail of a self-described “musical chairs for cities.” For the time being, at least, this one feels more permanent. Giertz purchased a house, where’s she’s been able to lifehack her way out of the traditional LA commute by setting up a workshop in her backyard.

The house itself inevitably became her canvas. “I feel like I’m skipping through a field of build possibilities,” she says. “I want to build a roof deck and I want there to be a slide down to the courtyard outside of my workshop.”

Filling the house full of projects has been its own reward — and fodder for the latest phase of Giertz’s YouTube journey. There’s the wooden leaf-covered storage bed, the plant chandelier and a chair that allows her three-legged rescue dog Scraps to sit next to her as she works on her computer (as is the case on our current Zoom call). In September, she debuted the mechanical table with a manual hand crank that reveals a surface for doing jigsaw puzzles.

That last one played a lead role in this week’s “Is this the world’s worst jigsaw puzzle.” The video opens with a 19-hour, 23-minute time lapse of Giertz assembling an all-white, 499 piece jigsaw puzzle. There is a notable absence — a small bit of negative space where piece 500 should go. But as the title implies, it’s all by design. “It’s not the worst way I’ve spent my time,” she says in the video. “Once I locked myself in the bathroom for 48 hours, and I would much rather do this.”

Image Credits: Simone Giertz

Giertz clearly has some work to do in the pitching department (“Five Stars, Better Than Being Locked in a Bathroom”) for what turns out to be one of her first products. The video also serves as a backdoor launch for Yetch (her last name spelled phonetically in English), a new online store where you can currently pre-order “Incomplete White Puzzle” for $35 for those rainy weekends when chilling next to the toilet just isn’t cutting it.

Yetch, she’s quick to explain, is more than your standard YouTube influencer merch store. It’s a step toward realizing the shape her work will take in a world beyond shitty robots. It’s a subject Giertz touched on when I spoke to her onstage at the last Disrupt before the world ended. She sat the Everyday Calendar on the table between us. Currently available on the site for an extremely on-the-nose $365, the product first appeared in a 2018 video, in which Giertz details the role it played in helping her develop a daily meditation habit. With light-up days set on a gold-colored printed circuit board, the calendar got its own Kickstarter campaign, raising nearly $600,000 on a $35,000 goal.

Simone Giertz demoDSC04163

Giertz (left), My ankle (right). Image Credits: TechCrunch

It was a perfect template for a career pivot — one that married current success with future ambitions: make a YouTube video about creating a product, sell the product, repeat. Though Giertz says such ambition dates back well before she began work on her first shitty robot.

“Even before I started my YouTube channel, I remember seeing some videos about IDEO and how they worked in developing products and solving consumer problems,” she says. “I remember running and showing my mom and being like, ‘I finally know what I want to do!’ I showed her the video and she was, like, ‘well, that’s always what you wanted to do. You’ve always wanted to solve problems and make things.’ I just never but the two together.”

The pandemic — and personal health struggles that predated it — helped motivate the decision to graduate projects into products.

Image Credits: Simone Giertz

“Finding out that I had a brain tumor, there was this sense of having to take a backseat to my own life,” Giertz says. “These were circumstances that were completely out of my control, and I was just going to have to roll with the punches and try to make the best out of the situation. I was so excited about 2020, I was finally healthy, and it was going to be my year. And then the pandemic happened. It really felt similar. We’re just going to try to make the best out of the situation and try to work within these limitations. It was an opportunity to slow down my schedule and have a lot of time building things. And I think that has directly led to that product business, because otherwise I was just rushing through projects and trying to do them as quickly as possible for camera.”

Yetch’s selection is small — in addition to the two products above, she’s selling a pair of complementary rings: a screw and a screwdriver. Those projects that graduate to the product phase are assessed by her small, upstart team to begin the difficult process of bringing a product to market. That includes manufacturing, navigating supply chains and — in the case of the first product — recognizing that it’s harder to create a puzzle with a missing piece than it is to design a complete puzzle and manually remove one.

The missing pieces will then be mailed to Giertz.

Image Credits: Simone Giertz

Above all, the products represent the thesis at the center of much of her work: the interplay of the useful and useless. “The tagline for Yetch is unique solutions for everyday problems,” she explains in the puzzle video. “So, obviously, the first product I’m going to show you doesn’t live up to that, at all.”

For her part, Giertz sees no conflict. “I don’t think it needs to be a battle. For me, they seamlessly coexist, because the useless leads to the useful. And the useless helps bring a playfulness and an openness that lets me think in ways I wouldn’t otherwise. If I were to sit down, thinking, ‘I should come up with something great,’ I’m never going to do that. I’m going to choke. So the useless is an end goal, and they’re entertaining on their own.”

Roboticist and YouTube star Simone Giertz is coming to Disrupt SF (Oct. 2-4)

Here’s a fun thing to look forward to next month. Simone Giertz, she of the shitty robots fame will be appearing on stage at Disrupt SF (Oct. 2-4)  at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

The U.S.-based, Swedish inventor has built a massive online following (currently at 1.92 million YouTube subscribers) with DIY videos that examine technology and art through a whimsical lens.

Giertz is probably best known for her “shitty” robotic creations, including arms that serve soup and breakfast, draw holiday cards and apply lipstick — to hilariously uneven results. More recently, she had a verified viral hit when she busted out some power tools to turn her Tesla into a pickup truck.

She’ll be joining us on stage to walk us through some of her most interesting creations, including the Every Day calendar. The project, which made nearly $600,000 on Kickstarter late last year, is designed to help motivate users into developing good habits like meditating, flossing or writing. Or, you know, eating churros. 

Disrupt SF runs October 2 to October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Giertz joins an outstanding lineup of speakers including Kitty Hawk’s Sebastian Thrun, Admiral Mike Rodgers, Rachel Haurwitz of Caribou Biosciences, and Marc Benioff, Box’s Aaron Levie and dozens more.

Buy tickets here!

Simone Giertz’s converted Tesla Model 3 pickup truck is wonderful

YouTuber Simone Giertz, celebrated DIY inventor, roboticist and general maker of cool stuff decided not to wait for Tesla’s forthcoming pickup truck. Instead, she bought a Tesla Model 3 direct from the company new and then used elbow grease, ingenuity, some help from friends and power tools to turn it into a two-seater with a flatbed.

The amazing thing is, unlike some of the robots Giertz is famous for making, the final product looks terrific – both in terms of the detail work, and in terms of its functionality. Giertz also installed a cage over the truck bed, and a tailgate that can double as a work bench. Plus, as you can see from this fake commercial for the so-called “Truckla,” the thing still rips both on and off-road.

Along with her crew, Giertz rented a dedicated workshop to do the build, which took around two weeks and a lot of sawing at the metal chassis. The team had to rebuild crucial components like the roll cage to ensure that the finished product was still safe.

There’s still work to be done in terms of waterproofing, lifting up the vehicle, giving it a paint makeover and more, per Giertz, but the finished product looks amazing, and potentially better than whatever sci-fi nightmare Elon Musk is putting together for the actual Tesla pickup.