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If this newsletter comes across as a deranged delirium of barely coherent words, then blame TechCrunch Disrupt. This week, the TechCrunch team descended on San Francisco’s Moscone Center to celebrate one of the biggest to-dos in the startup world: TechCrunch Disrupt. The center of gravity of Disrupt to many is Startup Battlefield. On Thursday, we announced the winner: BioticsAI, which built an AI-based platform that plugs into an ultrasound machine to prevent fetal malformation misdiagnosis. BioticsAI has been quietly working on its solution for the past two years and today unveiled its product onstage, impressing the judges sufficiently to win them the top slot, with much fanfare and an oversized $100,000 check to see them on their way in their startup journey.
The runner-up was thermal battery company Electrified Thermal Solutions, which stores energy as heat rather than as electricity — helpful for heavy industry applications such as metal production, glass and cement manufacturing, and cement-making.
Congratulations to the winners!
I’ve been hosting panels (and throwing side-eye at some of the Battlefield companies’ slides) all week, but apparently other things happened this week, too.
Top news from TechCrunch Disrupt
Disrupt is a great place to do a spot of networking and all that, but we break a hell of a lot of news as well. Here are some of the best-read stories from Disrupt:
Spit here, sir: I covered Portable Diagnostics Systems, which is planning to bring reports of that drug test to a cop car near you.
Viruses to help your skincare regimen: Parallel Health taps into the power of phages to make your skin healthier.
Yeah, but what if we used paper instead: Flint is a Singapore startup that says it has come up with a way to replace the lithium in a battery with . . . paper.
Startups going places
Our transportation team has been firing on all cylinders — or whatever the EV equivalent of that is — this week, with a bunch of super-popular stories. The DOJ is taking a look at Elon Musk. In the past, Tesla says it doesn’t provide “perks” to its executives, but allegations have come to light that pulls that into question. Musk is in the news a lot at the moment; I’m glad I’m not part of his comms team. He says he limited Ukraine’s Starlink to prevent an attack on Russia, and that X will charge users “a small monthly payment” to use its service, and that Starship is “ready to launch,” while the FAA doesn’t quite agree. Dramaaaaaa.
In the rest of the transportation space, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe is planning to make the company’s EVs more affordable, starting with their computers.
The scooter last-mile-mobility business is rough. Scooter operator Bird acquires Spin scooters from Tier for a bargain-basement $19 million. Which makes sense — last year, Spin bailed out of a bunch of markets after it failed to get reasonable traction, and it went through several rounds of layoffs to try to keep the company afloat.
Also this week, I published a story on TC+ about how motorcycle legend Erik Buell sees the future of electric motorbikes. TL;DR: Less vroom, more zoom, and ADAS systems will make it safer to be a motorcyclist even on U.S. roads, where drivers truly have no clue that motorbikes exist 99% of the time. Speaking from experience, there. x
Snazzy suitcase scooter: Honda has had various super-compact scooters on the market over the years, and its Motocompacto e-scooter caught Darrell’s imagination with its irresistibly, heartbreakingly dorky and adorable looks.
Quiero alquilar ese auto: Being able to subscribe to a car is tempting for a lot of folks. Ingrid reports that Spanish car subscription company Revel just raised $125 million to take its business up a gear.
A charged fundraising environment: Apropos Europe, Harri reports that French battery maker Verkor raises $2.1 billion to build a gigafactory.
Top reads on TechCrunch this week
Want some merch?: Lorenzo reported that one of the FBI’s most wanted hackers is trolling the U.S. government — to much lolz and confusion.
Goes great with penguin: Ron reports that Terraform fork gets renamed OpenTofu and joins the Linux Foundation.
Moar startup banks: Banking, especially for startups, took a hit when SVB took a nosedive, but Mary Ann reports that, armed with First Republic alums, Citizens Bank unveils a new startup-focused private bank.
Countin’ carbon: Paul reports that European carbon accounting startup Plan A raises $27 million from a mix of VC and corporate heavyweights.