TechCrunch+ roundup: Ocean tech investor survey, AI and PR, L-1 visa options


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Last week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which protects consumers from deceptive business practices, issued an advisory titled “Keep your AI claims in check.”

When it comes to marketing, “false or unsubstantiated claims about a product’s efficacy are our bread and butter,” wrote Michael Atleson, an attorney with the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices.

Artificial intelligence is a on everyone’s lips at the moment, “and at the FTC, one thing we know about hot marketing terms is that some advertisers won’t be able to stop themselves from overusing and abusing them.”

Given the renewed interest, “for companies where AI was previously No. 4 on the list of proof points, machine learning capabilities should merge into the main hook of the announcement,” advises PR strategist Camilla Tenn.

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“If AI-related coverage can get a new, unknown brand into its target publications today, it could help get the brand’s pitch deck in front of potential investors or partners tomorrow,” she writes in TC+.

Tenn recommends imitating major players like Google and Samsung, which have dedicated teams that release a steady stream of material about “ongoing projects” tied to prevailing tech trends.

“Even if those projects don’t see the light of day, the PR team has strategically positioned the brand as ‘innovative,’” says Tenn. “With this precedent, startups should not feel abashed to use any means necessary to get their name out there.”

Good advice for marketing mercenaries, but keep those pitches straight — reporters know when we’re being sold to, and the FTC isn’t messing around.

Thanks for reading — and for making this TechCrunch’s fastest-growing newsletter last month!

Have a great weekend,

Walter Thompson
Editorial Manager, TechCrunch+

How to turn an open source project into a profitable business

Machine counting twenty dollars bills

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

Many devs rely on donations and crowdfunding to monetize open source projects, but with the proper planning, teams can leverage their work for commercial clients who’ll put them in a higher tax bracket.

Offering users customer support or consulting services are common revenue streams, according to product development consultant Victoria Melnikova, who also says devs should form partnerships and use platforms like Reddit and Hacker News to reach potential paying customers.

“To find your path, talk to your clients and understand their goals and pains.”

To fix the climate, these 10 investors are betting the house on the ocean

Ships assembling a floating offshore wind turbine

Image Credits: Liang Wendong/VCG / Getty Images

Tapping the ocean for energy led to disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which released nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Today, wind power and wave action are just two technologies leading investors to take a closer look at ocean conservation technology, reports Tim De Chant.

To learn more about the opportunities they’re chasing and discover how climate change is shaping their investment thesis, he surveyed:

  • Daniela V. Fernandez, founder and CEO of Sustainable Ocean Alliance, managing partner at Seabird Ventures
  • Tim Agnew, general partner, Bold Ocean Ventures
  • Peter Bryant, program director (oceans), Builders Initiative
  • Kate Danaher, managing director (oceans and seafood), S2G Ventures
  • Francis O’Sullivan, managing director (oceans and seafood), S2G Ventures
  • Stephan Feilhauer, managing director (clean energy), S2G Ventures
  • Sanjeev Krishnan, senior managing director and chief investment officer, S2G Ventures
  • Rita Sousa, partner, Faber Ventures
  • Christian Lim, managing director, SWEN Blue Ocean Partners
  • Reece Pacheco, partner, Propeller

Pitch Deck Teardown: Gable’s $12M Series A deck

Remote workspace platform Gable raised a $12 million Series A to scale up its operations, which currently serves more than 5,000 workers in 26 countries.

“Making the business of shared workspaces easier for startups certainly has its challenges, but it’s also a large and growing market,” writes Haje Jan Kamps. “Gable weaves its story together with ease.”

Here’s their 21-slide Series A deck:

  • Cover slide
  • Team slide
  • Market context slide (“The revolution of remote work”)
  • Problem slide No. 1 (“Going remote-first is hard”)
  • How people solve it now (“How it’s done today”)
  • Problem slide No. 2 (“Main Issues”)
  • Solution slide
  • Traction slide (“Where we are”)
  • Product slide No.1 (“Employee view”)
  • Product slide No. 2 (“Management and insights”)
  • Product slide No. 3 (“Host view”)
  • Traction slide (“Partnership with over 800 spaces”)
  • Value proposition slide (“Why they choose Gable”)
  • Case study slide No. 1
  • Case study slide No. 2
  • Business model slide
  • Market-size slide (“TAM”)
  • Go-to-market slide (“Scalable process”)
  • Marketing slide (“Massive channel opportunity)
  • Product road map slide
  • Thank you slide

Dear Sophie: What are my options for changing my status from an L-1 visa?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I started working for my current employer on STEM-OPT, but I’ve lost out in the H-1B lottery four times. Thankfully, my employer transferred me to an international office, and I am now coming back to the U.S. on an L-1 visa.

I’ve heard many complaints from my classmates about not being able to switch employers on an L-1 visa. I don’t see myself staying at my employer for six more years, which is the estimated time until I can get a green card based on my employer’s internal policy.

What are my options for changing my immigration status so I can work at a startup in the U.S. within a year or two?

— Tenacious Transferee

Key legal issues for influencers and brands (and how to deal with them)

Smartphone and judges gavel on black background

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

No one needs a mega-influencer like Serena Williams or a Kardashian to build buzz for their startup — an evangelist with just a few thousand followers can push qualified customers into your product funnel.

But before hiring a TikTok or YouTube personality, brand marketers should brush up on the laws that govern how influencers operate, and the risks associated with failing to comply.

“Novel legal issues and risks have emerged for both influencers and brands,” says Nicholas Sandy, a litigator at Pryor Cashman.

“Key, recurring issues relate to copyright licensing and infringement, disclosures and statements in endorsements, compliance with securities laws, and defamation.”

Apply now to speak at TechCrunch Disrupt in September

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Submit a title and a description for the topic you’d like to talk about before April 21.

Selected applicants will have a chance to lead a roundtable discussion or participate in a breakout session followed by an audience Q&A.

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