Startups Weekly: Diamond-encrusted disruption

Last weekflurry of IPO filingsBefore thatnoted the differencesRemember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter . If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that . What’s new PietraMichael Ovitz and supermodel Joan Smalls.  “Fashion is typically really under-resourced in terms of tech,” Bryan tells TechCrunch. “[The fashion industry] is great at the creativity part but it’s tough, especially with jewelry because you really have to put up a lot of capital.” /marketplace fee from sellers. The jewelry market is expected to be worth more than $250 billion by 2020, according to McKinsey research. And where there’s a billion-dollar market, there are VCs.  writesPietra completed its official launch this week. It …

Benchlings software for managing biotech research nabs $34.5 million

In a field where the laboratory notebook is still considered the state of the art, it’s no wonder a company like Benchling, which provides software for managing life sciences research, was able to nab $34.5 million. Considering how much detailed technical work goes into the research that produces all of our great leaps forward in biotechnology, it’s a wonder that the practice wasn’t digitized sooner. Financiers certainly see the benefit in Benchling’s technology — a new twist on what’s now a standard verticalized software as a service for a niche industry. Y Combinator Continuity, Thrive Capital and Benchmark Lead Edge Capital joined lead investor Menlo Ventures in financing the company. The company said it would use the money to grow …

Sam Altmans leap of faith

Earlier this year, founder-investor Sam Altman left his high-profile role as the president of Y Combinator to become the CEO of OpenAI, an AI research outfit that was founded by some of the most prominent people in the tech industry in late 2015. The idea: to ensure that artificial intelligence is “developed in a way that is safe and is beneficial to humanity,” as one of those founders, Elon Musk, said back then to the New York Times. The move is intriguing for many reasons, including that artificial general intelligence — or the ability for machines to be as smart as humans — does not yet exist, with even AI’s top researchers far from clear about when it might. Under …