Hello friends, and welcome to the latest edition of Week in Review (WiR), the weekly newsletter where we summarize the past few days (or so) in tech news. We’d argue there’s no better way to get your news fix, but we’d be biased. Still! Trust us when we say it’s a labor of love.
Before we get to this week’s events, don’t forget that Disrupt, businessroundups.org’s annual flagship conference, is on the horizon. This year’s Disrupt is hosting six – that’s right, six – standalone TC Sessions events for the industry, with stages featuring industry-specific programming tracks. Well worth the trip to San Francisco.
Before that is our next businessroundups.org Live session with SignalFire and ClassDojo. They discuss ClassDojo’s mission to revolutionize education by building classroom community.
Now, without further ado!
Fake Drake: A song featuring the voices of Drake and The Weeknd called “Heart on My Sleeve” has garnered over 250,000 Spotify streams and 10 million views on TikTok. But the two musicians had nothing to do with the song – an artist named “Ghostwriter” generated the song using AI. Amanda has the story.
Apple gets in savings: Starting this week, Apple Card customers in the US can open a savings account with Apple and earn up to 4.15% interest. Apple partners with Goldman Sachs for the banking function; the savings accounts are technically managed by Goldman Sachs, which means they are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Roman reports.
Apple considering opening: Apple has kept its iPhone app distribution system relatively closed until now, only allowing users to download apps from the App Store. But the company could soon add some gates to its walled garden. Ivan reports that Apple is considering letting people sideload apps on iPhones and that we may see an announcement related to that at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference in June.
A huge Apple Watch update: The Apple Watch’s software is getting its biggest update since its release. Saraciting a Bloomberg reportwrites that the updated watchOS 10 will “bring bigger improvements” than the planned releases for iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV, including an “updated interface” that will tell you “most of what you need to know about the Apple Watch in 2023 .”
Love is blind, but sometimes canceled: Netflix had serious problems with the live stream of the reunion episode “Love Is Blind”, Amanda writes. After a 75-minute delay, the streaming service pulled the plug on the live show due to seemingly unsolvable technical issues.
Microsoft drops Twitter: Microsoft announced this week that it is removing Twitter from its advertising platform, nearly two months after Twitter announced it will charge users of its API a minimum of $42,000 per month. With a market cap of $2.15 trillion and about $100 billion in cash at the end of last year, Microsoft clearly has the cash to pay Twitter what it wants, so the move seems to be a bit of a statement – even if Microsoft refuses to explain the decision in more detail.
Meta lays off more employees: Meta announced another round of mass layoffs this week, Rebekah reports. They are part of the 10,000 layoffs CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in March, many of them related to “low priority projects.” The massive job cuts are part of a broader restructuring at Meta that Zuckerberg has dubbed the “year of efficiency,” which began with 11,000 layoffs announced in November.
No more check-in kiosks: Alaska airlines recently launched a three-year, $2.5 billion project to improve the airport experience at its hubs and focus cities such as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. As part of the project, the airline is looking to modernize the lobbying experience – and as the company announced today, the most visible change here is the removal of the good old check-in kiosk, Frederick writes.
Snapchat’s AI is for everyone: Snapchat’s AI chatbot will be opened to a global audience, the company announced this week at the Snap Partner Summit. Originally launched in February, the feature originally allowed Snapchat’s paid subscribers to chat directly in the app with an AI chatbot powered by OpenAI’s GPT technology. Now it is available for free and upgraded with features like the ability to add the chatbot to group chats, get recommendations for places on Snap Map and Lenses, and share Snaps with the chatbot to receive chat replies. Sara has more.
Tesla cuts prices: Tesla has lowered the price of its Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles for the second time this month. Tesla’s most popular models now start under $40,000 before incentives.
Looking for podcast material to pass the time? businessroundups.org has you covered, as always. This week, the Equity crew recorded at Early Stage, businessroundups.org’s founder event, covering topics ranging from rockets to revenue and how a particular company cuts costs. In order to Found itTrevor Martin, the co-founder of Mammoth Biosciences, came to discuss how the company uses CRISPR systems to detect and cure genetic diseases. Chain reaction interviewed Jesse Pollak, the leader of Base and head of protocols at Coinbase. And on the last TechCrunchLive episode, Mark Batsiyan, a co-founder and partner at Inspired Capital, and Brynne McNulty Rojas, who is the co-founder and CEO of Habi – the hot real estate startup from Colombia that achieved unicorn status last year – talked about their respective experiences in the technique.
TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys – which you’ll know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:
Photonics and AI: The growing computing power required to train advanced AI models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT may eventually hit a wall with mainstream chip technologies. Are light-based chips, also known as photonics chips, the answer? Maybe, but it’s not clear yet.
There is always money in the coffee stall: Blank Street claims to have cracked the code to ensure a chain of more than 65 brick-and-mortar coffee shops has the right metrics to attract venture capitalists. They recently closed a $20 million Series B round in a year where fundraising has taken a nosedive — even for companies with low overheads. Rebekah has the story.
Should you launch an AI startup?: It seems like now is the best time for founders thinking about launching an AI startup, especially with OpenAI releasing ChatGPT to the masses. But it could be the opposite depending on which investors you ask. Ron trying to get to the bottom of it.