Hey folks, this is Kyle filling in for Greg, who will be on parental leave for the next few weeks. While she’s enjoying time with her beautiful, healthy newborn (what better holiday gift, huh?), I’m digging into the Threads of the Week in Review to make sure you’re up to date on the latest tech. I hope I do Greg justice – they are big shoes to fill!
Longtime readers know the drill, but for the newbies, WiR aims to briefly recap the last seven days of TechCrunch stories. We publish on the site and send WiR to subscribers’ mailboxes every Saturday (sign up here if you haven’t already). Like a buttery croissant, WiR goes great with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, if that’s your preference. Or hot cocoa. Take your pick – no judgment here.
Before we get to the news, a reminder that the TC Early Stage event in Boston is fast approaching. Tickets won’t last – they won’t last – if you’ll be in the Greater Boston area at the end of April, get them before they’re gone. We would like to see your smiling face.
There are many TikTok bans: The US may be getting all the attention for banning TikTok on government devices, but India did it first — two and a half years ago, in fact. In recent remarks, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the US should more broadly follow India’s lead to “… remove nefarious apps”. Apart from TikTok, India has banned hundreds of apps, including PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India and UC Browser, which have ties to China, amid the border skirmishes between the two neighboring countries.
I feel like Afela: ‘Tis the season for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which continues to be increasingly car-centric. As an example, Sony and Honda unveiled their joint EV brand Afeela at a glitzy press conference on Wednesday, where they rolled the four-door sedan onto the stage. The companies said pre-orders for Afeelas are planned for the first half of 2025, and sales will begin that year. Initial shipments will be delivered to customers in North America in the spring of 2026.
No risk appetite: My colleague Natasha He recently wrote an excellent piece on how laid-off tech workers are reassessing their relationship with the industry — especially in light of the potentially turbulent economic times ahead. Some work multiple full-time jobs in adjacent industries, while others opt for part-time contract gigs to make ends meet. Few people are eager to ditch technology entirely – but they’re certainly more cynical than ever.
For the birds: Bird Buddy, the company behind the “smart” bird feeders, unveiled its latest hummingbird-serving model at CES. Like the original bird feeder, Bird Buddy’s new feeder, made of recyclable and sustainable materials, has a motion-activated camera that prompts it to take photos of bird visitors. It is then guided through an artificial intelligence algorithm to help identify these species, and owners are alerted via a companion mobile app.
I didn’t do it, I swear: Sam Bankman-Fried’s plea of not guilty to several federal fraud charges was a tactical response, experts say. Jacqueline spoke with The former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, whose company collapsed in November, may buy time to plead with prosecutors, they said. The trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is scheduled for October 2.
Discontinuation of the sales force: Salesforce announced this week that it is cutting about 10% of its workforce, affecting more than 7,000 employees, while also closing offices in “select markets.” Like other companies that have experienced significant layoffs over the past year, CEO Marc Benioff said that Salesforce has hired a lot of people during the pandemic during the boom. The company claimed to have 79,000 employees last February, a 30% increase from 2020.
Billions for Bezos: Amazon secured $8 billion in loans, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch that the loan adds to the financing options the company has used in recent months to weather the “uncertain macroeconomic environment.” It also comes at the end of a disappointing year for the retailer, which has been overstretched during the pandemic; In its latest cost-cutting measure, Amazon announced plans to lay off about 18,000 people internally.
i see you: Speaking of Amazon, at CES, Amazon’s Ring was shown outdoors, in apartment building hallways, and more. brought back the Peephole Cam, a camera that fits into existing door openings to record events. Now starting at $129 — down from the $199 original price — it comes with software that brings features like motion detection and real-time video streaming in line with the rest of Ring’s portfolio.
Are you hungry for podcasts to kick off the new year? Well, because TC serves them like hotcakes. On The TechCrunch Podcast, I talked with Darrell about CES-related AI product announcements, and Natasha talked about the effects of massive layoffs in tech. Meanwhile, the crew from Equity, TC’s startup-focused show, took a look at some early highlights from CES, USV and Doorstead’s deals of the week, as well as the latest development in the FTX and SBF saga. And finally, Found sat down with Brex co-founder and co-chairman Henrique Dubugras to chat about the corporate credit card and expense management startup.
Still not subscribed to TC+? It’s a shame because there’s some great content out there. Some of this week’s most popular:
Fintech predictions and opportunities for 2023: It’s been an eventful year in Fintech. The market has retreated well from its 2021 highs, and while 2022 will be about rebuilding the funding environment, Victoria predicts 2023 will be a recalibration year for fintech companies. Read his comprehensive piece for more.
5 points of failure between $5 million and $100 million in ARR: Tracy Young, former CEO of PlanGrid, a construction software for project managers, breaks down PlanGrid’s key points of failure and what we’ve learned from them over the years. As he says in his opening paragraphs: “If these thoughts help even one founder make a little mistake, I’d consider the effort worthwhile.”
Is Generative AI already a bubble?: Rebecca surveyed over 35 investors across geographies, investment stages and sectors about how they feel about generative AI – namely ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion and other technologies along these lines. Interestingly, while several investors said they were generally bullish on the new technology, they also acknowledged that the sector will get lost in its own hype.