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Well, the weather outside is…entirely dependent on where you are, we suppose. For the purposes of this newsletter, let’s imagine sunshine, some pristine beaches, a lovely gentle cooling breeze, and some piña coladas, because if we’re going to make up some fictional weather, we may as well make it lovely, right? — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Surprised, but also not surprised: FTX co-founder Gary Wang and Alameda’s Caroline Ellison plead guilty to criminal charges, Darrell writes.
- $eeing i$ believing: Twitter is now sourcing stock and cryptocurrency prices from TradingView and automatically displaying them in search results. Ivan shows you how to get them to appear in your next tweet.
- Another Okta breach: Okta confirmed that it’s responding to another major security incident after a hacker accessed its source code following a breach of its GitHub repositories, Carly reports.
Startups and VC
Text-to-image AI exploded this year as technical advances greatly enhanced the fidelity of art that AI systems could create. As controversial as systems like Stable Diffusion and OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 are, platforms such as DeviantArt and Canva have adopted them to power creative tools, personalize branding and even ideate new products, writes Kyle as he takes you on a tour through a brief history of diffusion, the tech at the heart of modern image-generating AI.
Speaking of AI, Amanda reports that Unstable Diffusion, a group trying to monetize AI porn generation, raised more than $56,000 on Kickstarter from 867 backers. Then, as Kickstarter changed its thinking about what kind of AI-based projects it will allow, the crowdfunding platform shut down Unstable Diffusion’s campaign.
And in only partially AI news:
- Putting Austin under the loupe: Mary Ann reports how a fatal police shooting of a startup founder puts Austin’s diversity problem in the spotlight.
- Scooping up a slice of Exyn: Reliance buys a 23% stake in U.S.-based AI firm Exyn, Manish reports.
- Curbing your enthusiasm: Rebecca writes that Automotus raises $9 million to scale automated curb management tech.
- Pumping the brakes: The other day we reported that self-driving truck company TuSimple was contemplating layoffs. Today, Rebecca is back with the sad news that it’s happening: TuSimple is laying off 25% of its workforce.
Avoid 3 common sales mistakes startups make during a downturn
Analysts estimate that IT spending will increase in 2023, but tell that to SaaS sales teams who are trying to close contracts with customers who’ve been instructed to slash spending.
“What every company needs now is efficient sales,” says Anand Shah, CEO and co-founder of Databook.
In a TC+ guest post, he explains why reactive moves like increasing sales quotas or raising prices are wrongheaded moves that won’t move the needle.
“Make real changes to meet your buyers’ needs. Use the macroeconomic backdrop to make the necessary sales productivity improvements.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Really milking it: The future of milk is … milk? by Christine.
- The weather outside is frightful: Holiday shipping is easier this year, but the tech is still lagging, by Ryan Petersen.
- Still blasting off: Investor interest in SpaceX appears immune to Musk’s meddling, by Becca.
TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Big Tech Inc.
Having that ad blocker box pop up when you try to open a new website is annoying, but Zack says we should find the good in it — heck, even the FBI says you should use an ad blocker, he writes. Why? Apparently, “cybercriminals are buying ads to impersonate legitimate brands, like cryptocurrency exchanges” and they are so good that it’s hard to tell it’s not the real thing. Stay safe, everyone!
What do we want? News! When do we want it? Now!:
- Now, isn’t that sporting: Aisha has a pair of streaming stories in case you need any last-minute gift ideas for the sports lovers in your life. The first is that YouTube secured NFL Sunday Ticket and the second is that Netflix is branching out into fitness content.
- More from that bird company: Amanda catches us up on the latest with Twitter. Unfortunately, there were more layoffs, this time in public policy and engineering. And now the company brings us a new feature we didn’t know we wanted. That probably rarely checked views analytics is now front and center so you can see how many people view your tweets.
- Inside the action studio: Warning, this story has spoilers. Lauren reports on VFX studio Perception and its technology that made the visual effects for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
- It’s all about the ride: Vianova uses APIs to gather data from shared mobility companies and cities to help make these services better. Romain has more.
- Adventure is out there!: Aria details seven predictions for the space industry in 2023.