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Hello, I hope it is a great Thursday for you so far. For me, it’s the little things that get me excited and today it is Delta Air Lines’ announcement that SkyMiles frequent flyers, including yours truly, will get Wi-Fi for free starting February 1. May you also find something that excites you today. Let’s get into the news. — Christine
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Yet more layoffs: Yesterday it was Salesforce; today it is Amazon. Though these layoffs were foreshadowed in recent months, the amount of people being let go was today’s surprise. Knowing doesn’t take the sting away for employees, I imagine. Paul takes you inside the cuts.
- Secret secrets hurt someone: Secret secrets are no fun. Just ask CircleCI customers, who were urged to rotate their passwords and private keys after a breach compromised the company’s system, Carly reports.
- Take a bite out of this Apple: Apparently you all made a resolution to read more in 2023. Among the announcements Apple made today, the one that got a lot of clicks was the company’s new AI-powered book narrations for select titles on Apple Books, Ivan reports. If fitness is more your goal this year, Apple Fitness+ is adding new features, like kickboxing workouts and sleep meditation, Aisha writes.
Startups and VC
Continuing with what seems to be a trend in layoffs, Natasha M’s story is very important in getting perspectives from former employees laid off from startups to see how they are handling things and how their next jobs might evolve. She also asks the question, “Where do tech workers go from here?” I won’t spoil it for you, but there seems to be a cycle going on.
Now here’s four more:
- That next text might be from Fido: My dog has trouble telling me when he needs to go outside, so I am eyeing FluentPet’s talking button system that has programmable buttons that, when pressed, speak voice commands and text you. Sarah has more.
- VR isn’t just for the youngins: Rendever, a big startup in the virtual reality space, acquired Alcove from AARP, showing “VR comes of age,” Ingrid reports.
- Neighbors don’t shake hands; neighbors gotta hug!: Okay, well maybe not hug, but if you live in an apartment complex and want to get to know the others living nearby, you might want to check out my story on OneRoof grabbing some funding to help apartment dwellers cozy up to their neighbors.
- Here’s a metaverse optimist: Conversational AI startup MeetKai is expanding its offerings with new room-scanning tech and a metaverse builder with a focus on capturing objects and spaces, Kyle writes.
Teach yourself growth marketing: How to set up a landing page
In the first article of a five-part series on growth marketing fundamentals, Jonathan Martinez explains how to create an essential part of every startup’s sales funnel: a landing page.
This overview includes basic steps for writing a clear headline, offering visitors social proof that builds credibility, and crafting calls to action that drive results.
Next week, Martinez, who helped scale startups like Uber, Postmates and Chime, will share his tips for launching a paid acquisition channel.
Three more from the TC+ team:
- AI think not: We’re only five days into 2023 and just getting the hang of asking ChatGPT things, but investors are already thinking generative AI is the next bubble. Becca has more.
- What settlement?: Coinbase had a hiccup to the tune of $100 million, but the company is humming a new song after a post-settlement stock bump. Anna goes over what happened.
- Time to charge that EV playbook: Tim reports on Toyota’s tumble from being top EV dog and which carmaker was there to pick up the pieces.
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Big Tech Inc.
If you couldn’t tell by your Twitter feed, CES is happening. Brian introduces CES and how you can get all.the.juicy details for the rest of the conference. Kyle also helped you out by rounding up a list of the top AI-powered products seen at the conference.
One of the stories that particularly caught our eye today was Kyle’s story on Ring bringing back its Peephole Cam. It was something ahead of its time apparently, with Ring shuttering the product in 2021. Now it’s back in all of its glory and can be yours at the starting price of $129.
Here are a few favs from today’s batch of CES stories:
- Haje has your look at Trova’s stylish hiding spot for your unmentionables.
- Rebecca’s CES car talk got us all excited, including Sony and Honda revealing Afeela, their joint EV brand, and BMW unveiling its Dee prototype, promising “the next level of human-machine interaction.”
- Ingrid reported on John Deere and its robotics-based fertilizer system and new electric excavator.
- Meanwhile, Brian has a CES success story for you about Aeo’s robot designed to patrol and disinfect hospitals.
Our team wrote 51 Big Tech stories today, so I’m gifting you an extra one over the usual five:
- Back in the saddle again: Who had Stitch Fix’s former CEO taking back the helm on their 2023 BINGO card? No one? Connie fills in some details surrounding Katrina Lake coming back for an interim stint, adding to a CNBC report that included another round of layoffs, this time 20% of the company’s 1,700 employees.
- You gotta fight for your right to communicate privately: And WhatsApp is behind you 100%. Aisha reports that the messaging giant launched a proxy support for users globally to be able to maintain access even if their connection is blocked or disrupted.
- Art is in the eye of the AI-powered beholder: Kyle reports on Picsart’s AI-powered SketchAI app that turns images and outlines into digital art.
- And the streaming crown goes to…: Lauren writes about Roku ending 2022 with a new milestone — over 70 million active accounts. The streaming company is claiming it’s still No. 1 among TV streaming platforms in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico by hours streamed.
- Another bytes the crypto dust: Jacquelyn reports that the New York Attorney General sued Alex Mashinsky, the former Celsius CEO, for defrauding crypto investors. The crypto lender filed for bankruptcy over the summer.
- Privacy ping: As Natasha L notes, Apple received a rare fine. France’s data protection watchdog group fined the consumer tech giant about $8.5 million related to Apple’s practice of “not obtaining local mobile users’ consent prior to placing (and/or reading) ad identifiers on their devices in breach of local data protection law.”