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Hello from a very rain-drenched, the Cure-themed, semi-goth-and-sad Silicon Valley (Haje) and a lovely, sunny and warm day (Christine). It’s hard to imagine one from the other, and so here we are, learning a lesson of empathy and realizing that our immediate experience may not be universal. Whoa. Didn’t expect that level of depth from your friendly neighborhood tech newsletter, didya? May we continue to surprise you for the rest of 2023 as well. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
- ChatGPT, but in a suit and tie: Kyle writes that OpenAI has been looking for ways to monetize ChatGPT, its viral chatbot, and today we learned how it is going to do that. The company is now piloting a premium version called “ChatGPT Professional.” Benefits include no “unavailable” windows and an unlimited number of messages. How much would you pay for it? Join the waitlist and weigh in.
- In the air again: The Federal Aviation Authority is probably breathing a sigh of relief after returning to normal operations earlier this morning. All U.S. domestic flights were grounded when one of its key systems went down, Darrell reports.
- What did you say?: More companies are developing AI technology to help humans communicate, and DeepL, an AI-based language translator for businesses, is the latest to reap the benefits of investor hunger for companies like this. Ingrid reports that DeepL raised over $100 million to value the company at over $1 billion.
Startups and VC
Getting smart home devices to talk to each other has taken forever, but something changed. Why now? Or, more explicitly, why did the Matter rollout take so long? Brian questions. For starters, the obvious issue alluded to above is that most of these big companies would really rather not work with their competitors if they can avoid it. As such, getting everyone on the same page about something like this is a bit of a cat-herding scenario. We finally got there, however, and that’s why the Matter logo was everywhere at CES 2023.
Venom Foundation and investment manager Iceberg Capital have partnered to launch a $1 billion venture fund, Jacquelyn reports. The $1 billion vehicle is a blockchain-agnostic fund that will invest in web3 protocols and decentralized applications (dApps).
Okay, fine, you can have another fistful of highlights from the past 24 hours:
- All that you seek: Kyle reports that Seek lands $7.5 million investment for AI tech that answers domain-specific questions.
- Sailing un-Carta’d waters: Rocky weather at Carta: Connie reports that the company is suing its former CTO, and Natasha M reports that the company lays off 10% of its staff.
- Hack the planet: Gamified cybersecurity training platform with 1.7 million users, Hack the Box raises $55 million, reports Ingrid.
- Hell-benta on chatting alone: AI-powered chatbot provider Inbenta talked its way into a $40 million funding round, Kyle reports.
- Skipping the line: If you want the Nothing phone in the U.S., sign up for the beta, Brian reports.
Some investors are (cautiously) implementing ChatGPT in their workflows
Can AI turn out polite pitch rejection letters, automate aspects of due diligence, or draft accurate market maps?
Some investors are already evaluating ways to fold ChatGPT “into their workflows to do their jobs better, smarter and maybe even cheaper,” report Natasha Mascarenhas, Christine Hall and Kyle Wiggers.
They interviewed several VCs to learn more about potential use cases, some early experiments and the tech’s limitations when it comes to nuance and tone.
“It’s not automating the important conversations we have with journalists,” said Brianne Kimmel, founder of Worklife Ventures, “but I think it’s sufficient for things that are pretty straightforward.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
- What if the H-1B doesn’t happen?: Our friendly immigration lawyer Sophie Alcorn answers how to present a strong H-1B case, and what to do if you’re not selected.
- AI see the future: Veteran enterprise VC Peter Wagner on the opportunities for AI startups, as reported by Connie.
- Stretching our spans: Abby Miller Levy takes a stab at predicting the longevity industry in 2023.
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.
It’s a Meta kind of day. First, what Meta giveth, Meta taketh away, as Amanda found out. First it was internships and now Meta is rescinding some full-time job offers. Meanwhile, a privacy rights group in Europe published a lengthy set of documents related to privacy decisions the EU made against Meta. Natasha L tells you what they said. And finally, Annie reports that Meta’s main content moderation partner in Africa shut down operations.
We all have a lot of apps on our phones, but Sarah reports that for the first time in a while, the app economy slowed, with consumer spending in this category down 2% to $167 billion. She goes into what happened and why.
Now here’s five more for you:
- New layoffs: Both Carta and Cloud Software Group announced they will have fewer employees.
- A new, fresher Microsoft: Microsoft has a less expensive version of its 365 product that comes with 100 GB of storage, Outlook and more for $1.99 per month, Kyle reports.
- Do you know where you are headed?: Apple is taking on Google again, this time with a new web portal called Apple Business Connect that enables business owners to update and manage their information on Apple Maps. Sarah has more.
- Tweets, but not by date/time: Twitter is making an algorithmic timeline the default on iOS. This means your timeline will be curated to what Twitter thinks you want to see rather than tweets appearing in chronological order, Ivan writes.
- Blockchain!: Amazon Web Services partners with Avalanche to scale blockchain solutions for enterprises, institutions and governments to make it easier for individuals to launch and manage nodes on Avalanche, Jacquelyn reports.