Startups

Daily Crunch: Hundreds of Salesforce workers laid off in January just discovered they were out of work today

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Signage on a Saleforce office building in San Francisco, California.
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On the one hand, we could be upset that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but the sun hasn’t come out where Christine lives for several days, so she’s pretty stoked that wherever Phil lives has a ray of sunshine or two. In other news, Haje has to move house due to a flooded apartment, weather is real, and perhaps it’s time we start taking climate change seriously, y’all.

Meanwhile, for today’s Black History Month recommendation, we’re watching Angela Davis talking about how we can’t eradicate racism without eradicating racial capitalism.  — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • The List: Ron has been following the Salesforce layoffs announced last month and writes that although these were announced in January, some employees are just now finding out they are on the list. Ouch.
  • Grocery store going digital…currency that is: Reliance Retail, India’s largest retail chain, is now accepting payments in digital rupees, known as Central Bank Digital Currency, Manish reports.
  • The password is…: Dashlane, a password management company, published its source code to GitHub, which Paul writes is one of the first steps the company is taking to provide transparency about its platform.

Startups and VC

Lex, the hookup and social app that launched in 2019 with a nod to lesbian personal ads from the ’80s, is changing. Only, precisely how much will change is still an open question, Harri writes. Sure, the venture-backed startup behind the queer app gave it a new lick of paint last week, but in refocusing on “friends and community,” some users fear that Lex will also scrub away its beloved raunchy essence. “Keep Lex filthy,” the users are chanting.

The growing ease with which anyone can create convincing audio in someone else’s voice has a lot of people on edge, and rightly so, Devin writes. Resemble AI’s proposal for watermarking generated speech may not fix it in one go, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Here’s another bucket o’ stories for your reading joy:

Optimizing freemium products: Challenges and opportunities

Seven different drinking straws in a cup
Image Credits: Richard 0rury (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Offering a free sample in the hopes that the recipient becomes a paying customer is a core tactic at food courts, cosmetic counters, and inside software startups.

Freemium products are everywhere, but unless companies revisit and optimize their strategy, there’s no effective way to optimize conversions.

“Enabling freemium, especially for established products, can bring organizational and operational challenges even if it adds value to the business,” writes Konstantin Valiotti, product director of growth at PandaDoc.

In this article, he presents strategies for optimizing:

  • User activation
  • Conversion paths
  • Product changes
  • Where to place barriers and limitations

Optimizing freemium products: Challenges and opportunities

Three more from the TC+ team:

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.

Samsung, Google and Qualcomm are poised to take us in and out of reality, Ivan writes. The trio is making a mixed-reality platform that Qualcomm’s Cristiano Amon described as “a new era of highly immersive digital experiences that blur the line between our physical and digital worlds. With our Snapdragon XR tech, Samsung’s amazing products, and Google experiences, we have the foundation to make this opportunity a reality.”

As a follow-up to his Apple HomePod review, Brian spoke to the company’s hardware VP, Matthew Costello, to discuss Apple’s approach of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

There’s going to be six more weeks of winter, so how about six more stories?

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French AI startup H raises $220M seed round

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The U.K.’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home ZIP codes and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential — at least not…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

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Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

5 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

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London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

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Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

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“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

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