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Imagine being a tech reporter coming back after a few lovely days at Disney World with the family, only to discover that the entire startup ecosystem is in turmoil after a major bank collapsed. Anyway, what we’re saying is welcome back, Christine! We’ve missed you!
Apropos SVB — the bank’s clients received a surprising email in their inboxes late Monday evening, Natasha M reports. It was from the bank’s new CEO Tim Mayopoulos stating that the institution was not only open, it was also business as usual. Who had that on their bingo cards?
The TechCrunch Top 3
- More Meta layoffs: We’d heard a rumor that said Meta was going to have some layoffs, and now Manish and Paul confirm the company will cut another 10,000 jobs. In addition, the company is not going to fill thousands of open jobs and will be canceling “low priority projects.” More on Zuck’s thoughts about remote work in the Big Tech section.
- All-out battle for generative AI: If you’ve been enjoying the updated features in Google Workspace, here are some more: Google is going all-in on bringing AI to Workspace, Frederic reports. More Google news below.
- OpenAI will not be outdone: If you saw this meme today, it pretty much sums up what happened with dueling AI announcements (see above). After Google’s news, OpenAI dropped GPT-4, a multimodal AI that it claims is state-of-the-art, Kyle writes. Meanwhile, Devin reports that GPT-4’s first app is a “virtual volunteer” for the visually impaired.
Startups and VC
Caught in the wake of the shock collapse of erstwhile rival Silicon Valley Bank, shares of First Republic fell 62% yesterday. Well, that stock appears to rebounding a little today, as investors appear to have a little more confidence that we’ve staved off the banking apocalypse, Alex reports.
Flat6Labs is among the most active VCs in Africa, having invested in over 100 startups to date, across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Annie reports that after 11 years, the Egypt-based seed-stage accelerator is setting out on a foray through a new $95 million fund to back startups in East and West Africa.
And we have five more for you:
- Surfin’ the Light Electric: Lightship just showed off its electric recreational vehicle, and Kirsten was able to take a peek inside.
- Copy that: Paul reports that RightHub wants to be the command center for intellectual property management.
- So, what can you do?: Haje reports that AG5 throws a lifeline to a manufacturing industry drowning in spreadsheets.
- A hire state of mind: TuSimple co-founder resigns, reports Rebecca. He’s accused of poaching staff for new venture.
- Y Combinator pumps the brakes: Natasha M reports that the YC accelerator cuts nearly 20% of staff, and starts scaling back growth-stage investments.
3 investors predict the future of startups and VC following SVB’s downfall
Silicon Valley Bank was more than just a preferred choice for managing payroll and investor cash: It also offered wealth management services and below-market-rate home loans and helped coordinate private stock sales.
So where does this bank’s collapse leave the tech industry? Who’s most vulnerable, who stands to benefit, and what are some of the long-term implications for VC? To learn more, Karan Bhasin and Ram Iyer interviewed:
- Maëlle Gavet, CEO, Techstars
- Niko Bonatsos, managing director, General Catalyst
- Colin Beirne, partner, Two Sigma Ventures
“We’re probably going to see consolidation in the VC class,” said Gavet.
“It was already on the way, but this is probably going to accelerate it, because SVB was also a preeminent provider of loans for GPs to make their capital commitment polls.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Vertigo-coin: Jacquelyn reports that SVB’s mess could become stablecoins’ problem.
- Walking the tightrope: Rising interest rates are putting VCs back in their lanes, observes Alex.
- Not as bad as you thought: Despite 2022’s volatility, VC funds performed better than you think, Becca reports.
Big Tech Inc.
If you’re dying to buy Apple’s new “banana phone” but want to know if the shade is more “sunshine” or “dandelion,” the consumer products giant is offering a live concierge that can answer that and any other question you have. Sarah reports that this new way to shop online for an iPhone includes a live shopping feature with your very own specialist for that high-touch customer experience without waiting in line for hours.
Now to bring you all things Google:
- YouTube TV now has a “multiview” feature so you can watch four streams at once, Sarah reports. Just in time for March Madness.
- Google Play Games for PC to roll out to Europe and Japan, Sarah writes.
- Aisha has your look at a new series of updates that Google launched to make it easier to find low-cost healthcare centers in search results.
- If you’re a developer who likes to build healthcare-related apps, Google is hooking you up with Open Health Stack for developers, Ivan reports.
- Speaking of developers, Google Cloud gives developers access to its foundation models, Frederic writes.
Here’s five more that have nothing to do with Google:
- If you’re not into ChatGPT: Kyle writes about a group of researchers coming “Together” to develop an open source ChatGPT alternative.
- If you’re following the Microsoft layoffs: In January, Paul reported that Microsoft was laying off 10,000 employees, and now we’ve learned that an ethical AI team was part of that. It’s no secret that it is doubling down on OpenAI, though Rebecca notes that “the move calls into question Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring its product design and AI principles are closely intertwined at a time when the company is making its controversial AI tools available to the mainstream.”
- If you’re getting into your Uber: Rebecca also writes that a California court upholds Prop 22 in a win for Uber, Lyft and DoorDash. That ballot measure from 2020 is related to classifying drivers as employees versus independent contractors.
- If you’re thinking of laundering money in India: The country’s Enforcement Directorate seized over $115 million as it has investigated cryptocurrency cases for money laundering, Manish reports.
- If you’re enjoying remote work: Paul writes that Mark Zuckerberg is pointing to some internal data points that suggest engineers who joined Meta in-person perform better than those who joined remotely.