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Couple of quick things: Apply now to pitch at TechCrunch Live’s Atlanta pitch-off. Also, today’s head scratcher of an article is from Devin, who reports that Acapela lets anyone back up their own voice. Until literally 10 seconds ago, we had no idea that that was even possible, and now we really want to do it.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Big bet on AI: Like other Big Tech companies we’ve talked about before, IBM took its turn this week unveiling what Kyle writes is “a slew of new AI services,” including IBM watsonx, which will “deliver tools to build AI models and provide access to pretrained models for generating computer code, text and more.”
- More layoffs: LinkedIn is phasing out its China jobs app and with it goes 716 jobs, Catherine reports. The company attributed the app’s demise to “fierce competition and a challenging macroeconomic climate.”
- Gotta get paid: A new WhatsApp feature enables users to pay businesses within the app. It is already making the rounds in South America and Asia and now lands in Singapore, Ivan reports.
Startups and VC
Shopify last week announced that it would be the latest Big Tech firm to undergo mass layoffs. The company is cutting 20% of its 11,600-person staff. The news arrived during earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, shooting its stock price up as a result. Also included in the announcement was news that the Canadian e-commerce giant had found a new owner for 6 River Systems, the warehouse automation firm it purchased in 2019 for nearly a half-billion dollars, reports Brian.
UVeye’s automated vehicle inspection technology may have started out as a system to detect security threats, but the six-year-old Israeli startup has found deep interest and investment from the automotive sector, and it lands the startup a $100 million round of investment from GM and CarMax, among others, Kirsten reports.
And we have five more for you:
- Rotten zomatos: Zomato shares plunge after Invesco cut rival Swiggy’s valuation, reports Manish.
- Computers explaining computers: OpenAI’s new tool attempts to explain language models’ behaviors, by Kyle.
- Stretching those pennies: Charlie’s new banking app aims to help seniors “make the most of their limited resources,” reports Mary Ann.
- PNW pot of gold: Ascend raises $25 million for pre-seed AI startups in the Pacific Northwest, writes Becca.
- Texts, but more Instagramified: This app, backed by Marissa Mayer and Peter Thiel, is making texts more expressive, reports Natasha M.
Hidden in plain sight: 5 red flags for investors
Investors may review hundreds of pitches each year, which means they’re compelled to make decisions quickly. It’s not a great system — because it’s largely based on relationships, bias is baked into the recipe.
And due to the rapid pace of dealmaking, “even the most experienced angel investors — and VCs — can overlook red flags that are subtle and not immediately apparent,” writes Marjorie Radlo-Zandi.
Drawing from her years as a mentor, an angel and a board member, she shares five scenarios that should give investors second thoughts — for example, “where the founder has a romantic or spousal relationship with a staff member.”
Two more from the TC+ team:
- SadFin: We’re close to peak pessimism around fintech, by Alex.
- How do you copyright that?: Generative AI and copyright law: What’s the future for IP? by Gai Sher and Ariela Benchlouch.
Big Tech Inc.
Niantic’s new game Peridot personifies cuteness overload. In fact, Amanda called it “Pokémon GO meets Tamagotchi,” if you recall the toy from the 1990s. Amanda describes the game as “a pet simulator, but it takes place completely within augmented reality (AR). You can feed, play with, walk, breed and socialize with your Peridots, but don’t worry — if you take a break from the game, your creatures will not poop all over your screen and/or die.”
Meanwhile, TikTok’s parent ByteDance is eyeing a new role as an e-publisher in the United States, even going so far as to submit a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for book publishing products and services with the name “8th Note Press.” Rita has more.
And we have five more for you:
- Music to our ears: Apple is launching Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro on iPad later this month, reports Aisha.
- Car talk: General Motors has a new head of software, tapping former Apple cloud services executive Mike Abbott, writes Kirsten. Meanwhile, Porsche is looking at some automated driving functions and is now working with Mobileye to provide that in future models, Rebecca reports.
- Appealing, isn’t it?: Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried seeks to dismiss most of the U.S. charges against him, reports Jacquelyn.
- For the love of money: Meta revamps its Ads on Reels monetization program to make it performance-based. Aisha has more.
- It was written in the stars: Satellite rivals Viasat and Inmarsat got the green light from the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority to continue their $7.3 billion merger, Paul writes.