It’s that time of the week again, folks – Week in Review (WiR) time. For those new to the scene, WiR is TechCrunch’s regular newsletter that summarizes the biggest tech stories from the past few days. There’s no better summary for the person on the go, we’d say, but of course we’re a little biased.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, a quick reminder that TC City Spotlight: Atlanta is fast approaching. On June 7, TechCrunch heads to Atlanta, where we’ll be hosting a pitch contest, a talk on the economics of equality, a panel discussion on investing in the Atlanta ecosystem, and more.
Elsewhere, there’s a TechCrunch Live event with Persona and Index Ventures on May 10, discussing how Persona keeps pace with emerging threats and how Index has taken a foresighted step to spot and retrieve Persona early on. And we have Disrupt in San Francisco from September 19-21 – our annual conference is packed with expert-led sessions and interviews with movers and shakers in the tech room.
Now, with that out of the way, here are the main headlines.
Amazon introduces free channels: Amazon is doubling down on free, ad-supported content with the launch of Fire TV Channels this week. The new, free and ad-supported video experience, which came to Fire TV devices this week, will be continuously updated throughout the day and integrated into various areas in the Fire TV interface, Sara reports.
Bio update for a check: Basically, a bug on Twitter caused blue check holders to get their badge back by updating their biography. Readers will recall that blue checkmarks on Twitter once meant a user was “verified,” but now serve as an indication that they’re paying for Twitter’s premium subscription service, Twitter Blue. Verified users who chose not to pay recently faced the prospect of having the blue check removed — but not necessarily permanently, judging by the bug.
Google locks passwords for access keys: This week, Google rolled out passkeys to Google Account users worldwide, about a year after the company — along with Apple, Microsoft, and the FIDO Alliance — announced a partnership to broaden passkey adoption. Passkeys synchronize users’ authentication across devices across the cloud using cryptographic key pairs, allowing them to log into websites and apps with the same biometric or screen lock PIN they use to unlock their devices.
Microsoft introduces Pegasus: Microsoft announced this week that it will be expanding the Startup Founders Hub, the self-service platform that provides free resources to founders, including Azure credits, with a new incubator program called the Pegasus Program. Pegasus will select startups with products that “meet a market need” and give them up to $350,000 in Azure, GitHub, and LinkedIn credits plus advisor support, as well as “access to the best of Microsoft technology,” Microsoft says.
Blue checkmarks are coming to Gmail: Google will display a blue check mark next to the names of selected senders in Gmail to verify their identity, the company said on Wednesday. The checkmarks automatically appear next to companies that have adopted Gmail’s existing message identification brand indicators, reports Aisha.
OpenAI rakes in the dough: Open AI, the startup behind the widely used conversational AI model ChatGPT, has found new backers. In an exclusive report Jagmeet And Ingrid reveal that VC firms including Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive, K2 Global and Founders Fund have put just over $300 million into OpenAI, valuing the company between $27 billion and $29 billion.
Apple releases security fix: On Monday, Apple released its first batch of publicly available “rapid security” patches aimed at quickly fixing security vulnerabilities that are actively being exploited or pose significant risks to its customers. Apple says these patches, which are enabled by default, were intended to help customers update their devices faster than a typical software upgrade.
Musk settles for less: A defamation case brought by critic Randeep Hothi against Tesla chief executive Elon Musk is coming to an end, reportedly costing the billionaire ten big. Lawyers representing Hothi – a vocal member of the TSLAQ short-seller community on Twitter who came to the fore as a skeptic of Tesla’s gigafactory plans and “fully self-driving” technology — said in a statement that Musk sought a settlement in March in the nearly three-year-old case.
A new LLM for Alexa: Amazon is building a more “generalized and capable” large language model to power Alexa, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said at the call first quarter results this week. He added that while Amazon has had an LLM powering Alexa, Amazon is working on an LLM that is more capable than the current one.
TechCrunch’s stable of podcasts is growing by the day – and it’s all quality material. This week, the Equity people talked about First Republic Bank, the closure of Poparazzi, the acquisition of Databricks, who will take on Stripe, the rise of down rounds and why Bluesky made them feel less gray. In the meantime, Found it spoke to Stefan Bauer about how his company, Marker Learning, reduces the cost of learning disability assessments by conducting them remotely. Chain reaction interviewed Jake Chervinsky, the chief policy officer at Blockchain Association, a non-profit organization focused on promoting a “pro-innovation” policy for the digital asset world. On The TechCrunch Podcast — which, like WiR, covers the week in tech news — Devin spoke about whether Meta’s cavalier approach to compliance could finally come to an end. Finally, TechCrunchLive profiled Sam Chaudhary, the founder of ClassDojo, and Chris Farmer, the founder and CEO of SignalFire, on playing the long game in edtech, investing in companies that aren’t in a rush to make money, and the “outside advantage.”
TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys – which you’ll know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:
A cloudy future: Lyft’s equity is being sold in the wake of the US ride-hailing giant’s first-quarter results and its comments on the current quarter, and how its new strategic stance will affect its growth and economy in the coming quarters. But there is not necessarily cause for panic. Alex And Anna write about Lyft’s new approach and the potential benefits, of which there are several.
Down but not out: For the past year, everyone predicted that the muted exit environment and bone-dry financing market would bring a reckoning for many late-stage companies. Down rounds have a negative connotation and are often interpreted as the fault of the company or founder. But in a market where everything seems to be going down, they shouldn’t suggest that a company or its founders made a mistake – there’s often nothing you can do about it, Rebekah writes.
ChatGPT, meet edtech: Shares of edtech company Chegg fell off a cliff this week even after the company reported Q1 results that beat analyst expectations. In the earnings call, the company’s executives noted that ChatGPT slowed its ability to add new subscribers, not only potentially slowing growth, but also creating uncertainty about its ability to forecast its future financial results. Alex And Natasha M Dig deeper.
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