Hey, australiabusinessblog.com besties. After a week in Korea and the Philippines, it’s great to be back in the States – and a little more tanned (i.e. burnt) than before. Massive thanks to Henry, who was forced to intervene for the past two weeks because I didn’t realize that Korean Air does not provide in-flight Wi-Fi. Talk about a good sport.
If you’re wondering about Greg’s status, don’t worry – he’s coming back from well-deserved parental leave in a month and changing. In the meantime, I’m here to nag you about australiabusinessblog.com’s upcoming headlining events.
australiabusinessblog.com Early Stage is fast approaching – it’s April 20 this year in Boston and will feature experts from across the enterprise and technology landscape who will talk about solutions to get a startup off the ground. (Also in Boston: City Spotlight, which opens Feb. 27.) On the distant horizon is australiabusinessblog.com Disrupt (September 19–21), which promises to be an absolute blowout this year. After taking a look at the tentative guest list, let me say this: it won’t disappoint.
Now that we’ve got that red tape behind us, let’s move on to Week in Review. (If you want it in your inbox every Saturday, sign up here). Here are the top stories from the past few days!
Interrupted ambitions: Tage exclusively reports that allegedly Dash CEO Prince Boakye Boampong was temporarily suspended pending an investigation into financial impropriety at the company. Boampong, one of Africa’s best-known serial entrepreneurs, is reportedly accused of financial misreporting; sources tell australiabusinessblog.com that executives repeatedly concealed financial records within the company while firing employees at will. Prior to Boampong’s alleged suspension, Dash had raised tens of millions in venture capital at a valuation of more than $200 million.
New iOS, new emoji: Apple has released the developer beta of iOS 16.4, bringing the next batch of emojis to iPhones. Originally revealed during the design phase last year, the emoji include categories such as food and drink, activity, objects, animals, and symbols. Sarah writes that among the highlights are variations on the heart emoji, pushing hand gestures, and a “shaking face” emoji. Curious users can check out the new additions by enrolling in Apple’s developer program.
Pony Up for Paramount: Ahead of the launch of “Paramount+ with Showtime,” a new TV streaming service bundle integrating Showtime with Paramount+, Paramount announced that it would increase the price of its Paramount+ Premium tier from $9.99 per month to $11.99 per month. It’s not an unexpected move — Paramount CEO Bob Bakish telegraphed the plans in early December — but it could still put Paramount+ at a disadvantage with Showtime as it competes with Warner Bros. Discovery’s upcoming HBO Max/Discovery+ service.
Feishu is the new Slack: Feishu, ByteDance’s Slack-like app for workplace collaboration, surpassed $100 million in annual recurring revenue last year, Rita writes. ByteDance’s heavy investment in Feishu says a lot about the state of enterprise software in China. At a time when investors in Silicon Valley are announcing product-driven growth, software in China still largely relies on sales, marketing, and services to acquire users.
Channel Instagram: Instagram launched a new broadcast chat feature called “Channels” this week. Aisha reports that it allows creators to share public, one-to-many posts to engage directly with their followers. Channels support text, images, polls, comments, and more. Instagram is beginning to test channels with select creators in the US and plans to expand the feature in the coming months.
Salesforce under pressure: Salesforce is looking for new ways to cut costs as activist investors pressure the company. This week, Salesforce implemented stricter engineering performance metrics, pressuring some vendors to quit or yield to their own strict performance policies. If Ron writes, it probably has to do with activist investors circling the company, no doubt urging management to increase productivity and cut spending.
Dog Tesla safety concerns: Tesla this week recalled its Full Self-Driving (FSD) beta software, an advanced driver assistance system that federal regulators say could cause vehicles to behave unsafely around intersections. The recall, which affected more than 362,000 vehicles, was prompted in part, Telsa announced, including concerns that FSD-powered vehicles would not respond adequately to changes in posted speed limits. FSD beta software — from Musk’s name and promises about its capabilities to its rollout and security issues — has been controversial and drawing regulatory attention.
Register users: Snapchat now has over 750 million monthly active users (MAUs). The company announced the milestone during Investor Day on Thursday. Sarah reports. Snapchat said it sees a path to reaching more than 1 billion people in the next two to three years, but whether it will actually reach that remains to be seen. With 750 MAUs, Snapchat is at least ahead of Pinterest (450 million) but behind Facebook (2.96 billion).
A Tetris Movie: Apple TV+ this week released the first trailer for the movie “Tetris,” based on the origin story of the hit puzzle video game. Starring Taron Egerton, who plays American video game salesman Henk Rogers, ‘Tetris’ tells the story of Rogers and his mission to secure the game’s distribution rights. The film will premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March, after which Apple will release it worldwide on Apple TV+ (on March 31).
australiabusinessblog.com has a great range of audio programming, in case you didn’t know. In other words, we have podcasts for days. Continue this week Equity, Mary Ann And Bekka stepped on the mic to talk about Descope’s $53 million seed round, Phenomenal Ventures’ new fund, and a Mexican neobank’s latest raise. On Found it, Darrell And Bekka spoke to Alex Rappaport, the CEO and co-founder of ZwitterCo, making it practical for industries to recycle water and improve product recovery with new filtration technology. And past by TechCrunchLivecrew went live (so as not to repeat) with CFO turned CEO Christina Ross and her Mayfield Fund partner, Rajeev Batra, to talk about the story behind Ross’ company, Cube, and how it meets its customers where they are with.
Is the tech job market as bad as it seems?: Ron examines the state of the tech job market and finds that while some numbers are falling, this is not a clear cut. His observation at the highest level? Tech workers, especially those with specialized skills such as engineering, data science, AI and cybersecurity, remain in demand as supply lags behind the number of open positions.