Hey folks, it’s Kyle filling in for Greg, who will be away on parental leave for the next few weeks. While he enjoys his beautiful, healthy newborn (what better gift for the holidays, eh?), I’m learning the ins and outs of Week in Review to make sure you guys stay on top of the latest technology. I hope I’m doing Greg justice – they are big shoes to fill!
Old readers know the drill, but for the newbies, WiR wants to briefly recap the past seven days of australiabusinessblog.com stories. We publish to the site and send WiR to subscribers’ inboxes every Saturday (sign up here if you haven’t already) to make things easy. Like a buttery croissant, WiR goes great with a morning cup of coffee – or tea, if that’s your preference. Or hot chocolate. Take your pick – no judgment here.
Before we dive into the news, a reminder that the TC Early Stage event in Boston is fast approaching. Tickets don’t last long – they never do – so get them before they’re gone if you’re in the Greater Boston area in late April. We love to see your smiling face.
TikTok bans abound: The US may be getting all the attention for banning TikTok on government devices, but India did it first — two and a half years ago now, in fact. In recent remarks, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the US should more broadly follow India’s example to “wipe out nefarious apps”. India has banned hundreds of apps besides TikTok, including PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India and UC Browser, with ties to China amid skirmishes on the border of the two neighboring countries.
I feel Afeela: “This is the season for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is increasingly focused on cars. Case in point: Sony and Honda unveiled Afeela, their joint EV brand, at a flashy press conference on Wednesday, where they rolled a four-door sedan onto the podium. Preorders of the Afeelas are scheduled for the first half of 2025, the companies said, with sales to begin sometime in the same year. The first shipments will be delivered to customers in North America in spring 2026.
No sense in risk: My colleague Natasha wrote an excellent piece on how tech workers, burned by recent layoffs, are reevaluating their relationships with the industry – especially in light of potentially tumultuous economic times ahead. Some hold multiple full-time jobs in adjacent industries, while others opt for part-time contract contracts to make ends meet. Few seem to want to abandon technology altogether, but they are certainly more cynical than they used to be.
For the birds: Bird Buddy, a startup behind “smart” bird feeders, took the wraps off its latest model at CES, which focuses on hummingbirds. Like his original bird feeder, Bird Buddy’s new bird feeder – which is made from recyclable and sustainable materials – has a motion-activated camera that allows it to take photos of bird visitors. Those are then run through an AI algorithm to help identify the species and alert owners via a companion mobile app.
I didn’t do it, I swear: Sam Bankman-Fried’s plea not guilty to several federal fraud charges was a tactical response, experts say Jaquelyn talked to. The former CEO of the crypto exchange FTX, whose business collapsed in November, could buy time to strike a deal with prosecutors, they said. A trial date in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has been set for October 2.
Cutting the sales staff: Salesforce announced this week that it will be cutting about 10% of its workforce, affecting more than 7,000 employees, while closing offices in “certain markets.” As with other companies hit by significant layoffs in the past year, CEO Marc Benioff said Salesforce has been hiring too many people during the boom during the pandemic. Company claimed 79,000 workers last Februaryan increase of 30% compared to 2020.
Billions for Bezos: Amazon has obtained an $8 billion loan, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told australiabusinessblog.com that the loan adds to the range of financing options the company has tapped into in recent months to hedge against the “uncertain macroeconomic environment.” It also comes on the heels of a disappointing year for the retailer, which grew too much during the pandemic; in its most recent cost-cutting move, Amazon internally announced plans to lay off about 18,000 people.
I see you: Speaking of Amazon, at CES, Amazon-owned Ring brought back the Peephole Cam, a camera that fits over existing door peepholes to capture outdoor activity, in apartment building hallways, and so on. Now starting at $129 – down from its original $199 price – it comes with software that brings its capabilities in line with the rest of Ring’s portfolio, such as motion detection and real-time streaming video.
Fancy podcasts to start the new year with? Good, because TC serves them like hot cakes. on The australiabusinessblog.com PodcastI spoke with Darrell about CES-related AI product announcements while Natasha talked about the impact of the massive layoffs in the tech. Meanwhile, the crew of EquityTC’s startup-focused show took a look at some early highlights of CES, USV and Doorstead’s deals of the week, plus the latest development in the FTX and SBF saga. And last but not least, Found it sat down with Brex co-founder and co-CEO Henrique Dubugras to talk about his credit card business and expense management startup.
No subscription to TC+ yet? Too bad, because some great content is coming out. Some of the most popular this week were:
Fintech Predictions and Opportunities for 2023: It’s been an eventful year in fintech. The market is far from the highs of 2021, and while 2022 was largely marked by the reset of the funding environment, Victoria predicts that 2023 will be a year of recalibration for fintech companies. Read her thorough piece for more.
5 failure points between $5 million and $100 million in ARR: Tracy Young, the former CEO of PlanGrid, a construction app for project managers, breaks down PlanGrid’s top failures and what she’s learned over the years. As she says in the opening paragraphs, “If these reflections help even one founder make one less mistake, I would find this effort worth it.”
Is generative AI becoming a bubble yet?: Rebecca surveyed more than 35 investors working across geographies, investment stages, and industries about their views on generative AI — that is, ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion, and other technology along those lines. Interestingly, while several investors said they were optimistic about the new technology in general, they also admitted that the industry was likely to get lost in its own hype.