Hello friends, and welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s newsletter covering the last week (or so) of tech industry happenings. This week marked OpenAI’s first-ever developer conference, where the Microsoft-backed AI startup announced a host new products. But that was far from the only thing worth noting.
In this edition of WiR, we highlight Brian’s review of the 16-inch MacBook Air M3 Max and the 24-inch iMac M3; Mozilla is betting on a future of decentralized social networks; Ford formwork a company that developed an application for plumbers, electricians and other trades; and Tim Cook’s thoughts on generative AI. Also on the agenda, WeWork officially files for bankruptcy, Bumble gets a new CEO and the spectacular failure of EV startup Arrival.
There’s plenty to do, as always, so we won’t delay. But first, a reminder to register here to receive WiR in your inbox every Saturday if you haven’t already.
OpenAI is organizing a development day: OpenAI held its first-ever developer conference on Monday, and the company had a lot to say. Some of the most notable items announced were tools to create personalized “GPTs” (i.e. domain specific chatbots), new text-to-speech models, an API for the DALL-E 3 text-to-speech modeland an improved version of OpenAI’s flagship model, GPT-4, called GPT-4 Turbo.
Mac attack: Brian reviewed Apple’s new 16-inch MacBook Pro M3 Max and the 24-inch iMac M3. He found the iMac lacking and not necessarily worth the upgrade from the 2021 model, with the exception of the M3 chip, which brings “impressive” performance gains over the already powerful M1. As for the M3 Max MacBook Pro, Brian reports that at $2,500 (plus some pricey add-ons), it manages to split the difference between the Mac Studio and MacBook Air.
Mozilla is betting on a decentralized future: Sarah spoke with Carolyn O’Hara, Mozilla’s Senior Director of Content, who outlined Mozilla’s strategy for the “fediverse” – a set of decentralized social media applications, like Mastodon, that communicate between them via the ActivityPub protocol. The idea, according to O’Hara, is to rethink social media from the ground up.
Ford closes SaaS application for field work: Ford has shuttered VIIZR, a software-as-a-service company that, with Salesforce, created an app to help tradespeople like plumbers, locksmiths and electricians schedule field appointments, send invoices and to manage their clients, reports Kirsten. VIIZR, announced in December 2021, was a separate company majority-owned by Ford, with Salesforce as a minority investor.
Apple is banking on generative AI: Apple CEO Tim Cook pushed back against the notion that the company was behind in AI during Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call with investors, pointing out technological developments recently made by Apple which “would not be possible without AI”. Cook also said that Apple is working on generative AI technologies, which lends credence to reports which suggests the company is on track to spend $1 billion a year developing generative AI products.
WeWork goes bankrupt: As predictedflexible office space company WeWork has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing more than $18.6 billion in debt in a remarkable collapse for the once-high-flying startup co-founded by Adam Neumann and funded by SoftBank, BlackRock and Goldman Sachs.
Slack’s loss, Bumble’s gain: Dating app Bumble announced a change this week: it is replacing founding CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd with Slack CEO Lidiane Jones. Jones only started as CEO at Slack last year, replacing another founding CEO, Stewart Butterfield. Ron and Sarah write that – even though Bumble now has a clear line of succession – this decision leaves Slack in a bit of a pickle.
Arrival fails to deliver: Arrival set out eight years ago to make electric vehicle production “radically more efficient.” So far, its plan to forgo the gigafactory in favor of local microfactories has proven anything but, Harri writes – thanks to missed production targets, low cash reserves, layoffs and a change of direction.
It’s winter, it’s not getting any warmer (at least here in New York), and I’d say there’s no better place to be than curled up inside with a podcast in company. If you need hardware, TechCrunch has a few that should definitely be on your radar.
This week on Equity, the team took a deep dive into the encouraging signs in the fintech startup market, starting with Klarna’s third-quarter results. From there, they looked at “buy now, pay later” consumer behavior and fintech fundraising results with a 2021 flavor.
In the meantime, Find featured Nasrat Khalid of Aseel, which started as an e-commerce company enabling local artisans in Afghanistan to sell to customers around the world. He moved into humanitarian aid work, providing emergency food supplies to people in need in Afghanistan and Turkey.
TC+ subscribers have access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys, which you are familiar with if you are already a subscriber. If it’s not the case, consider registering. Here are some highlights from this week:
Another disappointment regarding superconductors: Tim writes that a new, supposedly room-temperature, superconducting material is not what the scientific community was hoping for. With the paper published by Nature detailing the material facing shrinkage, the chances of researchers discovering a room-temperature superconductor seem even longer.
Klarna heading towards an IPO: Mary Ann and Alex write that Swedish fintech Klarna is taking steps toward a possible IPO. The company has initiated a process of restructuring a legal entity to create a holding company in the UK, an important first step in its IPO plans, a Klarna spokesperson told TechCrunch+ .
The Unicorn’s Legacy Is Not Over: It’s been 10 years since Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee coined an incredibly catchy nickname for startups that were very rare at the time: Unicorns. TechCrunch+ spoke with Lee about what she thinks of the term 10 years later, now that her venture capital firm is also ten years old.