Welcome to Startups Weekly. Registration Here to get it in your inbox every Friday afternoon.
The event horizon for when we will climatically end up in (literally) hot water is much closer. You want to know how close? The climate deadline is getting so close that it is becoming interesting again for VCs. VC is an asset class with a 10-year cycle. In other words, some of the most powerful money people believe their investments will return in the next 10 years. In short, as I wrote in my TC+ column this week, it scares me terribly.
Social media dramaaaaaaaaaa
I’m sure Twitter is relieved that Reddit is making headlines this week. The Reddit executive team appears to have hit the slow-mo button and taken control of a few moves before hitting the “full steam ahead” button and pointing the moves at each other.
This slow-mo train wreck is quite the thing, and it’s all related to Reddit’s new API prices. Popular third-party Reddit app Apollo announced its closure, and Reddit’s CEO wasn’t a huge fan of how that was going, giving the Apollo developer both barrels in a dramatic AMA. Reddit is briefly down, subreddits and moderators are protesting — thousands in fact — and it looks like many of them plan to remain closed indefinitely. My god, that’s a one-way ticket to Yikes City.
Elon shouldn’t be too relieved though; The bird sanctuary got its own headlines, and most of them were… not particularly encouraging. On a positive note, Elon no longer needed to be CEO as Linda Yaccarino officially took over as Twitter CEO. The next news was that Twitter was being evicted from its Boulder office for unpaid rent. Oops. Alex explained how much Twitter’s advertising revenue has dropped. TL;DR: It’s not pretty.
The robots are coming! The robots are coming!
AI continues to dominate our reporting as there is a lot of movement in this area.
France’s Mistral AI Blows has raised a $113 million seed round to take on OpenAI. In the notoriously privacy-oriented EU, it might prove to be an advantage — but I won’t lie, I also raised an eyebrow at the company’s $260 million valuation — that’s a lot of equity to give up in a seed round must.
There has been a fair amount of corporate AI news, not all of which is relevant to startups, but the summary is that Meta is open-sourcing an AI-powered music generator, while Itoka wants to license AI-generated music via the blockchain. I’ve made little secret of my disdain for blockchain technology in general (and blockchain’s painful irony for climate in particular), but this technology seems to be a particularly strong non-starter. Prove me wrong, Itoka, prove me wrong.
Speaking of potent, Morgan argues that Blush, the AI lover from the same team as Replica, is more than just a sexbot. I’m actually kind of excited about it – sexting is fun and I’m fascinated by the creative possibilities of getting naughty with a robot. As long as I don’t get a text-borne infection. Hm.
Dude, where’s my… do we even call them cars anymore?
Carvana experienced an unbelievable price rally until it hit the guard rails. Harri and Alex pick apart the steep highs, the crushing lows, and the odd recovery in between the company seems to be in. The used-car platform experienced an epic stock surge, with shorted shares up 56% as the company expects record earnings. It sucks to be one of the WallStreetBets brothers sure of the company’s demise, but I’m sure the startup itself was relieved.
The other big story we have on our radar is Tesla and its charging standard. We reported that GM and Ford could help start a war over charging standards, and concluded that EV charging networks are turning to the Tesla standard as support for it grows. On TC+, Tim wonders if Tesla’s Supercharger network will be squeezed under the weight of the GM and Ford deals – but also that Tesla has a winner on its hands. Back in February, Google added electric vehicle chargers to its Google Maps product, and this week Apple followed suit – Apple Maps shows available spots near you.
Again this week, I lamented that electric vehicles are taking a step backwards by getting bigger, heavier, and dumber — just for Harri to report two counterpoints: Telo is betting America is ready for a dreamy little pickup, and Fiat’s little one Topolino concept that looks like tote bags adored. Yass.
Not Exactly Startup news, but it’s worth keeping up to date as a startup founder in this area:
Top readings on TechCrunch this week
That’s it folks! If you would like to send me news tips, you can find out here what I am reporting on and how you can reach me. And if you love a good pitch deck, here’s the full list of my pitch deck teardowns on TechCrunch+ and how to submit your own pitch deck.
Peace, see you next week!
Get your TechCrunch fix IRL. Join us this September at Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco for a deep dive into all things startup. From headline interviews to intimate roundtables to a jam-packed startup trade show, there’s something for everyone at Disrupt. Save up to $600 when you buy your pass now through August 11th, plus save 15% with promo code STARTUPS. Learn more.