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Fri-Yay! If you’ve got some time on your hands today, get your Disrupt tickets — early-bird savings end in 7 days!
Also, it seems a little daft to pick a fight against plant-based milks, but this advertisement by newly minted CEO Aubrey Plaza (yes, that Aubrey Plaza) at Wood Milk is delightfully bizarre and confusing. It makes for some great end-of-week wait-what-did-I-just-watch silliness.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- The ABCs of AI: Kyle reports about how, with DeepFloyd, artificial intelligence finally learns to draw text on images. He writes, “Trained on a dataset of more than a billion images and text, DeepFloyd IF, which requires a GPU with at least 16GB of RAM to run, can create an image from a prompt like ‘a teddy bear wearing a shirt that reads Deep Floyd’ — optionally in a range of styles.”
- It’ll cost you a quarter: You all were very interested in the 20 new games that Apple introduced to Apple Arcade. Ivan has more.
- Fewer glitches: Lauren spoke with Warner Bros. Discovery’s CTO and CPO to get the scoop on how they made Max less buggy. She also writes about how its streaming business is set to become profitable in 2023.
Startups and VC
Is the grass greener on the other side? We’re not sure, but the sky is most certainly bluer. It’s been over a year since Elon Musk announced his bid to buy Twitter, and those who opposed the sale have tried setting up shop on platforms like Mastodon, Substack Notes, T2…but none of these Twitter alternatives have really captured lightning in a bottle like Bluesky. Amanda and Alyssa break down the highlights for everything you need to know about Bluesky.
Mary Ann reports that Peter Ackerson has departed from his role as general partner at fintech-focused venture firm Fin Capital and started a new firm, Audere Capital, with the rather vague thesis of “championing American innovation through early-stage technology investment.”
And we have a few more for you to kick off the weekend:
- Slightly less social commerce: India’s Meesho cuts 251 jobs, reports Manish.
- From $1 billion valuation to an 80% reduction of headcount: Mary Ann reports that RapidAPI headcount is down 82% from fresh layoffs, less than two weeks after cutting 50% of staff.
- Handle your own damn supply chain: Catherine reports that Praktis lands $20 million to help Indonesian D2C brands handle their supply chains.
- Things’ll get better soon. Maybe.: Connie reports that In Europe, Accel banks on a turnaround over the next six to nine months.
- A testbed for fresh software: After bootstrapping for five years, Instruqt raises a €15M Series A from Blossom Capital, reports Mike.
- New Kenyan neobank: Kenya’s Fingo partners with Ecobank, launches neobank on the back of $4M investment, reports Tage.
Down rounds are a ‘ticket to try again,’ says founder who raised 3 in a row
Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, a sustained drought is an exercise in humility for yacht owners and kayakers alike.
According to Carta, “the number of down rounds had nearly quadrupled in Q1 2023 compared to the same time last year,” writes Rebecca Szkutak.
With valuations falling, founders who accept down rounds no longer have the taint of failure, said Russ Wilcox, a partner at Pillar VC.
“When you set a $700 million valuation, it looks like you’re winning somehow and you’re not being diluted, but actually, you just raised the bar so high,” he said.
Three more from the TC+ team:
- Do my homework, ChatGPT: OpenAI’s ChatGPT is shaking up the edtech markets, by Alex and Natasha M.
- To da moon: Investors cheer as Coinbase beats Q1 expectations, by Alex.
- To da pub: Tepid investor reaction clouds Lyft’s new strategy, by Alex and Anna.
Big Tech Inc.
Carly took an interesting call this week with an anonymous security researcher who found a trove of data exposed online that belonged to London-based outsourcing giant Capita. We’re talking over 3,000 files that included software files, server images, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and text files. We’re going to leave the good stuff for you to read but will note you should check out how long those files were supposedly out there exposed “on the line.”
If you’re into earnings, here are some:
- Lyft shares tumble as investors react to dim outlook, by Rebecca and Kirsten
- iPhone sales help Apple beat revenue forecasts for Q2, by Brian.
- Paytm tops $977 million revenue in a year, narrows loss, by Manish.
And now here’s four more:
- Poppin’ bottles: Samsung surpasses Apple in smartphone shipments by 1%, and that was amid persisting market decline, Ivan reports.
- Read my lips…: Crypto and influencers are targeted in Kenya’s new tax bid, writes Annie.
- Shop ’til you drop: Amazon’s TikTok-like Inspire shopping feed is now available to all customers in the U.S. Aisha has more.
- “A place where no one has been before”: That’s what internet pioneer Vint Cerf had to say about the “exhilarating mix” of thrill and hazard at the frontiers of tech, writes Devin.