Photo credit: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch
Hello friends. Looking for a recap of this week’s news? You are in the right place. It’s Week in Review (WiR), the (more or less) regular newsletter that rounds up the top stories of the past few days written by the talented TC team. (Woot, alliteration.) There’s no faster way to bring important things up to date. Of course we are a bit biased.
Before we get on with the good stuff, a reminder that TechCrunch Early Stage 2023 is just around the corner – it’s taking place in Boston on April 20th. I will refrain from warming up my pitch in previous columns to a lot, but trust me when I say that’s where you want to be. You will not only be traveling with a healthy part of the TC editorial team – a rarity! – but you also have access to expert forums covering the many aspects of startup building.
Don’t forget that TechCrunch’s annual flagship conference, Disrupt, kicks off elsewhere in event land on September 19th. We’re particularly excited about the AI stage, which is new this year. Tickets are available here.
With that out of the way, on to the news:
Private no more: This week, numerous Twitter users reported a bug where circle tweets — meant to reach a select group like an Instagram story from close friends — appeared on the algorithmically generated For You timeline. This meant that some people’s supposedly private posts were violating containment to reach unintended audiences, which quickly led to some awkward situations. amanda reports.
They forced me: In a recent interview with BBC reporter James Clayton on Twitter Spaces, Twitter CEO Elon Musk admitted what many had suspected: he bought Twitter because he felt he was being forced into it. To recap, Twitter took Musk to court last year to force him to honor his signed commitment to acquire the company for the agreed price of $44 billion, or $54.20 per share. After some legal back-and-forth, Musk — while staring at a protracted court battle — agreed to buy the company at the price he originally set.
Twitter becomes X: In even more Twitter messages (it’s a lot, I know), Twitter, Inc. is now called X Corp., according to a California court filing. Amanda writes that Elon Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion last year, is striving to build what he “X, the everything app.” This proposed app could look like China’s WeChat, which supports messaging, payments, ridesharing, meal delivery and other services in one place.
Hijacked Reviews: The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a final consent injunction in its first-ever enforcement action in a case of “review hijacking,” or when a marketer steals consumer reviews of another product to increase sales of its own product. Sarah writes that in this case, the FTC ordered dietary supplement retailer The Bountiful Company, the maker of Nature’s Bounty vitamins and other brands, to pay $600,000 for deceiving and misleading customers on Amazon.
If it’s free, for me it’s: Google TV, Google’s smart TV operating system that powers Chromecast devices and various TVs, received a major update this week aimed at expanding access to free streaming content. Google TV now integrates access to free streaming channels like Tubi, Plex and Haystack News directly into its redesigned Live tab, alongside the existing offering of channels from free streamer Pluto TV.
New phone, who that?: In an effort to expand its reach, Stockholm-based Truecaller is rolling out an update that brings live caller ID support on iOS, available to people using its paid plans. Jagmeet writes that the new feature comes as Truecaller continues to see a lot of growth but also some setbacks in its strongest markets like India.
Clay is the new plastic: Disposable plastic and cardboard cups are an environmental disaster. GaeaStar, a startup based in Berlin and San Francisco, believes it can do better with clay, water, salt and sand. Harry reports. To make the single-use containers, the startup claims to have developed a special 3D printer that outputs them in “30 seconds or less” — quite a claim.
New Android on the block: Google’s Android development cycle moves at a fairly predictable pace these days. This week, after two developer previews, the company released the first of four planned public betas of Android 14. Frederick reports. As with previous releases, the first beta is also the first release that anyone can install over-the-air, provided they have a supported Pixel device that dates back to the Pixel 4a 5G (but not the Pixel 4).
TechCrunch’s list of podcasts hasn’t gotten any less impressive if you haven’t listened to them yet. Over at Equity, the crew dived into the deals of the week, the regulation and dynamics on the ground in the AI space, and the opportunities funds can offer venture capitalists. And on this week’s Found, Lauren Markler spoke about how her company, Cofertility, is aiming to rebrand egg donation by making the process less transactional — and much more affordable.
TC+ subscribers get access to the in-depth commentary, analysis, and polls you’ll know if you’re already a subscriber. If not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:
SaaS Metrics That Attract Investors: Oleksandr Yaroshenko, Head of Strategy and Investments at Headway, writes about which engagement metrics spark the most interest from investors, including long-term engagement at the end of a subscription and frequency of interactions with core app features.
What tailpipe regs mean for investors: The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new regulations that would come into force in 2027 and pave the way for a new car market dominated by electric vehicles. Tim writes about how many investment opportunities there are when EV rules come to the fore.
Robot Revolution: brian spoke to over a dozen VCs about the state of robotics investment in 2023. As he notes, despite the recent downtrend, robotics remains dynamic and exciting, and undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of it with exponential growth.