Hey folks, welcome to the Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular roundup of the past week in tech. Too busy to check the headlines this week? Don’t tire him. That’s why WiR exists – we’ll get you up to speed.
This edition of WiR features pieces about a fake AI-generated episode of South Park; growing downloads of Threads, an app that shares the same name as Meta’s Twitter competitor; and building Tesla’s first Cybertruck. We also recap the resignation of the CEO of OnlyFans; Wix’s new tool that can create websites instantly, using generative AI; and Plex’s free Winamp-inspired music player.
That’s a lot to cover, so let’s get cracking. Oh, and if you haven’t already, sign up here to get WiR in your inbox every Saturday.
The most read
Weak Time for AI-Generated TV: Artificial intelligence startup Fable Studios demoed its platform this week, using it to create an entire, fake “South Park” episode in which Cartman tries to apply deepfake technology to the media industry. The technology was impressive, Devin writes, but — compared to the ongoing creative strike in television and film — the stunt seemed a little incompetent.
Not a good look for Microsoft security: Microsoft still doesn’t know — or want to share — how China-backed hackers stole a key that allowed them to secretly break into dozens of email inboxes, including those belonging to several government agencies. The company first disclosed the incident last Tuesday, attributing the month-long activity to a newly discovered spy group it calls Storm-0558, which it believes has strong ties to China.
of others Threads rise to new heights: Instagram’s Threads Twitter clone enjoyed a very fruitful first week in existence, crossing 30 million users in the first 24 hours. But it has had the unintended effect of putting the spotlight on Threads, an unrelated app originally pitched as a Slack alternative. Threads (the Slack alternative) reportedly racked up more than 880,000 downloads on iOS between July 6 and July 12, following the launch of Meta’s Threads, having had few downloads prior to that point.
Telsa reveals first build of Cybertruck: Tesla over the weekend said its first, long-awaited Cybertruck rolled off the production line in Texas. The debut of the long-delayed, futuristic-looking pickup truck comes ahead of Tesla’s Q2 2023 earnings call.
OnlyFans CEO resigns: After about two and a half years at the helm, Ami Gan is leaving OnlyFans. Chief strategy and operations officer Keily Blair will take over as CEO. As Amanda writes, OnlyFans is probably the most popular creator platform supporting adult content; according to Gan, the company paid out $10 billion to creators while she was CEO.
New pages, generated by AI: Wix, a longtime fixture in the web-building space, is betting that today’s customers don’t particularly care to spend time customizing every aspect of their site’s appearance. The company’s new AI Site Generator tool, announced this week, will allow Wix users to describe their purpose and generate a complete website with a homepage, internal pages, and text and images – as well as business-specific sections for events, bookings and more.
Plex makes its own Winamp-inspired player for free: Plexamp, the music player originally incubated by the Labs division of media company Plex, is now free. The project first launched in 2017 as a subscription-based spin on the classic Winamp media player app, offering visualizations to accompany your tunes, tools for programming mixes, and most recently, a “Sonic Sage” feature powered by ChatGPT that builds unique playlists from users’ music libraries.
VanMoof e-bikes, stored: Ever since e-bike startup VanMoof confirmed that it has requested a payment deferral in the Netherlands, there has been a question hanging over VanMoof bikes out there in the wild. To the somewhat unlikely rescue is Cowboy, VanMoof’s e-bike competitor over the border in Belgium. Cowboy’s Bikey app allows VanMoof riders to generate their own unique digital key and keep riding, Mike writes.
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At Equity, PitchBook venture guru Kyle Stanford caught up with the crew on venture capital in Q2 2023: the good, the bad, and the late stage.
Meanwhile, the latest episode of Found spotlighted Catherine Tabor, founder and CEO of Sparkfly, a company that helps brands with marketing and customer engagement. Tabor talked about building a company liquid enough to adapt to changing technology trends over the past decade and how she was dismissed by venture capitalists despite having visible customers.
TC+ subscribers have access to in-depth reviews, analysis and polls – which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are some highlights from this week:
Electric utilities drive customers to startups: Of all the companies that should be eager to embrace the electric transition, electric utilities would seem to be at the top of the list. However, they also seem to be some of the most reluctant. Startups are taking advantage of the situation, writes Tim.
Mixed-gender founding teams raise over a billion dollars: US startups with mixed-gender founding teams — meaning they have at least one female founder — raised $24.1 billion in the first half of 2023, down from $17.2 billion in the first quarter and $6.9 billion in the second quarter, according to the latest PitchBook data. This is a big deal – but it’s important to note that startups with all women The founding teams are still struggling to raise money this year.
Ripple’s XRP Case and Lack of Regulatory Clarity: Last week, the crypto community celebrated a US federal court case that ruled that Ripple’s XRP token does not constitute illegal securities sales – but only in some cases. Although many celebrated the decision, it’s not a real victory for crypto – Jacquelyn explains why.
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