June 21, 2024
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Startups Weekly: Drama on Techstars. Drama in AI. Drama everywhere.

Welcome to Startups Weekly – HajeThe weekly summary of everything you can't miss in the world of startups. Register here to receive it in your inbox every Friday.

Well, friends, it seems that The drama of the technological stars You just got a new plot twist. CEO Maëlle Gavet leaves, leaving co-founder David Cohen to return and save the day, or at least try to. Gavet's three-and-a-half-year tenure was a rollercoaster of controversy, from an employee exodus to close accelerator programs faster than you can say “pivot.” Although an $80 million deal with JPMorgan becoming a Titanic-level disaster and losing $7 million by 2023, he insists he wouldn't trade the experience for anything. As for Cohen? He is excited about his return as CEO.

The most interesting startup stories of the week

Linktree just reached 50 million users, proving that everyone and their grandmother now has a link in bio. From a lowly 2.7 million in 2019 to this astronomical figure, they are basically the popular kid at school that everyone wants to sit next to. Linktree is rolling out social commerce features so creators can showcase their pages and earn commissions from big brands like Adidas and Sephora. With over $300 million in monthly sales already flowing through those links, it's clear they're not kidding.

  • Human looking for home: Humane, the brainchild of former Apple executives and creator of the $700 Ai Pin no one asked for, is now reportedly looking for a buyer. Apparently, expects to raise between 750 million and 1 billion dollarsin case someone wants to add a wearable device that is basically a smartphone with commitment issues to their product portfolio.
  • Sonos hugs your head: Sonos finally answered your prayers and released its “most requested product to date.” No, it is not a speaker who pays your taxes, he is ace headphones. For $449, you'll soon be able to flaunt these over-the-ear beauties.
  • Coming soon to a roundabout near you: The United Kingdom has officially waved the checkered flag for “driverless cars”; That's what autonomous driving is called there. How picturesque! Through the Automated Vehicle Act, you may find yourself Sharing the road with robot cars by 2026..
Beats by Sonos, in the form of the Sonos Ace headphones.
Image credits: Sonos

Trend of the week: AI drama

It looks like OpenAI's latest chatbot, Sky, did its best Scarlett Johansson impression and They arrested me a lot! The AI ​​voice flirted a little too much with ScarJo's iconic voice. OpenAI swears it wasn't trying to recreate her sultry tones from “Her,” but the internet couldn't help but notice the uncanny resemblance. CEO Sam Altman even tweeted “she” because, well, why wouldn't you, really? Now that Johansson has gone legal faster than you can say “deepfake,” OpenAI has removed Sky's voice from its product, while legal machinations rumble to find a solution to this mess.

OpenAI, meanwhile, doesn't seem to be doing much harm. The ChatGPT mobile app just scored a revenue jackpot with the launch of GPT-4o. Despite promising free access on the web, OpenAI decided to push mobile users towards a $19.99 monthly subscription if they wanted in on the action. Plot twist: People are shelling out more than their Netflix subscriptions for it.. In its first week alone, net revenue increased 22%, raking in up to $900,000 daily and totaling a whopping $4.2 million from May 13 to 17.

  • Not ScarJo, me, brother: Hollywood's elite can now hide your digital doppelgängers in CAA’s high-tech “theCAAvault” as if it were a Fort Knox for AI clones.
  • The festival of the whitest sausages in the city: Despite years of complaints from women and people of color about being marginalized in the AI ​​space, Meta has apparently decided that diversity is overrated. So, she gathered a business brother team to guide your AI strategy. Great, great, great.
  • Hit the road take: Expedia's latest news reads like a soap opera script: CTO Rathi Murthy and SVP Sreenivas Rachamadugu have been unceremoniously kicked to the curb for breaking some mysterious company policy. The travel booking giant is staying mum on the juicy details, citing confidentiality. Murthy was just promoting new AI features days before his sudden departure, talk about bad timing!
A general view of the atmosphere at the launch of Citi and Expedia's new travel credit cards on September 17, 2014 in New York
Expedia saw a sudden change when some senior staff were sent packing.
Image credits: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Citi

This week's most interesting fundraisers

Good day! In the latest episode of “How much money can we invest in AI?”, the French startup H has just raised a cool $220 million in seed funding. Yes, you read that right – seed foundation. With a founding team that includes more former Google DeepMind employees than a Silicon Valley gathering, H aims to revolutionize productivity with its “frontier action models.” Translation: They are building robots to do our jobs better than us. Remind me why I'm sitting here writing this newsletter with my literal fingers? What is this, the 20s?

  • The hardware is less hard: Forget what you know about hardware engineering because Rollup is here. The startup has been lurking in the shadows for three years, quietly raising $5.6 million from big names like Andreessen Horowitz and Thiel Capital.
  • many layers: QuickBooks may be the father of accounting software, but it looks like there's a new kid on the block: Layer. Fresh off a $2.3 million raise, this startup promises make accounting less painful for small and medium-sized businesses with its sophisticated integrated functions.
  • We don't need roads of steel: Forget robotaxis stuck in city traffic – the latest fad is autonomous vehicles that laughter at road maps. Overland AI and Potential are leading this off-road autonomy revolution, backed by venture capitalists and Uncle Sam's Department of Defense.
An ATV drives autonomously in an off-road environment
Image credits: Terrestrial AI

Other must-see stories from TechCrunch…

Welcome to the job market of 2023, where instead of flipping burgers, you could program a robot to do it for you. Brian compiled a list of 81 robotics companies that are hiring faster than you can say “artificial intelligence.” From humanoids that could steal your job (or make your coffee) to drones that ensure your Amazon packages arrive before you've even clicked “order,” there's never been a more exciting (or terrifying) time to dive into the robotics. Go ahead, apply now and secure your place in the brave new world of Mechanical Overlords 🤖.

  • More money, more passengers?: Buckle up, Minnesota! Uber and Lyft drivers will receive a raise thanks to a new state agreement, but don't get too comfortable in that back seat. Starting in 2025, drivers will earn more money, rates that caused Uber to complain about higher costs.
  • Soz, boy, there's no bank for you: Teen fintech startup Copper Banking is having a rough week. Your banking and debit products are ready thanks to the epic implosion of Synapse. The middleware provider crashed and burned in Chapter 11, and then directly into Chapter 7 liquidation.
  • Won't you be my friend?: Bumble, the dating app that now feels like a friend zone due to the broader decline of its core market, has decided to swipe right in Geneva. a community building platform. Apparently realizing that “Netflix and chill” doesn't always translate into lifelong partnerships, Bumble intends to expand its focus from one-on-one connections to group hugs and friendship bracelets.
  • VinFast horror: In a tragic twist straight out of an automotive horror movie script, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating an accident from April where a VinFast VF 8 SUV decided to play “hug the oak” in California, resulting in the fire deaths of a family of four.
  • Don't worry, we already have all your information.: Welcome to the digital age, where even your hotel check-in can be the star of a spyware drama! At least three Wyndham hotels in the US have been caught red-handed with pcTattletalea consumer spyware application that has been taking screenshots of guest details and customer information.

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