Sony and Honda introduce Afeela, Bird Buddy launches a new smart feeder, and Amazon gets an $8B loan

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Hi folks, this is Kyle, filling in for Greg who will be out for the next few weeks on paternity leave. While he’s enjoying time with his beautiful, healthy newborn (what better holiday gift, huh?), I’m learning the ropes of Week in Review to make sure everyone is up to date with the latest technology. I hope to do Greg justice – they are big shoes to fill!

Veteran readers know the drill, but for newbies, WiR aims to concisely recap the last seven days of TechCrunch stories. We publish to the site and send WiR to subscriber inboxes every Saturday (sign up here if you haven’t already) to make things easy. Like a butter croissant, WiR goes great with a morning cup of coffee, or tea if you prefer. Or hot chocolate. Take your pick, no judgment here.

Before we dive into the news, a reminder that the TC Early Stage event in Boston is fast approaching. Tickets won’t last, they never do, so grab them before they’re gone if you’re going to be in the greater Boston area at the end of April. We would love to see your smiling face.

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TikTok bans abound: The US might be getting all the attention for banning TikTok on government devices, but India did it first, two and a half years ago in fact. In recent comments, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the US should follow India’s lead more broadly to “remove… nefarious apps.” India has banned hundreds of apps other than TikTok, including PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India and UC Browser, with ties to China amid border skirmishes between the two neighboring nations.

i feel sick: It’s the season of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which continues to focus more and more on automobiles. For example, Sony and Honda introduced Afeela, their joint brand of electric vehicles, at a flashy press conference on Wednesday, where they brought a four-door sedan onto the stage. Pre-orders for Afeelas are scheduled for the first half of 2025, the companies said, with sales to begin sometime in the same year. Initial shipments will be delivered to North American customers in spring 2026.

No risk appetite: My colleague Natasha wrote an excellent article on how tech workers, burned out by recent layoffs, are reassessing their relationships with the industry, particularly in light of the potentially tumultuous economic times ahead. Some hold multiple full-time jobs in adjacent industries, while others opt for part-time contracting jobs to make ends meet. Few seem eager to give up technology altogether, but they’re certainly more cynical than they used to be.

For the birds: Bird Buddy, a startup behind “smart” bird feeders, unveiled its latest model at CES, which caters to hummingbirds. Like your original bird feeder, the new Bird Buddy feeder, which features recyclable and sustainable materials, has a motion-activated camera, allowing you to take photos of visiting birds. They are then run through an AI algorithm to help identify the species, alerting owners via a companion mobile app.

I didn’t do it I swear: Sam Bankman-Fried’s plea of ​​not guilty on various federal fraud charges was a tactical response, experts say. jaquelyn talked with. The former chief executive of crypto exchange FTX, whose company collapsed in November, may be buying time to reach a deal with prosecutors, they said. A trial date in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is set for October 2.

Cut the sales force: Salesforce announced this week that it will cut approximately 10% of its workforce, affecting more than 7,000 employees, while closing offices in “certain markets.” Like other companies hit by significant layoffs over the past year, CEO Marc Benioff said Salesforce hired too many people during the pandemic during boom times. The company claimed 79,000 employees last February, a 30% increase over 2020.

Billions for Bezos: Amazon took out an $8 billion loan, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch that the loan adds to the range of financing options that the company has taken advantage of in recent months to hedge against the “uncertain macroeconomic environment.” It also comes on the heels of a disappointing year for the retailer. that it expanded too much during the pandemic; In its most recent cost-cutting move, Amazon internally announced plans to lay off about 18,000 people.

I see you: Speaking of Amazon, at CES, Amazon-owned Ring brought back the Peephole Cam, a camera that fits over existing door peepholes to record what’s going on outdoors, in the hallways of apartment buildings. , etc. Now starting at $129, down from the original price of $199, it ships with software that aligns its capabilities with the rest of Ring’s portfolio, like motion detection and real-time video streaming.

audio summary

Got an appetite for podcasts to kick off the new year? Good, because TC is serving them up like hot cakes. On The TechCrunch Podcast, I spoke with Darrell about the CES-related AI product announcements, while Natasha discussed the effects of the mass layoffs on tech. Meanwhile, the team at Equity, TC’s startup-focused show, took a look at some early highlights of the week’s deals from CES, USV and Doorstead, plus the latest development in the FTX and SBF saga. . And last but not least, Found sat down with Brex co-founder and co-CEO Henrique Dubugras to discuss his corporate credit card and start-up of expense management.


Still don’t subscribe to TC+? It’s a shame, because there’s a lot of great content coming out of it. Some of the most popular this week were:

Fintech Predictions and Opportunities for 2023: It’s been an eventful year in fintech. The market is down a lot from the 2021 highs, and while 2022 was largely about resetting the funding environment, Victoria predicts that 2023 will be a year of recalibration for fintech companies. Read his full article to learn more.

5 points of failure between $5M and $100M in ARR: Tracy Young, former CEO of PlanGrid, a construction app for project managers, breaks down PlanGrid’s key points of failure and what she’s learned from them over the years. As she says in the opening paragraphs: “If these reflections help just one founder make one less mistake, I would consider this effort worthwhile.”

Is generative AI already becoming a bubble?: Rebecca surveyed more than 35 investors working in different geographies, investment stages and sectors about how they feel about generative AI, i.e. ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion and other similar technologies. Interestingly, while several investors said they were bullish on the new technology in general, they also conceded that the industry was likely to be lost in its own hype.

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