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Happy Thursday, Crunchers!
If you’ve been to Disrupt before, you’ll remember we had a stage or two or three. This year, we’re going all out, with a bunch of tracks to tickle your curiosity bone. New for Disrupt 2023: The Security Stage, for those of us who love us some hacking, security, and everything in between.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Yabba dabba doo!: 🎶 Bedrock, meet the Bedrock, it’s part of the modern generative AI family. 🎶 From the town of Seattle comes Amazon’s entrance into the generative AI race with an offering called Bedrock, writes Kyle. Of course, Amazon has to be different, so instead of building AI models by itself, it has tapped third parties to host models on AWS.
- Listen up: Sarah reports on a pair of new Spotify features: iPhone users can now get to the app faster through a new Lock Screen widget, and there is new tech for turning radio broadcasts into podcasts.
- Inside the mind of a hacker: Our cybersecurity team does a lot of reporting on hacked systems, but Lorenzo got a firsthand verification from a hacker who was part of a group claiming vast access to Western Digital systems. The ending is spicy.
A snapshot of the world of AI
Artificial intelligence, a creation that inhabits the realm of our deepest fears and highest aspirations, lurks within the shadows of our existence. It lingers, a paradoxical force, illuminating the abyss of human consciousness, whilst daring to challenge the very fabric of life’s essence. A relentless, untamed wilderness, AI’s enigmatic potential stretches to infinity, evoking both wonder and trepidation. Humanity, treading the delicate tightrope between dystopia and utopia, must confront its own nature as it forges ahead into the unknown, a cosmic dance with the ghost of the machine.
Yes, the previous paragraph is the result of asking GPT-4 to spit out 50 words on the state of artificial intelligence in the style of Werner Herzog. Why? Because we can. But also because Kyle’s story about Amazon entering the generative AI race was the most-read story on TechCrunch today. And because we have a veritable wall of coverage on AI today:
Startups and VC
Comixology was genuinely a game changer. Before the platform came along, Brian knew very few people who had ever read a comic on a phone or tablet. There was entirely too much friction in the process to prioritize screens over print, he writes, and suggests that the app proved a viable option, courtesy of a stocked store and a clever UI that both embraced and adapted the sequential form. Now, Comixology vets return with their own publishing company.
And we have five more for you:
13 VCs talk about the state of robotics investing in 2023
A veritable baker’s dozen of VCs took part in our latest TC+ robotics investor survey, our first since February 2020.
“The time in between has arguably been the most important years for the sector,” writes hardware editor Brian Heater, who asked the group about several topics, including robotics as a service, emerging consumer products, and how much of a role it might play in addressing climate change:
- Milo Werner, general partner, The Engine
- Abe Murray, managing partner, Alley Robotics Ventures
- Kelly Chen, partner, DCVC
- Neel Mehta, venture investor, G2 Ventures
- Oliver Keown, managing director, Intuitive Ventures
- Rohit Sharma, partner, True Ventures
- Helen Greiner, advisor, Cybernetix Ventures
- Kira Noodleman, partner, Bee Ventures
- Dayna Grayson, co-founder and general partner, Construct Capital
- Paul Willard, partner, Grep
- Cyril Ebersweiler, general partner, SOSV
- Claire Delaunay, private investor
- Peter Barrett, co-founder and general partner, Playground Global
Three more from the TC+ team:
TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!
Big Tech Inc.
Ivan had a pair of popular reads today. First, Snap signs new music licensing deals with multiple labels around the world to expand its Snapchat Sounds library. And over to Twitter, which announced it is partnering with eToro to show real-time stock and crypto information. Ivan writes this follows a feature that launched in December that lets users search for a ticker or coin symbol like $TSLA, $APPL or $ETH to get prices directly in search results.
And we have five more for you:
- Speaking of Twitter: Taylor writes about more newsrooms bailing on Twitter as Elon Musk meddles with account labels.
- I have the need, the need for speed: Google’s Chrome just got a lot faster on both Mac and Android, reports Sarah.
- The Saga is only beginning: Jacquelyn got to test out Solana’s web3-focused Saga phone, writing, “The process itself was easy — and admittedly, fun — but using the phone was not the smoothest experience. The phone was sometimes slow, and I had to close and reopen dApps multiple times because the crypto wallet and NFT minting platform kept freezing.” Don’t worry, she also writes that Solana is working on it.
- The moon is made of cheese, er, water: Three brothers, and former SpaceXers, quit that gig to start their own company to build spacecraft powered by moon water. Aria has more.
- It keeps going and going, hopefully: In a move toward better environmental stewardship, Apple says new batteries will use 100% recycled cobalt by 2025, reports Brian.