Sam Altman backs teens’ startup, Google unveils the Pixel 8 and TikTok tests an ad-free tier

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Hiya, people, and welcome to Week in Assessment (WiR), TechCrunch’s digest of the previous week in tech information. It’s TC’s column that highlights the most important tales over the previous few days, and — we humbly submit — it’s a darn helpful useful resource for people on the go.

This week, we cowl Sam Altman backing a teen’s AI startup, Google’s {hardware} occasion (and first impressions of the Pixel 8 Professional), Flexport drama, and the continuing FTX fallout. Additionally on the agenda: Gmail’s harsher guidelines to forestall spam, TikTok testing an ad-free subscription plan, and LinkedIn going large on AI instruments. And that’s not all.

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Altman backs teen entrepreneurs: Sam Altman is among the many backers of an AI startup, based by two youngsters, that’s aiming to help companies in automating workflows in “beforehand unexplored” methods. Manish writes that Induced AI, based this 12 months, lets companies enter their back-office duties in plain English and converts the directions to pseudo-code in actual time.

Google unveils new hardware: This week was Google’s annual {hardware} occasion, the place the search and shopper tech big confirmed off what it’s been engaged on. Christine wrote up a thorough roundup of the information, which included updates on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, Pixel Fold, Android 14, Pixel Buds, Google Assistant, Bard, Pixel Watch 2 and other goodies.

Hands on with the Pixel 8 Pro: Darrell took the newly unveiled Pixel 8 Professional for a whirl, and he favored what he noticed. Whereas similar to final 12 months’s mannequin (the Pixel 7 Pro), Darrell felt that the improved cameras, brighter display and enhanced AI-powered options made it sufficient of an improve to (probably) warrant a purchase order — minus the underutilized temperature sensor. Keep tuned for his full evaluate.

Turmoil at Flexport: Dave Clark, the previous Amazon govt who was ousted as CEO of Flexport only a 12 months into the job, fired again at its founder and board, calling latest reporting on the logistics firm “deeply regarding.” Clark made the feedback Monday in a prolonged submit on social media website X following a report from CNBC that supplied new details about his final days at Flexport, a freight forwarding and customs brokerage startup valued at $8 billion.

SBF allegedly tried to buy off Trump: The TC staff’s been skilled on the Manhattan Federal Court docket for the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced entrepreneur accused of orchestrating the collapse of cryptocurrency trade FTX. However fascinating particulars about SBF’s political dealings are rising from a e book by Michael Lewis, “Going Infinite,” that debuted on the primary day of the trial, like SBF’s try to purchase off Trump to get him to not run once more for president.

Gmail fights back against spammers: Google this week announced a sequence of serious modifications to the way it handles e mail from bulk senders in an effort to chop down on spam and different undesirable emails. The corporate says that, beginning subsequent 12 months, bulk senders might want to authenticate their emails, provide a straightforward technique to unsubscribe and keep beneath a reported spam threshold.

TikTok tests an ad-free tier: TikTok is testing an ad-free subscription tier for some customers. For $4.99, subscribers get an ad-free expertise on TikTok — no different strings hooked up. However don’t search for the choice to reach anytime quickly. TikTok says that it’s piloting the plan in a single, English-speaking market exterior the U.S. for now.

LinkedIn leans into AI tools: LinkedIn this week unveiled a string of latest AI options spanning its job looking, advertising and gross sales merchandise, Ingrid writes. They embody an enormous replace to its Recruiter expertise sourcing platform, with AI help constructed into it all through; an AI-powered LinkedIn Studying coach; and a brand new AI-powered instrument for advertising campaigns.

Musk comes clean about X’s metrics — maybe: In September, Elon Musk said that X users were generating numerous content material — creating 100 million to 200 million posts each day, excluding retweets. However talking at an occasion this week, X CEO Linda Yaccarino provided a contradictory determine. She claimed X was seeing 500 million posts per day on the platform. So who’s proper? Beats us.

Former NSA director’s startup shutters: IronNet, a once-promising cybersecurity startup based by a former NSA director, has shuttered and laid off its remaining employees following its collapse. The Virginia-based IronNet was based in 2014 by retired four-star normal Keith Alexander and had raised greater than $400 million in funding. However IronNet failed to realize traction after going public in August 2021, and its inventory value continued to steeply decline within the wake of an preliminary spike.


On the hunt for a brand new podcast to hearken to when you work out, do the dishes or rake the leaves (now that fall’s arrived)? Look no additional than TechCrunch’s roster, which covers the world of startups, the blockchain and extra.

On Equity this week, the crew talked in regards to the SBF trial; offers from VR companies Rainforest, At One Ventures, Part 32 and Greylock, the place enterprise funding has declined; and the way Fearless Fund, a agency based to put money into girls of colour, is being barred from awarding grants to Black girls founders.

In the meantime, Found featured Esther Rodriguez-Villegas from Acurable, a medical system firm that makes patient-friendly wearable units to diagnose and handle respiratory situations at dwelling. As a career-long educational, Rodriguez-Villegas talks about how she by no means supposed to be a founder till she discovered about how the at present obtainable medical units make it extraordinarily tough to detect and deal with illnesses like sleep apnea and epilepsy.

And over on Chain Reaction, Jacquelyn did a crossover episode with Alex in regards to the SBF trial. Jacquelyn has been on the bottom on the Southern District of New York courthouse, listening in to the trial in the identical room as Bankman-Fried, so there was tons to speak about.


TC+ subscribers get entry to in-depth commentary, evaluation and surveys — which you understand for those who’re already a subscriber. In the event you’re not, consider signing up. Listed here are a number of highlights from this week:

Inside the SBF trial: Rebecca and Jacquelyn report on the second day of the SBF and FTX trial. The prosecution painted Bankman-Fried as somebody who knowingly dedicated fraud to attain nice wealth, energy and affect, whereas the protection countered that the FTX founder acted in good religion, by no means meant to commit fraud or steal and principally obtained in over his head.

Battery-boosting software tech: Tim covers Breathe Battery Applied sciences, a startup that’s developed a little bit of software program that may be slipped into nearly any lithium-ion battery in use at present — endowing it with both sooner charging speeds or better longevity.

What lies beyond ChatGPT: Anna surveyed 10 buyers about the way forward for AI and what they imagine is perhaps the subsequent large factor. Amongst different subjects, they touched on the place startups nonetheless stand an opportunity, the place oligopoly dynamics and first-mover benefits are shaping up and the worth of proprietary knowledge.

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