Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus, Musk is raging against the machine


Welcome to Startups Weekly — Haje‘s weekly recap of every little thing you possibly can’t miss from the world of startups. Join here to get it in your inbox every Friday.

We’ve been in AI news this week. Google’s I/O set the pace: At its keynote, the word “AI” got here up on average once per minute throughout its two-hour keynote. Yowzers! Here’s the DL on Google’s AI plans.

OpenAI just dropped GPT-4o — the AI model that’s ChatGPT on steroids. This recent “omni” wonder-child can handle text, speech, and video like a multitasking prodigy hopped up on espresso shots. Also, OpenAI’s co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever decided to leap ship. The guy who mainly helped construct the brain of our future AI overlords is off to chase some “personally meaningful” rainbows.

Meanwhile, OpenAI is now considering AI-generated porn. Yes, you read that right — it looks like our future involves robots with a creative flair for NSFW content. The corporate desires to “responsibly” generate explicit images and text without violating laws or rights. Between you and me, letting Skynet dabble in adult entertainment seems anything but responsible, but I assume you’ll must stay tuned for more updates on this roller-coaster ride since it seems we’re hurtling toward an X-rated tech dystopia faster than you possibly can say “algo-rotica.”

Oh, and it’s also value noting that Anthropic has let kids join the AI party, but provided that developers play by the corporate’s rules. Teens can access third-party apps using Anthropic’s AI — just not Anthropic’s own apps — provided these apps include safety features like age verification and content filtering and a wall of “comply with COPPA” signs plastered to each surface.

Did anything occur of AI land? Sure, let’s have a look …

Most interesting startup stories from the week

Able to hand over your love life to a robot? Bumble’s Whitney Wolfe Herd thinks it’s time for bots to this point other bots, all within the name of fostering “healthy and equitable relationships.” Picture this: An AI “dating concierge” critiques your insecurities after which sends its own bot on a test run with one other bot. If sparks fly, possibly you get a match! It’s mainly Tinder meets “Black Mirror” episode “Hang the DJ” minus the dystopian charm. While some folks are snickering, others are wondering if living vicariously through digital avatars is any worse than swiping right on someone because they’ve a cute dog of their profile pic. Truly, the modernest of romances.

  • Ring ring, who’s that? Your creaking bones: Able to feel ancient? Oura’s recent smart ring features promise to let you know just how decrepit your heart really is with the Cardiovascular Age metric. It’s like a magic mirror, but to your arteries.
  • From cradle to cradle: Gather ’round, exhausted parents and eco-warriors! Alora Baby is here to rescue you from the limitless parade of landfill-bound baby gear. The startup has decided that your little angel’s leftover crib shouldn’t have a one-way ticket to Trashville. As an alternative, it’s pioneering “remanufactured” products which are nearly as good as recent (or so that they claim).
  • Domo Arigato: Kyle Vogt, the person who, with Cruise, brought us self-driving cars that sometimes forget pedestrians exist, is back with a brand new enterprise: robots to do your chores. Vogt’s latest brainchild, the Bot Company, has already scored $150 million in funding. One can only hope these bots have higher spatial awareness than his last project.
A person wears an Oura ring.
Image Credits: Oura

Most interesting fundraises this week

Ever lost a bet and ended up founding an organization? Nicholas Johnson has, and now he’s here to save lots of apartment-dwelling EV owners from the slow death of 120-volt outlets. Enter Orange Charger, peddling $750 smart outlets that’ll juice up your ride without landlords breaking into cold sweats over installation costs. The corporate raised a $6.5 million oversubscribed seed round

In a plot twist straight out of Silicon Valley’s soap opera, Permira is taking Squarespace private in a $6.9 billion money deal. The web site builder you almost certainly used to begin your probably-now-abandoned blog just got snapped up by some very serious individuals with very deep pockets. After riding the roller coaster of public trading and seeing its stock yo-yo prefer it was auditioning for Cirque du Soleil, Squarespace shall be tucked away from prying market eyes over again.

  • Layer? I barely know ’er!: QuickBooks, meet your recent nemesis: Layer. This San Francisco-based startup has just snagged $2.3 million to unseat the accounting giant by embedding bookkeeping tools directly into platforms like Square and Toast.
  • Spicy noms: In a world where Sysco and US Foods reign supreme, Pepper is the feisty underdog that’s shaking up the B2B food e-commerce scene. With a fresh $30 million money injection led by ICONIQ Growth, Pepper is giving small distributors some serious tech muscle to fight back against the massive boys.
  • Won’t you be my neighbor?: Welcome to the world of PayHOA, where Kentucky charm meets SaaS brilliance. This once-bootstrapped startup just pocketed a cool $27.5 million in Series A funding — seems that even your local HOA needs cloud-based financial wizardry today.
Squarespace headquarters in New York, US, on Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
Image Credits: Bloomberg / Contributor / Getty Images

Other unmissable TechCrunch stories …

In the newest episode of “Elon Musk Does Whatever He Wants,” the social media platform formerly often called Twitter now flags the words “cis” and “cisgender” as slurs. Yes, really. While hate speech targeting marginalized groups skates by unscathed, using a term recognized by medical and government authorities will get you a full-screen warning. It’s almost like Elon is attempting to make X a hostile environment for anyone who isn’t aligned along with his recent extremist fanbase. Never mind that the overwhelming majority of individuals on the platform cisgender — for those who use the word (or simply enjoy basic human decency), consider this your cue to exit stage left.

Oh, and apropos Musk doing whatever he rattling well pleases … Guess what happens once you put Elon Musk and a profitable division in the identical room? You fire it, after all! Tesla’s Supercharger network — an EV owner’s dream with its 50,000+ global charging ports — is now in complete disarray after Musk axed all the team.

  • Are you gonna go my way?: Uber’s latest brainwave to resolve the concert traffic nightmare: shuttle buses. Inspired by their success in India and Egypt, Uber is launching a shuttle service in U.S. cities this summer for concert events, sports events, and airport trips — because everyone loves being packed like sardines with strangers.
  • Crushing disappointment: Buckle up, folks, because Apple’s latest attempt at marketing the brand new iPad Pro is a masterclass in the best way to alienate your creative fanbase. In its “Crush” ad, they thought it might be super cool to point out an iPad smashing traditional art supplies into oblivion. Spoiler: It wasn’t.
  • Are you on tonight?: Ever wonder the best way to manage a mob of frontline employees without losing your mind? Enter Sona, the superhero workforce management platform that just bagged $27.5 million to revolutionize shift scheduling and timesheets for all those that keep society running while we binge-watch Netflix.
  • Zeekr and also you shall find: Zeekr, the Chinese luxury EV brand owned by Geely, made a grand entrance on the Recent York Stock Exchange, becoming the primary major U.S. listing from China since 2021. Investors went wild, sending Zeekr’s stock price soaring 38% in minutes and valuing it at a cool $7 billion.
  • A light-weight solution to a heavyweight problem: In a world where everyone’s either on a fad food plan or popping miracle weight-loss pills, Sammy Faycurry decided to truly do something useful: create a startup that helps registered dietitians start their very own practices and get covered by insurance.


What are your thoughts on this topic?
Let us know in the comments below.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Share this article

Recent posts

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x