Stripe Considers Exit, Dell Bets on the Cloud, and Shutterstock Embraces Generative AI • TechCrunch
Hey, party people, it’s Kyle, keep popping in so Greg writes Review of the week while he spends time with his newborn. I don’t know about y’all but it’s been a long time one week. I’m dead tired and grateful it’s over. But because news never sleeps, I rally with the help of a fourth cup of coffee. Wish me good luck.
I’ve spoken in your ears about it at this point, but I’m contractually obligated (not really, but still) to mention the next TechCrunch Early Stage 2023 event in Boston on April 20. The one-day Startup Summit will include tips and takeaways from top experts, as well as opportunities to meet other founders and share your own entrepreneurial experiences. Don’t miss it.
Speaking of travel, it’s not too early to start thinking about this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, which will take place at the end of September in San Francisco. Tickets are not yet available, but will be in the near future. Register here for updates.
With the call to action passed (phew), here’s this week in the tech news!
Stripe eyes an output: Mary Ann and Natasha write that fintech startup Stripe has set itself a 12-month deadline to go public, either through a direct listing or by pursuing a transaction in the private market. The payments giant was founded in 2010, so the fact that it is exploring exit routes isn’t entirely surprising. But Stripe hasn’t been immune to the global slowdown recently. fire 14% of its workforce (approximately 1,120 people) and lowering its internal valuation many times. In a twist, Stripe reportedly attempted to raise at least $2 billion in capital recently, according to at the Wall Street Journal.
Dell bets on the cloud: Ingrid reports that Dell is making an acquisition to bolster its cloud services business, specifically its DevOps offering. The company buys cloudify, an Israeli startup that built a platform for cloud orchestration and infrastructure automation, sources say, up to $100 million. The purchase comes as DevOps startups continue to attract investor attention, with venture capital funding in the sector reaching $4 billion in the second quarter of 2021, according to at PitchBook.
Shutterstock embraces generative AI: As part of a partnership with OpenAI, the AI startup that recently attracted A multi-billion dollar investment from Microsoft, Shutterstock this week rolled out a tool that allows customers to create images based on text prompts. Powered by technology from OpenAI, specifically DALL-E 2, the tool creates “license-ready” images after they are created. This is important given that one of Shutterstock’s biggest competitors, Getty Images, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against Stability AI – maker of another generative AI service called Stable Diffusion – over the use of its images to train its AI without permission from Getty or the rights holders.
The bidet brand acquires a shower start-up: Harris has the scoop on Brondell’s purchase of Nebia, the tech showerhead startup backed by Apple CEO Tim Cook and a host of other big names, including Airbnb co-founder, Joe Gebbia. Nebia stood out when it launched with expensive nozzles that propelled users with a fine mist while retaining up to 70% of the water that a typical showerhead sprays. Co-founder Philip Winter told TechCrunch this week that Nebia’s products, including those made with Moen, have reached more than 100,000 homes.
An AI maestro, never before seen: An impressive new AI system from Google can generate music in any genre with text description. But the company, fearing risks, has no immediate plans to release it. Called MusicLM, the system was trained on a dataset of 280,000 hours of music to learn how to generate consistent songs for descriptions such as “enchanting jazz song with a memorable saxophone solo and lead singer” or “techno from the 90s from Berlin with low bass and a powerful kick”. “His songs, remarkably, sound like a human artist might compose, but not necessarily as inventive or musically cohesive.
No rest for Musk’s Twitter: Owner of Twitter and self-proclaimed “free speech absolutistElon Musk is facing a legal challenge in Germany over how the platform would not enforce its own rules against anti-Semitic content, including Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany – which has strict laws prohibiting anti-Semitic hate speech – making the Berlin court a key arena to hear such a challenge.For his part, Musk has repeatedly asserted that Twitter will abide by all laws of the countries where it operates, including European speech lawsthough he has yet to comment publicly on that specific lawsuit.
Text until you drop: Walmart recently introduced a new way to shop via chatbot. Sarah I tried and found the experience leaves a lot to be desired. She writes, “It felt like the process of ordering a few basic items had become an ordeal and took a lot longer than the traditional method of searching the Walmart app and adding items to cart. If conversational commerce like this is the future, I’d say it’s still a work in progress.
Flutter to the future: BeatGoogle’s open-source framework for building cross-platform apps for mobile, web, and desktop is making good progress. Frederic writes that at a recent conference, the tech giant highlighted the latest version of Flutter, which brings dramatically improved graphics performance, the ability to more easily embed Flutter code into existing web and mobile apps, and support for new architectures such as WebAssembly and RISC-V.
For your listening pleasure, TechCrunch has a crop of compelling new podcast episodes in the queue (as it does every week, might I add). More than Equitythe team took the mic to talk about the deals of the week, the departure of the CEO of All Raise, what the Google antitrust lawsuit means for startups, the impact of the slowdown on how companies hire and why femtech stood out in 2022. Found, Darrell and Beca were joined by Klarna co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski to talk about how the company is growing beyond buy it now, pay later space to become a neobank. And TC’s crypto-focused Chain reaction spotlighted Mo Shaikh, co-founder and CEO of Aptos layer-1 blockchain, which builds infrastructure for Web3 applications and products.
TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and polls – which you know if you’re already one. If not, consider signing up. I doubt you will regret it. Check out this week’s highlights:
Salesforce under siege: Salesforce finds itself under threat from activist investor Elliott Management, which announcement he was taking a multi-billion dollar position in the CRM leader. Ron examines what could be next for Salesforce as the company seeks to cut costs and potentially sell off unprofitable parts of the organization.
The energy transition is winning with investors: Tim looks at investments in the energy transition, which took off last year. Businesses, financial institutions, governments and end users around the world have invested $1.11 trillion in low-carbon technologies, just over 30% more than in 2021 and the second year consecutive year in which the growth rate has exceeded this figure.
Increased control: Rebecca writes that startups should expect more scrutiny from VCs over their hiring plans. Startups went on a hiring spree in 2021 as venture capital cash flowed in and the job market was hot. But many abused the talent pool and then had to make major cuts and layoffs in 2022.
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