Image credits: Brian Heating
Hello friends, and welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter recapping the week in tech. Typically, the period between Christmas and New Year tends to be sleepier, but that wasn’t the case in 2023. Luckily, the TC team was there to document everything that happened.
This edition of WiR highlights Brian’s review of the new Amazon Echo Frames, MrBeast’s bizarre game show, the Apple Watch ban in the US, and the expected release date of the Apple Vision Pro. We also cover the shutdown of Hyperloop One, Xiaomi’s first electric vehicle, the New York Times suing OpenAI, and the hack of CBS and Paramount’s parent company.
There’s a lot to overcome, so we’ll get going. But first, a reminder to sign up here to receive WiR in your inbox every Saturday if you haven’t already.
New echo frames: Brian tested Amazon’s new and improved Echo Frames, which offer improved sound and a 14-hour battery. He found the AR glasses lacking compared to the Ray-Ban Metas, especially considering the $270 price tag (they’re currently marked down to $200).
MrBeast jumps the shark: Amanda writes about MrBeast’s bizarre new reality show, in which two contestants agree to cohabit in a bright, asylum-like room for 100 days in exchange for $185,000 each in prize money. What’s intriguing about this experiment, she says, is that it’s emblematic of the compromise that’s become normal on social media: If you endure pain for content, you might be able to repay your debt.
Apple Watch banned – then not: A recent US ban on Apple Watch imports – centered on two brands of pulse oximetry sensors owned by health technology company Masimo – almost remained in place after the Biden administration declined to oppose his veto of a previous decision of the International Trade Commission. But then an appeals court instituted a pause, allowing Apple to resume sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 — at least temporarily.
Vision Pro, coming soon: In other Apple news, renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has clarified what he thinks will be a late January or early February release date for the Vision Pro, Apple’s highly anticipated AR heads-up display. Kuo says the first wave of Vision Pro will ship to Apple in about a month, with total shipments of about 500,000 for the full year.
Hyperloop One crashes and burns: One of the longest-running hyperloop startups is reportedly shutting down. Hyperloop One, formerly backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, will cease operations on December 31, writes Sean. It’s the latest failure in the tech industry’s attempt to bring to life an idea that Elon Musk first outlined in a white paper in 2013, and it comes after Hyperloop One raised — and spent – hundreds of millions of dollars since its inception in 2014.
Xiaomi releases a car: Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi has unveiled its first electric car: a sleek-looking sedan called the SU7. Scheduled to roll out in China next year, it’s a new entry into an increasingly crowded market for electric vehicles – and an attempt, in this software-obsessed world, to match the technology people find in their phones to what’s happening inside their car.
The New York Times sues OpenAI: The New York Times is suing OpenAI and its close associate (and investor), Microsoft, for allegedly violating copyright law by training generative AI models on Times content. It remains an open question whether the lawsuit will succeed, but it highlights the growing conflict between content creators and the vendors who use their work to train – and commercialize – generative AI technologies.
National Amusements hacked: National Amusements, the movie theater chain and parent company of media giants Paramount and CBS, has confirmed that it suffered a data breach last December in which hackers stole the personal information of tens of thousands of people. Details of the breach were not revealed until a year after the incident; the company began notifying affected individuals earlier this month.
Need some listening gear as you prepare for a killer New Year? TC has you covered, as always.
THE Equity The crew said goodbye to 2023 with their annual predictions episode. As they attempt to do every year, the hosts brought in a number of voices to talk about trends in startups, media, proptech, AI and transportation – and went back and looked at their predictions from last year.
On Found, Dom and Becca analyzed the year 2023 in startups by looking back at some of their favorite conversations – and looking forward to predicting some startup trends in 2024. They talked about innovative climate tech companies, the ethics of AI and fundraising, building good relationships with founders, and what the next year might look like for startups.
And on Chain Reaction, Jacquelyn remixed an episode from earlier this year – an episode featuring an interview with Deana Burke and Natasha Hoskins, the co-founders of the Boys Club. Boys Club is a decentralized autonomous social organization for the “crypto-curious”, originally designed to bring women and non-binary people into the world of Web3, but now aims to be an open space for anyone who looking to get into the industry.
TC+ subscribers have access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys, which you are familiar with if you are already a subscriber. If not, consider registering. Here are some highlights from this week:
Investors share their predictions: Rebecca asked more than 40 venture capital firms when they expected the next venture capital bubble to burst next year, which startups they thought would IPO first, if they expected to see more startups shut down in 2024 than in recent years – and then some.
Diversity commitments: Dom checked out the venture capital firms that made commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. So who kept their word? Keep reading to find out.
Summary of the investor survey: Karan has put together a curated list of timely TC investor surveys of the year. They cover topics like alternative proteins, the robotics revolution, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, and the future of energy.
Gn En tech