Startups Weekly: It's the dawn of the age of AI — plus, Musk rages against the machine

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Welcome to Startups Weekly — Haje's weekly recap of everything you can't miss from the world of startups. Sign up Here to receive in your inbox every Friday.

We have been drowning This week in AI news. Google's I/O set the pace: At its keynote, the word “AI” came up an average of once per minute in its two-hour keynote. Users! Here's the DL on Google's AI projects.

OpenAI has just dropped GPT-4o – an AI model that is ChatGPT on steroids. This new “omni” wunderkind can handle text, speech and video like a multitasking prodigy over espresso shots. Also, OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sotskiver decided to jump ship. The guy who basically helped build the brains of our future AI overlords is ready to chase some “personally meaningful” rainbows.

Meanwhile, OpenAI is now looking into AI-generated porn. Yes, you read that right — it looks like our future includes robots with an artistic flair for NSFW content. The company wants to create clear images and text “responsibly” without violating laws or rights. Between you and me, letting Skynet intrude on adult entertainment seems anything but responsible, but I guess you'll have to stay tuned for more updates on this rollercoaster ride because It looks like we're quickly heading towards an X-rated tech dystopia. More than you can say “algo rotica”.

Oh, and it's also worth noting that Anthropic has let kids join the AI ​​party, but only if developers play by the company's rules. Minors can access third-party apps using Anthropic's AI — not just Anthropic's own apps — provided those apps include security features such as age verification and content filtering and are “COPPA Compliant” at all levels. Include a wall of signs.

did something happen outside AI of Earth? Sure, let's take a look…

The most interesting startup stories of the week

Ready to hand over your love life to a robot? Bumble's Whitney Wolfhard believes it's time for bots to date other bots, all in the name of promoting “healthy and equal relationships.” Picture this: An AI “dating concierge” critiques your insecurities and then sends its bot on a test run with another bot. If sparks fly, you might just find a match! It's basically the Tinder “Black Mirror” episode “Hang the DJ” minus the dystopian charm. While some people are laughing, others are wondering if living through a digital avatar is worse than swiping right on someone because their profile picture has a cute dog. Truly, the ultimate in romance.

  • Ring, who is that? Your broken bones: Ready to feel ancient? Aura's new smart ring features promise to tell you how old your heart really is with a cardiovascular age metric. It's like a magic mirror, but for your arteries.
  • From cradle to cradle: Together 'round, weary parents and environmental warriors! Alora Baby is here to save you from the endless parade of landfill-bound baby gear. The startup has decided that your little angel's leftover crib doesn't have to be a one-way ticket to trashville. Instead, it's launching “remanufactured” products that are as good as new (or so they claim).
  • Duomo Arigato: Kyle Vogt, the man who, along with Cruise, brought us self-driving cars that sometimes forget about pedestrians, is back with a new project: robots to do your work. Vogt's latest brainchild, Bot Company, has already raised $150 million in funding. One can only hope that these bots will have better spatial awareness than his last project.
A man wears a ring of aura.
Image credit: Our

This week's most interesting fundraisers

Ever lost a bet and founded a company? Nicholas Johnson has, and now he's here to save apartment-dwelling EV owners from the slow death of 120-volt outlets. Enter Orange Charger, selling $750 smart outlets that will juice up your ride without breaking homeowners into a cold sweat over installation costs. The company raised a $6.5 million oversubscribed seed round.

In a plot twist out of a Silicon Valley soap opera, Permira is taking Squarespace private in a $6.9 billion cash deal. The website builder you probably used to start your now-abandoned blog has just been hijacked by some very serious people with very deep pockets. After riding the rollercoaster of public trading and seeing its stock YUU like it was auditioning for the Cirque du Soleil, Squarespace will once again be taken out of the market's sight.

  • Layer? I barely know!: QuickBooks, meet your new nemesis: Layer. The San Francisco-based startup just snapped up $2.3 million to take down the accounting giant by embedding bookkeeping tools directly into platforms like Square and Toast.
  • Spicy name: In a world ruled by Sysco and US Foods, Pepper is the underdog shaking up the B2B food e-commerce scene. With a new $30 million cash injection led by ICONIQ Growth, Pepper is giving smaller distributors some serious tech muscle to fight back against the big boys.
  • Won't you be my neighbor?: Welcome to the world of PayHOA, where Kentucky focuses on SaaS excellence. This once-bootstrapped startup just pocketed $27.5 million in Series A funding — looks like even your local HOA needs some cloud-based financial wizardry these days.
Image credit: Bloomberg / Partners / Getty Images

Other unforgettable stories from TechCrunch…

In the latest episode of “Elon Musk Does What He Wants,” the social media platform formerly known as Twitter now flags the words “cis” and “cisgender” as slurs. Yes, indeed. While real Hate speech targeting marginalized groups, using terminology recognized by medical and government authorities, will get you a full-screen warning. It's almost as if Alvin is trying to make X a hostile environment for anyone who isn't aligned with his new extreme fan base. Never mind that there is a majority of people on the platform. are cisgender — If you use this word (or just enjoy basic human decency), consider it your cue to exit stage left.

Oh, and whatever Musk is doing… guess what happens when you put Elon Musk and a for-profit division in the same room? You fire it, of course! Tesla's Supercharger network — an EV owner's dream with more than 50,000 global charging ports — is now in complete disarray after Musk fired the entire team.

  • Will you go my way?: Uber's latest brainwave to solve the concert traffic nightmare: shuttle buses. Inspired by their success in India and Egypt, Uber is launching a shuttle service in American cities this summer for concerts, sporting events, and airport trips — because everyone likes sardines with strangers. Likes to be full.
  • Crushing disappointment.: Rejoice, folks, because Apple's latest marketing effort for the new iPad Pro is a masterclass in how to alienate its creative fanbase. In his “Crush” ad, he thought it would be cool to show an iPad that ditches traditional art supplies. Spoiler: It wasn't.
  • are you in tonight: Ever wondered how to manage a crowd of frontline employees without losing your mind? Enter Sona, the superhero workforce management platform that just raised $27.5 million to revolutionize shift scheduling and timesheets for all the people who keep society running while we watch Netflix. are
  • Zeekr and you will find: Zeekr, the Chinese luxury EV brand owned by Geely, made a landmark entry on the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the first major US listing by China since 2021. At $7 billion.
  • A lightweight solution to a heavy weight problem: In a world where everyone is either on fad diets or taking miracle weight-loss pills, Sammy Faycurry decided to do something actually useful: create a startup that allows registered dietitians to Help start your own practice and get insurance coverage.
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