A reminder for new readers. That Was The Week collects the best writing on critical issues in tech, startups, and venture capital. I select the articles because they are of interest. The selections often include things I disagree with. The articles are only snippets. Click on the headline to go to the original. I express my point of view in my editorial and the weekly video.
Content this week from @SubstackInc, @WaterSlicer, @semil, @JMBooyah, @SignalRank, @stephen_wolfram, @GarryTan, @aidanfitzryan, @geneteare, @crunchbasenews, @CaseyNewton, @betaworks, @aaronp613, @techcrunch, @theinformation
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Substack’s mission is to transform the internet from a one-business-model platform into one that can support content creation without resorting to advertising as the revenue stream that pays for it. The subscription network summarizes the core shift its founders want to catalyze.
This week Substack launched Notes, its content feed, as part of its ongoing attempt to enable a network effect whereby content creators can post, like, share, re-post, mention, and reply to each other’s work. The product is well done, albeit in a style highly reminiscent of Twitter.
Twitter has probably overreacted to the product. It has stopped Tweets from being embeddable into Substack newsletters. It initially went further, only to back off, from blocking references to Substack in Tweets.
The court is now set. The match can begin. Will Substack’s Notes product impact Twitter? Will the product help Substack?
I seriously have doubts that Twitter will be impacted. And I suspect it will not be too long until Twitter realizes that blocking the embedding of Tweets in a Substack newsletter does nothing good for Twitter.
That said, I do think Notes will help Substack. This newsletter gets many new subscribers each week, and they almost all come from within the Substack ecosystem. Notes will add to my ability to reach others and their ability to find me. I will certainly post in Notes. I think every content producer on Substack will benefit, and Substack will become a more interesting destination for those discovering creators.
But Notes is imperfect, as expected from a new product. The main weakness is that it is not integrated into the Android or iPhone “sharing” technology. When looking at a web page on the iPhone there is a sharing button. It can post the content you are looking at to Facebook or Twitter, WhatsApp, or Telegram. But it can’t post to Substack. That makes posting external content into a Note a manual copy-and-paste job. That needs fixing if Notes is to be a first-class host of shared and discussed content.
Twitter – possibly in response – announced subscriptions to Twitter accounts today. This adds fuel to Substacks fire. The belief in a subscription model may be shared between the two companies.
What is interesting, as we have sometimes discussed on , is that Substack’s hostility to advertising is also standing in the way of a better use of sponsorships. always tells me how important sponsorships are for trade press and events. Certainly, that is true for Podcasts. It would seem obvious that a Substack could have one or more sponsors, either permanent or temporary. I know that if offered to sponsor That Was The Week for 12 months. I would happily give some placement in return for the $200k. Nobody would be better placed than Substack itself to attract sponsors and help us integrate them and their revenue streams into our newsletters. It is a “Google Adsense” moment.
Outbound promotion of a Substack post is already built into the publishing platform. Tweeting a Note might also make sense, with the link pointing back to the author’s Notes profile, showing the specific Note Tweeted. The same for Facebook. And I am still surprised LinkedIn is not added to those outbound lists.
More in this week’s video on Friday.
Congratulations to and for a great week. More to come, I am sure.
Product of the Week
A way to share posts and short-form content on Substack
APR 11, 2023
Today we’re launching Notes to everyone. Notes is a new space where you can publish short-form posts and share ideas with other writers and readers on Substack.
Notes helps writers’ and creators’ work travel through the Substack network for new readers to discover. You can share links, images, quick thoughts, and snippets from Substack posts. As well as being lightweight and fun, we hope that Notes will help writers grow their audience and revenue. Notes lives in a tab beside Inbox at substack.com and in Substack’s mobile apps. Unlike an Inbox post, a Notes post does not get sent to subscribers by email.
Notes also marks the next step in our efforts to build our subscription network—one that puts writers and readers in charge, rewards great work with money, and protects the free press and free speech. This work is at the core of the Substack model, and we believe it will be an important part of a new economic engine for culture. But what you see today is just the beginning. Notes is a long-term project, and success will ultimately be determined by the trust expressed by writers and readers over the course of years. We do not take that trust for granted.
This release is an early version of the product that we have been testing with a small group of writers in recent weeks. We expect it to have bumps, bugs, and imperfections, and for it to evolve rapidly in response to feedback. If you have ideas, please let us know—preferably in Notes!
We think that Notes can become a powerful driver of subscriptions. Historically, having worthy posts get shared widely is one of the major ways that writers find growth on Substack. Notes will help posts find a valuable audience of writers and readers who are already invested in the Substack ecosystem and are just one click away from a subscription.
Answers to writers’ questions about Substack Notes
APR 11, 2023
Notes is a new space where writers can publish short-form posts and share ideas with each other and their readers. Through Notes, writers and readers can recommend posts, links, images, and quotes, leave comments, and more.
As you start exploring the Notes tab on Substack and post your own notes, here are some answers to common questions about Notes.
Why should I use Notes?
Not all ideas or commentary warrant writing and emailing out a new post to subscribers. Notes allow writers to post short-form content in between posts, and get in front of new audiences in the process.
The ultimate goal on Substack is to convert casual readers into paying subscribers. Because the Substack network runs on paid subscriptions, writers are rewarded for respecting the trust and attention of their audiences, not exploiting it like with ad-based social media.
Readers might come across a writer’s profile by way of a reply they left on another writer’s note, or a post they wrote that someone “restacked.” Readers can then subscribe in one click, helping writers build their email list.
Just like everything else on Substack, writers will own their email lists. They can export subscribers’ emails and walk away at any time if they wish.
How could I use Notes?
Notes give writers and readers the ability to recommend almost anything, including posts, quotes, comments, images, and links. When writers recommend great writing and ideas—their own and especially that of other writers they love—everyone grows.
In Notes, writers might:
Write short-form posts (like microblogging)
Restack posts they enjoyed and think others might like
Promote a recent post by sharing a quote
Tag a writer they admire to start a conversation
Reply to the notes they find most interesting
Can Substack handle the wrath of Elon Musk and the pain of content moderation?
Apr 13, 2023
It is fair to say that Substack has had a dramatic week and a half or so, and I talked to their CEO Chris Best about it. The company announced a new feature called Substack Notes, which looks quite a bit like Twitter — Substack authors can post short bits of text to share links and kick off discussions, and people can reply to them, like the posts, the whole thing. Like I said, Twitter.
Twitter, under the direction of Elon Musk, did not like the prospect of this competition, and for several days last week, Twitter was taking aggressive actions against Substack. At one point you couldn’t even like tweets with Substack links in them. At another point, clicking on a Substack link resulted in a warning message about the platform being unsafe. And finally, Twitter redirected all searches for the word Substack to “newsletter.” Musk claimed Substack was somehow downloading the Twitter database to bootstrap Substack Notes, which, well, I’m still not sure what that means, but I at least asked Chris what he thought that meant and whether he was doing it.
Essays of the Week
The commerce department has requested public comment on AI accountability measures to ensure privacy and transparency
Tue 11 Apr 2023
The US government is taking its first tentative steps toward establishing rules for artificial intelligence tools, as the frenzy over generative AI and chatbots reach a fever pitch.
The US commerce department on Tuesday announced it is officially requesting public comment on how to create accountability measures for AI, seeking help on how to advise US policymakers to approach the technology.
“In the same way that financial audits created trust in the accuracy of financial statements for businesses, accountability mechanisms for AI can help assure that an AI system is trustworthy,”
said Alan Davidson, the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), at a press conference at the University of Pittsburgh.
Davidson said that the NTIA is seeking feedback from the public, including from researchers, industry groups, and privacy and digital rights organizations on the development of audits and assessments of AI tools created by private industry. He also said that the NTIA looking to establish guardrails that would allow the government to determine whether AI systems perform the way companies claim they do, whether they are safe and effective, whether they have discriminatory outcomes or “reflect unacceptable levels of bias”, whether they spread or perpetuate misinformation, and whether they respect individuals’ privacy.
“We have to move fast because these AI technologies are moving very fast in some ways,” Davidson said. “We’ve had the luxury of time with some of those other technologies … this feels much more urgent.”
The Biden administration has previously introduced a “guide” around the development of AI systems in the form of a voluntary “bill of rights” which entail five principles that companies should consider for their products. Those include data privacy, protections against algorithmic discrimination, and transparency around when and how an automated system is being used….
Image Credits: Andrii Shyp / Getty Images
Chinese regulators have proposed restrictive rules around AI models like ChatGPT being built in the country, requiring user identification and security reviews, and prohibiting “any content that subverts state power, advocates the overthrow of the socialist system, incites splitting the country or undermines national unity.”
The rules come hot on the heels of Chinese tech companies rolling out their versions of general purpose large language models, versatile AI systems that can converse in natural language and carry out a surprising number of tasks. While the reception of SenseTime, Baidu, and Alibaba’s models over the last month suggests they’re somewhat behind the likes of GPT-4, it’s clear the industry there is equally dedicated to developing these capabilities.
Unfortunately, shortly after the debut of Alibaba’s Tongyi Qianwen model, one of the country’s tech regulators, the Cyberspace Administration of China, proposed restrictions that may smother relevant innovations — and the Chinese AI industry’s ambitions along with them.
The draft rules are not available in English (I took the above quote from the Financial Times translation syndicated at Ars Technica) but can be viewed at the regulator’s website here. The first part of article 4 prohibits generative AI that subverts government power and authority or questions national unity, along with various other categories of prohibitions like ethnic discrimination, terrorism, and so on.
Warner Bros. Discovery’s rebranded new service will combine HBO Max and Discovery+ offerings into a juggernaut—or a jumbled mess.
A YEAR AGO this week, one of the biggest mergers in history finally closed. It was the marriage of Discovery and WarnerMedia, a $43 billion deal that formed what’s now known as Warner Bros. Discovery. It wasn’t long before the axes fell. A few weeks later, management shut down the news streaming service CNN+. There were thousands of layoffs. Then, in a move that surprised even close observers, it canned the Batgirl movie and started pulling beloved shows like Westworld from HBO Max.
All of this bad news came with promises: New CEO David Zaslav wanted the studio to be making better DC movies. And to keep it focused on theatrical releases, the company would merge HBO Max and Discovery+ into one monster streaming service. At the time, WIRED fretted that it marked the impending demise of HBO Max, which had quickly become one of the most beloved streaming services around. Today the company revealed that the service, which is now simply called Max, will launch on May 23. Friends, the end is near.
As he took the stage during a press event to announce Max, Zaslav repeated the new service’s catchphrase, “the one to watch,” many times. The idea, he said, was that the melding of all of the company’s intellectual property would make the streaming service a home to Batman, Barbie, and Bugs Bunny. Also, House of the Dragon and House Hunters. That’s true, but also, that’s TV—not HBO Max.
Warner Bros. Discovery’s honchos clearly know this. Even as they touted Max as a place with something for the whole family, they also, in the words of global streaming president JB Perrette, wanted to “privilege” HBO’s offerings on the new streaming service. At the same time, execs promoted crossover content like Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge, a new HGTV home-renovation series that is, you guessed it, tied to the release of Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie. Previously, a winking take on an iconic toy like Barbie would’ve been right at home on HBO Max; having it next to a reno reality series feels like cognitive dissonance.
Ironically, this is the exact confusion Warner Bros. Discovery was aiming to avoid. During the presentation, Perrette referred to the streaming industry as a teenager still figuring itself out, noting that consumers refer to this time as an “era of peak confusion” when it comes to what service is best for them. Having one streamer with a plethora of Warner Bros. and Discovery content on it will increase the volume of options those viewers have, but it remains unclear whether it will help them make choices….
By Aidan Ryan, @aidanfitzryan
April 12, 2023
It’s not just in your head—our deals section has been thinner as of late, and recent data on venture funding for crypto startups show why.
Crypto and blockchain startups raised just $900 million in the first quarter, according to PitchBook data on announced deals, down 87% from the same period in 2022 and the smallest haul since the fourth quarter of 2020, when crypto fundraising came in at $800 million. The number of deals fell by roughly two-thirds to 136.
A lot has changed over the course of the past year. For starters, one of the top investors, FTX Ventures, is no longer active, having gone down in the collapse of the crypto exchange. Last year, FTX Ventures co-led a a $135 million Series A round for LayerZero and participated in big rounds like the $450 million seed round for Bored Ape Yacht Club-creator Yuga Labs and a $200 million seed round for blockchain startup Aptos Labs. And of course, FTX and its U.S. arm raised a total of $800 million at the start of 2022 from investors including Temasek, Paradigm, Lightspeed Venture Partners and SoftBank.
Investments this year have been far less splashy. As we’ve reported, venture capitalists these days are focused on technology that helps power blockchains, scale transactions and store crypto. The biggest deals announced in the first quarter included $108 million for the hardware wallet company Ledger (which is an extension of its 2021 Series C round), $65 million for digital asset infrastructure firm Taurus and $60 million for blockchain development firm QuickNode.
One deal announced just days after the end of the first quarter was for blockchain infrastructure startup LayerZero, which said in early April it had raised a $120 million Series B that valued it at $3 billion. Notably, the announcement did not name any lead investors, despite including Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital (who co-led the Series A with FTX Ventures) among the round’s 33 backers.
Andreessen Horowitz only invested in a handful of crypto startups during the first quarter of 2023, according to PitchBook data and funding announcements. The deals included a $32 million seed round for Web3 social startup Plai Labs and a $10 million seed extension funding for NFT game developer Azra Games. That contrasts with 2022, when it led or co-led a number of big deals like the Yuga Labs and Aptos seed rounds as well as a $170 million round for Tom Brady’s NFT startup Autograph.
April 11, 2023 5:00 PM PDT
Tech startups and investors have had a tumultuous few months. There was the crypto meltdown, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and, before that, the overall economic fallout from the weak economy and hammering of tech stocks.
And as the dust has settled, there’s a new vibe in the air: concern—even a little desperation.
That was abundantly clear from Kate’s article today reporting that several private tech companies backed by Y Combinator were pissed off about the fund’s decision, deeply rational in my view, to back away from later-stage investing. In particular, these founders were annoyed by the firm’s decision to do so “without any consultation or chance to provide feedback.”
It does seem like they had some legitimate complaints about how this decision, which has implications for their boards, was conveyed to them. Still, I wasn’t aware that it was startups’ role to advise on the investing strategies of their investors.
But the founders are worried. They have done the easy cost cutting and now they face harder choices. Deeper cuts? Raising money at much lower prices than they had previously? Casting about for new sources of capital they didn’t want to consider before?
These are questions founders didn’t have to ask over the last several years. And many don’t like the answers.
And so they are venting their frustrations at Y Combinator. That’s also strange because for years founders have bent over backward not to aggravate the firm. Though it’s far less important than it used to be as companies’ early funding options have grown, it still holds a lot of power. So the complaints tell me more about how the founders feel regarding their own fates.
And they have reason to be even more nervous, because those once-deep pocketed investors are also having trouble raising money. Kate and Becky wrote earlier this week about how one key source of cash was drying up: inflows into new funds.
These founders haven’t seen anything yet.
SignalRank announces March 2023 Funding and AI plans
SignalRank’s purpose is to bring data analytics and AI to the venture ecosystem to improve it for all stakeholders. SignalRank applies data analytics to Investors, Companies and Funding Rounds. SignalRank has now closed a second round of funding and is now ready to deploy up to $1m of capital per round to support seed and Series A investors to do their pro-rata in qualified Series B rounds.
Funding Round Closed
On 31 March 2023, as expected, SignalRank’s first preferred stock sale closed. These have not been the best times to attempt to raise capital, but we are proud to have done so. Read our first newsletter to understand the background.
Shares were priced at $25 a share, and post-close the company has now raised about $9m.
Venture Market Analytics
SignalRank is starting to invest in a slowing market for high-quality Series B rounds.
2023, year to date, our algorithm has recommended 19 Series B rounds from 399 total rounds. That is 4.76% of all Series B Rounds.
See Table 1 below for the 2023 high-quality Series B rounds selected by SignalRank AI. Thanks to Crunchbase for the raw data used by our algorithms.
Video of the Week
Stephen Wolfram on AI’s rapid progress & the “Post-Knowledge Work Era”
AI of the Week
April 7, 2023
April 12, 2023
In the current downturn, the most recent batch out of Y Combinator signals a shift to B2B and DevTools as AI dominates the conversation.
From the companies launched at demo day on April 5th and 6th we find smatterings of LLM, coding assistants, data entry help, data pipeline management, customer service automation, text to voice, video generation and more. Many of these tools are targeting businesses that would benefit from task automation.
Sectors that lost out are consumer, which is down from 13% to 5% of companies when comparing the winter 2022 batch to 2023; fintech from 24% to 12%; and health care from 11% to 7%.
Verticals below 5% are climate and energy, proptech, aerospace and education. These sectors were flat or down year over year, with education not even reaching 1% of startups in this past batch.
Below is a short note we sent to our portfolio founders yesterday. It’s no secret that “AI” is all the rage in startup technology today, but we felt that most of the discussion on this topic centered around new startups. What about existing startups? Those existing startups can either harness and/or be disrupted by this new wave, so we wanted to explore that in some more depth for our portfolio founders. I’d like to thank my colleague Aashay who should be credited with framing this in greater detail.
Given the current hype-cycle around all forms of AI (large language models, generative media, etc.) right now, we are sharing some perspective with Haystack founders on the current AI landscape and its potential impact on both existing and de novo startups. We believe the current version of AI (primarily due to the advent of large language models) represents a platform shift similar to that of PC, cloud, or mobile before.
With every major technology platform shift, there are legacy companies disrupted, new opportunities for startups & scale-ups, as well as businesses who get caught flat-footed across the enterprise and consumer stack. In recent years, there have been other promises of platform shifts – notably crypto and even AI previously. Mitchell Hashimoto, co-founder of Hashicorp, does a nice job laying out why this time could be different.
Our job as your early-stage investor is to relay information from the broader ecosystem to you, but we want to be clear – it’s up to you to decide as leaders of your businesses what to do with that information. We are here to chat live anytime about these ideas, so please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
Impact of AI on startups and growth stage companies
These are a few examples of ways AI could impact your current business.
News Of the Week
By Kate Clark
April 11, 2023
The first big change made by Y Combinator’s new CEO and president Garry Tan—to shutter a fund investing in mature startups so it could sharpen its focus on much younger companies—has set off an uproar among founders backed by the esteemed startup accelerator.
• Ten startups backed by Y Combinator wrote letter to startup accelerator
• Founders complained through YC’s internal messaging system Bookface
• YC still has $500 million left to invest in mature startups
Ten startups, including YC graduates such as payroll provider Deel and credit card startup Brex, said they were “surprised and deeply disappointed” with YC’s recent decision to suddenly eliminate its late-stage Continuity fund last month, according to a letter sent to YC March 14 and viewed by The Information. YC now intends to appoint new board members to Continuity-backed startups to replace the former YC partners who led the fund, Anu Hariharan and Ali Rowghani, who were laid off when the fund was closed last month. But the companies are requesting that Hariharan and Rowghani keep their board seats.
“Having continuity and stability in our board relationships is not only in the best interests of our individual companies, but also in the best interests of YC’s LPs, shareholders, and YC itself,” the letter said, which the startups signed. (See a list of startups that signed the letter below.)
The outcry represents rare criticism by graduates of the 18-year-old institution famed for providing early funding and coaching to startup stars such as Airbnb, Stripe and Instacart. It’s a sign of the tensions surfacing in Silicon Valley, where the megarounds and hiring sprees of 2020–21 have given way to slashed valuations and mass layoffs. Older startups are facing a particularly hard road after the collapse in tech stocks froze the market for new public offerings.
Image Credits: Smith Collection/Gado (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images
The deal’s financial terms have not been disclosed, but the Singaporean VC firm aims to complete the acquisition this year.
Last month, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son’s younger brother Taizo Son and Atsushi Taira, managing director of Mistletoe, founded The Edgeof “with an aim to transform the startup ecosystem across Asia by creating a supportive environment for αStartups.” They define so-called “αStartups” as startups that have a mission to address fundamental problems in the world with advanced technology, according to the company’s statement.
The acquisition comes after SoftBank and its Vision Fund posted massive losses amid the tech slump and macroeconomic slowdown. In February, SoftBank said its investment vehicles posted a loss of nearly $6 billion in the quarter that ended in December, marking its fourth consecutive quarterly loss. Last May, the Japanese tech giant said in an earnings call that it would cut startup investments by 50-75% through March 2023.
April 11, 2023
This year is off to a bleak start for the startup ecosystem in Europe.
Startups raised $10.6 billion in funding, down 18% quarter over quarter and a whopping 66% year over year, per Crunchbase data, as American investors pulled back.
Europe’s funding downturn is on par with most of the world. Global funding was down 53% year over year, per Crunchbase data, a sign that the tech industry is still reeling from 2022’s high interest rates and broader economic uncertainty.
But we’re starting to see the long-term effects of this uncertainty. European seed funding saw a dramatic 25% collapse last quarter — a signal that VCs aren’t confident in making long-term commitments right now. While late-stage startups experienced the worst funding pullback year over year, early-stage funding performed the best of the three stages (though funding was still down 7%).
Europe is still adjusting to a new funding ecosystem — one that will have to depend less on foreign investments. As a result, deal counts are the lowest they’ve ever been in a three-year period, and companies are incubating strategies to put themselves in the U.S. market.
Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch
Twitter, Inc. is now called X Corp., according to a court filing in California.
Since Twitter is no longer a public company, it does not have to report updates like name changes to the SEC. But in any case, the new name was spotted in an April 4 document related to far-right activist Laura Loomer’s lawsuit against Twitter and Facebook.
“Twitter, Inc. has been merged into X Corp. and no longer exists,” the document states.
Elon Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44 billion last year, has aspired to build what he calls “X, the everything app.” This proposed app might look like China’s WeChat, which supports messaging, payments, ridesharing, food delivery and other services all in one app. Musk has applauded WeChat for its convenience and utility, yet its unique dominance could be impossible to replicate outside of China. The name also harks back to X.com, Musk’s financial services startup that spun into PayPal.
Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch
Twitter has partnered with the investment platform eToro to show real-time information about stocks and crypto prices. This expands upon the social network’s Cashtag feature, which provided info about a limited number of stocks and crypto coins through TradingView data.
The social media company first introduced the feature in December, letting users search for a ticker or coin symbol like $TSLA, $APPL or $ETH to get prices directly in search results.
In a tweet announcing the feature, eToro said that users will be able to see the real-time prices for a “much wider range of stocks, crypto, and other assets.”
The new partnership with eToro goes beyond just displaying information. It also redirects users to the eToro site where they can engage in trading. If you search for a stock on Twitter, you will see a button saying “View on eToro,” which redirects to the site.
users can now pay to subscribe to twitter accounts
APR 13, 2023
A new creator “Subscriptions” program, the latest change to Twitter’s business model, is live. U.S.-based content creators can apply to participate in the program, through which followers pay a flat monthly fee in exchange for access to exclusive content and/or direct creator-subscriber interactions, like subscriber-only Spaces.
Creators in the program can choose from one of three subscription fees: $2.99/month, $4.99/month, or $9.99/month, and will start getting payouts via Stripe once they earn over $50 in revenue.
According to Twitter’s website, creators in the program will keep up to 97% of their first $50,000 in revenue, and up to 80% thereafter. However, Musk said in a tweet that for the next 12 months, Twitter will keep none of the revenue creators earn, and that creators will keep all of the money Twitter receives after payment processing fees. On its website, Twitter gives a sample revenue breakdown:
Creators are eligible to apply for the Subscriptions program if they’re at least 18 years old, have at least 10,000 followers, and have tweeted at least 25 times in the last thirty days. If their application is approved, a subscriber badge will appear next to their username. They’ll get access to a feedback community exclusive to creators and a subscriber-only tab that shows activity only from paid subscribers….
Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch
PBS and a handful of other news organizations have joined NPR in stepping away from Twitter, the social media platform once synonymous with breaking news.
A PBS spokesperson confirmed to Axios that PBS had “no plans to resume tweeting” after Twitter gave it a murky “government-funded media” label over the weekend. A few other news entities appeared to have followed suit, including the prominent Boston NPR affiliate WBUR, Hawaii Public Radio and LA-based local news source LAist. As the fallout from Musk’s outburst against the media continues, that list is likely to grow.
NPR announced that it would leave platform altogether last week after Twitter misleadingly attached a label reserved for state-run media entities to its account. Twitter has since adjusted NPR’s label from “state-affiliated media” — a designation for state propaganda accounts like the Kremlin-backed Russia Today — to “government-funded media,” a new label invented for the situation.
“At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter,” NPR CEO John Lansing said. “I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again.”
Police chief Bill Scott said there was evidence that the suspect and Bob Lee knew each other but did not comment on the possible motive of the attack.
The San Francisco Police Department has arrested a tech executive named Nima Momeni in connection with the April 4 stabbing of Cash App creator Bob Lee.
In an April 13 press conference, the SFPD announced Momeni was in custody following the execution search and arrest warrants in San Francisco and Emeryville, a city across the bay. Police chief Bill Scott said “the evidence shows that [Momeni and Lee] knew each other” but did not comment on the motive of the stabbing, adding the case was not yet closed.
The death of Lee, known by many in the tech world for creating the mobile payment service Cash App, sent shockwaves through the crypto space. The news that Lee knew Momeni suggested the attack was not random, despite some media outlets pointing to San Francisco as a “crime-ridden” city.
It’s unclear at the time of publication what charges, if any, Momeni could face in connection to Lee’s death, but San Francisco Mayor London Breed referred to the case as a murder. In addition to developing Cash App, Lee had been the former chief technology officer of Square — later rebranded as Block — the chief product officer of MobileCoin, and a father of two.
Startup of the Week
Image Credits: Betaworks
In a sign that the seed-stage AI segment is still alive and kicking, Betaworks, the startup studio and VC firm, is launching a new program that’ll award around ten companies working on AI $500,000 in funding.
Scheduled to run from mid-June until mid-September, Betaworks’ program — the ninth of its kind — will provide startups access to benefits including a business-building curriculum and accelerated compute from companies including Hugging Face and Stability AI. That’s in addition to one-on-one mentorship time, events and activities plus “collaboration opportunities” with other Betaworks cohort ventures.
The program isn’t quite an accelerator; Betaworks describes it like a “camp.” Rather than writing a small check into companies across a range of categories, the firm’s looking at the “evolution” of technology and betting on a cohort that’s creating or defining a new category.
“This is the biggest change in technology in my lifetime,” Betaworks CEO John Borthwick told TechCrunch in an email interview. “We’ve been building, accelerating and investing in and around machine learning for the last decade, and in the last 12 months, everything’s changed — the launch of generative visual models like [OpenAI’s] DALL-E 2 last year, the open and affordable access to these models with the availability of stability and GPT. AI has the potential to affect every sector, and every part of how we live, work, play and even die.”
John Borthwick, CEO @betaworks, Apr 13
Betaworks is looking for the next generation of companies building in the AI space for our upcoming camp. AI Camp: Augment invests in companies using applied machine learning and generative AI to make tools that augment humans’ cognitive, creative, and collaborative activities. If you’re building a company and resonate with the below, AI Camp: Augment is for you.
AI Camp: Augment will be a three-month program here at Betaworks in NYC, where we will invest $500,000 and work closely with 8–10 pre-seed/seed companies to provide 1-on-1 mentorship time; tailored programming, events, and activities; collaborative opportunities with other cohort companies and builders in our network, and a total investment of $500k from Betaworks and our friends at Greycroft, Differential VC, and Mozilla Ventures. Betaworks’ portfolio company Hugging Face will also be providing cohort companies with early feature and accelerated compute access. AI Camp: Augment will run from 6/19/23–9/15/23 and culminate with a Demo Day, where companies can showcase their work to potential customers, investors, and partners. You can apply here .
Our seventh ML/AI Camp, Let’s start at the beginning …