It’s that time of the week again, folks — time for Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s newsletter that recaps the past few days in tech. The news cycle never sleeps, and it’s exhausting — this reporter knows all too well. But fortunately, neither does WiR. Our curated list of the top stories this week will get you up to speed in no time.
On the agenda for this blustery, fall-vibes edition of WiR (it’s really starting to feel like autumn on the East Coast), we have Tinder’s wildly expensive ($499 per month) new premium tier, Amazon investing up to $4 billion in AI startup Anthropic, and Apple executives breaking down the AirPods’ new features. Elsewhere, we cover Reddit starting to pay users real money for high-quality posts; OpenAI raising capital and giving ChatGPT a “voice”; Telegram’s metamorphosis into a super app, and Uber becoming tighter with taxi companies.
As always, there’s a lot to get to, so let’s hop to it. And if you haven’t already, sign up here to get WiR in your inbox every Saturday.
Tinder goes ultra-premium: Tinder has rolled out a pricey $499-per-month subscription dubbed “Tinder Select,” which includes unique perks like the ability to be seen by more users, including Tinder’s “most sought-after profiles,” and the option to direct message others without first matching with them. As Sarah writes, these capabilities alone aren’t what will sell Tinder Select necessarily —it’s the exclusivity. Tinder says that less than 1% of users will be allowed to gain access to the premium tier.
Amazon invests in Anthropic: Amazon has agreed to invest up to $4 billion in the AI startup Anthropic, the two firms said, as the e-commerce group steps up its rivalry against Microsoft, Meta, Google and Nvidia in the fast-growing generative AI sector. Amazon will initially invest $1.25 billion for a minority stake in Anthropic, which like Google’s Bard and Microsoft-backed OpenAI operates an AI-powered, text-analyzing-and-generating bot.
Apple explains its new AirPods: In a sit-down with Brian, Apple executives Ron Huang (VP of sensing and connectivity) and Eric Treski (product marketing director) discussed the new features of Apple’s latest-generation AirPods, including adaptive audio, personalized volume, conversational awareness and AirPods Pro 2’s Vision Pro connectivity.
Reddit starts paying users — in cash: Reddit on Monday announced a contributor program that’ll award users actual, real money for their fake internet points. Amanda reports that now, eligible users — those residing in the U.S. who are over the age of 18 and can verify their identity, and who’ve had an account for more than 30 days — will be able to convert the Reddit gold and karma they’ve earned from safe-for-work posts into fiat currency (no, not crypto), to be disbursed once per month.
OpenAI looks to raise more cash: OpenAI is in discussions to possibly sell shares in a move that would boost the company’s valuation to somewhere between $80 billion and $90 billion. It comes just after OpenAI picked up a little over $300 million in funding from backers such as Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive and K2 Global at a valuation of $29 billion — separate from a big investment (~$10 billion) from Microsoft announced earlier this year, which closed in January.
ChatGPT gains a voice — and other features: ChatGPT is evolving into much more than a text-based search engine, with OpenAI announcing this week that it’s adding new voice- and image-based smarts to the mix. Users can verbally ask ChatGPT to make up a bedtime story on the spot and have ChatGPT read it back in one of five voices. Or they can search for answers in an uploaded image — for example, asking ChatGPT to provide instructions for completing a task or explain what’s in the photo.
Telegram expands its reach: Telegram, the popular messaging app with 800 million monthly active users worldwide, is inching closer to adopting an ecosystem strategy that’s reminiscent of WeChat’s super app approach. Rita writes that the company has been working on a platform where third-party developers, from games to restaurants, can build mini apps to interact with users.
Uber gets tight with taxis: Uber — which hasn’t historically been especially friendly toward the taxi industry — announced Tuesday a multiyear partnership with Los Angeles Yellow Cab and its five partner taxi fleets in Southern California. Under the arrangement, taxi drivers will have access to Uber trip referrals in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties. And the partnership covers a lot of ground; six taxi fleets with about 1,200 vehicles fall under the deal.
The TC team does more than just churn out quality written pieces — they host podcasts full of content from noteworthy figures around the tech industry. If you’re on the hunt for episodes to fill the hours, give ’em a listen. And if you’re already a subscriber, many thanks.
This week on Equity, the crew talked with Nathan Baschez, the CEO and founder of Lex, an AI-infused online writing tool. Baschez spoke about how many AI-powered tools the market can possibly support, what the generative AI movement could look like in the coming months and how to price an AI-powered service.
On Found, which was recorded live at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 last week, Dominic-Madori and Becca sat down with Window Snyder, a trailblazer in the cybersecurity industry who’s dedicated her decades-long career to ensuring the internet — and the devices connected to it — are secure. Snyder talked about why, after years of working at companies like Apple, Microsoft, Fastly and Square, now was the right time to launch her startup, Thistle, which looks to build the security infrastructure needed to keep internet-connected smart devices safe.
And over at Chain Reaction, Jacquelyn interviewed Tiago Sada, head of product for Tools for Humanity and core contributor to Worldcoin. Tools for Humanity, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars from investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Blockchain Global, was co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman with a three-part mission to create a global ID, a global currency and an app that enables payments, purchases and transfers with its token.
TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:
Amazon, the FTC and VCs: Alex and Dominic-Madori discuss whether VCs should back the FTC lawsuit against Amazon. In case you hadn’t heard, this week the FTC alleged that Amazon engaged in a “pattern of illegal conduct” that “blocks competition” and allows the company to “wield monopoly power to inflate prices, degrade quality, and stifle innovation for consumers and businesses.”
Generative AI and operating systems: Alex writes about how generative AI could make the OS cool again, pointing to how Microsoft is embedding the tech throughout the latest version of Windows.
Salvation for Bird: Rebecca muses aloud whether Bird’s Spin acquisition could give it the lift it needs after being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. It’s a messy situation, to be sure — and investors are understandably wary.