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As Twitter continues its absolutely farcical march toward its own demise, we are grabbing the popcorn to watch the fire blaze. In other news: Happy Monday, folks! — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
Well blue check you out: Twitter users with over 1 million followers got their blue check marks back, even if they didn’t pay for Twitter Blue, Ivan reports. It’s interesting to note that many of the account holders were quick to separate themselves from being subscribers. Maybe it also has something to do with Twitter giving a gold check mark to a fake Disney account. Ivan has more on that.
No th-AI-nks: That’s what Snapchat users are saying about its “My AI” feature, which launched last week. Sarah writes that the social media giant is seeing a spike in one-star reviews, which include calling for its removal.
To be Near you: At a time when there is a wave of doubt about cryptocurrency, Cosmose, a company that uses AI analytics to track in-store foot traffic and engage with shoppers online, is going all in on the digital currency. Rita reports that Cosmose, which recently closed on an undisclosed round of funding to value it at $500 million, is now working with Near’s crypto solution. Even dropping Stripe to do so. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ’em.
Startups and VC
Super.com, formerly Snapcommerce, launched its cash-back card SuperCash last October so that card users could build credit, amassing 5 million customers worldwide who have collectively saved over $150 million to date, according to CEO Hussein Fazal. Now it has its sights set on helping “everyday Americans” find deals and savings across multiple categories, including travel and shopping, via its super app, Christine reports.
Silicon Valley’s quest to automate everything is unceasing, which explains its latest obsession: Auto-GPT. In essence, Auto-GPT uses the versatility of OpenAI’s latest AI models to interact with software and services online, allowing it to “autonomously” perform tasks like X and Y. But as we are learning with large language models, this capability seems to be as wide as an ocean but as deep as a puddle, Kyle reports.
Go on, another handful for ya:
They just want to stay involvo: Frederic reports that Volvo Cars Tech Fund invests in driver monitoring startup CorrActions.
I’ll give you a ring in a bit: Brian reports on a big partnership win for Oura, as Best Buy brings the smart ring to 850 stores across the U.S.
You build it, you get paid: More construction projects are being started, but payments to contractors and their subcontractors continue to cause a bottleneck in the normal course of completing a project. Constrafor raises new capital to make that better, Christine reports.
Stiff competition: Woodoo is creating decarbonized wood-based materials, reports Romain.
Last impressions matter: Over on TC+, Haje argues that for your pitch deck, last impressions count almost as much as first impressions.
Making IP an asset: Also for TC+, Haje took a closer look at Aventurine, which helps early-stage founders make money off their IP portfolios, in what the accelerator hopes will be a perpetual fund, powered by intellectual property licensing.
10 years of fintech failure: 3 more ideas that failed to live up to the initial hype
Do you remember P2P lending and on-demand insurance? If not, there’s a good reason: Despite a lot of hype, they’re just two of several fintech innovations that fizzled over the last decade.
For his latest TC+ column, fintech consultant Grant Easterbrook examined three more ideas “that initially seemed promising, but largely failed to change the financial services industry.”
According to Easterbrook, these misfires offer valuable lessons to today’s founders and investors: “Fintech entrepreneurs must remember the essential principle that the average consumer doesn’t like thinking about money and often wants someone else to take care of it.”
Three more from the TC+ team:
Well that’s looking pretty skinny there: Alex wonders what happens when the revenue multiples keep shrinking.
Precision fermentation is more like cultivated meat than we think: Blake Byrn calls BS on precision fermentation’s capacity craze.
How the humble DVD unlocked a multibillion-dollar business: Haje explores how technology unlocks business models in the story of Netflix.
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Big Tech Inc.
Merchants have a lot of things to deal with when it comes to running their businesses, but Shopify wants to take one thing off their plate. Shopify is working with B2B payments provider Melio to add direct bill payments so that they can consolidate invoices and pay their bills in a more automated way via Shopify’s platform. Mary Ann writes that this is the e-commerce platform’s “bid to be a single-stop fintech for merchants.”
Ring, ring…guess who’s calling? It’s PhonePe, and the company is out to challenge Google’s dominance in India with an app store of its own. The Walmart-backed company is offering a “premiere experience for millions of users with high-quality advertisements and custom targeting, support for 12 languages and 24×7 live chat,” Manish reports.
And we have five more for you:
App-solutely: Apple’s having a good day. Sarah reports that Apple wins its antitrust court battle with Epic Games that involved App Store policies. Then, Jagmeet writes that Apple captured nearly half of the global refurbished smartphone market.
Get your logins in sync: If you’re a fan of Google Authenticator, the service now has a new feature to sync two-factor authentication codes to the cloud, Kyle reports.
As seen on TV: Avid users of YouTube TV say the streaming “Force” isn’t always so strong with that one, but the company is now experimenting with picture quality enhancements, Lauren reports.
Now you can Bonus BeReal across the pond: Bonus BeReal comes to the U.K., enabling users to post more than once a day, writes Amanda.
ICYMI: On Friday, a California court ruled that Tesla was not at fault for an Autopilot crash that took place in 2019. Kirsten has more.
Daily Crunch: App Store reviews and social media depict user backlash against Snapchat’s new AI chatbot by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch