A young billionaire buys Forbes, a startup offers free TVs and ChatGPT goes mobile

Hey people. You’ve made it to the end of the week (congratulations, by the way) and to Week in Review (WiR), TechDigiPro’s regular newsletter covering your week in tech. Here in this humble little column of ours, we do our best to curate the top stories that broke out in the last five days. We hope you find it useful.

Just a few PSAs before we move on to the news. On May 24, TechDigiPro Live, TC’s podcast about founder stories, will feature Romi Gubes, co-founder of Sensi.AI, in a discussion about how the company uses audio-based software to monitor patients and help medical personnel and family members with care. (Sign up here, it’s free.)

Meanwhile, TechDigiPro City Spotlight will go virtual on June 7 with a focus on Atlanta, where speakers will present on building businesses in the exploding subway and startups will apply to participate in TC’s famed Battlefield 200.

Last but not least, Disrupt, TC’s flagship conference, will return in September (September 19-21) in San Francisco. Expect six presenter stages, including a new AI-focused stage and plenty of surprises. Learn more here.

Now, without further ado, let’s get to the news.

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Young billionaire buys Forbes: Austin Russell, the 28-year-old founder and CEO of luminarwhich develops vision-based lidar and machine perception technologies primarily for autonomous cars, said The Wall Street Journal this week that it will buy an 82% stake in Forbes Global Media Holdings in a deal that values ​​the company at nearly $800 million.

New Teslas on the way: Tesla CEO Elon Musk teased two new electric vehicles Tuesday at the automaker’s 2023 annual meeting of shareholders. Tesla previously hinted at new models during its Investor Day in March, showing a photo with the company’s entire lineup and various car schematics unveiled. One of the vehicles appeared to be about the size of a pickup truck, and the other appeared similar in appearance to a sedan or hatchback. Both are expected to be more affordable vehicles that sell in much higher volumes.

Free TV, but with a catch: TVa hardware startup led by Pluto TV co-founder Ilya Pozin, Announced on Monday that it will give away 500,000 of its new smart TVs for free. (Yes, we said free). However, there is a catch. Users must watch ads 24/7 while simultaneously streaming TV shows and movies.

ChatGPT goes mobile: This week, OpenAI Announced the launch of a official iOS app that allows users to access its popular AI chatbot on the go, months after the App Store was filled with dubious and unofficial services. The new ChatGPT app will be free to use and ad-free and will allow voice input, the company says, but will initially be limited to US users at launch.

Holmes headed to prison: After years of high-profile court proceedings, Elizabeth Holmes could go to prison, this time for real. The former Theranos founder and CEO was found guilty of defrauding investors last January, but she has delayed and constantly appealed her sentence to stay out of jail. Although the infamous biotech entrepreneur is still appealing her 11-year sentence, a panel of 9th Circuit judges ruled that Holmes’ legal team has not raised a “substantive question” enough to keep her out of prison.

Kustomer leaves Meta, raises money: Meta’s grand experiment in building an enterprise-ready customer service platform has come to an end. The father of Facebook has officially spun off Kustomer, the CRM startup it acquired last year for around $1 billion. The new entity is starting with a $60 million infusion from backers Battery, Redpoint and boldstart, plus a major drop in its previous valuation: it’s now reported to be $250 million.

Lock and hide: WhatsApp Announced today that it is introducing a new “Chat Lock” feature designed to give users an extra layer of security for their most intimate conversations. As the name suggests, the feature allows you to “lock” a chat, which moves that thread out of the inbox and behind its own folder that can only be accessed with your device password or biometrics, like a fingerprint.

FTW Humanoid Robots: Vancouver, British Columbia-based Sanctuary AI this week introduced Phoenix, its attempt at the humanoid robot form factor. The bipedal robot stands at 5’7″ and weighs 155 pounds, not unlike the humans it plans to augment (or replace, depending on who you ask). The system is capable of lifting payloads up to 55 pounds and traveling up to three miles per hour. Not a word on the price yet.


Do you need listening material for the weekend? Don’t worry, TechDigiPro has you covered (and then some). this week in Equitythe team covered the bankruptcy of Vice, Twitter’s first acquisition led by Elon Musk, and what the future of venture debt might look like. Found introduced Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, Co-Founder and CEO of Samooha, a start-up building the key infrastructure needed for data collaboration. later Chain reactionSergey Nazarov, co-founder of Chainlink, talked about the Chainlink protocol that provides an Oracle network to power smart contracts. The TechDigiPro podcast took a deep dive into Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for the Nintendo Switch. And TechDigiPro Live profiled Richard Song, one of the co-founders of Persona, who created and delivers a large suite of identity verification solutions, along with Persona investor and Index Ventures leader Mark Goldberg.


TC+ subscribers get access to detailed feedback, analysis and surveys, which you know about if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are some highlights from this week:

The new rules of risky debt: The Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapse was not the end of risky debt, but it was probably the end of companies borrowing as easily as many were used to. Rebecca writes about the state of risky debt after the collapse of SVB and then First Republic Bank and how it might change in the future.

Alibaba, in the clouds: Chinese tech giant Alibaba is reshuffling its corporate structure in a series of moves that will allow large parts of its business to raise capital and potentially even go public. That may not be a bad idea, considering that the conglomerate’s revenues were up 2% in the first quarter of 2023 and its profitability is trending lower (operating revenues were down 9%) from the previous year.

AI in retail, maturing: As the retail industry becomes increasingly reliant and focused on data and AI, it is essential that retailers understand exactly how first-party data analytics can be crystallized into insights into customer behavior, and in turn , in a tangible competitive advantage. Hugh Cameron, Head of Data at Zitcha, discusses the three most important milestones on the path to predictive analytics in the context of retail media.

Calling all early stage startups! Apply to join the Startup Battlefield 200 cohort at TechDigiPro Disrupt 2023. All finalists get expert training, venture capital networking, a booth at Disrupt, and the chance to compete for $100,000 in non-equity funding. Applications close on May 31. apply today.


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