Hello Hello! We are back with another edition of Review of the week, the newsletter where we quickly break down the top stories that hit TC over the past seven days. Want it in your inbox? Register here.
Ours most read this week’s story was about Stable diffusion, “a new open-source AI image generator capable of producing realistic pictures from any text prompt,” which is quickly finding its way into more projects. But, as Kyle Wiggers notes, “the unfiltered nature of the system means that not all use has been entirely superior.”
T-Mobile + Starlink: Can Elon’s Starlink Satellites Keep Your Phone Connected Even When There’s No Cell Tower Around? That’s the idea behind the newfound alliance between SpaceX and T-Mobile. If it works, T-Mobile phones should be able to send messages (but probably not calls) over the Starlink network as a last resort, albeit with a delay of up to 30 minutes.
Google’s AI for noise reduction: Smartphones are getting better and better at low-light photography, but at a certain point the roadblock preventing further improvements is… well, physics. Is the eventual only answer an algorithm that uses “AI magic” (as Hadje puts it) to eliminate visual noise and “figure out how the footage ‘should’ look”? No idea, but the examples are pretty impressive.
DoorDash has been hacked: I remember the Twilio hack a few weeks ago? The ripple effects continue. This week, DoorDash disclosed that hackers were able to gain access to internal DoorDash tools, accessing “names, email addresses, shipping addresses and phone numbers of DoorDash customers.”
The new Meta accounts: If you have a Quest VR headset and don’t want to link it to a Facebook or Instagram account, this will be the route you take. If you’re still using an old pre-Meta Oculus account, know that support for them ends on day 1 of 2023.
eBay buys TCGplayer: If you’re a collector of any trading card games — think Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic, etc. — you’ve probably heard about TCGplayer, which eBay is buying ‘in a deal worth up to $295 million. ” We’ll talk with TC writer Aisha Malik about the deal (and why eBay wants it) in the Writers’ Spotlight below.
Commuting? cooking? Do you just wear headphones to discourage people from talking to you? Come hang out with us in Podcast land! This week the Equity team talk about the legal battle takes place in Black Girls CodeJordan and Darrell spoke with comedian/Super Trooper Jay Chandrasekhar his application of Foundand Chain Reaction Team caught up with two investors from relatively new web3-focused firm Haun Ventures.
What’s behind the TC+ paywall? Here are some of the most read things this week. I want more? Sign up for TC+ here and use code “WIR” for 15% off your annual pass.
Manchin’s ultimatum: Could the Deflation Act and lucrative tax credits help ‘turn the US into a battery powerhouse’? Tim De Chant explores the possibilities.
Should this metric be your team’s North Star?: The team at Battery Ventures suggests that the ARR of an employee (or “monkey” as they called him) be a guiding light for your team.
3 views on Flow: We found out last week that WeWork founder Adam Neumann is back with something new and has already raised over $350 million from the likes of a16z. Good idea? Bad idea? Tim De Chant, Dominique-Madori Davis, Amanda Silberling share their photos.
writer in the spotlight: Ayesha Malik
As noted last week, we’re experimenting with the idea of highlighting one TechCrunch writer for each newsletter to learn a little about them and what’s been on their mind lately. This time we catch up with the extraordinary Ayesha Malik, almost a year since she wrote her first TC post.
Who is Ayesha Malik? What do you do at TechCrunch?
Hi, I’m a senior consumer news writer and the second Canadian on the TechCrunch team! I write about the latest changes in platforms and applications and how they affect the average user. My team and I also reveal upcoming app features before their official release. I also get the chance to talk to the founders about their app launches and recent funding rounds.
What’s interesting about your beat right now? Any trends we should know about?
One thing we’ve seen, and will probably continue to see, is how often apps copy each other. Just this week we found out that Instagram is testing BeReal clone function which challenges people to post candid photos within two minutes. In the past year, we’ve seen Instagram copy many of TikTok’s features, we’ve seen TikTok copy Snapchat with its Stories feature, and we’ve also seen Twitter copy Instagram with its circle of close friends feature.
There are countless such examples. It will be interesting to see how this trend develops. People are already calling for Instagram to go back to its roots, so what happens when every app tries to be like the other? At some point, these apps will become overcrowded with features, and that may not be something users want.
right?! This is absurd. And who wants to build the next great thing when the giants of the app world will just clone your key features as soon as they start to prove popular?
Since you’re on the user/app team: what’s the most used app on your phone that wasn’t preinstalled? What’s Eating Your Battery Every Day?
I’m not ashamed to admit it (okay, maybe just a little), but the answer is TikTok.
I open the app when I want to take a quick break or when I’d rather not watch a movie or an episode of a TV show but still want some entertainment. I know people who haven’t downloaded the app claim it’s full of dancing videos, but the truth is, you’ll only end up seeing dancing videos if that’s something you’re really into. TikTok frames its About You page in a way that is based on your interests, so I see it as a great way to discover and engage with content that interests you. As someone who loves to bake and read, most of the content I see on TikTok revolves around baking recipes and book recommendations.
I also think that TikTok is clearly influencing culture, whether it’s memes, music, or political movements; has a chance to appear on TikTok first. I see the app as a fun and easy way to keep up with a variety of trends.
i get it I had to delete TikTok from my phone – every time I opened it my eyes went hypnotic and I was gone, exiting only 20 minutes/100 videos later. The algorithm is too good. It feels like the last boss of the internet; the algorithm in its most advanced/efficient form. I’m probably getting into the weeds a bit here too. Back to the questions!
One of the most read stories this week was your eBay post acquisition of TCGplayer. What is TCGplayer and why does eBay want it?
TCGplayer is one of the largest online marketplaces for trading card games. The acquisition essentially marks eBay’s latest entry into the trading card market, which has seen a huge boom during the pandemic. eBay says trading cards are currently showing significant growth.
To put things into perspective, eBay says that the trading card category is growing significantly faster than the overall market, and that the category saw $2 billion in transactions in the first half of 2021. Given that eBay has long been a destination for buying and selling trading card enthusiasts, the acquisition of one of its biggest competitors better cements the company’s place as the go-to market for these collectibles.
It’s kind of wild how collectibles have seen a huge spike during the pandemic – maybe something to do with a lot of people spending a lot more time at home around their own stuff. Focused on collectibles companies like Whatnot just exploded in popularity starting from preliminary round to an estimate in the billions two years. Are you a collector of anything, trading cards or something else?
Do stones count? [Laughs]
I have a small collection of rocks and stones that I have collected from beaches and forests that I have visited in Canada and the US. I don’t know much about the different types of stones, so the ones in my collection aren’t exclusive or anything. I just think collecting them is a nice way to feel connected to specific places I’ve enjoyed visiting!
Fantastic. Thanks Aisha!