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Heeeey! Today has been a fun, rich, and varied day of news on your favorite tech news site. Haje got the unfortunate news that he will be attending his 15th CES in Las Vegas, so if you’re going with your startup, the TC hardware team wants to hear from you. Oh, and we have a slew of gift guides coming up — here’s a sneaky preview for the first few, if you want some inspiration for getting the jump on your holiday shopping. — Christine and Haje
The TechCrunch Top 3
The answers to all of life’s important questions: Generative artificial intelligence has come a long way, and many of our colleagues took OpenAI’s ChatGPT for a ride, including Darrell, who asked the all-important question about Pokémon strengths and weaknesses. While you’re at it, check out Kyle’s story on OpenAI’s release of GPT-3.5.
A new face: Shein is embracing its third-party business by bringing on Jessica Liu, the former co-president at the Southeast Asian e-commerce giant Lazada. Rita has more.
One surprising delay for India, one giant “whew” for retailers: Manish writes that India is delaying a market share cap on the Unified Payments Interface payments network until 2025. This is a win — for now — for companies like Google and Walmart, which own a large share of it.
Startups and VC
Smoodi wants to see its smoothies in the hands of, well, everyone, and it closed $5 million to expand the reach for its robotic smart blender, Christine reports. Not gonna lie: we prefer smoothie robots over robots being used to kill people. See Brian’s article about how the police department in San Francisco can now use robots to kill people. In other robot news, also from Brian, Monarch delivers its first “smart tractor.”
Meanwhile, it seems like Mozilla is on a buying spree. Today, Kyle reports that it acquired Active Replica to build on its metaverse vision, and yesterday, Paul wrote that the company snapped up the team behind Pulse, an automated status updater for Slack.
Another fistful of news stories to brighten your day:
Hitting the brakes: Kirsten reports that Hyundai-backed autonomous vehicle startup Motional cuts workforce.
From container ships to $60,000 Jet Skis: Haje reports that YC-backed Boundary Layer pivots from container ships to hydrofoiling personal watercraft, despite claiming to have $90 million worth of preorders for the former.
We can still go deeper: Connie speaks with a secondary market pro who thinks we haven’t hit bottom quite yet, but he sees the price drops slowing, finally.
Uncovering skincare: Kenya’s Uncover raises $1 million to expand skincare product enterprise across Africa, Annie reports.
You, but artier: Amanda reports that Lensa AI climbs the App Store charts as its AI-enhanced “magic avatars” that look like you go hella viral.
Pitch Deck Teardown: Hour One’s $20M Series A deck
Startups are approaching language learning from every angle: Hour One uses AI to deploy avatars that turn text into video.
In 2020, its founders raised a $5 million seed round, but earlier this year, it raised $20 million more via a Series A. Here’s a complete breakdown of the company’s unredacted 11-slide deck:
“At a glance” summary slide
Market size slide
Value proposition slide
Product slide 1
Product slide 2
Target audience slide
Case study slide
Haje takes a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly in the company’s $20 million series A pitch deck:
Three more from the TC+ team:
Bird is the word: Bird’s plan to stay in the shared scooter game, by Rebecca.
Robots writing words: Alex is relieved that ChatGPT isn’t putting him out of a job yet, concluding that it’s a lot of fun.
Going down, in some places: Startup valuations are declining — but not consistently, writes Becca in her latest piece.
Big Tech Inc.
As we sift through Elon Musk’s tweet regarding hate speech today, we have to point out there’s been a lot of “FAFO” going on in the Twitterverse, and Kanye West is the latest to FO what happens when he FAs. Just a little over a month after Kanye was reinstated on Twitter, Elon Musk suspended his account again for breaking the social media giant’s rules, Ivan writes. This also comes as West decides he isn’t buying Parler after all. Darrell has more.
Meanwhile, in the world of corporate shake-ups, Mary Ann delivers a primo headline for her story on Opendoor’s CEO Eric Wu, who stepped down today, while Aria reports that space company Astra is restructuring its management team after Benjamin Lyon resigns.
Enjoy the start of your weekend with four more:
Breaker, we got ourselves a semi: Rebecca brings us news that Tesla delivered its long-awaited Semi truck and that the car maker is offering a discount for its Model 3, Model Y deliveries in December.
Exposed in the Sunshine State: Zack writes that a security flaw in Florida’s state tax website led to the exposure of hundreds of filers’ data.
More representation: Activision Blizzard workers in Albany voted to form a union, the company’s second one, Amanda reports.
Just in time?: Payment giant Stripe is the latest to offer a fiat-to-crypto on-ramp widget so that people can hold cryptocurrencies without having to sign up for a currency exchange. Romain has more.
Daily Crunch: ChatGPT’s user experience and implementation ‘should have Google scared’ by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch