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OpenAI unleashes GPT-4, SVB files for bankruptcy, and a PE firm acquires Pornhub




Welcome to Week in Review folks, TechCrunch’s regular roundup of Tech Week. GPT-4, OpenAI’s text and image understanding AI, may have been dominating the headlines for the past few days. But a new drama surrounding the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank also emerged.

We cover all of that and more in this issue, so grab a coffee and get comfortable.

quick note, TechCrunch early stage 2023 is fast approaching. Taking place on April 20th in Boston, it will feature three parallel tracks of founder-forward workshops, case studies and deep dives with tech entrepreneurship experts. Further down the line, mark your calendar for TechCrunch Disrupt 2023, taking place September 19-21 in San Francisco. As always, it will be packed with roundtables, firesides, questions and answers, and showcases from luminaries in their fields. You won’t want to miss it.

Now for the news.

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OpenAI introduces GPT-4: After much anticipation, OpenAI, the AI ​​startup with significant support from Microsoft, has submitted Approved a powerful new AI model called GPT-4. GPT-4 can generate text and accept image and text input – an improvement over its predecessor, which only accepted text – and scores at “human level” on various benchmarks. But GPT-4 is not perfect. Like most other generative text AI, the model “hallucinates” facts and makes mistakes in reasoning – sometimes with great confidence.

Microsoft relies on AI: Leveraging the latest technology from OpenAI, including GPT-4, Microsoft has introduced new AI-powered capabilities across its suite of productivity tools under the Copilot brand. Copilot does different things depending on the app it’s used in. For example, Copilot writes, edits, summarizes, and generates text in Word; in PowerPoint and Excel, Copilot turns natural language commands into crafted presentations and data visualizations; and in Power Apps, Copilot helps refine low-code software ideas.

SVB files for bankruptcy: A week after trading was suspended for SVB Financial and beyond Regulators took control the holding company of Silicon Valley Bank and other subsidiaries, SVB Financial has taken the next inevitable step. The bank on Friday announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. This means SVB Financial can – and plans to – apply to the courts to resume activities while finding buyers for its assets, including continuing its plan to sell SVB Securities and SVB Capital.

Google Glass says goodbye: Google Glass, Google’s misunderstood piece of AR technology, is no more. Google announced this week that it will stop selling the latest incarnation of Glass, the Glass Enterprise Edition, on March 15 (but will continue to support existing customers through September 15). Readers will recall that Glass, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last month, never quite managed to gain traction and has become the subject of ridicule and parody even after the focus shifted from the consumer to the company.

YouTube TV is getting expensive: In a move sure to annoy cord cutters, YouTube announced that it’s increasing the price of its YouTube TV subscription to $72.99 per month — an $8 increase from the current monthly fee of $64.99. The Google-owned company blames an increase in “content costs” for the change. (Perhaps not coincidentally, recently YouTube TV announced a streaming deal with NFL Sunday Ticketwhich is reportedly worth $2 billion a season.)

Via acquires Citymapper: transportation startup Overrecently raised $110 million at $3.5 billion Rating, snapped city ​​mapper, the London startup that produces the popular urban mapping app of the same name. Originally made a name as Alternative to apps like Google Maps For consumers planning trips in metropolitan areas using public transit, Citymapper has arguably never really managed to capitalize on its momentum and early promise.

Baidu’s ChatGPT Rival Strikes: In other AI news this week, Ernie Bot, Chinese search giant Baidu’s response to ChatGPT, was underwhelmed. TechCrunch wasn’t able to attempt it, but industry observers inside and outside of China pointed out that Baidu opted for a lengthy presentation with pre-recorded Ernie’s answers rather than presenting Ernie through a live demo. The company’s shares fell as much as 10% after Li’s presentation in Hong Kong.

Pornhub meets private equity: MindGeek – owner of several adult entertainment sites including Pornhub, Brazzers and Redtube – was acquired from a Canadian private equity firm, Ethical Capital Partners (ECP). The acquisition follows a rocky few years for the porn giant. MindGeek’s CEO Feras Antoon and COO David Tassillo both left the company in June 2022. MindGeek is also currently in the middle of a crisis several complain who claim to have knowingly profited from child sexual abuse material.

Plate customers in the dark: Dish customers are still looking for answers two weeks after the US satellite TV giant was hit by a ransomware attack. In a public filing released Feb. 28, Dish confirmed ransomware was responsible for an ongoing outage and warned that hackers were exfiltrating data that “may” contain customers’ personal information from its systems. But Dish hasn’t provided a significant update since then, though customers continue to struggle – and not know if their personal information is at risk.


TechCrunch’s inventory of quality podcasts is growing every hour. (Rejoice, those with long commutes.) Continued this week Equity capital, Alex And Natasha discussed the M&A frenzy that took Qualtrics, Cvent and Mint Mobile, as well as the fallout from the collapse of SVB, GPT-4 and why Y Combinator is being scaled back from late stage. At Foundin the meantime, amanda And darrell spoke to Teddy Solomon, the co-founder of Fizz, a social media app aimed at college students who are focused on building community on campus. The interview went into what Gen Z is looking for on their social media, how to thoroughly moderate a platform like Fizz, and how this type of community building could go well beyond colleges.


TC+ subscribers get access to the in-depth commentary, analysis, and polls you’ll know if you’re already a subscriber. if you are not considering signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:

Reconsider failure points: Natasha M writes about how, in light of the SVB bankruptcy, founders might want to reconsider trusting one person to lead their business to success. She interviewed a number of early-stage founders building companies that have raised a Series A or less to understand how they feel about succession. The consensus is that in a world where founders are more focused on runway, product-to-market fit, and growth, it’s not top of the list, or even top of the list.

Strange things are happening at Unearthly Materials: Tim reports on Unearthly Materials, a startup that claims to have big-name investors behind its technology that could lead to a superconductor breakthrough. But as it turns out, those investors weren’t all on board, especially given Unearthly Materials’ questionable balance sheet.

Good news for software companies: Depressed from this week’s news? Alex writes that it’s not all doom and gloom. Some software companies are doing reasonably well during the general tech industry crash — at least judging by their earnings reports.


Innovation in the space industry takes off




Space technologies are picking up steam in the UK alongside other emerging technologies such as quantum computing. “I don’t think we can do full-scale space exploration and travel, if you will, without quantum technology,” explains Simon Phillips, chief technology officer at Oxford Quantum Circuits (OQC). “It’s just too much to calculate.”

“I think it’s going to be very soon that when we’re talking about space technology, we’re always going to involve quantum,” says Phillips. For space technology to incorporate quanta, he explains, it means “building ground-based systems capable of processing lots and lots of quantum information in ways we didn’t previously know was possible.”

In the short term, quantum technologies could support space research and development such as mission planning, material discovery, and studies of how space travel affects the space environment. Solving the space debris problem is an area that may sound corny, but, as Phillips notes, “it’s actually a small problem.” Quantum, he explains, can model space debris removal “hundreds and hundreds” of years into the future.

In the longer term, quantum technologies could improve our understanding of how people are affected by their time in space. “We have data on Mars and we have data on humans, but we don’t understand the interaction between those environments,” says Phillips. With quanta, he says, “we could figure out how to protect people working in space,” which he believes is a critical issue.

Building a collaborative startup ecosystem

As applications of quantum computing in space continue to grow, the UK space start-up ecosystem is also growing.

For example, Space Forge is developing a production center that will go in and out of Earth’s atmosphere. They will only produce goods in space that result in positive net utility on the ground, Western says. He points to the various benefits of working in space, including a cleaner environment, lower pressure, extreme temperatures and reduced carbon emissions. “You can access plus or minus 250 °C,” he says.

Meanwhile, the sun’s rays could be used for lithography in the manufacture of semiconductors. While it sounds like science fiction, “all the technology to do that is already there,” says Western.

Another notable British space startup is Lumi Space. With support from the European Space Agency (ESA) and the UK Space Agency, Lumi Space is building the world’s first global commercial satellite laser ranging service that will enable safe and sustainable space exploration. Applications of its technology include collision avoidance, debris clearance and constellation management.

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OpenAI turns ChatGPT into a platform overnight with addition of plugins




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OpenAI today announced support for new third-party plugins for ChatGPTand Twitter is already buzzing about the company’s potential platform game.

in one to blog postthe company explained that the plugins are “tools specially designed for language models with security as a core principle, helping ChatGPT to access up-to-date information, perform calculations or use third-party services”.

A sign of the increasing dominance of OpenAI

The announcement was quickly taken as a signal by the public OpenAIAmbitions to further expand its dominance by transforming ChatGPT into a developer platform.

“OpenAI considers ChatGPT a platform game,” tweeted Marco Mascorro, co-founder of fellow AI.


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And @gregmushen tweeted: “I think the introduction of plugins for ChatGPT is a threat to the App Store. It creates a new platform with new monetization methods.”

Sharing the announcement, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman tweeted: “We start rolling out ChatGPT plugins. You can install plugins to help with a variety of tasks. We are excited to see what developers create!”

OpenAI, he said, offers a web browsing plugin and a code execution plugin. He added that the company is open source the code for a fetch plugin.

The plugins, he said, are “still very experimental,” but reiterated that “we think there’s something great going on in that direction; It was a highly requested feature.”

ChatGPT Plugins: Important milestone in the development of AI chat

OpenAI announced that plugin developers invited by the company’s waitlist will be able to use them documentation to build a plugin for ChatGPT. The first plugins have already been created by companies such as Expedia, Instacart, Kayak, OpenTable and Zapier.

According to Expedia, their new plugin simplifies travel planning for ChatGPT users. “Previously, ChatGPT could see what to do and where to stay, but it couldn’t help travelers with shopping and booking,” a press representative said in an email.

Once a traveler activates the Expedia plugin, they can now “bring to life” a travel plan created by chatting with ChatGPT, with information based on Expedia’s travel data, including real-time availability and pricing from flights, hotels, vacation rentals, activities and more car rentals. When they’re ready to book, they’ll be taken to Expedia where they can log in to view personalized options, as well as member discounts, loyalty rewards and more.

The update marks a major milestone in the evolution of AI chat as a platform for accessing and interacting with the internet. ChatGPT not only provides a service, but creates an ecosystem where developers create their own plugins for the benefit of users and can distribute. This is similar to how Apple’s App Store revolutionized the mobile industry by allowing third-party apps to thrive on its devices. ChatGPT’s plugin feature could potentially open up new avenues and markets for AI chat in the future.

OpenAI said they would start expanding plugin alpha access to users and developers waiting list and plan to roll out access more widely “over time.”

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Scandal-plagued Japan tech giant Toshiba gets tender offer




TOKYO — scandal contested JapanElectronics and technology maker Toshiba has accepted a 2 trillion yen ($15 billion) takeover bid from Japan Industrial Partners, a buyout fund made up of major banks and corporations.

If the proposal is successful, it will be an important step in Toshiba’s year-long turnaround effort, allowing the company to be privatized and delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange. However, overseas activist investors own a significant portion of Toshiba’s shares, and it’s unclear whether they will be happy with the latest offering.

Tokyo-based Toshiba Corp. announced late Thursday that its board of directors accepted the offer at 4,620 yen ($36) per share after trading in Tokyo closed. Toshiba closed at 4,213 yen ($32) a share on Thursday and was up 4.3% on Friday to 4,395 yen ($34).

The move comes at a time when markets are becoming nervous about the fallout from the recent US bank collapses

The takeover would keep Toshiba’s business Japanese in an alliance with Japanese partners.

Japan Industrial Partners, formed in 2002 to restructure Japanese companies, lists big names in which it has invested such as: SonyHitachi, Olympus and NEC.

According to Japanese media reports, the consortium includes around 20 Japanese companies, including Orix Corp., a financial services company, electronics manufacturer Rohm Co. and megabanks such as Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

Toshiba’s big troubles began in 2015 with a wide-ranging accounting scandal that saw books manipulated for years. That contributed to his problems related to his nuclear power business.

Its US nuclear arm, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy in 2017 after years of deep losses in security costs. Toshiba is also involved in the decommissioning of the severely damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Toshiba has gone through several presidents over the years as the brand once prized for making home appliances, laptops, batteries and computer chips has become the target of activist overseas shareholders.

The latest proposal still has to go through regulatory reviews in several countries, including the US, Vietnam, Germany and Morocco. The process is expected to take several months.

Toshiba has tried to go private in recent years. Proposals to split Toshiba into three and then two companies were rejected by shareholders. A delisting would allow Toshiba to leave activist investors behind.

Toshiba had its humble beginnings in a telegraph equipment factory in 1875. The brand was synonymous with the power of modern Japanese manufacturing. It sold parts of its business, including its flash memory business now known as Kioxia, although Toshiba remains a Kioxia shareholder.

Whether Toshiba can return to a solid growth path remains uncertain. Last month, Toshiba lowered its profit guidance for the fiscal year ended March to 130 billion yen ($1 billion) from an earlier forecast of 190 billion yen ($1.5 billion) in profit.


Yuri Kageyama is there Twitter

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