Hello again! Greg here again with Week in Review. WiR is the newsletter where we take the most read TechCrunch stories from the last seven days and wrap them up in as few words as possible — no fluff, no nonsense,* just a quick blast of everything you probably want to know about in tech this week.
*Maybe a little bit of nonsense.
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Tip your Amazon driver (on Amazon’s dime): If you’ve got an Alexa device at home, Amazon will pay your delivery driver an extra $5 if you say, “Alexa, thank my driver” after a delivery. Amazon could, of course, just pay drivers more to begin with…but that, depressingly, probably wouldn’t be a move that would get Amazon one of the most read headlines of the week.
Slack’s CEO to depart: Last week Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor stepped down; this week, Stewart Butterfield, CEO of (Salesforce-owned) Slack, announced he’ll also step down come January. Ron Miller shares his insights on inbound Slack CEO Lidiane Jones and her decades of product experience.
The “Twitter Files”: “Elon Musk reminded his followers on Friday that owning Twitter now means he controls every aspect of the company — including what its employees said behind closed doors before he took over,” writes Taylor as an array of once-private internal Twitter communications is made public.
Lensa AI goes viral: Do all of your social media friends suddenly have avatars that make them look like sci-fi gods and action heroes? It’s probably because of Lensa AI, a photo editing app that went viral this week after adding support for Stable Diffusion’s AI-generated art tools. Popularity didn’t come without controversy, though — many continue to debate the ethics of selling something generated by an AI trained on the works of real people; meanwhile, others noted that the AI could be “tricked” into generating otherwise disallowed NSFW imagery.
More tech layoffs: This week Airtable laid off about 20% of its staff — over 250 people. Plaid also laid off 20%, which for them works out to 260 people. African fintech unicorn Chipper Cash let go of 50 people, and the U.K. drag-and-drop e-commerce platform Primer let go of 85 (about one-third of the company).
Google combines Maps/Waze teams: When Google bought the navigation app Waze for over $1 billion back in 2013, Google said they’d keep the Waze and Google Maps teams separate “for now.” Turns out “for now” meant about 9.5 years, but Google confirmed this week that the two teams will be merged. Google says it expects Waze to remain a stand-alone service.
Twitter Blue might cost more on iOS: Twitter’s $8 “Blue” subscription plan (which comes with a blue “verified” checkmark) is still on pause for now after a few false starts, but when it returns, it’ll reportedly cost a few bucks more if you subscribe through the iOS app in order to offset Apple’s cut.
Found — our podcast about founders and the companies they build — has a new co-host! Becca Szkutak stepped into the role this week, joining Darrell Etherington in a chat with Daye CEO Valentina Milanova. Meanwhile, the Equity crew tried to make sense of 2022 in a year-end look back, and Taylor Hatmaker hopped on The TechCrunch Podcast to explore what the sudden explosion of AI-generated art means for actual human artists.
Here’s what subscribers were reading most on TechCrunch+:
Investors sound the alarm about possible private equity tech deals: “Who wants to sell when prices are low?” Ron Miller and Alex Willhelm ask.
Rootine’s $10M pitch deck: “If you told me that a company that’s charging $70 per month for multivitamins would be able to raise a $10 million round, I’d demand to see the receipts,” writes Haje. With that in mind, he dives deep into the pitch deck that helped make it happen.