Stripe is eyeing an exit, Dell is betting on the cloud, and Shutterstock is embracing generative AI
Hey, partiers, it’s Kyle, who continues to help Greg write Week in Review while spending time with his newborn. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a week. I’m exhausted and thankful it’s over. But because the news never sleeps, I’m rallying with the help of a fourth cup of coffee. Wish me luck.
I’ve talked your ass off about it at this point, but I’m contractually obligated (not really, but still) to mention TBEN’s upcoming Early Stage 2023 event in Boston on April 20th. The one-day startup summit includes advice and takeaways from top experts, plus opportunities to meet co-founders and share your own entrepreneurial experiences. Do not miss it.
As for travel, it’s not too early to start thinking about this year’s TBEN Disrupt 2023, which will take place in San Francisco at the end of September. Tickets are not available yet, but will be in the near future. Sign up here for updates.
With the call to action out of the way (phew), here’s this week’s tech news!
Stripe eyes an exit: Mary Ann and Natasha write that fintech startup Stripe has set itself a 12-month TBEN to go public, either through a direct listing or by pursuing a private market transaction. The payments giant was founded in 2010, so it’s not entirely surprising that it’s exploring options for exit. But Stripe hasn’t been immune to the global recession, recently laying off 14% of its workforce (about 1,120 people) and downgrading its internal valuation multiple times. In a twist, Stripe reportedly recently attempted to raise at least $2 billion in capital, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Dell bets on the cloud: Ingrid reports that Dell is making an acquisition to strengthen its cloud services business, particularly its offerings in DevOps. The company is buying Cloudify, an Israeli startup that has built a platform for cloud orchestration and infrastructure automation, sources say for a whopping $100 million. The purchase comes as DevOps startups continue to attract investor attention, with industry venture capital reaching $4 billion in the second quarter of 2021, according to PitchBook.
Shutterstock Embraces Generative AI: As part of a partnership with OpenAI, the AI startup that recently attracted a multibillion-dollar investment from Microsoft, Shutterstock this week rolled out a tool that allows customers to create images from text prompts. Powered by OpenAI’s technology, specifically DALL-E 2, the tool creates “licensing-ready” images after they’re created. That’s important given that one of Shutterstock’s biggest competitors, Getty Images, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against Stability AI – maker of another generative AI service called Stable Diffusion – over using its images to enhance its AI. training without permission from Getty or rights holders.
Bidet Brand Buy Shower Startup: Harry scooped Brondell’s purchase of Nebia, the tech showerhead startup backed by Apple CEO Tim Cook and a host of other big names, including Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia. Nebia stood out when it launched with expensive nozzles that sprayed users with a fine mist while saving up to 70% of the water that a typical shower head emits. Co-founder Philip Winter told TBEN this week that Nebia’s products, including those it created with Moen, have reached more than 100,000 homes.
An AI maestro, not yet released: An impressive new AI system from Google can generate music in any genre with a text description. But the company, fearing the risks involved, has no immediate plans to release it. The system, called MusicLM, was trained on a dataset of 280,000 hours of music to learn how to generate coherent songs for descriptions such as “Mesmerizing jazz song with a memorable saxophone solo and a solo singer” or “90s Berlin techno with a low bass and strong kick.” Remarkably, the songs sound much like a human artist might compose, if not necessarily as inventive or musically cohesive.
No rest for Musk’s Twitter: Twitter owner and self-proclaimed”free speech absolutistElon Musk faces a legal challenge in Germany over how the platform allegedly fails to enforce its own rules against anti-Semitic content, including Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany — which has strict laws prohibiting anti-Semitic hate speech — making the Berlin court a compelling arena in which to hear such a challenge. Musk, for his part, has repeatedly claimed that Twitter will respect all laws in the countries where it operates, including European speech laws, though he has yet to comment publicly on this particular lawsuit.
Lyrics Until You Drop: Walmart recently introduced a new way to shop through a chatbot. Sarah tried it and found the experience leaves a lot to be desired. She writes, “It felt like the process of ordering a few basic things has become an ordeal and has taken much longer than the traditional method of searching the Walmart app and adding things to the cart. If this kind of conversational trading is the future, I’d say it’s still a work in progress.”
Flit to the Future: Flutter, Google’s open source framework for building multiplatform apps for mobile, web, and desktop, is making good progress. Frederick writes that at a recent conference, the tech giant highlighted the latest version of Flutter, which offers vastly improved graphics performance, the ability to more easily embed Flutter code into existing web and mobile apps, and support for new architectures such as WebAssembly and RISC-V .
For your listening pleasure, TBEN has queued up a series of riveting new podcast episodes (as it does weekly, might I add). At Equity, the crew took to the mic to discuss the week’s deals, the departure of All Raise’s CEO, what Google’s antitrust case means for startups, how the recession affected how companies hire, and why femtech stood out in 2022. On Found, Darrell and Bekka were joined by Klarna’s co-founder and CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski to talk about how the company is expanding beyond the buy now, pay later space to become a neobank. And TC’s crypto-focused Chain Reaction spotlighted Mo Shaikh, co-founder and CEO of the layer-1 blockchain Aptos, which builds infrastructure for web3 apps and products.
TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys – which you know if you’re already one. If you’re not, consider signing up. I doubt you’ll regret it. Check out this week’s highlights:
Salesforce under fire: Salesforce is under threat from activist investor Elliott Management, which announced it was taking a multibillion-dollar position in the CRM leader. Ron explores what the future might hold for Salesforce as the company tries to cut costs and sell off potentially unprofitable parts of the organization.
Energy transition is a winner with investors: Tim looks at investments in the energy transition, which took off last year. Businesses, financial institutions, governments and end users around the world are committing $1.11 trillion to low-carbon technologies, just over 30% more than in 2021 and the second year in a row that growth has surpassed that figure.
Increased Control: Rebekah writes that startups should expect more scrutiny from VCs over their hiring plans. Startups started hiring in droves in 2021 as VC cash flowed and the job market was hot. But many overindulged in the talent pool and then had to make major cutbacks and layoffs in 2022.