Hey, folks, and welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s newsletter that highlights key developments in the tech industry over the past few days. If you missed the news this week, no biggie. That’s what WiR is for. We’ll fill you in.
In this edition, we cover Reed Jobs, the son of Steve Jobs, who is launching a new venture fund to back cancer treatments; China’s cutthroat e-commerce tactics; and fan-fiction writers rallying against a proposed U.S. law that could lead to greater surveillance online. Elsewhere, we pull back the curtains on Google Assistant reportedly pivoting to generative AI; NASA launching its own streaming service, called NASA+; and Walmart buying VC firm Tiger Global’s remaining Flipkart stake.
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Jobs fights cancer: Reed Jobs, the 31-year-old son of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, is stepping into the spotlight with a new venture capital firm to invest in emerging cancer treatments. Called Yosemite — after the national park where Reed’s parents were wed — the firm has already closed its debut fund with $200 million from prominent individuals and institutions, including MIT, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and John Doerr.
Fight of the Chinese e-commerce giants: The battle between two of China’s largest e-commerce firms, Temu and Shein, is heating up. Temu recently filed a court document in the U.S. accusing fast-fashion giant Shein of anticompetitive practices, which was a response to Shein’s accusations in March that Temu “willfully and flagrantly infringed Shein’s exclusive and valuable trademark and copyright rights.”
Fan-fiction writers protest online safety law:This week, fan-fiction writers penned letters to their senators, expressing their concerns that the U.S. Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) could change the internet forever. KOSA has been met with a flood of opposition from a variety of internet communities; detractors worry that the bill could restrict queer kids’ access to affirming online resources or make it easier for local governments to surveil abortion seekers.
Google Assistant embraces generative AI: Google is reportedly planning a major revamp of Google Assistant, its AI-powered assistant, as the generative AI race heats up. An internal email suggests that the new and improved Google Assistant will be “powered by the latest LLM [large language model] technology” — tech similar, presumably, to that underpinning AI systems like OpenAI’s GPT-4.
NASA gets into streaming: NASA announced this week that it’s going to launch a new streaming service later this year called NASA+. The ad-free, no-cost streaming portal will include live coverage of future launches, documentaries and new original series that will be exclusively available on the platform.
Walmart fully acquires Flipkart: Walmart has paid $1.4 billion to buy out VC firm Tiger Global’s remaining holding of Flipkart shares as the retail giant further expands its stake in the Indian e-commerce startup. Walmart, which spent $16 billion on a 77% stake in Flipkart in 2018, held 72% share in the firm as of last year, according to an analysis by market intelligence firm Tracxn.
Apple gives X a pass: After weeks of changes to its social handles, branding on its interface, a redirect on the web and lots of chatter from its owner, Twitter the app has finally changed its name on the App Store to X. The single-letter name may have an exception: Apple typically doesn’t allow developers to name their apps as a single character.
SpaceX tests a “pancake”: SpaceX conducted a full-pressure test of a new water deluge system — which CEO Elon Musk described as “a mega-steel pancake” — for its Starship launch vehicle, as the company looks to resolve one of the biggest problems that cropped up during the orbital flight test in April.
Looking for podcasts to pass the time? You’re in luck. TechCrunch has a wealth of content for your listening pleasure.
On Equity, the crew hosted Sara Mauskopf, the CEO and co-founder of the childcare marketplace Winnie, to discuss the state of care as a venture-backable category, where startups can find the most impact and business results and the pressures of fundraising-driven growth in care-oriented markets.
This week’s episode of Found, meanwhile, focused on ReBokeh, a startup that created an app that applies filters to allow people with low vision to see better. The founder and CEO, Rebecca Rosenberg, talked about how her own experience with having low vision inspired the product and what it was like building ReBokeh as an undergrad when everything went remote in 2020.
And over on Chain Reaction, Jesse Pollak, head of protocols at Coinbase, chatted about the launch of Base, a new Ethereum-based blockchain that’s set to launch on Coinbase in just a few days. Pollak dove into what’s going on and why it matters, as well as where he sees Base going in the distant future.
TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:
The future of AI is video: Haje writes about how generative AI video tech is advancing quickly — and how it’s opening up a world full of possibilities that are both brilliant and terrible.
Crypto’s not dead yet: The crypto world might be shaky — but the blockchain developer space is showing signs of promise. Responding to a survey for TC+, builders showed most interest in smart contract security and account abstraction.
Room-temperature superconductors: Last week, a team from South Korea claimed to have created a material that superconducts at ambient temperature. It’s too early to tell whether their work will hold up to scientific scrutiny. But Tim writes that, if it does, many industries would be ripe for upheaval.
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