Sony and Honda unveil Afela, Bird Buddy launches new smart feeder, and Amazon secures $8 billion loan • TechCrunch

Hey, guys, it’s Kyle filling in for Greg, who is out on parental leave for the next few weeks. While enjoying time with a beautiful and healthy newborn (what better gift for the holidays?), I’m catching up on this week’s review thread to make sure you’re all up to date with technology. I hope I do Greg justice – those are big shoes to fill!

Longtime readers will know the drill, but for newbies, WiR aims to recap the last seven days of TechCrunch stories with focus. Every Saturday we send YR to subscribers’ inboxes (sign up here if you haven’t already) for your convenience. Like buttercream, WiR goes well with your morning coffee – or tea, if that’s your preference. Or hot cocoa. Take your pick – no judgment here.

Before we get into the news, a reminder that the TC Early Stage event in Boston is fast approaching. Tickets don’t last – they never do – so if you’re in the Greater Boston area until the end of April, get them before they’re gone. We would love to see your smiling face.

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Tik Tok bans abound.: The US may be giving all the attention to banning TikTok on government devices, but India did it first – two and a half years ago, of course. In recent comments, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the US is broadly following India’s lead to “… eliminate malicious applications”. Apart from Tik Tok, India has also banned hundreds of apps linked to China, including PUBG Mobile, Battle Plus Mobile India and UC Browser, in the wake of the border conflict between the two neighboring countries.

I’m feeling bad.It’s the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) season, which continues to be car-centric. Case in point, Sony and Honda unveiled their joint EV brand, the Afela, at a glitzy press conference on Wednesday, rolling it out on a four-door sedan platform. Afeelas pre-orders are scheduled for the first half of 2025, the companies will begin sales in the same year. The first shipment will be delivered to customers in North America in the spring of 2026.

There is no appetite for danger: My partner Natasha He wrote a great piece on how tech workers, burned out by recent layoffs, are reevaluating their relationship with the industry — especially given the turbulent economic times ahead. Some are working multiple full-time jobs in neighboring industries, while others are opting for part-time contract gigs. Few seem eager to abandon technology altogether—but they’re actually more cynical than ever.

For birdsBird Buddy, the startup behind “smart” bird feeders, unveiled its latest model at CES that features hummingbirds. Like the original bird feeder, BirdBuddy’s new feeder – made with recyclable and sustainable materials – has a motion-triggered camera that prompts bird visitors to snap photos. Those are powered by an AI algorithm to help identify species, alerting owners through an accompanying mobile app.

I swear I didn’tSam Bankman-Fried’s plea of ​​not guilty to multiple federal fraud charges is a tactical response, experts say. Jacqueline Talked to. The former CEO of crypto exchange FTX, whose company collapsed in November, may be buying time to settle with prosecutors. A trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York is set for Oct. 2.

Cutting the sales forceSalesforce announced this week that it is cutting about 10 percent of its workforce and closing offices in “select markets,” affecting more than 7,000 employees. Like other companies hit by significant layoffs last year, CEO Marc Benioff said Salesforce has been hiring more people during the downturn. The company last February asked for 79,000 workers, a 30 percent increase by 2020.

Billions for Bezos: Amazon has secured $8 billion in loans, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch that the loan adds to the financing options the company has used in recent months to weather the “uncertain macroeconomic environment.” It also comes on the heels of a disappointing year for the retailer, which was overextended during the pandemic. In a recent cost-cutting measure, Amazon announced plans to lay off nearly 18,000 people.

i see youSpeaking of Amazon, at CES, Amazon-owned Ring brought back the Peephole Cam, a camera that fits over existing door peepholes to record outdoors, in apartment building corridors, and the like. Now starting at $129 — down from its original price of $199 — it puts its capabilities in line with the rest of the Ring portfolio with software like motion detection and real-time streaming video.

Audio summary

Are you hungry for podcasts to start the new year? Good, because TC serves them like hotcakes. On the TechCrunch Podcast, I talk with Darrell about AI product announcements related to CES, while Natasha talks about the effects of mass adoption in tech. Meanwhile, the staff at Fairness, TC’s startup-focused show, took a look at some of the early highlights from CES, USV and the Dorset Week deals, and the latest developments in the FTX and SBF saga. And last but not least, Found sat down with Brex founder and CEO Henrique Dubougras to discuss his corporate credit card and expense management startup.


Not signed up for TC+ yet? Shame, because there is great content out there. Some of the most popular this week were:

Fintech predictions and opportunities for 2023It’s been an exciting year in fintech. The market has fallen from 2021 highs, and while 2022 will largely be a reset of the funding environment, Victoria predicts 2023 will be a year of improvement for fintech companies. Read her in-depth piece for more.

5 points of failure between $5M and $100M in ARRTracy Young, CEO of PlanGrid, a construction app for project managers, breaks down PlanGrid’s key failure points and what she’s learned from them over the years. As he says in his introductory paragraphs, “If these reflections help even one founder to make a small mistake, I will consider this effort worthwhile.”

Is artificial AI already bubbling?Rebecca surveyed more than 35 investors working across geographies, investment levels and sectors about their feelings about generative AI – namely ChatGPT, stable distribution and others along these lines. Interestingly, while many investors say they are bullish on the new technology in general, they admit that the sector may disappear under its own hype.

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