Hello Hello! We’re back with another issue of Week in Review, the newsletter where we quickly break down the top stories that have hit TC in the past seven days. Want it in your inbox? Register here.
U.S most read This week’s story was about Stable Diffusion, a “new open source AI image generator that can produce realistic images from any text prompt” that is quickly making its way into more projects. But, as Kyle Wiggers points out, the “unfiltered nature of the system means not all use has been completely overboard.”
T-Mobile + Starlink: Can Elon’s Starlink satellites keep your phone connected even when there’s no cell tower nearby? That’s the idea behind a new alliance between SpaceX and T-Mobile. If it works, T-Mobile phones should be able to send messages (but probably not calls) over the Starlink network in no time, albeit with a delay of up to 30 minutes.
Google’s noise reduction AI: Smartphones have gotten better and better at taking photos in low light, but at some point the obstacle that stands in the way of further improvements is… well, physics. Is an algorithm that uses “AI magic” (as Haje puts it) to eliminate visual noise and “figure out how the images ‘should have looked'” is the only answer? No idea, but the examples are pretty impressive.
Violated by Dash: Do you remember the Twilio hack from a few weeks ago? The ripple effects continue. This week, DoorDash announced that hackers could gain access to internal DoorDash tools and gain access to “names, email addresses, delivery addresses and phone numbers of DoorDash customers”.
Meta’s New Accounts: If you have a Quest VR headset and don’t want to link it to a Facebook or Instagram account, this is the route to take. If you’re still using an old pre-Meta Oculus account, know that support for it ends on Day 1 of 2023.
eBay buys TCGplayer: If you’re a collector of trading card games — think Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic, etc. — you’ve probably heard of TCGplayer, which buys eBay “in a deal worth up to $295 million. We chat with TC writer Aisha Malik about the deal (and why eBay wants it) in the writer’s spotlight below.
commuting? To cook? Just wearing headphones to discourage people from talking to you? Come hang out with us in Podcast land! This week the Equity team spoke about the legal battle going on at Black Girls Code, Jordan and Darrell spoke to comedian/Super Trooper Jay Chandrasekhar about his app on Foundand the Chain Reaction Team spoke with two investors from the relatively new web3-focused company Haun Ventures.
What’s behind the TC+ paywall? Here are some of this week’s most read things. Want more? Sign up here for TC+ and use the code “WIR” for a 15% discount on your annual pass.
Manchin .’s ultimatum: Could the Inflation Reduction Act and lucrative tax credits help make the US “a battery powerhouse”? Tim De Chant explores the possibilities.
Should this metric be your team’s North Star?: The team at Battery Ventures suggests that ARR per employee (or “APE,” as they called it) should be your team’s guiding light.
3 views on Flow: Last week we found out that WeWork founder Adam Neumann is back with something new, having already raised more than $350 million from the likes of a16z. Good idea? Bad idea? Tim De Chant, Dominic-Madori Davis, Amanda Silberling share their thoughts.
writer in the spotlight: Aisha Malik
As noted last week, we’re experimenting with the idea of spotlighting one londonbusinessblog.com writer per newsletter to learn a little about them and what’s been on their minds lately. This time we catch up with the excellent Aisha Malik, almost a year since she wrote her first TC post.
Who is Aisha Malik? What do you do at londonbusinessblog.com?
Hi, I’m a senior consumer news writer and the second Canadian on the londonbusinessblog.com team! I write about the latest changes to platforms and apps, and how they affect the average consumer. My team and I are also discovering upcoming app features ahead of their official release. I also get the chance to chat with founders about their app launches and the latest funding rounds.
What’s interesting about your beat now? Are there any trends we should be aware of?
One thing we see and will probably continue to see is how often apps copy each other. This week we found out that Instagram is testing a BeReal clone feature that challenges people to post candid photos in under two minutes. Over the past year, we’ve seen Instagram copy numerous TikTok features, we’ve seen TikTok copy Snapchat with its Stories feature, and we’ve also seen Twitter copy Instagram with its “circle” feature for close friends.
There are countless similar examples. It will be interesting to see how this trend develops. People are already calling on Instagram to go back to its roots, so what happens when each app tries to be like another? At some point, these apps will be overflowing with features, and that may not be something consumers want.
Right?! It’s absurd. And who wants to build the next cool thing when the giants of the app world just clone your key features as soon as they start to get popular?
Since you’re part of the consumer/apps team, what’s the most used app on your phone that doesn’t come preinstalled? What eats your battery every day?
I’m not ashamed to admit this (okay, maybe a little), but the answer is TikTok.
I find myself opening the app whenever I want to take a quick break or when I’d rather not commit to watching a movie or an episode of a TV show, but still want some entertainment. I know people who have not downloaded the app claim that it is full of dance videos, but the truth is that you will only see dance videos if you are really interested in that. TikTok phrases its “For You” page in a way that’s based on your interests, so I see it as a great way to discover and interact with content that matters to you. As someone who enjoys baking and reading, most of the content I see on TikTok revolves around baking recipes and book recommendations.
I also think that TikTok clearly has an impact on culture, be it memes, music or political movements; there is a chance it will appear first on TikTok. I see the app as a fun and easy way to stay on top of all kinds of trends.
I get it. I had to delete TikTok from my phone – every time I opened it my eyes went all the way to Hypnotoad and I would be gone, only pulling it out 20 minutes/100 videos later. The algorithm is at good. It feels like the last boss of the internet; the algorithm in its most evolved/efficient form. I’m probably in the weeds a little too much here. Back to the questions!
One of the most read stories this week was your message about eBay’s acquisition of TCGplayer. What is TCGplayer and why does eBay want it?
TCGplayer is one of the largest online marketplaces for collectible card games. The acquisition essentially marks eBay’s latest push into the trading card market, which boomed during the pandemic. eBay says that trading cards are currently showing substantial growth.
To put things in perspective, eBay says the trading card category is growing significantly faster than the overall market and saw $2 billion in transactions in the first half of 2021. Since eBay has long been a destination for trading card enthusiasts to buy and sell, acquiring one of its biggest competitors helps cement the company’s place as the go-to marketplace to source these collectibles.
It’s kind of bizarre how collectibles have seen a huge increase during the pandemic – something which perhaps means many people are spending a lot more time at home with their own stuff. Collectibles oriented companies like Whatnot just exploded in popularity ranging from a pre-seed round to a valuation in the billions in two years. Are you a collector of anything, trading cards or something else?
Do stones count? [Laughs]
I have a small collection of rocks and stones that I have collected from beaches and forests I have visited in Canada and the US. I don’t know much about different types of rocks, so the ones in my collection aren’t extraordinary or anything. I think collecting them is a fun way to feel connected to specific locations I’ve loved visiting!
Fantastic. Thank you, Aisha!