Welcome to Startups Weekly, a nuanced look at this week’s startup news and trends by Senior Reporter and Equity co-host Natasha Mascarenhas. Subscribe to receive it in your inbox here.
Maybe it’s because “Succession” is back next week, or maybe because Silicon Valley just went through its first banking crisis, but I want to talk about the lineage of startups.
As I write in my latest:
Silicon Valley Bank is a good reminder that startups, often entrenched in the world of risk and sloppiness, sometimes forget to think about the obvious: single points of failure. But just as it makes sense to rely on a community-friendly bank, so does trusting one person to lead your business to success. Now that we’ve seen that the former doesn’t really work, maybe it’s time to rethink the latter.
For my full take on the new concern founders should be thinking about, read “Banking isn’t the only ‘single point of failure’ entrepreneurs should rethink.”
For more on the crypto angle, read my latest snapshot of founder sentiment, the impact on black founders, and this timeline of everything that’s unfolded so far. This is where the coverage of the SVB ends so that this newsletter writer keeps her sanity and remembers that there is a world beyond the bank trenches.
In the rest of this newsletter, we’ll cover news that was buried this week and GPT-4. As always you can follow me Twitter or Instagram to continue the conversation. You can also send me tips at [email protected] or at Signal on +1 925 271 0912. No pitches, please.
GPT-4 did not write this
At Equity this week, Alex and I talked about the above, but more interestingly, the future of AI. We talk about the technological impact of smart people writing books, context and general technical exuberance. We need it, and I’m not just saying that because I live a stone’s throw from Cerebral Valley.
Here’s why it’s top of mind: GPT-4 was launched this week by the team behind OpenAI. Our own Kyle Wiggers reports: “GPT-4 can generate text and accept image and text input — an improvement over GPT-3.5, its predecessor, which accepted text only — and performs at a ‘human level’ on several professional and academic benchmarks . For example, GPT-4 passes a simulated bar exam with a score around the top 10% of test takers; in contrast, the score of GPT-3.5 was around the bottom 10%.” Companies like Stripe, Duolingo, and Khan Academy were among the beta testers.
News that was buried
When there is a clear zeitgeist, news is often buried – both intentionally and unintentionally. As a result, there was a lot of news this past week that deserved more attention – both good and bad. The list includes Launch House and stop existing operations and staff layoffs, as well as Klaviyo and Course Hero conducting company-wide layoffs for the first time.
Here’s what else I missed sharing my two cents:
- Review Saturday: If you missed Startups Weekly last week, check out my latest issue here: “The oh-so-biased brand risk in venture capital.”
- Shall we stay on campus? londonbusinessblog.com is coming to Boston on April 20. I will be there with my favorite colleagues to interview top experts during a one-day founder summit. Reserve your pass as soon as possible! Speakers include Kerty Levy of Techstars, Dayna Grayson of Construct Capital and James Currier of NFX.
- Big shout out to all the sources who have spoken to me on- and off-the-record over the past week to help me understand Silicon Valley’s first, real banking crisis. There’s more we need to learn and lots of questions, so stay confident and get tips.
- Programming Note: If you’re reading this in a browser, get this in your inbox too! Subscribe here and share it with your friends.
Seen on londonbusinessblog.com
Google is warning users to take action to protect against remotely exploitable flaws in popular Android phones
At Virgin Orbit it should never have come to staff leave
Pornhub owner MindGeek sold to private equity firm
Anonymous app Sidechat picks up rival Yik Yak… and users aren’t happy
Seen on londonbusinessblog.com+
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Silicon Valley has been through an exhausting period, which is saying a lot considering that COVID-19 is still an ongoing pandemic and the downturn continues to throw hurdles. If you made it to the end, thank you, but take a nap too. We’ll be there on Monday. You deserve some rest. I’ll probably have nicer words about how technology worked together in a time of immense stress, but for now, sleep.
Chat soon – and let me know if you want to live tweet “Succession” with me next week?