It’s that time of the week, folks: Week in Review (WiR) time. If you’re new to WiR, it’s the newsletter where TechCrunch recaps the week in tech that was. We get it — you’re a busy person. We all are. So what better way to catch up on what’s happened than in a summarized, bullet-point form? We can’t think of one — and trust us, we’ve tried.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to WiR so that you never miss a new edition. And make note (if you haven’t) of TechCrunch’s upcoming events, including the startup-focused Early Stage in Boston on April 20 and our mega-conference, Disrupt, in San Francisco on September 19–21.
With the call to action out of the way, let’s get on to the news!
Tragic killing: Bob Lee, the creator of Cash App and the former CTO of Square, was killed this week in a fatal stabbing in San Francisco. Romain writes that, before joining MobileCoin, Lee worked at Google for the first few years of Android, focusing on core library development. He then joined Square, the payment company that later became Block, and was an investor in startups, including SpaceX, Clubhouse, Tile and Figma.
Twitter sends doge soaring: On Monday, Alex wrote that Twitter added the symbol for the cryptocurrency dogecoin to a place of prominence on Twitter.com, which had the effect of sending the value of dogecoin skyrocketing. Not coincidentally, Twitter CEO Elon Musk is currently embroiled in a lawsuit relating to the cryptocurrency — a suit in which Musk’s lawyers called dogecoin a “legitimate cryptocurrency that continues to hold a market cap of nearly $10 billion.”
Gen Z embraces Fanfix: More and more Gen Z users are hopping on the content creation train in an effort to earn a living beyond the typical 9 to 5 gig. However, given the recent drama surrounding major social media apps, many creators are getting worried. Lauren reports that’s why an increasing number of Gen Zers are jumping on Fanfix — a Patreon competitor that only allows clean content and enables influencers to earn money directly from their followers.
A long-promised treadmill arrives: Startup Virtuix — which has long been promising a mass-market omnidirectional treadmill, raising more than $1.1 million on Kickstarter and $35 million from investors to bring it to market — has finally begun shipping a home version of its product. Brian reports that the $2,595 Omni One features some upgrades to Virtuix’s original, limited-production-run model, including a new tethering arm, and comes bundled with a customized Pico Neo 3 headset.
Breaches at Western Digital: Data storage giant Western Digital confirmed that hackers recently exfiltrated data from its systems during a “network security incident,” Carly writes. The California-based company said in a statement on Monday that an unauthorized third party gained access to “a number” of its internal systems on March 26. Western Digital hasn’t confirmed the nature of the incident or revealed how it was compromised, but its statement suggests the incident may be linked to ransomware.
Android apps gain deletion option: Ivan reports that Google this week announced a new account deletion policy for Android apps, providing apps that offer account creation an easy way to delete the account as well. Set to be enforced beginning sometime next year, the move follows Apple, which implemented a similar policy last June for apps on the App Store.
A publisher-focused alt to Twitter: Post, a Twitter alternative of sorts that’s rethinking how publishers should engage with social media, has opened its doors to the public. Sarah reports that the startup, like others in this space, gained ground in the wake of Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter as many began to look for a new place to read and discuss the news or share their own thoughts with their followers. But Post doesn’t want to be just another Twitter clone.
SpaceX hype machine: More and more hype is building for the first orbital flight test of Starship, SpaceX’s ultra-heavy launch system. The hype started to reach a crescendo this week as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an air traffic advisory identifying April 10 as a primary launch date. But the FAA has yet to issue the all-important launch license to SpaceX, Aria writes — a final regulatory green light that’s a nonnegotiable step before the company can conduct the test.
TechCrunch ain’t just a wellspring of well-reported written pieces (how’s that for forced alliteration on a Friday?) — it’s a podcasting machine, too, wouldn’t ya know. On Equity, the team talked about Y Combinator’s demo day as well as Q1 numbers, deals of the week and venture activity in Latin America. TC’s Found podcast highlighted The Nudge, a text-based app that helps users make the best plans in their city. Chain Reaction — which was nominated for a Webby Award (voting closes April 20, by the way) — interviewed Arianna Simpson, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, about the firm’s focus on crypto investments. And TechCrunch Live dove deep into Oma Fertility, a company that’s raised over $70 million to radically improve in vitro fertilization.
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:
Favorites from YC’s Winter 2023 Demo Day: The TC crew rounded up a few of their top picks from Y Combinator’s Winter 2023 batch, including firms developing comics software, meat-based plants and Tesla spun-out heat pumps.
Climate tech slowdown: Tim writes about the slowdown in climate tech deal-making, which is occurring as investors anticipate a recession in the coming months. Climate tech’s resilience up until now has led some to call it the ultimate “recession-proof” investment. Tim explores whether that’s still true.
A glum Q1: Alex writes about how the global venture capital market shrank in Q1 2023 — and would’ve been even worse were it not for a few mega deals. The dip in funding implies that the current startup investing downturn may not turn course anytime soon.
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Photo and Author: Kyle Wiggers