Category: Technology News

Source: in Q1 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48M and accounting for over 4% of Twitter’s revenue that quarter (Washington Post)

Washington Post:
Source: in Q1 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48M and accounting for over 4% of Twitter’s revenue that quarter  —  In a series of tweets, the billionaire says Apple also has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter  —  Elon Musk on Monday went on a tear against Apple …

Max Q: Thank you

Hello and welcome back to Max Q. I hope everyone had a restful Thanksgiving with loved ones. As it was a holiday week, this is an abbreviated version of the regular newsletter, and I’m writing it on Wednesday, November 23. Before we get to the news, I wanted to give a heartfelt thank you to all Max Q subscribers. Doing this would be literally and figuratively pointless without you.

In this issue:

Orion greets the moon
News from ispace, Metaspectral and more

Orion, meet Moon. Moon, meet Orion.

The spacecraft Orion made a historic fly-by of the moon last week, completing a key maneuver as part of its 25-day test flight. The spacecraft, which NASA hopes will eventually carry astronauts, was carried to orbit by the super-heavy Space Launch System during the rocket’s maiden flight earlier this month.

Orion’s journey is at the heart of the Artemis I mission. Artemis is the name NASA has given to its human spaceflight program to the moon, and (as the name suggests) this mission is the first in what the agency hopes will be many — up to four in this decade alone. But before we go about launching up astronauts, NASA is using this first mission to test the Orion capsule and ensure it’s safe to carry humans.

What does Thanksgiving weekend have in store for Orion? Well, quite a lot. Read more by clicking on the link above.

Orion is due to make its splashdown to Earth on December 11, and that will be the capstone to the mission. During the return to Earth, NASA engineers will carefully monitor the performance of the heat shield and other critical components on the spacecraft. Once the capsule lands in the Pacific, it’ll be fished out and returned to the agency for further inspection.

Orion took this selfie when it was just 81 miles above the lunar surface. Image Credits: NASA

More news from TC and beyond

CAPSTONE officially entered its target orbit around the moon. The spacecraft will collect data on that orbit, which could be key for future Artemis missions. (NASA)
NASA selected Rocket Lab as its new launch parter for the TROPICS missions. The two launches, which will carry two satellites each to orbit, are expected to launch from Virginia no earlier than May 1. (TechCrunch)
Rosotics, a 3D printing startup, closed a $750,000 pre-seed round to develop a more efficient 3D printer. (Payload)
Rocket Lab completed the launch rehearsal for the upcoming Electron mission on December 7. It will mark the first time the company has launched a rocket from U.S. soil. (Rocket Lab)
Starlink is available across all of Alaska and Canada. (SpaceX)
Stells, a startup founded in 2021, is developing a rover called Mobile Power Rover (MPR-1) that would be able to provide power via wireless charging to lunar spacecraft. (TechCrunch)
The U.S. Space Force signed a cooperative research agreement, also known as a CRADA, with Blue Origin for development on the New Glenn rocket. (Satellite)


We’re offering to Max Q subscribers free tickets to TechCrunch’s in-person space event. Find out more about the event and get your free ticket by clicking here.

Max Q is brought to you by me, Aria Alamalhodaei. If you enjoy reading Max Q, consider forwarding it to a friend. 

Max Q: Thank you by Aria Alamalhodaei originally published on TechCrunch

Daily Crunch: WhatsApp rolls out new ‘Message Yourself’ feature globally

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

We’re joining the Cyber Monday fun with 25% off annual subscriptions to TechCrunch+ content and analysis starting today until Wednesday, November 30. Plus, today only, get 50% off tickets to discover the vast unknown and attend TechCrunch Sessions: Space in Los Angeles!

Okay, we haven’t done a newsletter since Wednesday, and while the U.S. team was chillin’ like villains, the rest of the team was hard at work, so here’s some of the highlights from the last half-week of TechCrunchy goodness! — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

Talking to yourself just went digital: Instead of having that internal monologue stay in your head, now you can play out all of your thoughts to yourself in WhatsApp, Jagmeet writes. The messaging platform began rolling out an easier way to talk to yourself today after completing beta testing.
Great Wall of porn: That’s how Rita and Catherine describe the bot surge in China that is making it difficult to get any legitimate Twitter search results when trying to find out something about Chinese cities. Why, you ask? Rita writes that “the surge in such bot content coincides with an unprecedented wave of (COVID) protests that have swept across major Chinese cities and universities over the weekend.”
Your calendar, only more productive: Get ready for your calendar to be more than just a place to record things you have to do that day. Romain writes about Amie, a startup that grabbed $7 million to link your unscheduled to-do list with your calendar. The app also enables users to be social with coworkers.

Startups and VC

Dubai-based mass transit and shared mobility services provider SWVL has carried out its second round of layoffs, affecting 50% of its remaining headcount, Tage reports. The news is coming six months after SWVL laid off 32% (over 400 employees) of its workforce in a “portfolio optimization program” effort geared toward achieving positive cash flow next year.

There’s a couple of new funds in town, too! Harri reports that Early Light Ventures plots a second, $15 million fund for software ‘underdogs,’ while Mike writes that BackingMinds raises a new €50 million fund to fund normally overlooked entrepreneurs. He also writes about Pact, an all-women led VC for mission-driven startups, backed by Anne Hathaway.

And we have five more for you:

AI just wanna take a closer look: Ingrid reports that V7 snapped up $33 million to automate training data for computer vision AI models.
Special delivery!: Brian explores Bionaut Labs and the $43 million round it raised for its tiny drug-delivery robots.
Let’s get touchy-feely: This startup is bringing precision control for gamers to the humble keyboard, Haje writes.
Sticking it to the card processors: Catherine reports that Atoa helps U.K. merchants cut down on card processing fees and raised $2.2 million in pre-seed funding.
Dat Money for Dat Bike: Catherine reports that Dat Bike gets another $8 million to put more e-bikes on Vietnam’s roads.

Lessons for raising $10M without giving up a board seat

Image Credits: Ihor Reshetniak (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Over the last two years, intelligent calendar platform raised $10 million “using a more incremental approach,” writes co-founder Henry Shapiro.

“We’ve done all this without giving up a single board seat, and Reclaim employees continue to own over two-thirds of the company’s equity,” rejecting conventional wisdom that founders should “raise as much as you can as fast as you can.”

In a TC+ post, Shapiro reviews the process they used to identify follow-on investors, shares the email template used to pitch the SAFE, and explains why “a larger cap table means more founder control.”

Three more from the TC+ team:

A different valuation: Interim rate of return: A better approach to valuing early-stage startups, by Andrew Ritter.
Mistakes not to make: 3 mistakes to avoid as an emerging manager, by Champ Suthipongchai.
Growing with great efficiency: Anna writes that growing efficiently is no problem at all, at least if you’re bootstrapped.

TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!

Big Tech Inc.

Amazon’s recent cost-cutting measures seem to be affecting more than just its delivery business. Manish writes that the company is shutting down its wholesale distribution business, called Amazon Distribution, in India. Amazon had started this unit to help neighborhood stores secure inventory. The company didn’t say why it was closing this particular business down, but Manish notes that this is the third such Amazon unit to be shuttered in India.

Meanwhile, Natasha L reports that Meta has gotten itself into trouble again with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (aka, the agency that regulates data protection). Facebook’s parent company is being hit with $275 million in penalties for what the agency said was breaches in data protection that resulted in some 530 million users’ personal information being leaked.

Now enjoy six more:

UnBlocked: After weeks of reports claiming this would happen, BlockFi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it might be FTX’s fault. Jacquelyn writes that FTX was going to buy BlockFi, and then, well, you know what happened to them. Based on the bankruptcy filing, BlockFi owes some significant cash to creditors and is unfortunately now another high-valued, heavily backed crypto company that was unable to make it work in this environment.
Into the sea, you and me: Haje managed to talk Apple into giving him early access to the Oceanic+ app and took the Apple Watch Ultra into the deep blue sea for our world-exclusive review. He also got all excited about the pricing model the app uses.
I spy: The U.S. government is banning telecommunications and video surveillance equipment from several Chinese brands, like Huawei and ZTE, citing protection of the nation’s communications network. Carly has more.
Yahoola takes this company in holy partnership?: Yahoo invests a 25% stake in Taboola, an advertising network, in a deal that will marry the two companies for the next 30 years, Romain writes.
Safety concerns: The U.K. government expands its Online Safety Bill to criminalize those who take to the internet to encourage self-harm, Natasha L reports.
An Apple a day: For his newest trick, Musk is picking a fight with Apple, reports Taylor.

Daily Crunch: WhatsApp rolls out new ‘Message Yourself’ feature globally by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch

Nvidia and Microsoft team up to build massive AI cloud computer

Enlarge / Nvidia and Microsoft are teaming up on an AI cloud supercomputer. (credit: Nvidia)

On Wednesday, Nvidia announced a collaboration with Microsoft to build a “massive” cloud computer focused on AI. It will reportedly use tens of thousands of high-end Nvidia GPUs for applications like deep learning and large language models. The companies aim to make it one of the most powerful AI supercomputers in the world.

In turn, the new supercomputer will feature thousands of units of what is arguably the most powerful GPU in the world, the Hopper H100, which Nvidia launched in October. Nvidia will also provide its second most powerful GPU, the A100, and utilize its Quantum-2 InfiniBand networking platform, which can transfer data at 400 gigabits per second between servers, linking them together into a powerful cluster.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will contribute its Azure cloud infrastructure and ND- and NC-series virtual machines. Nvidia’s AI Enterprise platform will tie the whole thing together. The companies will also collaborate on DeepSpeed, Microsoft’s deep learning optimization software.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Amazon begins layoffs of up to 10,000 jobs, blames “uncertain” economy

Enlarge / An Amazon Echo Dot 4th Generation smart speaker. (credit: Getty Images | Gado )

Amazon has started a round of layoffs that reportedly could cut about 10,000 jobs. Layoffs began yesterday in the Amazon hardware division that makes products including Echo, Alexa, Fire, and Kindle devices.

“We notified impacted employees yesterday, and will continue to work closely with each individual to provide support, including assisting in finding new roles,” Amazon Senior VP of Devices & Services Dave Limp wrote to his department’s staff today in a memo posted publicly by Amazon. Limp wrote that Amazon “continue[s] to face an unusual and uncertain macroeconomic environment… After a deep set of reviews, we recently decided to consolidate some teams and programs.”

“It pains me to have to deliver this news as we know we will lose talented Amazonians from the Devices & Services org as a result… While I know this news is tough to digest, I do want to emphasize that the Devices & Services organization remains an important area of investment for Amazon,” the memo said.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

ISP deploys fiber service with a wrinkle—the users themselves own each network

Enlarge / Horizontal boring equipment installing fiber in Los Altos Hills, California. (credit: Los Altos Hills Community Fiber)

Our recent article about Silicon Valley residents who formed a co-op Internet service provider might have people wondering what it would take to get the same thing in their hometowns. The most obvious obstacle is price—in Los Altos Hills, California, residents have had to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000 upfront for a fiber-to-the-home Internet connection.

But the company that built the Los Altos Hills network says its model isn’t just for wealthy people. “This is not the 1 percent solution, as people derisively call it to my face,” Next Level Networks CEO David Barron told Ars in a phone interview a few weeks ago. “Los Altos Hills was unique.”

Los Altos Hills residents were the first to contract with Next Level Networks, and Barron said the company has “a fairly aggressive expansion plan to go into a number of markets throughout the United States in the next five years.”

Read 53 remaining paragraphs | Comments

3D for everyone? Nvidia’s Magic3D can generate 3D models from text

Enlarge / A poison dart frog rendered as a 3D model by Magic3D. (credit: Nvidia)

On Friday, researchers from Nvidia announced Magic3D, an AI model that can generate 3D models from text descriptions. After entering a prompt such as, “A blue poison-dart frog sitting on a water lily,” Magic3D generates a 3D mesh model, complete with colored texture, in about 40 minutes. With modifications, the resulting model can be used in video games or CGI art scenes.

In its academic paper, Nvidia frames Magic3D as a response to DreamFusion, a text-to-3D model that Google researchers announced in September. Similar to how DreamFusion uses a text-to-image model to generate a 2D image that then gets optimized into volumetric NeRF (Neural radiance field) data, Magic3D uses a two-stage process that takes a coarse model generated in low resolution and optimizes it to higher resolution. According to the paper’s authors, the resulting Magic3D method can generate 3D objects two times faster than DreamFusion.

Magic3D can also perform prompt-based editing of 3D meshes. Given a low-resolution 3D model and a base prompt, it is possible to alter the text to change the resulting model. Also, Magic3D’s authors demonstrate preserving the same subject throughout several generations (a concept often called coherence) and applying the style of a 2D image (such as a cubist painting) to a 3D model.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New Meta AI demo writes racist and inaccurate scientific literature, gets pulled

Enlarge / An AI-generated illustration of robots making science. (credit: Ars Technica)

On Tuesday, Meta AI unveiled a demo of Galactica, a large language model designed to “store, combine and reason about scientific knowledge.” While intended to accelerate writing scientific literature, adversarial users running tests found it could also generate realistic nonsense. After several days of ethical criticism, Meta took the demo offline, reports MIT Technology Review.

Large language models (LLMs), such as OpenAI’s GPT-3, learn to write text by studying millions of examples and understanding the statistical relationships between words. As a result, they can author convincing-sounding documents, but those works can also be riddled with falsehoods and potentially harmful stereotypes. Some critics call LLMs “stochastic parrots” for their ability to convincingly spit out text without understanding its meaning.

Enter Galactica, an LLM aimed at writing scientific literature. Its authors trained Galactica on “a large and curated corpus of humanity’s scientific knowledge,” including over 48 million papers, textbooks and lecture notes, scientific websites, and encyclopedias. According to Galactica’s paper, Meta AI researchers believed this purported high-quality data would lead to high-quality output.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Meta researchers create AI that masters Diplomacy, tricking human players

Enlarge / A screenshot of an online game of Diplomacy, including a running chat dialog, provided by a Cicero researcher. (credit: Meta AI)

On Tuesday, Meta AI announced the development of Cicero, which it claims is the first AI to achieve human-level performance in the strategic board game Diplomacy. It’s a notable achievement because the game requires deep interpersonal negotiation skills, which implies that Cicero has obtained a certain mastery of language necessary to win the game.

Even before Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov at chess in 1997, board games were a useful measure of AI achievement. In 2015, another barrier fell when AlphaGo defeated Go master Lee Sedol. Both of those games follow a relatively clear set of analytical rules (although Go’s rules are typically simplified for computer AI).

But with Diplomacy, a large portion of the gameplay involves social skills. Players must show empathy, use natural language, and build relationships to win—a difficult task for a computer player. With this in mind, Meta asked, “Can we build more effective and flexible agents that can use language to negotiate, persuade, and work with people to achieve strategic goals similar to the way humans do?”

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Thinking about taking your computer to the repair shop? Be very afraid

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

If you’ve ever worried about the privacy of your sensitive data when seeking a computer or phone repair, a new study suggests you have good reason. It found that privacy violations occurred at least 50 percent of the time, not surprisingly with female customers bearing the brunt.

Researchers at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, recovered logs from laptops after receiving overnight repairs from 12 commercial shops. The logs showed that technicians from six of the locations had accessed personal data and that two of those shops also copied data onto a personal device. Devices belonging to females were more likely to be snooped on, and that snooping tended to seek more sensitive data, including both sexually revealing and non-sexual pictures, documents, and financial information.

Blown away

“We were blown away by the results,” Hassan Khan, one of the researchers, said in an interview. Especially concerning, he said, was the copying of data, which happened during repairs for one from a male customer and the other from a female. “We thought they would just look at [the data] at most.”

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