Google bets the farm on AI, Twitter gets a new CEO, and Meta contractors protest
Hey, friends — you’ve made it to the end of the week. Congrats! That’s an achievement worth celebrating, I’d say. And what better way to ring in the weekend than by recapping the week in tech? This is Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s weekly news roundup, where we highlight the most important, impactful and otherwise eye-popping stories over the past days. We get it — you’re busy. Hence, a digest that highlights all the key happenings.
Before we get on to the good stuff, a reminder that on May 17, TechCrunch Live, TC’s virtual speaker series, will feature Intel Capital’s Mark Rostick and Garima Kapoor — the founder of MinIO, a startup building an enterprise-grade, but open source, object storage solution. On the further horizon, there’s TC City Spotlight: Atlanta on June 7, which will host a pitch competition, a panel discussion on investing in the Atlanta ecosystem and more. Last but not least is Disrupt in San Francisco (from September 19–21), a conference jam-packed with expert-led sessions and interviews with movers and shakers in the tech space. Mark the dates!
Now, with that out of the way, here’s the top headlines.
Google I/O, recapped: On Google I/O keynote day, the search and internet advertising giant put forth a rapid-fire stream of announcements during its developer conference — including many unveilings of recent AI-related things it’s been working on. If you didn’t have time to watch a two-hour presentation, the TechCrunch team took that on and delivered story after story on new products and features — plus quick hits of the biggest news in an easy-to-digest, easy-to-skim list.
The purge continues: Twitter is purging inactive accounts on its platform, which may free up a number of long-coveted usernames, according to recent tweets by owner Elon Musk. Though Twitter for years has promised to put more usernames back into rotation, it hadn’t yet made any large-scale effort to do so, despite having an inactive account policy in place that suggests Twitter’s users should log in at least every 30 days to keep accounts from being permanently removed.
New Twitter CEO: In other Twitter news, Elon Musk says that he’s found a new CEO for Twitter. Musk didn’t initially specify who’s going to take on the role, though The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that NBCUniversal head of advertising Linda Yaccarino is actively “in talks” for the position. In a tweet, Musk announced that he’ll transition from his role as CEO of the company to serving as its executive chair and chief technology officer. The new CEO is expected to start in six weeks, according to Musk.
Health records leaked: NextGen Healthcare, a U.S.-based provider of electronic health record software, admitted that hackers breached its systems and stole the personal data of more than 1 million patients. In a data breach notification filed with the Maine attorney general’s office, NextGen Healthcare confirmed that hackers accessed the personal data of 1.05 million patients, including approximately 4,000 Maine residents.
Rapid lays off workers: Rapid, previously known as RapidAPI, a startup that built out an API marketplace valued at $1 billion last year, has laid off another 70 employees less than two weeks after letting go of 50% of its staff, TechCrunch has learned. An affected employee who wished to remain anonymous told TC that just 42 people remain at the company — down from 230 in April — reflecting an 82% drop in headcount.
Meta contractors protest: Content moderators under Sama, Meta’s content review subcontractor in Africa, earlier this week picketed at the company’s headquarters in Kenya demanding their April salary. The 184 moderators have sued Sama for allegedly laying them off unlawfully, after Meta wound down its content review arm in March, and Majorel, the social media giant’s new partner based in Africa, for blacklisting on instruction by Meta.
From Pokémon to Peridot: From the makers of Pokémon Go comes another mobile game that brings cute little creatures to our fingertips: Peridot. Like a ’90s Tamagotchi toy, Peridot is a pet simulator, but it takes place completely within augmented reality. You can feed, play with, walk, breed and socialize with your Peridots, but don’t worry — if you take a break from the game, your creatures won’t poop all over your screen and/or die.
Texting, but different: “The medium is the message” is the common phrase, but entrepreneur Alexis Traina believes that messages themselves — text messages, to be exact — deserve attention, too. Traina is the CEO and co-founder of HiNOTE, an app that helps people create messages, set over personalized backdrops of anything from a tipped-over wineglass to a branded letterhead notebook page. The idea, she said in an interview with TechCrunch, is that she wouldn’t get up every day and dress in green, blue and gray — so why do our text messages stick to those colors?
Need listening material for your weekday commute — or shower, for that matter? TechCrunch has you covered. On Equity, the crew dove into a brace of new Mayfield funds, as well as how Wellthy is helping caregivers feel less overwhelmed and the slowing growth of tech companies. Over at Found, the team talked with the co-founders of Juliet, who are reimagining boxed wine. The Chain Reaction team released a bonus episode from a fireside chat with Nadya Tolokonnikova, the creator of the protest art collective Pussy Riot, at NFT NYC in April 2023. The TechCrunch Podcast covered Google I/O, including the tech, attend talks and demos. To round things out, TechCrunch Live talked about developing therapeutics for anti-aging with James Peyer, the co-founder of Cambrian BioPharma, and Maryanna Saenko, co-founder and partner at Future Ventures.
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:
Visions of a colorful future: How far has the psychedelics medicine industry come over the past 12 months? Well, it depends on where you look. A recent survey indicates that instead of simply looking for attractive opportunities, investors and founders are increasingly putting their minds to building the foundations for an industry that can employ the power of psychedelics to change lives.
AI’s eating search: News from Google’s AI-soaked developer event this week makes it plain that we’re on the cusp of a new era of search. Following Microsoft’s molding of OpenAI’s tech into Bing, Google is experimenting with its own AI tech and opening up new ways to use search. It’s clear we’re about to see the first major overhauls in the market for finding information on the internet in a really long time.
Salesforce embraces generative AI: Salesforce is increasingly investing in generative AI as it becomes apparent that the technology has the potential to transform how we interact with software — allowing us to describe what we want instead of clicking or tapping.
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I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.