OpenAI releases Sora, a credit score–based dating app launches and an anti-Tesla ad comes under fire


Welcome, folks, to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter covering noteworthy happenings in the tech industry.

This week, OpenAI stunned the blogosphere with the release of Sora, a new AI model that can generate videos in impressively high fidelity. We’ve seen video generators before. But what makes Sora unique is its understanding of time and physics, which enable it to create not only more coherent videos than previous video generators, but also 3D worlds. Wild stuff!

Elsewhere, startup Score released a dating app exclusive to people with good to excellent credit scores. And an anti-Tesla Super Bowl ad came under fire from the National Transportation Safety Board for using its seal without authorization.

Lots else happened. We recap it all in this edition of WiR — but first, a reminder to sign up to receive the WiR newsletter in your inbox every Saturday.

News

Cleaning fees begone: Airbnb is slowly killing the cleaning fee as it aims for more transparent pricing, Amanda writes.

Silenced before its time: Layoffs at Spotify have put an end to Glenn McDonald’s beloved Every Noise at Once project, a musical encyclopedia of sorts — and fans are pissed.

Mozilla downsizes: Following downsizing, Mozilla plans to scale back its investment in a number of products, including its VPN, Relay and Online Footprint Scrubber, Frederic reports.

Google upgrades Gemini: Google expanded the range of its Gemini AI models available to developers across its platforms. And it’s previewed a new Gemini model capable of analyzing whole books, hours-long audio and hour-long videos.

Slack gets GenAI: Slack introduced a couple of new features designed to make information more accessible, including a new AI-fueled search tool and the ability to summarize information inside channels.

Variston folds: Spyware startup Variston is losing staff — and some say it’s closing up shop entirely. The Barcelona-based startup’s malware has been used to target iPhones, Android devices and PCs, Lorenzo writes.

Analysis

Bluesky vs. Mastodon: Amanda writes about the fight over how — and whether — to bridge the two decentralized social networks Bluesky and Mastodon and how it could shape the future of the internet.

Fortnite and the Mouse: With Disney’s magic (“magic” here referring to IP and a $1.5 billion investment), Fortnite is poised to win the metaverse, Taylor writes.

Podcasts

On Equity, the crew talked about how Bret Taylor’s new startup, Sierra, is turning heads. Taylor — known for his work at Facebook, Salesforce and OpenAI — says that Sierra is about building conversational AI agents.

Found profiled Tigran Sloyan, co-founder and CEO of CodeSignal, a skills assessment platform used by many tech companies to hire engineers based on their engineering chops rather than their résumés.

And Chain Reaction had on Yat Siu, executive chairman of Animoca Brands, which has invested in over 400 web3 projects across a range of sectors like DeFi, education, infrastructure, blockchain gaming and the metaverse.

TechCrunch+

Flash in the pan: Rebecca writes how, for a variety of reasons, VCs are no longer gun-shy about firearm startups.

Demand for ethics: Regenerative community organism (RCO), a novel organizational model that aims to be a practical approach to integrating sustainability at the core of operations, is gaining steam in the startup world, Haje reports.

Bonus round

Foundry Group shutters: Foundry Group, an 18-year-old venture firm with nearly $3.5 billion in assets under management, has quietly decided to shut down and not raise any more funds.

Playing hardball: Apple has confirmed that it’s breaking iPhone web apps in the European Union (EU) on purpose — blaming the new EU regulation, the Digital Markets Act, for the change.



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