Twitter exposes secrets, FTC clamps down on review hijackers and Android 14 arrives
Hello, friends. Looking for a recap of this week’s news? You’re in the right place. It’s Week in Review (WiR), the (more or less) regular newsletter that recaps the top stories from the past few days written by the talented TC team. (Woot, alliteration.) There’s no quicker way to catch up on the stuff that matters. Of course, we’re a little biased.
Before we get on with the good stuff, a reminder that TechCrunch Early Stage 2023 is nearly upon us — taking place April 20 in Boston. I’ll refrain from rehashing my pitch in past columns too much, but trust me when I say you’ll want to be there. Not only will you be treated to a healthy chunk of the TC editorial crew out and about — a rarity! — but you’ll also have access to expert panels covering the many aspects of startup building.
Elsewhere in events land, don’t forget that Disrupt, TechCrunch’s annual flagship conference, kicks off September 19. We’re particularly excited about the AI Stage, which is new this year. Tickets are available here.
With that out of the way, on to the news:
Private no more: This week, numerous Twitter users reported a bug in which Circle tweets — which are supposed to reach a select group, like an Instagram Close Friends story — were surfacing on the algorithmically generated For You timeline. That meant that some people’s supposedly private posts were breaching containment to reach an unintended audience, which quickly sparked some uncomfortable situations, Amanda reports.
They made me do it: In a recent interview with BBC reporter James Clayton on Twitter Spaces, Twitter CEO Elon Musk admitted what many had suspected: He bought Twitter because he thought he’d be forced to. To recap, Twitter took Musk to trial last year to force him to honor his signed obligation to acquire the company for the agreed-upon price of $44 billion, or $54.20 per share. After some legal back-and-forth, Musk — staring down the barrel of a lengthy court battle — agreed to buy the company at the price he originally set.
Twitter become X: In even more Twitter news (it’s a lot, I know), Twitter, Inc., is now called X Corp., according to a court filing in California. Amanda writes that Elon Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44 billion last year, has aspired to build what he calls “X, the everything app.” This proposed app might look like China’s WeChat, which supports messaging, payments, ride-sharing, food delivery and other services all in one place.
Hijacked reviews: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved a final consent order in its first-ever enforcement action over a case involving “review hijacking,” or when a marketer steals consumer reviews of another product to boost the sales of its own. Sarah writes that, in this case, the FTC ordered supplements retailer The Bountiful Company, the maker of Nature’s Bounty vitamins and other brands, to pay $600,000 for deceiving and misleading customers on Amazon.
If it’s free, it’s for me: Google TV, Google’s smart TV operating system that powers Chromecast devices and various TVs, this week got a significant update aimed at expanding access to free, streaming content. Google TV now integrates access to free streaming channels like Tubi, Plex and Haystack News directly in its redesigned Live tab, alongside the existing lineup of channels from free streamer Pluto TV.
New phone, who dis?: In an effort to expand its reach, Stockholm-based Truecaller is introducing an update that’ll provide live caller ID support on iOS, available to people using its paid tiers. Jagmeet writes that the new feature comes as Truecaller continues to see a lot of growth, but also some knocks in its strongest markets, such as India.
Clay is the new plastic: Disposable plastic and paper cups are an environmental mess. GaeaStar, a startup based in Berlin and San Francisco, thinks it can do better with just clay, water, salt and sand, Harri reports. To make the disposable containers, the startup says that it developed a special 3D-printer that churns them out in “30 seconds or less” — quite the claim.
New Android on the block: Google’s Android development cycle runs on a rather predictable cadence these days. To wit, this week, after two developer previews, the company launched the first of four planned public beta releases of Android 14, Frederic reports. As with previous versions, the first beta is also the first release that anyone can install over the air, assuming they have a supported Pixel device, going back to the Pixel 4a 5G (but not the Pixel 4).
TechCrunch’s roster of podcasts hasn’t gotten any less impressive, in case you haven’t given any of it a listen. Over on Equity, the crew dove into deals of the week, regulation and on-the-ground dynamics at play in the AI space and the opportunity that funds may afford venture firms. And on this week’s Found, Lauren Markler came talked about how her company, Cofertility, aims to rebrand egg donation by making the process less transactional — and much more affordable.
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:
SaaS metrics that attract investors: Oleksandr Yaroshenko, the head of strategy and investments at Headway, writes about what engagement metrics gain the most significant interest from investors, including engagement over long periods at the end of a subscription and the frequency of interactions with core app features.
What tailpipe regs mean for investors: The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new rules that would take effect in 2027 and pave the way for a new vehicle market dominated by EVs. Tim writes about how investment opportunities abound as the rules push EVs to the forefront.
Robot revolution: Brian spoke with over a dozen VCs about the state of robotics investing in 2023. As he notes, despite the recent downtrend, robotics remains vibrant and exciting, and it unquestionably has a bright future of exponential growth ahead.