Welcome, folks, to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch's newsletter that recaps the major happenings in tech over the past few days. If you've been too slammed to follow the developments play-by-play, you've come to the right place. That's what WiR is for.
In this edition of WiR, we cover Teamshares, a New York–based VC-backed startup quietly buying mom-and-pop shops; Zepto, which became India's first unicorn of 2023; OpenAI, which is launching a ChatGPT for enterprise customers; and Google, which is unveiling BigQuery Studio, a "new way" to work with data. We also highlight Apple's upcoming press conference, where it's expected to announce the iPhone 15, as well as new travel-friendly features in Google Flights, a Brazilian phone spyware being hacked, and more.
If you haven’t already, sign up here to get WiR in your inbox every Saturday. Now, without further ado, here’s the week’s news!
There goes the neighborhood: Teamshares has big ambitions to capitalize on an opportunity in plain sight: that of small businesses without a succession plan. Though Teamshares says that it sometimes pays below market price for a company, it installs a new president and grants 10% of the business’s stock to its employees. According to co-founder and CEO Michael Brown, the plan instead is to generate revenue from a growing array of fintech products that it sells to the businesses it buys.
A newly minted unicorn: Instant grocery delivery startup Zepto has raised $200 million in a new funding round at a valuation of $1.4 billion, it said Friday, at a time when most other firms in the category have either died or are struggling. Zepto, which sells and delivers everything from grocery items to electronic gadgets, processes over 300,000 orders a day in seven Indian cities. The company plans to IPO in 2025.
ChatGPT comes to the enterprise: Seeking to capitalize on ChatGPT’s viral success, OpenAI has announced the launch of ChatGPT Enterprise, a business-focused edition of the company’s AI-powered chatbot app. ChatGPT Enterprise adds "enterprise-grade" privacy and data analysis capabilities on top of the vanilla ChatGPT, as well as enhanced performance and customization options.
Google launches BigQuery Studio: Unveiled at the Google Cloud Next conference this week, BigQuery Studio is a new service within BigQuery, Google's fully managed serverless data warehouse. The service provides a single experience to edit programming languages, including SQL, Python and Spark, to run analytics and machine learning workloads at "petabyte scale." With BigQuery Studio, teams can directly access data wherever they’re working and leverage added controls for "enterprise-level" governance, regulation and compliance.
New iPhone incoming: Apple’s next iPhone event is scheduled for September 12. The firm sent out invites for the press conference this week, which is once again scheduled for its Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino. The iPhone 15 will almost certainly be the centerpiece for the big show, Brian writes, with the Apple Watch Series 9 likely making an appearance alongside the Vision Pro, Apple's AR headset, ahead of the latter's launch in 2024.
Alerts for cheap airfare: Google Flights is releasing a new feature to help travelers better determine the right time to book. Rolling out this week, the company is debuting insights that leverage historical trend data to allow users to see when prices have typically been lowest to their chosen destination on their selected dates. In some cases, Google will refund the difference if the fare gets lower before departure.
Brazilian phone spyware hacked: A Portuguese-language spyware called WebDetetive has been used to compromise more than 76,000 Android phones in recent years across South America, largely in Brazil. WebDetetive is also the latest phone spyware company in recent months to have been hacked. In an undated note seen by TechCrunch, unnamed hackers described how they found and exploited several security vulnerabilities allowing them to compromise WebDetetive’s servers and access its user databases.
Amazon increases shipping fees: Amazon is increasing its free shipping minimum to $35 for customers who don’t have a Prime membership in some regions. Up until now, the free shipping minimum was $25. Amazon says it’s testing the new free shipping threshold randomly by ZIP code–grouped regions and that everyone in the same region will see the same free shipping threshold.
Babylon Health implodes: It’s the end of the road for Babylon Health, the London telehealth startup once valued at nearly $2 billion after being backed by the founders of DeepMind and some deep-pocketed health insurance companies. After the company’s U.S. shares became worthless and its operation turned insolvent earlier this month, this week the U.K. subsidiary of the business formally went into administration. At the same time, the administrators sold a large chunk of its assets to eMed Healthcare UK, a new subsidiary of U.S. company eMed. Ingrid has the full story.
New law lets users quit the algorithm: Internet users in the European Union logged on to a quiet revolution on mainstream social networks this week: The ability to say "no thanks" to being attention hacked by AI. Thanks to the bloc’s Digital Services Act, users of Facebook and Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat can easily decline "personalized" content feeds based on "relevance" (i.e., tracking) -- and switch to a more humble kind of news feed that’s populated with posts from their friends displayed in chronological order.
If you're on the hunt for a podcast to fill the hours (say, the workday commute), good news. TechCrunch hosts a few that'll fit the bill.
This week on Equity, the crew dug into how "great" founders are successfully guiding their companies toward cash-flow positivity. The episode featured Anu Hariharan, who’s previously worked with a16z, sits on Brex’s board and more recently has been investing in later-stage companies at Y Combinator.
Meanwhile, over on Found, Ida Josefiina, the co-founder and CEO of Sane, a social knowledge sharing platform, sat in for an interview. Josefiina talked about how her foray into existentialist ideas and the power of collective intelligence put her on a journey to start this company.
And Chain Reaction spotlighted Craig Salm, chief legal officer at Grayscale Investments. Grayscale is a digital asset investment firm that aims to provide products and services, like its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, to institutional and individual investors. The company was founded in 2014 and is now one of the world’s largest digital asset currency managers.
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:
All products are garbage: Haje writes that, as we traipse deeper into late-stage capitalism, a paradoxical phenomenon is taking shape. Despite economic prosperity enabling more people to afford high-quality goods, there seems to be an overarching trend toward lower quality and disposability. In a nutshell: Even if you can afford high-quality products that are designed and built to last, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to find them.
IPO drought: Exit volume for startups has been weak since the end of 2021. But it’s easy to become inured to new market conditions and lose track of just how long they have dragged on, Alex and Anna write -- and how different they are from what came before. They unpack the new data on IPOs -- or the recent lack of IPOs, rather.
Instacart's S-1: Speaking of IPOs, Alex and Anna also dug into Instacart's SEC paperwork from last week. What does the startup have in store for its existing investors and those perhaps looking to snap up some of its shares when it IPOs? They attempt to answer that burning question.
Grab your pass to TC Disrupt 2023
Join 10,000 startup leaders in San Francisco at TechCrunch Disrupt on September 19–21. Last-minute passes are still available. Save 15% with code WIR. Register now!