Hello, friends, and welcome to Week in Review, TechCrunch’s regular digest of the top tech news over the past several days. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Saturday. It’s where we highlight the key stories in the week that was (Apple Vision Pro, anyone?) and other goings on around the TC universe, like the analyses on TC+, our premium subscription service, plus TechCrunch’s growing collection of podcasts.
It’s an embarrassment of content, if I do say so myself — and hopefully a welcome reprieve for those on the East Coast who’ve been inundated with smoke from the Canadian wildfires. In a sliver of good news, AirNow.gov tells me that the air quality in New York City has returned to moderate levels, which I’d say is something to celebrate.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get on with the news.
Apple Vision Pro: TC’s intrepid editor-in-chief, Matthew, went hands-on with the Vision Pro, Apple’s first attempt at an augmented reality (AR) headset, announced at the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote — and came away impressed. A roughly 30-minute demo convinced him that Apple has delivered nothing less than a genuine leapfrog in capability and execution of XR, or mixed reality — high praise, to be sure. Darrell and Brian have other thoughts, which you can also hear them discuss on this week’s TechCrunch Podcast.
New features in iOS 17: The Vision Pro might’ve dominated the headlines at WWDC on Monday. But, as Ivan reports, Apple is also going to launch a major update to iOS later this year. The upcoming iOS 17 will introduce a number of different “nice-to-have” features, like personalized call poster, StandBy mode, live voicemail and improved sticker experience.
Massive medical breach: Hackers stole half a million people’s personal and health information during a ransomware attack on a tech vendor earlier this year. Zack writes that Intellihartx, a Tennessee-based company that handles patient payment balances and collections, filed a notice with the Maine attorney general’s office that patients had information stolen in the cyberattack targeting its vendor, Fortra.
WhatsApp launches Channels: Meta’s rolling out a broadcast-based messaging feature called Channels on WhatsApp — similar to a recent update it sent out to Instagram — as the social juggernaut experiments with giving more conversational avenues to its 2 billion users. Ivan reports that there’s an obvious angle — the company’s aiming to earn money from the feature down the road.
Apollo no more: The popular third-party Reddit app Apollo is shutting down as a direct result of Reddit’s recently announced new API pricing plans. Apollo’s developer, Christian Selig, says that the pricing would end up costing Apollo $20 million per year to continue to operate its business, an unsustainable ask for an indie developer.
Automated driving greenlit: Mercedes-Benz received a permit from California regulators that’ll allow the German automaker to sell or lease vehicles in the state equipped with a conditional automated driving system that allows for hands-off, eyes-off driving on certain highways. Kirsten notes that Mercedes-Benz is the fourth company to receive an autonomous vehicle deployment permit in California and the first authorized to sell or lease vehicles with an automated driving system to the public.
Sequoia splitting: Sequoia plans to split into three entities — Sequoia Capital in the U.S. and Europe, Peak XV Partners in India and Southeast Asia, and HongShan in China — as the storied venture firm separates the Asia units from the mothership to help navigate an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape. The split comes amid the growing geopolitical tension between China and the U.S., the world’s two largest economies.
NestAway sells for less: Proptech firm Aurum is acquiring NestAway, a once high-flying Indian startup operating in the same space, for up to $10.9 million, in a deal that marks a near complete erosion in value for the startup’s investors. Eight-year-old NestAway raised $115 million over the years and was valued at $227 million in a funding round in 2019.
Looking for a TechCrunch podcast to pass the time? You’ve come to the right place. Check out Equity, which this week recapped WWDC and covered Affirm partnering with Amazon, Cava’s IPO, all things SEC and crypto, and how real estate can affect the climate crisis. Found hosted Eli Ben-Joseph, the co-founder and CEO of Regard, a startup that uses AI to streamline the clinical side of medicine that’s hoping to reduce physician burnout. Meanwhile, Chain Reaction interviewed Paul Grewal, the chief legal officer at embattled crypto company Coinbase.
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:
Investments from the ashes: As smoke from the Canadian wildfires envelops large swathes of the East Coast, millions of people find themselves trapped inside, gazing out on orange skies and hazy cityscapes. It’s a jolt to investors’ systems, potentially. Tim writes that — if the past is prologue — VCs should prepare themselves for a tidal wave of climate tech startups next year.
European startups slow: The venture slowdown has long been established to be a global phenomenon, and per a new report from VC firm Atomico, this “adjusted market reality is here to stay” — including in Europe. There’s been a clear decline, but not necessarily cause for alarm, Anna writes.
Beating the SaaS blues: Data indicates that public software companies have added fewer sources of annual recurring revenue in the first quarter of 2023 than they did a year earlier. But not every startup is reporting lackluster results. Alex writes how Samsara, which went public in late 2021, recently proved that it’s still possible to expand fast, and perhaps even more impressively, that it’s possible to hold on to value even if you listed at the end of a VC bubble.