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Sony and Honda Unveil Afeela, Bird Buddy Launches New Smart Feeder, Amazon Secures $8 Billion Loan • TechCrunch

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Hey everyone, this is Kyle filling in for Greg who is out for the next few weeks on paternity leave. While he’s enjoying time with his beautiful, healthy newborn (what better gift for the holidays, eh?), I’m learning the ropes of Week in Review to make sure you guys stay up to date with the latest in tech. I hope to do Greg justice – they are big shoes to fill!

Longtime readers know the drill, but for newbies, WiR aims to concisely recap the last seven days of TechCrunch stories. We publish on the site and send WiR to subscribers’ inboxes every Saturday (sign up here if you haven’t already) to make things easier. Like a buttered croissant, the WiR goes really well with a morning cup of coffee – or tea, if that’s your preference. Or hot chocolate. Take your pick – no judgment here.

Before we dive into the news, a reminder that the TC Early Stage event in Boston is fast approaching. Tickets won’t last – they never do – so get them before they sell out if you’re in the Greater Boston area in late April. We would love to see your smiling face.

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TikTok bans abound: The US may be getting all the attention for banning TikTok on government devices, but India did it first — two and a half years ago, in fact. In recent remarks, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the US should follow India’s lead more broadly to “weed out … nefarious apps.” India has banned hundreds of apps besides TikTok, including PUBG Mobile, Battlegrounds Mobile India and UC Browser, with ties to China amid border skirmishes between the two neighboring nations.

I’m feeling Afeela: ‘This is the season for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which continues to become increasingly car-centric. Case in point, Sony and Honda unveiled Afeela, their joint EV brand, at a glitzy press conference on Wednesday, where they rolled a four-door sedan on stage. Orders for the Afeelas are scheduled for the first half of 2025, the companies said, with sales starting in the same year. Initial shipments will be delivered to customers in North America in spring 2026.

No appetite for risk: My colleague natasha wrote an excellent article on how tech workers, burned by recent layoffs, are re-evaluating their relationships with the industry – particularly in light of the potentially tumultuous economic times to come. Some are working multiple full-time jobs in adjacent industries, while others are opting for part-time contracts to make ends meet. Few seem eager to leave technology altogether – but they’re certainly more cynical than they used to be.

for the birds: Bird Buddy, a startup behind “smart” bird feeders, unveiled its latest model at CES, which caters to hummingbirds. Like its original bird feeder, Bird Buddy’s new feeder – which features recyclable and sustainable materials – has a camera that is triggered by movement, which prompts it to take photos of bird visitors. They are run through an AI algorithm to help identify species, alerting owners via a companion mobile app.

I didn’t do this, I swear: Sam Bankman-Fried’s plea of ​​not guilty to multiple federal fraud charges was a tactical response, according to experts Jacquelyn I talked with. The former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, whose company went bankrupt in November, may be buying time to strike a deal with prosecutors, they said. The trial date in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York is set for October 2.

Sales force cut: Salesforce announced this week that it is cutting about 10% of its workforce, impacting more than 7,000 employees, while closing offices in “certain markets.” Similar to other companies hit by significant layoffs last year, CEO Marc Benioff said that Salesforce hired a lot of people during the pandemic during boom times. The company claimed 79,000 employees last February, up 30% from 2020.

Billions for Bezos: Amazon has secured an $8 billion loan, according to a filing filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch that the loan increases the range of financing options the company has utilized in recent months to hedge against the “uncertain macroeconomic environment.” It also comes on the heels of a disappointing year for the retailer, which over-expanded during the pandemic; in its latest cost-cutting move, Amazon internally announced plans to lay off about 18,000 people.

I see you: Speaking of Amazon, at CES, Amazon-owned Ring brought back the Peephole Cam, a camera that fits into holes in existing doors to record happenings outdoors, in hallways of apartment buildings and so on . Now starting at $129 – down from its original $199 price – it comes with software that brings its features in line with the rest of Ring’s portfolio, like motion detection and real-time video streaming.

audio summary

Got an appetite for podcasts to kick off the new year? Great, because TC is serving like hotcakes. On The TechCrunch Podcast, I caught up with Darrell about CES-related AI product announcements, while Natasha spoke about the effects of mass layoffs on technology. Meanwhile, the team at Equity, TC’s startup-focused program, took a look at some of the first highlights of the week’s deals from CES, USV and Doorstead, as well as the latest development from the FTX and SBF saga. And last but not least, Found sat down with Brex co-founder and co-CEO Henrique Dubugras to talk about his corporate credit card and expense management startup.

TechCrunch+

Haven’t signed up for TC+ yet? Too bad, because there’s some great content coming out of there. Some of the most popular this week were:

Fintech predictions and opportunities for 2023: It’s been a busy year in fintech. The market has fallen sharply from its 2021 highs, and while 2022 has largely been about resetting the funding environment, Victoria predicts that 2023 will be a year of recalibration for fintech companies. Read his full article to learn more.

5 points of failure between $5M and $100M ARR: Tracy Young, former CEO of PlanGrid, a construction app for project managers, details PlanGrid’s major failure points and what she’s learned from them over the years. As she says in the opening paragraphs: “If these reflections help even a founder make one less mistake, I would consider the effort worthwhile.”

Is generative AI already becoming a bubble?: Rebecca surveyed over 35 investors working in different geographies, investment stages and sectors on how they felt about generative AI – i.e. ChatGPT, Stable Diffusion and other technologies for that matter. Interestingly, while several investors said they were bullish on new technology in general, they also admitted that the industry was likely to get lost in its own hype.