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Apple cancels its car, Google's AI goes awry and Bumble stumbles

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

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

This week, investment firm KKR announced that it would acquire VMware’s end-user computing business from Broadcom for $4 billion. As Ron explains, that business included VMware Workspace One and VMware Horizon -- two remote desktop apps that had been part of VMware's family of products.

Elsewhere, Mistral, the French AI startup, launched a new model to rival OpenAI's GPT-4 -- and its own cheekily named chatbot dubbed Le Chat. The releases were timed with a Microsoft partnership to provide Mistral models to Microsoft's Azure customers -- and a minority investment ($16 million) from Microsoft in Mistral.

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.

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Also -- TC was in Los Angeles just last night for our latest StrictlyVC event. Signal President Meredith Whittaker, Waymo Co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana, rabbit CEO and Co-Founder Jesse Lyu, Founders Fund Partner Trae Stephens and Lightspeed Ventures partner Faraz Fatemi joined us to discuss a wide range of topics, from the reasons AI could unseat entrenched companies, Waymo’s ascent, what it’s like for rabbit to ride the r1’s hype following its CES 2024 reveal. Don’t miss us next time for StrictlyVC London in May.

News

Apple car canceled: Apple has scuttled its secretive, long-running effort to build an autonomous electric car. The company is likely cutting hundreds of employees from the team, and all work on the project has stopped. It joins a list of other projects Apple has scrapped in various stages, including AirPower and a TV (not to be confused with Apple TV).

Bumble stumbles: Bumble posted weak Q4 results showing a $32 million net loss and $273.6 million in revenue -- below Wall Street expectations. To right the ship, CEO Lidiane Jones announced that 30% of Bumble’s workforce, or about 350 employees, would be let go and that Bumble would embark on an app overhaul targeted at reviving growth.

Google's AI goes awry: Google has apologized for an embarrassing AI blunder this week: An image-generating model that injected diversity into pictures with a farcical disregard for historical context. While the underlying issue is perfectly understandable, Google blames the model for "becoming" oversensitive.

Bad look: Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Tumblr owner Automattic, is supposed to be on sabbatical. Instead, he argued with Tumblr users this week over a content moderation decision that sparked accusations of transphobia, Amanda reports.

Founder forced out: A group of Byju’s investors last Friday voted to remove the edtech group’s founder and chief executive, Byju Raveendran, and separately filed an oppression and management suit against the leadership at the firm to block the recently launched rights issue.

Funding

GenAI ebooks: Inkitt, a self-publishing platform using AI to develop bestsellers, has raised $37 million. The startup’s app lets people self-publish stories, and then, using AI and data science, selects what it believes are the most compelling of these to tweak and subsequently distribute and sell.

Keeping it old school: Lapse has raised $30 million for its smartphone app that has you wait for photos to be "developed" -- with no chance of editing and retaking -- before sharing them with a select group of friends if you choose.

Analysis

Techstars reckoning: Mary Ann interviewed Maëlle Gavet, CEO of the startup accelerator program Techstars, in the wake of changes to its operations that have attracted biting criticism.

Podcasts

On Equity, the crew talked through startup news from Microsoft and Mistral AI, Thrasio and Glean -- and also covered happenings over at COTU Ventures and Zacua Ventures.

Meanwhile, Found spotlighted Ariel Kaye, the founder of Parachute, a direct-to-consumer bedding and home goods company.

And for Chain Reaction, TC pulled from the archives to air an earlier conversation with Jack Lu, CEO and co-founder of Magic Eden, a "community-centric" NFT marketplace.

Bonus round

Steeply discounted Mirai: Toyota is offering $40,000 off a 2023 Toyota Mirai Limited, a fuel-cell vehicle that retails for $66,000 -- plus $15,000 in free hydrogen over six years. As Tim writes, there's only one catch: finding the hydrogen to power it.