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ChatGPT goes pro, layoffs at Alphabet and Dungeons & Dragons flirts with restrictive new licenses

ChatGPT goes pro, layoffs at Alphabet and Dungeons & Dragons flirts with restrictive new licenses

ChatGPT goes pro, layoffs at Alphabet and Dungeons & Dragons flirts with restrictive new licenses

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Welcome, welcome, folks, to Week in Review, TechCrunch’s regular column that recaps the past week in the news. If you want it in your inbox every Saturday, sign up here. Hope you’re sitting comfortably with a hot drink on this wintry Saturday afternoon. Are you waiting for Greg’s signature? Don’t worry, he’s still on parental leave, as I mentioned in the January 7 edition. Everything is fine.

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Before we get to the heart of the matter, I would be remiss if I did not notice, once again, that TC Early Stage in Boston is on the horizon. With tickets starting at $99, this will be an interesting stop along the Eastern Conference circuit, filled with expert-led workshops, case studies, and deep dives with tech founders. Some of the TechCrunch editorial staff will be there – don’t be a stranger if you see us at the show.

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ChatGPT goes pro: OpenAI announced this week that it will soon start charging for ChatGPT, its AI-powered viral chatbot that can write essays, emails, poems, and even computer code. A “pro” version of the tool called ChatGPT Professional will offer no blackout windows, no throttling, and unlimited messages with ChatGPT – “at least 2x the usual daily limit.” Prices remain in the air.

Microsoft 365 becomes basic: Microsoft will introduce a lower-cost tier of Microsoft 365, its family of cloud-based productivity software and document editing services, starting Jan. 30, the company announced Wednesday. Called Microsoft 365 Basic and priced at $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year, the plan will initially include 100GB of storage, Outlook email, and access to support experts for help with Microsoft 365 and Windows 11.

The layoffs hit a news aggregator: SmartNews, the Tokyo-based news aggregation website and app, has laid off 40% of its workforce in the United States and China, or about 120 people, my colleagues Sarah and Kirsten report. The company has been hit by the same macro factors that have led to a number of tech industry layoffs in recent months, in addition to complications stemming from Apple’s implementation of App Tracking Transparency, or ATT.

Robotics too: brian reports that this week, Alphabet joined the growing list of tech giants making staff cuts amid ongoing economic struggles. The company’s robotics software company, Intrinsic, has laid off 40 employees, a move that comes less than a year after Intrinsic acquired Vicarious and Open Robotics – the latter of which was announced less than a year ago. ‘a month.

Licensed Entertainment: Dungeons & Dragons content creators fight to protect their livelihoods, Amanda written in a deep, sobering dive. Wizards of the Coast (WotC), the game’s Hasbro-owned publisher, plans to update the game’s license for the first time in over 22 years, launching a new licensing system that would require any D&D content creator who earns more than $750,000 in income pay a 25% royalty to the company on every dollar above that threshold. Among the good news, WotC has delayed the rollout of the licensing system, following widespread backlash.

Colors, but E Ink: One of the coolest gadgets to emerge from the Consumer Electronics Show 2023 is E Ink’s color displays, Harris writing. They can spit out 50,000 colors at 300 DPI, well above the 4,000 color maximum of the last-gen model. E Ink says it aims to use them to create a magazine reading experience good enough to win over even the most discerning editors.

Keys for days: My colleague (and boss!) Frederic reviewed the Keychron Q10 this week, a keyboard similar to Keychron’s other – but smaller – Alice-style board. It has approved gasket backing and silicone gaskets, which provide a bit of flexibility while reducing ping and other noise. As for Alice’s layout (the keys aren’t in a straight line, but the left and right halves are slightly angled), it was easy to get used to, he said – and he appreciated that the five macro buttons below the button can be mapped to anything you want. Read the full review to learn more.

Welcome home, Welcome home: In a profile, Mary Ann opens the curtains on Welcome Homes, a proptech startup launched by the co-founders of cloud service provider DigitalOcean. The New York-based company – which recently raised $29m – offers people a way to design and build new homes online, similar to other venture capital-backed companies (e.g. , Atmos, Homebound) that are trying to address the housing shortage.

I hear deep voices: Microsoft’s new VALL-E AI model can reproduce a voice using just three seconds of audio from the target speaker. But as my colleague Devin writes, this is not necessarily cause for alarm – or rather cause for alarm more than was already warranted by voice duplicating technology. Voice replication has been the subject of intense research for years, and the results have been good enough to fuel many startups, like WellSaid, Papercup, and Respeecher. VALL-E is simply the latest illustration of its potential — and its dangers.

Medium joins Mastodon: Online publishing startup Medium, originally created by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, is embracing the open-source social platform Mastodon. Sarah reports that Medium has created its own instance – me.dm – to support authors and their posts with reliable infrastructure, moderation, and a short domain name to make it easier for authors to share their usernames, among other things.

audio tour

As always, TechCrunch had a winning lineup of audio content this week for your listening pleasure – although I might be a bit biased. On startup-focused Found, Neesha Tambe, TechCrunch’s Battlegrounds Editor, spoke with Sheeba Dawood, co-founder of clean energy tech provider Minerva Lithium, about the struggles she faces as a woman. of color trying to innovate in the mineral manufacturing industry and more. for the company. TC’s dedicated crypto show, Chain Reaction, featured an interview with Polygon Labs, one of the biggest market shakers and layer 2 blockchains in the crypto space that is building on top of the Ethereum ecosystem . Meanwhile, at Equity, Natasha, Mary Ann and Becca discussed incoming offers from Inflow, Deel and Fidelity; dismissals and lawsuits at Carta; Microsoft’s highly publicized investment in ChatGPT and OpenAI; and the debut of SBF’s Substack.

Tech Crunch+

Here’s your regular reminder to subscribe to TC+ if you haven’t already. This is where TC takes a comprehensive and exclusive look at emerging trends, industries and technologies. Here are some of the most popular content on TC+ this week:

The Crypto Rollercoaster: While some crypto-focused venture capitalists are bullish on 2023, others see it as a dangerous time, Jacqueline reports. The internal sentiment among VCs is a “wait and see” game, according to a source cited in the article; market competition is likely to intensify as investors write fewer checks and become more selective.

ChatGPT, meet VC: Some investors are (cautiously) integrating ChatGPT into their workflows, it turns out. Because ChatGPT is a specifically text-based support tool, automation could make its way to rejection letters, market maps, or even due diligence items, TC discovered — all in order to stay afloat in a changing business landscape. Natasha M, Christinaand I have more.

Rotate when ready: Pivots are not necessarily bad news. Brian Casey writes about how he pivoted his deep tech startup into a software-as-a-service company, but not without major challenges. In his words: “Moving from hardware to SaaS was the right move for our electric motor design startup, but the process was not precisely linear.”

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