Top tech news for Friday, March 10, 2023: Bitcoin, GM, Logan Paul, Meta, and Silicon Valley Bank
Good evening! It’s another light news Friday. As a result, we’ll keep it short and sweet..Below are some of the top tech startup news stories for Friday, March 10, 2023.
General Motors (GM) is exploring the use of ChatGPT in its vehicles
In a little over three months, ChatGPT has gone from an obscure AI tool to a worldwide sensation. The success and the popularity of OpenAI ChatGPT have led to a boom in the adoption of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and big tech companies and small startups alike are in a race to integrate it into their products.
Today, General Motors, which manufactures Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC cars and trucks, is exploring using OpenAI ChatGPT as part of its broader collaboration with Microsoft Corp, Semafor reported, citing people with knowledge of the product.
GM is working on a virtual personal assistant that uses AI models behind ChatGPT. According to the report, the voice-activated chatbot will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud service, which has exclusive rights to the same OpenAI technology that powers ChatGPT, image creator DALL·E, and Microsoft’s Bing chatbot.
On Friday, a GM spokesperson also said: “This shift is not just about one single capability like the evolution of voice commands, but instead means that customers can expect their future vehicles to be far more capable and fresh overall when it comes to emerging technologies,”
“ChatGPT is going to be in everything,” GM Vice President Scott Miller said in an interview last week, according to another report from Reuters. Miller also added that the chatbot could be used to provide access to information on how to use vehicle features normally found in an owner’s manual, program functions such as a garage door code, or integrates schedules from a calendar.
In other instances, GM could also the ChatGPT-power virtual personal assistant to provide information to a driver that got a flat tire on how to change it, which might result in the car playing an instructional video on a display inside the vehicle, Semafor said.
More than $70 billion wiped off the crypto market in 24 hours as bitcoin plunges 8%; sinks to a new low of $19,600
After several weeks of good news, Bitcoin experienced a significant drop on Friday and fell below the $20,000 mark, hitting a low point not seen in almost two months. The world’s most popular cryptocurrency plunges as low as $19,613 before recovering back to $19,865 as of the time of writing.
The latest decline was triggered by a stock market sell-off in the United States and the collapse of a lender focused on cryptocurrencies. As a result, the cryptocurrency market lost over $70 billion in value within a 24-hour period, ending at 5:12 a.m. Eastern Time.
That’s not all. On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested that interest rates could rise and remain higher than anticipated. The increase in interest rates over the past year has had a negative impact on risk assets, including stocks and cryptocurrencies.
According to Yuya Hasegawa, an analyst at Japanese cryptocurrency firm Bitbank, the current market is inundated with negative developments, not only within the crypto industry but also in the broader financial market. As a result, there seems to be little incentive to invest in bitcoin at present.
Meta is planning to launch a rival social media app to displace Twitter as the world’s “digital town square”
After losing billions of dollars on its ambitious metaverse project, Facebook’s parent company Meta is now setting its sight on Twitter. According to an exclusive report from Reuters, Meta Platforms is currently exploring plans to launch a new social media app to compete with as part of its effort to displace Twitter as the world’s “digital town square.”
Meta is the latest in a series of tech companies that aim to challenge Twitter’s dominance in the microblogging space. Mastodon, a Twitter-like service that was launched in 2016 managed to gain 2 million monthly active users but was nowhere big enough to challenge Twitter. Meta said the new app will be based on a decentralized framework like Mastodon.
“We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests,” a Meta spokesperson told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Meanwhile, this is not the first time Meta has tried to compete with other successful apps. As we reported back in 2020, the social giant launched Reels, a TikTok competitor but the app failed to gain traction. Just this week, Meta announced it was cutting its Reels Play bonus program on Instagram, The Verge reported.
Meta did not specify the launch date for the new app. Meta experienced a surge in user growth during the early 2010s following the acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp, but recently has been encountering fierce competition from the Chinese short-video platform, TikTok. Meta’s monthly active users for its family of apps grew 4.2% in the December 2022 quarter, a 4.6% decline from a year earlier when the company had 8.8% user growth.
Silicon Valley Bank is on verge of collapse; VC firms urge startups to withdraw funds from crisis-laden bank; stock down 70%
Venture capital firms are urging tech startups and companies in their portfolio companies to move money out of embattled lender Silicon Valley Bank. On Friday, the trading of SVB Financial Group’s shares, the holding company of Silicon Valley Bank, was suspended due to a significant drop in the pre-market session. The bank was in a rush to raise new funds amid this steep decline.
The company’s stock experienced its largest single-day crash in history, plummeting by 60%. Prior to the suspension, heavy premarket trading caused the stock to tumble 68% to approximately $34.
The alarm bells for SVB started ringing on Wednesday when the company announced its plan to sell a combination of common and preferred stock and to incur an after-tax loss of $1.8 billion from the sales of its investments.
The announcement sparked concerns within the banking industry that other institutions may also face losses and need to raise funds, causing the four largest US banks to lose a total of $52 billion in market value on Thursday.
Meanwhile, several venture capital (VC) funds, including prominent ones like Founders Fund, Union Square Ventures, and Coatue Management, have advised their portfolio companies to transfer their funds out of SVB to minimize the risk of being impacted by the bank’s potential failure.
CNBC spoke to some founders with accounts at SVB who wished to remain anonymous, and they shared that having their funds frozen at the bank could spell doom for their startups that require constant capital infusion.
Pear VC, an early-stage VC firm located in San Francisco, also encouraged its portfolio companies to withdraw their funds from SVB on Thursday. Some of Pear’s portfolio companies include Edge DB, an open-source database, and Gusto, a payroll management platform.
Not sure how many of you have been paying attention to the entire YouTuber Logan Paul’s CryptoZoo drama. His CryptoZoo NFT project was a total mess but later he issued an apology to his fans and investigative reporter CoffeeZilla. But Dao Maker kind of “did” his project in 30 days – calling it Degen Zoo, an NFT game derived from Logan Paul’s abandoned Crypto Zoo, has been single-handedly developed by Christoph Zaknun in 30 days.
The DAO Maker founder took on the challenge of building the shelved concept to disprove Paul’s claim that the development cycle would take years. More than 115,000 wallets have registered to join the game with pledges of over $700 million, setting new records for a crypto game.
Degen Zoo comprises a deflationary token and an NFT collection featuring 120 endangered species. It’s designed to simulate the impact of capitalism on animal extinction. Players are incentivized to “kill” their NFT animal, pushing the collection to extinction and thereby raising awareness of the devastating effects of human greed on wildlife.
Stung by criticism that he had done nothing for a year after raising funds, Logan Paul released a video stating that Christoph Zaknun had no right to dictate the required development timeline. This prompted the DAO Maker founder to prove him wrong by building the game himself in just 30 days. To further dunk on Paul by highlighting the YouTube star’s greed, Zaknun pledged to donate all profits from Degen Zoo to charity.
Interest in Degen Zoo has soared during the course of development, aided by Zaknun’s decision to broadcast daily updates of his progress. More than 250,000 people have followed the Degen Zoo Twitter and been hooked on the project updates. Hours before the deadline on day 30 of the challenge, the first testnet of Degen Zoo was released. Within days, more than 30,000 testnet transactions were racked up by 3,000 players eager to experience the game.