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All right, all right, all right. Over the past few days, I’ve been listening to Matthew McConaughey’s memoir Greenlights, as read by the author. I honestly don’t know what compelled me to listen to it or how it ended up on my Audible app. I don’t even really like audio books. I knew the man had depth, but I swear I’m still reeling. Of course he has led a wild, crazy, outlaw life. Of course he has a bunch of great stories. But I’d never expect him to throw me for a considerable spin. It has little to do with startups and everything to do with finding yourself in the world — which means it has everything to do with startups. In any case: highly recommended.

It was, indirectly, the inspiration for my column this week, where I was reflecting on how app activation metrics are at odds with our mental health in many ways. That is particularly true for apps like Nextdoor, Citizen and the Ring doorbell app, which pipes fresh hot terror to your pocket 24/7. And, like the gullible, amygdala-powered animals we are, we respond. Maybe it’s time to opt out.

The TechCrunch team is getting pretty psyched about TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco in a couple of weeks. I’ll be onstage, among other things, interviewing Rajeev Rajan, the new(ish) CTO of Atlassian, and begrudgingly accepting sartorial advice from random strangers — that could be you!

On those cheerful notes . . . onward to what’s happening in startup land this week!

The highest lows and the lowest highs

Red ball on curved light blue paper, blue background

Image Credits: PM Images / Getty Images

Ho’boy, startup life sure ain’t for the fainthearted, and there’s a lot of highs and lows happening all around us at the moment.

Medobed, an startup that promises medicine delivery in 10 minutes, was initially selected in Y Combinator’s S23 batch. The accelerator changed its tune, severing its ties with the Indian firm. A partner at the venture firm has also suggested to many prospective investors to not engage with the startup.

Apropos changing its mind — Chamet is a popular but controversial live video chat app. Google decided to yank the app from the Play Store. Big Goog didn’t give a specific reason but waved in the general direction of its “questionable user-generated content” policy.

Someone get a crash cart: Ingrid reported on Babylon Health succumbing to insolvency — after it was valued at almost $2 billion not that long ago. Today, it’s worth about $5,000 on paper. Yowzers.

Self-protesting protestors: People love a good scandal, and protestors rallied at Cruise HQ in San Francisco this week. But it appears that the particular incident they were protesting may have been overblown. It was alleged that an ambulance was blocked by a Cruise self-driving vehicle, but TechCrunch saw video footage of an incident where an ambulance was unimpeded in this case.

Sell, sell, sell: Benitago raised $380 million or so to buy up a bunch of e-commerce brands that do business on Amazon. This week, it filed for bankruptcy as the market contracted.

The ghost in the shell

ai assisted translation

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

The deal pace might be slowing a little (maybe?) but AI continues to be sizzling.

One interesting trend in the market is that we continue to see incumbents adding new features and functionality. A lot of our readers were curious about Kyle’s report that Zoom is rebranding and expanding its generative AI features, amid some privacy concerns along the way.

OpenAI wants its conversational AI agent ChatGPT everywhere, and that includes classrooms — despite the immense potential for misuse and confusion there. Taking the bull by the horns, the company has proposed a few ways for teachers to put the system to use. In addition to students rampantly cheating on their work with AI, that is.

Drop in, tune out, make shit up: My favorite AI piece this week came from Kyle. It’s well documented that AI models can “hallucinate” plausible-sounding information that’s extrapolated incorrectly from existing data. That may not be solvable with current-gen systems, but it may not be as bad as we think, he writes.

It knows if you’ve been tweeting, it knows when you’re asleep: Sarah reports that X’s privacy policy confirms it will use public data to train its AI models.

The lean startup gets faster, smarter, AI-ier: Last week, I spoke with the father of the lean startup, Steve Blank. He’s pretty psyched by AI and says it will revolutionize the “lean startup” movement, making startups leaner, meaner, and, well, AI-ier.

A healthy dose of startup news

Hands holding green happy smile face paper cut, good feedback rating and positive customer review, experience, satisfaction survey ,mental health assessment, child wellness,world mental health day concept

Image Credits: ThitareeSarmkasat (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

As someone who is more than a little neuro-spicy myself, I’m pretty excited about Sam Altman backing Mentra, which aims to match neurodivergent jobseekers with ideal jobs. It’ll be interesting to see how that one shakes out (and whether the hirers are able to absorb hiring specifically for neurodivergent folks).

Bladder health isn’t the sexiest subject in the world, so it probably won’t surprise you there are so few startups focused on the area. Just one, in fact, according to its founder Peony Li — who’s just closed a $4.24 million seed round for her London-based bladder health startup set to expand into the U.S.

Fitter. Happier. More productive: Teale has secured a funding round of $11 million earlier this summer. The company provides a mental health platform for employees and helps HR managers when it comes to preventing burnout or quiet quitting.

A roof over your head: Hiring isn’t that similar to renting an apartment — or is it? Rent Butter believes that figuring out how risky a tenant is goes beyond your standard background check and credit score, and wants to help landlords rethink risk when it comes to screening tenants.

P-AI-n killers: The opioid epidemic has had a whack-a-mole kind of complexity, stumping researchers for the better part of two decades. Assistant professor at UC Berkeley School of Public Health Jerel Ezell argues that AI might be the spark that ends the opioid epidemic.

Top reads on TechCrunch this week

As ever, a slew of our most-read stories are already included above, but here are a few of the shining beacons on the hill (or, at least, those that climbed the rankings in our analytics tool) over the past week:

Pause for laws: Free Fire, by Garena, was banned in India over national security concerns. Now Free Fire is relaunching a year after it was banned.

Paws for faux pas: Oh dear, bargain supermarket chain Lidl got itself into a lidl bit of trouble after its aimed-at-kids Paw Patrol snacks listed a website on the packaging that showed adult content.

Pause just because: Texas passed a law that requires those who want to enjoy some internet smut have to go through an ID check. It turns out that’s hard to do, and the state cannot yet enforce ID checks on porn sites.

Pause for applause: Anker introduces some clever new travel chargers that make it easier to take your gadgets on the road. Just in time for Disrupt, too!

Grab your pass to TC Disrupt 2023

Join 10,000 startup leaders in San Francisco at TechCrunch Disrupt on September 19–21. Last-minute passes are still available. Save 15% with code STARTUPS. Register now!

Disclaimer – This is just shared content from above mentioned source for knowledge sharing.


TC Startup Battlefield master class with Canvas Ventures: Creating strategic defensibility as an early-stage startup



Each year, TechCrunch selects the top 200 early-stage founders from across the globe to feature at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. And as part of our programming, we host master classes with industry experts and venture capitalists to provide tactical advice and insight to these founders.

Today, I’m excited to share the first of a four-part series with Canvas Ventures’ Mike Ghaffary. In this session, Ghaffary outlined the important components of startup defensibility, the key strategic advantage buckets, and what startups can do to stay competitive as they build and scale.

This private session took place in August, and we are sharing these now so all of you can also reap the benefits of Startup Battlefield.

Disclaimer – This is just shared content from above mentioned source for knowledge sharing.

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Meta’s $500 Quest 3 targets consumer mixed reality



Meta’s Quest Pro arrived to a mixed reaction when it launched late last year. The consensus – if one can be found – was that the headset presented some impressive technological leaps over its consumer predecessor (the Quest 2), but the $1,500 price tag was ultimately prohibitively expensive. If that sounds at all familiar, it’s because that’s more or less the same feedback we see every time an intriguing new headset his the market.

I had the opportunity to try the headset out back in January at CES, along with the latest from HTC, Magic Leap and Sony PlayStation. I probably shouldn’t have tried it on immediately after the Magic Leap 2 – which was the ultimate example of very good, but entirely too expensive XR technology.

The Quest Pro isn’t the Magic Leap, even though the two are effectively going after the same subset of users: enterprise clients. Meta and Magic Leap both – I think rightfully – determined that the real money is in selling headsets for training, prototyping and other business-minded functions. Many big corporations will spend $1,500 (or even $3,300) without batting an eye, if it means saving money in the long run.

But Meta is not quite ready to abandon the consumer market just yet – nor is it ready to put all its eggs in the AR basket. Sticking to mixed reality affords a fuller spectrum of applications, including more immersive VR experiences – including games. For the AR bit, opaque headset like the Quest Pro rely on passthrough technology, using on-board cameras to effectively reconstruct an image of the world around you.

It’s no surprise, then that the new Quest 3 maintains that technology. The big question is why the Quest Pro is sticking around. The obvious answer is that the Pro is less than a year old. The Quest 2, on the other hand, if a week or two short of its third birthday – in fact, it was released so long ago that it still carried the Oculus name.

The Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset, sitting on Meta's first-party charging stand

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

Ultimately, however, there is a lot on this new headset that makes the pro version seem almost redundant – or, at very least, very overpriced. While it’s true that new headset lacks some of that enterprise edition’s more premium features, the Pro’s starting price is around 3x that of the Quest 3. That’s not easy to justify. Of course, Meta’s not really thinking much about enterprise year.

Last week, we attended briefing in the Bay Area, featuring the new headset. The Meta Quest 3 inherets a lot of DNA from the Pro, including its mixed reality platform. Even if the company had already invested years and millions into the VR content side of things, maintaining both categories would be foundational, as full immersion lends itself better to the non-casual end of the gaming spectrum. With the exception of a relative handful of titles like Pokemon Go, the current generation of titles don’t require a player to be tied to a fixed real-world location.

According to Meta, the Quest 3’s full-color Passthrough tech has 10x as many pixels as its predecessor and 3x more than the significantly pricier Quest Pro. The visuals are powered by a pair of displays (one per eye) that measure in at 2064 x 2208 pixels (“4K+ Inifinite Display”). It’s the highest res display on any Meta/Oculus device. The 110-degree field of view is roughly 15% wider than the 2. 

Man wearing the Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset, holding a controller, viewed from the side

Man wearing the Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset, holding a controller, viewed from the side

The system is powered by the newly announced Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip, which itself promises double the GPU processing power than the Gen 1. In keeping with that 50 upcoming titles are actually graphicly improved versions of older games. Or you can just go ahead and play any of the 500 or so Quest 2-compatible games/apps. There are also 50 entirely new titles coming up on the platform.

Our hands on experience with the handset involved some quick game demos, none of them nearly long enough to give you a full-on review. But that’s kind of the whole deal with these sorts of events. Among the titles were Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord, Samba de Amiga and Stranger Things: Tender Claws. Of the three, Ghostbusters is the one that really stuck with me. I admit I’ve got a childhood soft spot for that one – but also, when I close my eyes and think about VR’s promise, it’s these sorts of immersive experiences.

The headset is fairly comfortable. Again, I admit that I didn’t have a ton of time with it – I’ll have to save the more comprehensive writeup for a review. But at 515 grams, it’s a good bit lighter than the notoriously heavy 722 gram Quest Pro. It’s also not a huge bump from the Quest 2’s 500 grams. It’s far easier to imagine working out in Quest 3, versus the professional model.

The visuals are a marked improvement over the last generation. They’re higher res and crisper, which goes a long way toward adding immersion to the whole experience. So, too, does the 40% louder speakers, pai4red with 3D spatial audio tech.

Close up of the top of the Meta Quest 3 touch controller

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The headset looks a good bit like the Quest 2, though there are now three slits in the front of the visor, positioning the cameras directly in front of the eye. The system also uses SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) to map the environment and determine the position of walls and other landmarks. This is more or less the same technology found in autonomous cars and robotic systems. This can help you avoid getting too close when in VR and tie graphics to real world object in AR. They do, however, drop the Pro’s face and eye tracking — so that’s a point in the pricier model’s favor.

The system ships with a pair of refined Touch Plus controllers, which drop their predecessor’s rings, while getting improved haptic feedback. “Feel more connected to every experience with ergonomic, ring-free Touch Plus controllers that let you experience realistic sensations and fine-tuned precision – as if you’re actually holding a bow, scrambling up skyscrapers or blasting through space,” Meta writes. “You can even explore without controllers, thanks to Direct Touch that follows your gestures, letting you use just your hands to find your way.”

The Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset, sitting on a first-party charger with an orange headstrap

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The controllers weigh in at 126 grams (including the AAA battery) — 38 grams lighter than the older Touch controllers. The headset should take around two hours to charge from 0-100%. 

Meta is promising roughly the same battery life for the headset as the Quest 2, which was rated at 2-3 hours. Here’s a more complete breakdown directly from the company,

  • Overall: Up to 2.2 hours of usage on average
  • Media: 2.9 hours of usage on average
  •  Gaming: 2.4 hours of usage on average
  • Social: 2.2 hours of usage on average
  •  Productivity: 1.5 hours of usage on average

Pre-order starts today, shipping on 10/10. If you buy the 128GB model ($499) before 1/27/24, Meta will toss in a free company of Asgard’s Wrath 2. Pick up the 512GB model ($650), and you get the game, along with a six month Meta Quest+ subscription. 

Read more about Meta Connect on TechCrunch

Disclaimer – This is just shared content from above mentioned source for knowledge sharing.

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The Dungeons & Dragons DLC for Minecraft includes dice rolls, magic missiles and more



Minecraft just dropped its newest DLC for Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) players to enjoy. In partnership with D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast and Everbloom Games, the DLC takes players on an adventure into the Forgotten Realms, letting them explore classic locations like Candlekeep, Icewind Dale, Revel’s End and more.

The most interesting part about the new DLC is that it introduces new mechanics from the tabletop roleplaying game that many Minecraft players may not be familiar with. However, note that it isn’t a direct D&D simulator and still has the same framework as Minecraft.

The D&D DLC allows players to unlock various spells, customize stats, roll d20s, chat with NPCs, level up their character as well as choose from four classes: barbarian, paladin, rogue and wizard. (You can cast fireball in Minecraft, now? Sign us up).

There are also new monsters to attack, including goblins, dragons, mind flayers, mimics, displacer beasts and beholders, among other iconic creatures from D&D lore. Plus, it features a new interface with a quest log, inventory and glossary screens.

Alongside the launch, Minecraft is introducing a free adventure made for 3rd-level characters called Lightning Keep, where players have to save refugees from a dragon. In addition, Wizards of the Coast released a new Minecraft-themed Monstrous Compendium, providing information on Minecraft mobs like a creeper’s defense stats or an ender dragon’s dexterity.

The new DLC pack is available on the Minecraft Marketplace for 1510 Minecoins (approximately $8 USD).

Disclaimer – This is just shared content from above mentioned source for knowledge sharing.

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