Fisker loses customers’ money, Robinhood launches a credit card, and Google generates travel itineraries


Hey, folks, welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s newsletter recapping the notable happenings in tech over the past few days.

This week, TC’s auto reporter Sean O’Kane revealed how EV startup Fisker temporarily lost track of millions of dollars in customer payments as it scaled up deliveries, leading to an internal audit that started in December and took months to complete.

Elsewhere, Lorenzo reported how Facebook snooped on users’ Snapchat traffic in a secret project known internally at Meta as “Project Ghostbusters.” According to court documents, the goal was to intercept and decrypt the network traffic between people using Snapchat’s app and its servers.

And Manish wrote about the resignation of Stability AI founder and CEO Emad Mostaque late last week. Mostaque’s departure from Stability AI — the startup known for its popular image generation tool Stable Diffusion — comes amid an ongoing struggle for stability (pun intended) at the company, which was reportedly spending ~$8 million a month as of October 2023 with little revenue to show for it.

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.

News

Fisker suspended: Fisker’s bad week continued with a halt in the startup’s stock trading. The New York Stock Exchange moved to take Fisker off the exchange, citing its “abnormally low” stock levels.

AI-powered itineraries: In an upgrade to its Search Generative Experience, Google has added the ability for users to ask Google Search to plan a travel itinerary. Using AI, Search will draw on ideas from websites around the web along with reviews, photos and other details.

Robinhood’s new card: Nine months after acquiring credit card startup X1 for $95 million, Robinhood on Wednesday announced the launch of its new Gold Card, powered by X1’s technology, with a list of features that could make Apple Card users envious.

At AT&T, mum’s the word: The personal information of some 73 million AT&T customers spilled online this week. But AT&T won’t say how — despite the hack responsible having happened over three years ago.

Funding

Booming Copilot: Copilot, the budgeting app, has raised $6 million in a Series A round led by Nico Wittenborn’s Adjacent. The app is benefiting partly from the death of Mint, Intuit’s financial management product.

Liquid assets: In a piece looking at the wider VC-backed beverage industry, Rebecca and Christine note canned water startup Liquid Death’s recent $67 million fundraise, which brought the company’s total raised to more than $267 million. Talk about liquidity.

HVAC venture: Dan Laufer, a former Nextdoor exec, has raised $25 million from Canvas Ventures and others for PipeDreams, a startup that acquires mom-and-pop HVAC and plumbing companies and scales them using its software that helps with scheduling and marketing.

Analysis

Is Nvidia the next AWS?: Ron writes about how there’s lots of parallels in Nvidia’s and AWS’ growth trajectories.

Podcasts

This week on Equity, the crew dug into Robinhood’s new credit card, Fisker’s latest woes and even Databricks’ new AI model that it spent $10 million to spin up. They also spotlit two companies building startups focused around kids, and, to wrap up, looked at a new $100 million fund that seeks to back innovative climate tech.

Meanwhile, on Found, Allison Wolff, the co-founder and CEO of Vibrant Planet, a cloud-based planning and monitoring tool for adaptive land management, discussed why the wildfires we’re seeing today are hotter and spreading more quickly than we can contain and how proper land management can help foster lower, slower-burning fires.

And on Chain Reaction, Jacquelyn interviewed Scott Dykstra, CTO and co-founder of Space and Time. Space and Time aims to be a verifiable compute layer for web3 that scales zero-knowledge proofs, a cryptographic action used to prove something about a piece of data without revealing the origin data itself.

Bonus round

Spotify tests online learning: In its ongoing efforts to get its 600 million+ users to spend more time and money on its platform, Spotify is spinning up a new line of content: e-learning. Beginning with a rollout in the U.K., the (traditionally audio) streaming platform is testing the waters for an online education offering of freemium video courses.



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