Another week of layoffs, executive departures, and all things artificial intelligence

Hello again! Greg here again with a review of the week. WiR is a newsletter where we take the most read stories from Root Devices over the past seven days and wrap them up in as few words as possible—no fluff, no nonsense,* just a roundup of everything you probably want to know about tech this week.

*Maybe a little nonsense.

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Tip your Amazon driver (for an Amazon cent): If you have an Alexa device at home, Amazon will pay your delivery driver an extra $5 if you say, “Alexa, thank you to my driver” after the delivery. Amazon could, of course, just pay drivers more to begin with…but that, sadly, probably wouldn’t be a move that would make Amazon one of the most read headlines of the week.

Slack’s CEO is leaving: Last week, Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor resigned; this week, Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of (Salesforce-owned) Slack, announced that he will also step down in January. Ron Miller shares his insights on incoming Slack CEO Lidiane Jones and her decades of product experience.

“Twitter Files”: “Elon Musk reminded his followers on Friday that owning Twitter now means he controls every aspect of the company — including what his employees said behind closed doors before he took over,” Taylor writes, as a series of once-private of Twitter’s internal communications. to the public.

Lensa AI is going viral: Do all your social media friends suddenly have avatars that make them look like sci-fi gods and action heroes? Probably because of Lens AI, the photo-editing app that went viral this week after adding support for artist tools powered by Stable Diffusion AI. The popularity hasn’t come without controversy though – many continue to debate the ethics of selling something created by artificial intelligence trained on the parts of real people; meanwhile, others found that the AI ​​could be “tricked” into creating otherwise unauthorized NSFW clips.

More tech layoffs: This week, Airtable laid off about 20% of its staff – more than 250 people. Plaid also laid off 20%, which is 260 people for them. African fintech unicorn Chipper Cash has laid off 50 people, while British drag-and-drop e-commerce platform Primer has laid off 85 (about one-third of the company).

Google is merging the Maps/Waze teams: When Google bought navigation app Waze for more than $1 billion in 2013, Google said the Waze and Google Maps teams would be separate “for the time being.” “For now” turns out to mean about 9.5 years, but Google confirmed this week that the two teams will be merged. Google says it expects Waze to remain a standalone service.

Twitter Blue may cost more on iOS: Twitter’s $8 “blue” subscription plan (which comes with a blue “verified” checkmark) is still on hold for now after a few false starts, but when it comes back, it’ll reportedly cost a few bucks more if you subscribe via the iOS app , to replace Apple’s cut.

sound check

Found — our podcast about founders and the companies they build — has a new co-host! Becca Szkutak stepped into that role this week, joining Darrell Etherington in a chat with Daya CEO Valentina Milanova. Meanwhile, the Equity team tried to make sense of 2022 in a year-end look back, and Taylor Hatmaker hopped on The Root Devices Podcast to explore what the sudden explosion of AI-generated art means for actual human artists.

Root Devices+

Here’s what subscribers read most on Root Devices+:

Investors point to possible private equity technology deals: “Who wants to sell when prices are low?” Ron Miller and Alex Wilhelm ask.

Rootine’s $10 million presentation: “If you told me that a company charging $70 a month for multivitamins could raise $10 million, I would demand to see the accounts,” Haje writes. With that in mind, he dives deep into the playground that helped make it happen.

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