Welcome to Monday, folks. I’m Michael Cogley, a senior editor on the startups and venture capital team in London.
Apple may not be the first mover in the generative AI space, but it is still well-placed to benefit from its surging popularity. The company’s tax on AI inventions has already begun thanks to the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT iPhone app last week.
The Cupertino-based tech giant is taking its usual 30% cut from users signing up to ChatGPT Plus through the app, according to a note from Bernstein analysts. That cut is unlikely to satiate Apple’s appetite, however. The company has restricted the use of ChatGPT for some of its employees to prevent any leaks while it works on its products based on the breakthrough tech.
But before then, let’s get on with the day’s tech news.
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1. Jeffrey Epstein appeared to threaten Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, according to the Wall Street Journal. The paper reported that Epstein, a convicted sex offender, learned of an affair between Gates and a Russian bridge player.
- The affair happened around 2010, three years before the bridge player met Epstein, who subsequently paid for her to attend a coding camp, per the report.
- In 2017, Epstein asked Gates to repay him for the course in an email that implied he would expose the affair if not, the WSJ stated, citing sources familiar with the matter.
- A spokesperson for Gates told the WSJ that Epstein had “tried unsuccessfully to leverage a past relationship” to threaten the tech billionaire.
You can read more on the story here.
In other news:
2. San Francisco is investigating claims to install “hotel rooms” at Twitter’s HQ. Six former staffers at the social media giant filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk and X Corp alleging the billionaire planned to create a “Twitter hotel.” More on the complaint and investigation here.
3. More than half of Sequoia’s deals this year have been in AI. Every member of the investing giant has made AI a top priority, with partners Pat Grady and Sonya Huang most prominently involved. Read about Sequoia’s push to dominate the future of AI.
4. AI is like an intern that “lies a little bit” to make their bosses happy, according to one professor. “It’s almost best to think about it as a person,” Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, said in an interview with CBS News. Here’s more from Mollick on the promise of the breakthrough tech.
5. Shopify is reopening its offices for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. The Canadian e-commerce company has kept its offices closed for daily work but allowed them to be used for team get-togethers. CEO Tobi Lütke told staff about its plans to open up during an internal town hall this month.
6. Amazon is abandoning several of its Fresh stores. The company is looking for other tenants for some stores and is facing a lawsuit from a landlord at another. Amazon’s subletting plans are detailed here.
7. YouTube’s subscription business is already a third the size of Netflix. Recently-appointed chief Neal Mohan said the company’s overall revenue hit $40 billion over the past 12 months. A breakdown from asset management firm AllianceBernstein found that around $11 billion of that came from subscriptions alone. More on YouTube’s subs push.
8. Microsoft’s marketing chief told staffers to bump the stock prices for raises. “The most important lever for almost all our employees’ compensation upside is the stock price,” CMO Chris Capossela said in an internal conversation reported by Fortune. The tech giant has already managed to outpace the market with shares up 33% so far this year.
Odds and ends:
9. Tesla’s Cybertruck is primed to transform the EV market. The highly-anticipated pickup truck is finally heading to production after it was first unveiled in 2019. Some analysts believe it can be the “Hummer of the 2020s.”
10. Even Google’s own employees want it to make smaller phones. The tech giant just launched two new Pixel phones. But staffers asked execs if the company would make smaller handsets in the future, during a town hall held last week.
Curated by Michael Cogley in London. (Feedback or tips? Email [email protected]) Edited by Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.