🚀 Italy says "arrivederci" to ChatGPT
Plus, TikTok's owner launches a new app!
📱Twitter updates Blue. Twitter users, take note: CEO Elon Musk announced some product changes! As of April 15, only verified subscribers will be eligible to have their tweets recommended in the "For You" algorithm. Musk noted that this change is an attempt to fight “advanced AI bot swarms” taking over the feed. The company is also ending legacy blue checks, meaning that verified users who don't pay to subscribe will lose their status. And finally, Twitter released its recommendation source code on GitHub - here’s a summary of learnings from the algorithm.
🍋 Lemon8 gains steam. Amidst continuing controversy over TikTok, ByteDance has a new app in the U.S. called Lemon8. Think of it as a mix of Instagram x Pinterest - users make “carousel” posts that are a blend of photos, videos, and text. Olivia wrote more about it here: use cases include tutorials, routines, and product recs. Lemon8 quietly launched in the U.S. in late February, but has climbed the charts in the past week (likely due to paid ad spend) - it hit #1 in Lifestyle and the top 10 overall.
🖊️ AI letter sparks controversy. This week, a non-profit called the Future of Life Institute published an open letter urging AI labs to pause research (for six months) on any systems more advanced than GPT-4. It argues that the field of AI needs to develop shared safety protocols and an independent auditing process due to “profound risks to society and humanity.” The letter has been signed by 2,000+ people - notable signatories include Elon Musk, Andrew Yang, and Steve Wozniak.
The publication sparked a firestorm online. Some of the signatories turned out to be fake (and have been removed), others walked back their support. The criticism has come from a variety of places - some people don’t think the letter addresses the real risks of AI, while others believe that it’s counterproductive to halt technological progress due to extreme fears.
🤖 Other AI news. Letter-related controversy aside, it was another busy week in the AI ecosystem! Here’s a recap:
Zoom added more AI-powered features, including a meeting summarizer and auto-generator of comments and emails based on your conversation.
Italy blocked ChatGPT due to data protection concerns, and asked OpenAI to prove that it’s not violating GDPR.
The new iOS brought a crop of fresh emojis! Tag yourself, I’m the weirdly shaking head (usually) and maracas (on occasion).
what we’re following 👀
This week saw a new App Store #1 - Apple Classical Music. Here’s what it is.
Netflix may be doubling down on games, with plans to launch titles on TV.
Apple is launching an AR/VR headset in June, but some employees are skeptical.
How the Gwyneth Paltrow ski trial took over TikTok.
The dialogue around a TikTok ban is heating up, after last week’s Congressional hearing revealed concerns from both sides of the political aisle. A Pew Research study this week suggests that the majority of Americans now favor of a ban - consumers under 30 are the only age group that supports the app.
TikTok has an estimated 90M MAUs in the U.S., per SensorTower data, which is almost 30% of the U.S. population. What would happen if the app got banned? India provides an interesting case study - TikTok was banned in June 2020 when it was the country’s #1 social app, with 400M downloads. (Huge shoutout to Adam Blacker of Apptopia for doing this analysis - check out his piece.)
The most immediate impact in India was a group of smaller, copycat products taking off. Some of these were existing social platforms that pivoted to add short form video, while others were “TikTok clones” launched shortly after the ban. These apps saw downloads explode in the year post-ban - notably Chingari and Roposo.
In the longer term, there was one winner: Instagram. IG launched Reels in India in June 2021, a year after the ban. Since then, IG’s “market share” of social downloads has expanded substantially, while other incumbents like Snapchat and Facebook have largely maintained share. This has come at the expense of the newer entrants that spiked immediately post-ban, and have since largely died down on a download basis.
What does this mean for the U.S.? If TikTok is banned (still a big “if”), we would expect to see a similar dynamic of new entrants flooding the space. In fact, we’ve already seen companies like Clapper pick up significant steam in recent weeks.
However - in India, it took a year for the dust to settle and IG to emerge as the winner. Our hunch is this would happen faster in the U.S.! Both IG Reels and YouTube Shorts have much more usage than they did at the time of India’s TikTok ban, as they’ve been integrated into each company’s core product. Whether one of these two players would “win” or another company would emerge is TBD 👀
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Kapor Capital - Associate / Principal (Oakland)
Uber - Strategic Ops Associate (Chicago)
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puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Saffron, a four-year-old Cavapoo who lives in the U.K.
Check him out on Instagram @saffron.bysaffron!
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