🚀 Will your next relationship be with an AI?
Plus, an update on the Reddit revolt.
Editor’s note: We missed you all last week! Due to a family emergency, we weren’t able to get Accelerated out. We’ll cover some of the news we missed in this issue.
For the first time ever, Accelerated is available as a podcast! Check out our first, 100% AI-generated issue below, powered by Wondercraft - and using the magic of Eleven Labs to render the show in Olivia’s voice. Let us know what you think!
⚫ Reddit blackout continues. If you’re a Reddit user, you’ve noticed that thousands of subreddits have gone dark in the past few weeks. This “blackout” is in response to the company’s decision to charge for access to Reddit data via API. The Reddit team explained this as largely a result of the need to monetize from AI companies using Reddit training data - CEO Steve Huffman said it’s time for the platform to “grow up.”
However, this has resulted in some popular non-AI apps built on top of Reddit, like Apollo, to shut down as they can’t afford to pay. In response, Reddit moderators have voluntarily closed down their communities in protest, or changed their communities to the not safe for work (NSFW) so they aren’t generating ad revenue for the company. Reddit has ramped up the pressure for moderators to reverse these changes.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this story - it feels like a pivotal moment for one of the Internet’s largest community platforms 🤔
🥗 Cava goes public. The IPO window has opened - for an unexpected entrant! After a quiet market over the last few years, Mediterranean fast casual restaurant chain Cava debuted on the NYSE last week, and closed its first day of trading at $40 per share after pricing at $22. Cava’s annual net sales grew 13% in 2022 to $564M, surpassing Sweetgreen at $470M (though growing 38% YoY). The company plans to use the IPO proceeds to expand locations, currently at 263 (all in the U.S.).
🤖 Mistral raises mega-round. In the largest seed round we’ve seen in a while, French AI startup Mistral announced a $113M fundraise led by Lightspeed, with the goal of competing against OpenAI. Mistral’s co-founders said in an interview that their goal is to build models using only publicly available data - and will open source all of their own models and data sets. Mistral is still pre-product, but plans on building AI platforms for enterprise use cases.
👋 TikTok leadership shakeup. TikTok has had a reprieve from the front page of every newspaper as AI has exploded - but things are still happening! This week, COO V. Pappas, who has been the face of TikTok in the U.S., announced they were stepping down to “pursue entrepreneurial passions.” The company elevated chief of staff Adam Presser to the head of ops role, and is also bringing onboard Disney’s chief communications officer, Zenia Mucha, to run brand and communications.
what we’re following 👀
It was a big week for a16z x AI - check out all the content the team published, from an LLM app stack to a glossary of terms.
Image generator Midjourney released v5.2, with a cool “Zoom out” feature that allows you to create broader scenes.
In an incredibly strange turn of events, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have jokingly (?) agreed to fight in a cage match.
Justine co-authored a post this week on an interesting new consumer behavior: treating AI (mostly chatbots) as companions. As you may have seen with products like Replika, Character AI, and Chai, people are spending countless hours - and real money - to chat with bots.
What are they talking about? There are so many different use cases for these bots: friends, therapists, coaches, or just pure entertainment (you can now talk to your favorite movie or game characters). But one of the true killer use cases is romance - AI girlfriends / boyfriends are blowing up.
We previously covered Caryn Marjorie, a Snapchat influencer who charges $1/minute to chat with her voice bot (she made $72k in the first week!). Caryn AI is one of the more consumer-friendly products - you join a Telegram channel and start typing. But there’s also an immense amount of developer activity happening behind the scenes, with people piecing together various tools to customize their perfect AI partner.
There are thriving subreddits and Discord servers dedicated to AI companionship, with tens of thousands of users sharing “how to” guides, lessons learned, and screenshots of interactions with their AI partners. This feels like more of a fringe behavior today, but we expect it will become increasingly mainstream - you might not have a romantic AI partner, but you’ll likely have at least one AI friend!
AtoB - Business Operations Analyst (Remote)
Prime Movers Lab - Chief of Staff (Remote)
Index Ventures - Investor (SF, NYC)
Obvious Ventures - Principal, Climate (SF)
M12 - Investment Partner (SF)
Primary Venture Partners - Analyst (NYC)
Northzone - Associate (NYC)
Fuel Ventures - Investment Analyst (London)
Faire - Data Science Intern (U.S.)
thredUP - Web Producer Intern (Oakland)
Outdoor Voices - Marketing Intern (Austin)
Tovala - Marketplace Intern (Chicago)
HomeShef - MBA Product Development Intern (Chicago)
Trala - Marketing Intern (Chicago)
Motional - Corporate Strategy Intern (Boston)
Slice - Sales Ops Intern (NYC)
20VC - Investment Intern (London)
puppy of the week 🐶
Meet Riften, a 1.5-year-old cattle dog who lives in Washington.
He enjoys hopping around in the water, howling, and going on hikes.
Follow him on Instagram @riften_the_wild!
All views are our own. None of the above should be taken as investment advice. See this page for important information.