Tech News Roundup: Snap's Stock Falls, Dropbox Lays Off 500, Pinecone Raises $100M, and More

Apr 28, 2023

Welcome to our weekly tech news roundup. This is where we bring you the latest updates from the world of technology and startups. From the struggles of big tech companies to the latest developments in AI and social media, we have all the stories you need to stay informed. Whether you're a tech enthusiast or just curious about the latest trends, our weekly tech news roundup has something for everyone. So sit back, relax, and let's get started.

Snap’s stock falls 24% due to weak earnings and slump in ad revenue

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, has had a tough quarter. The company missed Wall Street's revenue estimates of $1 billion, closing out the quarter with $989 million. This represents a 7% decline from the same period last year and the first time since Snap went public that revenue fell.

Snap attributed this decline to a "disrupted" demand for ads after making upgrades to the platform on which it sells ads. The company also suggested that Apple's privacy changes, which make it harder for advertisers to collect data and target ads, might have played a role.

However, Snap is not the only company experiencing a reduction in digital ad revenue. For example, ad revenue for YouTube dropped 3% in the first quarter. Plus, as a smaller company popular among Gen Z users, Snap is facing stiff competition from TikTok.

Meanwhile, larger companies like Meta (the parent company of Facebook) are starting to see their ad revenue rebound. In fact, Meta's earnings report from Wednesday suggests that the company is coming out of its downward slump and into revenue growth.

Snap's net loss for the quarter was $329 million, which is not as deep as the $360 million loss from the same period last year.

It remains to be seen how Snap will address its recent earnings slump, but the company is sure to keep a close eye on its competitors and the changing digital ad landscape.

Dropbox lays off 500 employees due to AI and slowing growth

Dropbox, a cloud storage giant, has announced that it will be laying off 16% of its staff, which is around 500 employees. The move comes as a result of slowing growth and the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the tech sector.

The company, which is profitable and has a strong product pipeline, stated that it needs to invest in new areas to keep up with the rapid pace of change in the tech industry. This means that some areas of the business will need to be streamlined, resulting in the layoffs.

These job cuts are the first since January 2021 and will cost Dropbox between $37 million to $42 million in charges, which will be recorded in Q2. The company previously had 3,125 employees before the move.

It's worth noting that Dropbox isn't the only tech company to be making cuts. In 2023, over 184,000 people have been laid off in the tech sector.

While this news may come as a shock to those affected by the layoffs, it's important to remember that Dropbox is still profitable and has a strong product pipeline. With the right investments in new areas, the company can continue to thrive in an ever-changing industry.

As for the employees affected by the layoffs, we hope they land on their feet quickly and find new opportunities that fit their skills and passions.

AI startup Pinecone raises $100M in Series B funding

Pinecone, an AI startup that provides long-term memory for large language models (LLMs), recently raised $100 million in series B funding at a valuation of $750 million, led by Andreessen Horowitz. The company's vector database, introduced in 2021, allows engineers to build fast and scalable applications using embeddings from AI models and get them into production quickly.

One key application of Pinecone's technology is in chatbots, where the company helps engineers connect chatbots with their own company data to provide the right answer. The rise of ChatGPT last fall sent Pinecone soaring, with the tool quickly becoming an integral part of the software stack for AI applications. The company has seen an explosion in paying customers across all industries and sizes.

According to Pinecone founder and CEO Edo Liberty, generative AI suddenly became a boardroom-level discussion, and interest in Pinecone keeps building among developers. Despite a recent research paper on the potential of a new architecture, the recurrent memory transformer (RMT), to allow LLMs to retain information across up to 2 million tokens, Pinecone's vector databases continue to be in demand due to their fast inference times.

Overall, Pinecone's success demonstrates the increasing importance of AI in various industries and the need for innovative solutions to make AI applications more efficient and effective. As the company continues to expand its customer base and develop new technologies, it is poised for continued growth and success in the AI space.

US Copyright Office issues policy for registering works with AI-generated content

The US Copyright Office recently released a statement of policy regarding the examination and registration of works containing material generated by artificial intelligence (AI) technology. This policy, which became effective on March 16, 2023, provides clarity on the Office’s practices and guidelines for applicants seeking to register such works.

The Copyright Office is responsible for administering the copyright registration system and providing advice on copyright and related matters to Congress, other agencies, and the Federal judiciary. With the rise of AI technology capable of producing expressive material, questions have arisen about whether AI-generated material is protected by copyright and whether works consisting of both human-authored and AI-generated material can be registered.

The statement of policy addresses these concerns by outlining how the Copyright Office applies copyright law’s human authorship requirement to applications for registration of works that contain AI-generated material. It also provides guidance to applicants on what information they should provide to the Office when seeking to register such works.

It’s important to note that while this statement of policy provides guidance on how the Copyright Office will handle applications for works that contain AI-generated material, it doesn’t address all the copyright issues that may arise. The Office recognizes that there may be other copyright issues specific to AI-generated works that aren’t covered in this statement.

Overall, this statement of policy from the US Copyright Office provides much-needed guidance to applicants seeking to register works that contain AI-generated material. As AI technology continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, it’s important for the copyright system to adapt and provide clear guidelines for protecting and registering works that utilize these technologies.

Microsoft and Activision Blizzard hit roadblock in bid to take over gaming industry

In a move that has shocked the UK gaming industry, the UK Competition and Markets Authority has blocked the proposed takeover of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft. The deal was met with fierce opposition from the regulator who claimed that it would lead to a reduction in innovation and choice for gamers in the fast-growing cloud gaming market.

Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have hit out at the decision, claiming that the merger would strengthen their position in the market and create more jobs and investment in the UK. The two companies have also argued that the regulator’s report is flawed and contradicts the UK’s ambitions to become an attractive country for technology businesses.

Despite their arguments, the deal will need to be approved by regulatory bodies in the UK, US, and EU, and the outcome of these decisions could scupper the whole process.

The news has been met with mixed reactions from the gaming industry, with some expressing disappointment and others relief. Sony, in particular, is pleased with the regulator’s decision as it had previously opposed the takeover, fearing it would restrict access to some of the most popular games.

Regardless of the outcome, this development is a reminder of the ever-changing landscape of the gaming industry and the importance of keeping a watchful eye on mergers and acquisitions in the sector.

Neuroscientists create AI that translates brain activity into images

A team of researchers led by Yu Takagi, a neuroscientist from Japan, has developed an AI model that can translate brain activity into images. The team used a deep-learning AI model called Stable Diffusion (SD) to analyze brain scans of subjects while showing them thousands of images inside an MRI machine. The AI was able to generate images that resembled the originals without being shown the pictures in advance or trained to produce the results.

Takagi has stressed that this breakthrough does not represent mind-reading and that AI can only produce images a person has viewed. However, this development has raised concerns about the potential misuse of such technology and the risks posed by AI in general. Notable tech leaders like Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak have called for a pause on the development of AI due to its profound risks to society and humanity.

Takagi and his research partner, Shinji Nishimoto, are already planning version two of their project. They hope to improve the technology and apply it to other modalities. Their study has been accepted to the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) set for June 2023.

As with any new technology, there are always concerns about how it will be used and its impact on society. However, this breakthrough is a significant step forward in the development of AI and its potential applications. It will be interesting to see how this technology develops and how it will be used in the future. is a social network exclusively for A.I. agents

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Instagram Reels drive 24% increase in time spent on the platform, reports Meta

Social media giant, Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has recently reported a significant increase in engagement on Instagram, largely attributed to the platform's popular feature, Reels. According to Mark Zuckerberg, the company's CEO, the increase in engagement can be attributed to the advanced AI recommendations and ranking systems that drive the discovery engine of Reels, as well as their advertisements.

The platform has also seen a surge in social interaction, with over 2 billion Reels being reshared every day, a number that has doubled in the last six months. As a result, Meta's monthly active users have risen across all their apps combined.

Despite a decline of $523 million, partly due to restructuring costs related to the company's 21,000 job cuts, Meta reported an impressive first-quarter revenue of $28.6 billion, with a net profit of $5.7 billion. The market responded positively to this news, with shares jumping by 12% following the meeting.

As Instagram continues to dominate the social media landscape, Meta's focus on driving engagement through AI recommendations and ranking systems seems to be paying off. With Reels becoming increasingly popular, it's clear that users are looking for a more interactive and engaging experience on the platform. As always, only time will tell what the future holds for Instagram and the wider social media industry.

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