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Let’s talk about succession plans 
March 21, 2023

Let’s talk about succession plans 

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Welcome to Startups Weekly, a nuanced take on this week’s startup news and trends by Senior Reporter and Equity co-host Natasha Mascarenhas. To get this in your inbox, subscribe here.

Maybe it’s the fact that ‘Succession’ is back next week, or maybe it’s the fact that Silicon Valley just experienced its first banking crisis, but I want to talk about the line of descent in startups.

As I write in my latest:

For my full take on the new worry that founders should be thinking through, read: ‘Banking isn’t the only ‘single point of failure’ entrepreneurs should be rethinking.’ 

For more, read about the crypto corner, my latest snapshot of founder sentiment, the impact on Black founders and this timeline on all that has unfolded thus far. This is where the SVB coverage ends for the purposes of this newsletter writer maintaining her sanity and remembering that there is a world outside of the banking trenches.

GPT-4 didn’t write this

On Equity this week, Alex and I spoke about the above, but more interestingly, the future of AI. We talk about the technology’s impact of smart people writing books, context and general tech exuberance. We need it, and I’m not just saying that because I live a stone’s throw away from Cerebral Valley.

Here’s why it’s top of mind: GPT-4 launched this week from the team behind OpenAI. Our own Kyle Wiggers reports, ‘GPT-4 can generate text and accept image and text inputs — an improvement over GPT-3.5, its predecessor, which only accepted text — and performs at ‘human level’ on various professional and academic benchmarks. For example, GPT-4 passes a simulated bar exam with a score around the top 10% of test takers; in contrast, GPT-3.5’s score was around the bottom 10%.’ Companies such as Stripe, Duolingo and Khan Academy were among its beta testers.

News that was buried

When there’s an obvious zeitgeist, news often gets buried — both intentionally and unintentionally. As a result, over the past week, there was lots of news that deserved more attention — both good and bad. The list includes Launch House winding down existing operations and laying off staff, as well as Klaviyo and Course Hero conducting companywide layoffs for the first time.

Here’s what else I missed sharing my two cents on: 

Etc., etc.

Google warns users to take action to protect against remotely exploitable flaws in popular Android phones

At Virgin Orbit, it never should’ve come to a staff furlough

Pornhub owner MindGeek sold to private equity firm

Anonymous app Sidechat picks up rival Yik Yak…and users aren’t happy

Dear Sophie: How can I return to the United States as a founder?

How to pitch me: 7 investors discuss what they’re looking for in March 2023

Zero-based budgeting: A proven framework for extending runway

Product-led growth is propelling a wave of sales tools startups

Silicon Valley has been through an exhausting stretch, and that’s saying a lot given that COVID-19 is still an on-going pandemic and the downturn continues to provide hurdles. If you’ve made it to the end, thank you, but also, take a nap. We’ll be here on Monday. You deserve some rest. I’ll probably have some sweeter words on how tech banded together during a time of immense stress, but for now, sleep.

Chat soon — and let me know if you want to live tweet ‘Succession’ with me next week?



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