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Emerging Tech Brew // Morning Brew // Update
Plus, the legal landscape for generative AI.
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January 25, 2023

Emerging Tech Brew

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Happy Wednesday. The most wonderful time of the year fiscal quarter is upon us. Microsoft kicked off Big Tech earnings season yesterday. Next up is Meta, which will report exactly one week from today, followed by Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet on Feb. 2.

We expect we’ll hear the phrase “more with less” over and over again.

In today’s edition:

Pinterest’s revenue chief talks tech priorities for 2023
The legal landscape for generative AI
Reader poll: 5G edition

Hayden Field, Dan McCarthy

TECH

Pinterest’s tech interests

Pinterest’s tech interests Pinterest

What’s the trend forecast for 2023? According to Pinterest, we’ll see an uptick in sci-fi fashion, mushroom decor, and—from its corporate perspective—combining machine learning with user curation to continue to fuel Pinterest’s recommendations.

  • Last year was tough for tech platforms, with companies from Alphabet to Amazon missing analyst expectations, enacting cost-cutting plans, and reducing headcount.
  • For Q3, although Pinterest’s growth slowed year over year, the company’s earnings report served as a rare bright spot after it beat analyst expectations for both revenue and earnings per share.

Zoom in: Bill Watkins, Pinterest’s chief revenue officer, said that this year the company will be focused on user growth and engagement, shopping, and ultimately monetization. At CES 2023 in Las Vegas and in a follow-up phone conversation, we spoke with him about how tech investments will power those strategic goals.

Here’s the platform’s tech-driven plan to win in 2023.—HF

        

TOGETHER WITH VANTA

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AI

Generative AI has become a legal drama

Generative AI has become a legal drama Francis Scialabba

The past 12 months were a breakout year for generative AI, and there’s no sign of a slowdown in the models’ use cases—or in the growing legal questions surrounding the space.

Since the public debut of AI image-generation models like DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion, and Midjourney, millions of people have used them to create millions of images per day, for personal and commercial uses across a wide range of industries—film storyboarding, product photos, magazine cover design, and more.

  • And with ChatGPT and GitHub Copilot, text-generation AI—whether the output is human language or computer code—has taken off in recent months as well.

By the numbers: The generative AI space as a whole raised $1.3 billion in VC funding through November 2022—a 15% spike year over year, according to Pitchbook data. Between 2020 and 2021, generative AI’s VC deal count nearly doubled from 48 to 84, and deal value spiked nearly 400%.

Big picture: By its very nature, using generative AI for commercial purposes attracts wide-ranging ethical and legal debates, and since the space is so new, many of the questions it has inspired remain unanswered.

Cases that will undoubtedly shape how generative AI can be used in commercial settings in the future will be decided, and those ripple effects will likely advance as fast as the tech they’re inspired by.

That’s why we’ve created a tracker for legal proceedings related to generative AI. Click here to check it out.—HF

        

FROM THE CREW

Quantify the future of your business

Quantify the future of your business GIPHY

Budgeting and forecasting are not just for the new year—they're year-round practices to stay financially stable (especially in uncertain times). Our Financial Forecasting course can help you perfect your budgeting approach and protect your bottom line. Lock in your seat.

FROM YOU

Reader poll: 5G phone edition

5G tower against a blue sky Gea Veenstra/Getty Images

The 5G revolution has been on its way for a while now, according to the ads and commercials.

Could it be that it’s finally here? Last week’s reader poll, which received more than 2,300 responses, suggests that, at least among readers of this here newsletter, owning a 5G device is commonplace.

  • The majority (60%) of respondents said they already have 5G phones, while another 8% said they’d upgrade to one this year.
  • About one-quarter of respondents (24%) said they don’t plan to upgrade to a 5G phone in 2023, while another 8% said they aren’t sure what they’ll do with their phone this year.

More numbers, plz: In January of last year, global 5G smartphone sales overtook 4G smartphone sales for the first time, per Counterpoint Research. At that point, Counterpoint estimated that 5G phones made up 73% of new-phone sales in North America.

But at the same time, a Deloitte survey published last year found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of global consumers were not “actively seeking to switch to 5G.” Also, just 9% of respondents to the Deloitte survey said 5G was the “most important feature” for a new smartphone.

Where we net out: Deloitte projects that the majority of cell-phone users “will be connecting to 5G networks by the end of 2023.”—DM

This week’s question: How often do you use mobile payment tools (e.g., Apple or Google Pay) in physical stores?

Most of the time
Sometimes
Only in a pinch
📵 Never

BITS AND BYTES

Apple CEO Tim Cook wearing sunglasses Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Stat: Between September 2019 and September 2022, Apple’s headcount rose by ~20%. In the same stretch of time, Amazon doubled its headcount, Meta’s jumped by 94%, Google’s rose by 57%, and Microsoft’s grew by 53%, per a WSJ analysis attempting to explain why Apple hasn’t yet joined other tech firms in conducting layoffs.

Quote: “It’s nothing revolutionary, although that’s the way it’s perceived in the public…It’s just that, you know, it’s well put together, it’s nicely done.”—Meta Chief AI Scientist Yann LeCun on ChatGPT

Read: The semiconductor shortage has eased, but that doesn’t mean auto production has returned to normal.

Farewell, fraudsters: 91% of companies surveyed reported an increase in fraud last year. Alloy’s State of Fraud Benchmark Report examines how fintech companies are dodging disasters and mitigating risk. Get the report here.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Spotify is the latest big-name tech company to announce layoffs. It plans to cut 6% of its staff in a broader cost-cutting effort.
  • Microsoft and OpenAI officially deepened their partnership this week, reportedly solidifying a $10 billion investment after weeks of rumors suggesting they would do so.
  • A bunch of big banks, including Chase and Bank of America, are teaming up to create a digital wallet that aims to challenge Apple Pay and Paypal.
  • Another Twitter whistleblower filed a complaint with the FTC alleging that any engineer at the company could access “GodMode” and tweet from any account, the Washington Post reported.

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Written by Hayden Field and Dan McCarthy

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