Top Startup Tales of the Year: Highlights from 2023’s Startup Scene

Welcome to Startups Weekly! Get it in your inbox every Friday by signing up here. Thank you for subscribing to Startups Weekly. This week, I’m taking my parents to Yosemite to explore the snowy peaks and to see if my car can handle snow. Instead of a usual Startups Weekly, I’d like to remind you of some of the memorable startup stories from 2024 — on both TechCrunch and our subscription sibling TechCrunch+. Here are some of the major themes that have echoed throughout the startup ecosystem in 2023.

Crime and punishment
Some of the biggest startup stories on TechCrunch in 2023 were related to the deeds and misdeeds of those in the ecosystem. One of our most-read stories this year was the murder of Bob Lee, creator of Cash App and former CTO of Square. He was tragically killed in a stabbing incident in San Francisco. Rolling Stone picked up the story, delving into who Bob Lee and his alleged murderer were. Another big story was the trial of Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who is now serving an 11-year, 3-month prison sentence for wire fraud. Theranos, once valued at $10 billion, promised revolutionary blood testing technology but was exposed for its nonfunctional technology, leading to numerous lawsuits and government investigations. The Sam Bankman-Fried trial also made headlines. He was found guilty on all seven charges of fraud and money laundering. Former VC Mike Rothenberg and a robocaller operation were also convicted of fraud, resulting in significant fines.

The fun and quirky
The world of startups also featured lighthearted stories. Some highlights included Apple’s 31 new emojis, the acquisition of adult entertainment sites by a Canadian private equity firm, and Apple’s new mixed-reality (XR) device. The year of AI OpenAI’s GPT-4, ChatGPT, and advancements in AI porn generators raised significant ethical and societal concerns. Sam Altman was fired as CEO of OpenAI in a surprising development.

From the desk of “didn’t see that coming”
Startups threw curveballs in 2023, with surprising events such as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the shut down and revival of DPReview, OceanGate’s failed attempt to explore the Titanic, and the development of an electric airship called Pathfinder 1. Additionally, TechCrunch+ offered exclusive content including the Pitch Deck Teardown series and comprehensive reports on the technology industry, startups, and venture capital.

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