From Digital Age to Nano Age. WorldWide.

Tag: Layoffs

Robotic Automations

Watch: Tesla's Cybertruck recall, layoffs set the stage for its Q1 earnings | TechCrunch


Tesla is not having a good start to the week. In its defense, it didn’t have a very good end to last week, either.

Today the news is that recent price cuts have irked Tesla investors, who sent its shares off around 4% in early trading today. Those losses have extended Tesla’s total share-price declines to around 43% for the year. Which is, as they say, a lot.

But those price cuts are hardly the only issues needling the U.S.-based EV company. Tesla’s last week saw the company slash its staffing, including high-performers. With the company reporting earnings tomorrow, its actions at the moment are under even greater scrutiny than usual.

The backdrop to all of this is the company’s apparent move away from a basement-priced EV, and towards a robotaxi effort that some consider to be technologically premature. Regardless, Tesla’s price cuts, pivots, and mass-recall of its Cybertruck vehicle are not the recipe for content investors. Hit play, and let’s have some fun.

After we recorded this clip, Bloomberg posted a fascinating dig into the company’s current form that we recommend as further reading.


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Tesla layoffs, Cybertruck recalls and Serve Robotics goes public | TechCrunch


Welcome back to TechCrunch Mobility — your central hub for news and insights on the future of transportation. Sign up here — just click TechCrunch Mobility — to receive the newsletter every weekend in your inbox. Subscribe for free.

Tesla is back in the news cycle and our crystal ball says it’s one of those long-term affairs. The week kicked off with layoffs — about 10% of its more than 140,000-person workforce — and CEO Elon Musk declaring he was going “balls to the wall” on autonomy. It ended with a Cybertruck recall. Cool cool.

There’s lots more in the newsletter than just Tesla — although before we move on, do check out Sean O’Kane’s scoop about the company’s 1,800-mile Tesla Semi charging corridor program. Read on to catch up on Serve Robotics’ public market debut, a week of highs and lows for Waymo, and more.

Let’s go! 

A little bird

While much of our focus is on startups and Silicon Valley, we do have some little birds in Washington, D.C.

A little bird told us recently that federal regulators are getting close to publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on autonomous vehicle regulations, which would be the first set of federal guardrails proposed for the industry.

Our source said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates commercial vehicles in the U.S., should have a proposal out by this summer, fall at the latest. We’re told that the federal ruling on AVs will likely establish a minimum safety standard for AVs to operate on public roads but that state governments could enforce stricter regulations within their own borders. We’ve been hearing about discussions and plans around federal AV regulations for years now. Have we finally started to make headway? We shall see. 

Got a tip for us? Email Kirsten Korosec at [email protected], Sean O’Kane at [email protected] or Rebecca Bellan at [email protected]. If you prefer to remain anonymousclick here to contact us, which includes SecureDrop (instructions here) and various encrypted messaging apps.

Deal of the week

Serve Robotics, the Nvidia- and Uber-backed sidewalk robot delivery company, hit the public markets this week via a reverse merger. Serve expects its public debut to bring in around $40 million in gross proceeds, funding that will go toward R&D for future robots, manufacturing of new robots, geographic expansion and more.

Serve’s goal is to increase its fleet from the 100 robots deployed today around Los Angeles to 2,000 robots across multiple U.S. cities by the end of 2025, via a partnership with Uber Eats. Serve has huge revenue ambitions, with plans to generate between $60 million and $80 million in annual revenue by that same deadline. In 2023, Serve brought in $207,545 in revenue at a loss of $1.5 million.

FWIW, Uber and Nvidia are still shareholders, but their shares in the company are decreasing with this debut. Pre-IPO, Uber and Nvidia held a 16.6% stake and 14.3% stake, respectively. Once the offering closes, those stakes will change to 11.5% and 10.1%, per regulatory filings.

Serve’s share price was $4 at market open on Thursday, and it closed that day at around $3.

Other deals that got my attention …

Found Energy, a startup that uses waste aluminum to generate heat and hydrogen, raised a $12 million seed round, but Tim De Chant’s story on the company is about so much more.

Getir, a Turkish delivery company that was once worth $12 billion, is reportedly weighing asset sales and exits from non-core markets as investors put the pressure on to cut losses.

Swtch Energy, a company building EV charging solutions for apartment buildings, raised $27.2 million in a Series B to expand its charging network and boost the tech behind its charging and energy management solutions. Blue Earth Capital led the round with participation from Alantra’s Energy Transition Fund Klima, Active Impact Investments and GIGA Investments Corp.

Notable reads and other tidbits

ADAS

Mobileye has secured orders to ship 46 million of its EyeQ6 Light ADAS chips over the next few years to automakers. Multiple models launching this year will feature the chip, which promises to deliver improved sensing of wet roads, detection of and reaction to objects at a greater distance, and better ability to read key text phrases on road signs. TechCrunch had the chance to dig into this, and our main takeaways are that automakers will probably love this chip because it’s more powerful than Mobileye’s last chip, but it’s the same price.

Autonomous vehicles

Waymo has begun initial data collection and mapping in Atlanta, the company’s latest geographic win. The Alphabet-owned company didn’t say whether it plans to launch in the Georgian city or any other city it is mapping in, such as Washington, D.C., and Buffalo. Aside from San Francisco, Waymo has launched commercial robotaxi services in Los Angeles and Phoenix, with Austin planned for the end of this year.

But with ups, come downs. Six Waymo vehicles also got caught blocking traffic to an on-ramp in San Francisco. The vehicles were caught between a construction zone and the on-ramp and had to pull over to await rescue. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that while Waymo does have the green light to go fully driverless on freeways in San Francisco, the company has not yet pulled the driver out.

Electric vehicles, charging & batteries

General Motors launched a home EV charger and vehicle-to-home (V2H) kit that lets a home pull energy from an EV battery in the event of a blackout. Customers in California, Florida, Texas, Michigan and New York can purchase today.

Gogoro, the two-wheeler battery-swapping company, and TSMC, a global semiconductor company, are partnering to introduce 15 GoStations across Taiwan that use 100% clean energy. They’ll also be launching Gogoro’s scooter-sharing service in TSMC’s headquarter city, Hsinchu, and expanding the charging network in the city.

TeslaCrunch

We’ve been all over Tesla this week, so let’s dive in.

The week started out with company-wide layoffs that affected at least 10% of the entire 140,000-person organization, with some teams seeing 20% of their staff gutted. Two high-profile executives departed Tesla as well: Drew Baglino, Tesla’s SVP of Powertrain and Energy, and Rohan Patel, VP of Public Policy and Business Development. Patel told TechCrunch he left because of “[b]ig overall changes” at the company that he declined to specify. In an email sent to the company, CEO Elon Musk said the cuts were necessary to increase productivity and prepare for Tesla’s “next phase of growth.”

(Psssst! Don’t want to read about Tesla layoffs and what comes next? You can watch about it instead.)

Many of those who were cut, sources say, were high performers who just happened to be working on lower-priority projects. Sources at Tesla also told TechCrunch the company made the cuts because it expects poor first-quarter earnings. Deliveries were subpar, and all those price cuts last year that continued early into 2024 likely had an effect on Tesla’s margins. Deliveries were down in Q1 year-over-year, despite the $200,000 Tesla spent on advertising on X, per our reporting.

Which might be why Tesla ditched its EV inventory price discounts this week. On X, Musk said this move was in line with Tesla’s strategy to “streamline the whole Tesla sales and delivery system.”

These changes in general, and the layoffs in particular, are made more stark by Tesla’s proxy statement that calls on the board to reinstate Musk’s $56 billion payout, which a Delaware judge earlier this year voided. In a huff, Musk threatened to reincorporate Tesla in Texas instead, and it appears that plan will also be put to the board soon.

Meanwhile, on the charging front, Tesla is moving forward with its plan to build an electric big rig charging corridor stretching from Texas to California, despite being snubbed by a lucrative federal funding program that’s part of Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure law.

Tesla this week also had to recall the 3,878 Cybertrucks that it has delivered to customers to date over faulty accelerator pedals that can get stuck. I know what you’re thinking. Finally we know how many Cybertrucks Tesla delivered.

This week’s wheels

I’ve been in a handful of new vehicles and I’m eager to share my thoughts, but we’re also running out of space this week. In the coming issues, we’ll have some takes on electric bikes, the 2024 Lexus LC 500h, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter and more.

See y’all next week!


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Boston Dynamics unveils a new robot, controversy over MKBHD, and layoffs at Tesla | TechCrunch


Welcome, folks, to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s weekly news recap. The weather’s getting hotter — but not quite as hot as the generative AI space, which saw a slew of new models released this week, including Meta’s Llama 3.

In other AI news, Hyundai-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics unveiled an electric-powered humanoid follow-up to its long-running Atlas robot, which it recently retired. As Brian writes, the new robot — also called Atlas — has a kinder, gentler design than both the original Atlas and more contemporary robots like the Figure 01 and Tesla Optimus.

Turning our attention to YouTube for a moment, Dom and Amanda wrote about how Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), the famed gadget reviewer, shouldn’t be blamed for the fate of AI startup Humane AI, whose product, the Ai Pin, Brownlee gave a scathing review of earlier this week. They point out that Humane is a well-funded company with plenty of funds in the bank to burn, and find that critics of Brownlee — who accuse him of being unfairly harsh — have misplaced their rage.

And Rebecca and Sean report on layoffs at Tesla, which they say hit high performers and gutted some departments. The cuts were largely due to poor financial performance; Tesla’s seen its profit margin narrow over the past several quarters as the EV price war persists.

Lots else happened. We recap it all in this edition of WiR — but first, a reminder to sign up to receive the WiR newsletter in your inbox every Saturday.

News

X charges for posting: X CEO Elon Musk is planning to charge new X users a small fee to enable posting on the social network in an effort to curb what he describes as a “bot problem.”

Change ransomware: An extortion group has published a portion of what it claims are the private and sensitive patient records on millions of Americans stolen during the ransomware attack on Change Healthcare in February.

Tesla adjusts prices: In more Tesla news, the automaker ditched EV inventory price discounts in what CEO Elon Musk characterized as a move to “streamline” sales and delivery. Tesla also dropped the price of its advanced driver assistance package, Full Self-Driving, to $99 per month in the U.S.

Mars free-for-all: Devin reports that space startups are licking their lips over NASA’s decision to convert its $11 billion, 15-year mission to collect and return samples from Mars into essentially a commercial free-for-all.

Waymo problems: Six Waymo robotaxis blocked traffic moving onto an on-ramp in San Francisco on Tuesday. It’s not the first time Waymo vehicles have caused a road blockage, notes Rebecca — but this is the first documented incident involving a freeway.

Analysis

Google Cloud bets on generative AI: Ron writes about how Google Cloud is investing heavily in generative AI, as evidenced by the string of announcements during Google’s Cloud Next conference earlier in the month.

Generative AI in health: Generative AI is coming for healthcare — but not everyone’s thrilled. Some experts don’t think the tech is ready for prime time.

Airchat, for talking: Anthony breaks down the hype over Airchat, an app launched by former AngelList founder Naval Ravikant and ex-Tinder product exec Brian Norgard that focuses on voice, not text.


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Startups Weekly: Is the wind going out of the AI sails? | TechCrunch


Welcome to Startups Weekly — your weekly recap of everything you can’t miss from the world of startups. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.

After years of booming growth, the AI industry is now experiencing a significant slowdown in investment, as detailed in a recent report from Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). The report highlights a notable decrease in both private and corporate investments in the AI sector for the second consecutive year, with overall investments dropping by 20% in 2023 compared to the previous year, Kyle reports. Despite this general downturn, certain segments like generative AI continue to attract significant funding, indicating a selective yet substantial interest in specific AI applications.

AI investment is slowing down for a few reasons, like the crowded market and the steep costs of building big AI models. According to Gartner analyst John-David Lovelock, the money is now flowing more toward big, established companies that are strengthening their positions, while it’s getting tougher for new players to get a piece of the pie. Investors are getting pickier and want to see real, solid returns instead of just throwing money at hopeful growth. (That isn’t stopping them from raising billion-dollar funds focusing on AI, of course.)

Despite these hurdles, there’s still a strong belief in the future of AI, especially in ways it can boost efficiency and spark innovation across different sectors. Right now, the market is just going through a bit of a cleanup, shifting from the wild spending of the past to a more thoughtful and sustainable way of funding. This change is key to creating AI solutions that actually work in the real world and can truly change industries, and worm its way into our battle-weary hearts.

Oh, and before we pile into the rest of the startup news this week … Do you have a pitch deck that might be a good fit for my Pitch Deck Teardown series? You can submit yours here — I’d love to take a closer look and potentially share it with TechCrunch’s readers, along with an in-depth review!

Most interesting startup stories from the week

The Humane Ai Pin. Image Credits: Brian Heater / TechCrunch

Oh hey! Look! It’s the triumphant return of TechCrunch old-timer Anthony Ha, who writes that Airchat, the latest brainchild of Naval Ravikant and Brian Norgard, is here to revolutionize social media with its groundbreaking concept: people talking to each other — shocking, right? This app, which is essentially a high-tech walkie-talkie, lets you follow others, scroll through a feed, and interact with audio posts that are also conveniently transcribed for those who can’t stand the sound of human voices. It’s currently climbing the social ladder on the App Store, all while being invite-only because nothing screams exclusivity like needing a golden ticket to listen to strangers ramble. Whether this will genuinely reduce online squabbles or just make them more melodious remains to be seen.

Airchat is like a tech-centric coffee shop where everyone’s buzzing about the latest in Silicon Valley, complete with a transcription feature that even gets Pokémon names right — because priorities. But don’t get too excited; it’s invite-only, making it another Silicon Valley whisper network. And while it’s all fun and audio games, the platform’s laid-back approach to content moderation could make it the Wild West of voice chats, where the only sheriff in town is the mute button.

  • Noname loses its unicorn horn: Noname Security, the cybersecurity startup that once strutted around with a $1 billion valuation, is now whispering sweet nothings to Akamai Technologies for a more modest $500 million.
  • Dude, where’s my phone: In a world where your smartphone feels like an extension of your hand, Humane is pitching a $699 wearable, the Ai Pin, that promises to be the next big thing — and hardware editor Brian takes a deep dive into where the company came from … and where it might be going.
  • Breaking out an army of ‘bots: Betaworks is diving headfirst into the AI pool, but instead of splashing around with the big LLMs, they’re floating a new idea — AI agents designed to tackle the mundane tasks we all love to hate. They’ve hatched nine of these digital minions from their latest “Camp” incubator, hoping to automate everything from email sorting to meeting scheduling.

Most interesting fundraises this week

Image Credits: Ramp / Ramp co-founders Karim Atiyeh, Eric Glyman and Gene Lee

Rippling, the HR tech darling that’s been vacuuming up venture capital like it’s going out of style, is at it again. This time, they’re passing around the Silicon Valley collection plate to the tune of $200 million in fresh capital, while also letting current shareholders cash out a cool $670 million. This latest fundraising fiesta, dubbed Series F, could puff up Rippling’s valuation to a breezy $13.4 billion. Not too shabby for a company that, just last year during the Silicon Valley Bank meltdown, had its CEO Parker Conrad frantically tweeting and dialing for dollars to make payroll. Now, with everyone writing record-breaking checks (and Coatue leading the round), it seems Rippling is less about the ripples and more about making waves.

  • Ramping up rapidly: Ramp, the spend management startup that’s apparently allergic to profitability, has just bagged another $150 million to keep the lights on and the acquisitions rolling. Now valued at a cool $7.7 billion, Ramp is playing financial Tetris with a mix of old and new investors, including the star-studded lineup of Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, and Sequoia Capital.
  • And why do you think that is?: Two Chairs, the therapy startup that once championed the quaint notion of “actual human interaction,” has succumbed to the digital wave, swapping its stylish clinics for Zoom rooms. Fresh off a $72 million cash infusion, the company plans to keep expanding its digital domain, because while finding the right therapist online is still as tricky as a Sudoku puzzle, at least you don’t have to leave your couch to get disappointed.
  • Dust yourself off and try again: Rivos, the chip startup that Apple once accused of playing “Catch Me If You Can” with its trade secrets, has somehow managed to turn its courtroom soap opera into a $250 million funding fiesta. After Apple’s lawsuit drama cooled down, Rivos didn’t just walk away; they sprinted back to the lab to crank out chips that might just give the iPhone maker a run for its money.

Other unmissable TechCrunch stories …

Every week, there’s always a few stories I want to share with you that somehow don’t fit into the categories above. It’d be a shame if you missed ’em, so here’s a random grab bag of goodies for ya:

  • You’ve been hacked: Apple is playing the digital knight in shining armor by sending out mass “you might be hacked” notifications to iPhone users across 92 countries. This isn’t your garden-variety phishing scam but a full-blown spyware drama featuring shadowy attackers and possibly a cameo by the infamous Pegasus spyware.
  • Tesla cuts staff: Tesla, in a classic pre-earnings panic move, decided to thin the herd by axing 14,000 of its workers, including some of the star players. Apparently, the electric car giant has been feeling the pinch from an ongoing EV price war, prompting a “company-wide restructuring” to supposedly boost productivity and brace for its “next phase of growth.” This corporate euphemism translates to cutting loose even high performers, particularly those unlucky enough to work on now low-priority projects.
  • Humanoid robotics shake-up: A day after retiring the hydraulic model, Boston Dynamics’ CEO discusses the company’s commercial humanoid ambitions with electric options.
  • Continuing to run Twitter into the ground: Elon Musk, in his latest bid to save his corner of the internet, has decided that the best way to tackle X’s bot epidemic is to hit new users where it hurts: their wallets. For the low, low price of an undisclosed fee, you too can prove your humanity and earn the privilege to post on the platform.
  • Hello, is the doctor in?: Hugging Face is always up for a challenge. This time, it has decided to tackle the Wild West of AI in healthcare with its latest creation, Open Medical LLM. This new benchmark is essentially a Frankenstein’s monster of existing medical test sets, stitched together to see if AI can actually handle the big leagues of healthcare without accidentally suggesting leeches for a headache. It’s a noble effort to bring some standardization to the chaotic realm of generative AI, which has been thrown into healthcare settings with a mix of high hopes and crossed fingers.




Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Exclusive: Checkr, the background-screening platform last valued at $5 billion, cuts 32% of workforce


Checkr, a 10-year-old startup that offers employee background checks and was last valued at $5 billion in April 2022, has laid off 382 employees as companies are not significantly hiring talent.

TechCrunch exclusively learned that Checkr conducted the layoffs across all departments and different levels on Tuesday. The San Francisco–based startup confirmed the layoffs in an email.

“In response to economic conditions that have impacted companies’ hiring, we made the difficult and painful decision to reduce the size of our team. This will allow us to operate more efficiently and ensure the long-term health of our business,” a Checkr spokesperson said in the statement.

The job cuts — which affected 32% of the company’s workforce — came nearly two years after Checkr announced the acquisition of Inflection, the startup behind GoodHire, a background-checking platform for small- and midsized businesses. At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported the deal was worth $400 million.

Backed by storied investors, including Durable Capital Partners, Fidelity Management & Research, Franklin Templeton, BOND and Coatue Management, Checkr lets companies do background checks by looking into driving and criminal records and basic identity confirmation of their potential employees. The startup offers an online form to let companies run those checks or use its API, which can be integrated within their hiring systems or onboarding software, including Workable and Zenefits.

Founded in 2014, Checkr counts Uber, Instacart, Netflix, Adecco, Airbnb and Coinbase among its key customers. Its customer base grew to more than tens of thousands of companies ranging from small and medium businesses to Fortune 500 employers in 2022. Initially, the startup was limited to Silicon Valley, but it expanded its presence beyond the Valley in 2016.

Checkr has given the affected employees a minimum of 10 weeks of severance and health insurance, as well as career and mental health support, the spokesperson said.

The startup did not answer questions about its runway and fundraising plans. To date, it has raised $679 million, with the last round of $250 million announced in September 2021.


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Watch: Why Tesla’s big layoffs happened, and what comes next


Tesla’s layoffs and executive departures took a bite out of its share price this week. The well-known electric vehicle company shed around 10% of its staff, impacting an estimated 14,000 people or more. Two well-known executives also decided it was time to move on.

In response to the news, shares of Tesla lost ground. The company’s value has eroded this year, falling 35% through the end of trading yesterday.

The year has not been kind to Tesla. It missed delivery estimates for the first quarter, has reportedly reduced hours for the production line of its Cybertruck and is seeing rivals in China stack market share with low-priced EVs. Tesla, in other words, helped foster the global electric vehicle market but is losing some of its primacy in that same market.

Which may be a bigger risk than it seems. The global auto market is large, complicated and replete with different manufacturers and badges competing for share. What’s the risk of being a bit smaller than expected? For Tesla, a lot. The company is currently valued at a price/sales multiple of 6.2x, per Yahoo Finance. GM? It’s worth 0.34x. Ford? An even more modest 0.29x.

In human terms, for every dollar of car that Tesla sells, it generates far more company worth than its rivals. Why? Because many investors are betting that Tesla is not only going to keep growing its EV business that became a profit center in recent years, but also that its work in energy, energy storage and related industries will generate a company that is far larger, and more valuable over time. If Tesla was to trade at a GM or Ford-style revenue multiple, it would erase most of its worth.

And with price cuts, falling deliveries, increasingly sophisticated competition and now mass layoffs, Tesla is starting to look more like a traditional company than a company that can avoid traditional business rules and trade like its peers. Hit play, let’s chat!


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

TechCrunch Mobility: Apple layoffs, an EV price reckoning and another Tesla robotaxi promise | TechCrunch


Welcome back tTechCrunch Mobility — your central hub for news and insights on the future of transportation. Sign up here — just click TechCrunch Mobility — to receive the newsletter every weekend in your inbox. Subscribe for free.

Automakers reported auto sales for Q1 and, welp, turns out that pricing sure does matter if you want to sell EVs. Who would have thought? A recent survey by Edmunds comes to a similar conclusion (at least for American buyers), finding a big gap between what consumers want and what is actually available on the market.

Here’s the crux. According to the Edmunds survey, 47% say they are seeking an EV purchase below $40,000, and 22% are interested in EVs priced below the $30,000 threshold. Today, there are no new EVs priced below $30,000 and only four below the $40,000 mark. The average price of an EV in 2023 was $61,702, while all other vehicles stood at $47,450.

This mismatch of realities is squeezing automakers as they try to move inventory by slashing prices. This downward pressure has forced automakers like Ford to delay future EV launches and put more resources toward hybrids. Even Tesla, a bellwether in the EV world, fell well below analysts’ expectations with deliveries down 20% from Q4 2023. Meanwhile, EV upstart Rivian posted tepid results.

What’s the answer? Well, over at Tesla, it seems the solution is twofold: slash prices again and try to capture revenue through sales of its Full Self-Driving software that costs $12,000 and is currently being offered in a free one-month trial to all customers.

OK, folks, let’s jump into the rest of the news!

A little bird

Founders, investors, engineers, policy wonks and others tell us things. And we’re here to pass along the verifiable information that those little birds have shared with us.

This week, a little bird tipped us on the closure of Ghost Autonomy, which had raised upward of $220 million and recently partnered with OpenAI. A couple of calls, emails and a fresh posting on the company’s website confirmed the tip. About 100 people were affected.

As I noted in my article, Ghost has pivoted a few times since it was founded in 2017. When I asked founder and CEO John Hayes what happened, he said the company had completed a highway driving product and was moving in urban environments through what he described as “last-mile delivery.”

“Ultimately, the years required to bring the product to market could not be financed,” he wrote to me in an email.

Got a tip for us? Email Kirsten Korosec at [email protected] or Sean O’Kane [email protected]. If you prefer to remain anonymousclick here to contact us, which includes SecureDrop (instructions here) and various encrypted messaging apps.

Deal of the week

Startup founders, listen up — a new fund just closed. Get your slide decks ready.

Maniv, the Israel and now NYC-based VC firm, raised a $140 million fund with plans to stick to its early-stage investment strategy of backing startups at the intersection between mobility, transportation and energy.

As I noted in my longer feature, the firm’s approach has evolved a bit by expanding geographically and diversifying its investor base. The firm has also largely stopped using the once trendy umbrella term “mobility” (often leaving it out of its original name Maniv Mobility) and has opted instead to talk about deep tech, decarbonization and digitization of the transportation sector.

Investors in the fund are no longer dominated by automakers and Tier 1 suppliers. Instead, Maniv has opened up to a broader swath of strategic and institutional financial investors, including BNP Paribas Personal Finance and the venture arms of Shell and Enterprise Mobility.

The Maniv III fund also includes return investors Valeo and Jaguar Land Rover venture arm InMotion Ventures. Toyota Motor Corp.’s Woven Capital, vehicle leasing company Arval, transportation infrastructure giant Ferrovial, the industrial manufacturing firm ITT Inc., fleet payments business WEX and an unnamed European insurance company also participated in the fund.

Other deals that got my attention …

Alsym Energy, a Massachusetts-based startup developing nonflammable battery chemistry, raised $78 million in a Series C round led by General Catalyst and Tata, the Indian conglomerate, with participation from Drads Capital, Thomvest and Thrive Capital.

BlaBlaCar, the French carpooling and bus ticketing company, secured a €100 million revolving credit facility ($108 million at today’s exchange rate).

Notable reads and other tidbits

Autonomous vehicles

Waymo and Uber expanded on an ongoing partnership that will affect Uber Eats’ customers in the metro Phoenix area. Now when folks order a burrito or a pizza or some other treat through Uber Eats, they may have their meals delivered by a Waymo vehicle. The tie-up will begin with select merchants in Chandler, Tempe and Mesa, including restaurants like Princess Pita, Filiberto’s and BoSa Donuts.

Electric vehicles, charging & batteries

Apple is laying off 614 employees in California after abandoning its electric car project. According to the WARN notice posted by the California EDD, most of the affected employees were working at buildings related to its canceled car project, while others were working at a facility for its next-generation screen development, Bloomberg reported.

Canoo finally reported its Q4 and full-year earnings. Tucked inside the regulatory filing is a nugget regarding the use of CEO Tony Aquila’s private jet — just one of many expenses that illustrates the gap between spending and revenue at the EV startup. Tl;dr: Canoo spent double its annual revenue on the CEO’s private jet in 2023.

Faraday Future narrowly avoided an eviction from its Los Angeles headquarters. The company reached an agreement with the owner of the building, Rexford Industrial, to stay at the facility as long as it meets a few conditions. If Faraday violates any of the terms, Rexford has the right to trigger a 48-hour demand for payment and can boot the startup if it doesn’t pay up. If Faraday Future makes its payments, it can stay in the building until September 2025 when the lease expires.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a third investigation into Fisker’s Ocean SUV, this time centered on problems getting the doors to open.

Tesla is reportedly abandoning its plan to build a lower-cost EV thought to cost around $25,000, according to Reuters, despite that vehicle’s status as a pivotal product for the company’s overall growth. Apparently, Tesla will instead focus on a planned robotaxi that is being built on the same small EV platform that was also supposed to power the lower-cost vehicle. This is where it gets a bit silly. Just hours after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Reuters was lying, he posted on X that the Tesla robotaxi would be revealed August 8. Go figure.

This week’s wheels

This week’s wheels is taking a one-week hiatus while I enjoy a bit of vacation time. But don’t worry, it’s back next week and I have a few vehicles lined up, including the Mercedes-Benz EQE 350 4Matic sedan, a Lexus LC500 hybrid and a Mercedes eSprinter. Plus, some e-bikes will soon be in the mix.

What vehicles — including the two-wheeled variety — are you interested in reading about? I’ll put them on my list.


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Overture Maps Foundation releases the first beta of its open map dataset | TechCrunch


The Overture Maps Foundation today launched the first beta of its global open map dataset. With this, the foundation, which is backed by the likes of Amazon, Esri, Meta, Microsoft and TomTom, is getting one step closer to launching a production-ready open dataset for developers who need geospatial data to power their applications.

“This Beta release brings together multiple sources of open data, has been through several validation tests, is formatted in a new schema and has an entity reference system that allows attachment of other spatial data,” said Marc Prioleau, executive director of Overture Maps Foundation. “This is a significant step forward for open map data by delivering data that is ready to be used in applications.”

Overture was founded back in 2022, under the umbrella of the Linux Foundation. At the time, Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin noted that “mapping the physical environment and every community in the world, even as they grow and change, is a massively complex challenge that no one organization can manage. Industry needs to come together to do this for the benefit of all.”

Now, two years later, some Overture members have already started integrating its data into their applications. Meta, the foundation says, is using Overture data for its map solutions while Microsoft is adopting it to add coverage to Bing Maps.

Overture’s dataset includes five base layers in the beta release that include 54 million places of interest, 2.3 billion buildings, roads, footbaths and other travel infrastructure, administrative boundaries, and a contextual base layer including land and water data.

In a world where OpenStreetMap (OSM) has been around for a very long time, it’s worth asking why the industry would need a project like Overture (which actually uses OSM data as part of its data set).

“Overture is a data-centric map project, not a community of individual map editors,” the project’s FAQ explains. “Therefore, Overture is intended to be complementary to OSM. We combine OSM with other sources to produce new open map data sets. Overture data will be available for use by the OpenStreetMap community under compatible open data licenses. Overture members are encouraged to contribute to OSM directly.”


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Tesla layoffs hit high performers, some departments slashed, sources say | TechCrunch


Tesla management told employees Monday that the recent layoffs — which gutted some departments by 20% and even hit high performers — were largely due to poor financial performance, a source familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The layoffs were announced to staff just a week before Tesla is scheduled to report its first-quarter earnings. The move comes as Tesla has seen its profit margin narrow over the past several quarters, the result of an EV price war that has persisted for at least a year. The company delivered a record 1.81 million vehicles in 2023. Its margins, however, took a hit after Tesla repeatedly slashed prices in a bid to drum up sales and undercut the competition.

Tesla informed employees that more than 10%, or about 14,000 workers, will be laid off across the global organization that has operations in the United States, Europe and China. The layoffs, which affected employees across all departments and seniority levels, were made to reduce costs and increase productivity to prepare for its “next phase of growth,” according to an internal email from CEO Elon Musk that TechCrunch has viewed.

High performers also cut

Many of the laid off employees were high performers, according to two sources who spoke to TechCrunch on condition of anonymity. One source expressed shock at the number of talented employees cut and noted that many of those affected were working on projects that have fallen lower on Tesla’s priority list. The source declined to specify which projects.

Some departments saw layoffs beyond the 10% outlined in the companywide email, according to sources. One manager told TechCrunch that 20% of their employees were cut.

“I lost 20% of my team, some really good players too,” they said.

The shakeup also comes as Musk continues to bend the company’s trajectory towards building fully self-driving cars. Tesla recently dropped plans to build a lower-cost EV that would retail starting at around $25,000, opting instead to use the underlying platform being developed to power an alleged robotaxi that Musk said will debut August 8.

Musk previously tried to prioritize the dedicated robotaxi vehicle project, according to his biographer, Watler Isaacson. In 2022, he told employees that he wanted a “clean robotaxi” with no steering wheel or pedals. Tesla lead designer Franz von Holzhausen and engineering VP Lars Moravy kept running the low-cost EV project in secret and eventually convinced him to make both — that is, until last week when it was reported that Musk changed his mind.

Top execs leave

Two high-profile executives — Drew Baglino, Tesla’s SVP of Powertrain and Energy, and Rohan Patel, VP of Public Policy and Business Development — also left the company.

Patel told TechCrunch he decided Sunday evening to leave Tesla because of “[b]ig overall changes” at the company. Patel, who had been engaging regularly with Tesla customers and fans on X in recent months, declined to be specific. He noted in a message that it would be “Better for me not to speculate.” “Tesla is going to be stronger than ever, and change is good,” he added.

Baglino told TechCrunch that after 18 years it was time to leave Tesla. “I feel good about the impact I’ve been able to achieve, my leadership team is strong, the energy businesses I’m responsible for are doing well, etc,” he wrote in a message to TechCrunch.

“Baglino was in charge of powerdrives and new battery projects, and there’s a sense that there isn’t a whole lot of innovation that’s sustainable at this point, which is probably why Baglino is leaving,” Sandeep Rao, head of research at London-based financial services company Leverage Shares, theorized in an interview with TechCrunch.

Baglino’s departure comes just a few months after Tesla’s previous CFO, Zachary Kirkhorn, stepped down. In January, Musk posted on X, formerly Twitter, that he would want to have around 25% voting control of Tesla in order to focus more fully on the company, rather than on his other companies, and help the EV-maker become a leader in AI and robotics.




Software Development in Sri Lanka

Robotic Automations

Apple lays off over 600 employees in California after abandoning electric car project | TechCrunch


Apple is laying off 614 employees in California after abandoning its electric car project. According to the WARN notice posted by the California Employment Development Department, Apple notified the affected employees on March 28 and the changes will go into effect on May 27. Affected employees worked at eight locations in Santa Clara, roughly 45 miles south of San Francisco.

Although the notice doesn’t specify which projects the employees were working on, Bloomberg reports that most of the affected employees were working at buildings related to its canceled car project, while others were working at a facility for its next-generation screen development.

Apple wound down both of these projects toward the end of February. The company started working on its car project, known internally as “Project Titan,” in 2014, and told employees that it was canceling it on February 27. Bloomberg reported at the time that some remaining employees who were working on the car project would be shifted to Apple’s generative AI projects.

Around the same time, Apple reportedly ended efforts to design and develop its own next-generation displays. The displays were supposed to be added to the company’s Apple Watch before potentially going into the company’s other devices.

The layoffs mark Apple’s first major round of job cuts post-pandemic.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Software Development in Sri Lanka

Back
WhatsApp
Messenger
Viber