Apple devices spoofed, Musk eggs on Zuckerberg and Better.com goes public
Welcome, friends, to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter covering the major events in tech over the past few days. Haven’t had your eyes glued to the headlines? Not to worry. That’s our job, and we’ve compiled them in the nifty little digest that is WiR.
In this week’s edition of WiR, we cover a $70 device that can spoof an Apple device, hackers stealing Americans’ health data from an IBM system, and Elon Musk pledging to fight Mark Zuckerberg in a proper cage match. Elsewhere, we spotlight X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, slowing down access to rival websites; Better.com going public; and TC’s impressions of Baldur’s Gate 3.
It’s a lot to get to, so buckle up. Oh, and if you haven’t already, sign up here to get WiR in your inbox every Saturday.
A cheap Apple spoofer: Attendees at Def Con, one of the world’s largest hacking conferences, observed that their iPhones were showing pop-up messages prompting them to connect their Apple ID or share a password with a nearby Apple TV. Turns out it was a part of a research project — a $70 device that can spoof an Apple device and trick unsuspecting users into sharing their password.
Americans’ health records stolen: Millions of Americans had their sensitive medical and health information stolen after hackers exploited a zero-day vulnerability in the widely used MOVEit file transfer software raided systems operated by tech giant IBM. The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, which is responsible for administering Colorado’s Medicaid program, confirmed on Friday that it had fallen victim to the MOVEit mass hacks, exposing the data of more than 4 million patients.
Musk versus Zuckerberg: In June, X CEO Elon Musk challenged Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a practitioner of Brazilian jiujitsu, to a cage fight — for charity. After repeated delays on Musk’s end, last week, Musk promised that the fight was still happening. But shortly afterward, Zuckerberg said that he and Musk couldn’t agree to terms, including a venue and date, and that it was time to “move on.”
X slows down access: X was found to have throttled traffic to websites that the social network’s owner, Elon Musk, publicly dislikes. The platform slowed down the speed it takes when accessing links to a handful of websites, including The New York Times, Instagram, Facebook, Bluesky, Threads, Reuters and Substack.
Better.com goes public: Digital mortgage lender Better.com’s proposal to combine with Aurora Acquisition Corp. via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition) has been approved by shareholders. The company had originally begun making plans to go public in May 2021 but was plagued with layoffs, high-profile executive resignations, a housing market slowdown and negative publicity that forced it to push back its IPO.
Baldur’s Gate 3, reviewed: Baldur’s Gate 3 is a Dungeons & Dragons game through and through, Taylor reports in her first impressions piece, but you needn’t be familiar with that world or those systems to enjoy it. Whether you want to smooch vampires or watch the world burn, the game’s a role-playing experience like no other, she writes.
A smart ring to compete with Oura: Indian fitness and nutrition tracking startup Ultrahuman has fast-followed its debut smart ring last year with a second generation of the device, which officially launched in June. Natasha, who reviewed it for TC, found it to be an improvement upon the original in several ways, including (very importantly) in the form-factor department.
An EV battery with greater range: CATL, the Chinese battery giant and a major supplier to Tesla, has unveiled its latest product that aims to solve electric vehicles’ charging and range limitations. Dubbed Shenxing, or “god-like movement,” the battery is able to refuel up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) of range in 10 minutes.
In need of some listening material to entertain and inform? Look no further than TechCrunch’s growing stable of podcast episodes.
On Equity, the crew kicked off with an update on former FTX exec Sam Bankman-Fried heading to jail, then got into Better.com going public, Monday.com’s growth, Vinfast adding to the SPAC list, the Inflation Reduction Act’s anniversary and two bright spots in 2023’s venture landscape.
Meanwhile, Found spotlighted Marco Zappacosta, the co-founder and CEO of Thumbtack, a startup that runs a marketplace for home services and beyond. Zappacosta talked about his unusual path to entrepreneurship, which included almost getting a degree in neuroscience before deciding to start a company without having an existing idea.
And Chain Reaction spoke with Eric Balchunas, senior ETF analyst at Bloomberg, alongside TechCrunch+ editor in chief Alex Wilhelm. Among other things, they dove into what’s going on with the bitcoin spot ETFs in the U.S., why it matters and the odds of the SEC approving one in the near future.
TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:
A surprisingly strong jobs market: After the big companies conducted mega layoffs at the beginning of this year, it would be natural to think that the tech unemployment rate would skyrocket. But Ron writes about how — if we think about tech jobs as comprising purely IT, engineering and developer kinds of roles — then those jobs are definitely still in demand and less affected than you might imagine.
What do CTOs do, exactly?: Haje writes about how technical blind spots mean investors are guiding founders in the wrong direction. Premature optimization isn’t helpful to anyone. But having a CTO with the right experience, knowledge and expertise for the stage a company is at appears to be examined only rarely in the investment process.
A room-temperature superconductor? Not so fast: If there was any hope remaining that LK-99 might be a room-temperature superconductor, it’s pretty much dead now. Tim writes that dozens of studies published in the last week or two have coalesced around this conclusion, less than a month after a sensational preprint paper was published by a team at the Quantum Energy Research Centre.
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