Y Combinator Demo Day, smart chastity cage hacked, and the feds investigate Tesla
Hey, lovely people — it’s that time of week again: Week in Review (WiR) time. For those unfamiliar, WiR is TechCrunch’s regular newsletter that recaps the major events in tech over the past few days. If you’ve been too busy to keep tabs on recent happenings, don’t panic. WiR is here to get you up to speed.
In this week’s edition of WiR, we cover a hacking device that can spam nearby iPhones with Bluetooth pop-ups, Y Combinator Demo Day favorites (and controversies), Bumble changing its policy to crack down on bots, doxing and spam, and Lenovo’s new gaming glasses and PC handheld. We also spotlight the federal investigation over Tesla’s “secret glass” project, Elon Musk suing the Anti-Defamation League, Texas’ efforts to enforce ID checks on porn sites and hacked male chastity cages (yes, really).
It’s a lot to get to, so let’s dive right in. But first, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up here to get WiR in your inbox every Saturday.
Y Combinator controversy: Storied venture firm Y Combinator has removed an Indian startup from its batch after discovering “irregularities” at the company. Medobed, which promises medicine delivery in 10 minutes, was initially chosen for Y Combinator’s S23 batch. But after it was discovered that Medobed’s founder frequently altered his account of his educational history and the company’s growth metrics, Y Combinator severed ties.
YC Demo Day: In lighter YC news, this week was Y Combinator’s Demo Day, a two-day livestream of startups presenting in the VC firm’s latest cohort. We have roundups from both days as well as a highlight of the AI startups that stood out to us for their technical — or business — novelty.
Cheap iPhone tricks: Thanks to a popular and relatively cheap hacking tool, hackers can spam your iPhone with annoying pop-ups prompting you to connect to a nearby Apple device. A security researcher who asked to be referred to only as Anthony demonstrated this attack using a Flipper Zero, a small device that can be programmed to perform wireless attacks on devices in its range.
Smart chastity cage hacked: In other, more bizarre hacking news, the manufacturer of a penis chastity device that can be controlled by a partner over the internet exposed users’ email addresses, plaintext passwords, home addresses and IP addresses, and — in some cases — GPS coordinates due to several flaws in its servers, according to a security researcher. Lorenzo has the full story.
Bumble cracks down on spam: Dating app company Bumble has released updated community guidelines with the goal of cracking down on bots, spam, ghosting and doxing on both Bumble and Badoo, Bumble’s alternative dating platform. Bumble is revamping its rules to weed out bots by banning actions like artificially influencing “connections, matching, conversations, or engagement through the use of automation or scripting,” Ivan writes.
Paw Patrol snacks recalled over porn: U.K.-based supermarket giant Lidl has issued a recall of Paw Patrol snacks after the website listed on the products’ packaging began displaying explicit content unsuitable for children. Affected products include Paw Patrol Yummy Bakes and Paw Patrol Mini Biscotti, snacks recommended for children aged two and above.
Texas can’t enforce online ID checks: A Texas judge issued an injunction this week to stall the enforcement of an online age verification bill. The Free Speech Coalition, along with adult video sites like Pornhub, led the legal challenge against Texas’ HB 1181, arguing that the bill violates the First Amendment and infringes on rights guaranteed by Section 230.
Lenovo launches glasses and a handheld: At the annual IFA consumer electronics conference in Berlin, Lenovo unveiled the Legion Glasses, which starts at $329 and shares certain characteristics with Apple’s Vision Pro, Brian writes. Alongside it, Lenovo debuted the $699 Legion Go, its answer to Valve’s Steam Deck, which is not only more powerful than the Steam Deck in terms of processing power but also boasts a higher-resolution, higher-refresh-rate screen.
Feds investigate Tesla: Manhattan federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are separately investigating the use of Tesla funds to bankroll a secret project that’s described internally as a glass house in Austin, Texas, for CEO Elon Musk. Tesla board members are also reportedly involved in the investigation around the potential misuse of company resources on the project, known as “Project 42,” and whether Musk was personally involved.
Musk sues the ADL: If a federal investigation against Tesla wasn’t enough, Musk says that X, formerly Twitter, will file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League, the nonprofit organization that works to combat antisemitism, extremism and bigotry. Musk accused the ADL of falsely accusing him and X, his company, of being antisemitic and also blamed the ADL for X’s falling U.S. advertising revenue.
In need of a podcast or two to round out your playlist? Good news — TechCrunch has plenty to fit the bill.
The newest episode of Equity featured Michael Seibel, current YC partner and managing director of YC Early Stage, who discussed how Y Combinator evolved to meet a changed market, as well as the top trends from last year’s summer batch.
Found, meanwhile, centered on Graham Hine, the co-founder and CEO of ePlant, a startup that creates sensors to monitor the health of trees. Hine talked about what got him interested in the tree space to begin with and what it was like transitioning to being a founder after working for years at a startup founded by his brother.
And over at Chain Reaction, Charlie Shrem came on to discuss his work at the Bitcoin Foundation, which he founded, as well as his role as a general partner at Druid Ventures and host of the Charlie Shrem Show. After being charged with operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business and for allegedly attempting to launder over $1 million through the now-defunct dark web marketplace Silk Road, Shrem now vocally advocates for clearer crypto regulation, invests in crypto startups and even produces movies.
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:
Investors sit out of YC Demo Day: Y Combinator has long had a good reputation for picking companies that go on to be home runs for investors. And to get those investments, VCs have watched the accelerator’s biennial Demo Days to get a peek at the startups that could go on to become the next Instacart or Airbnb. But anecdotally, some of the lore surrounding Demo Day — and YC in general — has faded in recent years, Rebecca writes.
Tech companies find their groove:Tech companies are getting the hang of making money — or at least they’re losing far less than they used to when money was cheap and “growth” was sexy, Alex writes. He’s seeing this happen across the tech sector: in enterprise software, fintech, and, heck, even in the tech-adjacent digital direct-to-consumer market.
The business of paranoia: Platforms like Nextdoor, Citizen and even the Ring doorbell app are the modern neighborhood watch. But, unlike the neighborhood watches of yore, the era of “Hello, neighbor!” has evolved into “Why is my neighbor at my door?” Haje writes.