Acquisitions, Price Cuts, Layoffs, & AI
Dear Studio Fam,
It's a big week for tech news! Today we're covering for you a major acquisition of a popular startup that isn't even six months old, new product and content releases from Apple, and some good news about price cuts to the most popular electric vehicles in America. We also update our series on the Great Tech Reset with news of layoffs at another trillion-dollar tech company tempered by announcements of major investments in technology like AI.
Discord, a popular communication platform for gamers and communities, has acquired Gas, the social polling app popular among teens. This acquisition is seen as a strategic move for Discord, as it looks to expand its reach among younger users who are increasingly skeptical of the dominant social networking apps.
The synergies between Gas and Discord remain to be fully seen, but the compliments-based feature of Gas aligns with Discord's mission of fostering positive communities. Nikita Bier, the founder of Gas, has spoken repeatedly about fostering positive interactions through social media.
The acquisition of Gas is the second major exit for Bier, who previously sold a remarkably similar app called TBH to Meta (then Facebook). As we previously reported, Bier went to work for Facebook and ultimately agreed to shut down TBH. Whether Gas will follow the same fate remains unclear but the recent creation of an app store inside of Discord leaves open the possibility of Gas existing as a separate polling tool that can interact with a Discord community.
Studio Byte Of The Week
Apple has released trailers for much of its 2023 original content, including Hello Tomorrow. This mashup of Mad Men and The Jetsons explores the life of a salesman selling timeshares on the Moon.
New M2 Max Macs, New Homepod
Apple saves the biggest product reveals for the Fall and Spring but sprinkles minor releases throughout the year. This week Apple made two product reveals: upgrades to the processors of the Macbook Pro and Mac Mini; and a brand new HomePod smart speaker. The processor upgrades don’t come with any material changes to either computer but the HomePod is a complete redesign of the original HomePods line introduced in 2018. We probably have to wait for Spring for an actual new product from Apple, likely a 15 inch MacBook Air.
The release of a new HomePod is a strange move by Apple in the wake of the relative failure of the original HomePod, similar but much larger losses on Alexa by Amazon, and the general failure of Google to monetize its Home assistants. The HomePod launch video emphasizes interoperability with iPhones, perhaps indicating Apple’s awareness that a voice interface isn’t as useful as some might have assumed just a few years ago.
Short Bytes: Tesla Price Changes
Tesla has lowered prices across the board, effectively reversing price increases imposed over the past two years due to inflation and supply chain issues. The EV tax credits made permanent in the Inflation Reduction Act will bring these prices down $7,500 further for qualified buyers.
- Tesla Model S down 10%, now $94,990
- Tesla Model 3 down 6%, now $43,990
- Tesla Model X down 9%, now $109,990
- Tesla Model Y down 20%, now $52,990
The price cuts have reportedly spurred “unprecedented” demand for new Tesla cars and pose a new threat to legacy automakers. For example, the Ford Mach-E (equivalent to the Tesla Model Y) is $10,000 more expensive, has lower range, and fewer places to charge. And Ford loses money selling it at that price point.
Microsoft is laying off staff, putting AI
In what might be an omen of things to come from AI, Microsoft this week announced the widest availability yet of its technology along with plans to eliminate at least 10,000 jobs in the next three months. Citing customer skepticism of making new investments in SaaS services, CEO Satya Nadella spoke of the need to refocus the company on its burgeoning AI business.
Microsoft developers may now leverage the entirety of the OpenAI Service through its Azure managed-services platform. While still relatively limited in its integration with core Microsoft services, Nadella separately discussed Microsoft’s plans to integrate the OpenAI Services stack throughout all Microsoft programs.