The AI-generated episode of ‘South Park’, Microsoft’s security issues, and the building of Tesla’s first Cybertruck

Hey friends, welcome to Week in Review (WiR), Zero2Billions’s regular roundup of the past week on tech. Too busy to check out this week’s headlines? Don’t sweat. That’s why WiR exists — we’ll help you get it up to speed.

This WiR edition features snippets about the fake AI “South Park” episode; soaring downloads of Threads, an app that shares the same name as competitor Twitter Meta; and Tesla’s first Cybertruck building. We also summarize OnlyFans’ CEO resignation; Wix’s new tool that can create websites quickly, using generative AI; and a free music player inspired by Winamp from Plex.

That’s a lot to cover, so let’s get started. Oh, and if you haven’t already, sign up here to get WiR in your inbox every Saturday.

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Bad timing for AI-generated TV: AI startup Fable Studios demonstrated its platform this week, using it to create a fake “South Park” episode in which Cartman tries to apply deepfake technology to the media industry. The technology is impressive, Devin writes, but – juxtaposed with the ongoing creatives strike on TV and film – the action looks a little preposterous.

Not a great look at Microsoft’s security: Microsoft still doesn’t know – or wants to share – how China-backed hackers stole the keys that allowed them to surreptitiously break into dozens of email inboxes, including those of several government agencies. The company first disclosed the incident last Tuesday, tying the month-long activity to a newly discovered espionage group it calls Storm-0558, which it believes has strong ties to China.

Another thread soared to new heights: The Twitter clone Instagram thread enjoyed a fruitful first week, sailing past 30 million users in its first 24 hours. But that had the unintended effect of thrusting Threads, an unrelated app that was first launched as a Slack alternative, into the spotlight. The thread (Slack alternative) reportedly racked up over 880,000 downloads on iOS between July 6 and July 12, after Thread Meta launched, having several downloads prior to this point.

Telsa unveils first Cybertruck build: Tesla over the weekend said its highly anticipated first Cybertruck came off the production line in Texas. The futuristic-looking pickup truck’s long-delayed debut comes ahead of Tesla’s second-quarter 2023 earnings call.

OnlyFans CEO steps down: After about two and a half years at the helm, Ami Gan leaves OnlyFans. Chief strategy and operations officer Kelly Blair will take over as CEO. As Amanda writes, OnlyFans is probably the most well-known creator platform supporting mature content; according to Gan, the company pays the creator $10 billion while he is CEO.

New sites, generated by AI: Wix, a longtime fixture of the web building space, bets that today’s customers don’t really care to spend time customizing every aspect of their site’s appearance. The company’s new AI Site Generator tool, announced this week, will allow Wix users to get their point across and create a complete website with a homepage, inside pages, and text and images — as well as business-specific sections for events, bookings, and more.

Plex makes a Winamp-inspired player free: Plexamp, a music player originally incubated by the Labs division of media company Plex, is now free. The project first launched in 2017 as a subscription-based spin on the classic Winamp media player app, offering visualizations to accompany your songs, tools for programming mixes, and more recently, a ChatGPT-powered “Sonic Sage” feature that creates unique playlists from a user’s music library.

VanMoof e-bikes, saved: Since struggling e-bike startup VanMoof confirmed it had requested a payment suspension in the Netherlands, there have been lingering questions about VanMoof bikes out in the wild. Rising to the rescue, somewhat unlikely, is Cowboy, a VanMoof e-bike competitor on the Belgian border. Cowboy “Bicycle” the app allows VanMoof riders to generate their unique digital key and continue to ride, Mike wrote.


Zero2Billions podcast listings are, as the kids say, giving. Look out for great new content this week.

On EquityPitchBook venture guru Kyle Stanford arrives to discuss with the crew about venture capital in Q2 2023: the good, the bad, and the late stages.

Recent episodes of Found, meanwhile, spotlights Catherine Tabor, founder and CEO of Sparkfly, a company that helps brands with marketing and customer engagement. Tabor talks about building a company fluid enough to adapt to the changing technology trends of the last decade and how he was fired by venture capitalists despite securing important customers.


TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth comments, analysis, and surveys — which you know when you’re already a subscriber. If not, consider signing up. Here are some highlights from this week:

Electric utilities encourage customers to get started: Of all the companies looking to embrace the electric transition, electric utilities seem to be at the top of the list. Yet they also seem to be some of the most indecisive. Startups are taking advantage of this situation, Tim wrote.

Mixed-gender founding teams raised over a billion dollars: US startups with mixed founding teams – meaning they have at least one female founder – raised $24.1 billion in the first half of 2023, which breaks down to $17.2 billion in Q1 and $6.9 billion in Q2, per the latest PitchBook data. That’s a big deal — but it’s important to note that startups with all-female founding teams are still struggling to raise money this year.

Ripple’s XRP case and lack of regulatory clarity: Last week, the crypto community celebrated a US federal court case that ruled Ripple’s XRP token did not result in the sale of illegal securities — but only in a few cases. While many celebrated the verdict, it wasn’t a true victory for crypto — Jacquelyn explains why.

Get your Zero2Billions fix IRL. Join us at Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco this September to immerse yourself in all things startup. From keynote interviews to intimate roundtables to packed startup exhibition floors, there’s something for everyone at Disrupt. Save up to $600 when you buy a pass now through August 11th, and save 15% on top with promo code WIR. Study again.

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