Threads Surpasses 100 Million User Milestone, Pedestrians Rally Against Autonomous Vehicles, and VanMoof Faces Unexpected Setback

Welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s weekly roundup of the latest tech news. If you haven’t had time to keep up with the major stories, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

In this edition, we’ll discuss a 19-year-old MIT dropout revolutionizing the defense industry, the challenges faced by e-bike company VanMoof, protests against autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s new AI organization, and Instagram’s Threads app reaching 100 million downloads.

Continue reading for more top stories from the week. And if you haven’t already, sign up here to receive WiR in your inbox every Saturday.

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Hydrogen-powered defenses: Aria covers the story of Mach Industries, a defense startup led by 19-year-old founder Ethan Thornton. The company is developing hydrogen-powered platforms for the military, including unmanned aerial vehicles, munitions, and hydrogen-generation systems.

VanMoof faces challenges: Dutch e-bike startup VanMoof, known for its successful venture backing, has encountered difficulties recently. The company has halted sales and key executives have left their roles as VanMoof seeks additional funding to prevent bankruptcy.

Pedestrians fight back: Activists in San Francisco have found a way to disable autonomous vehicles from companies like Cruise and Waymo using traffic cones. This protest coincides with an upcoming hearing where Waymo and Cruise plan to expand their robotaxi services in the city.

Threads hits another milestone: Despite lacking certain features, Instagram’s Threads app has reached 100 million downloads. The text-based app is a competitor to Twitter and was launched in June.

Google Calendar introduces availability sharing: Gmail now includes new scheduling features integrated with Google Calendar. Users can quickly create events and easily share their availability. The Gmail interface includes a calendar icon at the bottom of the conversation view with options to create an event or offer available time slots.

Satellites dodge obstacles: SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are frequently performing maneuvers to avoid collisions with other objects in low Earth orbit. The increasing saturation of satellites in orbit has raised concerns about potential catastrophic impacts. SpaceX’s satellites made over 25,000 avoidance maneuvers between December 2022 and May 2023, doubling the previous reporting period.

Making interstellar space travel a reality: Pulsar Fusion, a space propulsion company, has begun construction on a large nuclear fusion chamber in England. The company aims to be the first to develop a nuclear fusion–powered propulsion system for space travel. This technology could significantly reduce travel times to destinations such as Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan.

Anthropic releases Claude 2: Anthropic, an AI startup founded by former OpenAI executives, has launched Claude 2, an advanced text-generating AI model. Claude 2 surpasses its predecessor in various areas and excels in tasks like document search, summarization, writing, coding, and answering specific questions.


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On Equity, the team discusses various topics including the Chinese AI model competition, Founders Fund’s new partner, Connetic Ventures’ use of AI models to create a fairer landscape for entrepreneurs, and recent tech layoffs and inflation.

Over at Chain Reaction, Jacquelyn interviews Maria Shen, a general partner at Electric Capital, a venture firm focused on crypto, blockchain, fintech, and marketplaces. Electric Capital recently closed $1 billion in funds for equity investments in startups and direct investments in crypto tokens.


TC+ subscribers have access to in-depth commentary, analysis, and surveys. If you’re not a subscriber yet, consider signing up. Here are some highlights from this week:

Light at the end of the tunnel: Alex discusses the positive outlook for venture capital activity after a significant correction in recent quarters.

Amazon and the brands it kills: Haje examines the fate of Digital Photography Review (DPReview), a popular review and news site. DPReview was acquired by Amazon in 2007 and eventually shut down in March after a transition to contractor and freelancer staff.

ESG, safe for now: Tim explores the sustainability concerns among investors and concludes that these concerns are here to stay.

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