We made it to Friday again. I’m Lara O’Reilly, a senior correspondent on the advertising team in London, filling in for Diamond Naga Siu.
You catch me at the end of a busy week for the ad business. It’s the US TV upfronts, the annual dog-and-pony show where networks like NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery hold glitzy, celeb-packed events to present their upcoming lineup of programming and create a short window to lock in billions of dollars of ad commitments.
What’s that got to do with tech? The big TV networks are increasingly touting their streaming services and data prowess. And tech giants like Netflix and YouTube are now crashing the party, too. (Though Netflix appeared to wimp out from its in-person presentation, seemingly worried about interruptions from striking writers.)
Let’s jump into today’s biggest tech news.
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1. AI startup cloud deals by Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are ringing “accounting alarm bells” across Silicon Valley over revenue “round-tripping.” As Big Tech firms invest in AI startups in exchange for commitments to use their cloud services, some investors question whether those arrangements are artificially inflating cloud revenue growth.
- Quid-pro-quo arrangements are becoming more common in the frenzied generative AI space: Google and Anthropic; Microsoft and OpenAI; Amazon Web Services and Hugging Face.
- Investors and analysts say these transactions can juice revenue growth through a practice known as “round tripping,” where money goes out via the startup investment and comes right back in the form of cloud spending.
- Accounting rules have gray areas, making it hard to find out how exactly the revenue is recognized.
Read the full story.
In other news:
2. A former Apple marketing executive predicts the company’s upcoming “Reality” headset risks being “one of the greatest tech flops of all time.” Apple is expected to debut its “mixed-reality headset” next month. Michael Gartenberg told Insider that if the rumors and leaks around the headset “are correct,” it “would be a very un-Apple product.”
3. How the BookTok phenomenon helped send book sales to an all-time high and reignite a love for reading. Hundreds of authors are benefiting from the success of TikTok and its #BookTok, which has fetched more than 138 billion views. From authors to stores, the book world is turning to TikTok to drive sales and build community.
4. Gene Munster thinks more tech layoffs are coming. In an interview with Insider, Munster, managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management, said bosses are preparing to tighten further on the “laptop generation.” Find out which tech giants he thinks are top candidates to make deeper cuts to their workforces.
5. Meet 14 rising-star crypto venture capitalists, according to other VCs. Despite the crypto winter, a new generation of VCs is still betting on startups in the industry as crypto evolves after a turbulent year. Read on to see this year’s up-and-coming crypto stars from firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Variant, and Blockchain Capital.
6. A new lawsuit alleges that Elon Musk told an investor during a 4 a.m. conversation that Twitter would only pay rent for its offices “over his dead body.” Over the last few months, Twitter’s landlords in London, New York City, and San Francisco have sued the company over claims that it was failing to pay rent. This lawsuit said Musk’s attorney justified not paying rent and described San Francisco as a “shithole.”
7. Google is pressing ahead with its plan to kill off third-party tracking cookies in its Chrome browser. But some advertising and privacy groups aren’t convinced the cookie alternatives Google is proposing are ready for public consumption yet. Read more on why some industry insiders are still skeptical about Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative.
8. Elon Musk wanted to build a bathroom next to his office at Twitter so he didn’t have to wake up his bodyguards when he needed to pee in the night, lawsuit says. Quite considerate, really! But of course this is Twitter, and Musk, so all may not be what it seems on the surface — it forms part of the earlier-mentioned suit, which accuses Musk and X.Corp, Twitter’s parent company, of violating 14 counts, including fraud, breach of contract, and labor-rights laws.
Odds and ends:
9. The official ChatGPT app for iPhones is now available in the US. The ChatGPT app can answer voice queries and sync search histories across devices. Read on to find out more about what you can use the AI app for.
10. Is a long-haul flight in your plans this summer?A former Singapore Air Force pilot who now flies one of the longest commercial flights in the world offers his top tips for keeping comfortable. Make sure to pack your noise-canceling headphones.