Daily Crunch: Microsoft waives its waitlist and opens up its AI-powered Bing chatbot to all

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Happy Thursday, Crunchers!

An agreement among a group of the nation’s largest banks to deposit some $30 billion with First Republic Bank could save its bacon, Christine reports, and over on TC+, Ram breaks down everything you need to get caught up on the SVB crisis.

Meanwhile, Annie and Tage contemplate the broader implications of SVB being in hot water, reporting how it forces African startups to rethink their banking options.

With the national banking meltdown out of the way…let’s continue with the rest of the tech news!

Don’t forget to wear something green tomorrow! — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • No more waiting: Ivan reports that Bing’s waitlist for its GPT-4 powered chat is no more. Enjoy!
  • Biting into an AI Apple: Apple isn’t about to let all those other big tech companies get in on the AI fun. A new story, also by Ivan, reports that Apple is reportedly experimenting with language-generating AI so that Siri can better understand queries.
  • Charge it: Parker is taking on the world of corporate cards — and trying to grab a piece of the market from companies like Brex and Ramp — with its new credit offering tailored to the needs of e-commerce brands. Christine has more.

Startups and VC

One of the major challenges for companies drawing on the gig economy is managing payroll and benefits. Inspired to solve it, Kyle reports that Wingspan leaps to the rescue with a payroll platform aimed at firms employing mainly freelancers.

Here’s six more stories, including a bonus one because Haje decided to favor his own story in this section. Such preferential treatment, tut tut.

How to pitch me: 7 investors discuss what they’re looking for in March 2023

Image Credits: Sean Gladwell (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

It’s too early to determine whether Silicon Valley Bank’s downfall heralds a new era for venture capital, but based on anecdotal evidence, off-the-record discussions and chats with co-workers, it seems like we’re back to business as usual where pre-revenue startup fundraising is concerned.

Before the failure of SVB, Walter Thompson interviewed seven investors to learn more about where they’re looking to invest, how they prefer to be approached and whether they had any general advice for first-time founders:

  • Brian Backeen, general partner, Lightship Capital
  • Masha Bucher, founder and general partner, Day One Ventures
  • Rebecca Liu-Doyle, managing director, Insight Partners
  • Clelia Warburg Peters, managing partner, Era Ventures
  • Nick Adams, managing partner and co-founder, Differential Ventures
  • Lisa Lambert, founder and president, National Grid Partners
  • Elizabeth Yin, co-founder and general partner, Hustle Fund

Three more from the TC+ team:

TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!

Big Tech Inc.

Via, out to bolster its traffic technology offerings, is making good on its promise to do more acquisitions and has now acquired trip planning app Citymapper. Rebecca and Ingrid note that it “has been rumored for years that Citymapper was trying to find a buyer” and even had some big names like Google and Apple courting it, but that all went silent until this news from Via.

Now let’s move over to Microsoft, which unveiled Microsoft 365 Copilot, a suite of productivity and enterprise apps that are full of artificial intelligence–powered goodies. Kyle has more.

And we have five more for you:

  • Go for main engine pause: Sometimes you just have to press “pause,” and that’s exactly what Virgin Orbit is doing to conduct a search for cash, Devin reports.
  • Delisted: Five Russia-affiliated internet companies, including Yandex, are being formally delisted from Nasdaq and NYSE, Paul writes.
  • Taking a step back: After more than a decade at the helm of Twitch, CEO Emmett Shear is stepping down to move on to something else, Taylor writes.
  • Dating in the age of apps: Tinder has a whole host of new features, including some to help better define what kind of relationship type users are looking for, Sarah reports.
  • The SVB crash is affecting everyone, even robots: Brian spoke with some founders and investors to make some sense out of how the Silicon Valley Bank collapse will affect the robotics industry.

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