Phantom Auto puts the brakes on its business

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By Christine Hall

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Welcome to TechCrunch PM! Today we find out that Phantom Auto is turning into a ghost, and we learn it's difficult to make money from subscription mobile apps. We also have a plethora of funding rounds, something Google's Gemini won't tell you, a look at Uber's future, some helpful robots and fun with voices.

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Image Credits: Phantom Auto

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TechCrunch PM Top 3

Phantom Auto decides to shut down: We got a scoop that remote driving startup Phantom Auto, after some new funding failed to transpire, is planning to close after seven years.

We heart databases: MIT professor Mike Stonebraker's latest startup, DBOS, officially launched with an $8.5 million seed investment. Stonebraker invented the Ingres and Postgres databases, and with DBOS, he puts the database at the center of the software stack, reducing the operating system to a small kernel of low-level functions.

Subscription mobile apps aren't as lucrative as you might believe: RevenueCat examined data from over 29,000 subscription mobile apps and found that less than a quarter of them reach $1,000 in monthly revenue. And even if they do, it's unlikely revenue will grow from there.

TechCrunch PM Top 3 image

Image Credits: traffic_analyzer / Getty Images

More top reads

You can't ask that: Google confirmed that it started rolling out restrictions on Gemini's responses as they relate to election queries globally.

Coping with death, there's a platform for that: Empathy wants to help grieving loved ones manage all the tasks associated with death, from organizing funerals to settling finances for the deceased. It picked up $47 million in new capital toward its larger mission to "redefine bereavement care."

In the driver's seat with Uber's CEO: From the SXSW stage, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi explained his vision for the ride-hailing company's future, especially now that it has achieved profitability.

OpenMeter grabs capital: Where we learned that subscription-based apps don't make money, usage-based billing does. And investors are here for it. OpenMeter raised $3 million to continue developing software to help companies track their usage-based billing.

Robot riot: Who knew a little backpack could pack a punch? Verve Motion did. They created wearable robotics that you strap on like a backpack and it enables you to lift heavy things with ease. Meanwhile, meet Rick Faulk. The Locus Robotics' CEO gets candid with hardware editor Brian Heater about the company's new software, the state of the industry and the future of humanoids.

Mo' money, mo' TikTok: The streaming social media company expanded its Effect Creator Rewards monetization program to 33 more regions in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The program is also lowering the threshold to begin reaping those rewards. You have to make 100,000 videos in 90 days, but it used to be 200,000, so you're welcome.

Deepgram finds its voice: Deepgram has long been one of the go-to startups for voice recognition, and today the company launches Aura, a real-time text-to-speech API. Aura combines highly realistic voice models with a low-latency API to allow developers to build real-time, conversational AI agents. Frederic Lardinois had some fun with it. See what he created.

Speaking of voices: Tavus, a four-year-old generative AI startup, raised $18 million in new funding to help companies create digital "replicas" of individuals for automated personalized video campaigns. Also new is its platform for third parties to integrate their software with the company's technology.

Apple's latest DMA tweaks: Those include Apple allowing iOS developers located in the European Union to distribute apps from the web rather than the App Store. This followed outrage from developers who thought lawmakers’ interpretation of rules were self-serving.

More top reads image

Image Credits: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket / Getty Images

TechCrunch Minute

Reddit's IPO success may hinge on AI boom: Alex Wilhelm writes that Reddit has "an AI-friendly growth story to tell" and seems to have timed its entrance into the public markets just right. And if Reddit's initial public offering is successful, it could inspire other companies to follow its lead. That's one take. Here's another from Nasdaq.

TechCrunch Minute image

Image Credits: Cody Corrall / TechCrunch

On the pods

On today's episode of Found, Rebecca Szkutak and Dominic-Madori Davis speak with Rebecca Hu, the CEO and co-founder of Glacier, an AI robotics company that is building robots to accurately sort recycling. Recycling is one facet to solving the climate crisis, but most of us are doing it wrong. They talk about how many of us are wish-cyclers who throw non-recyclables into the bin and how Glacier's robots are sorting the recycling and making sure all of our recycling mistakes are corrected. Listen here.

On the pods image

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

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