Tesla makes Musk the highest-paid CEO ever and leaves Fisker in the dust

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Elon Musk has convinced Tesla shareholders to approve his $56 billion pay package, making him the highest-paid CEO in history — assuming he can dodge a Delaware judge’s disapproval. And where better to hold this circus than in Texas, home of everything great, including ego? Shareholders at Tesla’s Texas Gigafactory burst into applause when the results of the vote were announced. Meanwhile, Musk manages more companies than a clown with a chainsaw and faces two new lawsuits (being sued just once a week is for wimps). Oh, and forget about any fancy ESG initiatives; they’re over before you can even say “corporate responsibility”

The most interesting startup stories of the week

It seems Henrik Fisker’s knack for designing cars is only matched by his talent for bankrupting companies. Despite aiming to be the Apple of EVs (with Magna playing the Foxconn role), the much-hyped Ocean SUV sank faster than the Titanic due to software glitches, recalls and lemon lawsuits. Now filing for Chapter 11 in Delaware, Fisker is trying to go from dreaming of revolutionizing the auto industry to just getting stuck with a $500 million bill. This is Fisker’s second attempt to bankrupt a big name company. Will he be able to do it three times? Stay tuned.

  • yes, I saw it comingHave you ever felt like your subscription services are conspiring against you? Well, Adobe has been called out by the DOJ for allegedly making it easier to escape from Alcatraz than canceling your subscription.
  • You Desire View our ads: YouTube is at it again, folks. This time they’re taking their ad blocking campaign to new heights with server-side ad injection, ensuring that those annoying ads greet you before the video even arrives on your device. Oh, and I summarized this story in a TechCrunch Minute series, in case you’re more of a viewer than a reader.
  • keep going round and roundIt seems that Loop, the insurance startup with the noble mission of eliminating discriminatory pricing models, has hit a massive fundraising wall. After 20 months of trying (and failing) to raise some cash, co-founder John Henry got the unpleasant task of announcing layoffs via Instagram.
Colorful Birds: Adobe Firefly Image
Adobe: It makes beautiful AI stuff, but it’s nearly impossible to unsubscribe from its services.
Image Credit: Adobe

Trend of the week: All eyes on AI

Apple has finally thrown its hat into the AI ​​icon circus, joining the likes of Google and OpenAI in a desperate attempt to portray AI with a logo that somehow makes sense. Spoiler alert: they’re just as clueless as everyone else. Apple’s new visual for “Intelligence” is essentially a psychedelic circle with — wait, no — a discontinuous infinity symbol? Actually, it’s the new Siri. Or maybe it’s what happens when the sides of your phone glow like an alien spaceship landing. What’s the real deal here? Nobody knows what AI is supposed to look like, but let’s put some friendly pastel colors on and call it innovation.

Meanwhile, Ilya Sutskever, the AI ​​brainiac who decided last month that OpenAI wasn’t that exciting anymore, has started his own program called Safe Superintelligence Inc. (SSI) with some other former OpenAI friends. After his dramatic exit from OpenAI (presumably to avoid a takeover by Skynet), Sutskever is doubling down on making sure that super-smart AI doesn’t become our overlords too soon. SSI’s mission? To balance mind-blowing AI advancements with safeguards so we don’t get caught in our own “Black Mirror” episode.

Siri's AI update will be revealed during WWDC 2024
Sure, this sounds like AI, right?
Image Credit: Apple

This week’s most interesting fundraising campaigns

Meet this dynamic duo who skipped their quarter-life crisis and went straight to swimming in cash. GPTZero founders Edward Tian and Alex Cui are living proof that high school friendships can lead to multi-million dollar ventures. In just a year and a half, they’ve turned their AI detection startup into a money-making machine that’s outpacing your favorite viral app. With a recent $10 million round from eager VCs who couldn’t wait for an official raise, these guys are well on their way to building an internet where we can still tell if your essay was written by you or your wordless cousin Cheech from ChatGPT.

Tender food, plant-based meat, alternative protein
Tender Food’s plant-based chopped “pork” product.
Image Credit: Gentle food

Other unforgettable TechCrunch stories…

Every week, there are a few stories I want to share with you that somehow don’t fit into the categories above. It would be a shame if you missed them, so here are some great stories for you:

  • So what happened to Fisker?: Once again, Fisker proved it’s the small engine that can’t succeed. Despite outsourcing its manufacturing to automotive giant Magna and aiming for a fast launch, the EV startup overlooked an obvious issue: it wasn’t ready to be a real car company.
  • It’s a tough time to be an Apple developerGet ready to shell out money for your favorite third-party apps because iOS 18 is around the corner and it brings with it a wrecking ball. Apple’s infamous habit of “Sherlocking” – that is, stealing ideas from third-party developers and incorporating them into its OS – could lead to a drop in app revenue by as much as $400 million.
  • Vita-minusWell, it looks like personalized vitamin subscription company Care/Of is officially calling it quits. The company has announced that all subscriptions will end by June 17. Despite a massive $46 million raise from investors and a massive $225 million buyer buy-in in 2020, it couldn’t keep the lights on.
  • That’s not how privacy worksIn a blatant display of ignorance about cybersecurity, EU lawmakers are once again trying to make legislative work seem like juggling saber-toothed tigers while blindfolded. Signal president and purveyor of common sense Meredith Whittaker has criticized the EU’s latest plan to scan private messages for CSAM, calling it a surefire way to bung the web security.

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