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Hi, welcome to your Weekend.
Still reeling from the news of Sam Altman’s apparent firing from OpenAI? Yeah, me too. Two years ago, almost to the day, we launched the Weekend with my profile, “The Eternal Sunshine of Sam Altman.” That story kicked off a wild couple of years for Altman, who went from Silicon Valley-famous to a global A-lister, as ChatGPT exploded on the world scene and launched a new AI gold rush.
It’s just another reminder that what starts in the Valley (and is covered first by The Information) often ends up in a far, far distant place. That notion occurred to me repeatedly over the last few weeks, as my colleagues broke news about a pair of tech launches that could also change the way humanity functions.
The first was Julia’s examination of the Humane Ai Pin, a mini-computer fastened to your lapel that can answer questions, project images and record video. Is this the next iPhone, Julia asked, or the next overhyped gadget destined for the scrap heap?
The second story was this week’s report from Annie about the Forward CarePod, a fully automated primary care office that lets you self-administer blood draws, mental health exams and genetic tests, among other treatments.
While I haven’t gotten my hands on an Ai Pin, I did get to kick the tires on the CarePod recently, and I came away both dazzled by its tech and spooked by its implications. Though it was amazing to watch the pod scan my body and identify areas of concern (my blood pressure was a little high—perhaps because I was inside a robot), I shudder to think of all the unintended consequences that might come with the CarePod.
Both pieces of hardware present questions about where Silicon Valley seems to be headed. Nobody can say yet if the Ai Pin or the CarePod will catch on with consumers—or if they’ll run afoul of privacy watchdogs or government regulators. But it’s a certainty that they’re going to require hundreds of millions, if not billions, in venture capital dollars if they’re ever going to scale to become the paradigm shifting devices their founders envision.
Who’s going to help startups like Humane and Forward bring their audacious visions to fruition? What companies might want to acquire (or copycat) their breakthrough tech? Will their founders flounder, like Altman appears to have done? These will be just some of the more fascinating tech stories to cover in the years to come.
Now onto this weekend’s stories…
Earlier this week, Annie broke the news of primary health company Forward’s new CarePod, a humanless, AI-enabled doctor’s office. The device is unlike anything before it, looking like an airport lactation room crossed with a space capsule. It may be the future of medicine—but is it one patients want?
Surrounded by pro-Israel voices, Arab Americans in Silicon Valley say they’re terrified of speaking out in support of Palestinians. Margaux spoke to 10 Arab tech founders and investors, including six of Palestinian descent, who have been forced to choose between their conscience and their careers.
Annie sat down with The League founder Amanda Bradford a year after her company’s $30 million acquisition by Match Group. Bradford wants something that may sound strange for a dating-app founder: for people to be less dependent on the app.
Reading: The journalist who loved a founder
As much as some believe that reporters and tech CEOs are sworn enemies, plenty of love has bloomed at the intersection of media and tech. Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen’s wife Olivia Zaleski Petersen used to work at Bloomberg and CNN. Angel investor Balaji Srinivasan married former tech editor Boonsri Dickinson Srinivasan. And of course, our very own editor-in-chief Jessica Lessin is married to venture capitalist Sam Lessin. This dynamic has never been more fully dissected than by my former Business Insider colleague Melia Russell, who wrote this week about her life with husband Kyle Russell, founder of video game company PlayByte. Melia’s warts-and-all peek into her complicated marriage clearly struck a nerve with entrepreneurs and their spouses (the responses on HackerNews deserve a story of their own.) The piece explores questions of how families can put founders at a disadvantage, whether critical feedback from a spouse is helpful, and most fiercely of all, what Melia and Kyle should have done about their dog. —Julia
Noticing: When a VC’s wedding trashed a landmark
A couple weeks ago, a venture capitalist source texted me a tweet about Andreessen Horowitz partner Andrew Chen’s wedding to former Miss Ireland Emma Waldron. The tweet alleged that the pair had gotten married on protected land in Utah and trashed the place. I was skeptical (you can’t believe everything on Elon’s X). But, this week, SFGate confirmed the story. According to a local Utah councilmember (and some damning photos and videos), the nuptials left ripped-open trash bags, broken glass and cardboard littered around the Castleton Tower natural landmark. It’s since come out that the couple also lied about the scale of their wedding to win approval from local officials. Chen and Waldron, and all their guests, have since deleted social media posts from the party. The whole thing is another example of Silicon Valley bigwigs who think the rules don’t apply to them. Word to the wise: While you may be able to get away with hosting a rager at a natural landmark, it’s far harder to do so without getting caught. —Annie
Watching: TikTokers grieve Omegle
If my mother knew the things my friends and I saw on Omegle in middle school, she would’ve burned every computer in the house. The website, which connected strangers to each other on video call or in chat rooms, was filled with men masturbating, people soliciting nudes from minors and, of course, other 13-year-olds feeling rebellious on a Friday night. So it didn’t surprise me one bit that the website finally shut down earlier this month. But it was surprising to see the public outcry from TikTokers, many of whom revitalized the Friday night Omegle session during the pandemic, filming their interactions with strangers for content. Creators even monetized the child predators on the site, hosting TikTok live streams in which creators would pretend to be minors while raking in cash gifts from thousands of livestream viewers. It was a fascinating second life for a truly terrifying website, but I think most people (except for some very depraved TikTokers) can agree the world is a better place without Omegle. —Margaux
Makes You Think
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading.