This is a daily newsletter that covers trending business, tech and finance stories. If you enjoyed the newsletter, please share it with a friend who’d find it useful.
Or… invite friends to the newsletter through our referral program for Amazon gift cards.
Instagram Removes ✂️ Standalone Boomerang And Hyperlapse Apps From App Stores
Instagram has removed two of its standalone apps- Boomerang and Hyperlapse from the app stores. As such, users can no longer download these apps from Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Boomerang and Hyperlapse apps were last available on March 1, as indicated by Apptopia data. The development comes days after the Meta-owned platform announced the closing of its IGTV app.
Boomerang was launched in 2015, allowing users to create short, loop videos by taking a burst of photos together.
Hyperlapse was released in 2014 and enabled users to make time-lapse videos. Both these apps were originally developed as standalone apps in a time when Instagram appeared to be concerned about packing the main apps with too many features.
It’s not surprising to see these two apps get closed down by Instagram as the company has continued to add new features and capabilities to the app regularly to compete with rivals like TikTok.
Overall, Instagram is looking to consolidate some of its separate offerings to focus on the main app.
Adobe’s Behance Adds Support For Solana NFTs 🖼
Adobe-owned social media platform for creatives Behance has rolled out full integration support with Solana NFTs.
With this move, users can connect their Phantom wallets to their Behance accounts and display Solana (SOL) non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on their profiles.
Phantom is a Solana wallet that is built for decentralized finance (DeFi) applications as well as for NFTs, while Behance is a social media platform whose main focus is to showcase and discover creative work.
The feature was built with the help of Miami-based Web3 infrastructure platform QuickNode.
In October last year, Behance became the first platform to allow artists to link their crypto wallets and NFTs to their Behance accounts.
Currently, Behance creators can showcase their NFTs minted on the Ethereum blockchain within their profiles.
However, many creators do not want to be associated with Ethereum due to concerns over its high energy usage and expensive gas costs.
Hence, this move makes great sense for Behance as Solana is a proof-of-stake chain that addresses these concerns.
Better.Com Set to Lay Off 4,000 More Employees This Week
Better.com, an online platform for mortgage origination and related services, is reportedly set to lay off nearly 4,000 employees or nearly 50 percent of its current workforce this week.
The latest move of the U.S.-based digital mortgage lender comes three months after the company laid off 900 employees during a Zoom call that went viral and led to several lay-offs at the top.
Better.com’s reputation was badly hit by several internal factors, which included CEO and co-founder Vishal Garg insulting staff and investors.
Additionally, macroeconomic factors like high-interest rates and inflation have also negatively impacted the company’s business. This led to a drop in demand for refinancing and eventually layoff staff in December.
The recent layoff is reportedly taking place on March 9, with reports stating that it was originally scheduled for an earlier date in the month; however, the executives shifted the date as they were unhappy with the dates being leaked.
While a majority of the company’s workforce is in sales and operation, the massive layoff will directly affect approximately 4,000 people and is also believed to be impacting the company.
Robotaxi Startup Pony.ai Closes Series D Funding Round 💰
Pony.ai, a leading global autonomous driving technology company, has completed its Series D funding round at a valuation of $8.5 billion.
The latest funding round, which has significant valuation uplift from the previous C and C+ funding rounds, is a recognition that investors continue to chase the market of mass deployment of autonomous fleets.
Founded in late 2016 by James Peng and Tiancheng Lou, Pony.ai has been a pioneer in extending autonomous mobility technologies and services at various locations around the world.
The company has already formed partnerships with leading OEMs like Toyota, GAC Group, FAW Group, among others.
The company is pursuing an ambitious vision for autonomous mobility intending to bring safe, sustainable, and accessible mobility to the entire world.
Pony.ai plans to use the fresh capital to further invest in R&D, global testing of robotaxi, and robotrucking.
In addition, it plans to hire more workforce, enter into strategic partnerships, and accelerate mass production and mass commercial deployment of vehicles.
Around the Web 🌐
Samsung Confirms Data Breach by Hackers: Samsung has confirmed that hackers accessed its internal company data and leaked confidential data, including source code for various technologies and algorithms for biometric unlock operations. The statement from the company comes after hacking group Lapsus$ claimed via its Telegram channel that it has stolen 190 gigabytes of confidential Samsung source code.
If you like the content in this newsletter, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll like my podcast, “Success Story”, where I unpack the playbooks of entrepreneurs, executives and other high performing individuals.
Latest Episode 👇
If you enjoyed the newsletter, please share it with a friend who’d find it useful.