Startups Yearly: The biggest startup stories from 2023

Startups Yearly: The biggest startup stories from 2023

technology By Dec 29, 2023 No Comments

Startups Yearly: The biggest startup stories from 2023

Welcome to Startups Weekly. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday. Thank you for subscribing to Startups Weekly. This week, I’m taking my parents to Yosemite to explore the snowy peaks and to see if my car can handle snow.
In lieu of a regular Startups Weekly, I figured I’d dive in and give you a reminder of some of the biggest startup stories from 2023 — both on TechCrunch and our subscription sibling TechCrunch+. Here are some of the biggest themes that have echoed throughout the startup ecosystem in 2023.

Deeds and Misdeeds in the Startup Ecosystem

Some of the biggest startup stories on TechCrunch in 2023 were related to the deeds and misdeeds of those in the ecosystem. By far, one of our most-read stories this year was the murder of Bob Lee, best known as the creator of Cash App and former CTO of Square. He was tragically killed in a stabbing incident in San Francisco, in the otherwise usually quiet Financial District. Rolling Stone picked up the story from there, digging into who Bob Lee and his alleged murderer were.

The other big story was the trial of Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes. She is now serving a prison sentence of 11 years and 3 months after being indicted for wire fraud in a scheme to defraud investors. Theranos, once valued at $10 billion, promised revolutionary blood testing technology but was exposed in 2015 for its nonfunctional technology, which posed Health risks to patients. The subsequent unraveling of Theranos led to numerous lawsuits and government investigations.

The case serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of fraudulent practices and that the “fake it till you make it” approach that can be prevalent among startups doesn’t always work out. Another significant trial was that of Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, who was found guilty on all seven charges of fraud and Money laundering. Sentencing is scheduled for March 2024, when there will likely be a second trial with additional charges.

Former VC Mike Rothenberg, known for hosting extravagant parties, was convicted on 21 counts, including bank fraud, false statements, Money laundering, and wire fraud. The conviction brings his journey from a promising entrepreneur to being a convicted fraudster to a close. Additionally, the FCC imposed a record $300 million fine on a robocaller operation for scamming people with fake auto warranty sales. This operation made at least 5 billion calls. Flipper Zero, a multi-tool hacking device, is on track to achieve $80 million in sales this year, a significant increase from its $25 million sales last year.

Lighthearted Moments and Tech Innovations

The world of startups wasn’t just murders, fraud, and shenanigans — some of our most-read stories this year were a lot more lighthearted. One of the highlights was Apple’s 31 new emojis, including a shaking face for when you’re “shook” and a pink heart. There are even two pushing hands that could mean “stop” or “high five” — because interpreting vague hand gestures is what we all needed more of. MindGeek, the owner of adult entertainment sites such as Pornhub, Brazzers, and RedTube, was acquired by Canadian private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Apple also made a significant impact with its new mixed-reality (XR) device, boasting 24 million pixels across two panels and advanced optics. The year of 2023 was undoubtedly the year of AI. OpenAI made GPT-4 universally available, which got everyone excited. The company also gave ChatGPT the ability to browse the broader internet, unlocking a world of functionality and excitement.

Surprise Developments in the Startup World

If there’s one thing startups love doing, it’s throwing curveballs. This year was no exception, and here are a handful of the most surprising ones. Everything was fine one moment, then suddenly one of the biggest startup banks, Silicon Valley Bank, took a nosedive. DPReview, a digital camera review site, was shut down by amazon after 25 years of operation, before being revived by Gear Patrol. OceanGate’s attempt to dip down to the Titanic and imploding in the process was everywhere for a hot moment.

Pathfinder 1, an electric airship, is giving the Goodyear blimp a run for its money, and Volkswagen’s breakthrough in lithium-ion battery technology could significantly impact the automotive industry. Overall, 2023 was filled with unexpected turns and technological advancements in the startup world. The evolution of layoffs and remote work trends also brought new challenges and opportunities.


As we bid farewell to 2023, it’s evident that the startup landscape has been marked by a mix of triumphs and trials. From high-profile legal cases and technological breakthroughs to surprising developments and challenges, startups have continued to shape the global economy and entrepreneurial landscape. As we eagerly await the unfolding of 2024, it’s clear that the world of startups remains as dynamic and unpredictable as ever.

Source: techcrunch

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