Microsoft brings Python to Excel, Cruise reduces fleet following crash, and MrBeast creates controversy


Hello, folks, and welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter that covers the biggest happenings in tech over the past few days. Haven’t been able to follow the news closely? Don’t sweat it. WiR will get you up to speed.

In this edition of WiR, we cover Microsoft bringing Python to Excel, Cruise being forced to reduce its robotaxi fleet following a crash, and Amazon launching its new Fire TV Channels app. We also recap Twitter competitor Bluesky buckling under load, influencer MrBeast’s poorly timed Olympics video, IBM building a code translator for COBOL, and Snapchat expanding further into generative AI.

If you haven’t already, sign up here to get WiR in your inbox every Saturday. Now, without further ado, here’s the week’s news!

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Microsoft brings Python to Excel: Microsoft this week announced the public preview of Python in Excel, which will allow advanced spreadsheet users to combine scripts in the popular Python language and their usual Excel formulas in the same workbook. The feature will first roll out to Microsoft 365 Insiders as part of the Excel for Windows beta channel, Frederic reports.

Cruise told to reduce fleet following crash: Cruise, the self-driving car subsidiary of GM, has been asked by the California Department of Motor Vehicles to reduce its robotaxi fleet by 50% in San Francisco following a crash Thursday night with a fire truck.

MrBeast’s geopolitical nightmare: Billionaire creator MrBeast inadvertently stoked generations of geopolitical tension in his latest YouTube video, in which participants from “every country on Earth” competed in “Squid Game”-like elimination challenges for a chance to win $250,000. It was the countries that weren’t included in the competition, as well as the map featured in the video, that made the stunt ripe for discourse.

IBM taps AI to translate COBOL code: IBM this week unveiled Code Assistant for IBM Z, which uses a code-generating AI model to translate COBOL (one of the older programming languages in use) into Java syntax. It’s potentially quite handy, considering there’s over 800 billion lines of COBOL in use on production systems and a strong desire among many of the companies using it to migrate to more modern languages.

Amazon launches Fire TV Channels app: Amazon announced Monday the launch of its new Fire TV Channels app, giving Fire TV customers access to over 400 free ad-supported TV channels, including ABC News, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, MLB, Martha Stewart and more.

Bluesky struggles with growing popularity: X (formerly Twitter) competitor Bluesky buckled following Elon Musk’s announcement that X will no longer support blocking users in favor of mutes only. The company has often had to deal with an influx of users when Twitter announces particularly unwelcome changes, Sarah writes.

Snapchat adds new generative AI features: Snapchat is preparing to further expand into generative AI features, after earlier launching its AI-powered chatbot My AI, which can now respond with a Snap back, not just text. With the company’s forthcoming generative AI feature called “Dreams,” Snap will again experiment with AI images — but soon, those images may contain you and your friends in imaginative backgrounds.

Phone hacking company tries to keep tech secret: For years, cops and other government authorities all over the world have been using phone hacking technology provided by Cellebrite to unlock phones and obtain the data within. And the company has been keen on keeping the use of its technology “hush hush,” Lorenzo reports.

Audio

Have a hankering for new podcast content? You’re in luck. TechCrunch has plenty on deck for your listening enjoyment.

On Equity, the crew discussed Nvidia’s earnings report, raises from Ramp and AI-powered writing platform Lex, Northvolt’s move to North America, the story behind Better.com’s IPO and startups that are literally full of crap (it’ll make sense once you listen — trust me).

Meanwhile, Found focused on Feyi Ayodele, the co-founder and CEO of CancerIQ, a precision health company designed for physicians to help their patients with monitoring cancer risk and prevention. Ayodele recounted how she came up with the startup idea while hiking Mount Kilimanjaro with her mother.

And on Chain Reaction, Erik Svenson talked about Blockstream, a bitcoin and blockchain-focused infrastructure firm that he helped co-found in 2014. Blockstream has its own sidechain technology, Liquid Network, as well as bitcoin mining operations and hardware wallets for Bitcoin and other assets.

TechCrunch+

TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:

OnlyFans proves the creator economy boom was real: Venture capital investment into the creator economy category slowed down significantly starting in the second half of 2022. But Ron and Anna write about how OnlyFans’ profitability suggests that there’s juice in the sector yet.

Nvidia rides the AI wave — but for how long?: When Nvidia announced eye-popping earnings on Wednesday with three-digit year-over-year growth, it was easy to get caught up in the excitement. But the lingering question is, can it keep it up?

The late-stage venture market is crumbling: New data from CB Insights details that there have been sharp valuation declines across nearly every startup stage around the world. But is that a reason for panic? Alex and Anna don’t think so — at least not now.

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