Generative AI is the tech industry’s buzzword of the moment. It’s no wonder — the VC firm Sequoia not long ago predicted that generative AI, which comprises AI that can generate text, art and more from prompts, could yield trillions of dollars in economic value over the long run. Is that simply the optimistic musing of a firm heavily invested in the space? Perhaps. On the other hand, generative AI has proven to be a labor savor.
Supernormal hopes to demonstrate the value of generative AI with its tech, which creates meeting notes by integrating with Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom and other conferencing platforms. There’s lots of vendors in the meeting notes transcription space, which exploded during the pandemic as work-from-home setups became the norm. But Supernormal differentiates itself by extracting key details from meetings such as actions and decisions, relying on OpenAI’s text-processing AI to do the summarization work.
It’s a strong sales pitch. Supernormal today announced that it raised $10 million in a funding round led by Balderton with participation from Acequia Capital and byFounders VC. The new cash brings the company’s total raised to around $12.9 million, which co-founder and CEO Colin Treseler says is being put toward product R&D and hiring.
“Currently, Supernormal has a small team of 5, which it expects to grow to 25 by the end of 2023 — mostly across engineering, marketing and [customer] success,” Treseler told TechCrunch in an email interview. “The new funding will be used to further the mission of delivering end-to-end workflow solutions based on foundational meeting data and develop next-generation tools that deliver actions and insights from conversations across the organization.”
Treseler co-founded Supernormal with Fabian Perez, who he met while working at a Balderton-funded company 13 years ago. (Treseler’s also held product manager roles at Meta and was the chief of staff in Klarna’s risk management department, while Perez was the director of design at GitHub.) In 2020, the two spent two weeks brainstorming what to build next. After long sessions, they realized that they didn’t have any notes from the conversations, and that well-documented discussions were going to be critical to their success.
“At an organization level, our meetings are a significant part of our work product that, until now, were ephemeral or too unwieldy to consume — who rewatches an hour-long meeting when the key notes are what are important?,” Treseler said. “We’ve heard in particular that for product managers, team leads and client-facing teams that this product is particularly transformative as it helps them keep track of key updates and milestones with ease.”
To that end, Supernormal’s platform, powered by OpenAI’s GPT-3 model, writes meeting and call notes across templated categories like “presentation,” “customer discovery call” and “interview.” Supernormal extracts details like customer objectives and goals, Treseler explains, and after a meeting attempts to automate action items like follow-up emails, scheduling and making introductions.
Supernormal is self-learning — as users edit their notes, they’re improving the quality of notes that they get in their next call. But they can also delete any stored data if they choose for privacy reasons.
“As companies contract, team members are going to be under pressure to continually hit deadlines and showcase value. A tool like Supernormal supports them at every stage of their job and takes that administrative pressure off them,” Treseler said. “It also takes the pressure off employees to be overly communicative and transparent, with Supernormal easily enabling this — helping to boost productivity and keep everyone connected regardless of location and time zones.”
It’s here I should note that Supernormal’s capabilities aren’t super novel, no pun intended. Otter, a competitor, recently rolled out AI-generated meeting summaries. For transcribing and highlighting key moments in meetings, there’s also Headroom, tl;dv, Xembly and Fireflies.ai.
But Treseler claims Supernormal is more affordable than most solutions on the market — less than $1 per meeting, on average — and already has a growing paying customer base. 50,000 users across more than 250 organizations including Netflix, Airbnb, and Snapchat are actively using the platform, he says,
The trick for Supernormal will be achieving profitability given the high cost of relying on the OpenAI API. The most comprehensive GPT-3 plan costs around $0.02 per ~750 words, which sounds like a lot — until you consider a 30-minute meeting transcript ranges between 3,000 and 6,000 words.
Another, more existential business challenge is the desire among remote workers to move away from frequent meetings. In a July 2022 survey from RedRex, workers said they spent an average of 31 hours per month in unproductive meetings; 71% believed their work time was often wasted due to unnecessary or canceled meetings. Moreover, over half of the respondents said that they actively wanted to reduce how much time they spent in virtual meetings.
Treseler admitted as much — and was loathe to share Supernormal’s revenue numbers. But he believes the growth is sustainable.
“As more companies have gone hybrid or fully remote, Supernormal is becoming an essential tool for distributed teams,” Treseler continued. “We’ve seen explosive growth as teams try to figure out the hybrid or distributed model. As soon as one team member is distributed, a meeting documentation tool is needed.”
Needles to say, Ghostline drags tattoo stencil making ‘inkto’ the current millennium • TechCrunch
Some of us are fans of dip-n-rip tattoos with very little planning. Who cares, it’s not like tattoos are permanent, right? Others prefer a slightly more measured approach. If you’ve ever gotten a delicate, detailed tattoo, you may have been surprised by how long it takes your tattoo artist to go from doodle to having the rough outline of your soon-to-be body art transferred onto your skin. Ghostline recently launched an iPad app to try and change all of that, dragging (some) tattoo artists into the digital age.
“Everything in the tattoo industry is kind of antiquated at this point. Machines and tools have gotten better, but tech hasn’t really entered the space other than batteries and maybe digital art formats. We’ve been spending the same amount of time for years, and it became evident to me that there had to be a way that I could optimize the process of making a stencil, especially for artists who create realistic artwork,” said London Reese, founder at Ghostline, in an interview with TechCrunch. “We have iPads, we have software, we have all these drawing tools, but nothing would turn that imagery into a stencil that I could print out and apply it to skin. That takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes every day. That has always been part of the process, but I wondered and said, ‘Wait! I think I could make something like that!’”
To Reese, the value is saving time — spending six or seven hours per week on creating stencils could instead be spent tattooing more customers, and he laments either missing out on money or on time with his family.
The part of the process the app replaces is stenciling. Traditionally, you’d have to hand-design and trace a stencil on top of a photo, and then run it through a Thermofax or some sort of thermal copier. From there, you can apply that carbon stencil onto skin. The app replaces the need to hand-trace. In addition, it offers a few additional features that make it easier to resize work across multiple sheets of stencil paper or to do tattoo work in multiple sessions.
“We developed a way to make the app AirPrint compatible, so we can print directly from the app straight to a modern inkjet printer. Instead of using printer ink, the printer will have tattoo stencil ink and runs stencil paper instead of printer paper,” Reese explains. “You print it out, cut it out, apply it to the body and it’s ready to go.”
Ghostline produced a little video showing off how it all works, featuring Reese himself:
The app also has tools built in that make it possible to scale images up and print them over multiple sheets in a grid. By automating that process, it becomes repeatable, which means you can get exact measurements and then save it on the tablet. You can come back to it another day — weeks or months later — and reapply it, aligned with the tattooing that’s already completed, to continue the tattoo.
The company currently has around 3,000 users, growing at around 100 per day. It’s free to try for a week; after that, it costs $5.99 per month or $59.99 per year for unlimited use.
However, Reese admits the app may not be for everyone.
“You know, there is a cool old-school mentality in tattooing that I hope never dies. You learn the way of the forefathers of tattooing and you do it that way and you don’t bring anything else into it, because it works,” Reese laughs. “I love that. However, I’m a modern man in modern culture. If I can find something that will allow me to optimize my workflow, I’m all about it. I’ve been trying to optimize my workstation and my workflow for years, and this is just one little element of it. I don’t mind that some guys aren’t gonna like it or are gonna think it’s not for them. That’s fine. That’s tattooing. That’s art. Right? We all have a process.”
Wakanda Forever’ gets its streaming debut on Disney+ • TechCrunch
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is now streaming on Disney+, 82 days after it was released in theaters– the longest window between theatrical release and streaming release of any Marvel movie on Disney+.
However, the wait may have been worth it since the movie grossed more than $800 million at the box office worldwide and has a 94% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It also scored two Golden Globes nominations and five Oscar noms. Angela Bassett, who played Queen Ramonda, won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.
Plus, the film is now streaming in IMAX Enhanced on Disney+, joining 16 other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies, such as the first “Black Panther” movie along with “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Eternals,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and more. IMAX Enhanced lets viewers experience more immersive viewing with an expanded aspect ratio.
If new Disney+ subscribers want to watch “Black Panther 2,” they have to pay $10.99 per month for the ad-free plan, up from $7.99. Or they can subscribe to the newly launched ad-supported tier, which is $7.99 per month.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” takes place after the death of King T’Challa– played by Chadwick Boseman, who passed away in 2020. Throughout the film, the Princess of Wakanda, Shuri (played by Letitia Wright), is grieving the loss of her brother, however, she must fight alongside Queen Ramonda, M’Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and the Dora Milaje to protect their nation from the ruler of a hidden undersea nation, Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía). The film also stars Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Dominique Thorne, Michaela Coel, Mabel Cadena and Alex Livinalli.
The “Black Panther” sequel marks the final movie of Phase 4 of the MCU. As we enter the second month of 2023, we’ll soon see the release of Phase 5 titles, including “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which premieres in theaters on February 17, along with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” and “The Marvels,” among others.
Meta wins ruling against FTC to move forward with purchase of VR startup Within • TechCrunch
Meta can move forward with its acquisition of virtual reality startup Within, a report from Bloomberg says. According to the report, Judge Edward Davila submitted a sealed decision that denied the FTC’s request to take next steps in blocking the transaction.
The FTC sued Meta in July to block the purchase of Within, the creators of the VR fitness app Supernatural, alleging that the acquisition would be anti-competitive. Indeed, Meta has a history of buying up promising VR technology to power its mutli-billion dollar bet on the metaverse.
In court in December, FTC argued that Within’s Supernatural app is a direct competitor to Beat Saber, a popular VR rhythm game that some people use to work out.
Meta bought Beat Games, the studio behind Beat Saber, in 2019. Even Oculus, the hardware company that powers Meta’s flagship Quest headsets, came aboard via a $2 billion acquisition in 2014. And in the final days of 2022, Meta confirmed its purchase of Luxexcel, a smart eyewear company. None of the terms of these deals have been disclosed.
When the FTC called Zuckerberg to the stand, the government lawyers presented email exchanges from March 2021 that proposed a partnership between Beat Saber and Peloton. Zuckerberg said that a deal like this is no longer on the table, in part due to the company’s worsening financial state, and it did not progress further. A partnership between Beat Saber and Peloton would now be impossible, Zuckerberg testified, since Meta is now in a lesser financial situation (in part due to changing Apple policies, he said).
Zuckerberg also said that fitness is not his priority in the VR space — rather, he’s focused on social, gaming and productivity use cases. Meta recently released its Quest Pro, a powerful headset that’s specifically designed for remote work.
Now, Judge Davila could give Meta the go-ahead, but per Bloomberg’s report, Meta will be temporarily barred from completing the deal while the FTC decides on its next steps, since the agency could still appeal the ruling.
TechCrunch has reached out to Meta for comment.
- Needles to say, Ghostline drags tattoo stencil making ‘inkto’ the current millennium • TechCrunch
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