February 29, 2024

Twitter rebrands to ‘X,’ hackers infect Call of Duty, and foreign visitors to China go cashless

Hey, friends, welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s roundup of the week in tech news. Life getting in the way of your daily TechCrunch habit? Not to worry. WiR will get you caught up in no time.

This week, WiR covers the improving quality of AI porn generators and the ethical dilemmas they raise; Twitter rebranding to “X”; and hackers infecting Call of Duty with self-spreading malware. Elsewhere, we dive into a North Korean hacking group, foreign Chinese visitors’ newfound ability to go cashless, and the rollout of Sam Altman’s Worldcoin eyeball-scanning crypto project.

As always, it’s a lot to get to, so let’s not delay. But first, a reminder that if you haven’t already, sign up here to get WiR in your inbox every Saturday.

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Twitter rebrands to “X”: This week, Twitter removed its iconic bird logo and adopted “X” as its new official branding. The move, which Elon Musk announced over the weekend, is a harbinger of the platform’s shift — perhaps more aspirational than concrete — to deemphasize text tweets in favor of audio, video, messaging and payment and banking.

Now it’s my X: Twitter’s rebranding to X hasn’t been faring exceptionally well. In addition to a haphazard rollout that saw parts of the site referencing “X” while others still implored you to “search Twitter” or push a blue button to “Tweet,” the company didn’t even make an attempt to secure the @x Twitter handle, owned by Gene X Hwang of the corporate photography and videography studio Orange Photography. Twitter later wrested control of the handle without notifying or compensating Hwang.

Hackers infect Call of Duty: Hackers are infecting players of an old Call of Duty game, Modern Warfare 2, with a worm that spreads automatically in online lobbies. As Lorenzo writes, Modern Warfare 2 was released quite a bit ago — 2009 — but still has a small community of players. Call of Duty publisher Activision said in a tweet that it would bring the Steam version of the game offline as it “investigates report of [the] issue.”

Foreign visitors to China go cashless: This week, China’s two dominant mobile payment solutions, WeChat Pay and Alipay, announced that foreign users can now pay at Chinese retailers by linking their foreign credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard and Discover. Previously, using WeChat Pay and Alipay in China required a local bank account, making it challenging for short-term visitors to use these payment methods.

Worldcoin launches its eyeball-scanning project: Worldcoin, Sam Altman’s audacious eyeball-scanning crypto startup, has begun the global rollout of its services to help build a reliable solution for distinguishing humans from AI online. People can download World App, the startup’s protocol-compatible wallet software, and visit an Orb, Worldcoin’s helmet-shaped eyeball-scanning verification device, to receive a unique “World ID.”

North Korean hackers expose themselves: Security researchers say they have high confidence that North Korean hackers were behind a recent intrusion at enterprise software company JumpCloud because of a mistake the hackers made. Mandiant, which is assisting one of JumpCloud’s affected customers, attributed the breach to hackers working for North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, or RGB, a hacking unit that targets cryptocurrency companies and steals passwords from executives and security teams.

Waymo puts the brakes on trucks: Waymo is tapping the brakes on self-driving trucks and shifting most of its capital, resources and talent to one commercial bet: ride-hailing. Kirsten writes that the move, which was announced Wednesday in a company blog post, comes six years after Waymo first tested its autonomous vehicle system in Class 8 trucks. The company emphasized the decision was driven by the commercial opportunities in applying its autonomous vehicle technology to ride-hailing.

SEC probes Bolt ex-CEO: Ryan Breslow, co-founder of the e-commerce software outfit Bolt, was subpoenaed along with the company last year by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Christine reported this week. A letter authored in April by a lawyer representing Bolt investors said the SEC was investigating whether federal securities laws were violated in connection with statements made when Bolt was raising money in 2021.

Audio

In need of a podcast to fill the hours? You’re in luck. TechCrunch has a roster of new episodes to keep you both entertained and informed.

On Equity this week, the crew dug through the headlines of the past few days, starting with AngelList’s acquisition of Nova, Waymo steering toward robotaxis and the latest on interest rates from the Fed. They also touched on earnings for Big Tech and how more limited partner capital can funnel into diverse venture funds.

Found featured a conversation with Mandy Price, the co-founder and CEO at Kanarys, a software-as-a-service startup that helps companies tackle their diversity and inclusion problems with data. Mandy talked about why she started the company after a decade-long career as a lawyer and why she didn’t want Kanarys to just be focused on hiring metrics, as many other diversity, equity and inclusion platforms are.

And on Chain Reaction, Deana Burke and Natasha Hoskins, the co-founders of Boys Club, spoke about their social decentralized autonomous organization for the “crypto curious.” Originally designed to get women and nonbinary people into the web3 world, Boys Club now aims to be an open space for anyone looking to get into the space.

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:

Why SAFE rounds are safe: SAFEs, simple agreements for future equity, have long been touted as a founder-friendly structure for signing venture deals. But is it really fair to call them that? Rebecca investigates.

Positivity in the face of toxicity: Dominic writes about how prioritizing positive company culture is just as important — or at least, should be as important — as investor returns.

Playing the long AI game: Microsoft’s and Alphabet’s results indicate the AI game is more of a long-term strategy, Alex writes.


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