News in apps delivered weekly to your inbox on 🌮Tuesday


This week on What’s Appening… We bring you the story of Fast, a startup that hoodwinked investors into parting with over $100 million last year, despite having the comparable revenue of a taco truck. We are also looking at the mesmerizing work of DALL-E 2, which, while beautiful, is another step towards AI taking over the world. We have been testing the BeReal app, which has quickly become the hottest thing on campus. And, but of course, we scrutinize the news everyone’s talking about this week: the purchase of 73.5 million Twitter shares by a certain Mr Musk.  

What’s Appening is brought to you by 3Advance, the product development team that eats, sleeps and breathes apps. Not diggin’ the apps? You can opt-out below. Forwarding to a friend? They can subscribe here.

🎬 Takes

💸 💥 Fast – Instant Checkout Startup Shuts Down a Year After $100+ Million Raise

It’s commonly held now that there is a growing disconnect between companies’ valuations and their ability to make money. We can point to many examples, like Airbnb and its gazillion dollar valuation despite never turning a profit. But, boy, the tale of Fast is something else. The Australian startup was last valued at $580 million, and it had a $102 million Series B raise in 2021 led by big names like Stripe. And yet, its revenues for 2021 were six figures; around $50K per month. So, we have a global startup with more than a half-billion-dollar valuation generating revenues similar to a mid-sized neighborhood coffee shop or laundromat. Something is badly wrong here. How did Fast drop the ball? Well, the idea was solid: Fast capitalized on the expiration of Amazon’s one-click checkout patent in 2017, and it should have rode the wave of the online shopping boom during the pandemic. But Fast was burning money, err, fast. Too fast. And too darn furiously. Up to to $10 million a month. Unfortunately, this was predictable. In its reporting on the shut down of Fast, TechCrunch said this was expected for days. However, NPR was investigating Fast’s management back in February, and it concluded that its maverick CEO, Domm Holland, who referred to himself as the “fastest CEO in the world” (sigh), was guilty of lavish spending. That included a $1 million payday for The Chainsmokers to perform during a retail event. You can read NPR’s investigation here. And it’s well worth doing so because it’s, frankly, scandalous. But be aware: This is not just a tale of a CEO with a penchant for fast living. The story is the canary in the coal mine: Other bubbles could burst once investors get real. #TooFastTooFurious Read more here.

🧠 🖼 OpenAI – DALL-E 2 Creates Images of Anything You Can Imagine

We aren’t usually short on words here on What’s Appening, but what can we say about the fantastical DALL-E 2? It’s kind of indescribable. But let’s start with the name, DALL-E, because, as a portmanteau of (Salvador) Dali and (Pixar’s) Wall-E, it perfectly encapsulates what’s going on here. Think up the idea for an image – let’s say, “a fawn dreaming of spring after a cold winter” – and DALL-E 2 will generate that image. You’ll notice the “2” in the name, and that’s because this is the second iteration of DALL-E, the first being launched by OpenAI in January last year. DALL-E 2 can create richer images than its predecessor, up from 256px to 1024px, and it really shows. Some of these images can only be described as beautiful, Daliesque, at times. More importantly, DALL-E 2 is very good at understanding the abstract. And, my human friends, the understanding of the abstract is what was supposed to separate us from the machines. There are some rules for using DALL-E 2: You can’t use real people, so no generating images of Taylor Swift fighting a kangaroo; there’s no violent, sexual or political content; and (for now) there’s no exporting the images to 3rd-party platforms, so you won’t be able to create DALL-E 2 NFTs just yet. #DALLE2DreamMachine Read more here.

⏰ 📸 BeReal – Authenticity-First App Skyrockets in Popularity Among Gen Z

It’s been described as the anti-Instagram, Gen-Z’s new favorite app, and the social media network that’s not fake. BeReal has been taking college campuses by storm, and we can’t help but be impressed by the concept that’s aimed as an antidote to the pressures facing young people to look great all the time on social media. BeReal works like this: You can post one photo per day. But that photo is taken at a random time unknown to you in advance, and you get two minutes to take it. Front and back cameras are used for authenticity. You can’t view friends’ photos until you have taken your own, so that puts an end to the 90-9-1 social media rule and the wonderful/creepy artform of lurking. If you don’t post, your followers get notified, ‘shaming’ (in a nice way) you in the process. Sounds complicated? It’s not really. The simple goal is to take one picture per day of the “real” you and avail of an alternative to the superficial fakery that’s prevalent on other social media. Of course, being curious and discerning app devs, we took BeReal for a test drive to see what all the fuss was about. To be frank, it was a little clunky and seemed a bit half-baked in its execution. But we give it 10 out of 10 for the intent. Hats off to founder Alexis Barreyat for trying to do something different in a world of Kardashians. One last thing to note: BeReal was launched in 2019, but it has seen 65% of its downloads in this year alone, allowing it to shoot up the app store rankings. So, you know, as Journey said, don’t stop believin’. #KeepingItReal Read more here.

🧐 Stat of the Week — 9.2%: Elon Musk Buys Into Twitter

You’ve probably seen the news: Elon Musk has become Twitter’s largest shareholder. Half the internet rejoiced and shouted “edit button”, and the other half shuddered and wondered what other weird stuff 2022 would throw at us. However, some whispered about its relevance to Mr Musk’s SEC investigation – you know, for those infamous Tesla stock tweets. Initially, it was proposed that Musk would join the Twitter board, but that decision has now been reversed. “It’s for the best,” said Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on Monday. Cool, Parag. But you said six days ago that “it became clear to us that Elon would bring great value to our Board.”. What the heck happened over the weekend, guys? Regardless, the world’s favorite engineer/rocket launcher/battery maker/car manufacturer/guru/reefer smoker/bitcoin promoter now owns 73.5 million Twitter shares. Whatever happens, it’s gonna be interesting. #MuskBeAMistake Read more here.

🕸️ What’s dAppening?

🍏 💰 MetaMask – Popular Cryptocurrency Wallet Adds Apple Pay Integration 

Let’s get this straight right out of the box: This does not mean that Apple is on the crypto train. This addition to MetaMask, a popular wallet for the Ethereum blockchain that passed 30 million users recently, allows iPhone users to use credit and debit cards by way of Apple Pay to purchase digital assets (ETH and some stablecoins). So, while you can’t use Apple Cash and buyers are limited to $400 worth of purchases, it does add another layer of mainstreaming to the world of crypto. Given the shenanigans around Fast mentioned earlier, we should note here that Apple Wallet integration is in partnership with Wyre, which itself was recently acquired by Bolt, a web2 one-click checkout solution. See what you could have been, Fast, if you weren’t wasting your time and money on The Chainsmokers? Anyway, this is another example of a prominent web2 payment company – we have mentioned Stripe’s crypto move in a previous newsletter – entering the crypto arena. And it’s just a little bit easier for iPhone users to buy some crypto. #ApplePayCryptoOnRamp Read more here.

Meanwhile at 3Advance…

Did you notice something slightly different with this latest edition of What’s Appening? … Correct, we ditched one of those pesky apostrophes! But that’s not all. We’ve moved away from Hubspot and are now using Beehiiv – a dedicated newsletter platform, and not so coincidentally one of the startups in the investment portfolio of our very own 3Adventures! 3Adventures, LLC is the investment wing of 3Advance, LLC and in 2021, as part of our investment group (Meta Fund), we became early backers of Beehiiv. We’re big believers in using the best tool for the job. In this case, Beehiiv is simple, intuitive and focused on solving one problem really well… Take note founders 😉. So bye, bye Hubspot, hello Beehiiv! 👋 We’d love to hear what you think of the new platform (hint, hint: it’s easy to share with a friend you know), or if you want to learn more about 3Advance, 3Adventures or Adventure Fund, be sure to reach out!