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The biggest stories from the year in tech

Dan DeFrancesco   

The biggest stories from the year in tech

  • This post originally appeared in the Insider Today newsletter.

Hi! Living in the Arctic has downsides — mainly the bitter cold — but it also has benefits, like these rainbow-colored clouds that recently appeared in the skies.

In today's big story, we're looking at some of our best tech stories from the past year.

What's on deck:

But first, it's tech time.

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The big story

Tech in review

The year in tech was a case study in the haves and have-nots.

The year kicked off with cuts across Big Tech and increased pressure on cash-burning startups that were running out of options.

The industry received another shock when startups' and VCs' favorite bank — Silicon Valley Bank — imploded overnight. That wasn't the only high-profile disaster this year, as the industry's favorite social media platform devolved before its eyes.

And yet, there were still plenty of bright spots. Generative AI was a highlight in an otherwise grim startup landscape struggling with high interest rates and a nonexistent IPO market.

But even those riding high on the AI wave had slip-ups. OpenAI, the biggest name in AI this year, dealt with a shocking ouster of its CEO. And even though it lasted less than a week, the aftereffects are still being felt.

Meanwhile, Nvidia, which saw its stock price skyrocket this year, had the unique problem of dealing with employees who have gotten so rich they are in "semi-retirement."

To make sense of everything that happened in the tech world this year, I asked Business Insider's Global Tech Editor Alistair Barr to pick five of the top stories from his team, along with some insight about what made them stand out.

My husband founded a startup. Then our marriage got weird.
Melia Russell wrote a very personal essay that captured the harsh realities of entrepreneurship and its impact on close relationships.

The strange, improbable rise of Mark Zuckerberg 3.0.
Since Kali Hays published this story, she's seen and heard her central thesis — that Mark Zuckerberg is in the third phase of his CEO life — repeated in public and even directly back to her by industry sources.

App, lover, muse: Inside a 47-year-old Minnesota man's three-year relationship with an AI chatbot.
Rob Price spent lots of time with Jay Priebe in 2023, a regular guy who had a three-year relationship with an AI chatbot girlfriend. This story cut through the more lurid, sensational coverage of this new trend to get to the heart of the matter: What does a relatively sensible human get out of a relationship like this?

Apple privately asked Amazon to block rival ads. Insider found evidence of this special treatment, while others suffer from 'junk ads.'
Eugene Kim worked on this piece on and off for more than a year. It provides an exclusive example of how Big Tech rivals can work together behind the scenes to benefit each other, often to the detriment of customers and smaller competitors.

The inside story of how Salesforce went from gifting ultra-luxury cars to mass layoffs and a 'showdown' between co-CEOs.
Problems at Salesforce, and investor pressure on CEO Marc Benioff, caused massive disruption and change at the cloud-software giant early in 2023. Business Insider reporters Ashley Stewart and Ellen Thomas led coverage of this from inside the company. They finished off this series with an exclusive and insightful profile of Benioff's tough 18 months.

3 things in markets

  1. The bankers who are banking on AI. Artificial intelligence could finally jumpstart the M&A and IPO market in 2024. These 11 bankers will play a key role in any deals next year.
  2. Your 2024 hedge-fund watchlist is here. Bobby Jain's new fund has garnered considerable attention before its launch, but it's not the only one going live in 2024. Meanwhile, established funds like D1 Capital and Two Sigma Investments will look to bounce back. Check out all the funds to watch.
  3. The Roaring 20s, part two. The market is similar to how it was positioned in the 1920s, leading some to believe the economy is set to boom. But the state of interest rates, and when the Fed might cut them, remains a major hangup.

3 things in tech

  1. A 65-year-old spent her inheritance on TikTok livestreamers. Cindi White devoted as much as 50 hours per week to watching them. At her peak, she was burning $100 per day on livestreamers. But what started as a bit of fun, she realized, had morphed into something resembling an addiction.
  2. Apple can keep selling its latest watches — for now. A judge approved the iPhone maker's emergency request to continue selling Apple Watches in the US. Its sales and imports had been halted the past few days due to a patent dispute with a medical-device company.
  3. We might be a step closer to seeing OpenAI's first device. CEO Sam Altman and legendary iPhone designer Jony Ive are reportedly working on a device together. The latest report says that the pair has tapped an Apple exec to design their project.

3 things in business

  1. It's the year of revenge profit. Welcome to the revenge economy. This year, celebrities, influencers, and reality stars created economic opportunities for themselves via revenge — just look at the trajectories of Taylor Swift, Ariana Madix, and Taylor Rue.
  2. How 500,000 workers refused to work in 2023 — and won big. TV writers. Baristas. Autoworkers. Healthcare workers. Journalists. They all withheld their labor this year during strikes and snagged major wins. Bosses should be scared of what comes next.
  3. Meet YouTube's 10 biggest breakout stars and the teams that helped them grow. Short-form videos on YouTube grew many peoples' views and subscribers this year. So did the teams working with the creators.

In other news

What's happening today

  • The US Space Force is expected to launch its new reusable space plane. The secretive project's purposes are unknown. But it'll be aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
  • It's National Call a Friend Day. The day is meant to show appreciation — beyond texting and voice memos.
  • Happy birthday, Denzel Washington. John Legend, Seth Meyers, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, and Woodrow Wilson were also born on this day.

For your bookmarks

"White knuckling"

"White knuckling" could be making your anxiety worse. A therapist shared five signs that the habit is making your anxiety worse and three ways to regain control.

The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hayley Hudson, director, in Edinburgh. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.

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