TikTok Parent ByteDance Denies Report That It Plans to Sell

Marketing Bots Are Attempting to Infiltrate Reddit

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The legal and political wrangling over social media giant TikTok’s fate in America continues, while AI-powered marketing innovation continues apace and VCs looking for big returns place bets in the space…


  • Top Story: TikTok Parent ByteDance Denies Report That It Plans to Sell

  • AI Ethics: Marketing Bots Are Attempting to Infiltrate Reddit

  • Fast Money: AI Search Engine Startup Perplexity Raises $63M, Turns Unicorn

  • AI for CX: Customer Service AI Developer Parloa Raises $66 Million

  • Up and Comer: Marketing AI Startup for SMBs WorkRex Raises $220K Seed Money


TikTok Parent ByteDance Denies Report That It Plans to Sell

Responding to a report on Thursday from The Information that cited three anonymous inside sources, ByteDance denied it’s considering the sale of its social media subsidiary TikTok in a deal that would not include the company’s core recommendation algorithm.

The speculation comes on the heels of President Joe Biden signing a new law this week that would ban TikTok from operating in the U.S. unless it was sold to non-Chinese buyers—a response to allegations that the platform currently serves as a harmful propaganda platform that’s under control of a hostile national adversary.

The new law signed by Biden allows ByteDance 270 days to sell TikTok.

TikTok’s CEO Shou Chew vowed in a video statement on Thursday that his company will fight the issue in court. “Rest assured: we aren’t going anywhere,” Chew said.

“We are confident and we will keep fighting for your rights in the courts,” the CEO added. “The facts and the Constitution are on our side and we expect to prevail.”


AI Marketing Bots Are Attempting to Infiltrate Reddit

The popular social news and forum Reddit has become the target of AI-powered bots posing as humans to promote products and services, according to a report in 404 Media.

One company in particular called ReplyGuy, which offers a service designed to insinuate ads into Reddit using AI bots, "mentions your product in conversations naturally," by replying to users’ posts.

“The existence of ReplyGuy doesn’t necessarily mean that Reddit is going to suddenly become a hellscape full of AI-generated content. But it does highlight the fact that companies are trying to game the platform with the express purpose of ranking high on Google and are using AI and account buying to do it,” according to the report.

A spokesperson for Reddit told 404 Media that the company treats the use of AI-generated comments as “spam or content manipulation,” which violates its terms of service.


AI Search Engine Startup Perplexity Raises $63M, Turns Unicorn

Perplexity, an AI search engine developer co-founded in 2022 by its CEO Aravind Srinivas a former OpenAI employee, has raised $63 million of venture capital in a deal that valued the company at over $1 billion, giving it coveted “unicorn” status.

Perplexity’s generative AI search engine uses a chatbot interface to provide relevant results. The information is presented in digested form with source links, along with suggested related topics. Some describe the platform as a sort of combination between ChatGPT and Google search.

According to a report in TechCrunch, Perplexity is currently raising at least another $250 million, beyond the $63 million it just secured, at a valuation of between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.

In January, the company raised $74 million at a valuation of $540 million.


Customer Service AI Developer Parloa Raises $66 Million

Parloa, the Berlin-based developer of an AI-powered customer service platform, announced it has raised $66 million in its second round of venture capital, led by Altimeter Capital, with EQT Ventures, Newion, Senovo, Mosaic Ventures and La Famiglia Growth.

Founded in 2018, Parloa focuses on the estimated $500 billion call center market. The company’s AI helps organizations deliver personalized, dynamic and “humanlike” experiences to customers, reducing wait times and automating busywork for employees.

The new funding comes as Parloa has experienced a 3X revenue growth in each of the last 3 years and market entry in the U.S. in 2023, when it opened an office in New York. The company says it signed several U.S.-based Fortune 200 companies within six months of arriving.


Marketing AI Startup for SMBs WorkRex Raises $220K Seed Money

WorkRex, a Melbourne-based startup developer of an AI-powered marketing platform for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), has raised $220,000 in seed funding from Skalata, an early-stage venture capital investor.

According to a report in startupdaily, WorkRex has created an AI assistant that automates 80% of the work required to ideate, design and deliver personalized marketing campaigns at scale, “to enable small business owners to maintain a personal touch when engaging with customers.”

Claire Bristow, an associate with Skalata, said, “The WorkRex team has displayed an undivided focus on the customer pain point, and the rare kind of radical empathy and self awareness required to find true product-market fit. We look forward to supporting their roll out of new AI features and expansion into an exciting range of new verticals.”


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