Clop ransomware gang doxes two new victims days after police raids

The notorious Clop ransomware operation appears to be back in business, just days after Ukrainian police arrested six alleged members of the gang.

Last week, a law enforcement operation conducted by the National Police of Ukraine along with officials from South Korea and the U.S. saw the arrest of multiple suspects believed to be linked to the Clop ransomware gang. It’s believed to be the first time a national law enforcement group carried out mass arrests involving a ransomware group.

The Ukrainian police also claimed at the time to have successfully shut down the server infrastructure used by the gang. But it doesn’t seem the operation was completely successful.

While the Clop operation fell silent following the arrests, the gang has this week published a fresh batch of confidential data which it claims to have stolen from two new victims — a farm equipment retailer and an architects office — on its dark web site, seen by TechCrunch.

If true — and neither of the alleged victims responded to TechCrunch’s request for comment — this would suggest that the ransomware gang remains active, despite last week’s first-of-its-kind law enforcement sting. This is likely because the suspects cuffed included only those who played a lesser role in the Clop operation. Cybersecurity firm Intel 471 said it believes that last week’s arrests targeted the money laundering portion of the operation, with core members of the gang not apprehended.

“We do not believe that any core actors behind Clop were apprehended,” the security company said. “The overall impact to Clop is expected to be minor although this law enforcement attention may result in the Clop brand getting abandoned as we’ve recently seen with other ransomware groups like DarkSide and Babuk.”

Clop appears to still be in business, but it remains to be seen how long the group will remain operational. Not only have law enforcement operations dealt numerous blows to ransomware groups this year, such as U.S. investigators’ recent recovery of millions in cryptocurrency they claim was paid in ransom to the Colonial Pipeline hackers, but Russia has this week confirmed it will begin to work with the U.S. to locate cybercriminals.

Russia has until now taken a hands-off approach when it comes to dealing with hackers. Reuters reported Wednesday that the head of the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Alexander Bortnikov was quoted as saying it will co-operate with U.S. authorities on future cybersecurity operations.

Intel 471 previously said that it does not believe the key members of Clop were arrested in last week’s operation because “they are probably living in Russia,” which has long provided safe harbor to cybercriminals by refusing to take action.

The Clop ransomware gang was first spotted in early 2019, and the group has since been linked to a number of high-profile attacks. These include the breach of U.S. pharmaceutical giant ExecuPharm in April 2020 and the recent data breach at Accellion, which saw hackers exploit flaws in the IT provider’s software to steal data from dozens of its customers including the University of Colorado and cloud security vendor Qualys.

#accellion, #chief, #colorado, #computer-security, #crime, #cyberattack, #cybercrime, #head, #intel, #law-enforcement, #moscow, #qualys, #ransomware, #russia, #security, #security-breaches, #south-korea, #united-states

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It’s Summer in the Ski Towns, 2.0

Last year, mountain resorts were overrun by travelers in search of space and fresh air. The visitors are expected back, but now the towns have expanded activities and plans in place to deal with the crowds.

#california, #colorado, #hikes-and-hiking, #idaho, #montana, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #summer-season, #travel-and-vacations, #vermont

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Kim Avis Jailed After Faking Death at ‘Mortuary Beach’

The man’s son told the authorities that his father drowned. Months later, he was found in Colorado and extradited to Scotland, where he was sentenced this week to 15 years in prison.

#big-sur-calif, #california, #carmel-calif, #colorado, #colorado-springs-colo, #domestic-violence, #extradition, #fugitives, #highway-1-calif, #missing-persons, #scotland, #sex-crimes, #united-states, #united-states-coast-guard, #united-states-marshals-service

0

Colorado Baker Fined for Refusing to Make Cake for Transgender Woman

Jack Phillips, whose previous refusal to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple made its way to the Supreme Court in 2018, violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, a state judge found.

#alliance-defending-freedom, #bakeries-and-baked-products, #colorado, #discrimination, #phillips-jack-1956, #transgender-and-transsexuals

0

Climate Change Batters the West Before Summer Even Begins

Global warming has been fueling disasters in the region for years. Now, an early heat wave and severe drought are threatening lives and leaving water in perilously short supply.

#agriculture-and-farming, #arizona, #california, #colorado, #electric-light-and-power, #global-warming, #hoover-dam, #lake-mead, #rationing-and-allocation-of-resources, #temperature, #water

0

How Climate Change Has Battered the West Before Summer Even Begins

Global warming has been fueling disasters in the region for years. Now, an early heat wave and severe drought are threatening lives and leaving water in perilously short supply.

#agriculture-and-farming, #arizona, #california, #colorado, #electric-light-and-power, #global-warming, #hoover-dam, #lake-mead, #rationing-and-allocation-of-resources, #temperature, #water

0

Man, 20, Is Found Guilty in Colorado School Shooting

Devon Erickson was one of two students who planned and carried out an attack at the STEM School Highlands Ranch in which one student was killed and eight others were injured on May 7, 2019.

#alec-mckinney, #castillo-kendrick-d-2019, #colorado, #decisions-and-verdicts, #douglas-county-colo, #erickson-devon, #mass-shootings, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #school-shootings-and-armed-attacks, #stem-school-highlands-ranch-highlands-ranch-colo

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Driving an Electric Car on Colorado’s Scenic Byways

Will the battery hold out crossing a 10,666-foot pass? Where is the next charging station? Overcoming ‘range anxiety’ on Colorado’s highest mountains.

#colorado, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #road-trips, #travel-and-vacations

0

Gray Wolf Pups Are Spotted in Colorado for the First Time in 80 Years

The litter was born amid a contentious plan to reintroduce the species to the state.

#colorado, #wolves

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Homeward secures $371M to help people make all-cash offers on houses

Trying to buy a house in a competitive market is perhaps one of the most stressful things an adult can go through.

Competing with a bunch of people all putting offers on a house that fly off the market in a matter of days is not fun. One startup that is trying to give home buyers a competitive edge by giving them a way to offer all cash on a home has just raised a boatload of money to help it keep growing.

Austin-based Homeward, which aims to help people buy homes faster, announced today it has raised $136 million in a Series B funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners at a valuation “just north of $800 million.” The company has also secured $235 million in debt.

Blackstone, Breyer Capital and existing backers Adams Street, Javelin and LiveOak Venture Partners also participated in the equity financing, which brings Homeward’s total equity raised since inception to $160 million. 

Homeward’s model seems to be appealing to both home buyers (including first time ones) and agents alike, with lots of growth occurring since May 2020 when it raised $105 million in debt and equity. The company declined to reveal hard revenue figures but noted that its GMV (gross merchandise value) run rate is up over 600%+ year over year.

Also, as of March, Homeward says it had experienced a 5x increase in the volume of homes transacted and 9x year over growth in the number of new customers. Plus, It’s hired 161 employees since January alone, and currently has a headcount of 203, up from about 33 at this time last year. 

CEO Tim Heyl founded the real estate startup in late 2018 on the premise that in most cases, sellers prefer to receive all cash offers because they are more likely to close. Loans can fall through, but cash is cash.

Heyl started the company after having worked in the industry for the previous decade, first as a broker then as the owner of a title company. During that time, he saw firsthand many of the problems in the industry. And one conundrum he frequently ran into was people not wanting to make an offer on a home without knowing for sure their current house would sell in a certain amount of time. This is a dilemma many are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic as demand outweighs supply in many major U.S. cities.

“The pandemic has greatly increased demand for our product,” Heyl told TechCrunch. “It’s a historic seller’s market with unprecedented demand from buyers and the lowest inventory levels in decades.”

The company plans to use its new capital to “double down” on its offering, scale up to meet “outsized demand” and open additional markets. Currently, Homeward operates in Texas, Colorado and Georgia.

“Right now, we have a waiting list in every market across the country, so this growth capital will enable us to meet that demand,” Heyl said. Its ultimate goal is to open its offering to agents nationwide.

Homeward also plans to double the size of its title and mortgage teams in the latter half of the year so it can offer its clients and partner agents “a single streamlined experience.” It’s also planning to integrate its consumer and internal software systems for approvals, offers and closing “so everyone can be on a single platform and we can eliminate confusion and waste,” Heyl added.

So, how does it work exactly? Homeward will make an all-cash offer on behalf of a customer wanting to buy a house. Meanwhile, that customer can hire an agent (from brokerages such as Redfin or Keller Williams) to list their home with less pressure to sell it in a certain amount of time or at a discounted price. Once Homeward buys a home, it will lease the property back to its customer until they sell their house, get a mortgage, and can buy the property back from Homeward, plus a 2 percent to 3 percent convenience fee. During the process, Homeward offers a predetermined guaranteed price for its customer’s home with the promise that if it’s unable to sell the house for at least that amount, it’ll buy the house from them.

Heyl believes Homeward’s “alternative iBuyer” model is a better deal for customers since it doesn’t purchase a customer’s old home for below market value. The company also works with agents, and not against them, he said. For example, its offerings are available to any agent, but the company “strategically” partners with top brokerages and teams, providing them with what it describes as “dedicated support, white-label branding, and digital marketing tools to help them stand out from the crowd and attract more clients.”

“Most alternatives to traditional real estate minimize or replace the agent,” Heyl said. “But we are agents ourselves, and we’ve built this for agents.”

Homeward is profitable on a per unit basis if you count transaction revenue minus costs to acquire and complete each transaction, according to Heyl. However, it is not yet profitable on a net income basis.

Jeff Crowe, managing partner at Norwest Venture Partners, will join Homeward’s board as part of the funding.

“Homeward is innovating at the intersection of real estate and fintech — that’s the next frontier,” he said. “Homeward’s cash offer addresses real problems for homebuyers in all market conditions, and the team has identified a winning strategy by partnering with agents and their clients.”

Jim Breyer of Breyer Capital describes Homeward as one of Austin’s most innovative companies.

“We are inspired by the company’s mission to build home finance solutions to overcome the limitations of the traditional mortgage and we are proud to support them as they continue to scale rapidly and efficiently,” he said.

#austin, #blackstone, #breyer-capital, #broker, #ceo, #colorado, #economy, #finance, #funding, #fundings-exits, #georgia, #jeff-crowe, #jim-breyer, #liveoak-venture-partners, #managing-partner, #norwest-venture-partners, #proptech, #real-estate, #real-estate-tech, #recent-funding, #redfin, #startup, #startups, #tc, #texas, #united-states, #venture-capital

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Man Rescued in Colorado Mountain Pass Is Accused in 1982 Murders

Alan Lee Phillips was rescued from a snowdrift in 1982 after he signaled SOS with his headlights. The police now say he became trapped on the road after killing two women.

#breckenridge-colo, #colorado, #dna-deoxyribonucleic-acid, #forensic-science, #genealogy, #genetics-and-heredity, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #oberholtzer-barbara-jo-d-1982, #phillips-alan-lee-1951, #schnee-annette-d-1982

0

Colorado Makes Doxxing Public Health Workers Illegal

The pandemic made health care workers a new target for having their personal information shared online, often with real-world consequences.

#colorado, #computers-and-the-internet, #cyberharassment, #law-and-legislation, #privacy

0

Hate Crime Is Eyed in Chinese-American Teen’s 2017 Killing, Authorities Say

The killing of Maggie Long, 17, who was set on fire and burned alive in her family’s Bailey, Colo., home, remains unsolved.

#asian-americans, #bailey-colo, #chinese-americans, #colorado, #discrimination, #hate-crimes, #long-maggie-d-2017, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides

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Construction tech upstart Assignar adds a Fifth Wall with $20M Series B

Construction technology may not be the sexiest of industries, but it is one where tremendous opportunity lies — considering it has historically lagged in productivity. And, lags in productivity means project delays, which typically costs everyone involved more time and more money.

There are a number of larger players in the space (think Procore, PlanGrid and Autodesk) that are tackling the problems from the perspective of the general contractor. But when it comes to the subcontractors that are hired by the general contractor to do 95% of the work, the pickings are few and far between.

Enter Assignar, a cloud-based construction tech startup that was originally born in Australia and is now based in Denver, Colorado. Co-founder and CEO Sean McCreanor was a contractor himself for many years, and grew frustrated with the lack of offerings available to him. So, as in the case of many founders, he set out to create the technology he wished existed.

And today, Assignar has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round led by real estate tech-focused venture firm Fifth Wall. 

Existing backer Tola Capital and new investor Ironspring Ventures also put money in the round, which brings Assignar’s total raised since its 2014 inception to $31 million.

“I had 100 crews and workers out in the field, lots of heavy equipment and project work, and was running the entire business on spreadsheets and whiteboards,” McCreanor recalls. “With Assignar, we essentially help the office connect to the field and vice versa.”

In a nutshell, Assignar’s operations platform is designed for use by “self-perform general and subcontractors” on public and private infrastructure projects. The company’s goal is to make the whole process smoother for large general contractors, developers and real estate owner-operators by providing a “real-time snapshot of granular field activity.”

Specifically, Assignar aims to streamline operations and schedules, track crews and equipment, and improve quality and safety, as well as measure and monitor productivity and progress with data on all projects. For example, it claims to be able to help match up the best crews and equipment for a specific job “more efficiently.”

The startup says it has hundreds of international customers working on multibillion-dollar projects in infrastructure, road, rail, heavy civil, utilities and other construction disciplines. Those customers range from specialist contractors with as few as five crews to multi-national, multibillion-dollar companies. Projects include things such as bridges and roads, for example.

Image Credits: Assignar

Assignar historically has “more than doubled” its revenue every year since inception and in 2020, saw revenue increase by 75%.

“We could have grown faster but wanted to manage cash flow,” McCreanor told TechCrunch.

Assignar’s focus is particularly significant these days considering that the Biden administration’s Infrastructure Bill is nearing agreement, likely signaling an investment in infrastructure for communities across the U.S. 

The heavy civil and horizontal construction industry has long lacked a well-designed and ubiquitous operations platform, according to Fifth Wall Partner Vik Chawla.

“Assignar’s cloud-based software offers a detailed view on when and where different types of field activities are being performed,” he said. “It streamlines communications between headquarters and the field, allows for a reduction in paperwork, and brings time and cost savings to an industry where much of the planning, tracking and reporting are still done by hand, in Excel or on white boards.”

Assignar plans to use its new capital to grow its business in North America (which currently makes up about 25% of its revenue) and double its 65-person team by hiring for roles across all departments. The company also plans to invest in R&D and product development to further build out its core platform. Among the features it’s planning to develop is a contractor hub and a schedule recommendation engine that McCreanor says will leverage data, AI and machine learning “to support planning and execution processes.”

#architecture, #artificial-intelligence, #assignar, #australia, #autodesk, #biden-administration, #cloud, #cloud-based-software, #cloud-computing, #colorado, #construction, #construction-software, #construction-tech, #contractor, #denver, #fifth-wall, #funding, #fundings-exits, #heavy-equipment, #ironspring-ventures, #machine-learning, #north-america, #plangrid, #procore, #recent-funding, #startup, #startups, #tc, #tola-capital, #united-states, #venture-capital, #vik-chawla

0

The Future of Virus Tracking Can Be Found on This College Campus

Colorado Mesa University and the Broad Institute of M.I.T. and Harvard have spent the last year exploring new approaches to managing outbreaks.

#cambridge-mass, #colleges-and-universities, #colorado, #computers-and-the-internet, #contact-tracing-public-health, #coronavirus-reopenings, #dormitories, #epidemics, #mesa-county-colo, #mobile-applications, #quarantines, #sabeti-pardis-c, #tests-medical, #water-pollution, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

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Ex-Aide to Congressman Claims He Was Fired for Voicing Virus Concerns

A former adviser to Representative Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Republican, contends in a federal lawsuit that the congressman flouted safety guidelines, contributing to an outbreak in his office.

#accidents-and-safety, #brandon-pope, #colorado, #colorado-springs-colo, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #doug-lamborn, #house-of-representatives, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #telecommuting, #united-states-politics-and-government, #workplace-environment, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

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Here Are Some Fun Places to Get the Vaccine

A beach. A ski resort. Dracula’s house. Some Covid-19 vaccine sites are more interesting than others.

#american-museum-of-natural-history, #baseball, #beaches, #castello-di-rivoli-museum-of-contemporary-art, #colorado, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #great-britain, #hockey-ice, #miami-beach-fla, #museums, #new-york-city, #palaces-and-castles, #philadelphia-flyers, #salisbury-cathedral-salisbury-england, #seattle-wash, #seattle-mariners, #seattle-sounders, #st-paul-saints, #transylvania-romania, #turin-italy, #vaccination-and-immunization, #westminster-abbey-london

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Hustle Fund wants to help spawn a new generation of angel investors

Kara Penn is the mother of four daughters and owner of Mission Spark, a management and strategy consulting company.

And now, thanks to Hustle Fund, she is also an angel investor.

Hustle Fund is coming out of stealth today with Angel Squad, a new initiative aimed at making angel investing more accessible to more people. To more people like Colorado-based Penn.

We believe that in order to increase diversity in the startup ecosystem, one thing that we must do is increase diversity — whether it be in regard to gender, race or geography — amongst angel investors,” said Hustle Fund co-founder and general partner Elizabeth Yin.

Via Angel Squad, Hustle Fund specifically aims to build an inclusive investor community, make minimum check sizes low and accessible (think as little as $1,000), provide “angel education” and give investors a way to invest alongside Hustle Fund.

“There’s been this misnomer, or at least I had this incorrect assumption that in order to become an angel investor, you have to be super rich and write $25,000 checks,” Yin told TechCrunch. “But the reality is actually in Silicon Valley, there are all these people running around investing $1,000 checks…and that’s something that’s a lot more accessible than then most people might think. And, part of the value of having this group is then we can accumulate a bunch of smaller checks to then write one larger check for a company.”

So far, Penn has invested in five startups across a range of sectors including real estate, food, apparel and finance. 

She describes herself as “a complete novice” in angel investing, and so far, she’s loving the experience.

I love Hustle Fund’s perspective that great hustlers can look like anyone and come from anywhere,” Penn told TechCrunch. “I’ve enjoyed being in a supportive community with differing levels of expertise, but where every question is welcomed.”

The experience is also broadening her exposure to technology and AI, the collection and use of data and the creation of new marketplaces in ways she never would have been exposed to before.

“As someone whose own company focuses exclusively on strategy in social impact organizations, I am also looking for how founders identify and bring to market creative solutions to complex problems, as well as exposure to a network of innovative people looking to solve hard issues in smart ways,” Penn said. “This exposure is helping me begin to think about applications of these approaches to difficult social problems.”

For some context, Hustle Fund is a venture firm founded by Elizabeth Yin and Eric Bahn, two former 500 Startups partners, with the goal of investing in pre-seed software startups. The firm has traditionally operated by investing $25,000 in a company, usually with a minimum-viable product, and then works with the team to help them grow. It does around 50 investments per year, according to its website. 

It recently closed on $33.6 million for a new fund.

“One of the things most important to us is this bigger mission of wanting to change the way the startup ecosystem is,” Yin said. “I noticed both as an entrepreneur and while running an accelerator, if you have a certain resume, went to certain schools, or were a certain race or gender, you have advantages in starting a company and getting funding. For many people, if you don’t tick those boxes, it can be very challenging. That’s why we’re investing in a lot of founders from all walks of life.”

Hustle Fund Venture Partner Brian Nichols had started a syndicate of Lyft alumni on AngelList. After doing a few deals, he opened up the syndicate to people outside of AngelList.

“I found there was a wide range of people looking to diversify into private markets, from all over the world with all types of backgrounds,” he said. “Hustle Fund and I had similar taste in companies I was investing in and I built a relationship with them in co-investments.”

Today, he’s helping run the fund’s Angel Squad initiative. So far, it has had two cohorts with over 150 investors total and true to the fund’s mission, those investors have been more diverse than typical angel syndicates: 46% of the members are female, 9% are underrepresented minorities and 32% are people who work outside of tech with professional roles such as lawyers, doctors and artists. Just one-third are based in Silicon Valley.

Every week, Angel Squad hosts an event which ranges from networking to a peek behind the curtain at opportunities at Hustle Fund is considering investing in to talking through why or why not to take a meeting with a founder.

“Imagine starting from zero, and if you could skip a bunch of steps and have Elizabeth (Yin) tell you how to do this before you lose a bunch of money in the process of evaluating a startup,” Nichols told TechCrunch. “Angel Squad is exactly what I wish had existed three or four years ago when I became interested in investing.”

Silicon Valley, Yin acknowledges, can be intimidating but the reality is that no one is an expert in everything.

“We’re trying to cultivate an environment where people are very kind — we have a no asshole rule, and that is a safe space where people can learn and feel like they can ask questions, and not have to know everything about angel investing. The reality is most people don’t. And we want to bring new people into this system.”

Besides not being an a-hole, other criteria in becoming a Squad Member include being able to add value and being an accredited investor.

“With rounds as competitive as they are today, we are looking for people who want to be actively supportive of the portfolio companies we’re investing in,” Nichols said. “Every person who wants to join the program is interviewed by someone from our team, who asks questions such as ‘What can you help a founder with?’ We are not looking for passive capital. That’s not super helpful at this point in the ecosystem.

#angel-investing, #angel-investors, #angellist, #co-founder, #colorado, #diversity, #elizabeth-yin, #entrepreneur, #entrepreneurship, #eric-bahn, #finance, #food, #funding, #hustle-fund, #investment, #lyft, #minimum-viable-product, #money, #pennsylvania, #private-equity, #real-estate, #silicon-valley, #startup, #startup-company, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #venture-capitalists

0

A New Covid Dilemma: What to Do When Vaccine Supply Exceeds Demand?

Some states are now cutting back their deliveries of vaccines even though only a third of Americans are fully vaccinated.

#arkansas, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #colorado, #connecticut, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #hutchinson-asa, #internal-essential, #justice-james-c-ii, #pfizer-inc, #vaccination-and-immunization

0

7 Arrested After Police Find Mummified Body in Colorado Home

A man told the police the body belonged to the leader of Love Has Won, a group that former members have called a cult centered on a woman named Amy Carlson.

#carlson-amy-lia-1975-2021, #colorado, #love-has-won, #maui-hawaii, #religious-cults

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Colorado Woman Killed in Apparent Bear Attack

Officials euthanized a grown female bear and two smaller bears that were found nearby. It was one of only a few fatal bear attacks ever recorded in the state.

#animals, #bears, #colorado, #dogs, #telluride-colo, #wildlife-services, #women-and-girls

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Human Composting Could Soon Be Legal in Colorado

If the governor signs the bill, Colorado would be the second state to legalize the composting of human remains.

#colorado, #compost, #funerals-and-memorials, #law-and-legislation, #politics-and-government

0

Video Shows Police Laughing at Footage of Arrest of Woman With Dementia

The woman, who walked out of a Walmart in Loveland, Colo., without paying for $13.88 worth of items, said in a lawsuit that the police had broken a bone in her arm and dislocated her shoulder.

#colorado, #garner-karen-1948, #hopp-austin, #loveland-colo, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-loveland-colo, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #walmart-stores-inc

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Crusoe Energy is tackling energy use for cryptocurrencies and data centers and greenhouse gas emissions

The two founders of Crusoe Energy think they may have a solution to two of the largest problems facing the planet today — the increasing energy footprint of the tech industry and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the natural gas industry.

Crusoe, which uses excess natural gas from energy operations to power data centers and cryptocurrency mining operations, has just raised $128 million in new financing from some of the top names in the venture capital industry to build out its operations — and the timing couldn’t be better.

Methane emissions are emerging as a new area of focus for researchers and policymakers focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping global warming within the 1.5 degree targets set under the Paris Agreement. And those emissions are just what Crusoe Energy is capturing to power its data centers and bitcoin mining operations.

The reason why addressing methane emissions is so critical in the short term is because these greenhouse gases trap more heat than their carbon dioxide counterparts and also dissipate more quickly. So dramatic reductions in methane emissions can do more in the short term to alleviate the global warming pressures that human industry is putting on the environment.

And the biggest source of methane emissions is the oil and gas industry. In the U.S. alone roughly 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas is flared daily, said Chase Lochmiller, a co-founder of Crusoe Energy. About two thirds of that is flared in Texas with another 500 million cubic feet flared in North Dakota, where Crusoe has focused its operations to date.

For Lochmiller, a former quant trader at some of the top American financial services institutions, and Cully Cavmess, a third generation oil and gas scion, the ability to capture natural gas and harness it for computing operations is a natural combination of the two men’s interests in financial engineering and environmental preservation.

NEW TOWN, ND – AUGUST 13: View of three oil wells and flaring of natural gas on The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation near New Town, ND on August 13, 2014. About 100 million dollars worth of natural gas burns off per month because a pipeline system isn’t in place yet to capture and safely transport it . The Three Affiliated Tribes on Fort Berthold represent Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nations. It’s also at the epicenter of the fracking and oil boom that has brought oil royalties to a large number of native americans living there. (Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The two Denver natives met in prep-school and remained friends. When Lochmiller left for MIT and Cavness headed off to Middlebury they didn’t know that they’d eventually be launching a business together. But through Lochmiller’s exposure to large scale computing and the financial services industry, and Cavness assumption of the family business they came to the conclusion that there had to be a better way to address the massive waste associated with natural gas.

Conversation around Crusoe Energy began in 2018 when Lochmiller and Cavness went climbing in the Rockies to talk about Lochmiller’s trip to Mt. Everest.

When the two men started building their business, the initial focus was on finding an environmentally friendly way to deal with the energy footprint of bitcoin mining operations. It was this pitch that brought the company to the attention of investors at Polychain, the investment firm started by Olaf Carlson-Wee (and Lochmiller’s former employer), and investors like Bain Capital Ventures and new investor Valor Equity Partners.

(This was also the pitch that Lochmiller made to me to cover the company’s seed round. At the time I was skeptical of the company’s premise and was worried that the business would just be another way to prolong the use of hydrocarbons while propping up a cryptocurrency that had limited actual utility beyond a speculative hedge against governmental collapse. I was wrong on at least one of those assessments.)

“Regarding questions about sustainability, Crusoe has a clear standard of only pursuing projects that are net reducers of emissions. Generally the wells that Crusoe works with are already flaring and would continue to do so in the absence of Crusoe’s solution. The company has turned down numerous projects where they would be a buyer of low cost gas from a traditional pipeline because they explicitly do not want to be net adders of demand and emissions,” wrote a spokesman for Valor Equity in an email. “In addition, mining is increasingly moving to renewables and Crusoe’s approach to stranded energy can enable better economics for stranded or marginalized renewables, ultimately bringing more renewables into the mix. Mining can provide an interruptible base load demand that can be cut back when grid demand increases, so overall the effect to incentivize the addition of more renewable energy sources to the grid.”

Other investors have since piled on including: Lowercarbon Capital, DRW Ventures, Founders Fund, Coinbase Ventures, KCK Group, Upper90, Winklevoss Capital, Zigg Capital and Tesla co-founder JB Straubel.

The company now operate 40 modular data centers powered by otherwise wasted and flared natural gas throughout North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Next year that number should expand to 100 units as Crusoe enters new markets such as Texas and New Mexico. Since launching in 2018, Crusoe has emerged as a scalable solution to reduce flaring through energy intensive computing such as bitcoin mining, graphical rendering, artificial intelligence model training and even protein folding simulations for COVID-19 therapeutic research.

Crusoe boasts 99.9% combustion efficiency for its methane, and is also bringing additional benefits in the form of new networking buildout at its data center and mining sites. Eventually, this networking capacity could lead to increased connectivity for rural communities surrounding the Crusoe sites.

Currently, 80% of the company’s operations are being used for bitcoin mining, but there’s increasing demand for use in data center operations and some universities, including Lochmiller’s alma mater of MIT are looking at the company’s offerings for their own computing needs.

“That’s very much in an incubated phase right now,” said Lochmiller. “A private alpha where we have a few test customers… we’ll make that available for public use later this year.”

Crusoe Energy Systems should have the lowest data center operating costs in the world, according to Lochmiller and while the company will spend money to support the infrastructure buildout necessary to get the data to customers, those costs are negligible when compared to energy consumption, Lochmiller said.

The same holds true for bitcoin mining, where the company can offer an alternative to coal powered mining operations in China and the construction of new renewable capacity that wouldn’t be used to service the grid. As cryptocurrencies look for a way to blunt criticism about the energy usage involved in their creation and distribution, Crusoe becomes an elegant solution.

Institutional and regulatory tailwinds are also propelling the company forward. Recently New Mexico passed new laws limiting flaring and venting to no more than 2 percent of an operator’s production by April of next year and North Dakota is pushing for incentives to support on-site flare capture systems while Wyoming signed a law creating incentives for flare gas reduction applied to bitcoin mining. The world’s largest financial services firms are also taking a stand against flare gas with BlackRock calling for an end to routine flaring by 2025.

“Where we view our power consumption, we draw a very clear line in our project evaluation stage where we’re reducing emissions for an oil and gas projects,” Lochmiller said. 

#air-pollution, #alpha, #artificial-intelligence, #bain-capital-ventures, #bitcoin, #bitcoin-mining, #blackrock, #china, #co-founder, #coinbase-ventures, #colorado, #computing, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #denver, #energy, #energy-consumption, #energy-efficiency, #everest, #founders-fund, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #jb-straubel, #lowercarbon-capital, #methane, #mining, #mit, #montana, #natural-gas, #new-mexico, #north-dakota, #tc, #tesla, #texas, #trader, #united-states, #upper90, #valor-equity-partners, #winklevoss-capital, #world-bank, #wyoming

0

Arlene Pieper Stine, 90, Dies; First Woman to Finish a Marathon

She ran the challenging Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado in 1959. For the next 50 years she had no idea that she had made sports history.

#colorado, #deaths-obituaries, #marathon-running, #pikes-peak-colo, #records-and-achievements, #stine-arlene-pieper-1930-2021, #women-and-girls

0

Arrest of Colorado Woman With Dementia Prompts Investigation

Karen Garner, 73, of Loveland, Colo., walked out of a Walmart without paying for $13.88 worth of items. Police officers broke a bone in her arm and dislocated her shoulder, a lawsuit says.

#colorado, #dementia, #disabilities, #garner-karen-1948, #hopp-austin, #jalali-daria, #loveland-colo, #metzler-philip-1967, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-loveland-colo, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming

0

What Kind of Flag Can I Fly Outside My House?

If you live in a community with a homeowners association, chances are good that you may be limited to just the Stars and Stripes.

#american-civil-liberties-union, #black-lives-matter-movement, #censorship, #colorado, #discrimination, #flags-emblems-and-insignia, #freedom-of-speech-and-expression, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential

0

Colorado Judge Censured for Using Racial Slur Will Resign, Court Says

Natalie T. Chase, a District Court judge in Arapahoe County, agreed to step down after the Colorado Supreme Court censured her for insensitive remarks to Black judicial employees.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #arapahoe-county-colo, #black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #chase-natalie-t, #colorado, #discrimination, #ethics-and-official-misconduct, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #race-and-ethnicity, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

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Casa Blanca raises $2.6M to build the ‘Bumble for real estate’

Casa Blanca, which aims to develop a “Bumble-like app” for finding a home, has raised $2.6 million in seed funding.

Co-founder and CEO Hannah Bomze got her real estate license at the age of 18 and worked at Compass and  Douglas Elliman Real Estate before launching Casa Blanca last year.

She launched the app last October with the goal of matching home buyers and renters with homes using an in-app matchmaking algorithm combined with “expert agents.” Buyers get up to 1% of home purchases back at closing. Similar to dating apps, Casa Blanca’s app is powered by a simple swipe left or right.

Samuel Ben-Avraham, a partner and early investor of Kith and an early investor in WeWork, led the round for Casa Blanca, bringing its total raise to date to $4.1 million.

The New York-based startup recently launched in the Colorado market and has seen some impressive traction in a short amount of time. 

Since launching the app in October, Casa Blance has “made more than $100M in sales” and is projected to reach $280 million this year between New York and its Denver launch. 

Bomze said the app experience will be customized for each city with the goal of creating a personalized experience for each user. Casa Blanca claims to streamline and sort listings based on user preferences and lifestyle priorities.

Image Credits: Casa Blanca

“People love that there is one place to book, manage feedback, schedule and communicate with a branded agent for one cohesive experience,” Bomze said. “We have a breadth of users from first time buyers to people using our platform for $15 million listings.”

Unlike competitors, Casa Blanca applies to a direct-to-consumer model, she pointed out.

“While our agents are an integral part of the company, they are not responsible for bringing in business and have more organizational support, which allows them to focus on the individual more and creates a better end-to-end experience for the consumer,” Bomze said.

Casa Blanca currently has over 38 agents in NYC and Colorado, compared to about 15 at this time last year.

“We are in a growth phase and finding a unique opportunity in this climate, in particular, because there are many women exploring new, more flexible job opportunities,” Bomze noted. 

The company plans to use its new capital to continue expanding into new markets, nationally and globally; enhancingits technology and scaling.

“As we continue to grow in new markets, the app experience will be curated to each city – for example, in Colorado you can edit your preferences based on access to ski areas – to make sure we’re offering a personalized experience for each user,” Bomze said.

#colorado, #companies, #corporate-finance, #denver, #funding, #fundings-exits, #model, #new-york, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #social-software, #startup, #startups, #tc, #wework

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Why Georgia’s Voting Laws Are Not Like Colorado’s

Here are four key differences between the voting systems in the two states.

#colorado, #elections, #georgia, #voter-registration-and-requirements

0

Doctors Sue UnitedHealthcare

A multistate group of anesthesiologists filed cases in Texas and Colorado, accusing the insurance giant of squeezing them like a “boa constrictor.”

#anesthesia-and-anesthetics, #colorado, #doctors, #health-insurance-and-managed-care, #hospitals, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #texas, #unitedhealth-group-inc, #us-anesthesia-partners-inc, #your-feed-healthcare

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Doctors Accuse UnitedHealthcare of Stifling Competition

A multistate group of anesthesiologists filed cases in Texas and Colorado, accusing the insurance giant of squeezing them like a “boa constrictor.”

#anesthesia-and-anesthetics, #colorado, #doctors, #health-insurance-and-managed-care, #hospitals, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #texas, #unitedhealth-group-inc, #us-anesthesia-partners-inc, #your-feed-healthcare

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An Immigrant Family Caught Up in a Distinctly American Tragedy: The Boulder Shooting

The suspect in the mass shooting at a Colorado supermarket came from an immigrant family that had achieved many of the outward signs of success. But their life in America had not been untroubled.

#arvada-colo, #boulder-colo, #boulder-colo-shooting-march-2021, #colorado, #mass-shootings

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Daniel Wolf, 65, Dies; Helped Create a Market for Art Photography

In 1984, he quietly amassed 25,000 photos for the J. Paul Getty Museum, jump-starting collectors’ interest in the medium.

#collectors-and-collections, #colorado, #deaths-obituaries, #getty-j-paul-museum, #lin-maya, #photography, #wolf-daniel-1955-2021

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Joe Biden’s 30-Year Quest for Gun Control

What are the president’s chances of enacting meaningful gun control in the wake of two mass shootings in less than a week?

#atlanta-ga, #boulder-colo, #boulder-colo-shooting-march-2021, #colorado, #georgia, #gun-control, #law-and-legislation, #mass-shootings, #stolberg-sheryl-gay, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Boulder Shooting Survivors Describe ‘Listening to Him Kill Everyone You Know’

A deadly shooting at a Boulder supermarket left 10 people dead and a state full of grief and fury that it had happened again.

#arvada-colo, #boulder-colo, #boulder-colo-shooting-march-2021, #colorado, #mass-shootings

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Across States, a Checkerboard of Gun Laws Reflects Partisan Tilt

The political divide on gun policy between red and blue states is another example of the way national issues — including abortion rights and, in the post-Trump era, voting rights — are defining local politics.

#boulder-colo, #boulder-colo-shooting-march-2021, #colorado, #firearms, #gun-control, #iowa, #law-and-legislation, #mass-shootings, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #states-us, #united-states-politics-and-government, #virginia

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A List of Recent Mass Shootings in the United States

In the last five years, there have been at least 29 shootings with four or more fatalities, according to a database compiled by the Violence Project.

#annapolis-md, #atlanta-ga, #atlanta-spa-shootings-2021, #aurora-colo, #borderline-bar-and-grill-thousand-oaks-calif-nightclub, #boulder-colo, #capital-gazette, #charleston-sc, #colorado, #dallas-tex, #dayton-ohio, #dayton-ohio-shooting-2019, #deaths-fatalities, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #el-paso-tex, #el-paso-tex-shooting-2019, #florida, #fort-lauderdale-fla, #fort-lauderdale-hollywood-international-airport, #gilroy-calif, #gilroy-calif-shooting-2019, #las-vegas-nev, #las-vegas-nev-shooting-october-2017, #louisiana, #mandalay-bay-resort-and-casino, #marjory-stoneman-douglas-high-school-parkland-fla, #maryland, #mass-shootings, #midland-tex, #midland-odessa-tex-shooting-2019, #minnesota, #newtown-conn, #orlando-fla, #parkland-fla, #parkland-fla-shooting-2018, #pittsburgh-pa-shooting-2018, #police-department-dallas-tex, #san-bernardino-calif, #santa-fe-tex, #santa-fe-tex-shooting-2018, #school-shootings-and-armed-attacks, #springfield-mo, #sutherland-springs-tex, #sutherland-springs-tex-shooting-2017, #thousand-oaks-calif, #thousand-oaks-calif-shooting-2018, #tree-of-life-pittsburgh-pa-synagogue, #virginia-beach-va, #virginia-beach-va-shooting-2019, #virginia-polytechnic-institute-and-state-university, #walmart-stores-inc, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

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What to Know About the Colorado Grocery Store Shooting

Ten people were killed in the attack at a supermarket in Boulder, Colo., including a police officer, the authorities said.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #boebert-lauren, #boulder-colo, #colorado, #deaths-fatalities, #firearms, #polis-jared-s-1975, #school-shootings-and-armed-attacks, #shopping-and-retail, #shopping-centers-and-malls, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores

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Colorado Has Seen Several Mass Shootings in Recent Years

Colorado has been the scene of a number of multiple fatal shootings in recent years.

#colorado, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides

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A Meat War Is Waged Across State Lines

In a ceremonial effort to discourage meat consumption, the Colorado governor declared March 20 “MeatOut Day.” Then Nebraska’s governor announced “Meat on the Menu Day,” seeking to do just the opposite.

#agriculture-and-farming, #beef, #colorado, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #livestock, #meat, #nebraska, #polis-jared-s-1975, #politics-and-government, #ricketts-john-peter, #vegetarianism

0

Colorado Snowstorm Knocks Out Power to Thousands and Snarls Travel

The storm, which brought heavy, wet snow to parts of Colorado and Wyoming, resulted in road closings, canceled flights and downed trees and power lines.

#colorado, #denver-colo, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #snow-and-snowstorms, #weather, #wyoming

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Colorado Braces for a Major Snowstorm This Weekend

Denver could see up to two feet of snow, while areas north could see four feet. Gov. Jared Polis has activated the Colorado National Guard.

#colorado, #denver-colo, #fort-collins-colo, #nebraska, #polis-jared-s-1975, #rocky-mountain-national-park-colo, #snow-and-snowstorms, #weather, #wyoming

0

Why Is Space Command Moving Into Mo Brooks’s Backyard?

The congressman from Huntsville, Ala., was quick to claim that the 2020 election was stolen. His district continues to get special treatment.

#alabama, #brooks-morris-jackson, #colorado, #huntsville-ala, #johnson-lyndon-baines, #presidential-election-of-2020, #space-and-astronomy, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

Boeing 777 Makes an Emergency Landing in Moscow After Engine Warning

Pilots diverted to an airport in Moscow after an indicator warned of a possible engine failure on the airplane, a week after engines failed on two other Boeing jets.

#aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #boeing-company, #colorado, #general-electric-company, #moscow-russia, #prattwhitney, #russia

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For Travel, a Sustainable Comeback?

From a newly certified Whale Heritage Site to scenic byways for electric cars, five new initiatives suggest the travel industry may be envisioning a more responsible future.

#africa, #bicycles-and-bicycling, #california, #carbon-capture-and-sequestration, #colorado, #eco-tourism, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #travel-and-vacations, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching

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Has a startup finally found one of food science’s holy grails with its healthy sugar substitute?

A little less than three years ago at the Computer Science Museum in Mountain View, Calif. the founders of a young company hailing from Cambridge, England addressed a crowd of celebrities, investors and entrepreneurs at Y Combinator’s August Demo Day promising a revolution in food science.

Over the years, the event has become a relatively low-tech, low-budget showcase for a group of tech investors and billionaire industry insiders to take a look at early stage businesses that could be their next billion-dollar opportunity.

Sharing the stage with other innovation-minded budding entrepreneurs the Cambridge scientists boasted of a technology could produce a sweetener that would mimic not just the taste of sugar, but the caramelization and stickiness that makes sugar the go-to additive for the bulk of roughly 74% of packaged foods that are made with some form of sweetener. Their company, Cambridge Glycoscience  could claim a huge slice of a market worth at least a $100 billion market, they said.

Now, the company has a new name, Supplant, and $24 million in venture capital financing to start commercializing its low-cost sugar substitute made from the waste materials of other plants.

 

The bitter history of the sweetest ingredient

Sugar came into the human diet roughly 10,000 years ago as sugarcane, which is native to New Guinea and parts of Taiwan and China. Over the next 2,000 years the crop spread from those regions to Madagascar and eventually took root in India, where it was first refined in about 500 BC.

From there, the sweetener spread across the known world. By the first century AD Greek and Roman scholars were referencing its medicinal properties and, after the Crusades, sugar consumption traveled across Europe through the Middle Ages.

It was a welcome replacement from Europe’s mainstay, honey, and the early artificial sweeteners used by the Romans, which contained near-lethal doses of lead.

The cold climates of Northern Europe proved mostly inhospitable to sugarcane cultivation so the root took root in the more temperate South and the islands off of Europe’s southern coast.

Those regions also became home to the first European experiments with agricultural slavery — a byproduct of the sugar trade, and one that would plant the seeds for the international exploitation of indigenous American and African labor for centuries as the industrial growth of sugar production spread to the New World.

First, European indentured servants and enslaved indigenous people’s powered the production of sugar in the Americas. But as native populations died off due to the introduction of European diseases, genocidal attacks, and back-breaking labor, African slaves were brought to the new colonies to work the fields and mills to make refined sugar.

Sugar hangover

The horrors of slavery may be the most damning legacy of industrial sugar, but it’s far from the only problem caused by the human craving for sweeteners.

As climate change becomes more of a threat, fears of increasing deforestation to meet the world’s demand — or to provide cover for other industrialization of virgin forests — have arisen thanks to new policies in Brazil.

“Conventional cane sugar is heavily heavily water intensive,” said Supplant co-founder Tom Simmons in an interview. That’s another problem for the environment as water becomes the next resource to be stressed by the currents of climate change. And species extinction presents another huge problem too.

“The WWF number one source for biodiversity lost globally is cane sugar plantations,” Simmons said. “Sugar is a massive consumer of water and in contrast, there’s big sustainability pitch for what we do.. the raw materials are products of the current agricultural industry.”

And the quest for sugar substitutes in the U.S. has come with related health costs as high fructose corn syrup has made its way into tons of American products. Invented in 1957, corn syrup is one of the most common sweeteners used to replace sugar — and one that’s thought to have incredibly disastrous effects on the health of consumers worldwide.

The use of corn syrup has been linked to an increasing prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver disease, in the world’s population.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 08: In this photo illustration, products containing high sugar levels are on display at a supermarket on April 8, 2016 in Melbourne , Australia. The World Health Organisation’s first global report on diabetes found that 422 million adults live with diabetes, mainly in developing countries. Australian diabetes experts are urging the Federal Government to consider imposing a sugar tax to tackle the growing problem. (Photo by Luis Ascui/Getty Images)

Looking For A Healthier Substitute

As Supplant and its investors look to take the crown as the reigning replacement for sugar, they join a long line of would-be occupants to sugar’s throne.

The first viable, non-toxic chemically derived sugar substitute was discovered in the late 18th century by a German chemist. Called saccharine it was popularized initially during sugar shortages caused by the first World War and gained traction during the health crazes of the sixties and seventies.

Saccharin, still available in pink Sweet n’ Low packets and a host of products, was succeeded by aspartame (known commercially as Equal and present as the sugar substitute in beverages like Diet Coke), which was supplanted by sucralose (known as Splenda).

These chemically derived sweeteners have been the standard on the market for decades now, but with a growing push for natural — rather than chemical — substitutes for sugar and their failures to act as a replacement for all of the things that sugar can do as a food ingredient, the demand for a better sugar has never been higher.

Supplanting the competition 

“Not everything that we back is going to change the world. This, at scale, does that.” said Aydin Senkut, the founder and managing partner of Felicis Ventures, the venture firm that’s one of Supplant’s biggest backers. 

Part of what convinced Senkut is the fact that Supplant’s sweetener has already received preliminary approvals in the European Union by the region’s regulatory equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration. That approval not only covers the sale of Supplant’s product as a sweetener, but also as a probiotic with tangible health benefits he said.

So not only is the Supplant product arguably a better and more direct sugar replacement, as the founders claim, it also has health benefits through providing increased fiber in consumers who use it regularly, Senkut said.

“The European FDA is even stricter than the U.S. FDA,” Senkut said. “[And] they got pre-approval for this.”

Senkut and Felicis invested in Cambridge Glycosciences almost immediately after seeing the company’s presentation at Y Combinator.

“We became the largest investors at seed,” Senkut said.

Its selling points were the products extremely low glycemic index and its ability to be manufactured from waste plant fibers, which means that it ultimately can be produced at a lower cost, according to Senkut.

What’s the difference? 

Supplant differs from its competition in a number of other key ways, according to company co-founder Tom Simmons.

While companies like the Israeli startup DouxMatok or Colorado’s MycoTechnology and Wisconsin’s Sensient work on developing additives from fungus or tree roots or bark that can enhance the sweetness of sugars, Supplant uses alternative sugars to create its sweetener, Simmons said. 

“The core difference is they’re working with cane sugar,” according to Simmons. “Our pitch is we make sugars from fiber so you don’t need to use cane sugar.”

Simmons said that these other startups have been approaching the problem from the wrong direction. “The problem that their technology addresses isn’t the problem the industry has,” Simmons said. “It’s about texture, bulking, caramelization and crystallization… We have a technology that’s going to give you the same sweetness gram for gram.”

There are six different types of calorific sugar, Simmons explained. There’s lactose, which is the sugar in milk; sucrose, which comes from sugarcane and sugar beets; maltose, found in grains like wheat and barley; fructose, the sugar in fruits and honey; glucose, which is in nearly everything, but especially carbohydrate-laden vegetables, fruits, and grains; and galactose, a simple sugar that derives from the breakdown of lactose.

Simmons said that his company’s sugar substitute isn’t based on one compound, but is derived from a range of things that come from fiber. The use of fibers means that the body recognizes the compounds as fibrous and treats them the same way in the digestive tract, but the products taste and act like sugar in food, he said. “Fiber derived sugars are in the category of sugars, but are not the calorific sugars,” said Simmons.

NEW YORK – DECEMBER 6: Packets of the popular sugar substitute Splenda are seen December 6, 2004 in New York City. The manufacturer of sucralose, the key ingredient in the no-calorie sweetener, says demand is so high for the product that it will not be able to take on new U.S. customers until it doubles production in 2006. Splenda has been boosted by the popularity of the low-sugar Atkins diet. (Photo Illustration by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Trust the process? 

Supplant’s technology uses enzymes to break down and fragment various fibers. “As you start breaking it down, it starts looking molecularly like sucrose — like cane sugar — so it starts behaving in a similar way,” said Simmons.

This is all the result of years of research that Simmons began at Cambridge University, he said. “I arrived at Cambridge intending to be a professor. I did not arrive in Cambridge intending to start a business. I was interested in doing science, making inventions and stuff that would reach the wider world. I always imagined the right way for me to do that was to be a professor.”

In time, after receiving his doctorate and beginning his post-doctoral work into the research that would eventually turn into Supplant, Simmons realized that he had to start a company. “To try and do something impactful I was going to have leave the university,” he said. 

In some ways, Supplant operates at the intersection of all of Simmons’ interests in health, nutrition, and sustainability. And he said the company has plans to apply the processing technology across a range of consumer products eventually, but for now the company remains focused on the $100 billion sugar substitute market.

“There’s a handful of different core underlying scientific approaches in different spaces,” he said. The sort of things that go into personal care and homecare. Those chemicals. A big drive in the industry is for both less harsh and harsh chemicals in shampoos but also to do so in a way that’s sustainable. That’s made form a sustainable source but also biodegradable.”

Next steps 

With the money that the company has now raised from investors including Bonfire Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Felicis, Soma Capital, and Y Combinator, Supplant is now going to prove its products in a few very targeted test runs.* The first is a big launch with a celebrity chef, which Simmons teased, but did not elaborate on.

Senkut said that the company’s roll out would be similar to the ways in which Impossible Foods went to market. Beginning with a few trial runs in higher end restaurants and foodstuffs before trying to make a run at a mass consumer market.

The feedstocks for Supplant’s sugar substitute come from sugar cane bagasse, wheat and rice husks, and the processing equipment comes from the brewing industry. That’s going to be a benefit as the company looks to build out an office in the U.S. as it establishes a foothold for a larger manufacturing presence down the line.

“We’re taking known science and applying it in the food industry where we know that it has value,” Simmons said. “We’re not inventing any brand new enzymes and each part of the process — none of it on their own are new. The discovery that these sugars work well and can replace cane sugar. That’s someone that no one has done before. Most sugars don’t behave like cane sugar in food. They’re too dry, they’re too wet, they’re too hard, they’re too soft.”

Ultimately the consumer products mission resonates highly for Simmons and his twenty person team. “We’re going to use these hugely abundant renewable resources produced all around the world,” he said. 

*This story was updated to include Bonfire Ventures and Khosla Ventures as investors in Supplant.

#aydin-senkut, #brazil, #california, #cambridge-university, #chef, #chemicals, #china, #co-founder, #colorado, #consumer-products, #douxmatok, #europe, #european-union, #felicis-ventures, #food, #food-and-drink, #food-and-drug-administration, #food-ingredient, #impossible-foods, #india, #managing-partner, #soma-capital, #sugar, #taiwan, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #venture-capital-financing, #wisconsin, #y-combinator

0

Independent Report Is Highly Critical of Colorado Police in Death of Elijah McClain

A panel commissioned by the Aurora City Council also found “serious concerns” with an internal police investigation into the 2019 death of Mr. McClain.

#aurora-colo, #city-councils, #civil-rights-and-liberties, #colorado, #mcclain-elijah-d-2019, #police, #police-brutality-misconduct-and-shootings, #police-department-aurora-colo, #rosenblatt-jason-aurora-colo-police-officer, #search-and-seizure

0

United Flight Sheds Debris Over Colorado After Engine Failure

The airplane, a Boeing 777-200 that had 331 people on board, scattered debris across several neighborhoods outside Boulder, Colo., before landing safely in Denver, according to officials.

#airlines-and-airplanes, #aviation-accidents-safety-and-disasters, #broomfield-colorado, #colorado, #denver-international-airport, #engines, #united-airlines

0

What You Need to Know About Avalanche Safety in the Backcountry

A dangerously unstable snowpack and an influx of people to the backcountry have contributed to a rash of deaths this winter. Here’s what you need to know about avalanche safety.

#accidents-and-safety, #alpine-skiing, #avalanches, #colorado, #content-type-service, #skiing, #utah

0