Human Remains Believed to Be Gabby Petito Are Found

The authorities said remains found in Wyoming were consistent with a description of Gabrielle Petito, 22. She was reported missing after her fiancé returned alone from a cross-country van trip.

#florida, #laundrie-brian, #missing-persons, #petito-gabrielle, #social-media

Gabby Petito’s Disappearance: a Timeline

The authorities said on Sept. 19 that they had found human remains consistent with a description of Ms. Petito, 22 in Wyoming. She had traveled to national parks with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. Their social media accounts provide a glimpse into their trip.

#arches-national-park-utah, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #florida, #grand-teton-national-park-wyo, #laundrie-brian, #missing-persons, #national-park-service, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #petito-gabrielle

Brian Laundrie’s Sister Says She Hasn’t Spoken to Him Since Gabby Petito Disappeared

Police want to question Brian Laundrie after his fiancée, Gabrielle Petito, disappeared on a cross-country trip. Mr. Laundrie’s sister said she hadn’t heard from him since he returned.

#federal-bureau-of-investigation, #florida, #instagram-inc, #laundrie-brian, #missing-persons, #north-port-fla, #petito-gabrielle

Fiancé Is a ‘Person of Interest’ in the Disappearance of Gabrielle Petito

Gabrielle Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, left on July 2 for an adventure in their outfitted van. Now, the police say, she is missing and her fiancé is “a person of interest” in her disappearance.

#federal-bureau-of-investigation, #florida, #grand-teton-national-park-wyo, #instagram-inc, #laundrie-brian, #long-island-ny, #missing-persons, #petito-gabrielle, #police-department-nyc, #utah

The Trump Coup Is Still Raging

One thing should be clear to conservatives estranged from the Republican Party: We can’t go home again.

#arizona, #bannon-stephen-k, #cawthorn-madison, #cheney-liz, #conservatism-us-politics, #coups-detat-and-attempted-coups-detat, #florida, #giuliani-rudolph-w, #mccarthy-kevin-1965, #mcconnell-mitch, #michigan, #presidential-election-of-2020, #republican-party, #storming-of-the-us-capitol-jan-2021, #trump-donald-j

‘Cyber Grave Robbers’ Accused of Stealing Identities of Surfside Condo Victims

Three people were charged with pilfering tens of thousands of dollars by obtaining credit in the names of seven residents of the Florida condo that collapsed.

#florida, #identity-theft, #miami-dade-county-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Governors DeSantis and Abbott, ‘Undermining Public Health’

Readers criticize the governors of Florida and Texas as Covid cases soared in those states in August. Also: The Taliban victory; a tribute to Ed Asner; vaccine mandates at hotels.

#abbott-gregory-w-1957, #afghanistan-war-2001, #asner-ed, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #desantis-ron, #florida, #hotels-and-travel-lodgings, #politics-and-government, #texas, #vaccination-proof-and-immunization-records

Ron DeSantis, How Many Covid Deaths Are Enough?

Florida’s governor is allowing you to choose death so that he can have a greater political life.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #desantis-ron, #florida, #polls-and-public-opinion, #republican-party, #rumors-and-misinformation, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government

What Went Wrong With the Coronavirus Pandemic in Florida

Even a large state that emphasized vaccinations in treating the coronavirus can be crushed by the Delta variant when no other measures are put in place.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-delta-variant, #desantis-ron, #disease-rates, #florida, #vaccination-and-immunization

Why Vaccine Mandates for Teachers Have Been a Harder Sell Than Mask Mandates for Kids

The most powerful teachers’ union president in America discusses school reopening, mask mandates and vaccine-or-test requirements.

#american-federation-of-teachers, #coronavirus-reopenings, #education-k-12, #florida, #masks, #shutdowns-institutional, #texas, #vaccination-and-immunization, #weingarten-randi

‘They Were Bullies’: Inside the Turbulent Origins of the Collapsed Florida Condo

The team that developed Champlain Towers managed to build the condos despite checkered pasts, internal strife and a last-minute change that infuriated leaders in Surfside, Fla.

#building-construction, #buildings-structures, #florida, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Inside the Turbulent Origins of the Miami Building Collapse

The team that developed Champlain Towers managed to build the condos despite checkered pasts, internal strife and a last-minute change that infuriated leaders in Surfside, Fla.

#building-construction, #buildings-structures, #florida, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

What an Adult Tricycle Says About the World’s Bottleneck Problems

Catrike is struggling to deliver its recumbent bikes because supply chain problems have caused a part shortage. The snags may get worse before they get better.

#bicycles-and-bicycling, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #factories-and-manufacturing, #federal-reserve-system, #florida, #indonesia, #inflation-economics, #orlando-fla, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #ships-and-shipping, #taiwan, #united-states-economy

Google says geofence warrants make up one-quarter of all US demands

For the first time, Google has published the number of geofence warrants it’s historically received from U.S. authorities, providing a rare glimpse into how frequently these controversial warrants are issued.

The figures, published Thursday, reveal that Google has received thousands of geofence warrants each quarter since 2018, and at times accounted for about one-quarter of all U.S. warrants that Google receives. The data shows that the vast majority of geofence warrants are obtained by local and state authorities, with federal law enforcement accounting for just 4% of all geofence warrants served on the technology giant.

According to the data, Google received 982 geofence warrants in 2018, 8,396 in 2019, and 11,554 in 2020. But the figures only provide a small glimpse into the volume of warrants received, and did not break down how often it pushes back on overly broad requests. A spokesperson for Google would not comment on the record.

Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), which led efforts by dozens of civil rights groups to lobby for the release of these numbers, commended Google for releasing the numbers.

“Geofence warrants are unconstitutionally broad and invasive, and we look forward to the day they are outlawed completely.” said Cahn.

Geofence warrants are also known as “reverse-location” warrants, since they seek to identify people of interest who were in the near-vicinity at the time a crime was committed. Police do this by asking a court to order Google, which stores vast amounts of location data to drive its advertising business, to turn over details of who was in a geographic area, such as a radius of a few hundred feet at a certain point in time, to help identify potential suspects.

Google has long shied away from providing these figures, in part because geofence warrants are largely thought to be unique to Google. Law enforcement has long known that Google stores vast troves of location data on its users in a database called Sensorvault, first revealed by The New York Times in 2019.

Sensorvault is said to have the detailed location data on “at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide,” collected from users’ phones when they use an Android device with location data switched on, or Google services like Google Maps and Google Photo, and even Google search results. In 2018, the Associated Press reported that Google could still collect users’ locations even when their location history is “paused.”

But critics have argued that geofence warrants are unconstitutional because the authorities compel Google to turn over data on everyone else who was in the same geographic area.

Worse, these warrants have been known to ensnare entirely innocent people.

TechCrunch reported earlier this year that Minneapolis police used a geofence warrant to identify individuals accused of sparking violence in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd last year. One person on the ground who was filming and documenting the protests had his location data requested by police for being close to the violence. NBC News reported last year how one Gainesville, Fla. resident whose information was given by Google to police investigating a burglary, but was able to prove his innocence thanks to an app on his phone that tracked his fitness activity.

Although the courts have yet to deliberate widely on the legality of geofence warrants, some states are drafting laws to push back against geofence warrants. New York lawmakers proposed a bill last year that would ban geofence warrants in the state, amid fears that police could use these warrants to target protesters — as what happened in Minneapolis.

Cahn, who helped introduce the New York bill last year, said the newly released data will “help spur lawmakers to outlaw the technology.”

“Let’s be clear, the number of geofence warrants should be zero,” he said.

#android, #articles, #computing, #databases, #florida, #george-floyd, #google, #google-maps, #law-enforcement, #minneapolis, #new-york, #privacy, #security, #spokesperson, #technology, #the-new-york-times, #united-states, #warrant

Saving Pop Punk? That’s Just Their Warm-Up Act.

Meet Me @ the Altar want to be household names — and that’s not a crazy notion.

#florida, #fueled-by-ramen, #music, #paramore-music-group, #pop-and-rock-music, #women-and-girls

Pandemic of unvaccinated continues to rage as states set new COVID records

Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Davis Wein walks in a parking garage that was turned into a series of COVID-19 test tents at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida, on August 19, 2020.

Enlarge / Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Davis Wein walks in a parking garage that was turned into a series of COVID-19 test tents at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida, on August 19, 2020. (credit: Getty | The Washington Post)

As the hypertransmissible delta coronavirus variant continues its rampage through the unvaccinated, several states continue to set new COVID-19 cases records and many hospitals are hitting their limits.

At least five states have exceeded their previous peaks of seven-day averages for new daily cases—Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon, and Mississippi. Seven states have exceeded their most recent peaks in hospitalizations—Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oregon, and Washington.

Florida in particular has been ablaze with COVID-19. The Sunshine State exceeded its previous record average of around 16,000 new daily cases, which was set in January. The state is now averaging just under 22,000, according to data reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As for daily hospitalization tallies, Florida is currently at its all-time record of around 15,000, exceeding its previous highest peak of around 12,000 last July.

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#covid-19, #covid-19-vaccines, #florida, #hospitalizations, #icu, #infectious-disease, #public-health, #science, #vaccination

School mask battles rage on as more children fall ill, fill hospitals

A masked woman holds a pistol-style thermometer to a child's forehead.

Enlarge / Second-grade teacher Wendy Verrall takes students temperatures during the first day of class at Tustin Ranch Elementary School in Tustin, California, on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. (credit: Getty | Orange County Register)

While battles over mask mandates in schools rage on in several states, the delta-fueled COVID-19 surge continues to sicken more and more children, sending some to the hospital.

“There’s no doubt that there are more children getting infected,” top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said in a White House COVID-19 press briefing Thursday. “The delta variant is much more highly transmissible than was [the] alpha [variant],” he said, noting that delta is more than twice as contagious and those infected can carry viral loads up to 1,000 times greater.

“So, given that, you’ll see more children likely get infected and since you have a certain percentage of children—even though the percentage is small—a certain percentage of children will require hospitalization, so quantitatively, you will see more children in the hospital.”

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#cdc, #children, #covid-19, #fauci, #florida, #infectious-disease, #masks, #public-health, #schools, #science, #texas, #walensky

Florida is ablaze with COVID-19—and its case data reporting is a hot mess

A man in a suit gestures while speaking at a podium

Enlarge / Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an event on August 10, 2021. (credit: Getty | Joe Raedle)

With the hypertransmissible delta variant on the rampage, Florida has become the epicenter of transmission in the US. The state is experiencing its largest surge of COVID-19 cases yet in the pandemic. Hospitalizations have reached record levels, and deaths are on the rise.

But instead of focusing on the response to the dire public health emergency, state officials appear to be squabbling over pandemic data and health measures.

On Monday night, Florida’s health department blasted media outlets for reporting the state’s most recent daily COVID-19 cases counts—as the counts were relayed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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#cases, #cdc, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #data, #florida, #infectious-disease, #masks, #pandemic, #public-health, #ron-desantis, #science

Court says Florida can’t block cruise line from requiring vaccines

Photograph of a cruise ship.

Enlarge (credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

On Sunday, District Court Judge Kathleen Williams issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the state of Florida from enforcing a law that would have blocked cruise lines from requiring their passengers provide COVID-19 vaccine records.

While this is a temporary injunction that only applies to a single company, the ruling indicates that the law violates two separate constitutional protections, and provides a roadmap for any other company that is interested in contesting it. In addition, the same legal logic may apply to many similar statutes and executive orders adopted elsewhere in the US.

Norwegian vs. the sunshine state

If a Sunday ruling seems unusual, it’s because of the case’s tight timeline. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which runs a number of cruise ships out of Florida, is planning on starting a cruise next weekend. The company has promised its customers that everyone—all fellow passengers and the crew—will have been vaccinated, and the company will confirm their status. While in keeping with CDC guidance and requirements at a number of locations the cruise will visit, that approach runs afoul of Florida law, specifically a statute called Section 381.00316.

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#covid-19, #cruise-lines, #florida, #law, #pandemic, #policy, #science, #vaccine-certificates, #vaccines

Siga secures $8.1M Series B to prevent cyberattacks on critical infrastructure

Siga OT Solutions, an Israeli cybersecurity startup that helps organizations secure their operations by monitoring the raw electric signals of critical industrial assets, has raised $8.1 million in Series B funding.

Siga’s SigaGuard says its technology, used by Israel’s critical water facilities and the New York Power Authority, is unique in that rather than monitoring the operational network, it uses machine learning and predictive analysis to “listen” to Level 0 signals. These are typically made up of components and sensors that receive electrical signals, rather than protocols or data packets that can be manipulated by hackers.

By monitoring Level 0, which Siga describes as the “richest and most reliable level of process data within any operational environment,” the company can detect cyberattacks on the most critical and vulnerable physical assets of national infrastructures. This, it claims, ensures operational resiliency even when hackers are successful in manipulating the logic of industrial control system (ICS) controllers.

Amir Samoiloff, co-founder and CEO of Siga, says: “Level 0 is becoming the major axis in the resilience and integrity of critical national infrastructures worldwide and securing this level will become a major element in control systems in the coming years.”

The company’s latest round of funding — led by PureTerra Ventures, with investment from Israeli venture fund SIBF, Moore Capital, and Phoenix Contact — comes amid an escalation in attacks against operational infrastructure. Israel’s water infrastructure was hit by three known cyberattacks in 2020 and these were followed by an attack on the water system of a city in Florida that saw hackers briefly increase the amount of sodium hydroxide in Oldsmar’s water treatment system. 

The $8.1 million investment lands three years after the startup secured $3.5 million in Series A funding. The company said it will use the funding to accelerate its sales and strategic collaborations internationally, with a focus on North America, Europe, Asia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

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#articles, #asia, #computer-security, #cryptography, #cyberattack, #cybercrime, #cybersecurity-startup, #cyberwarfare, #data-security, #energy, #europe, #florida, #israel, #machine-learning, #north-america, #nozomi-networks, #phoenix, #ransomware, #security, #united-arab-emirates

As Covid Surges in Florida, DeSantis Refuses to Change Course

A virus spike connected to the Delta variant has led to a record number of Covid-19 hospitalizations in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis has not altered his approach, for better or worse.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #desantis-ron, #disease-rates, #florida, #hospitals, #masks, #politics-and-government, #vaccination-and-immunization

Record-setting COVID surge in Florida spurs pro-mask uprising against DeSantis

A man in a suit gestures while speaking into a microphone.

Enlarge / Florida man and Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference held at the Assault Brigade 2506 Honorary Museum on August 05, 2021, in Hialeah, Florida. (credit: Getty | Joe Raedle)

The dire COVID-19 situation in Florida continues to worsen as local and federal leaders push back against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his efforts to thwart public health measures.

DeSantis has banned businesses, local governments, and schools in Florida from requiring proof of vaccination. Last Friday, DeSantis issued an executive order barring schools from requiring children to wear masks. In signing the executive order, the governor’s office called federal recommendations for masks “unscientific” and claimed the order would “protect parents’ freedom.” The American Academy of Pediatrics has also recommended universal masking in schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Meanwhile, the delta coronavirus surge continues. On Wednesday, Florida recorded 20,133 new cases, its second-highest daily total of new cases in the entirety of the pandemic. The Sunshine State accounted for 22 percent of new cases detected in the US yesterday, despite making up just 6.5 percent of the country’s population. Today, a record-high of 12,888 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state. It is the fourth straight day of record-breaking hospitalizations.

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#cases, #cdc, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #florida, #hospitalization, #infectious-disease, #masks, #pandemic, #science

‘Freedom,’ Florida and the Delta Variant Disaster

When that word does not mean what you think it means.

#conservatism-us-politics, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #desantis-ron, #florida, #vaccination-and-immunization

Mitchell Button Accused of Sexual Assault in Lawsuit

Mitchell Taylor Button was accused of abuse, and his wife, Dusty Button, a dancer with a large Instagram following, was accused of participating in some of it but not named as a defendant.

#button-dusty, #button-mitchell-taylor, #dancing, #florida, #hollywood-fla, #humphries-sage, #menichino-gina, #sex-crimes, #sexual-harassment, #suits-and-litigation-civil

Florida Condominium Laws Need Reform

Battles can erupt over costly repairs essential for these buildings.

#buildings-structures, #condominiums, #florida, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Woman Faces Murder Charge After Man Shaken as Baby Dies at 35

Terry McKirchy was arrested after a grand jury in Broward County, Fla., indicted her in the 2019 death of Benjamin Dowling, who was severely disabled after his parents left him in her care in 1984.

#broward-county-fla, #child-abuse-and-neglect, #dowling-benjamin-k-d-2019, #florida, #mckirchy-terry, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #shaken-baby-syndrome

He Tried to Walk on Water From Florida to New York. It Didn’t Go So Well.

Reza Baluchi washed ashore on Saturday near St. Augustine, Fla., in a ‘‘hydro pod,” startling beachgoers with a homemade contraption that resembles a hamster wheel.

#baluchi-reza, #florida, #stunts-and-stuntmen, #united-states-coast-guard

Sundae closes on $80M for residential real estate marketplace

Sundae, a residential real estate marketplace that pairs sellers of dated or damaged property with potential buyers, has raised $80 million in a Series C funding round co-led by Fifth Wall and General Global Capital.

QED Investors, Wellington Management, Susa Ventures, Founders Fund, First American Financial, Prudence Holdings, Crossover VC, Intersect Capital, Gaingels and Oberndorf Ventures also participated in the financing. The round marks San Francisco-based Sundae’s third financing in a 13-month time frame, bringing its total raised since its August 2018 inception to $135 million. 

The San Francisco-based company declined to reveal at what valuation its Series C was raised. It also declined to provide hard revenue figures, saying only that it saw a 600% year-over-year increase in revenue from June 2020 to June 2021.

The startup aims to help people who need to sell dated or “damaged” properties for a variety of reasons — such as job loss, illness or divorce. In some cases, according to CEO and co-founder Josh Stech, such vulnerable sellers get taken advantage of by “predatory fix and flippers” seeking to capitalize on their misfortune. 

Since sellers in these situations don’t typically have the funds to fix up their properties before selling, Sundae lists the property for them on its platform – serving as an intermediary between sellers and investors. There, it is visible to about 2,600 qualified off-market buyers.

The company essentially aims to aggregate demand from “fix and flippers,” who use the marketplace to bid against each other for distressed properties. If the seller accepts and an inspection is completed, the company offers a $10,000 cash advance before closing to help homeowners with moving costs or other expenses.

Our goal is to displace wholesalers who exploit desperate or uninformed sellers and lock them into a contract which they turn around and assign to a property investor at a steep profit,” Stech said. “The tens of thousands of dollars in lost equity that goes to a wholesaler could mean the difference between paying off debts, or having enough money to retire.”

Sundae claims that on average, sellers receive 10 offers within three days on its marketplace.

Since its launch in January 2019, the startup has slowly been expanding its marketplace geographically. It went from operating in four markets in California at the end of last year to now operating in 14 markets across Florida, Colorado, Georgia, Texas and Utah.

Sundae makes money by charging buyers in its investor marketplace a fee when it “assigns” them a property. 

In the first quarter of this year, the startup launched a dedicated online marketplace for investors, where they can view properties and submit offers. Once an investor signs up to join the marketplace, they can access the full inventory of properties, including information such as photos, floor plan, 3D walkthrough and a third-party inspection report. 

Looking ahead, the company plans to use its new capital to expand to new markets, invest in its platform and “build brand awareness.” It also, of course, plans to boost its current headcount of 180 mostly remote employees.

Vik Chawla, a partner at Fifth Wall, believes Sundae is serving a segment of the residential real estate market that has historically been overlooked. 

“Their marketplace model simultaneously solves a crucial pain point for sellers by disrupting the wholesale industry, while delivering a platform that property investors can count on for reliable investment opportunities,” he said.

The company last raised $36 million in a Series B funding round in December 2020.

Interestingly, a slew of angel investors — including a number of athletes and celebrities — also put money in the company’s latest round, including: actor Will Smith, DJ Kygo, three-time NFL Super Bowl champion Richard Seymour of 93 Ventures, NFL All-Pro DK Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks, Matt Chapman of the Oakland A’s, Alex Caruso of the Los Angeles Lakers, Aaron Gordon of the Denver Nuggets, Solomon Hill of the Atlanta Hawks, Kelly Olynyk of the Houston Rockets, NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas, three-time NBA Champion & Gold Medalist Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, Hassan Whiteside of the Sacramento Kings, Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors and 2020 U.S. Soccer Player of the Year and Juventus midfielder, Weston McKennie.

#california, #fifth-wall, #florida, #founders-fund, #funding, #fundings-exits, #gaingels, #general-global-capital, #georgia, #golden-state-warriors, #national-basketball-association, #national-football-league, #nfl, #oakland, #prudence-holdings, #real-estate, #real-estate-tech, #recent-funding, #sacramento-kings, #san-francisco, #startup, #startups, #sundae, #super-bowl, #susa-ventures, #texas, #venture-capital, #vik-chawla, #wellington-management, #will-smith

Miami Condo Collapse Raises New Fears About Florida’s Insurance Market

Insurers were already skittish after losses from repeated hurricanes. The recent condo collapse has brought new insecurity. How long will Florida’s coast be insurable?

#buildings-structures, #coastal-areas, #florida, #global-warming, #homeowners-insurance, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Tech Workers Who Swore Off the Bay Area Are Coming Back

Critics said the pandemic would make the industry flee San Francisco and its southern neighbor, Silicon Valley. But tech can’t seem to quit its gravitational center.

#austin-tex, #bay-area-rapid-transit, #cisco-systems-inc, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #florida, #google-inc, #hewlett-packard-company, #musk-elon, #oracle-corporation, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #relocation-of-business, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate, #san-francisco-calif, #silicon-valley-calif, #twitter

Play2Pay raises $13M to convert mobile user engagement into bill payment

The gamification of payments is not a new concept.

A number of companies are attempting to combine gamification and payments in creative ways. And today, one such company, Play2Pay, has raised $13 million in a Series A round of funding.

The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based startup has a straightforward mission. It wants to give consumers a way to reduce their bills — it claims by an average of 30%! — by playing games, watching videos and completing daily challenges, offers and surveys.

Play2Pay was bootstrapped for the first five years of its life, raising its first external capital in June of 2020 — a $7.5 million seed round from individual angel investors. Telesoft Partners led its Series A round, which included participation from Harbor Spring Capital and individual investors including former AT&T vice chairman Ralph de la Vega, former Reuters CEO Tom Glocer, Madison Dearborn Partners co-founder and senior advisor Jim Perry and Virtusa founder and former CEO, Kris Canekeratne.

The alternative payment platform says it brokers a “value exchange” between brands and consumers, converting attention and engagement into a currency, which can be redeemed for bill payment. Meanwhile, brands get a new way to promote their products and services.

Play2Pay founder and CEO Brian Boroff started the company in 2015 based on a vision that prepaid mobile phone users should have an alternative way to pay for their mobile phone service and that wireless carriers would adopt an ad-funded commercial model.

Today, the company claims to be positioned to be the world’s first “ad supported payment rail” directly integrated into payments platforms of major service providers and financial institutions. It also claims to be the only company that converts user engagement directly into bill payment.

Image Credits: Play2Pay

The “opt-in” offering is currently available to more than 100 million mobile subscribers across the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia through partnerships with telecom companies such as AT&T Mexico, Cricket in the U.S., TIM in Brazil, lndosat Ooredoo in Indonesia and U.K.-based Lycamobile.

The rewarding approach seems to be resonating with users. From June 2020 to June 2021, the startup saw its ARR (annual recurring revenue) spike by nearly 300%, according to Boroff, a telecom veteran.

Among the users engaged on the platform, about 25% generated revenue daily, he said. And service providers realized up to 17% revenue expansion as a result of subscriber engagement on the Play2Pay platform, according to Boroff.

“Our distribution model is B2B2C, with Tier-1 service providers worldwide directly integrating our bill payment capability. We’re growing our audience through promotion of the service to their customer base,” he told TechCrunch. 

End users, he added, can share their targeting preferences in exchange for value, giving mobile app developers and brands more information when promoting their own products and services to Play2Pay’s audience.

The platform is free for service providers and merchants, meaning the payment does not have costs or fees from interchange, acquirers, chargebacks or gateways.

Instead, Play2Pay generates revenue from mobile app developers and brands. Those developers and brands pay to access Play2Pay’s mobile audience in order to promote their products and services. For example, a mobile gaming company might pay Play2Pay $100 for every user that downloads their app from the Play2Pay app and plays the game for a period of time (such as two hours). Through its technology and partner network, Play2Pay has attribution tracking to ensure that the end user and mobile gaming company both know how much progress has been made toward completing that goal. Other formats include watching videos, completing surveys and more conventional native advertising in some areas.

All of this revenue is aggregated by Play2Pay, the majority of which is passed on to the end user in the form of in-app currency. The balance goes to service providers such as its wireless carrier partners for promoting the Play2Pay platform and to Play2Pay for running the service and processing payment. Play2Pay collects all of the cash and pays out the various parties accordingly.
The company will use the new capital toward product development, hiring and partner engagement.

#brazil, #finance, #fintech, #florida, #funding, #fundings-exits, #gamification, #gaming, #indonesia, #mexico, #money, #online-payments, #payments, #play2pay, #recent-funding, #startups, #telesoft-partners, #united-states, #venture-capital

Florida, the Land of Gleaming Condos, Frets After Collapse

The high-rise condos along the Miami seashore long embodied the Florida dream of sunshine and prosperity. But the Champlain Towers South catastrophe is obscuring that vision.

#buildings-structures, #condominiums, #florida, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

With little remaining of Champlain Towers, how will we find answers?

Image of a collapsed building.

Enlarge (credit: EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI / Getty Images)

Shortly after the collapse of Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida, the hunt for answers began. In a rare move, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced that it would be taking the lead in what promises to be a long process investigating the event that took, at current count, 64 lives. The involvement of the NIST—which also led the investigation in the wake of 9/11—could signal coming changes in the United States’ building codes. 

The collapse wasn’t a product of an earthquake or other natural disaster. While many ideas have been floated to explain the event, it could be a long time before we get any solid answers. Understanding it isn’t made easier by the fact that the vast majority of the remains of the structure is just rubble at this point. Yet investigators have ways of determining the factors that led to this massive, tragic disaster—even though the clues have been reduced to tiny pieces. 

The NIST declined to speak on the matter at this point, so Ars reached out to researchers in the field to get a sense of how these kinds of investigations are done. 

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#champlain-towers, #civil-engineering, #collapse, #engineering, #florida, #nist, #science

Google faces a major multi-state antitrust lawsuit over Google Play fees

A group of 37 attorneys general filed a second major multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Google Wednesday, accusing the company of abusing its market power to stifle competitors and forcing consumers into in-app payments that grant the company a hefty cut.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is co-leading the suit alongside with the Tennessee, North Carolina and Utah attorneys general. The bipartisan coalition represents 36 U.S. states, including California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Colorado and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

“Through its illegal conduct, the company has ensured that hundreds of millions of Android users turn to Google, and only Google, for the millions of applications they may choose to download to their phones and tablets,” James said in a press release. “Worse yet, Google is squeezing the lifeblood out of millions of small businesses that are only seeking to compete.”

In December, 35 states filed a separate antitrust suit against Google, alleging that the company engaged in illegal behavior to maintain a monopoly on the search business. The Justice Department filed its own antitrust case focused on search last October.

In the new lawsuit, embedded below, the bipartisan coalition of states allege that Google uses “misleading” security warnings to keep consumers and developers within its walled app garden, the Google Play store. But the fees that Google collects from Android app developers are likely the meat of the case.

“Not only has Google acted unlawfully to block potential rivals from competing with its Google Play Store, it has profited by improperly locking app developers and consumers into its own payment processing system and then charging high fees,” District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said.

Like Apple, Google herds all app payment processing into its own service, Google Play Billing, and reaps the rewards: a 30 percent cut of all payments. Much of the criticism here is a case that could — and likely will — be made against Apple, which exerts even more control over its own app ecosystem. Google doesn’t have an iMessage equivalent exclusive app that keeps users locked in in quite the same way.

While the lawsuit discusses Google’s “monopoly power” in the app marketplace, the elephant in the room is Apple — Google’s thriving direct competitor in the mobile software space. The lawsuit argues that consumers face pressure to stay locked into the Android ecosystem, but on the Android side at least, much of that is ultimately familiarity and sunk costs. The argument on the Apple side of the equation here is likely much stronger.

The din over tech giants squeezing app developers with high mobile payment fees is just getting louder. The new multi-state lawsuit is the latest beat, but the topic has been white hot since Epic took Apple to court over its desire to bypass Apple’s fees by accepting mobile payments outside the App Store. When Epic set up a workaround, Apple kicked it out of the App Store and Epic Games v. Apple was born.

The Justice Department is reportedly already interested in Apple’s own app store practices, along with many state AGs who could launch a separate suit against the company at any time.

#android, #app-store, #apple, #apple-inc, #attorney-general, #california, #colorado, #companies, #computing, #department-of-justice, #epic-games, #florida, #fortnite, #google, #google-play, #google-play-billing, #google-play-store, #letitia-james, #massachusetts, #new-hampshire, #new-jersey, #new-york, #north-carolina, #search, #social, #tc, #technology, #tennessee, #the-battle-over-big-tech, #united-states, #utah, #washington

America Needs to Break Up Its Biggest States

How would you like to live in the state of New York City?

#california, #constitution-us, #florida, #new-york-city, #new-york-state, #senate, #states-us

Florida Braces for Tropical Storm Elsa

A hurricane watch was issued for portions of western Florida and north toward the Panhandle, and meteorologists warned that the storm could be near hurricane strength before making landfall early Wednesday.

#atlantic-ocean, #barbados, #dominican-republic, #florida, #haiti, #hurricanes-and-tropical-storms, #jamaica-west-indies, #martinique, #puerto-rico, #st-lucia, #st-vincent-and-the-grenadines

Lax Enforcement Let South Florida Towers Skirt Inspections for Years

The collapse of Champlain Towers South has prompted a review of hundreds of older high-rises. Some buildings ignored or delayed action on serious maintenance issues.

#buildings-structures, #florida, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

6 Rescuers at Condo in Surfside, Fla., Test Positive for Virus

Chief Alan Cominsky of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said that contact tracing had been performed and that hundreds of other workers had since been tested.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #florida, #rescues, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Trump to Hold Rally in Florida, Across State From Building Disaster

Aides to Gov. Ron DeSantis questioned Trump associates about whether the event on Saturday night in Sarasota would proceed given the scope of the tragedy in Surfside.

#desantis-ron, #florida, #politics-and-government, #presidential-election-of-2024, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government

Condo Wreckage Hints at First Signs of Possible Construction Flaw

Engineers studying the collapsed Florida tower said there seemed to be less steel reinforcement in certain areas than would have been expected from the 1979 design drawings.

#accidents-and-safety, #florida, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Inspector Who Said Florida Tower Appeared in ‘Good Shape’ Is Now Under Scrutiny

The chief building official of Surfside, Fla., had worked in at least six South Florida cities.

#biscayne-kennel-club, #buildings-structures, #florida, #prieto-ross, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Judge tears Florida’s social media law to shreds for violating First Amendment

A judge's handing hitting a wooden block with a gavel.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | ericsphotography)

A federal judge has blocked Florida’s new social media law because it violates the First Amendment rights of tech companies that moderate user content on their online platforms. The state law would make it illegal for large social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to ban politicians and impose other restrictions on the tech companies, but the judge’s order means it cannot be enforced while an industry lawsuit against Florida is pending. The law would have taken effect today if not for the injunction.

The preliminary-injunction order issued by US District Judge Robert Hinkle yesterday called Florida’s law “an instance of burning the house to roast a pig.”

“If a preliminary injunction is not issued, the plaintiffs’ members will sometimes be compelled to speak and will sometimes be forbidden from speaking, all in violation of their editorial judgment and the First Amendment,” Hinkle wrote. The tech companies would sometimes be forbidden from speaking because the Florida law’s definition of censorship includes not only deleting content, but also “post[ing] an addendum to any content or material posted by a user.”

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#florida, #policy, #social-media

Weisselberg, ‘Soldier’ for Trump, Faces Charges and Test of His Loyalty

The Trump Organization executive is expected to be charged on Thursday, along with the company, as he comes under increasing pressure to turn on the family.

#accounting-and-accountants, #corporate-taxes, #federal-taxes-us, #florida, #income-tax, #james-letitia, #new-york-city, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #taxation, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vance-cyrus-r-jr, #weisselberg-allen

Possible Failure Point Emerges in Miami Building Collapse

Some engineers looking at the failure of a 13-story condo tower in Florida said the collapse appeared to have begun somewhere near the bottom of the building.

#building-construction, #buildings-structures, #concrete, #engineering-and-engineers, #florida, #national-institute-of-standards-and-technology, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Why the Miami Beach Area Condo Search Seems to Go Slowly

The dangers to the rescuers and missing residents are clear and dictate that the process must be slow and deliberate, experts and officials say.

#buildings-structures, #florida, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Anxious Residents of Sister Tower to Fallen Florida Condo Wonder: Stay or Go?

The partly collapsed Champlain Towers South scared people who live in Champlain Towers North. But no one has ordered them to evacuate — yet.

#buildings-structures, #florida, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

Collapsed Building Near Miami Had Serious Concrete Damage

A consultant in 2018 urged the managers to repair cracked columns and crumbling concrete. The work was finally about to get underway when the building collapsed.

#buildings-structures, #concrete, #florida, #surfside-fla, #surfside-fla-building-collapse-2021

First Victim in Florida Condo Collapse Named: Stacie Feng, 54

“There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie,” the family said in a statement.

#accidents-and-safety, #buildings-structures, #florida

Infrastructure, Surfside, Giuliani: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.

#alaska, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #canada, #florida, #senate, #united-states-politics-and-government

They Put Up a Pride Flag. A Homeowners’ Group Said Take It Down.

The Eastland Cove Homeowners Association in Broward County, Fla., said it was not on a list of approved flags. A couple face an initial fine of up to $50.

#broward-county-fla, #flags-emblems-and-insignia, #florida, #homosexuality-and-bisexuality