In a Twist, Old Coal Plants Help Deliver Renewable Power. Here’s How.

The sites, once a source of greenhouse gases, have a useful feature: They’re wired to the electricity grid. For new ventures like solar farms, that can save a lot of time and money.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #baltimore-md, #batteries, #brayton-point-power-station, #coal, #engie-sa, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #maryland, #massachusetts, #solar-energy, #wind-power

The Massachusetts Race for Democrats’ Next Crusading Attorney General

In cerulean-blue Massachusetts, candidates for the state’s top law enforcement job are seeking to demonstrate their faith in progressive ideals. But the race could be decided on other grounds.

#campbell-andrea-j-1982, #democratic-party, #elections-attorneys-general, #internal-sub-only-nl, #liss-riordan-shannon, #massachusetts, #midterm-elections-2022, #palfrey-quentin, #primaries-and-caucuses, #united-states-politics-and-government

The Next Battleground for Gig Worker Labor Laws: Massachusetts

Uber and Lyft are pushing a ballot measure that would bar their drivers from full employment status, but a court could throw it out.

#california, #car-services-and-livery-cabs, #delivery-services, #freelancing-self-employment-and-independent-contracting, #lyft-inc, #massachusetts, #referendums, #uber-technologies-inc, #wages-and-salaries

High Electric Bills Get Ready for Another Energy Price Spike: High Electric Bills

Rates have jumped because of a surge in natural gas prices and could keep rising rapidly for years as utilities invest in electric grids.

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #electric-light-and-power, #energy-efficiency, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #heating, #hydroelectric-power, #international-trade-and-world-market, #massachusetts, #natural-gas, #new-england-states-us, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #oregon, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #solar-energy, #summer-season, #wind-power

Man Charged With Threatening Merriam-Webster Over Gender Definitions

The man, Jeremy David Hanson, 34, threatened in October to shoot and bomb the company’s offices because of its definitions of “girl,” “boy,” “trans woman” and other words, federal authorities said.

#california, #dictionaries, #gender, #jeremy-david-hanson, #massachusetts, #merriam-webster-inc, #springfield-mass

April Storm Blankets Portions of Northeast With More Snow

While parts of Pennsylvania received up to 8 inches of snow on Monday, areas across central and upstate New York may see more than a foot before the storm moves out Tuesday.

#binghamton-ny, #boston-mass, #catskill-ny, #massachusetts, #new-york-state, #northeastern-states-us, #pennsylvania, #poconos-pa, #power-failures-and-blackouts, #snow-and-snowstorms, #spring-season, #weather

A Financial Services Company Illegally Leased Dogs, Massachusetts Says

Monterey Financial Services LLC has agreed to pay $930,000 in debt relief and restitution to settle allegations that it was conducting the practice, which is banned in the Bay State and others.

#consumer-protection, #dogs, #healey-maura-1971, #massachusetts, #oceanside-calif, #pets

11 Set Up Hundreds of Sham Marriages for Green Card Seekers, U.S. Says

Clients paid fees up to $30,000 as part of the yearslong scheme, an affidavit said. Some applications falsely claimed the clients had been abused by their spouses, prosecutors said.

#boston-mass, #citizenship-and-naturalization, #domestic-violence, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #frauds-and-swindling, #green-cards-us, #immigration-and-emigration, #los-angeles-calif, #marriages, #massachusetts, #violence-against-women-act-1994, #women-and-girls

M.I.T. Will Again Require SAT and ACT Scores

The university said it was reinstating the admissions requirement, which it had waived in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, for the 2022-23 application cycle.

#act-examination, #admissions-standards, #colleges-and-universities, #massachusetts, #massachusetts-institute-of-technology, #sat-college-admission-test

Why Facebook’s ‘Hubris and Arrogance’ Astound This Attorney General

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey weighs in on social media, the Sacklers and Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.

#audio-neutral-informative, #facebook-inc, #healey-maura-1971, #massachusetts, #politics-and-government, #purdue-pharma, #united-states-politics-and-government

Black Troops Who Served in the Civil War Could Get Congressional Honor

Legislators have introduced a bill to honor their contribution with the Congressional Gold Medal.

#awards-decorations-and-honors, #black-people, #booker-cory-a, #civil-war-us-1861-65, #confederate-states-of-america, #discrimination, #furman-university, #harlem-hellfighters, #law-and-legislation, #massachusetts, #medal-of-honor-us, #norton-eleanor-holmes, #race-and-ethnicity, #slavery-historical, #united-states-colored-troops, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces

Overlooked No More: Mary Eliza Mahoney, Who Opened Doors in Nursing

As the first trained Black nurse in America, Mahoney devoted her life to creating opportunities in the profession for people of all races.

#biographical-information, #black-people, #discrimination, #mahoney-mary-eliza-1845-1926, #massachusetts, #new-england-hospital-for-women-and-children-boston-mass, #nursing-and-nurses, #united-states, #women-and-girls

New York Deer Infected With Omicron, Study Finds

White-tailed deer on Staten Island have become the first wild animals with documented Omicron infections. The coronavirus has now been found in deer in 15 states.

#animals, #antibodies, #arkansas, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-delta-variant, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #deer, #illinois, #iowa, #kansas, #maine, #massachusetts, #minnesota, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #north-carolina, #ohio, #oklahoma, #parks-and-recreation-department-nyc, #pennsylvania, #research, #staten-island-nyc, #tennessee, #veterinary-medicine, #virginia, #your-feed-animals, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

A fight over the right to repair cars turns ugly

A fight over the right to repair cars turns ugly

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Chie Ferrelli loved her Subaru SUV, which she bought in 2020 because it made her feel safe. So when it was time for her husband, Marc, to purchase his own new car last summer, they returned to the Subaru dealer near their home in southeast Massachusetts. But there was a catch, one that made the couple mad: Marc’s sedan wouldn’t have access to the company’s telematics system and the app that went along with it. No remote engine start in the freezing New England winter; no emergency assistance; no automated messages when the tire pressure was low or the oil needed changing. The worst part was that if the Ferrellis lived just a mile away, in Rhode Island, they would have the features. They bought the car. But thinking back, Marc says, if he had known about the issue before stepping into the dealership he “probably would have gone with Toyota.”

Subaru disabled the telematics system and associated features on new cars registered in Massachusetts last year as part of a spat over a right-to-repair ballot measure approved, overwhelmingly, by the state’s voters in 2020. The measure, which has been held up in the courts, required automakers to give car owners and independent mechanics more access to data about the car’s internal systems.

But the “open data platform” envisioned by the law doesn’t exist yet, and automakers have filed suit to prevent the initiative from taking effect. So first Subaru and then Kia turned off their telematics systems on their newest cars in Massachusetts, irking drivers like the Ferrellis. “This was not to comply with the law—compliance with the law at this time is impossible—but rather to avoid violating it,” Dominick Infante, a spokesperson for Subaru, wrote in a statement. Kia did not respond to a request for comment.

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#cars, #kia, #massachusetts, #policy, #right-to-repair, #subaru

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey Enters Governor’s Race

Ms. Healey, a Democrat, is the most well known of the candidates who are running to replace Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who is not seeking re-election.

#democratic-party, #elections-governors, #healey-maura-1971, #massachusetts, #united-states-politics-and-government

Elizabeth Warren Claps Back at Elon Musk

The Massachusetts senator defends her plan to tax billionaires and break up Big Tech.

#antitrust-laws-and-competition-issues, #democratic-party, #income-tax, #massachusetts, #senate, #silicon-valley-calif, #united-states-politics-and-government, #warren-elizabeth

Why Covid-19 Didn’t Create the Nursing Crisis

Nurses would like to set the record straight on the hospital staffing crisis.

#california, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #hospitals, #illinois, #lobbying-and-lobbyists, #massachusetts, #nursing-and-nurses, #pennsylvania, #shortages

Covid Didn’t Create the Nursing Crisis

Nurses would like to set the record straight on the hospital staffing crisis.

#california, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #hospitals, #illinois, #lobbying-and-lobbyists, #massachusetts, #nursing-and-nurses, #pennsylvania, #shortages

Mass. lawmakers want to tweak connected car “right to repair” law

Mass. lawmakers want to tweak connected car “right to repair” law

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images/Aurich Lawson)

Back in 2013, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to pass a “right to repair” law that required carmakers to sell their proprietary diagnostic tools and software to third-party repair shops. During the 2020 election, the voters of that state voted, three-to-one, in favor of expanding the law to include the connected aspects of new cars.

From model year 2022, any new car sold in the state that features connected car services or telematics capabilities must have a standardized open data platform as a way of accessing those online services. Now, though, two bills seek to tweak the law in the hopes of getting OEMs to comply.

MY2022 cars have been on sale across the country for some months now. However, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy has held off on enforcing the new provisions of the law due to an ongoing federal lawsuit brought by a coalition of automakers who claim that the current law is incompatible with widely accepted cybersecurity practices (a view shared by a horrified-sounding National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

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#cars, #massachusetts, #right-to-repair

He Paid $30 for a Drawing. It Could Be a Renaissance Work Worth Millions.

A man bought a yellowing picture of the Virgin Mary and Child at an estate sale in Massachusetts. Experts believe it is by the renowned German artist Albrecht Dürer.

#art, #british-museum, #clifford-schorer, #collectors-and-collections, #content-type-personal-profile, #durer-albrecht, #england, #forgery, #massachusetts, #museums

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts Says He Won’t Run for Re-election

Mr. Baker, a moderate Republican in a deep-blue state, faced a Trump-backed primary challenge and a potentially difficult general election.

#baker-charles-d-jr, #elections-governors, #massachusetts, #republican-party, #united-states-politics-and-government

Father and Son Help Crack Unsolved 1969 Bank Robbery

Theodore J. Conrad pulled off one of the biggest bank robberies in Cleveland’s history. The case eluded officials for decades, until an obituary appeared online and family secrets began to unravel.

#bank-robberies, #cleveland-ohio, #fugitives, #john-k-elliott, #massachusetts, #peter-j-elliott, #theodore-john-conrad, #united-states-marshals-service

Attention, New Englanders: Fluffernutter Is Now a Word

What has prompted Merriam-Webster to add the longstanding term for a mostly regional sandwich to the dictionary?

#dictionaries, #durkee-mower-company, #english-language, #fluffernutter, #massachusetts, #merriam-webster-inc, #new-england-states-us, #peanut-butter, #sandwiches

Nor’easter Brings Hurricane-Force Winds to Massachusetts

After battering the New York area, the storm knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers across New England on Wednesday.

#massachusetts, #national-weather-service, #new-england-states-us, #weather, #wind

Did a Meteor Explode Over New Hampshire? That May Explain the Boom.

Meteorologists said that a bolide, a type of large meteor explosion in the atmosphere, might have been the source of a disturbance that was widely reported on Sunday.

#massachusetts, #meteors-and-meteorites, #national-aeronautics-and-space-administration, #national-earthquake-information-center, #national-weather-service, #new-england-states-us, #new-hampshire, #satellites, #space-and-astronomy, #united-states-geological-survey, #weather

How Old Is This Old House?

Property records don’t go back far enough to date some houses. But experts can pinpoint a house’s age by studying tree-ring patterns in the house’s timber.

#carbon-dating, #connecticut, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #massachusetts, #northeastern-states-us, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #restoration-and-renovation, #wood-and-wood-products

GrubMarket gobbles up $120M at a $1B+ pre-money valuation to take on the grocery supply chain

When people talk about “online food delivery” services, chances are that they’ll think of the Uber Eats, Instacarts and Getirs of this world. But today a startup that’s tackling a different aspect of the market — addressing the supply chain that subsequently turns the wheels of the bigger food distribution machine — is announcing a big round of funding as it continues to grow.

GrubMarket, which provides software and services that help link up and manage relationships between food suppliers and their customers — which can include wholesalers and other distributors, markets and supermarkets, delivery startups, restaurants, and consumers — has picked up $120 million in a Series E round of funding.

The funding is coming from a wide mix of investors. Liberty Street Funds, Walleye Capital, Japan Post Capital, Joseph Stone Capital, Pegasus Tech Ventures, Tech Pioneers Fund are among the new backers, who are being joined by existing investors Celtic House Asia Partners, INP Capital, Reimagined Ventures, Moringa Capital Management, and others, along with other unnamed participants

Mike Xu, GrubMarket’s founder and CEO (pictured, above), tells me that the company is currently profitable in a big way. It’s now at a $1 billion annualized run-rate, having grown revenues 300% over last year, with some markets like New York growing even more (it went from less than $10 million ARR to $100 million+).

With operations currently in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Massachusetts, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington, and some 40 warehouses nationwide. GrubMarket had a pre-money valuation of over $1 billion, and now it will be looking to grow even more, both in terms of territory and in terms of tech, moving ahead in a market that is largely absent from competitors.

“We are still the first mover in this space,” Xu said when I asked him in an interview about rivals. “No one else is doing consolidation on the supply chain side as we are. We are trying to consolidate the American food supply chain through software technologies, while also trying to find the best solutions in this space.”

(And for some context, the $1 billion+ valuation is more than double GrubMarket’s valuation in October 2020, when it raised $60 million at a $500 million post-money valuation.)

Longer term, the plan will be to look at an IPO provisionally filing the paperwork by summer 2022, Xu added.

GrubMarket got its start several years ago as one of many companies looking to provide a more efficient farm-to-table service. Tapping into a growing consumer interest in higher quality, and more traceable food, it saw an opportunity to build a platform to link up producers to the consumers, restaurants and grocery stores that were buying their products. (Grocery stores, incidentally, might be independent operations, or something much bigger: one of GrubMarket’s biggest customers is Whole Foods, which uses GrubMarket for produce supply in certain regions of the U.S. It is currently is the company’s biggest customer.)

As we wrote last year, GrubMarket — like many other grocery delivery services — found that the pandemic initially provided a big fillip, and a big rush of demand, from that consumer side of the business, as more people turned to internet-based ordering and delivery services to offset the fact that many stores were closed, or they simply wanted to curtail the amount of shopping they were doing in-person to slow the spread of Covid-19.

But fast forward to today, while the startup still serves consumers, this is currently not the primary part of its business. Instead, it’s B2B2C, serving companies that in turn serve consumers. Xu says that overall, demand from consumers has dropped off considerably compared to a year ago.

“We think that restaurant re-openings have meant more people are dining out again and spending less time at home,” Xu said, ” and also they can go back to physical grocery stores, so they are not as interested as they were before in buying raw ingredients online. I don’t want to offend other food tech companies, but I think many of them will be seeing the same. I think B2C is really going to slow down going forward.”

The opening for GrubMarket has been not just positioning itself as a middleman between producers and buyers, but to do so by way of technology and consolidating what has been a very regionalized and fragmented market up to now.

GrubMarket has snapped up no less than 40 companies in the last three years. While some of these have been to help it expand geographically (it made 10 acquisitions in the Los Angeles area alone), many have also been made to double down on technology.

These have included the likes of Farmigo, once a Disrupt Battlefield contender that pivoted into becoming a software provider to CSAs (an area that GrubMarket sees a lot of opportunity), as well as software to help farms manage their business staffing, insurance and more: Pacific Farm Management is an example of the latter.

GrubMarket’s own in-house software, WholesaleWare, a cloud-based service for farmers and other food producers, saw its sales grow 3,500% over the last year, and it is now managing more than $4 billion in wholesale and retail activity across the U.S. and Canada.

There will be obvious ways to extend what GrubHub does deeper into the needs of its customers on the purchasing end, but this is in many ways also a very crowded market. (And not just crowded, but crowded with big companies. Just today, Toast, the company that builds software for restaurants, filed for a $717 million IPO at potentially a $16.5 billion valuation.) So instead, GrubHub will continue to focus on what has been a more overlooked aspect, that of the suppliers.

“I am focused on the food supply chain,” Xu said. “Operators in the food supply chain business most of the time don’t have any access to software and e-commerce technology. But we are not just a lightweight online ordering system. We do a lot of heavyweight lifting around inventory management, pricing and customer relations, and even HR management for wholesales and distributors.” That will also mean, longer term, that GrubMarket will likely also start to explore connected hardware to help those customers, too: robotics for picking and moving items are on that agenda, Xu said.

“GrubMarket has built a profitable, high-growth business underpinned by its best-in-class technology platform that’s reinventing how businesses access healthy, fresh foods,” said Jack Litowitz, director of strategic investments at Reimagined Ventures, in a statement. “We’re proud to support GrubMarket as it continues to expand into new regions and grow its WholesaleWare 2.0 software platform. At Reimagined Ventures, we always seek to invest in businesses that are disrupting inefficient industries in innovative ways. Mike Xu and the GrubMarket team have built one of these businesses. We’re excited to back their vision and work in making the food supply chain more efficient.”

“GrubMarket is transforming the trillion-dollar food distribution industry with unprecedented speed by implementing advanced digital solutions and operational discipline. The company’s scale, growth, and profitability are extraordinarily impressive. Pegasus is delighted and honored to be part of GrubMarket’s exciting journey ahead,” added Bill Reichert, partner at Pegasus Tech Ventures.

#arizona, #california, #canada, #ceo, #connecticut, #digital-solutions, #farmigo, #food, #food-delivery, #food-supply-chain, #funding, #georgia, #grocery-store, #grubhub, #grubmarket, #instacart, #japan-post-capital, #los-angeles, #massachusetts, #michigan, #mike-xu, #missouri, #new-jersey, #new-york, #olo, #online-food-delivery, #online-food-ordering, #oregon, #partner, #pegasus-tech-ventures, #pennsylvania, #reimagined-ventures, #retailers, #software, #software-platform, #supply-chain, #texas, #uber-eats, #united-states, #washington, #whole-foods

‘Thin file’ loans startup Koyo closes $50M Series A led by Force Over Mass

Koyo, a fintech startup using open banking to offer loans to people with poor credit histories, has closed a Series A funding round of $50m in debt and equity led by Force Over Mass, with participation from existing investors Forward Partners, Frontline Ventures and Seedcamp. New investors in Koyo include Force Over Mass, Matt Robinson (founder of GoCardless, founder of Nested), and angel investors from the banking and lending sectors.  It last raised $4.9 million in 2019. With many sectors of the population having racked up debts during the pandemic, Koyo is likely to benefit from this underclass of consumer, normally rejected by the main loans companies.

The startup says it uses Open Banking data (bank transactions), rather than credit agency scores to underwrite risk for lending to consumers. In other words, it looks at how customers spend their money on a day-to-day basis, rather than what a credit agency says about them. The idea is to offer attractive rates and cheaper borrowing to a usually underserved market, usually known as ‘thin file’ customers (short or no credit history) or ‘near prime’ customers. The near-prime market equates to c13-15m people in the UK.

Thomas Olszewski, Koyo’s founder and a former VC with Frontline Ventures in London and Cavalry Ventures in Berlin, said in a statement: “Koyo launched at the start of the global pandemic and has proven that innovative use of open banking data results in better risk decisioning and ultimately has enabled us to grow the business during one of the toughest economic times the UK has faced. I’m proud to have continued to give many people in the UK access to competitively priced credit, during a time where most traditional lenders were quick to scale back their lending.”

Filip Coen, Force Over Mass partner, said, “We invest in companies that combine transformational technology with strong business models, and Koyo indexed strongly in both of those departments. Koyo has built a first-class foundation over the last 18 months of operation, and we’re excited to be part of its future”.

#bank, #banking, #berlin, #cavalry-ventures, #economy, #europe, #fintech-startup, #forward-partners, #founder, #frontline-ventures, #gocardless, #koyo, #london, #massachusetts, #matt-robinson, #nested, #open-banking, #seedcamp, #tc, #united-kingdom

Insurify, a ‘virtual insurance agent,’ raises $100M Series B

How many of us have not switched insurance carriers because we don’t want to deal with the hassle of comparison shopping?

A lot, I’d bet.

Today, Insurify, a startup that wants to help people make it easier to get better rates on home, auto and life insurance, announced that it has closed $100 million in an “oversubscribed” Series B funding round led by Motive Partners.

Existing backers Viola FinTech, MassMutual Ventures, Nationwide, Hearst Ventures and Moneta VC also put money in the round, as well as new investors Viola Growth and Fort Ross Ventures. With the new financing, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Insurify has now raised a total of $128 million since its 2013 inception. The company declined to disclose the valuation at which the money was raised.

Since we last covered Insurify, the startup has seen some impressive growth. For example, it has seen its new and recurring revenue increase by “6x” since it closed its Series A funding in the 2019 fourth quarter. Over the last three years, Insurify has achieved a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 151%, according to co-founder and CEO Snejina Zacharia. It has also seen consistent “2.5x” year-over-year revenue growth, she said.

Insurify has built a machine learning-based virtual insurance agent that integrates with more than 100 carriers to digitize — and personalize — the insurance shopping experience. There are others in the insurtech space, but none that we know of currently tackling home, auto and life insurance. For example, Jerry, which has raised capital twice this year, is focused mostly on auto insurance, although it does have a home product. The Zebra, which became a unicorn this year, started out as a site for people looking for auto insurance via its real-time quote comparison tool. Over time, it has also evolved to offer homeowners insurance with the goal of eventually branching out into renters and life insurance. But it too is mostly focused on auto.

Zacharia said that since Insurify’s Series A funding, it has expanded its home insurance marketplace, deepened its carrier integrations to provide users an “instant” purchase experience and launched its first two embedded insurance products through partnerships with Toyota Insurance Management Solutions and Nationwide (the latter of which also participated in the Series B funding round).

Image Credits: Insurify

Last year, when SkyScanner had to lay off staff, Insurify scooped up much of its engineering team and established an office in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Zacharia, a former Gartner executive, was inspired to start the company after she was involved in a minor car accident while getting her MBA at MIT. The accident led to a spike in her insurance premium and Zacharia was frustrated by the “complex and cumbersome” experience of car insurance shopping. She teamed up with Chief Product Officer Tod Kiryazov and her husband KAYAK President Giorgos Zacharia to build Insurify, which they describe as a virtual insurance agent that offers real-time quotes.

“We decided to build the most trusted virtual insurance agent in the industry that allows for customers to easily search, compare and buy fully digitally — directly from their mobile phone, or desktop, and really get a very smart, personalized experience based on their unique preferences,” Zacharia told TechCrunch. “We leverage artificial intelligence to be able to make recommendations on both coverage as well as carrier selection.”

Notably, Insurify is also a fully licensed agent that takes over the fulfillment and servicing of the policies. Since the company is mostly working as an insurance agent, it gets paid new and renewed commission. So while it’s not a SaaS business, its embedded insurance offerings have SaaS-like monetization.

“Our goal is to provide an experience for the end consumer that allows them to service and manage all of their policies in one place, digitally,” Zacharia said. “We think that the data recommendations that the platform provides can really remove most of the friction that currently exists in the shopping experience.”

Insurify plans to use its fresh capital to continue to expand its operations and accelerate its growth plans. It also, naturally, wants to add to its 125-person team.

“We want to build into our API integrations so customers can receive real-time direct quotes with better personalization and a more tailored experience,” Kiryazov said. “We also want to identify more embedded insurance opportunities and expand the product functionality.”

The company also down the line wants to expand into other verticals such as pet insurance, for example.

Insurify intends to use the money in part to build brand awareness, potentially through TV advertising.

“Almost half of our revenue comes from self-directed traffic,” Zacharia said. “So we want to explore more inorganic growth.”

James “Jim” O’Neill, founding partner at Motive Partners and industry partner Andy Rear point out that online purchasing now accounts for almost all of the growth in U.S. auto insurance. 

“The lesson from other markets which have been through this transition is that customers prefer choice, presented as a simple menu of products and prices from different insurers, and a straightforward online purchasing process,” they wrote via email. “The U.S. auto market is huge: even a slow transition to online means a massive opportunity for Insurify.”

In conducting their due diligence, the pair said they were impressed with how the startup is building a business model “that works for customers, insurers and white-label partners.”

Harel Beit-On, founder and general partner at Viola Growth, believes that the quantum leap in e-commerce due to COVID-19 will completely transform the buying experience in almost every sector, including insurance.

“It is time to bring the frictionless purchasing experience that customers expect to the insurance space as well,” she said. “Following our fintech fund’s recent investment in the company, we watched Insurify’s immense growth, excellent execution with customer acquisition and building a brand consumers trust.”

#artificial-intelligence, #auto-insurance, #cambridge, #finance, #fort-ross-ventures, #funding, #fundings-exits, #hearst-ventures, #insurance, #insurify, #insurtech, #life-insurance, #machine-learning, #massachusetts, #massmutual-ventures, #motive-partners, #recent-funding, #startups, #venture-capital, #viola-fintech, #viola-growth

A popular smart home security system can be remotely disarmed, researchers say

A cybersecurity company says a popular smart home security system has a pair of vulnerabilities that can be exploited to disarm the system altogether.

Rapid7 found the vulnerabilities in the Fortress S03, a home security system that relies on Wi-Fi to connect cameras, motion sensors, and sirens to the internet, allowing owners to remotely monitor their home anywhere with a mobile app. The security system also uses a radio-controlled key fob to let homeowners arm or disarm their house from outside their front door.

But the cybersecurity company said the vulnerabilities include an unauthenticated API and an unencrypted radio signal that can be easily intercepted.

Rapid7 revealed details of the two vulnerabilities on Tuesday after not hearing from Fortress in three months, the standard window of time that security researchers give to companies to fix bugs before details are made public. Rapid7 said its only acknowledgment of its email was when Fortress closed its support ticket a week later without commenting.

Fortress owner Michael Hofeditz opened but did not respond to several emails sent by TechCrunch with an email open tracker. An email from Bottone Riling, a Massachusetts law firm representing Fortress, called the claims “false, purposely misleading and defamatory,” but did not provide specifics that it claims are false, or if Fortress has mitigated the vulnerabilities.

Rapid7 said that Fortress’ unauthenticated API can be remotely queried over the internet without the server checking if the request is legitimate. The researchers said by knowing a homeowner’s email address, the server would return the device’s unique IMEI, which in turn could be used to remotely disarm the system.

The other flaw takes advantage of the unencrypted radio signals sent between the security system and the homeowner’s key fob. That allowed Rapid7 to capture and replay the signals for “arm” and “disarm” because the radio waves weren’t scrambled properly.

Vishwakarma said homeowners could add a plus-tagged email address with a long, unique string of letters and numbers in place of a password as a stand-in for a password. But there was little for homeowners to do for the radio signal bug until Fortress addresses it.

Fortress has not said if it has fixed or plans to fix the vulnerabilities. It’s not clear if Fortress is able to fix the vulnerabilities without replacing the hardware. It’s not known if Fortress builds the device itself or buys the hardware from another manufacturer.

Read more:

#api, #computer-security, #cryptography, #cyberwarfare, #hacking, #law, #massachusetts, #password, #rapid7, #security, #software-testing, #vulnerability

The New Chief Chaplain at Harvard? An Atheist.

The elevation of Greg Epstein, author of “Good Without God,” reflects a broader trend of young people who increasingly identify as spiritual but religiously nonaffiliated.

#colleges-and-universities, #harvard-university, #massachusetts, #religion-and-belief

Father and Sons Are Charged in $21 Million Lottery Fraud

Ali Jaafar and his sons Mohamed and Yousef cashed in more than 13,000 Massachusetts lottery tickets, prosecutors said, allowing the actual winners to potentially avoid paying taxes or child support.

#federal-taxes-us, #frauds-and-swindling, #gambling, #jaafar-ali, #jaafar-mohamed, #jaafar-yousef, #lotteries, #massachusetts, #money-laundering, #tax-evasion

Tropical Storm Henri Brings Power Outages and Record Rain to Northeast

The storm was expected to continue dumping rain across the region through Monday night, prompting flood watches in several states.

#central-park-manhattan-ny, #connecticut, #cuomo-andrew-m, #hurricane-henri-2021, #massachusetts, #national-weather-service, #new-york-metropolitan-area, #rhode-island, #weather

She Was Declared a Witch at Salem. These Middle Schoolers Want to Clear Her Name.

An eighth-grade class in North Andover, Mass., is seeking to clear the name of Elizabeth Johnson Jr., who was convicted of witchcraft in 1693.

#false-arrests-convictions-and-imprisonments, #history-academic-subject, #johnson-elizabeth-jr-1670-1716, #massachusetts, #north-andover-mass, #salem-mass, #state-legislatures, #witchcraft

Noetic Cyber emerges from stealth with $15M led by Energy Impact Partners

Noetic Cyber, a cloud-based continuous cyber asset management and controls platform, has launched from stealth with a Series A funding round of $15 million led by Energy Impact Partners.

The round was also backed by Noetic’s existing investors, TenEleven Ventures and GlassWing Ventures, and brings the total amount of funds raised by the startup to $20 million following a $5 million seed round. Shawn Cherian, a partner at Energy Impact Partners, will join the Noetic board, while Niloofar Razi Howe, a senior operating partner at the investment firm, will join Noetic’s advisory board.

“Noetic is a true market disruptor, offering an innovative way to fix the cyber asset visibility problem — a growing and persistent challenge in today’s threat landscape,” said Howe.

The Massachusetts-based startup claims to be taking a new approach to the cyber asset management problem. Unlike traditional solutions, Noetic is not agent-based, instead using API aggregation and correlation to draw insights from multiple security and IT management tools.

“What makes us different is that we’re putting orchestration and automation at the heart of the solution, so we’re not just showing security leaders that they have problems, but we’re helping them to fix them,” Paul Ayers, CEO and co-founder of Noetic Cyber tells TechCrunch.

Ayer was previously a top exec at PGP Corporation (acquired by Symantec for $370 million) and Vormetric (acquired by Thales for $400 million) and founded Noetic Cyber with Allen Roger and Allen Hadden, who have previously worked at cybersecurity vendors including Authentica, Raptor and Axent. All three were also integral to the development of Resilient Systems, which was acquired by IBM.

“The founding team’s experience in the security, orchestration, automation and response market gives us unique experience and insights to make automation a key pillar of the solution,” Ayers said. “Our model gives you the certainty to make automation possible, the goal is to find and fix problems continuously, getting assets back to a secure state.”

“The development of the technology has been impacted by the current cyber landscape, and the pandemic, as some of the market drivers we’ve seen around the adoption of cloud services, and the increased use of unmanaged devices by remote workers, are driving a great need for accurate cyber asset discovery and management.”

The company, which currently has 20 employees, says it plans to use the newly raised funds to double its headcount by the end of the year, as well as increase its go-to-market capability in the U.S. and the U.K. to grow its customer base and revenue growth.

“In terms of technology development, this investment allows us to continue to add development and product management talent to the team to build on our cyber asset management platform,” Ayers said. 

“The beauty of our approach is that it allows us to easily add more applications and use cases on top of our core asset visibility and management model. We will continue to add more connectors to support customer use cases and will be bringing a comprehensive controls package to market later in 2021, as well as a community edition in 2022.”

#api, #cloud-services, #computer-security, #computing, #cryptography, #cybercrime, #cyberwarfare, #data-security, #energy-impact-partners, #funding, #glasswing-ventures, #ibm, #information-technology, #malware, #massachusetts, #partner, #raptor, #resilient-systems, #security, #shawn-cherian, #symantec, #technology-development, #teneleven-ventures, #thales, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #vormetric

Why Vaccinated People Are Getting ‘Breakthrough’ Infections

The vaccines are effective, but they are not a golden shield against the coronavirus, particularly not the Delta variant.

#alabama, #american-academy-of-pediatrics, #athens-ga, #bars-and-nightclubs, #boston-mass, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #democratic-party, #disease-rates, #georgia, #hawaii, #independence-day-us-july-4, #los-angeles-calif, #masks, #massachusetts, #oklahoma, #oklahoma-city-okla, #provincetown-mass, #south-africa, #vaccination-and-immunization, #your-feed-science

Restaurant Shuts Down for a Day After Customers Made Staff Cry

The owners of Apt Cape Cod, a farm-to-table restaurant in Brewster, Mass., drew a line in the sand against customers’ rude behavior since being allowed to fully reopen.

#brewster-mass, #cape-cod-mass, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #local-food, #massachusetts, #orleans-mass, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #restaurants, #rhode-island, #shortages, #shutdowns-institutional, #workplace-hazards-and-violations

15 States Reach a Deal With Purdue Pharma Over Opioids

The states, including Massachusetts and New York, agreed to drop opposition to the bankruptcy organization plan of the company, the maker of OxyContin.

#bankruptcies, #california, #compensation-for-damages-law, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #massachusetts, #new-york-state, #opioids-and-opiates, #oxycontin-drug, #pain-relieving-drugs, #purdue-pharma, #sackler-family, #states-us, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #your-feed-healthcare

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

11 Arrested in Armed Roadside Standoff in Massachusetts

The men, who wore military-style gear and claimed in a livestream to be “foreign nationals,” were part of an hourslong standoff with police officers.

#fringe-groups-and-movements, #massachusetts, #united-states

Scientists Report Earliest Known Coronavirus Cases in Five US States

Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection. But some experts questioned the results.

#antibodies, #blood-donation, #china, #clinical-infectious-diseases-journal, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #illinois, #massachusetts, #mississippi, #national-institutes-of-health, #pennsylvania, #states-us, #united-states, #wisconsin, #your-feed-science

Scientists Report Earliest Known Coronavirus Infections in Five U.S. States

Blood drawn from nine people in the earliest days of the pandemic tested positive for the infection. But some experts questioned the results.

#antibodies, #blood-donation, #china, #clinical-infectious-diseases-journal, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #disease-rates, #illinois, #massachusetts, #mississippi, #national-institutes-of-health, #pennsylvania, #states-us, #united-states, #wisconsin, #your-feed-science

Croatia’s Gideon Brothers raises $31M for its 
3D vision-enabled autonomous warehouse robots

Proving that Central and Eastern Europe remains a powerhouse of hardware engineering matched with software, Gideon Brothers (GB), a Zagreb, Croatia-based robotics and AI startup, has raised a $31 million Series A round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT), the venture and growth arm of Koch Industries Inc., with participation from DB Schenker, Prologis Ventures, and Rite-Hite.

The round also includes participation from several of Gideon Brothers’ existing backers: Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of TransferWise), Pentland Ventures, Peaksjah, HCVC (Hardware Club), Ivan Topčić, Nenad Bakić, and Luca Ascani.

The investment will be used to accelerate the development and commercialization of GB’s AI and 3D vision-based ‘autonomous mobile robots’ or ‘AMRs’. These perform simple tasks such as transporting, picking up, and dropping off products in order to free up humans to perform more valuable tasks.

The company will also expand its operations in the EU and US by opening offices in Munich, Germany and Boston, Massachusetts, respectively.

Gideon Brothers founders

Gideon Brothers founders

Gideon Brothers make robots and the accompanying software platform that specializes in horizontal and vertical handling processes for logistics, warehousing, manufacturing, and retail businesses. For obvious reasons, the need to roboticize supply chains has exploded during the pandemic.

Matija Kopić, CEO of Gideon Brothers, said: “The pandemic has greatly accelerated the adoption of smart automation, and we are ready to meet the unprecedented market demand. The best way to do it is by marrying our proprietary solutions with the largest, most demanding customers out there. Our strategic partners have real challenges that our robots are already solving, and, with us, they’re seizing the incredible opportunity right now to effect robotic-powered change to some of the world’s most innovative organizations.”

He added: “Partnering with these forward-thinking industry leaders will help us expand our global footprint, but we will always stay true to our Croatian roots. That is our superpower. The Croatian start-up scene is growing exponentially and we want to unlock further opportunities for our country to become a robotics & AI powerhouse.”

Annant Patel, Director at Koch Disruptive Technologies said: “With more than 300 Koch operations and production units globally, KDT recognizes the unique capabilities of and potential for Gideon Brothers’ technology to substantially transform how businesses can approach warehouse and manufacturing processes through cutting edge AI and 3D AMR technology.”

Xavier Garijo, Member of the Board of Management for Contract Logistics, DB Schenker added: “Our partnership with Gideon Brothers secures our access to best in class robotics and intelligent material handling solutions to serve our customers in the most efficient way.”

GB’s competitors include Seegrid, Teradyne (MiR), Vecna Robotics, Fetch Robotics, AutoGuide Mobile Robots, Geek+ and Otto Motors.

#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #boston, #central-europe, #ceo, #co-founder, #croatia, #db-schenker, #director, #eastern-europe, #europe, #european-union, #fetch-robotics, #geek, #germany, #gideon-brothers, #hardware-club, #koch-disruptive-technologies, #manufacturing, #massachusetts, #munich, #otto-motors, #robot, #robotics, #science-and-technology, #software-platform, #taavet-hinrikus, #tc, #teradyne, #transferwise, #united-states, #zagreb

A 7-Year-Old Was Accused of Rape. Is Arresting Him the Answer?

“Science doesn’t support prosecution of second graders,” one lawyer said. Still, in New York, children as young as 7 can be charged with a crime.

#childrens-defense-fund, #juvenile-delinquency, #law-and-legislation, #massachusetts, #new-york-state, #perry-n-nick

A New York 7-Year-Old Was Accused of Rape. Is Arresting Him the Answer?

“Science doesn’t support prosecution of second graders,” one lawyer said. Still, in New York, children as young as 7 can be charged with a crime.

#childrens-defense-fund, #juvenile-delinquency, #law-and-legislation, #massachusetts, #new-york-state, #perry-n-nick

Why The Coronavirus Pandemic Was a Breakout Moment for the Cannabis Industry

For many Americans, having enough marijuana was as essential as stocking up on toilet paper. And suppliers found a way to get it to them.

#aether-gardens, #canna-provisions, #florida, #fluent-cannabis, #las-vegas-nev, #marijuana, #massachusetts, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #shopping-and-retail, #small-business

A Funny Thing Happened While Researching Algorithms

Carrington Moore signed up for a dating app to better understand user preferences for a start-up business. Then he came across Schnelle Shelby’s profile.

#massachusetts, #online-dating, #weddings-and-engagements

An ‘Army of 16-Year-Olds’ Takes On the Democrats

Young progressives are an unpredictable new factor in Massachusetts elections. They’re ardent, and organized, and they don’t take orders.

#democratic-party, #elections-mayors, #elections-senate, #kennedy-joseph-p-iii, #markey-edward-j, #massachusetts, #social-media, #voting-and-voters

Artists in a Post-George Floyd, Mid-Pandemic World

Two new exhibitions at Mass MoCA created over the past year offer insights into our new normal.

#aguilar-laura-1959-2018, #art, #bass-chloe, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #glenn-kaino, #hassinger-maren, #massachusetts, #massachusetts-museum-of-contemporary-art, #museums

White Police Officer to Face Charge She Intimidated Son’s Black Friend

Officer Patricia Lio of the Milton Police Department in Massachusetts is accused of berating her son’s 14-year-old Black friend about his stance on the Black Lives Matter movement.

#black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #crime-and-criminals, #discrimination, #lio-patricia, #massachusetts, #milton-police-department, #police