The Trump G.O.P.’s voter-suppression efforts and surging murder rates leave Democrats vulnerable.
The fight over the pipeline will be, at least for now, where Biden’s climate commitment will be judged.
The Line 3 pipeline would carry oil from Canada across Minnesota, crossing sensitive waterways as well as tribal lands. On Monday, protesters gathered to try to stop construction.
Barry Lee Whelpley, now 76, was charged with killing Julie Ann Hanson, who was 15 when her body was found in Naperville, Ill., the authorities said.
Covid may be waning. But businesses at the Northwest Angle, a tourist-dependent slice of Minnesota accessible by land only from Canada, still feel the pain.
After situations involving forceful detentions or worse, the organization seeks prompt accountability and change.
Mobile Covid-19 vaccine clinics in vans and buses are rolling up to neighborhoods in Delaware, Minnesota and Washington State to reach people who have been unable to travel to vaccination centers.
Upsie, a consumer warranty startup, has raised $18.2 million in a Series A round led by True Ventures.
The financing brings the total raised for the St. Paul, Minnesota-based startup to $25 million since its 2015 inception.
A large group of investors participated in the round, including Concrete Rose VC, Avanta Ventures, Kapor Capital, Samsung Next, Massive, Backstage Capital, Awesome People Ventures, Draft Ventures, Matchstick Ventures, M25, Silicon Valley Bank and Uncommon VC, among others. A number of angels also put money in the round.
Clarence Bethea (pictured below) founded Upsie after realizing the significant markup that retailers were placing on warranties.
His goal was to focus not on the retailer, but rather the end user and making the process more transparent, more affordable and simpler. For example, Upsie claims that it saves its customers anywhere from 50% to 90% compared to competitor warranty plans. Most other companies in the space, such as SquareTrade, offer warranties at the point of sale via retailers.
“I’m sure you’ve walked into a Best Buy or a Target, and when you’re checking out somebody at the register is offering you a warranty. But what most customers don’t know is that you’re paying as much as 900% more for that warranty than you should,” Bethea said. “There’s no transparency at the register and you never get to ask what’s covered and what’s not covered, or what should you do if you need to make a claim.”
Just like many other companies, Upsie saw a bump in business last year thanks to the COVID-pandemic and resulting increase in consumer electronics sales (17%, according to the NPD Group Retail Tracking Service). In particular, there was a spike in demand for laptops, desktops and tablets for distance learning and remote work. As a result, Upsie’s revenue surged by 2.5x over the past 12 months, although Bethea declined to reveal hard revenue figures.
“With people working from home, devices were no longer a luxury but a necessity,” he told TechCrunch.
Rather than at the point of sale, Upsie gives consumers an opportunity to purchase a warranty for a product via its website or mobile app after the transaction has taken place. The company offers protection for thousands of devices — from smartphones to appliances to gaming consoles to lawn and garden tools — or about 60% of the warranty market, according to Bethea.
Consumers have up to 120 days to purchase smartphone protection, 11 months to purchase appliance, TV and fitness equipment protection and up to 60 days for other consumer electronics. All warranty information, including a copy of the product receipt, is stored and accessible on demand. Upsie says it also aims to offer same-day repairs on many devices.
The process, according to Bethea, is straightforward. Consumers need only upload an image of their receipt and provide purchase price and serial/IMEA numbers. When they need to file a claim, it’s a matter of pressing a button. And to make the process even easier, it will give consumers the ability to say, take their items directly to the Apple store for repair, and then get reimbursed afterwards by Upsie.
“We want more people to be able to protect what they buy with their hard-earned money,” Bethea said. “Removing the worry around paying out of pocket to repair, say, your kid’s laptop is huge for families who have had to go with remote learning when the system doesn’t make this easy for everyone.”
Upsie plans to use its new capital to increase customer awareness and continue building out its warranty product offerings and verticals, as well as to double its current headcount of 15.
“We want to continue to grow our presence online through digital channels such as Facebook and Google, for one thing,” Bethea told TechCrunch.
Puneet Agarwal, partner at True Ventures, says his firm doubled down on its investment in Upsie after witnessing its solid growth over the years. (True Ventures led the startup’s $5 million seed round in April of 2019.)
True Ventures was initially attracted to the sheer size of the warranty industry (estimated at $100 billion globally) and “how broken it was from the consumer experience perspective.” The firm also viewed Bethea as a “very special entrepreneur” who “exudes authenticity,” which must be refreshing to VCs who get inundated with pitches.
“We love to invest in old, staid industries where companies can disrupt from a business model and product perspective,” Agarwal said. “Upsie has done that in a big way.”
He went on to describe Bethea’s move to go direct to consumer in the warranty space as “bold.”
“Upsie is the only one doing that, and it’s the biggest swing to take in this type of industry,” Agarwal said. “We believe he’s cracked the code and that’s why we doubled down.”
Bethea’s background is not the same as a “typical” startup founder, which also was viewed as an advantage by True Ventures.
“He came from the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, and had to overcome so much in his life,” Agarwal told TechCrunch. “Clarence is the type of person that when we started True, we wanted to fund. We admire his perseverance and grit to come to this point.”
A 23-year-old Brainerd, Minn., man was also ordered to pay $12 million for his role in the fire in Minneapolis, U.S. prosecutors said.
A bipartisan effort to change policing practices collapsed last summer after George Floyd’s murder by a white officer. Can a “guilty” verdict and President Biden’s call for action resurrect it?
Neither murder charge required the jury to find that Mr. Chauvin intended to kill George Floyd. Nor did the manslaughter charge.
The vice president was my role model — and my friend.
The former Minneapolis police officer faces three charges in the death of George Floyd: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The 42nd vice president, who died Monday at 93, was recalled for his collaborative role in the Carter administration and his liberal advocacy.
Under Jimmy Carter, he was the first V.P. to serve as a genuine partner of a president. His own run for the top position ended in a crushing defeat.
Chicagoans reacted with grief to the shooting of Adam Toledo, a seventh grader. Some recalled Laquan McDonald, another teen killed by the police.
For the past several nights, Ebonie McMillan and her children watched in real time as protests over the death of Daunte Wright turned violent. Here’s what they saw.
As I walk around my hometown, I see so many boarded up buildings. Who is really being protected?
The state’s reputation belies some of the country’s largest racial disparities.
The beloved stereotype about our state’s cult of politeness would have you believe that there’s no toehold for white supremacy here.
Police say, ‘This is not who we are.’ Prove it.
Prosecuting police in cases of so-called weapon confusion has happened before, but the legal landscape is complex.
After the death of a second Black man, readers call for federal action and suggest ending most traffic stops.
The officer was put on administrative leave, the authorities said.
The officer was put on administrative leave, the authorities said.
A police officer fatally shot Mr. Wright on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, Minn., about 10 miles from where Derek Chauvin is on trial in the killing of George Floyd.
Officials from Brooklyn Center said that the fatal shooting was an “accidental discharge,” and released body-camera video of the encounter.
The state Supreme Court tossed out a man’s conviction on a third-degree sexual conduct charge because the woman he was accused of assaulting was “voluntarily intoxicated” at the time.
The events were recorded on video by an eyewitness and came as residents had been protesting another teenager’s arrest in connection with what police said was a “violent felony carjacking.”
In the last five years, there have been at least 29 shootings with four or more fatalities, according to a database compiled by the Violence Project.
Lead screenings for children plummeted last spring, and stay-at-home orders may have increased household exposure to the toxic metal.
More than 122,000 voted to pick eight names in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Name a Snowplow contest.
The Minnesota Transportation Department excluded that one as too political. The public can vote on 50 finalists, including Raspberry Brrr-et, Road Carew and Mary Tyler More Snow.
Minneapolis voted Friday to ban the use of facial recognition software for its police department, growing the list of major cities that have implemented local restrictions on the controversial technology. After an ordinance on the ban was approved earlier this week, 13 members of the city council voted in favor of the ban with no opposition.
The new ban will block the Minneapolis Police Department from using any facial recognition technology, including software by Clearview AI. That company sells access to a large database of facial images, many scraped from major social networks, to federal law enforcement agencies, private companies and a number of U.S. police departments. The Minneapolis Police Department is known to have a relationship with Clearview AI, as is the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, which will not be restricted by the new ban.
The vote is a landmark decision in the city that set off racial justice protests around the country after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd last year. The city has been in the throes of police reform ever since, leading the nation by pledging to defund the city’s police department in June before backing away from that commitment into more incremental reforms later that year.
Banning the use of facial recognition is one targeted measure that can rein in emerging concerns about aggressive policing. Many privacy advocates are concerned that the AI-powered face recognition systems would not only disproportionately target communities of color, but that the tech has been demonstrated to have technical shortcomings in discerning non-white faces.
Cities around the country are increasingly looking to ban the controversial technology and have implemented restrictions in many different ways. In Portland, Oregon, new laws passed last year block city bureaus from using facial recognition but also forbid private companies from deploying the technology in public spaces. Previous legislation in San Francisco, Oakland and Boston restricted city governments from using facial recognition systems though didn’t include a similar provision for private companies.
New firsthand accounts accuse Derek Chauvin, the police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck in Minneapolis, of using similar tactics on detainees over the years.
Minnesota Republicans celebrated election victories with a gala party. A state senator’s death from Covid-19 underlined the consequences of the G.O.P.’s rejection of health experts’ guidance.
Officials around the country are bracing for any spillover from last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. State legislatures already have become targets for protesters in recent days.
The father of a 23-year-old man killed by Minneapolis police officers learned of his son’s death only after police officers searched his home in the middle of the night.
The expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline is a breathtaking betrayal of Minnesota’s Indigenous communities — and the environment.
“Cause of Life” celebrates the messy, tenacious, and extraordinary lives of five people we lost to Covid-19.
Mr. Burrell, who has maintained his innocence, was 16 when an 11-year-old was killed by a stray bullet. The case posed challenges for Senator Amy Klobuchar during her presidential campaign.
AMP Robotics, the recycling robotics technology developer backed by investors including Sequoia Capital and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, is close to closing on as much as $70 million in new financing, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s plans.
The new financing speaks to AMP Robotics’ continued success in pilot projects and with new partnerships that are exponentially expanding the company’s deployments.
Earlier this month the company announced a new deal that represented its largest purchase order for its trash sorting and recycling robots.
That order, for 24 machine learning-enabled robotic recycling systems with the waste handling company Waste Connections, was a showcase for the efficacy of the company’s recycling technology.
That comes on the back of a pilot program earlier in the year with one Toronto apartment complex, where the complex’s tenants were able to opt into a program that would share recycling habits monitored by AMP Robotics with the building’s renters in an effort to improve their recycling behavior.
The potential benefits of AMP Robotic’s machine learning enabled robots are undeniable. The company’s technology can sort waste streams in ways that traditional systems never could and at a cost that’s far lower than most waste handling facilities.
As TechCrunch reported earlier the tech can tell the difference between high-density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene. The robots can also sort for color, clarity, opacity and shapes like lids, tubs, clamshells and cups — the robots can even identify the brands on packaging.
AMP’s robots already have been deployed in North America, Asia and Europe, with recent installations in Spain and across the U.S. in California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
At the beginning of the year, AMP Robotics worked with its investor, Sidewalk Labs on a pilot program that provided residents of a single apartment building representing 250 units in Toronto with detailed information about their recycling habits. Sidewalk Labs is transporting the waste to a Canada Fibers material recovery facility where trash is sorted by both Canada Fibers employees and AMP Robotics.
Once the waste is categorized, sorted and recorded, Sidewalk communicates with residents of the building about how they’re doing in their recycling efforts.
It was only last November that the Denver-based AMP Robotics raised a $16 million round from Sequoia Capital and others to finance the early commercialization of its technology.
AMP Robotics, the manufacturer of robotic recycling systems, has received its largest purchase order from the publicly traded North American waste handling company, Waste Connections.
The order, for 24 machine learning enabled robotic recycling systems, will be used on container, fiber and residue lines across numerous materials recovery facilities, the company said.
The AMP technology can be used to recover plastics, cardboard, paper, cans, cartons and many other containers and packaging types reclaimed for raw material processing.
The tech can tell the difference between high-density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene. The robots can also sort for color, clarity, opacity and shapes like lids, tubs, clamshells, and cups — the robots can even identify the brands on packaging.
So far, AMP’s robots have been deployed in North America, Asia, and Europe with recent installations in Spain, and across the US in California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
In January, before the pandemic began, AMP Robotics worked with its investor, Sidewalk Labs on a pilot program that would provide residents of a single apartment building representing 250 units in Toronto with detailed information about their recycling habits.
Working with the building and a waste hauler, Sidewalk Labs would transport the waste to a Canada Fibers material recovery facility where trash will be sorted by both Canada Fibers employees and AMP Robotics. Once the waste is categorized, sorted, and recorded Sidewalk will communicate with residents of the building about how they’re doing in their recycling efforts.
Sidewalk says that the tips will be communicated through email, an online portal, and signage throughout the building every two weeks over a three-month period.
For residents, it was an opportunity to have a better handle on what they can and can’t recycle and Sidewalk Labs is betting that the information will help residents improve their habits. And for folks who don’t want their trash to be monitored and sorted, they could opt out of the program.
Recyclers like Waste Connections should welcome the commercialization of robots tackling industry problems. Their once-stable business has been turned on its head by trade wars and low unemployment. About two years ago, China decided it would no longer serve as the world’s garbage dump and put strict standards in place for the kinds of raw materials it would be willing to receive from other countries. The result has been higher costs at recycling facilities, which actually are now required to sort their garbage more effectively.
At the same time, low unemployment rates are putting the squeeze on labor availability at facilities where humans are basically required to hand-sort garbage into recyclable materials and trash.
AMP Robotics is backed by Sequoia Capital, BV, Closed Loop Partners, Congruent Ventures and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, a spin-out from Alphabet that invests in technologies and new infrastructure projects.
In most states, control of the state legislature comes with the authority to redraw state and federal electoral maps.
Surprise victories in the Midwest catapulted President Trump to victory four years ago, and the region again looms as the critical battleground. Both candidates are focusing on it in the final days.
Officials announced that 60 people had been charged in the scheme, in which federal prosecutors said deceptive tactics were used to sell magazine subscriptions to more than 150,000 older and vulnerable people.
Workers were followed, videotaped and threatened in confrontations across Minnesota, the state Department of Health said.
Schools, forced to cancel in-person classes because of the pandemic, have become more comfortable with remote teaching. That might mean the end of the snow day.
Eric Kerska, whose daughter was deployed to the base, said he was alarmed by the isolation of young soldiers on their first tour as a coronavirus precaution.
Minnesota was a near miss for Donald Trump in 2016. But new polling shows him well behind where he finished four years ago in a state he views as a prime pickup opportunity.