A Car Racing Fan From Liverpool Is Mistaken for a Mafia Boss

The British man was arrested by armed Dutch police at the request of the Italian authorities, who believed him to be a fugitive Sicilian mobster.

#cosa-nostra, #fugitives, #italy, #messina-denaro-matteo, #netherlands, #organized-crime

Dutch court finds Uber drivers are employees

Uber has lost another legal challenge in Europe over the employment status of drivers: The Court of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, has ruled that drivers for Uber are employed, rather than self employed contractors.

The court also found drivers are covered by an existing collective labor agreement in the country — which pertains to taxi drivers — meaning Uber faces increased costs to comply with the agreement which sets pay requirements and covers benefits like sick pay. (And it may be liable for paying driver back pay in some cases.)

The court also ordered Uber to pay €50,000 in costs.

The ride hailing giant has some 4,000 drivers working on its platform in the Dutch capital.

The Amsterdam court rejected Uber’s customary defence that it’s just a technology platform that connects passengers with taxi service providers — finding instead that drivers are only self employed ‘on paper’.

The judges highlighted the nature of the service being provided by drivers and the fact Uber exerts controls over how they can work and earn through its app and algorithms.

Europe’s top court already ruled back in 2017 that Uber is a transport provider and must comply with local transport laws — so you’d be forgiven for deja vu.

The Dutch lawsuit was filed by the national trade union center, FNV, last year — with the hearing kicking off at the end of June.

In a statement today, the FNV’s VP, Zakaria Boufangacha, said: “This statement shows what we have been saying for years: Uber is an employer and the drivers are employees, so Uber must adhere to the collective labor agreement for Taxi Transport. It is also a signal to The Hague that these types of constructions are illegal and that the law must therefore be enforced.”

Uber has been contacted for a response to the ruling.

At the time of writing the company had not responded — but, per Reuters, Uber said it intends to appeal and “has no plans to employ drivers in the Netherlands”.

In the UK, Uber lost a string of tribunal rulings over its employment classification over a number of years — going on to lose in front of the UK supreme court this February.

Following that Uber said it would treat drivers in the UK as workers, although disputes remain (such as over its definition of working time). In May, Uber also said it would recognize a UK trade union for the first time.

Elsewhere in Europe, however, the company continues to fight employment lawsuits — and to lobby European Union lawmakers to deregulate platform work…

The EU has said it wants to find a way to improve platform work. However it’s not yet clear what any pan-EU ‘reform’ may look like. 

The Commission has been contacted with questions on its platform work initiative.

“Digital labour platforms are clearly worried, evident through investing heavily on their lobbying power and throwing more resources on the EU level. These companies — including Uber of course — have also recently come together to create a new funding lobby group that specifically targeting to influence policies on platform work,” said Jill Toh, a PhD researcher in data rights at the University of Amsterdam, talking to TechCrunch after the Amsterdam ruling.

“We saw how Uber wielded and amended laws in their Prop 22 campaign in California, and together with other companies in Europe, they’re attempting to do so again. It’s disheartening to see that the Commission in its two consultations on platform worker regulation has only been talking to tech companies and has held no meetings with trade unions or other platform work representatives.”

“All of this is incredibly problematic and concerning especially if the EC consultations result in a directive on platform work. Overall, the wins in the courts are important for workers, but there remains the issue of corporate power and influence in Brussels, as well as the lack of public enforcement to these court decisions,” she added.

#amsterdam, #ec, #europe, #european-union, #gig-economy, #labor, #netherlands, #platform-worker-rights, #tc, #transportation, #uber

How the Netherlands is Avoiding River Flooding

Extreme rainfall is causing deadly and destructive floods globally. The Netherlands averted disaster this summer by creating flood plains.

#floods, #germany, #global-warming, #manhattan-nyc, #netherlands

Colonial-Era Royal Carriage Stirs Up Modern Backlash in Netherlands

The “Golden Coach,” built for Queen Wilhelmina of Holland in 1896, is emerging as a new focus of debate over slavery, colonialist oppression and history.

#amsterdam-netherlands, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #museums, #netherlands, #royal-families, #simons-sylvana, #wilders-geert, #willem-alexander-king-of-the-netherlands

‘We’re Like Athletes Here’: The Maestro With a Gym Habit

Lorenzo Viotti’s sporty social media posts don’t fit the image of an opera conductor. But they help classical music reach a new audience, he says.

#classical-music, #content-type-personal-profile, #dutch-national-opera, #netherlands, #netherlands-philharmonic, #opera, #social-media, #viotti-lorenzo-1990

Where Home Blends With Community

How co-housing in four places in the Netherlands and Belgium is helping people cope with rising costs, keep loneliness at bay and live more sustainably.

#architecture, #belgium, #cohousing-communities, #elderly, #historic-buildings-and-sites, #netherlands, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #restoration-and-renovation

How 2 Jewish Sisters Built a Cultural Oasis During World War II

In “The Sisters of Auschwitz,” a best seller in the Netherlands for more than two years, Roxane van Iperen writes about the way Janny and Lien Brilleslijper staged their own form of resistance.

#books-and-literature, #brilleslijper-janny, #brilleslijper-lien, #content-type-personal-profile, #holocaust-and-the-nazi-era, #jews-and-judaism, #netherlands, #the-sisters-of-auschwitz-book, #van-iperen-roxane, #war-crimes-genocide-and-crimes-against-humanity, #world-war-ii-1939-45

Climate Change Contributed to Europe’s Deadly Floods, Scientists Find

Warming increased the likelihood of the record downpours last month in Germany and Belgium and also made them wetter, according to a study.

#belgium, #europe, #floods, #germany, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #netherlands, #rain, #research, #rivers, #world-weather-attribution

Spotify expands its radio DJ-like format, Music + Talk, to global creators

Last fall, Spotify introduced a new format that combined spoken word commentary with music, allowing creators to reproduce the  radio-like experience of listening to a DJ or music journalist who shared their perspective on the tracks they would then play. Today, the company is making the format, which it calls “Music + Talk,” available to global creators through its podcasting software Anchor.

Creators who want to offer this sort of blended audio experience can now do so by using the new “Music” tool in Anchor, which provides access to Spotify’s full catalog of 70 million tracks that they can insert into their spoken-word audio programs. Spotify has said this new type of show will continue to compensate the artist when the track is streamed, the same as it would elsewhere on Spotify’s platform. In addition, users can also interact with the music content within the shows as they would otherwise — by liking the song, viewing more information about the track, saving the song, or sharing it, for example.

The shows themselves, meanwhile, will be available to both free and Premium Spotify listeners. Paying subscribers will hear the full tracks when listening to these shows, but free users will only hear a 30-second preview of the songs, due to licensing rights.

The format is somewhat reminiscent of Pandora’s Stories, which was also a combination of music and podcasting, introduced in 2019. However, in Pandora’s case, the focus had been on allowing artists to add their own commentary to music — like talking about the inspiration for a song — while Spotify is making it possible for anyone to annotate their favorite playlists with audio commentary.

Since launching last year, the product has been tweaked somewhat in response to user feedback, Spotify says. The shows now offer clearer visual distinction between the music and talk segments during an episode, and they include music previews on episode pages.

The ability to create Music + Talk shows was previously available in select markets ahead of this global rollout, including in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

With the expansion, creators in a number of other major markets are now gaining access, including Japan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Alongside the expansion, Spotify’s catalog of Music + Talk original programs will also grow today, as new shows from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, India, Japan, and the Philippines will be added.

Spotify will also begin to more heavily market the feature with the launch of its own Spotify Original called “Music + Talk: Unlocked,” which will offer tips and ideas for creators interested in trying out the format.

#argentina, #artist, #australia, #brazil, #canada, #chile, #colombia, #france, #germany, #india, #indonesia, #ireland, #italy, #japan, #media, #mexico, #microsoft-windows, #netherlands, #new-zealand, #operating-systems, #pandora, #philippines, #podcast, #software, #spain, #spotify, #sweden, #united-kingdom, #united-states

FreshBooks reaches $1B+ valuation with $130.75M for its SMB-focused accounting platform

FreshBooks, a Toronto-based cloud accounting software company focused on SMBs, announced today it has secured $80.75 million in a Series E round of funding, as well as $50 million in debt financing.

Existing backer Accomplice led the equity financing, which the company described as “an inside round” that propelled FreshBooks to unicorn status with a valuation of “over $1 billion.” 

J.P. Morgan, Gaingels, BMO Technology & Innovation Banking Group and Manulife also participated in the equity investment, along with platform partner and new backer Barclays. With the new capital injection, FreshBooks has now raised a total of more than $200 million in funding over its lifetime.

FreshBooks has built a cloud-based accounting software platform designed to make things like invoicing, expenses, payments, payroll and financial reporting easier for small business owners and self-employed people (and their clients). The company, which says it has served more than 30 million people in over 160 countries, was bootstrapped for the first decade of its life.

As in the case of many startups, FreshBooks was started to solve a pain point for one of its founders. In 2003, FreshBooks’ co-founder Mike McDerment was running a small design agency. When it came to billing clients, he found Word and Excel frustrating to use and felt like they weren’t built to create professional-looking invoices. So he coded his own solution that became the foundation of what is now FreshBooks. The company was self-funded until 2014, when McDerment decided to bring on outside investors and raised $30 million from Oak Investment Partners, Accomplice and Georgian Partners.

In 2019, Don Epperson joined FreshBooks as executive director before transitioning to the role of CEO this year. McDerment, who previously held the position, remains as executive chair of the company.

FreshBooks has 500 employees in Canada, Croatia, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United States — hiring over 100 people in the past year. Also in the last year, the company entered the LatAm market after acquiring Mexico-based e-invoicing company Facturama in September 2020 in an effort to expand its audience in Spanish-speaking markets.

FreshBooks plans to use its new capital toward sales and marketing, research and development and additional strategic acquisitions. 

The company will also use its new funding toward investing in markets that are becoming more regulated and helping owners manage their finances through “simplistic workflows,” according to Epperson.

For example, he said, more business owners are working to become digitally enabled to meet local tax and invoice compliance systems. 

“The need for owners to manage their business digitally has accelerated, and this has changed how small business owners work with bookkeepers and accountants,” Epperson told TechCrunch. “The funding comes as an injection of confidence in our mission to digitally enable small businesses.”

Image Credits: FreshBooks

When it comes to growth metrics like year-over-year revenue percentage growth, the exec was tight-lipped, saying only that FreshBooks has “seen significant growth” in the number of new customers since last year, in part fueled by a pandemic-driven increase in new small businesses.

The pandemic also uncovered the need for us to understand how seismic events affect our customers, Epperson said. 

“After analyzing FreshBooks’ own proprietary data, we learned that businesses owned by women were taking three times longer to recover in the U.S. versus businesses owned by men,” Epperson said. “This stat laid the foundation for conducting more research into how the pandemic was affecting businesses across multiple industries and entering into data-sharing partnerships with local governments to help policymakers enact change in the support available to small business owners.”

Jeff Fagnan, founder and managing partner at Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Accomplice, is clearly bullish on FreshBooks’ potential, saying of his firm’s continued investments in the Canadian company over the past seven years: “With more people choosing self-employment, the FreshBooks team fundamentally believes in the growth of small businesses, and the importance of helping these businesses scale. As insiders, we have better context for how the company is scaling and how the market is growing, and this is why FreshBooks is our largest investment to date.”

FreshBooks is the latest in a growing number of Toronto-based unicorns. Late last month, 1Password raised $100 million in a Series B round of funding that doubled the company’s valuation to $2 billion. 1Password first became a unicorn in 2019.

#accomplice, #accounting-software, #barclays, #canada, #cloud, #finance, #freshbooks, #funding, #fundings-exits, #gaingels, #georgian-partners, #jeff-fagnan, #mike-mcderment, #netherlands, #oak-investment-partners, #payments, #recent-funding, #small-business, #startups, #toronto, #venture-capital

Dutch startup hub Utrecht emerges from Amsterdam’s shadow

While Amsterdam garners the lion’s share of attention in the Netherlands tech ecosystem, the not-so-far-away region around Utrecht has its fair share of tech startups and investors, as is evidenced by our latest survey of locals, below.

Area ecosystem wranglers such as StartupUtrecht, UtrechtInc, Holland Startup, Utrecht Community and others bring startups, scaleups, corporates, angels, VCs, local government, banks and universities together to build the local startup ecosystem. They also benefit from the formidable Netherlands tech advocate initiative StartupDelta and The Netherlands Enterprise Agency, which promote the Netherlands more widely.

Utrecht is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, with 350,000 inhabitants. Its offices and co-working spaces include Dotslash Utrecht, De Stadstuin, MindSpace and Tribes; as well as accelerator programs like Startupbootcamp and Techleap.

Notable startups from the region include Distimo (acquired by AppAnnie), unicorn GitLab, MoneyMonk and StuComm. Plus there are newer ones such as SnappCar, Blendle, Merus, Nibblr, United Wardrobe, Näpp, Lalaland, 2DAYSMOOD and Remind2Change.

Our survey respondents think the ecosystem is strong in sustainable energy, medtech, food tech, life sciences, marketplaces, deep tech, gaming and media. However, they seem to think it’s weaker in design, hardware, fintech, robotics and agritech.

Notable startups named by our respondents include Channable, Pepscope, Goin’ Connect, Fundsup, Tover, Faqta, Sensorfact, SODAQ, Picnic, Neurolytics, De Clique, Solease, BikeFlip, Packaly, DiManEx, Trunkrs, DialogueTrainer, EatMyRide, CART-Tech, Prolira, among many, many others. It just goes to show the region has a strong and growing ecosystem.

The investment scene is described variously as focusing on software, clean tech, life sciences, biotech, organoids, 3D bioprinting, AI and VR/AR. One says: “In Amsterdam it’s ok. Utrecht is a bit lagging.” Another said, “The investor scene focuses on early-stage, scalable tech in healthcare, sustainability and education. [There are] many local informal investors and nationally operating VCs.”

With the shift to remote working, many respondents think people will “preferably move out of the city center toward the villages nearby” as there is “a lot of nature/space around.” That said, Utrecht is “a growing hub” and many will “stay in the city. But fewer people will move in, and remote working is there to stay.” It’s also easy to work remotely in the Netherlands given its proximity to other big European cities, so it may attract new digital nomads, “thanks to the central position of Utrecht in the middle of the country and the attractiveness of the ecosystem.”

We surveyed:


Jorg Kop, investment manager, ROM Utrecht Region

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Digital, gaming, e-health, edtech, sustainability.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Pandora Intelligence, Sensorfact, SnappCar, Faqta, StuComm, DiManEx, Prolira, CART-Tech.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Many local informal investors and national operating VCs.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Others will be moving in, thanks to the central position of Utrecht in the middle of the country and the attractiveness of the ecosystem.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Sjoerd Mol (Benvalor), Erik Stam (Utrecht University), Robbert-Jan Hanse (Holland Startup), Heerd Jan Hoogeveen (Startup Utrecht), Jorg Kop (UtrechtInc and ROM), Edgard Creemers (ROM).

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Part of the greater Amsterdam region from an international brand perspective, closely working together with all other key startup regions in NL.

Stefan Braam, incubation lead, UtrechtInc

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong: AI, health, sustainability and learning. Weak: robotics, engineering, ag.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Solease, SnappCar, BikeFlip, Packaly, Sensorfact, DiManEx, Näpp, Trunkrs, StuComm, Faqta, DialogueTrainer, EatMyRide, CART-Tech, Prolira, MRIguidance, Redgrasp, SyncVR, DigiDok, Learned.io, 2DAYSMOOD, Hooray and Goin’ Connect.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Good access to funding. Investor scene focuses on early-stage, scalable tech in healthcare, sustainability and education.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
We see an increase in startups coming to the city, due to livability in the lovely city and the facilities for flex working.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Jorg Kop (director of UtrechtInc startup incubator), Heerd Jan Hoogeveen (director of StartupUtrecht), Arjan Van Den Born (director, ROM Utrecht).

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Growing fast, in top five in Europe in five years.

Irene Van de Poll, investment manager, ROM Utrecht Region

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
The Utrecht region is strong in life sciences, medtech, software (smart services), gaming and media.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Faqta, Sensorfact, SODAQ, Picnic, Neurolytics, De Clique.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
A lot of focus is on life sciences, biotech, as there is a lot of research at the Utrecht science park and also spin-offs. At the science park, organoids, 3D bioprinting, organ on a chip, medtech are areas of interest. Also a number of the VCs in the area are health focused. IT/software/data/AI and VR/AR are also important focus areas for investors.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
I think they will stay as Utrecht is very centrally located in the Netherlands and Europe. It’s easy to work remotely in the Netherlands, internet speed is no problem.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Jorg Kop, director of UtrechtInc; Bas van Abel, founder De Clique and Fairphone; Michiel Muller, CEO Picnic; Robbert Jan Hanse, founder Holland Startup; and Heerd Jan Hoogeveen, director StartupUtrecht.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
More startups that have evolved into successful scaleups. More money invested in general in innovative new companies. International talent sees Utrecht as the place to be beside Amsterdam. At the forefront of green and sustainable solutions.

Arthur Tolsma, co-founder and CEO, Codean

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong: tech development in general, specifically software, clean tech, marketplace, deep tech. Less in large scale commercialization.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Tover.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Focus on software and clean tech.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay in the city. But less people will move in, and remote working is there to stay.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
UtrechtInc.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Improving step by step.

Paul Mignot, founder and CEO, Withthegrid

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Clean tech.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
iwell.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Clean tech focus. Growing in momentum.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Move in.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Grown significantly. Amsterdam is pricing itself out and becoming too expensive to live in.

Marcel Merkx, founder and CEO, CargoSnap

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong universities in the marketing and medical space. We could do with a bit stronger IT education (developers!).

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
SnappCar.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay and move in. Utrecht is a growing hub.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
StartupUtrecht — the team.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Well … still lagging Amsterdam, but leveraging the central place in the Netherlands (easy to get to), it will be a good runner-up in terms of attracting talent interested in joining this scene.

Jasper Voorendonk, marketer/founder, AgnostiPay

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Health tech/edtech — most exited: the DLT/blockchain/fintech/open-source space in Utrecht.  Weak: Hardware-based startups (better in Delft/Eindhoven).

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
GitLab, Channable, Pepscope, Goin’ Connect, Fundsup.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
Focus on health tech.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay: a lot of nature/space around.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Jorg Kop, Stefan Braam, Jasper Voorendonk.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Utrecht, as the Dutch vibrant hub for early-stage, highly scalable tech startups.

Menno Vergeer, co-founder and CEO, Redgrasp

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong in life sciences.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Redgrasp, Trunkrs.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
People will preferably move out of the city center toward the villages nearby (all within a range of 10-20 km).

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
It will grow at a rate similar to the global tech scene.

Roelof Reineman, entrepreneur

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong: IT, digital, sustainable energy, medical, food. Weaker: design, hardware, fintech.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
KokeRoo.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
A focus on building a better world and a profit, not just the profit.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay. Tt is a lush, green city with plenty of room to live and breathe.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Utrecht Inc (Jasper Voorendonk). Dotslash (Jelle Drijver). StartupUtrecht (Heerd Jan Hoogeveen).

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Thriving and still growing.

Luuk Post, partner, De Contentkalender

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

We’re strong in public affairs. We’re weak in the for-profit sector.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Moveshelf.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
The city of Utrecht is ever-expanding; people will always move in.

Leon Brunenberg, managing partner, Arches Capital

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
SAAS, software, B2B.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
In Amsterdam it’s ok. Utrecht is a bit lagging.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
In Holland, second after Amsterdam.

Erik Stam, co-founder, Stichting Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Observatory

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?
Strong: health, edtech, IT.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?
Channable, Tover, De Clique, Bittiq, Neurolytics.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?
IT, health, edtech, travel.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out, or will others move in?
Stay.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)? 
Jorg Kop, Heerd Jan Hoogeveen, Robbert Jan Hanse.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?
Expanding.

#agnostipay, #amsterdam, #arches-capital, #arthur-tolsma, #cargosnap, #codean, #de-contentkalender, #ec-investor-survey, #erik-stam, #europe, #irene-van-de-poll, #jasper-voorendonk, #jorg-kop, #leon-brunenberg, #luuk-post, #marcel-merkx, #menno-vergeer, #netherlands, #paul-mignot, #redgrasp, #roelof-reineman, #rom-utrecht-region, #startups, #stefan-braam, #stichting-entrepreneurial-ecosystem-observatory, #tc, #utrecht, #utrechtinc, #withthegrid

Independent retailer platform Creoate raises $5M Seed led by Fuel Ventures

Creoate is a startup, which lets independent retailers buy sustainable products from brands and wholesalers, has raised a $5m Seed round led by Fuel Ventures with participation from Vinted founder, Justas Janauskas. 

Its competitors include traditional wholesalers who’ve supplied independent retailers for decades, and other startups such as Faire (US, raised $696M) and Ankorstore (FR, raised €115M).


Founders Ashley Horn and Fahad Khan say the company aims at helping independent businesses and “reclaims the supply chain from global giants”. Khan says ‘Mom and Pop’ are “faced with poor information, discriminatory pricing and unpredictable cash flows.”

Creoate, which doesn’t own inventory, says it helps retailers forecast which products will sell well so that they can buy and manage inventory levels more easily. It says its cataloging software allows retailers to deal with fewer middlemen.

Launched in January 2020 the platform now claims 25,000 retailers across the UK, France, and Netherlands.

Creoate co-founder Horn said: “Sourcing brands as an independent retailer is close to impossible… We could see that this system was not sustainable and there had to be a better way”. 

Mark Pearson, founder and managing partner at Fuel Ventures said: “Unless you’re in the world of retail, it can be difficult to truly grasp just how broken the system is for the 2.5 million retailers and 30 million emerging brands that Creoate serves. We are captivated by Creoate’s technology which is inspired by the founding team’s real-world experience and empathy.”

#ankorstore, #co-founder, #europe, #france, #fuel-ventures, #inventory, #managing-partner, #mark-pearson, #netherlands, #supply-chain-management, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #vinted

Colvin raises €45M Series C led by Eurazeo to disrupt the cosy flowers industry

Something very interesting is going on with supply chains, and has been for a while. But it’s clear the pandemic has accelerated the trend. Tech startups are once again cutting out the middle man, but this time at the supply chain level. The opportunity is to replace supply chains with platforms – it’s the ‘platformization of supply chains’ if you will.

The latest example of this is Colvin, a platform for the ‘floriculture’ industry, which has now raised a €45M Series C led by Eurazeo, a private equity and venture capital firm out of France which has invested other marketplaces such as Farfetch, Glovo or ManoMano. Also participating was Capagro, and AgTech and FoodTech VC also out of France.

Launched as a direct-to-consumer brand (which is still maintained) Colvin has now created a B2B category aimed at professionals.

Sergi Bastardas, cofounder of Colvin said: “2020 has been a year of acceleration for Colvin, a turning point that will set the pace for our growth over the coming years… Our goal at Colvin is to lead the transformation of the industry at a global level”.

Chloé Giard, Investment Director at Eurazeo said: “Colvin’s trajectory in the flower delivery market has been outstanding. They have proved they could grow both fast and profitably, while expanding into new geographies. This is only a first step in their ambition to build the future of the flower industry: as more and more B2B categories are switching online (see the recent announcements of Ankorstore, Choco or Sennder), the timing is unique to bring a new standard to the flower wholesale market. Colvin is leveraging years of industry expertise, a scalable supply chain, and a global network of trusted growers to seize this $ billion market opportunity.”

Over a call, Bastardas told me: “The Netherlands has a monopoly on the flowers and plants market. Some 65% of all flowers and plants in the world have to pass, physically, through a huge auction that sits in the Netherlands, regardless of where they were cultivated. This is because the industry is not digitalized. So that’s the problem we were solving: connecting the stakeholders in a more direct way.”

He said they’d started by connecting growers with customers with a b2c platform: “We’ve now started to build out our b2b solution, where we connect our growers, as well as wholesalers directly with retailers, avoiding unnecessary intermediaries, with technology.”

I asked him if he will annoy the industry: “The intermediaries are going to be mad with us, yes.”

#agtech, #business, #cofounder, #colvin, #distribution, #e-commerce, #eurazeo, #europe, #farfetch, #france, #management, #netherlands, #supply-chain, #supply-chain-management, #tc, #venture-capital

What We Know About the Climate Connection to the European Floods

The storm that brought flooding and devastation to parts of Europe is the latest example of an extreme weather event. More are expected.

#belgium, #deaths-fatalities, #floods, #germany, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #intergovernmental-panel-on-climate-change, #netherlands, #rivers, #weather, #world-weather-attribution

Flooding in Europe, in Pictures

Sinkholes that swallowed up houses. Streets disemboweled, their utility lines exposed. Cars carried away and deposited upside down. Homes emptied out, their contents mixed with mud.

#belgium, #europe, #floods, #germany, #global-warming, #netherlands, #switzerland

German Floods Raise the Bar on Extreme Weather Events

Floods like these, which have left more than 100 dead, had not been seen in perhaps a 1,000 years. For many, the warnings came too late, raising questions about lapses in Germany’s flood alert system.

#belgium, #deaths-fatalities, #floods, #germany, #laschet-armin, #merkel-angela, #netherlands, #politics-and-government, #rain, #rivers, #weather

Prominent Dutch Crime Reporter Is Shot in Center of Amsterdam

Peter R. de Vries, famous for solving cold cases and hosting his own televised crime show, was shot in the head and fighting for his life Tuesday night. His reporting regularly drew death threats.

#amsterdam-netherlands, #de-vries-peter-r, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #netherlands, #news-and-news-media

The Tech Cold War’s ‘Most Complicated Machine’ That’s Out of China’s Reach

A $150 million chip-making tool from a Dutch company has become a lever in the U.S.-Chinese struggle. It also shows how entrenched the global supply chain is.

#asml-holding-nv, #computer-chips, #computers-and-the-internet, #factories-and-manufacturing, #innovation, #international-trade-and-world-market, #laser-light-amplification-by-stimulated-emission-of-radiation, #mirrors, #netherlands, #politics-and-government

Dutch court will hear another Facebook privacy lawsuit

Privacy litigation that’s being brought against Facebook by two not-for-profits in the Netherlands can go ahead, an Amsterdam court has ruled. The case will be heard in October.

Since 2019, the Amsterdam-based Data Privacy Foundation (DPS) has been seeking to bring a case against Facebook over its rampant collection of Internet users’ data — arguing the company does not have a proper legal basis for the processing.

It has been joined in the action by the Dutch consumer protection not-for-profit, Consumentenbond.

The pair are seeking redress for Facebook users in the Netherlands for alleged violations of their privacy rights — both by suing for compensation for individuals; and calling for Facebook to end the privacy-hostile practices.

European Union law allows for collective redress across a number of areas, including data protection rights, enabling qualified entities to bring representative actions on behalf of rights holders. And the provision looks like an increasingly important tool for furthering privacy enforcement in the bloc, given how European data protection regulators’ have continued to lack uniform vigor in upholding rights set out in legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (which, despite coming into application in 2018, has yet to be seriously applied against platform giants like Facebook).

Returning to the Dutch litigation, Facebook denies any abuse and claims it respects user privacy and provides people with “meaningful control” over how their data gets exploited.

But it has fought the litigation by seeking to block it on procedural grounds — arguing for the suit to be tossed by claiming the DPS does not fit the criteria for bringing a privacy claim on behalf of others and that the Amsterdam court has no jurisdiction as its European business is subject to Irish, rather than Dutch, law.

However the Amsterdam District Court rejected its arguments, clearing the way for the litigation to proceed.

Contacted for comment on the ruling, a Facebook spokesperson told us:

“We are currently reviewing the Court’s decision. The ruling was about the procedural part of the case, not a finding on the merits of the action, and we will continue to defend our position in court. We care about our users in the Netherlands and protecting their privacy is important to us. We build products to help people connect with people and content they care about while honoring their privacy choices. Users have meaningful control over the data that they share on Facebook and we provide transparency around how their data is used. We also offer people tools to access, download, and delete their information and we are committed to the principles of GDPR.”

In a statement today, the Consumentenbond‘s director, Sandra Molenaar, described the ruling as “a big boost for the more than 10 million victims” of Facebook’s practices in the country.

“Facebook has tried to throw up all kinds of legal hurdles and to delay this case as much as possible but fortunately the company has not succeeded. Now we can really get to work and ensure that consumers get what they are entitled to,” she added in the written remarks (translated from Dutch with Google Translate).

In another supporting statement, Dick Bouma, chairman of DPS, added: “This is a nice and important first step for the court. The ruling shows that it pays to take a collective stand against tech giants that violate privacy rights.”

The two not-for-profits are urging Facebook users in the Netherlands to sign up to be part of the representative action (and potentially receive compensation) — saying more than 185,000 people have registered so far.

The suit argues that Facebook users are ‘paying’ for the ‘free’ service with their data — contending the tech giant does not have a valid legal basis to process people’s information because it has not provided users with comprehensive information about the data it is gathering from and on them, nor what it does with it.

So — in essence — the argument is that Facebook’s tracking and targeting is in breach of EU privacy law.

The legal challenge follows an earlier investigation (back in 2014) of Facebook’s business by the Dutch data protection authority which identified problems with its privacy policy and — in a 2017 report — found the company to be processing users’ data without their knowledge or consent.

However, since 2018, Europe’s GDPR has been in application and a ‘one-stop-shop’ mechanism baked into the regulation — to streamline the handling of cross-border cases — has meant complaints against Facebook have been funnelled through Ireland’s Data Protection Commission. The Irish DPC has yet to issue a single decision against Facebook despite receiving scores of complaints. (And it’s notable that  ‘forced consent‘ complaints were filed against Facebook the day GDPR begun being applied — yet still remain undecided by Ireland.)

The GDPR’s enforcement bottleneck makes collective redress actions, such as this one in the Netherlands a potentially important route for Europeans to get rights relief against powerful platforms which seek to shrink the risk of regulatory enforcement via forum shopping.

Although national rules — and courts’ interpretations of them — can vary. So the chance of litigation succeeding is not uniform.

In this case, the Amsterdam court allowed the suit to proceed on the grounds that the Facebook data subjects in question reside in the Netherlands.

It also took the view that a local Facebook corporate entity in the Netherlands is an establishment of Facebook Ireland, among other reasons for rejecting Facebook’s arguments.

How Facebook will seek to press a case against the substance of the Dutch privacy litigation remains to be seen. It may well have other procedural strategies up its sleeve.

The tech giant has used similar stalling tactics against far longer-running privacy litigation in Austria, for example.

In that case, brought by privacy campaigner Max Schrems and his not-for-profit noyb, Facebook has sought to claim that the GDPR’s consent requirements do not apply to its advertising business because it now includes “personalized advertising” in its T&Cs — and therefore has a ‘duty’ to provide privacy-hostile ads to users — seeking to bypass the GDPR by claiming it must process users’ data because it’s “necessary for the performance of a contract”, as noyb explains here.

A court in Vienna accepted this “GDPR consent bypass” sleight-of-hand, dealing a blow to European privacy campaigners.

But an appeal reached the Austrian Supreme Court in March — and a referral could be made to Europe’s top court.

If that happens it would then be up to the CJEU to weigh in whether such a massive loophole in the EU’s flagship data protection framework should really be allowed to stand. But that process could still take over a year or longer.

In the short term, the result is yet more delay for Europeans trying to exercise their rights against platform giants and their in-house armies of lawyers.

In a more positive development for privacy rights, a recent ruling by the CJEU bolstered the case for data protection agencies across the EU to bring actions against tech giants if they see an urgent threat to users — and believe a lead supervisor is failing to act.

That ruling could help unblock some GDPR enforcement against the most powerful tech companies at the regulatory level, potentially reducing the blockages created by bottlenecks such as Ireland.

Facebook’s EU-to-US data flows are also now facing the possibility of a suspension order in a matter of months — related to another piece of litigation brought by Schrems which hinges on the conflict between EU fundamental rights and US surveillance law.

The CJEU weighed in on that last summer with a judgement that requires regulators like Ireland to act when user data is at risk. (And Germany’s federal data protection commissioner, for instance, has warned government bodies to shut their official Facebook pages ahead of planned enforcement action at the start of next year.)

So while Facebook has been spectacularly successful at kicking Europe’s privacy rights claims down the road, for well over a decade, its strategy of legal delay tactics to shield a privacy-hostile business model could finally hit a geopolitical brick wall.

The tech giant has sought to lobby against this threat to its business by suggesting it might switch off its service in Europe if the regulator follows through on a preliminary suspension order last year.

But it has also publicly denied it would actually follow through and close service in Europe.

How might Facebook actually comply if ordered to cut off EU data flows? Schrems has argued it may need to federate its service and store European users’ data inside the EU in order to comply with the eponymous Schrems II CJEU ruling.

Albeit, Facebook has certainly shown itself adept at exploiting the gaps between Europeans’ on-paper rights, national case law and the various EU and Member State institutions involved in oversight and enforcement as a tactic to defend its commercial priorities — playing different players and pushing agendas to further its business interests. So whether any single piece of EU privacy litigation will prove to be the silver bullet that forces a reboot of its privacy-hostile business model very much remains to be seen.

A perhaps more likely scenario is that each of these cases further erodes user trust in Facebook’s services — reducing people’s appetite to use its apps and expanding opportunities for rights-respecting competitors to poach custom by offering something better. 

 

#amsterdam, #austria, #data-protection, #data-protection-commission, #digital-rights, #europe, #european-union, #facebook, #general-data-protection-regulation, #germany, #human-rights, #ireland, #lawsuit, #max-schrems, #netherlands, #noyb, #privacy, #surveillance-law, #vienna

The Sunday Read: ‘The Woman Who Made van Gogh’

Neglected by art history for decades, Jo van Gogh-Bonger, the painter’s sister-in-law, is finally being recognized as the force who opened the world’s eyes to his genius.

#art, #audio-neutral-informative, #netherlands, #van-gogh-theo, #van-gogh-vincent

Investors say Eindhoven poised to become Netherlands’ No. 2 tech hub

Eindhoven might not immediately spring to mind as a high-tech hub, but the Netherlands city is keen to position itself as a center for deep tech in Europe.

The Technical University of Eindhoven, High Tech Campus Eindhoven, and locally based corporates like ASML and Philips have been eyeing initiatives across Europe and applying what they’ve learned to the region’s strategy. Philips launched in Eindhoven in 1891 and played no small part in the municipality’s ambitions to become a tech hub.

Eindhoven produces a high number of patents per year considering its small population and has been home to an inordinate number of hardware startups. The local High Tech Campus has a high hardware focus, for instance.

Our survey respondents consider the city strong in areas like photonics, robotics, medical devices, materials science, deep tech, automotive tech, sustainability tech, medtech, Big Data, hardware and precision engineering. They are looking for more mature startups and scaleups focused on AI and hard tech.

Eindhoven is considered weaker in fintech and consumer products, and it exists in a small region with limited global visibility.

Over the next five years, one respondent said, “Eindhoven will have evolved to the Netherlands’ second-largest tech ecosystem, behind Amsterdam. On a European scale, Eindhoven will have entered the top 10.”

To learn more about Eindhoven, we queried the following investors:


Robert AL, Systema Circularis

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

High-tech systems, photonics, robotics, medical devices.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Lightyear, Bio-TRIP, EFFECT photonics, Nemo Healthcare, Sorama.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Fully dedicated.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

Steef Blok, Harm de Vries, Piet van der Wielen, Andy Lurling, Mark Cox.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

More mature, more focused on inclusive development, less quality coming from university spinoffs.

Nathan van den Dool, CEO, Space4Good

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

High-tech systems and materials, the real high-tech and deep tech stuff that either leads to scientific breakthroughs or turns scientific breakthroughs into companies. Lithography makes a major contribution to that, as well as medical devices and production technologies.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Nearfield Instruments, Optiflux, Dynaxion, AlphaBeats, Incooling.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

They focus mainly on high-tech machine building and software development, AI.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Largely unaffected.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

More integrated between AI and hard tech and production.

Pepijn Herman, venture builder, Brabantse Ontwikkelings Maat schappij

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The pros are high-tech systems, collaboration culture and excellent startup ecosystem; The cons are that it’s a small region with limited visibility globally.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

LionVolt, DENS, Lightyear, Morphotonics.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

They focus mainly on high-tech machine building and software development, AI.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Others will move in! Housing is extremely expensive but the demand for a skilled workforce is extremely high. If people move to surrounding areas, within 30 km, housing prices skyrocket all over.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?\

BOM (that’s us!), Braventure, Brainport Development, TNO.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Leading worldwide in several technology areas, mainly, high-precision, roll-to-roll processing atomic layer deposition, material handling, industry 4.0, silicon processing equipment.

Betsy Lindsey, CFO, Aircision

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The region is strong in deep tech, automotive tech, sustainability tech, medtech, Big Data, hardware and precision engineering. Most excited by sustainability tech and deep tech. The region is weak in fintech.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Lightyear, Incooling.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Conservative, non-risk-taking — there are so many subsidies they don’t need to take risks, so once the tech risk is gone, they are good, but they are not global enough; hardware.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Hardware is hands-on — people are still moving in! We have a housing “crisis!”

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

Innovation Industries.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

More mature startups and scaleups on the scene!

Andy Lurling, founding partner, LUMO Labs

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The region is strong in sustainable cities, health and well-being, and education.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

FruitPunch AI, AlphaBeats, Vaulut, Lightyear, Serendipity.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Mainly hardware; LUMO Labs has an early-stage software focus.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Stay.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

Nard Sintenie, Frank Claassen, Hans Bloemen.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Competing on a global scale.

Han Dirkx, CEO and co-founder, AlphaBeats

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The region is strong in deep tech and health. I’m excited about opportunities for cooperation between different companies. It’s weak in seed investment.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Lightyear, AlphaBeats, Carbyon, FruitPunch, Serendipity.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Tech investors are mainly government-regulated constitutions or angels. Focus on scaleup.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

They will stay; working from home has some benefits but meeting people in an inspiring environment gives the best synergy.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

LUMO Labs, HighTechXL, Andy Lurling, Sven Bakkes, John Bell, Guus Frericks, Bert-Jan Woertman.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Leading in the world.

Jonas Onland, managing partner, Serendipity

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The region is strong in building sustainable and resilient cities and a platform between cities/society and tech market.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Digital Toolbox (a Serendipity spinoff), Amber (mobility), Active Esports Arena and other portfolio companies of LUMO Labs.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

Through LUMO Labs, there is a focus on societal investments; the rest is investment in high tech due to the big industries (VDLK, ASML, NXP, Phillips).

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

Work at home or mix in the office and at home.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

A combination of accelerators (LUMO Labs, HighTechXL, Braventure) and Brainport (ecosystem management) supported by the Eindhoven University of Technology and big corporates.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Leading in the world on societal/systemic change — moving from high-tech toward impact (more software and digitization).

Daan A.J. Kersten, CEO, PhotonFirst

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

It’s strong in high-tech equipment, hardware, photonics, additive manufacturing, lighting, electronics, semiconductor technology and health tech, and weak in consumer products and apps.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Lightyear, ELEO Technologies, EFFECT Photonics, SMART Photonics, PhotonFirst, Amber.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

There is a relatively low number of investors in early stage.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

They will stay. Eindhoven is a hot spot with many cultures, international tech community and great infrastructure, while it feels like a village.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

Nard Sintenie, startup founders, HighTechXL.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

Worldwide dominance in high-tech hardware scaleups.

Daniel den Boer, CEO and co-founder, Vaulut

What industry sectors is your tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What is it weak in?

The Eindhoven ecosystem is really strong in the sectors of mobility, smart city and energy. I’m most excited about smart city. This is our focus sector and it is the embodiment of ecosystem collaboration with impact solutions.

Which are the most interesting startups in your city?

Vaulut, Roseman Labs, FruitPunch AI, Amber, Sendcloud, Lightyear.

What are the tech investors like? What is the investment scene like in your city? What’s their focus?

The investment scene is getting better. They are increasingly realizing that deep tech takes time and needs to be nurtured, but the potential impact is massive and can have a dramatic effect on the entire ecosystem. There are still relatively few early-stage impact drive investors. LUMO Labs is leading the pack on that front.

With the shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, will people stay in your city, move out or will others move in?

I think more people will stay as the need to move to Amsterdam as the tech hub of the Netherlands diminishes, giving Eindhoven a boost to strengthen its own ecosystem, which will in turn make even more people stay and attract people to move in the city. As a result, COVID-19 will have a positive effect on Eindhoven’s tech ecosystem, I believe.

Who are the key startup people in your city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers, etc.)?

LUMO Labs, the Eindhoven University of Technology, High Tech Campus, Amber, Brainport Eindhoven.

Where do you see your city’s tech scene in five years’ time?

In five years, I believe Eindhoven will have evolved to Netherlands’ second-largest tech ecosystem, behind Amsterdam. On a European scale, Eindhoven will have entered the top 10.

#aircision, #alphabeats, #andy-lurling, #brabantse-ontwikkelings-maat-schappij, #daan-a-j-kersten, #daniel-den-boer, #ec-investor-survey, #europe, #han-dirkx, #investor-survey, #jonas-onland, #lumo-labs, #nathan-van-den-dool, #netherlands, #pepijn-herman, #photonfirst, #robert-al, #serendipity, #space4good, #startups, #systema-circularis, #tc, #vaulut, #venture-capital

Britain Detains ‘Noah’s Ark,’ Doubting It Can Handle the Sea

The British maritime authorities want to see paperwork proving that the ark, a floating museum of Bible exhibits, is seaworthy before it can be towed from Ipswich, England, back to the Netherlands.

#bible, #great-britain, #ipswich-england, #maritime-accidents-and-safety, #museums, #netherlands, #peters-aad, #politics-and-government

Telling Stories of Slavery, One Person at a Time

A new exhibition in Amsterdam reconstructs personal histories to confront the Netherlands’ extensive and little-discussed involvement in the international trade of enslaved people during the colonial era.

#art, #dibbits-taco, #dutch-east-india-co, #dutch-west-india-company, #netherlands, #rijksmuseum, #slavery-historical, #van-rijn-rembrandt-harmenszoon

Big Setbacks Propel Oil Giants Toward a ‘Tipping Point’

A surprising mix of environmentalists, pension fund managers and big money investors have scored startling victories against oil and coal, opening new battle fronts in the climate fight.

#australia, #energy-and-power, #engine-no-1-gp-llc, #environment, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #milieudefensie-nonprofit, #netherlands, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #royal-dutch-shell-plc, #shareholder-rights-and-activism, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #united-states

Wayflyer raises $76M to provide ‘revenue-based’ financing to e-commerce merchants

Wayflyer, a revenue-based financing platform for e-commerce merchants, has raised $76 million in a Series A funding round led by Left Lane Capital.

“Partners” of DST Global, QED Investors, Speedinvest and Zinal Growth — the family office of Guillaume Pousaz (founder of Checkout.com) — also put money in the round. The raise comes just after Wayflyer raised $100 million in debt funding to support its cash advance product, and 14 months after the Dublin, Ireland-based startup launched its first product.

With an e-commerce boom fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wayflyer is the latest in a group of startups focused on the space that has attracted investor interest as of late. The company aims to help e-commerce merchants “unlock growth” by giving them access to working capital (from $10,000 up to $20 million) so they can improve cash flow and drive sales. For example, more cash can help these merchants do things like buy more inventory in bulk so they can meet customer demand and save money. 

In a nutshell, Wayflyer uses analytics and sends merchants cash to make inventory purchases or investments in their business. Those merchants then repay Wayflyer using a percentage of their revenue until the money is paid back (plus a fee charged for the cash advance). So essentially, the merchants are using their revenue to get financing, hence the term revenue-based financing. The advantage, Wayflyer says, is that companies make repayments as a percentage of their sales. So if they have a slow month, they will pay back less. So, there’s more flexibility involved than with other mechanisms such as traditional bank loans.

Co-founder Aidan Corbett believes that in a crowded space, Wayflyer’s use of big data gives it an edge over competitors.

Corbett and former VC Jack Pierse spun Wayflyer out of a marketing analytics company that Corbett had also started, called Conjura, in September 2019.

“Jack came to me and said, ‘You should stop using our marketing analytics engine to do these big enterprise SaaS solutions, and instead use them to underwrite e-commerce businesses for short-term finance,’ ” Corbett recalls.

And so he did.

“We just had our heads down and started repurposing the platform for it to be an underwriting platform,” Corbett said. It launched in April 2020, doing about $600,000 in advances at the time. In March of 2021, Wayflyer did about $36 million in advances.

“So, it’s been a pretty aggressive kind of growth,” Corbett said.

Over the past six months alone, the company has seen its business grow 290% as it has deployed over $150 million of funding across 10 markets with a focus on the U.S., the United Kingdom and Australia. About 75% of its customers are U.S. based.

Wayflyer plans to use its new capital toward product development and global expansion with the goal of entering “multiple” new markets in the coming months. The company recently opened a sales office in Atlanta, and also has locations in the U.K., the Netherlands and Spain.

To Corbett, the company’s offering is more compelling than buy now, pay later solutions for consumers for example, in that it is funding the merchant directly and able to add services on top of that.

“There’s a lot more opportunity for companies like ourselves to differentiate because essentially, we focus on the merchants. And when we underwrite the merchant by getting data from the merchant, there’s a lot of additional services that you can put in on top,” Corbett explained. “Whereas with buy now, pay later, you get information on the consumer, and there’s not as much room to add additional services on top.”

For example, if a business requests an advance and either is not approved for one, or doesn’t choose to take it, Wayflyer’s analytics platform is free to anybody who signs up to help them optimize their marketing spend.

“This is a critical driver of value for e-commerce businesses. If you can’t acquire customers at a reasonable price, you’re not going to be around very long. And a lot of early-stage e-commerce businesses struggle with that,” Corbett said.

It also can pair up a merchant with a marketing analytics “specialist” to analyze its marketing performance or an inventory “specialist” to look at the current terms and price a business is getting from a supplier.

“Our focus from the very beginning is really supporting the merchants, not just providing them with working capital,” Corbett said.  

Another way the company claims to be different is in how it deploys funds. As mentioned above, merchants can pay the money back at varied terms, depending on how sales are going. The company makes money by charging a principal on advances, and then a “remittance rate” on revenues until the total amount is paid back.

“We tend to be more flexible than competition in this way,” Corbett said. “Also, some competitors will pay invoices on merchants’ behalf or give them a pre-charged card to use on advertising spend,” Corbett said. “We always give cash into a merchant’s account.” 

Wayflyer recently inked an agreement with Adobe Commerce, a partnership it said would provide a new channel to further amplify its growth with the goal of funding 8,000 e-commerce businesses in the first year of the partnership.

For his part, Left Lane Capital Partner Dan Ahrens said that his firm was impressed by Wayflyer’s “nuanced understanding of what will drive value for their clients.”

“The team’s focus, specialization, and deep analytical expertise within the e-commerce market also drives superior underwriting,” he told TechCrunch. “Their explosive growth has not come about by taking on undue risk. We are big believers that their underwriting will only improve with scale, and that Wayflyer will be able to compound its competitive advantages over time.”

As mentioned, this is an increasingly crowded space. Earlier this month, Settle announced it had raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by Kleiner Perkins to give e-commerce and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies access to non-dilutive capital.

#adobe, #atlanta, #australia, #bank, #checkout-com, #distribution, #dst-global, #dublin, #e-commerce, #ecommerce, #economy, #finance, #funding, #fundings-exits, #guillaume-pousaz, #ireland, #kleiner-perkins, #left-lane-capital, #merchant, #netherlands, #qed-investors, #recent-funding, #spain, #startup, #startups, #tc, #underwriting, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #wayflyer

Shell Must Reduce Emissions, Dutch Court Rules

A company spokesman called the decision “disappointing” and said Shell expected to appeal, but the ruling could add pressure on the energy industry to accelerate its move away from fossil fuels.

#decisions-and-verdicts, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #milieudefensie-nonprofit, #netherlands, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #royal-dutch-shell-plc

Dutch court orders Shell oil company to cut carbon emissions 45% by 2030

Image of an oil refinery.

Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg / Getty Images)

On Wednesday, a court in the Netherlands ordered energy giant Royal Dutch Shell to cut its carbon emissions by 45 percent before the decade is over. Ruling on a suit filed by the Netherlands branch of Friends of the Earth, the court concluded that Royal Dutch Shell’s current plans to reduce emissions are incompatible with the targets of the Paris agreement.

Shell has already announced that it intends to appeal the decision.

Not fast enough

Royal Dutch Shell is a large international energy conglomerate that made its name from oil extraction and processing. The company has recognized the need to diversify its energy portfolio, however, and has concluded that its oil production likely peaked in 2019. Emissions have been falling since 2018, and the company plans to hit net-zero emissions by 2050. A key intermediate step to that goal is to reach a 20 percent drop in carbon emissions by 2030.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#carbon-emissions, #law, #netherlands, #oil, #policy, #science, #shell

Cowboy launches the Cowboy 4 e-bike, with a step-through version and built-in phone charger

E-bike startup Cowboy has launched the Cowboy 4, its newest generation of urban electric bikes. The bike will come in two different frames, a traditional frame, and a step-through.
The C4 is basically an upgrade on the previous version 3, while the ‘C4 ST’ is a step-through model which the company is predicting will appeal to young people used to city bikes.

The C4 and C4 ST are both priced at £2,290/€2,490 inclusive of mudguards and are available for pre-order with a €100/£100 deposit starting from today cowboy.com, with deliveries starting in September 2021.

Cowboy has raised $46.1M in venture capital and largely extent competes with VanMoof (which raised $61.1M) and Furo Systems (£750K) to a lesser extent. The basic differences between the three are that Cowboy is moving closer to leverage the cloud and apps as its main differentiation, VanMoof tends to built things (like a screen) into the bike (and has an app), and Furo is more about ease of maintenance, and weight.

Cowboy says both bikes feature 50% more torque via their automatic transmission. There are no gears to change, with the engine kicking in as you turn the cranks. The removable battery weighs 2.4kg, giving the bike a range of up to 70km.

The heaviest version of the bikes is 19.2 kg including battery and both will hit 25 km/h (15 mph).

Adrien Roose, Cowboy Co-Founder and CEO said in a statement: “The Cowboy 4 completely redefines life in and around cities. By designing two frame types featuring our first-ever step-through model, an integrated cockpit, and a new app, we are now able to address a much larger audience and cater to many more riders to move freely in and around cities,” he added. “Our mission is to help city dwellers move in a faster, safer and more enjoyable way than any other mode of urban transportation. Be it wandering through the city or staying fit, it’s a reconnection with your senses and a rediscovery of the simple thrill of riding a bike.”

The step-through model is optimized to suit riders 160-190cm in height, while the normal C4 will accommodates riders 170-195cm tall.

Mike Butcher meets Cowboy's Adrien Roose

Mike Butcher meets Cowboy’s Adrien Roose

Doing a very quick test of the new bikes in a London basketball court and around local streets, I found both bikes to be very nippy on the off and a pleasure to ride. Cowboy is probably right – the step-through version is likely to appeal to a wide variety of riders.

Roose said the bike has been custom-designed. Only the saddle and the carbon belt are made by third-party companies Selle Royal and Gates, respectively. The brake cables are now integrated into the handlebars and stem, brakes and pedals have new angles, and the rear wheel has a ‘dropout’ design.
Cowboy will offer a custom-designed series of accessories starting with a rear rack and kickstand. The C4 and C4 ST will come in Absolute Black, Peyote Green, and Sand Dune, and are available to pre-order now, with deliveries beginning in September. Both models will feature pre-fitted mudguards.

The bikes also now feature a wireless charging mont on the stem featuring a built-in Quad Lock mount to hold the rider’s smartphone and wirelessly charge it via the bike’s internal battery.

Tanguy Goretti, Co-Founder, and VP Software added: “The new Cowboy app [will show] remaining battery range, air quality en route and a wide range of live fitness stats.”

The app also has a new navigation screen, 3D map rendering layout, turn-by-turn directions, air quality index for routes, live fitness data, leaderboard rankings; a new community feature offering the ability to join curated group rides across capital cities in Europe.

Cowboy is also offering a free repair network across Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Austria and Luxembourg; 6 days a week customer support; and a subscription plan operated in partnership with Qover which includes theft detection, theft insurance throughout Europe.

#austria, #belgium, #cowboy, #electric-bicycle, #europe, #france, #germany, #luxembourg, #micromobility, #mike-butcher, #netherlands, #smartphone, #tc, #transport, #united-kingdom, #venture-capital

Bux, a European Robinhood, raises $80M to expand its neo-broker platform

A new wave of apps have democratized the concept of investing, bringing the concept of trading stocks and currencies to a wider pool of users who can use these platforms to make incremental, or much larger, bets in the hopes of growing their money at a time when interest rates are low. In the latest development, Bux — a startup form Amsterdam that lets people invest in shares and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) without paying commissions (its pricing is based on flat €1 fees for certain services, no fees for others) — has picked up some investment of its own, a $80 million round that it.

Alongside this, the company is announcing a new CEO. Founder Nick Bortot is stepping away and Yorick Naeff, an early employee of the company who had been the COO, is taking over. Bortot will remain a shareholder and involved with the company, which will be using to expand its geographical footprint and expand its tech platform and services to users, said Naeff in an interview.

“Since we started, Bux has been trying to make investments affordable and intuitive, and that will still be the case,” he said. The average age of a Bux customer is 30, so while affordable and intuitive are definitely priorities to capture younger users, it also means that if Bux can earn their loyalty and show positive returns, they have the potential to keep them for a long time to come.

The funding is coming from an interesting group of investors. Jointly led by Prosus Ventures and Tencent (in which Prosus, the tech division of Naspers, is a major investor), it also included ABN Amro Ventures, Citius, Optiver, and Endeit Capital — all new investors — as well as previous backers HV Capital and Velocity Capital Fintech Ventures.

Naeff said in an interview that Bux isn’t disclosing its valuation with this round. But for some context, he confirmed that the startup has around 500,000 customers across the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, France and Belgium, using not just its main Bux Zero app, but also Bux Crypto and Bux X (a contracts for difference (CFDs) app).

Crypto remains a niche but extremely active part of the wider investment market and Naeff described Bux Crypo — formed out of Bux acquiring Blockport last year — as “very profitable.” The company had only raised about $35 million before this round, and it’s been around since 2014, so while he wouldn’t comment on wider profitability, you can draw some conclusions from that.

For some further valuation context, another big player in trading in Europe, eToro, in March announced it was going public by way of a SPAC valuing it at $10 billion. (Note: eToro is significantly bigger, adding 5 million users last year alone.)

Others in the wider competitive landscape include Robinhood out of the US, which had plans but appeared to have stalled in its entry into Europe; Trade Republic out of Germany, which raised $67 million a year ago from the likes of Accel and Founders Fund; and Revolut, which has been running a trading app for some time.

The opportunity that Bux is targeting is a very simple one: technology, and specifically innovations in banking and apps, have opened the door to making it significantly easier for the average consumer to engage in a new set of financial services.

At the same time, some of the more traditional ways of “growing” one’s capital, by way of buying and selling property or opening savings accounts, are not as strong these days as they were in the past, with the housing market being too expensive to enter for younger people, and interest rates very low, leading those consumers to considering other options open to them. Social media is also playing a major role here, opening up conversations around investing that have been traditionally run between professionals in the industry.

“We’re looking for industries that solve big societal needs and fintech continues to be one of them,” said Sandeep Bakshi, who heads up investments for Prosus in Europe, in an interview. “Interest rates being what they are, there are no opportunities for individuals to save and that represents a massive opportunity, and we’re happy to partner and be a part of the journey.”

Although there is a wave of so-called neo-brokers in the market today, Bux’s unique selling point, Naeff said, is the company’s tech stack.

In comparison to others providing trading apps, he said Bux is the first and only one of them to have built a full-stack system of its own.

“It’s not on top of existing broker, which makes it a nimble and modular,” he said. “This is especially critical because fintech is a game of scale, but every market is completely different when you consider tax, payment systems and the ID documents that one needs in order to fill KYC requirements.”

And that is before you consider that doing business in Europe means doing business in a number of different languages.

“Our system is here to scale across Europe,” he said. “The fact that we are live in five countries, and the only neo-broker doing that, shows that this modular system is working.”

Indeed, the scaling opportunity is one of the reasons why China’s tech giant Tencent, owner of WeChat and a vast gaming empire, has come on board.

“We are excited about backing BUX as they are the leading neo-broker in Europe and have been able to build a platform that is sustainable and scalable. BUX is the only neo-broker in Europe that offers zero commission investing without being dependent on kickbacks or payments for order flow. This ensures that its interests are fully aligned with its customers. We will support BUX in its journey of pursuing consistent growth for the years to come”, said Alex Leung, Assistant GM at Tencent, Strategic Development, in a statement.

#amsterdam, #bux, #europe, #finance, #funding, #neo-broker, #netherlands, #prosus, #tencent, #trading

Uber hit with default ‘robo-firing’ ruling after another EU labor rights GDPR challenge

Labor activists challenging Uber over what they allege are ‘robo-firings’ of drivers in Europe have trumpeted winning a default judgement in the Netherlands — where the Court of Amsterdam ordered the ride-hailing giant to reinstate six drivers who the litigants claim were unfairly terminated “by algorithmic means.”

The court also ordered Uber to pay the fired drivers compensation.

The challenge references Article 22 of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — which provides protection for individuals against purely automated decisions with a legal or significant impact.

The activists say this is the first time a court has ordered the overturning of an automated decision to dismiss workers from employment.

However the judgement, which was issued on February 24, was issued by default — and Uber says it was not aware of the case until last week, claiming that was why it did not contest it (nor, indeed, comply with the order).

It had until March 29 to do so, per the litigants, who are being supported by the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU) and Worker Info Exchange (WIE).

Uber argues the default judgement was not correctly served and says it is now making an application to set the default ruling aside and have its case heard “on the basis that the correct procedure was not followed.”

It envisages the hearing taking place within four weeks of its Dutch entity, Uber BV, being made aware of the judgement — which it says occurred on April 8.

“Uber only became aware of this default judgement last week, due to representatives for the ADCU not following proper legal procedure,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

A spokesperson for WIE denied that correct procedure was not followed but welcomed the opportunity for Uber to respond to questions over how its driver ID systems operate in court, adding: “They [Uber] are out of time. But we’d be happy to see them in court. They will need to show meaningful human intervention and provide transparency.”

Uber pointed to a separate judgement by the Amsterdam Court last month — which rejected another ADCU- and WIE-backed challenge to Uber’s anti-fraud systems, with the court accepting its explanation that algorithmic tools are mere aids to human “anti-fraud” teams who it said take all decisions on terminations.

“With no knowledge of the case, the Court handed down a default judgement in our absence, which was automatic and not considered. Only weeks later, the very same Court found comprehensively in Uber’s favour on similar issues in a separate case. We will now contest this judgement,” Uber’s spokesperson added.

However WIE said this default judgement “robo-firing” challenge specifically targets Uber’s Hybrid Real-Time ID System — a system that incorporates facial recognition checks and which labor activists recently found misidentifying drivers in a number of instances.

It also pointed to a separate development this week in the U.K. where it said the City of London Magistrates Court ordered the city’s transport regulator, TfL, to reinstate the licence of one of the drivers revoked after Uber routinely notified it of a dismissal (also triggered by Uber’s real time ID system, per WIE).

Reached for comment on that, a TfL spokesperson said: “The safety of the travelling public is our top priority and where we are notified of cases of driver identity fraud, we take immediate licensing action so that passenger safety is not compromised. We always require the evidence behind an operator’s decision to dismiss a driver and review it along with any other relevant information as part of any decision to revoke a licence. All drivers have the right to appeal a decision to remove a licence through the Magistrates’ Court.”

The regulator has been applying pressure to Uber since 2017 when it took the (shocking to Uber) decision to revoke the company’s licence to operate — citing safety and corporate governance concerns.

Since then Uber has been able to continue to operate in the U.K. capital but the company remains under pressure to comply with a laundry list of requirements set by TfL as it tries to regain a full operator licence.

Commenting on the default Dutch judgement on the Uber driver terminations in a statement, James Farrar, director of WIE, accused gig platforms of “hiding management control in algorithms.”

“For the Uber drivers robbed of their jobs and livelihoods this has been a dystopian nightmare come true,” he said. “They were publicly accused of ‘fraudulent activity’ on the back of poorly governed use of bad technology. This case is a wake-up call for lawmakers about the abuse of surveillance technology now proliferating in the gig economy. In the aftermath of the recent U.K. Supreme Court ruling on worker rights gig economy platforms are hiding management control in algorithms. This is misclassification 2.0.”

In another supporting statement, Yaseen Aslam, president of the ADCU, added: “I am deeply concerned about the complicit role Transport for London has played in this catastrophe. They have encouraged Uber to introduce surveillance technology as a price for keeping their operator’s license and the result has been devastating for a TfL licensed workforce that is 94% BAME. The Mayor of London must step in and guarantee the rights and freedoms of Uber drivers licensed under his administration.”  

When pressed on the driver termination challenge being specifically targeted at its Hybrid Real-Time ID system, Uber declined to comment in greater detail — claiming the case is “now a live court case again”.

But its spokesman suggested it will seek to apply the same defence against the earlier “robo-firing” charge — when it argued its anti-fraud systems do not equate to automated decision making under EU law because “meaningful human involvement [is] involved in decisions of this nature”.

 

#app-drivers-couriers-union, #artificial-intelligence, #automated-decisions, #europe, #european-union, #facial-recognition, #gdpr, #general-data-protection-regulation, #gig-worker, #james-farrar, #labor, #lawsuit, #london, #netherlands, #transport-for-london, #uber, #united-kingdom

The Woman Who Made Vincent van Gogh

Neglected by art history for decades, Jo van Gogh-Bonger, the painter’s sister-in-law, is finally being recognized as the force who opened the world’s eyes to his genius.

#amsterdam-netherlands, #art, #content-type-personal-profile, #diaries, #luijten-hans, #netherlands, #van-gogh-museum, #van-gogh-bonger-johanna-1862-1925, #van-gogh-theo, #van-gogh-vincent

1Password acquires SecretHub and launches new enterprise secrets management tool

1Password, the password management service that competes with the likes of LastPass and BitWarden, today announced a major push beyond the basics of password management and into the infrastructure secrets management space. To do so, the company has acquired secrets management service SecretHub and is now launching its new 1Password Secrets Automation service.

1Password did not disclose the price of the acquisition. According to CrunchBase, Netherlands-based SecretHub never raised any institutional funding ahead of today’s announcement.

For companies like 1Password, moving into the enterprise space, where managing corporate credentials, API tokens, keys and certificates for individual users and their increasingly complex infrastructure services, seems like a natural move. And with the combination of 1Password and its new Secrets Automation service, businesses can use a single tool that covers them from managing their employee’s passwords to handling infrastructure secrets. 1Password is currently in use by more then 80,000 businesses worldwide and a lot of these are surely potential users of its Secrets Automation service, too.

“Companies need to protect their infrastructure secrets as much if not more than their employees’ passwords,” said Jeff Shiner, CEO of 1Password. “With 1Password and Secrets Automation, there is a single source of truth to secure, manage and orchestrate all of your business secrets. We are the first company to bring both human and machine secrets together in a significant and easy-to-use way.”

In addition to the acquisition and new service, 1Password also today announced a new partnership with GitHub. “We’re partnering with 1Password because their cross-platform solution will make life easier for developers and security teams alike,” said Dana Lawson, VP of partner engineering and development at GitHub, the largest and most advanced development platform in the world. “With the upcoming GitHub and 1Password Secrets Automation integration, teams will be able to fully automate all of their infrastructure secrets, with full peace of mind that they are safe and secure.”

#1password, #ceo, #crunchbase, #exit, #github, #infrastructure-services, #lastpass, #netherlands, #password, #password-management, #security, #software, #startups

Bibian Mentel, Champion Paralympic Snowboarder, Dies at 48

After losing part of a leg to cancer, she dominated the sport for nearly two decades, winning three Paralympic gold medals.

#deaths-obituaries, #disabilities, #mentel-bibian-1972-2021, #netherlands, #paralympic-games, #snowboarding

The Sunday Read: ‘Rembrandt in the Blood’

No one had spotted a new painting by the Dutch master for four decades — until the scion of a storied Amsterdam family found two.

#amsterdam-netherlands, #auctions, #netherlands, #van-rijn-rembrandt-harmenszoon

Spinning out from the cryptocurrency hardware developer Bitfury, LiquidStack pitches a data center cooling tech

Data centers and bitcoin mining operations are becoming huge energy hogs and the explosive growth of both risks undoing a lot of the progress that’s been made to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. It’s one of the major criticisms of cryptocurrency operations and something that many in the industry are trying to address.

Enter LiquidStack, a company that’s spinning out from the cryptocurrency hardware technology developer Bitfury Group with a $10 million investment.

The company, which was formerly known as Allied Control Limited, restructured as a commercial operating company headquartered in the Netherlands with commercial operations in the U.S. and research and development in Hong Kong, according to a statement.

It was first acquired by Bitfury in 2015 after building a 2-phase immersion cooling 500kW data center in Hong Kong, that purportedly cut energy consumption by 95% versus traditional air cooling technologies. Later, the companies jointly deployed 160 megawatts of 2-phase immersion cooled data centers.

“Bitfury has been innovating across multiple industries and sees major growth opportunities with LiquidStack’s game-changing cooling solutions for compute-intensive applications and infrastructure,” said Valery Vavilov, CEO of Bitfury. “I believe LiquidStack’s leadership team, together with our customers and strategic support from Wiwynn, will rapidly accelerate the global adoption and deployment of 2-phase immersion cooling.”

The $10 million in funding came from the Taiwanese conglomerate, Wiwynn, a data center and infrastructure developer with revenues of $6.3 billion last year.

“Wiwynn continues to invest in advanced cooling solutions to address the challenges of fast-growing power consumption and density for cloud computing, AI, and HPC,” said Emily Hong, chief executive of Wiwynn, in a statement.

In a statement, LiquidStack said its technology could enable at least 21 times more heat rejection per IT rack compared to air cooling — all without the need for water. The company said its cooling method results in a 41 percent reduction in energy used for cooling and a 60 percent reduction in data center space.

“Bitfury has always been focused on leading by example and is a technology driven company from the top of the organization, to its grass roots,” said Joe Capes, co-founder and chief executive of LiquidStack, in a statement. “Launching LiquidStack with new funding enables us to focus on our strengths and capabilities, accelerating the development of liquid cooling technology, products and services to help solve real thermal and sustainability challenges driven by the adoption of cloud services, AI, edge and high-performance computing.”

#ceo, #cloud-computing, #cloud-services, #computing, #data-center, #distributed-computing, #energy, #energy-consumption, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #liquid-cooling, #netherlands, #supercomputer, #tc, #united-states, #valery-vavilov

Bill Gates wants Western countries to eat “synthetic meat”; Meatable has raised $47 million to make it

In a recent interview discussing Bill Gates’ recent book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster“, the Microsoft and Breakthrough Energy founder (and the world’s third wealthiest man) advocated for citizens of the richest countries in the world to switch to diets consisting entirely of what he called synthetic meat in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Gates’ call is being met by startups and public companies hailing from everywhere from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv, London to Los Angeles, and Berkeley to… um… Chicago.

Indeed, two of the best funded companies in the lab-grown meat market hail from The Netherlands, where Mosa Meat is being challenged by a newer upstart, Meatable, which just announced $47 million in new financing.

The company aims to have its first product approved by European regulators by 2023 and notching commercial sales by 2025.

Meatable has a long road ahead of it, because, as Gates acknowledged in his interview with MIT Technology Review (ed. note: I’m available for a call, too, Bill), “the people like Memphis Meats who do it at a cellular level—I don’t know that that will ever be economical.”

Beyond the economics, there’s also the open question of whether consumers will be willing to make the switch to lab grown meat. Some companies, like the San Francisco-based Just Foods and Tel Aviv’s Supermeat are already selling chicken patties and nuggets made from cultured cells at select restaurants.

These products don’t get at the full potential for cellular technology according to Daan Luining, Meatable’s chief technology officer. “We have seen the nugget and the chicken burger, but we’re working on whole muscle tissue,” Luining said.

The sheer number of entrants in the category — and the capital they’ve raised — points to the opportunity for several winners if companies can walk the tightrope balancing cost at scale and quality replacements for free range food.

“The mission of the company is to be a global leader in providing proteins for the planet. Pork and beef and regularly eaten cuts have on environmental and land management,” Luining said. “The technology that we are using allows us to go into different species. First we’re focused on the animals that have the biggest impact on climate change and planetary health.”

For Meatable right now, price remains an issue. The company is currently producing meat at roughly $10,000 per pound, but, unlike its competitors, the company said it is producing whole meat. That’s including the fat and connective tissue that makes meat… well… meat.

Now with 35 employees and new financing, the company is trying to shift from research and development into a food production company. Strategic investors like DSM, one of the largest food biotech companies in Europe should help. So should angel investors like Dr. Jeffrey Leiden, the executive chairman of Vertex Pharmaceuticals; and Dr. Rick Klausner, the former executive director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a founder of Juno Therapeutics, GRAIL, and Mindstrong Health, after leaving Illumina where he served as chief medical officer.

Institutional investors in the company’s latest round include Google Ventures founder Bill Maris’ new fund, Section 32,  and existing investors like: BlueYard Capital, Agronomics, Humboldt, and Taavet Hinrikus. 

The company’s first commercial offering will likely be a lab-grown pork product, but with expanded facilities in Delft, the location of one of the top universities in The Netherlands, a beef product may not be far behind.

“[Meatable has] a great team and game-changing technology that can address the challenges around the global food insecurity issues our planet is facing,” said Klausner. “They have all the right ingredients to become the leading choice for sustainably and efficiently produced meat.”


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#amsterdam, #articles, #bill-gates, #bill-maris, #blueyard-capital, #cellular-agriculture, #chicago, #chief-technology-officer, #cultured-meat, #eat-just, #europe, #food-and-drink, #food-production, #founder, #google-ventures, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #illumina, #juno-therapeutics, #london, #los-angeles, #meat, #meatable, #memphis, #memphis-meats, #mit, #netherlands, #san-francisco, #tc, #tel-aviv

A Pro-Europe, Anti-Populist Youth Party Scored Surprising Gains in the Dutch Elections

For years, right-wing populists have been a driving force in the Netherlands. But this week a pan-European party called Volt shook things up.

#elections, #european-union, #netherlands, #politics-and-government, #volt-political-party

Dutch Vote for a New Government as a Coronavirus Third Wave Looms

Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s party is expected to win an election that analysts hope will help them gauge the staying power of the populism that has swept Europe in recent years.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #elections, #europe, #netherlands, #politics-and-government, #rutte-mark, #wilders-geert

Former head of the World Resources Institute has a new role leading Bezos’ $10 billion Earth Fund

The $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund has a new chief executive and it’s Andrew Steer, the former head of the World Resources Institute — an organization that Bezos described as “working to alleviate poverty while protecting the natural world.”

As the head of the fund, Steer will be responsible for spending that money down by the end of 2030, according to a tweet from none other than Steer himself.

“The Earth Fund will invest in scientists, NGOs, activists, and the private sector to help drive new technologies, investments, policy change and behavior. We will emphasize social justice, as climate change disproportionately hurts poor and marginalized communities,” Steer wrote.

With a $100 million award from the first rounds of grants the Bezos Fund issued in November, the World Resources Institute was one of the largest recipients of Bezos’ largesse. Other big recipients from the first block of grants included the Environmental defense Fund, The Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy and The World Wildlife Fund.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to join the Bezos Earth Fund as its CEO, where I will focus on driving systemic change to address the climate and nature crises, with a focus on people. Too many of the most creative initiatives suffer for a lack of finance, risk management or the right partnerships. This is where the Earth Fund will be helpful,” Steer said in a statement issued by the WRI.

While at the WRI, Steer oversaw its international expansion from an advocacy organization centered primarily in Washington to a global organization with offices in Indonesia, the UK and Colombia along with hubs in Ethiopia and the Netherlands. Steer also expanded the offices in Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Mexico.

His tenure also involved creating coalitions and initiatives that changed the understanding around the economics of climate change, including the launch of a $10 million annual initiative to support the implementation of climate plans by 100 countries, according to a statement from the WRI.

“The $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund has the potential to be a transformative force for good at this decisive point in history. Andrew’s global reputation, deep technical knowledge and experience, and commitment to social justice make him a perfect leader for the fund,” said Christiana Figueres, co-founder of Global Optimism and former Executive Security of the UNFCCC.

#bezos, #brazil, #ceo, #china, #co-founder, #colombia, #ethiopia, #executive, #finance, #head, #india, #indonesia, #jeff-bezos, #leader, #mexico, #nature-conservancy, #netherlands, #risk-management, #tc, #united-kingdom, #washington, #world-wildlife-fund