Uncomfortable Timing for a Supreme Court Gun Fight

The justices contemplate expanding arms rights in the wake of mass shootings.

#alito-samuel-a-jr, #barrett-amy-coney, #bush-george-w, #clement-paul-d, #constitution-us, #firearms, #gorsuch-neil-m, #gun-control, #kavanaugh-brett-m, #mass-shootings, #national-rifle-assn, #new-jersey, #new-york-state, #rehnquist-william-h, #roberts-john-g-jr, #second-amendment-us-constitution, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #supreme-court-us, #thomas-clarence


Biden Picks Anne Milgram, Former NJ Attorney General, to Lead DEA

Anne Milgram built her reputation fighting crime in the city of Camden.

#appointments-and-executive-changes, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #camden-nj, #crime-and-criminals, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #drug-enforcement-administration, #manhattan-nyc, #menendez-robert, #new-jersey, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government


Creator economy’s slow burn

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Danny and  and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s rigamarole of news. Alex took some well-deserved time off, but that meant we got to poke a little fun at him and create a Special Edition segment to start off the show.

Jokes aside, this week was yet another spree of creator economy, edtech, and new fund announcements, with fresh and unexpected news hailing from Natasha’s home state, New Jersey.

Here’s what we got into:

What a show! We’ll be back with the full trio next week, and until then, stay safe and thank you for listening.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#clubhouse, #early-stage, #edtech, #equity, #equity-pod, #health-tech, #healthcare, #index, #masterclass, #mental-health, #netflix, #new-jersey, #patreon, #podcast, #tc, #telehealth, #walnut


Olympic Bobsledder Who Killed Himself Likely Had C.T.E.

Pavle Jovanovic, who represented the United States at the 2006 Olympics, is believed to be the first athlete in a sliding sport to be found with a disease caused by repeated brain traumas.

#bobsledding, #boston-university, #brain, #chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy, #concussions, #holcomb-steven, #jovanovic-pavle, #mckee-ann, #new-jersey, #wood-adam-1981-2013


Why Students Are Logging In to Class From 7,000 Miles Away

Students are joining remote classes from outside the country. In one New Jersey school district, computers were traced to 24 countries on a day last month.

#computer-security, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #e-learning, #education-k-12, #families-and-family-life, #immigration-and-emigration, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #parenting, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #teachers-and-school-employees


New Jersey announces $10M seed fund aimed at Black and Latinx founders

Today, in a twist, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has announced a proposal for a $10 million allocation in the state budget to create a seed fund for Black and Latinx startups, TechCrunch has learned exclusively. The Black and Latinx Seed Fund will be administered by the New Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).

NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said based on research conducted by the state, that New Jersey is the first state in the nation to develop this type of fund.

He said the move is a “direct response to the systemic racial inequities in access to capital for Black and Brown entrepreneurs” and aimed at addressing “the racial wealth gap.”

“I think two of the centerpieces of Gov. Murphy’s strategy overall for the economy is to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey and a stronger and fairer economy,” Sullivan said, adding that the state is also focused on “reclaiming New Jersey’s heritage of leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship.”

It’s a known fact that the number of venture dollars flowing to Black and Latinx founders is dismally low.

As one evidence of that, last year Crunchbase found that as of Aug. 31, Black and Latinx founders had raised $2.3 billion in funding, representing just 2.6% of the total $87.3 billion in funding that had gone to all founders up until that point in 2020. 

Also, Digitalundivided’s ProjectDiane 2020 report found that Black and Latinx women founders received just $1.7 billion of the total $276.7 billion venture dollars invested between 2018 and 2019.

Over the past several months — in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement — we’ve seen an increasing number of venture funds announce initiatives toward funding a broader group of founders.

“Before there was a Silicon Valley, whether you’re talking about folks like Thomas Edison, Bell Labs or Sarnoff Labs, we were the place that perhaps more than any other place that fueled 20th century American entrepreneurial-led growth,” Sullivan told TechCrunch. “And the reality is that we lost a little bit of that. We’re still one of the top places for innovation and entrepreneurship, but other places –whether it’s out west or in places like Austin and Boston — have really upped their game and we want to recapture that unquestioned leadership position in innovation, entrepreneurship.”

Beyond that – under Gov. Murphy’s leadership – the state wants “to build the most diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem in America.”

“That is a lot easier said than done, particularly because of not only centuries worth of systemic discrimination and racism, but some very specific manifestations of that systemic disenfranchisement and discrimination, particularly around venture capital funding and early stage seed funding,” added Sullivan, who once worked at Barclays Capital as chief of staff to the head of Global Investment Banking.

Zakiya Smith-Ellis, chief policy advisor to Gov. Murphy, said the initiative came after conversations with Black and Latinx business investors.

“This was developed with the input of folks who might be direct beneficiaries of this program and that community was directly impactful in designing and developing this proposal,” Smith-Ellis told TechCrunch. “We hear from them ‘we don’t have the family members, we don’t have the friends who are just going to write me a check at the very beginning, I think this is really instructive.’ ”

The legislature is set to vote on the proposal by July 1.

While it was difficult to find examples of governments doing similar things, there are a number of organizations out there that are committed to funding diverse founders.

In February, several national and Chicago-based organizations banded together to support early-stage Black and Latinx tech entrepreneurs through a new program dubbed TechRise. The nonprofit P33 launched the program in partnership with Verizon and 1871, a private business incubator and technology hub, among others, with the goals “of narrowing the wealth gap in Chicago, generating thousands of tech-related jobs and giving $5 million in grant funding to Black and Latino entrepreneurs,” according to the Chicago Sun Times. (Disclosure: Verizon is TechCrunch’s parent company).

And, Detroit-based ID Ventures says it invests in minority and women-led companies “at 4x the national average.”

“By providing opportunities to underrepresented entrepreneurs, we can ensure representation, respect our state’s diversity, and create a start-up community unlike any other,” the organization’s website says.

Also in Austin, DivInc is a nonprofit pre-accelerator that holds 12-week programs for underrepresented tech founders. Founded in 2016 by former Dell executive Preston James, the organization aims to “empower people of color and women entrepreneurs and help them build successful high growth businesses by providing them with access to education, mentorship, and vital networks.”

#black-founders, #diversity, #funding, #latinx, #new-jersey, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #tim-sullivan, #venture-capital


Queens Man Is Charged in 1976 Killing of Pregnant Teenager

Luis Sierra, 63, of Ozone Park, was arrested this week in the killing of Evelyn Colon, a Jersey City 15-year-old whose dismembered remains were found along a riverbank in Pennsylvania, the authorities said.

#assaults, #dna-deoxyribonucleic-acid, #extradition, #forensic-science, #jersey-city-nj, #missing-persons, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #new-jersey, #ozone-park-queens-ny, #pennsylvania, #queens-nyc, #sex-crimes


The New Normal in N.Y.: High Virus Rates and a Steady Stream of Cases

As New York races to vaccinate residents while variants spread, the state’s positive test rate and case counts are likely to remain stable for a while.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #cuomo-andrew-m, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #new-york-state


Why Is It Busy on the Waterfront? Americans Are on a Shopping Spree.

Monthly cargo volumes at the Port of New York and New Jersey have set records and strained port operations.

#bobs-discount-furniture, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #freight-cargo, #international-trade-and-world-market, #lg-electronics, #new-jersey, #port-authority-of-new-york-and-new-jersey, #ports, #ships-and-shipping


Biden Administration Announces a Major Offshore Wind Plan

The White House said the program could create tens of thousands of new jobs while moving the country toward clean energy

#alternative-and-renewable-energy, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #bureau-of-ocean-energy-management-regulation-and-enforcement, #energy-and-power, #fishing-commercial, #global-warming, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #long-island-ny, #new-jersey, #united-states-politics-and-government, #wind-power


As Some States Limit Voting Rights, New Jersey Will Expand Them

New Jersey, a state controlled by Democrats, will offer more than a week of early in-person voting for the first time before November’s election.

#abrams-stacey-y, #elections, #law-and-legislation, #league-of-women-voters, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #national-assn-for-the-advancement-of-colored-people, #new-jersey, #politics-and-government, #presidential-election-of-2020


‘I’ve Lost a Lot of Faith’: Suburban Parents Push Schools to Reopen Faster

Frustration over pandemic reopening plans is growing in New Jersey’s affluent suburbs, where taxes are high and many students are barely in classrooms.

#american-enterprise-institute-for-public-policy-research, #american-rescue-plan-2021, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #davidson-college, #e-learning, #education-k-12, #education-week, #home-schooling, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #parenting, #private-and-sectarian-schools, #roman-catholic-church, #shutdowns-institutional, #teachers-and-school-employees


Judges Juggle Over 2,700 Cases Each as Families Wait for Day in Court

Short-handed and deluged by complex cases, New Jersey’s federal court is in a crisis. The backlog of cases has only gotten worse in the pandemic.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #federal-courts-us, #menendez-robert, #new-jersey, #salas-esther-1968, #trump-donald-j


BlockFi lands a $350M Series D at a $3B valuation for its fast-growing crypto-lending platform

If there were any doubt about a cryptocurrency boom, we need look no further than at the explosion of growth of certain companies in the space.

One such company is BlockFi, which today announced it has closed on a massive $350 million Series D funding that values it at $3 billion. While this news in and of itself is certainly attention-getting, it’s even more impressive when you consider the startup just raised a $50 million Series C last August at a $450 million valuation. The latest financing brings its total equity raised since inception to about $450 million, with the company raising $100 million across its seed and Series C rounds.

Zac Prince — who comes from a background in consumer lending —  founded BlockFi with Flori Marquez in 2017. The Jersey City, New Jersey-based startup raised $1.6 million in a seed round of funding that closed in 2018 and was led by ConsenSys Ventures and included participation from SoFi.  

Prince describes BlockFi as a financial services company for crypto market investors that offers a retail and institutional-facing suite of products. On the retail side of its platform, people can use its mobile app to earn a yield on their crypto holdings (6% on Bitcoin, 8.6% on stablecoins), buy and sell crypto and get low-cost loans secured by the value of their crypto portfolio “so they can get liquidity without selling,” he said. Specifically, clients can buy and sell digital assets (from Bitcoin, Ethereum and Link to Litecoin, PaxG and multiple stablecoins) directly on BlockFi.

The startup is also a lender and provider of trade execution services to institutions participating in digital asset markets. 

It’s a model that seems to be working in a big way. Since the end of 2019, BlockFi has seen its client base grow from 10,000 to more than 225,000. Today, BlockFi has 265,000 funded retail clients and over 200 institutional clients.

And it’s lent over $10 billion to its retail, corporate and institutional clients.

Over the past year, BlockFi has also accomplished the following:

  • Increased the number of assets on its platform to $15 billion, compared to $1 billion last March — with a 0% loss rate across its lending portfolio since inception.
  • Bumped its monthly revenue to over $50 million, up from $1.5 million a year prior.
  • Boosted its headcount to about 530 people, compared to 100 last March.

“In less than six months since we completed our Series C, Bitcoin and other digital assets have assumed a central role in many investors’ portfolios and in broader financial markets,” Prince said. “Our conviction that digital assets are the future of finance has been vindicated by our client base, which grew 10 times year over year in 2020 and has more than doubled since the end of 2020.”

New investor Bain Capital Ventures, partners of DST Global, Pomp Investments and Tiger Global co-led the Series D, which included participation from a slew of other firms including existing backer Valar Ventures, Breyer Capital, Susquehanna Government Products, Jump Capital and Paradigm, among many others. BlockFi employees who have been employed for more than one year have the opportunity to receive liquidity on a portion of their equity via a secondary tender offer as part of the financing round.  

BlockFi believes that investor enthusiasm for the Series D round reflects both the company’s strong business growth, as well as “broader conviction in cryptocurrencies as an asset class.” 

“Individual investors, institutional asset managers and corporate treasury departments are all exploring avenues to invest in cryptocurrencies,” the company said.

“Our goal for BlockFi has always been for it to facilitate cryptocurrencies going mainstream – and each day provides more evidence that is exactly what is occurring,” said Marquez, who serves as the company’s SVP of operations.

Bain Capital Ventures Partner Stefan Cohen agrees. He believes there are currently limited banking services available for crypto holders, which puts BlockFi in an opportune position.

“Bitcoin has already eclipsed $1 trillion in market cap and is likely headed higher to fulfill its store of value promise. As wealth accumulates to BTC holders, most will look for ways to earn yield or borrow against their holdings for more traditional asset purchases such as homes, cars and education,” he wrote via email. “BlockFi stands alone as the leader in bringing simple, secure, everyday financial services to cryptocurrency holders.”

The startup’s exponential growth over the past year proves “there was clearly a huge need for BlockFi’s services,” Cohen said.

“Their vision was to build an easy-to-use, trusted platform to bring cryptocurrency to the mainstream, and they’ve truly succeeded,” he added.

Meanwhile, Cohen said Bain Capital has had a long-term thesis on Bitcoin becoming a store of value and has actively invested in “picks-and-shovels businesses” that enable what is now a $1 trillion-plus market. 

“Trusted financial services are a critical pillar of the space, and we view it as a highly strategic component of the market,” he added.

Looking ahead, the startup has plans to launch in the second quarter a Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card, which will give BlockFi clients the ability to earn Bitcoin cash back on every transaction. It plans to use the new capital to continue growing its product suite, expand into new global markets and for strategic acquisitions. The company also plans to double its headcount by year’s end, according to Prince.

BlockFi already has a global presence and retail clients in over 100 countries. Last year, it opened institutional client service offices in London and Singapore.  This year, the startup is looking to add regional support in Europe, APAC and LatAm for its retail clients. 

Over the past week, BlockFi was making headlines for other reasons. The company was the victim of an “unusual assault” on March 7 when an attacker spammed the platform with fake sign-ups and abusive language.

To that end, the company acknowledges that it became aware that an unauthorized third party began attempting bulk sign-ups on its platform on March 7.

“We do not know the origin of the email addresses used for these ‘sign-ups’  but they did not come from us and they were not the emails of BlockFi clients,” the company told TechCrunch. “In general, we would characterize the event as vulgar spam’ and the total number of valid emails affected was less than 1,000.”

The company maintains that no data from BlockFi was accessed and its data was not compromised.  

“Our clients’ funds and data were safeguarded throughout the incident,” the company added. “Since then, our engineering and security teams have taken steps to prevent events like this from happening in the future. In addition, we reached out directly to all of the valid email recipients to apologize for the incident.”

#bain-capital-ventures, #bitcoin, #blockfi, #breyer-capital, #consensys, #consensys-ventures, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #cryptography, #currency, #digital-currencies, #dst-global, #finance, #financial-services, #funding, #fundings-exits, #jump-capital, #new-jersey, #paradigm, #recent-funding, #stablecoin, #startups, #tc, #tiger-global, #valar-ventures, #venture-capital


Why Black Women Are Rejecting Hospitals in Search of Better Births

Some mothers are seeking alternatives, worried about Covid-19 and racial inequities in health care.

#babies-and-infants, #black-people, #midwives-and-doulas, #new-jersey, #pregnancy-and-childbirth


Suburban Home Sales Soar in the New York Region

Lines of cars at open houses and multiple offers above the asking price, often all cash, have become a regular occurrence.

#connecticut, #long-island-ny, #manhattan-nyc, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #new-york-metropolitan-area, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #westchester-county-ny


New Jersey Sues Smith & Wesson Over Its Gun Advertising

The future of gun control may be at stake.

#apollo-global-management, #gensler-gary-s, #gun-control, #michaels-stores-inc, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #smithwesson-holding-corporation


Smith & Wesson Fights a Case in New Jersey. Gun Control Could Be the Winner.

A case in New Jersey about Smith & Wesson’s advertising could expose secrets that the industry would prefer to keep hidden.

#advertising-and-marketing, #grewal-gurbir-s, #gun-control, #law-and-legislation, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #smithwesson, #suits-and-litigation-civil


Bruce Springsteen to Appear in Federal Court on Drunken-Driving Charges

The singer-songwriter was expected to appear Wednesday morning by videoconference to face the charges in New Jersey.

#drunken-and-reckless-driving, #gateway-national-recreation-area, #national-park-service, #new-jersey, #obama-barack, #renegades-born-in-the-usa-radio-program, #springsteen-bruce, #super-bowl


Gov. Phil Murphy Unveils N.J. Budget Plan With No New Taxes

A $44.8 billion spending plan unveiled Tuesday by Gov. Phil Murphy calls for no new taxes and fully funds the state pension program for the first time since 1996.

#budgets-and-budgeting, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #elections-governors, #labor-and-jobs, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #stimulus-economic, #taxation, #unemployment, #united-states-economy


105-Year Old Woman Survived Spanish Flu, and Now, Coronavirus

Lucia DeClerck, the oldest resident of a New Jersey nursing home, tested positive for the virus on her 105th birthday, one day after her second vaccine shot.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #elderly, #lucia-declerck, #new-jersey, #nursing-homes, #pfizer-inc, #raisins, #vaccination-and-immunization


Marijuana Is Legal in New Jersey, but Sales Are Months Away

Legislation signed on Monday decriminalizes the use or possession of up to six ounces of cannabis, ending an era of disproportionate arrests in communities of color.

#drug-abuse-and-traffic, #law-and-legislation, #marijuana, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #new-york-state


Springsteen ‘Visibly Swaying’ Before Drunken-Driving Arrest, Police Say

Bruce Springsteen refused to provide a preliminary breath test, according to a National Park Service officer who said he watched the musician drink a shot of tequila.

#drunken-and-reckless-driving, #new-jersey, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #sandy-hook-nj, #springsteen-bruce


Jeep pulls Springsteen Super Bowl ad after news of his drunken-driving charge.

The two-minute spot featured the singer in the rural middle of the country, urging unity from a white Jeep.

#advertising-and-marketing, #drunken-and-reckless-driving, #jeep-division-of-fiat-chrysler, #new-jersey, #springsteen-bruce, #super-bowl


Bruce Springsteen Is Charged With D.W.I. on Sandy Hook

The rock musician was arrested on Nov. 14 in a federal recreational area. He was also charged with reckless driving.

#drunken-and-reckless-driving, #gateway-national-recreation-area, #new-jersey, #springsteen-bruce


What’s a Dance Theater Without an Audience?

A food pantry or a place to vote — or a place to make dance with different expectations: “What we’ve taken off the table is the pressure of the result.”

#abrons-arts-center, #brooklyn-academy-of-music, #chocolate-factory-the, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dancing, #danspace-project, #food-banks-and-pantries, #henry-street-settlement, #joyce-theater, #montclair-state-university, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #new-york-city-center-theater, #new-york-live-arts, #skirball-center-for-the-performing-arts, #theaters-buildings, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming


New York’s David Energy has raised $4.1 million to ‘build the Standard Oil of renewable energy’

“We intend to build the Standard Oil of renewable energy,” said James McGinniss, the co-founder and chief executive of David Energy, in a statement announcing the company’s new $19 million seed round of debt and equity funding. 

McGinniss’ company is aiming to boost renewable energy adoption and slash energy usage in the built environment by creating a service that operates on both sides of the energy marketplace.

The company combines energy management services for commercial buildings through the software it has developed with the ability to sell energy directly to customers in an effort to reduce the energy consumption and the attendant carbon footprint of the built environment.

The company’s software, Mycor, leverages building demand data and the assets that the building has at its disposal to shift user energy consumption to the times when renewable power is most available, and cheapest. 

It’s a novel approach to an old idea of creating environmental benefits by reducing energy consumption. Using its technology, David Energy tracks both the market price of energy and the energy usage by the buildings it manages. The company sells energy to customers at a fixed price and then uses its windows into energy markets and energy demand to make money off of the difference in power pricing.

That’s why the company needed to raise $15 million in a monthly revolving credit facility from Hartree Partners. So it could pay for the power its customers have bought upfront.

Image Credit: Getty Images

There are a number of tailwinds supporting the growth of a business like David Energy right now. Given the massive amounts of money that are being earmarked for energy conservation and energy efficiency upgrades, companies like David, which promise to manage energy consumption to reduce demand, are going to be huge beneficiaries.

“Looking at the macro shift and the attention being paid to things like battery storage and micro grids we do feel like we’re launching this at the perfect time,” said McGinniss. “We’re offering [customers] market rates and then rebating the savings back to them. They’re getting the software with a market energy supply contract and they are getting the savings back. It’s is bringing that whole bundled package together really brings it all together.”

In addition to the credit facility, the company also raised $4.1 million in venture financing from investors led by Equal Ventures and including Operator Partners, Box Group, Greycroft, Sandeep Jain and Xuan Yong of RigUp, returning angel investor Kiran Bhatraju of Arcadia, and Jason Jacobs’ recently launched My Climate Journey Collective, an early-stage climate tech fund. 

“Renewable energy generators are fundamentally different in their variable, distributed, and digitally-native nature compared to their fossil fuel predecessors while customer loads like heating and driving are shifting to electricity consumption from gas. The sands of market power are shifting and incumbents are poorly-positioned to adapt to evolving customer needs, so there’s a massive opportunity for us to capitalize.” 

Founded by McGinniss, Brian Maxwell and Ahmed Salman, David Energy raised $1.5 million in pre-seed financing back in March 2020.

As the company expands, its relationship with Hartree, an energy and commodities trading desk, will become even more important. As the startup noted, Hartree is the gateway that David needs to transact with energy markets. The trader provides a balance sheet for working capital to purchase energy on behalf of David’s customers.


“Renewables are causing fundamental shifts in energy markets, and new models and tools need to emerge,” said Dinkar Bhatia, Co-Head of North American Power at Hartree Partners. “James and the team have identified a significant opportunity in the market and have the right strategy to execute. Hartree is excited to be a commodity partner with David Energy on the launch of the new smart retail platform and is looking forward to helping make DE Supply the premier retailer in the market.”

David now has retail electricity licenses in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts and is looking to expand around the country.

“David energy stands to reinvent the way that hundreds of billions of dollars a year in energy are consumed,” said Equal Ventures investor Rick Zullo. “Business model creativity and finding ways to change user behavior with new models is just as important if not more important than the technology innovation itself.”

Zullo said his firm pitched David Energy on leading the round after years of looking for a commercial renewable energy startup. The core insight was finding a service that could appeal not to the new construction that already is working with top-of-the-line energy management systems, but with the millions of square feet that aren’t adopting the latest and greatest energy management systems.

“Finding something that will go and bring this to the mass market was something we had been on the hunt for really since the inception of Equal Ventures,” said Zullo.

The innovation that made David attractive was the business model. “There is a landscape of hundreds of dead companies,” Zullo said. “What they did was find a way to subsidize the service. They give away at low or no cost and move that in with line items. The partnership with Partree gives them the opportunity to be the cheapest and also the best for you and the highest margin regional energy provider in the market.”

#articles, #box-group, #energy, #energy-conservation, #energy-consumption, #energy-efficiency, #energy-industry, #energy-management, #equal-ventures, #greycroft, #logistics, #massachusetts, #new-jersey, #new-york, #operator-partners, #partner, #premier, #renewable-energy, #rick-zullo, #tc, #trader


‘One Property at a Time’: A City Tries to Revive Without Gentrifying

Neighborhoods in Newark are beginning to see a flurry of redevelopment, a decade after the city’s downtown gained vogue.

#abandonment-property, #affordable-housing, #amazon-com-inc, #area-planning-and-renewal, #baraka-ras, #beth-israel-medical-center, #building-construction, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #minorities, #new-jersey, #newark-nj, #nike-inc, #public-and-subsidized-housing, #real-estate-commercial, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #united-states-economy, #whole-foods-market-inc


A Winter Storm Is Set to Wallop the Northeast: What We Know

A nor’easter is expected to stall off the coast of New Jersey and may drop more than two inches of snow an hour in some parts of the region, the National Weather Service said.

#boston-mass, #central-park-manhattan-ny, #connecticut, #east-coast-us, #massachusetts, #national-weather-service, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #new-york-state, #northeastern-states-us, #rhode-island, #snow-and-snowstorms


He Can’t Carry a Tune, but Chang-rae Lee Has a Song to Sing

“My Year Abroad,” his sixth novel, is about letting yourself plunge into the world, even when it hurts. He’s been thinking about that a lot over these past, painful months.

#books-and-literature, #content-type-personal-profile, #korean-americans, #lee-chang-rae, #my-year-abroad-book, #new-jersey, #race-and-ethnicity, #suburbs, #writing-and-writers


Napoleon’s Brother Lived in N.J. Here’s What Happened to the Estate.

The site in Bordentown once harbored Joseph Bonaparte, a former king. A new partnership has ensured that its history won’t be forgotten.

#bonaparte-joseph-1768-1844, #bonaparte-napoleon, #bordentown-nj, #buildings-structures, #new-jersey, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas


29 Guards Suspended at a Women’s Prison Plagued by Sexual Violence

Inmates reported being beaten while handcuffed at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in New Jersey, the state’s only prison for women.

#edna-mahan-correctional-facility-for-women-clinton-nj, #justice-department, #new-jersey, #prison-guards-and-corrections-officers, #prisons-and-prisoners, #sex-crimes, #suicides-and-suicide-attempts, #transgender-and-transsexuals, #women-and-girls


Schools Were Set to Reopen. Then the Teachers’ Union Stepped In.

Students didn’t return to elementary schools in Montclair, N.J., as planned after a tense week of debate and a boycott of prep sessions by some educators.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #education-k-12, #montclair-nj, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #new-jersey-education-assn, #organized-labor, #shutdowns-institutional, #teachers-and-school-employees


‘The Word of the Year Is Fluid’: The Pandemic Brings a New Teaching Style

Like many districts nationwide, schools in Edison, N.J., are struggling to make hybrid instruction work.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #e-learning, #edison-nj, #edison-public-school-district, #education-k-12, #new-jersey, #workplace-hazards-and-violations


‘The Shining’ Scene, Stuff of Nightmares, Turns a Criminal Case Upside Down

A prosecutor erred by likening a man charged with robbing a bank to Jack Nicholson’s violent psychopath, New Jersey’s highest court ruled.

#bank-robberies, #movies, #new-jersey, #nicholson-jack


Marsha Zazula, ‘Metal Matriarch’ of Metallica and Others, Dies at 68

She and her husband founded Megaforce Records and introduced the world to heavy metal bands that became major stars.

#anthrax-music-group, #deaths-obituaries, #megaforce-records, #metallica-music-group, #new-jersey, #pop-and-rock-music, #zazula-jonny, #zazula-marsha-1952-2021


In New Jersey, Smokers Can Get Covid Vaccine

New Jersey is one of only two states that has included smoking among the high-risk medical conditions that make people eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #elderly, #medicine-and-health, #new-jersey, #nursing-homes, #smoking-and-tobacco, #states-us, #vaccination-and-immunization


Want a job in tech? Flockjay pitches its sales training service as an on-ramp to tech careers

“Most people don’t even know that a job in tech sales is even a possibility,” says Shaan Hathiramani, the founder and chief executive of Flockjay, a company offering a tech sales training curriculum to the masses.

Hathiramani sees his startup as an onramp to the tech industry for legions of workers who have the skillsets to work in tech, but lack the network to see themselves in the business. Just like coding bootcamps have enabled thousands to get jobs as programmers in the tech business, Flockjay can get talented people who had never considered a job in tech into the industry.

The company, which had previously raised $3 million from investors including Serena Williams and Will Smith, along with tech industry luminaries like Microsoft chairman John Thompson; Airtable head of sales Liat Bycel; Gmail inventor Paul Buchheit; and former Netflix CPO Tom Willerer, has just raised new capital to expand its business in a time when accelerated onramps to new jobs have never been more important.

The healthcare response to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, which has closed businesses and torn through the American economy. The unemployment rate in the country sits at 6.4% and the nation lost 140,000 jobs again in December — with all of those job losses coming from women.

A former financier with the multi-billion dollar investment firm, Citadel, Hathiramani sees Flockjay, and the business of tech sales as a way for a number of people to transform their lives.

“We provide a premier sales academy,” Hathiramani said. “It costs zero dollars if you take the course and don’t get a job and costs 10% of your income for the first year if you do get a job. That nets out to 6 or 7K.”

A few hundred students have gone through the program so far, Hathiramani said, and the goal is to train 1,000 people over the course of 2021. The average income of a student before they go through Flockjay’s training program is $30,000 to $35,000 typically, Hathiramani said.

Upon graduation, those students can expect to make between $75,000 and $85,000, he said.

Increasing access among those students who have not necessarily been exposed to the tech world is critical for what Hathiramani wants to do with his sales bootcamp.

Flockjay founder Shaan Hathiramani. Image Credit: Flockjay

The entrepreneur said roughly 40% of students don’t have a four-year college degree; half of the students identify as female or non-binary, and half of the company’s students identify as Black or hispanic. About 80% of the company’s students find a job within the first six months of graduation.

These are students like Elise Cox, a former Bojangles’ manager and Flockjay graduate, who moved from Georgia to Denver to be a sales tech representative for Gusto. Tripling her salary from $13 an hour in the food service industry to a salaried position with wages and benefits.

“I enjoy being able to generate revenue for the company,” Cox, a 41-year-old grandmother, whose five-year plans include a sales leadership role, told Fast Company two years ago. “The revenue is the lifeblood of the company and being part of the team gives me sense of fulfillment.”

Partnerships with Opportunity@Work, Hidden Genius Project, Peninsula Bridge, and TechHire Oakland, help to ensure a diverse pool of applicants and a more diverse workforce for the tech industry — where diversity is still a huge problem.

As Hathiramani looks to take his company from training a couple of hundred students to over a thousand, the founder has raised new cash from previous investors including Lightspeed, Coatue, and Y Combinator, and new investors like eVentures, Salesforce Ventures, along with the Impact America Fund, Cleo Capital and Gabrielle Union.

For the New Jersey-born entrepreneur, Flockjay was a way to give back to a community that he knew intimately. After his family settled in New Jersey after immigrating to the United States, Hathiramani went first to Horace Mann on a scholarship and then attended Harvard before getting his job at Citadel.

Even while he was working at the pinnacle of the financial services world he started non-profits like the Big Shoulders Fund and taught financial literacy.

After a while, he moved to the Bay Area to begin plotting a way to merge his twin interests in education and financial inclusion.

“That led to me spending a year helping startups for free and trying to understand their problems with hiring and training” said Hathiramani. “It helped me surface this economic waste in plain sight. There were all these people talking to customers and they were spending three months on the job learning the job and they didn’t want to do the job or they weren’t very good at it.”

Tech salesforces were a point of entry in the system that almost anyone could access, if they could get in through the door, Hathiramani said. Flockjay wants to be the key to opening the door.

So, the company now has $11 million in new funding to bring its sales training bootcamp to a larger audience. Hathiramani also wants to make the bootcamp model more of a community with continuous development after a student completes the program. “I view education as a membership and not a transaction,” he said. “We focus on continuous learning and continuous up-skilling.”

Part of that is the flywheel of building up networks in a manner similar to YCombinator, the accelerator program from which Flockjay graduated in 2019.

“We went through YC to learn… how they manufacture the privilege in the world that they have afforded,” said Hathiramani. “How do you take some of that and provide it to someone who is starting their careers in tech. You get better at your job the more connections you have. As we accelerate the alumni piece… they can draw on other alums that they’re selling into.”


#chairman, #cleo-capital, #coatue, #computing, #entrepreneur, #flockjay, #harvard, #impact-america-fund, #microsoft, #netflix, #new-jersey, #paul-buchheit, #salesforce, #salesforce-ventures, #tc, #tom-willerer, #united-states, #will-smith, #y-combinator


To Run and Take Notes at the Same Time

During a 24-hour race, I tried to interview as many of my fellow runners as possible early on, while we were fresh, excited and coherent.

#new-jersey, #running, #ultramarathon-running


To Run and Takes Notes At the Same Time

During a 24-hour race, I tried to interview as many of my fellow runners as possible early on, while we were fresh, excited and coherent.

#new-jersey, #running, #ultramarathon-running


‘Relapsing Left and Right’: Trying to Overcome Addiction in a Pandemic

Substance-abuse centers are shutting and relying on virtual programming, just as more and more people turn to drugs and alcohol.

#addiction-psychology, #alcohol-abuse, #alcoholics-anonymous, #anxiety-and-stress, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #loneliness, #mental-health-and-disorders, #new-jersey, #new-york-state


New Yorkers Who Fled Virus Are Returning Home, Warily

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers left the city when the pandemic struck and spent months living elsewhere. What did they learn?

#brooklyn-nyc, #families-and-family-life, #long-island-ny, #lynchburg-va, #new-jersey, #new-york-city, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #renting-and-leasing-real-estate


This Police Union Suspended 8 Members. Seven Are Black.

The union in a small New Jersey city punished the officers after they expressed support for two chiefs, both of whom are also Black.

#ainsworth-minott, #bergen-county-nj, #black-lives-matter-movement, #black-people, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #englewood-nj, #fraternal-order-of-police, #george-floyd-protests-2020, #new-jersey, #organized-labor, #police, #police-benevolent-assn, #race-and-ethnicity


Dear Santa, Why Are You Behind Plexiglass?

All over the country, the annual Christmas ritual for children looks and feels different this year.

#children-and-childhood, #christmas, #delaware, #new-jersey, #north-pole, #pennsylvania, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #santa-claus, #shopping-centers-and-malls


Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital closes on $100 million as the cannabis industry bounces back

Casa Verde Capital, the investment fund co-founded by cannabis connoisseur Snoop Dogg (also known as Calvin Broadus), has closed on $100 million for its second investment fund, according to documents filed with the SEC.

The fund, whose managing director, Karan Wadhera declined to comment for this article, has managed to raise more cash just as the market for cannabis-related products seems poised for another period of expansion.

“What happened to the public perception of the cannabis industry is not too dissimilar to the dotcom bubble of the late ’90s, where there was a lot of hype — a lot of it driven by public companies — and a lot of speculative trading and valuations that weren’t really founded in reality. [We’re talking about] projections multiple years out into the future, and then crazy revenue multiples on top of that,” Wadhera said of the last bust when he spoke to TechCrunch in July. “Things just got really frothy, and that eventually burst, and last April or May was sort of the apex of that moment. It’s when things started to trade off. And it’s been those names, the public names in particular, that have been hit particularly hard.”

Since then, the industry has come roaring back.

“Sitting here today, four-plus months into COVID, cannabis has really proved itself to be a non-cyclical industry. Cannabis has been deemed an essential business everywhere across the U.S. We had record sales in March, April and May, and the trend has continued,” Wadhera said in July. “And now that we are getting into an environment where governments are going to be looking for additional sources of tax revenue, the potential urgency around cannabis legalization is going to be there, which is going to be massively positive for the industry.”

There’s no indication of the target for the new venture capital fund, but with the new fundraising, Casa Verde more than doubles the size of its initial investment vehicle.

Since Broadus, Wadhera and a third partner and the founder of Cashmere Agency and Stampede Management Ted Chung launched their debut fund in 2018, weed businesses have endured a roller-coaster business cycle of boom and bust.

In spite of those market vagaries, Casa Verde has managed to build a portfolio that is now worth at least $200 million, according to people with knowledge of the firm. That money has come through several special purpose vehicles and other fundraising mechanisms raised alongside the flagship fund.

The overall market for cannabis and cannabinoid derivatives is expected to hit $34 billion by 2025 according to an analyst report seen by TechCrunch from the investment bank Cowen.

With Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota all passing adult-use cannabis legalization measures in their states, the investment bank predicted roughly 30 percent growth to their total addressable market estimates.

For its part, Casa Verde has always taken a broad view on the potential addressable market that cannabis and its chemical compounds could capture.

Nowhere is that more on view than in the firm’s latest investment in the sleep company, Proper.


“[Cannabis] is an input as well and its use case will go beyond how people think of cannabis stigmatically,” Wadhera said. “At its core, [Proper] is a company that’s helping us target this sleep epidemic. We think CBD and cannabis at large can play a big role in addressing that in a way that traditional products haven’t been able to.”

And what’s true for sleep is true for a number of other different applications as well, Wadhera has said in the past.

Casa Verde has already invested heavily across the pure-play opportunities in cannabis, with investments spanning delivery, supply chain logistics, brands, and retail.

But the health benefits that cannabinoids could have for all kinds of ailments open up a much larger market — as do the broad consumer opportunities should Congress accede to the wishes of more than 60 percent of the American electorate and legalize recreational cannabis use nationally.

And, as Wadhera told us in July, a Biden administration presents a potentially much more positive regulatory environment for the industry than the previous Trump administration did.

“I think Biden will be very helpful. He has laid out many of the things that he wants, and [while] he isn’t taking it as far as full-scale legalization, he’s certainly in favor of full-scale decriminalization, [meaning] letting states have full authority over what happens with their businesses, and also the rescheduling of cannabis down from the current Schedule 1 level,” Wadhera had said. “So all of that will be incredibly helpful and will bring a lot more players who will feel comfortable investing in the space and, potentially, acquiring some of these businesses, too.”


#analyst, #arizona, #biden, #biden-administration, #calvin, #casa-verde-capital, #congress, #cowen, #karan-wadhera, #montana, #musicians, #new-jersey, #proper, #retail, #securities-and-exchange-commission, #snoop-dogg, #tc, #ted-chung, #trump-administration, #united-states, #venture-capital


N.J. Approves $14 Billion in Corporate Tax Breaks in Less Than a Week

The incentive package was pushed by Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a progressive Democrat who has railed against similar tax breaks in the past. His allies are not happy.

#corporate-taxes, #corporations, #law-and-legislation, #new-jersey, #state-legislatures, #tax-credits-deductions-and-exemptions


Missing Fort Drum Soldier Is Found Dead in New Jersey

Cpl. Hayden Allen Harris’s body was found in a remote part of Sussex County, N.J. A fellow soldier was in custody and was expected to be charged in connection with his death, the authorities said.

#byram-nj, #extradition, #fort-drum-ny, #hayden-allen-harris, #jamaal-mellish, #kidnapping-and-hostages, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #new-jersey, #united-states-army, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #watertown-ny


It Was a Landmark Crime Bill. Then a State Senator Added a Special Favor.

The clause to weaken penalties for official misconduct in New Jersey was added by a powerful Democrat whose girlfriend’s son faces five years in prison.

#criminal-justice, #grewal-gurbir-s, #law-and-legislation, #mandatory-sentencing, #murphy-philip-d-1957, #new-jersey, #politics-and-government, #prisons-and-prisoners, #sentences-criminal, #state-legislatures, #stier-edwin-h


Mobster Pleads in Plot Against ‘Real Housewives’ Boyfriend, U.S. Says

A man who was dating a former New Jersey “housewife” was beaten up. Her ex-husband asked a Lucchese crime family member to commit the assault, prosecutors say.

#luchese-crime-family, #new-jersey, #organized-crime, #reality-television, #the-real-housewives-of-new-jersey-tv-program


Inside the Race to Give the First Vaccinations in the United States

Hospitals around the country scrambled to administer the first shots after waiting months for the coronavirus vaccine.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #cuomo-andrew-m, #hospitals, #new-jersey, #new-york-state, #northwell-health, #nursing-and-nurses, #queens-nyc, #vaccination-and-immunization