A Stanford Student Mocked the Federalist Society. It Jeopardized His Graduation.

The Stanford student sent a satirical flier that drew a complaint from the conservative group. The university then placed a hold on his diploma.

#colleges-and-universities, #comedy-and-humor, #conservatism-us-politics, #conway-george-t-iii, #demonstrations-protests-and-riots, #elections-attorneys-general, #federalist-society, #freedom-of-speech-and-expression, #hawley-josh-d-1979, #law-schools, #paxton-ken, #stanford-university, #storming-of-the-us-capitol-jan-2021, #tribe-laurence-h, #united-states-politics-and-government

0

Jeeves emerges from stealth with $131M in debt and equity and a16z as a lead investor

Jeeves, which is building an “all-in-one expense management platform” for global startups, is emerging from stealth today with $131 million in total funding, including $31 million in equity and $100 million in debt financing. 

The $31 million in equity consists of a new $26 million Series A and a previously unannounced $5 million seed round.

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) led the Series A funding, which also included participation from YC Continuity Fund, Jaguar Ventures, Urban Innovation Fund, Uncorrelated Ventures, Clocktower Ventures, Stanford University, 9 Yards Capital and BlockFi Ventures.

A high-profile group of angel investors also put money in the round, including NFL wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the founders of five LatAm unicorns — Nubank CEO David Velez, Kavak CEO Carlos Garcia, Rappi co-founder Sebastian Mejia, Bitso CEO Daniel Vogel and Loft CEO Florian Hagenbuch. Justo’s Ricardo Weder also participated in this round and Plaid co-founder William Hockey put money in the $5 million seed funding that closed in 2020 after the company completed the YC Summer 2020 batch.

The “fully remote” Jeeves describes itself as the first “cross country, cross currency” expense management platform. The startup’s offering is currently live in Mexico — its largest market — as well as Colombia, Canada and the U.S., and is currently beta testing in Brazil and Chile. 

Dileep Thazhmon and Sherwin Gandhi founded Jeeves last year under the premise that startups have traditionally had to rely on financial infrastructure that is local and country-specific. For example, a company with employees in Mexico and Colombia would require multiple vendors to cover its finance function in each country — a corporate card in Mexico and one in Colombia and another vendor for cross-border payments.

Image Credits: Left to right: Jeeves co-founders Dileep Thazhmon and Sherwin Gandhi

Jeeves claims that by using its platform, any company can spin up their finance function “in minutes” and get access to 30 days of credit on a true corporate card, noncard payment rails, as well as cross-border payments. Customers can also pay back in multiple currencies, reducing FX (foreign transaction) fees.

“We’re building an all-in-one expense management platform for startups in LatAm and global markets — cash, corporate cards, cross-border — all run on our own infrastructure,” Thazhmon said. 

“We’re really building two things — an infrastructure layer that sits across banking institutions in different countries. And then on top of that, we’re building the customer-, or end user-facing app,” he added. “What gives us the ability to launch in countries much quicker is that we own part of that stack ourselves, versus what most fintechs would do, which is plug into a third-party provider in that region.” 

Image Credits: Jeeves

Indeed, the company has seen rapid early growth. Since launching its private beta last October, Jeeves says it has grown its transaction volume (GTV) by 200x and increased revenue by 900% (albeit from a small base). In May alone, Jeeves says it processed more transaction volume than the entire year to date, and more than doubled its customer base. It says that “hundreds of companies,” including Bitso, Belvo, Justo, Runa, Worky, Zinboe, RobinFood and Muncher, “actively” use Jeeves to manage their local and international spend. On top of that, it says, the startup has a waitlist of more than 5,000 companies — which is part of why the company sought to raise debt and equity.

The shift to remote work globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic has played a large role in why Jeeves has seen so much demand, according to Thazhmon.

“Every company is now becoming a global company, and the service to employees in two different countries requires two different systems,” he said. “And then someone’s got to reconcile that system at the end of the month. This has been a big reason why we’re growing so fast.”

One of Jeeves’ biggest accomplishments so far, Thazhmon said, has been receiving approval to issue cards from its own credit BIN (bank identification number) in Mexico. It can also run SPEI payments directly on its infrastructure. (SPEI is a system developed and operated by Banco de México that allows the general public to make electronic payments.)

“This gives us a lot of flexibility and allows us to offer a truly unique product to our customers,” said Thazhmon, who previously co-founded PowerInbox, a
Battery Ventures-backed MarTech company that he says grew to $40 million in annual revenue in three years.

Jeeves says it will use the fresh capital to onboard new companies to the platform from its waitlist, scale its infrastructure to cover more countries and currencies as well as do some hiring and expand its product line.

A16z General Partner Angela Strange, who is joining Jeeves’ board as part of the investment, is extremely bullish on the startup’s potential.

Strange says she met Thazhmon about a year ago and was immediately intrigued.

“Not only were they working to provide the financial operating system within a country, starting in Mexico, they were designing their software platform to scale across multiple countries,” she said. “Finally — a multicountry/currency expense management & payouts platform, where increasingly companies have employees and operations in multiple countries from the start and can use a single company to manage their financials.”

Strange, who has been investing in Latin America for the past few years, notes that most companies in the region are unable to get a corporate credit card.

“That’s only the tip of the iceberg,” she told TechCrunch. “It’s cumbersome for companies to make bank to bank payouts, handle wires, and they usually also have expenses in the U.S. (and often other countries) so there is also FX. And they manage multiple bank accounts. Not only is paying hard, reconciliation on the backend takes weeks.”

As such, Strange said, with every country having their own bank transfer system, rules around who can issue a credit card, approved payment processors, currencies and bank accounts — payments and expense management across countries can be complex.

Jeeves, according to Strange, “gets as close to the networks/payment rails as possible” since it has its own issuing credit BIN versus needing to connect through legacy players.

Providing an orchestration layer on top of all the rails gives Jeeves the ability “to handle all the payment and reconciliation complexity” so “their customers don’t have to think about it,” she added.

 

#a16z, #andreessen-horowitz, #andressen-horowitz, #angela-strange, #apps, #bank, #banking, #bitso, #brazil, #canada, #chile, #clocktower-ventures, #colombia, #credit-card, #daniel-vogel, #david-velez, #expense-management, #finance, #financial-infrastructure, #financial-services, #funding, #fundings-exits, #jaguar-ventures, #jeeves, #latin-america, #mexico, #money, #national-football-league, #nfl, #nubank, #online-payments, #operating-system, #payment-card, #payments, #profile, #rappi, #recent-funding, #runa, #software-platform, #stanford-university, #startup, #startups, #tc, #uncorrelated-ventures, #united-states, #urban-innovation-fund, #venture-capital, #william-hockey

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Experts from Toyota, Ford and Hyundai will discuss automotive robotics at TC Sessions: Mobility

The events of the past year have only served to accelerate interest in all things robotics and automation. It’s a phenomenon we’ve seen across a broad range of categories, and automotive is certainly no different.

Of course, carmakers are no strangers to the world of robotics. Automation has long played a key role in manufacturing, and more recently, robotics have played another central role in the form of self-driving vehicles. For this panel, however, we’re going to look past those much-discussed categories. Of late, carmakers have been investing heavily to further fuel innovation in the category.

It’s a fascinating space – and one that covers a broad range of cross-sections, from TRI’s (Toyota) Woven City project to Ford’s recent creation of a research facility at U of M to Hyundai’s concept cars and acquisition of Boston Dynamics. At TC Sessions: Mobility on June 9, we will be joined by a trio of experts from those companies for what’s sure to be a lively discussion on the topic.

Max Bajracharya is Vice President of Robotics at Toyota Research Institute. Previously serving as its Director of Robotics, he leads TRI’s work in robotics. He previously served at Alphabet’s X, as part of the Google Robotics team.

Mario Santillo is a Technical Expert at Ford. Previously serving as a Research Engineer for the company, he’s charged with helping lead the company’s efforts at a recently announced $75 million research facility at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The work includes both Ford’s own robotics work, as well as partnerships with startups like Agility.

Ernestine Fu is a director at Hyundai Motor Group. She heads development at the newly announced New Horizons Studio, a group tasked with creating Ultimate Mobility Vehicles (UMVs). She also serves as an adjunct professor at Stanford University, where she received a BS, MS, MBA and PhD.

Get ready to talk robots at TC Sessions: Mobility. Grab your passes right now for $125 and hear from today’s biggest mobility leaders before our prices go up at the door.

 

#alphabet, #boston-dynamics, #companies, #director, #engines, #ernestine-fu, #google, #hyundai-motor-group, #manufacturing, #max-bajracharya, #michigan, #new-horizons, #robot, #stanford-university, #tc, #toyota, #toyota-research-institute, #university-of-michigan

0

Brazilian proptech startup QuintoAndar lands $300M at a $4B valuation

Fintech and proptech are two sectors that are seeing exploding growth in Latin America, as financial services and real estate are two categories in particular dire need of innovation in a region.

Brazil’s QuintoAndar, which has developed a real estate marketplace focused on rentals and sales, has seen impressive growth in recent years. And today, the São Paulo-based proptech has announced it has closed on $300 million in a Series E round of funding that values it at an impressive $4 billion.

The round is notable for a few reasons. For one, the valuation – high by any standards but especially for a LatAm company – represents an increase of four times from when QuintoAndar raised a $250 million Series D in September 2019.

It’s also noteworthy who is backing the company. Silicon Valley-based Ribbit Capital led its Series E financing, which also included participation from SoftBank’s LatAm-focused Innovation Fund, LTS, Maverik, Alta Park, an undisclosed US-based asset manager fund with over $2 trillion in AUM, Kaszek Ventures, Dragoneer and Accel partner Kevin Efrusy.

Having backed the likes of Coinbase, Robinhood and CreditKarma, Ribbit Capital has historically focused on early-stage investments in the fintech space. Its bet on QuintoAndar represents clear faith in what the company is building, as well as its confidence in the startup’s plans to branch out from its current model into a one-stop real estate shop that also offers mortgage, title, insurance and escrow services.

The latest round brings QuintoAndar’s total raised since its 2013 inception to $635 million.

Ribbit Capital Partner Nick Huber said Quintoandar has over the years built “a unique and trusted brand in Brazil” for those looking for a place to call home.

“Whether you are looking to buy or to rent, QuintoAndar can support customers through the entire transaction process: from browsing verified inventory to signing the final contracts,” Huber told TechCrunch. “The ability to serve customers’ needs through each phase of life and to do so from start to finish is a unique capability, both in Brazil and around the world.”

QuintoAndar describes itself as an “end-to-end solution for long-term rentals” that, among other things, connects potential tenants to landlords and vice versa. Last year, it expanded also into connecting a home buyers to sellers.

Image Credits: QuintoAndar

TechCrunch spoke with co-founder and CEO Gabriel Braga and he shared details around the growth that has attracted such a bevy of high-profile investors.

Like most other businesses around the world, QuintoAndar braced itself for the worst when the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year – especially considering one core piece of its business is to guarantee rents to the landlords on its platform.

“In the beginning, we were afraid of the implications of the crisis but we were able to honor our commitments,” Braga said. “In retrospect, the pandemic was a big test for our business model and it has validated the strength and defensibility of our binsess on the credit side and reinforced our value proposition to tenants and landlords. So after the initial scary moments, we actually felt even more confident in the business that we are building.”

QuintoAndar describes itself as “a distant market leader” with more than 100,000 rentals under management and about 10,000 new rentals per month. Its rental platform is live in 40 cities across Brazil, while its homebuying marketplace is live in 4. Part of its plans with the new capital is to expand into new markets within Brazil, as well as in Latin America as a whole.

The startup claims that, in less than a year, QuintoAndar managed to aggregate the largest inventory among digital transactional platforms. It now offers more than 60,000 properties for sale across Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belho Horizonte and Porto Alegre. To give greater context around the company’s growth of that side of its platform: in its first year of operation, QuintoAndar closed more than 1,000 transactions. It has now surpassed the mark of 8,000 transactions in annualized terms, growing between 50% and 100% quarter over quarter.

As for the rentals side of its business, Braga said QuintoAndar has more than 100,000 rentals under management and is closing about 10,000 new rentals per month. The company is not profitable as it’s focused on growth, although it is unit economics are particularly favorable in certain markets such as Sao Paulo, which is financing some of its growth in other cities, according to Braga.

Now, the 2,000-person company is looking to begin its global expansion with plans to enter the Mexican market later this year. With that, Braga said QuintoAndar is looking to hire “top-tier” talent from all over.

“We want to invest a lot in our product and tech core,” he said. “So we’re trying to bring in more senior people from abroad, on a global basis.”

Some history

CEO Braga and CTO André Penha came up with the idea for QuintoAndar after receiving their MBAs at Stanford University. As many startups do, the company was founded out of Braga’s personal “nightmare” of an experience – in this case, of trying to rent an apartment in Sao Paulo.

The search process, he recalls, was difficult as there was not enough information available online and renters were forced to provide a guarantor, or co-signer, from the same city or pay rent insurance, which Braga described as “very expensive.”

“Overall, I felt it was a very inefficient and fragmented process with no transparency or tech,” Braga told me at the time of the company’s last raise. “There was all this friction and high cost involved, just real tangible problems to solve.”

The concept for QuintoAndar (which can be translated literally to “Fifth Floor” in Portuguese) was born.

“Little by little, we created a platform that consolidated supply and inventory in a uniform way,” Braga said.

The company took the search phase online for the first time, according to Braga. It also eliminated the need for tenants to provide a guarantor, thereby saving them money. On the other side, QuintoAndar also works to help protect the landlord with the guarantee that they will get their rent “on time every month,” Braga said.

It’s been interesting watching the company evolve and grow over time, just as it’s been fascinating seeing the region’s startup scene mature and shine in recent years.

#articles, #brazil, #coinbase, #cto, #finance, #financial-services, #funding, #fundings-exits, #kaszek-ventures, #kevin-efrusy, #latin-america, #player, #property-technology, #proptech, #quintoandar, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #renting, #ribbit-capital, #sao-paulo, #series-e, #silicon-valley, #softbank, #stanford-university, #startup, #startups, #techcrunch, #technology, #venture-capital

0

Yes, Steinbeck Wrote a Werewolf Novel. Don’t Expect to Read It.

A scholar of American literature at Stanford says it’s worth publishing. The agents representing the Steinbeck estate strongly disagree.

#books-and-literature, #manuscripts, #occult-sciences, #ransom-harry-center-the-university-of-texas-at-austin, #souder-william, #stanford-university, #steinbeck-john, #writing-and-writers

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Associated Press Begins Review of Social Media Policy After Emily Wilder Firing

The news agency known for unbiased journalism faces criticism from its own staff after a young news associate was dismissed.

#associated-press, #news-and-news-media, #social-media, #stanford-university, #wilder-emily

0

USWNT’s Catarina Macario Is Just Getting Started

Born in Brazil, developed in the United States and now a pro headed to an important pre-Olympic camp, the 21-year-old forward is proving she belongs alongside the world’s best players.

#andonovski-vlatko, #content-type-personal-profile, #macario-catarina, #olympique-lyonnais-soccer-team, #rapinoe-megan, #soccer, #stanford-university, #united-states-womens-national-soccer-team

0

How City Hall in New York City Saved Local News

City agencies are spending at least half of their ad budgets on local newspapers and websites. 

#adams-eric-l, #advertising-and-marketing, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #budgets-and-budgeting, #chicago-ill, #city-council-nyc, #corp-for-public-broadcasting, #de-blasio-bill, #executive-orders-and-memorandums, #federal-budget-us, #garcia-kathryn, #minorities, #new-york-city, #new-york-state, #news-and-news-media, #newspapers, #online-advertising, #politics-and-government, #stanford-university, #state-legislatures, #university-of-north-carolina, #wiley-maya

0

The Kids Are Making ‘Marriage Pacts’ to Distract Themselves From Doom

A dating questionnaire that started as an undergraduate assignment at Stanford has taken off on college campuses.

#colleges-and-universities, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dating-and-relationships, #marriages, #online-dating, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #stanford-university

0

Stanford, Facing Pressure, Reverses Plan to Cut 11 Sports

The change of plans came within weeks of the teams potentially dissolving.

#colleges-and-universities, #fencing-sport, #rowing, #stanford-university, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #tessier-lavigne-marc, #volleyball

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Geothermal technology has enormous potential to power the planet and Fervo wants to tap it

Tapping the geothermal energy stored beneath the Earth’s surface as a way to generate renewable power is one of the new visions for the future that’s captured the attention of environmentalists and oil and gas engineers alike.

That’s because it’s not only a way to generate power that doesn’t rely on greenhouse gas emitting hydrocarbons, but because it uses the same skillsets and expertise that the oil and gas industry has been honing and refining for years.

At least that’s what drew former the former completion engineer (it’s not what it sounds like) Tim Latimer to the industry and to launch Fervo Energy, the Houston-based geothermal tech developer that’s picked up funding from none other than Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures (that fund… is so busy) and former eBay executive, Jeff Skoll’s Capricorn Investment Group.

With the new $28 million cash in hand Fervo’s planning on ramping up its projects which Latimer said would “bring on hundreds of megawatts of power in the next few years.”

Latimer got his first exposure to the environmental impact of power generation as a kid growing up in a small town outside of Waco, Texas near the Sandy Creek coal power plant, one of the last coal-powered plants to be built in the U.S.

Like many Texas kids, Latimer came from an oil family and got his first jobs in the oil and gas industry before realizing that the world was going to be switching to renewables and the oil industry — along with the friends and family he knew — could be left high and dry.

It’s one reason why he started working on Fervo, the entrepreneur said.

“What’s most important, from my perspective, since I started my career in the oil and gas industry is providing folks that are part of the energy transition on the fossil fuel side to work in the clean energy future,” Latimer said. “I’ve been able to go in and hire contractors and support folks that have been out of work or challenged because of the oil price crash… And I put them to work on our rigs.”

Fervo Energy chief executive, Tim Latimer, pictured in a hardhat at one fo the company’s development sites. Image Credit: Fervo Energy

When the Biden administration talks about finding jobs for employees in the hydrocarbon industry as part of the energy transition, this is exactly what they’re talking about.

And geothermal power is no longer as constrained by geography, so there’s a lot of abundant resources to tap and the potential for high paying jobs in areas that are already dependent on geological services work, Latimer said (late last year, Vox published a good overview of the history and opportunity presented by the technology).

“A large percentage of the world’s population actually lives next to good geothermal resources,” Latimer said. “25 countries today that have geothermal installed and producing and another 25 where geothermal is going to grow.” 

Geothermal power production actually has a long history in the Western U.S. and in parts of Africa where naturally occurring geysers and steam jets pouring from the earth have been obvious indicators of good geothermal resources, Latimer said.

Fervo’s technology unlocks a new class of geothermal resource that is ready for large-scale deployment. Fervo’s geothermal systems use novel techniques, including horizontal drilling, distributed fiber optic sensing, and advanced computational modelling, to deliver more repeatable and cost effective geothermal electricity,” Latimer wrote in an email. “Fervo’s technology combines with the latest advancements in Organic Rankine Cycle generation systems to deliver flexible, 24/7 carbon-free electricity.”

Initially developed with a grant from the TomKat Center at Stanford University and a fellowship funded by Activate.org at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Cyclotron Road division, Fervo has gone on to score funding from the DOE’s Geothermal Technology Office and ARPA-E to continue work with partners like Schlumberger, Rice University and the Berkeley Lab.

The combination of new and old technology is opening vast geographies to the company to potentially develop new projects.

Other companies are also looking to tap geothermal power to drive a renewable power generation development business. Those are startups like Eavor, which has the backing of energy majors like bp Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, Temasek, BDC Capital, Eversource and Vickers Venture Partners; and other players including GreenFire Energy, and Sage Geosystems.

Demand for geothermal projects is skyrocketing, opening up big markets for startups that can nail the cost issue for geothermal development. As Latimer noted, from 2016 to 2019 there was only one major geothermal contract, but in 2020 there were ten new major power purchase agreements signed by the industry. 

For all of these projects, cost remains a factor. Contracts that are being signed for geothermal that are in the $65 to $75 per megawatt range, according to Latimer. By comparison, solar plants are now coming in somewhere between $35 and $55 per megawatt, as The Verge reported last year

But Latimer said the stability and predictability of geothermal power made the cost differential palatable for utilities and businesses that need the assurance of uninterruptible power supplies. As a current Houston resident, the issue is something that Latimer has an intimate experience with from this year’s winter freeze, which left him without power for five days.

Indeed, geothermal’s ability to provide always-on clean power makes it an incredibly attractive option. In a recent Department of Energy study, geothermal could meet as much as 16% of the U.S. electricity demand, and other estimates put geothermal’s contribution at nearly 20% of a fully decarbonized grid.

“We’ve long been believers in geothermal energy but have waited until we’ve seen the right technology and team to drive innovation in the sector,” said Ion Yadigaroglu of Capricorn Investment Group, in a statement.  “Fervo’s technology capabilities and the partnerships they’ve created with leading research organizations make them the clear leader in the new wave of geothermal.”

Fervo Energy drilling site. Image Credit: Fervo Energy

#africa, #alternative-energy, #articles, #berkeley-lab, #biden-administration, #bp-ventures, #capricorn-investment-group, #chevron-technology-ventures, #department-of-energy, #ebay, #energy, #engineer, #entrepreneur, #executive, #fiber-optic, #geothermal-energy, #greenhouse-gas, #houston, #jeff-skoll, #renewable-energy, #rice-university, #schlumberger, #stanford-university, #tc, #temasek, #texas, #united-states, #vickers-venture-partners

0

Alchemy raises $80M at a $505M valuation to be the ‘AWS for blockchain’

Blockchain developer platform Alchemy announced today it has raised $80 million in a Series B round of funding led by Coatue and Addition, Lee Fixel’s new fund. The company previously raised a total of $15.5 million, so the latest financing brings its total raised to $95.5 million since it launched in 2017.

The latest round caught our attention for a few reasons.

First, the company, which describes itself as the backend technology behind the blockchain industry, went from public launch to a $505 million valuation in a matter of just eight months. During that time, Alchemy says it powered over $30 billion in transactions for tens of millions of users all over the world. Second, the startup says it also already powering the majority of the NFT industry.

And finally, its investors in the round include a high-profile mix of institutions and individuals such as DFJ Growth, K5 Global, the Chainsmokers, actor Jared Leto and the Glazer family (owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Manchester United). They joined existing backers including Yahoo co-founder and former CEO Jerry Yang, Pantera Capital, Coinbase, SignalFire, Samsung, Stanford University, Google chairman and Stanford University President John L. Hennessy, Charles Schwab, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and others.

Sources with inside knowledge of Alchemy’s operations tell TechCrunch that the company has already grown its business more than eightfold since it signed the Series B term sheet. They also said Alchemy had over $300 million of investor demand wanting to enter the round and is being inbounded to do another financing at “many times” the current valuation.

TechCrunch talked with Alchemy co-founders Nikil Viswanathan (CEO) and Joe Lau (CTO) about the raise and their passion for the startup’s mission was clear. As is its explosive growth.

“We realized that in order for space to thrive and build to its full potential, we needed to build a developer platform layer for blockchain,” Viswanathan told TechCrunch.

Alchemy’s goal is to be the starting place for developers considering to build a product on top of a blockchain or mainstream blockchain applications. Its developer platform aims to remove the complexity and costs of building infrastructure while improving applications through “necessary” developer tools.

The startup powers a range of transactions across nearly every blockchain vertical, including financial institutions, exchanges, billion-dollar decentralized finance projects and multinational organizations such as UNICEF. It has also quickly become the technology behind every major NFT platform, including Makersplace, OpenSea, Nifty Gateway, SuperRare and CryptoPunks.  

“Every time you open DoorDash, you’re using Amazon’s infrastructure,” Lau said. “Every time you interact with an NFT, you’re using Alchemy. It’s being powered by Alchemy underneath the hood.”

While the pair would not provide hard revenue figures, the company – which operates as a SaaS business – says it increased its revenue by 600% in 2020.

For inside players, Alchemy’s efforts are paving the way for the whole industry. 

“The cryptoeconomy is innovating faster than any technological movement that came before it, and Alchemy has been a key driver of that,” said Coinbase President and COO Emilie Choi. “Alchemy enables developers to build the rich ecosystem of applications necessary for mainstream blockchain adoption.”

Pantera Capital’s Paul Veradittakit describes Alchemy as “the Amazon Web Services (AWS) of the blockchain industry” that is “enabling the vision of a decentralized web.”

“While in Web 2.0, Microsoft, Apple and AWS are three of the most valuable companies in the world because they are the developer platform powering the computer and internet industries, Alchemy is primed to do the same for the blockchain,” he said.

The company believes the comparison to AWS is fair, noting that: “Just as AWS provides the platform that powers Uber, Netflix and much of the technology industry, Alchemy powers infrastructure for many large players in the blockchain industry.”

Alchemy plans to use its new capital to expand its developer platform to new blockchains, fuel global expansion and to open new offices in the U.S. and globally. The startup is based in San Francisco and is planning to open an office in New York.  

“We are going to use the funds to support new chains with our developer platform,” Viswanathan said. “We also expect to 5x the team this year.”

But to be clear, Alchemy prides itself on being lean and mean.

“We just went from 14 to 22 employees,” Lau said. “We have intentionally wanted to keep the team as small as possible.”

The blockchain space has been the subject of increased investor interest as of late.

In March, BlockFi, which describes itself a financial services company for crypto market investors, announced it had closed on a massive $350 million Series D funding that valued it at $3 billion. Also last month, Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis company, revealed the close of $100 million in Series D financing, which doubled its valuation to over $2 billion.

#alchemy, #amazon, #amazon-web-services, #apple, #articles, #bank, #bitcoin, #blockchain, #ceo, #chairman, #charles-schwab, #co-founder, #coinbase, #computing, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #cto, #decentralization, #dfj-growth, #doordash, #driver, #emilie-choi, #funding, #fundings-exits, #google, #jared-leto, #jerry-yang, #linkedin, #manchester-united, #microsoft, #netflix, #new-york, #nikil-viswanathan, #pantera-capital, #president, #recent-funding, #reid-hoffman, #saas, #samsung, #san-francisco, #stanford-university, #startup, #startups, #tc, #technology, #uber, #united-states, #venture-capital, #yahoo

0

Imagine, Surgery Without a Scar

A new study shows that a 20-year-old drug prevents scarring in mice. If it works on humans, it could change the lives of those with disfiguring wounds.

#burns, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #gurtner-geoffrey, #longaker-michael, #research, #science-journal, #skin, #stanford-university, #surgery-and-surgeons

0

Injective Protocol raises $10M from Pantera Capital, Mark Cuban for its ‘DeFi Robinhood’

Back in December last year Injective Protocol, launched the testnet for its DeFi protocols for cross-chain derivatives trading, with backing from giant crypto exchange Binance. It has now raised $10 million in a “party” funding round. Participating in the round was Pantera Capital, BlockTower, Hashed, Cadenza Ventures (formerly BitMex Ventures), CMS, and QCP Capital. Billionaire NBA team owner and Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban has also made a strategic investment into Injective, according to my sources.

Injective’s main competitors (centralized and decentralized exchanges) include CME Group, BitMEX, LedgerX and OKEx, among others. The advantage of the approach used by Injective (it says) combines the advantages of decentralized exchanges: resistance to front running, scams, and hacks, with the speed, low transaction fees, and no gas fees associated with centralized platforms. Developers can also create their own derivatives and markets to trade.

Eric Chen, CEO of Injective Protocol said in a statement: “Legacy institutions and practices create a number of artificial delays and middlemen that prevent innovation in the financial markets ecosystem. At Injective, our goal is to enable an unparalleled decentralized trading experience, whereby retail traders globally can for the first time access limitless markets without the typical predatory fees and slow transaction times”.

The background to this is that Injective is essentially trying to build a decentralized competitor to Robinhood, because their platform allows the creation of synthetic tokens that represent stock in public companies like Apple and indices like S&P 500. This means meaning trading can happen 24/7 with instant finalization, as DeFi promises.

“Why do I invest in Injective: the whole stop out because of the capital requirements, Robinhood didn’t do it on purpose to hurt traders, they just didn’t have enough equity and they would have gone bankrupt because they had too many customers. But if you’re doing it in a decentralized manner every investor gets to see how much Injective has of all of this, there’s no hiding it and that creates an opportunity”, said Mark Cuban on his investment in Injective.

The potential here is that brokers wouldn’t be able to block trades on certain stocks, as they did with GameStop, as pointed out by Cuban above.

Injective’s team is drawn from Stanford University, came up with its project in 2018, and Chen was working at hedge funds and worked in cryptographic research at a blockchain-focused fund.

#apple, #binance, #ceo, #cryptocurrencies, #decentralized-exchange, #decentralized-finance, #digital-currencies, #ethereum, #europe, #financial-technology, #gamestop, #injective-protocol, #mark-cuban, #national-basketball-association, #nba, #pantera-capital, #robinhood, #stanford-university, #tc

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Why Stanford Should Clone Itself

If elite colleges are serious about diversity of class and race, there’s a simple solution.

#admissions-standards, #colleges-and-universities, #grading-of-students, #income-inequality, #ivy-league, #stanford-university, #united-states

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Stanford Wins N.C.A.A. Women’s Basketball Title for First Time in 29 Years

The Cardinal survived a game against in-conference rival Arizona and a season that left them without a home for nine weeks amid the pandemic.

#basketball-college, #national-collegiate-athletic-assn, #ncaa-basketball-championships-women, #pacific-12-conference, #san-antonio-tex, #stanford-university, #university-of-arizona

0

The Women’s Final Four Guide: Preview, Start Time and More

Two No. 1 seeds, South Carolina and Stanford, face off in one semifinal. Another No. 1, UConn, takes on a No. 3 seed, Arizona, in the other game of the Final Four.

#basketball-college, #bueckers-paige-2001, #colleges-and-universities, #ncaa-basketball-championships-women, #staley-dawn, #stanford-university, #university-of-arizona, #university-of-connecticut, #university-of-south-carolina

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N.C.A.A. Tournament Women’s Final Four: A First-Timer Crashes a Group of Powers

Seeking its first title since 2016, UConn faces an Arizona team making its debut in the national semifinal. Two No. 1 seeds, Stanford and South Carolina, will play in the other matchup.

#auriemma-geno, #basketball-college, #ncaa-basketball-championships-women, #staley-dawn, #stanford-university, #university-of-arizona, #university-of-connecticut, #university-of-south-carolina, #vanderveer-tara

0

South Carolina Rolls Past Texas Into the Final Four

Texas was held scoreless in the fourth quarter as the Gamecocks started their celebration early.

#basketball-college, #collier-charli-1999, #national-collegiate-athletic-assn, #ncaa-basketball-championships-women, #schaefer-vic-1961, #staley-dawn, #stanford-university, #university-of-louisville, #university-of-south-carolina, #university-of-texas-at-austin

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Investors Clara Brenner, Quin Garcia and Rachel Holt are coming to TC Sessions: Mobility 2021

The transportation industry is abuzz with upstarts, legacy automakers, suppliers and tech companies working on automated vehicle technology, digital platforms, electrification and robotics. Then there are shared mobility companies from cars to scooters and mopeds to ebikes. And who can forget the emerging air taxi companies?

At the center of this evolving industry are the investors. Simply put: TechCrunch can’t hold an event on mobility without hearing from the people who are hunting for the best opportunities in the industry and tracking all of its changes. That’s why we’re happy to announce investors Clara Brenner of Urban Innovation Fund, Quin Garcia of Autotech Ventures and Rachel Holt of Construct Capital will join us on our virtual stage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2021. The virtual event, which features the best and brightest minds in the world of mobility, will be held on June 9.

p.s. Early Bird tickets to the show are now available – book today and save 35% before prices go up.

Brenner, Garcia and Holt will come on stage to discuss their near and long-term investment strategies, overlooked opportunities, and challenges that face startups trying to break into the transportation sector. They’ll lean on their considerable experience to provide the advice and insight that will help attendees understand the state of the industry and where it is headed.

Brenner is a serial co-founder. She is co-founder and managing partner of the Urban Innovation Fund, a venture capital firm that provides seed capital and regulatory support to entrepreneurs solving urban challenges. Urban Innovation Fund has backed curbflow, Electriphi and Kyte among others. She also co-founded Tumml, a startup hub for urban tech that provided 38 startups with seed funding and mentorship, and hosts events around urban innovation. In 2014, Forbes listed her as one of its “30 Under 30” for Social Entrepreneurship.

Garcia, a lifelong ‘car guy’ with an MS degree in management science and automotive engineering from Stanford University, is managing director at Autotech Ventures. He’s also a board director, board observer and advisory board member to a number of mobility companies including Lyft, Peloton Technology, and Connected Signals.

Garcia has been on the ground floor of startups, notably as part of the initial team at the electric vehicle infrastructure startup Better Place, where he was responsible for partnerships with automakers and parts suppliers while living in Israel, Japan and China.

Holt is co-founder and Managing Partner of early-stage venture firm Construct Capital, which is focused on finding founders that are trying to change foundational industries such as manufacturing and supply chain, logistics and transportation. The company’s transportation-focused investments include ChargeLab. Holt also sits on the board of MotoRefi.

Prior to Construct, Holt was at Uber, where she was one of the company’s first 30 employees. During her 8.5-year stint at Uber, Holt rose through the ranks of the company, including roles running the U.S.  and Canada “Rides” business as well as global marketing and customer support. She was a longtime member of the company’s executive leadership team. Her last position at Uber was leading the company’s new mobility organization, which focused on its e-bike and scooter businesses as well as running its incubator, which funded and developed new products and services.

Rachel began her career at Bain & Company, advising companies in the private equity, financial services and healthcare industries. She was ranked No. 9 on Fortune’s 40 under 40 and was named by Fast Company as One of the Most Creative People in Business.

We can’t wait to hear from this investor panel at TC Sessions: Mobility on June 9. Make sure to grab your Early Bird pass before May 6 to save 35% on tickets and join the fun!

#articles, #automotive, #autotech-ventures, #better-place, #board-member, #business, #canada, #china, #clara-brenner, #construct-capital, #e-bike, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #events, #executive, #fast-company, #financial-services, #forbes, #innovation, #israel, #japan, #lyft, #manufacturing, #motorefi, #peloton-technology, #private-equity, #quin-garcia, #rachel-holt, #stanford-university, #startup-company, #supply-chain, #tc, #tc-sessions-mobility, #techcrunch, #transportation, #uber, #united-states, #urban-innovation-fund, #venture-capital

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Stanford Earns the Top Seed in Women’s N.C.A.A. Tournament

The Cardinal were joined by UConn, South Carolina and North Carolina State as No. 1 seeds in the tournament that begins Sunday.

#auriemma-geno, #basketball-college, #college-athletics, #mcgraw-muffet, #ncaa-basketball-championships-women, #stanford-university, #texas-am-university, #university-of-connecticut, #university-of-south-carolina, #vanderveer-tara

0

Swedish battery manufacturer Northvolt receives a $14 billion order from VW

Northvolt, the Swedish battery manufacturer which raised $1 billion in financing from investors led by Goldman Sachs and Volkswagen back in 2019, has signed a massive $14 billion battery order with VW for the next 10 years.

The big buy clears up some questions about where Volkswagen will be getting the batteries for its huge push into electric vehicles, which will see the automaker reach production capacity of 1.5 million electric vehicles by 2025.

The deal will not only see Northvolt become the strategic lead supplier for battery cells for Volkswagen Group in Europe, but will also involve the German automaker increasing its equity ownership of Northvolt.

As part of the partnership agreement, Northvolt’s gigafactory in Sweden will be expanded and Northvolt agreed to sell its joint venture share in Salzgitter, Germany to Volkswagen as the car maker looks to build up its battery manufacturing efforts across Europe, the companies said.

The agreement between Northvolt and VW brings the Swedish battery maker’s total contracts to $27 billion in the two years since it raised its big $1 billion cash haul.

“Volkswagen is a key investor, customer and partner on the journey ahead and we will continue to work hard with the goal of providing them with the greenest battery on the planet as they rapidly expand their fleet of electric vehicles,” said Peter Carlsson, the co-founder and chief executive of Northvolt, in a statement.

Northvolt’s other partners and customers include ABB, BMW Group, Scania, Siemens, Vattenfall, and Vestas. Together these firms comprise some of the largest manufacturers in Europe.

Back in 2019, the company said that its cell manufacturing capacity could hit 16 Gigawatt hours and that it had sold its capacity to the tune of $13 billion through 2030. That means that the Volkswagen deal will eat up a significant portion of expanded product lines.

Founded Carlsson, a former executive at Tesla, Northvolt’s battery business was intended to leapfrog the European Union into direct competition with Asia’s largest battery manufacturers — Samsung, LG Chem, and CATL.

Back when the company first announced its $1 billion investment round, Carlsson had said that Northvolt would need to build up to150 gigawatt hours of capacity to hit targets for. 2030 electric vehicle sales.

The plant in Sweden is expected to hit at least 32 gigawatt hours of production thanks, in part to backing by the Swedish pension fund firms AMF and Folksam and IKEA-linked IMAS Foundation, in addition to the big financial partners Volkswagen and Goldman Sachs.

Northvolt has had a busy few months. Earlier in March the company announced the acquisition of the Silicon Valley-based startup company Cuberg.

That acquisition gave Northvolt a foothold in the U.S. and established the company’s advanced technology center.

The acquisition also gives Northvolt a window into the newest battery chemistry that’s being touted as a savior for the industry — lithium metal batteries.

Cuberg spun out of Stanford University back in 2015 to commercialize what the company called its next-generation battery combining a liquid electrolyte with a lithium metal anode. The company’s customers include Boeing, BETA Technologies, Ampaire, and VoltAero and it was backed by Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Activate.org, the California Energy Commission, the Department of Energy and the TomKat Center at Stanford.

Cuberg’s cells deliver 70 percent increased range and capacity versus comparable lithium ion cells designed for electric aviation applications. The two companies hope that they can apply the technology to Northvolt’s automotive and industrial product portfolio with the ambition to industrialize cells in 2025 that exceed 1,000 Wh/L, while meeting the full spectrum of automotive customer requirements, according to a statement.

“The Cuberg team has shown exceptional ability to develop world-class technology, proven results and an outstanding customer base in a lean and efficient organization,” said Peter Carlsson, CEO and Co-Founder, Northvolt in a statement. “Combining these strengths with the capabilities and technology of Northvolt allows us to make significant improvements in both performance and safety while driving down cost even further for next-generation battery cells. This is critical for accelerating the shift to fully electric vehicles and responding to the needs of the leading automotive companies within a relevant time frame.”

 

#abb, #asia, #bmw-group, #boeing-horizonx-ventures, #catl, #department-of-energy, #electric-vehicle, #europe, #european-union, #germany, #goldman-sachs, #ikea, #lg-chem, #lithium-ion-battery, #samsung, #siemens, #silicon-valley, #stanford-university, #sweden, #tc, #tesla, #united-states, #vestas, #volkswagen, #volkswagen-group, #vw

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The Pandemic Happiness Gap

New surveys show that in the last year, older adults tended to be more positive than younger ones, suggesting that the ability to cope improves with age.

#age-chronological, #anxiety-and-stress, #carstensen-laura, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #elderly, #emotions, #happiness, #psychology-and-psychologists, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #research, #stanford-university

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Mainspring Energy launches its flexible fuel generator with a $150 million NextEra Energy contract

Mainspring Energy, the developer of a new generator technology that use fuels like biogas and hydrogen, has unveiled its Mainspring Linear Generator, with a $150 million contract with NextEra Energy Resources.

The company’s technology represents a significant step in the transition to a zero-carbon power grid given its ability to shift between traditional natural gas sources and alternative fuel sources like biogas and hydrogen.

So far, the company’s generators are under contract with a national supermarket chain that’s using the company’s tech at 30 of its grocery stores. The company began shipping pilot units in June and will begin commerical statements in mid-2021 according to a statement.

The company’s tech was initially developed at a thermodynamics lab in Stanford University where co-founders Shannon Miller, Matt Svrcek and Adam Simpson were working. Its design enables the rollout of generators that can replace traditional diesel and be used to improve the resilience of industrial sites against natural disasters.

Their linear generator, which the company said differs from engines, microturbines, and fuel cells, is a device that converts motion along a straight line into electricity using heat or chemical energy. In Mainspring’s case, a low temperature reaction of air and fuel drives magnets through copper coils to produce electricity.

It’s the combination of the design and control software developed by the company that allows its equipment to produce high-efficiency, dispatchable power, without the nitrogen oxide emissions associated with other generators, the company said.

The technology caught the eye of investors like Bill Gates and Vinod Khosla’s eponymous investment firm Khosla Ventures, along with some oil and gas companies like Equinor and utilities like American Electric Power. To date, Mainspring, which used to go by the name Etagen, has raised well over $80 million in financing.

In its approach to energy generation without the need for more complex mechanical systems or catalysts, Mainspring is akin to other startups like the Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Gates-backed Turntide Technologies that are trying to provide more elegant, software enabled solutions to motors and generator technologies.

Mainspring’s generators achieve their low capital and maintenance costs through use of standard materials, only two moving parts, and an innovative air bearing system that eliminates the need for oil, the company said. It operates without the use of complex mechanical systems or expensive catalysts.

The company also touted its ability to spin up and spin down in response to conditions on the energy grid, which means that it can pair well with solar power or battery storage.

“One of our customers’ key drivers, in addition to carbon savings, is to save cost from their current grid prices,” said Miller, in a statement. “Our products can provide substantial savings to commercial customers on their electricity costs with a typical Energy Services Agreement. In this energy-as-a-service scenario, customers pay nothing up front and realize annual savings starting in the first year.”

Mainspring’s first commercial product is designed for a rated output of 250 kW and packaged in a standard 8′ x 20′ container, according to a statement. Those packages integrate two of the company’s125 kW linear generator cores, working in tandem, and combines UL-listed grid-tie inverters and auxiliaries into a turn-key package, the company said. Future configurations will provide higher power output to serve industrial businesses, data centers, hospitals, smart cities, and utility grid-level applications.

“Many commercial and industrial customers as well as utilities want clean, reliable power generation, with the capability to switch to 100% renewable fuels like biogas and hydrogen as they become available,” said NextEra Energy Resources President and CEO John Ketchum, in a statement. “Mainspring is able to integrate clean onsite generation with both renewables and the grid and we’re pleased to support bringing this innovative product to market.” 

#alternative-energy, #american-electric-power, #articles, #bill-gates, #biogas, #electrical-grid, #electricity, #energy, #energy-storage, #fuel-cells, #khosla-ventures, #oil, #oil-and-gas, #renewable-energy, #solar-power, #stanford-university, #tc, #turntide-technologies, #vinod-khosla

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Deborah Rhode, Who Transformed the Field of Legal Ethics, Dies at 68

A Stanford professor, she pushed the legal profession to confront the ways it failed clients and to be more inclusive of women.

#deaths-obituaries, #legal-profession, #rhode-deborah-l, #stanford-university, #women-and-girls

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Facial recognition reveals political party in troubling new research

Researchers have created a machine learning system that they claim can determine a person’s political party, with reasonable accuracy, based only on their face. The study, from a group that also showed that sexual preference can seemingly be inferred this way, candidly addresses and carefully avoids the pitfalls of “modern phrenology,” leading to the uncomfortable conclusion that our appearance may express more personal information that we think.

The study, which appeared this week in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, was conducted by Stanford University’s Michal Kosinski. Kosinski made headlines in 2017 with work that found that a person’s sexual preference could be predicted from facial data.

The study drew criticism not so much for its methods but for the very idea that something that’s notionally non-physical could be detected this way. But Kosinski’s work, as he explained then and afterwards, was done specifically to challenge those assumptions and was as surprising and disturbing to him as it was to others. The idea was not to build a kind of AI gaydar — quite the opposite, in fact. As the team wrote at the time, it was necessary to publish in order to warn others that such a thing may be built by people whose interests went beyond the academic:

We were really disturbed by these results and spent much time considering whether they should be made public at all. We did not want to enable the very risks that we are warning against. The ability to control when and to whom to reveal one’s sexual orientation is crucial not only for one’s well-being, but also for one’s safety.

We felt that there is an urgent need to make policymakers and LGBTQ communities aware of the risks that they are facing. We did not create a privacy-invading tool, but rather showed that basic and widely used methods pose serious privacy threats.

Similar warnings may be sounded here, for while political affiliation at least in the U.S. (and at least at present) is not as sensitive or personal an element as sexual preference, it is still sensitive and personal. A week hardly passes without reading of some political or religious “dissident” or another being arrested or killed. If oppressive regimes could obtain what passes for probable cause by saying “the algorithm flagged you as a possible extremist,” instead of for example intercepting messages, it makes this sort of practice that much easier and more scalable.

The algorithm itself is not some hyper-advanced technology. Kosinski’s paper describes a fairly ordinary process of feeding a machine learning system images of more than a million faces, collected from dating sites in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., as well as American Facebook users. The people whose faces were used identified as politically conservative or liberal as part of the site’s questionnaire.

The algorithm was based on open-source facial recognition software, and after basic processing to crop to just the face (that way no background items creep in as factors), the faces are reduced to 2,048 scores representing various features — as with other face recognition algorithms these aren’t necessary intuitive thinks like “eyebrow color” and “nose type” but more computer-native concepts.

Chart showing how faces are cropped and reduced to neural network representations.

Image Credits: Michael Kosinski / Nature Scientific Reports

The system was given political affiliation data sourced from the people themselves, and with this it diligently began to study the differences between the facial stats of people identifying as conservatives and those identifying as liberal. Because it turns out, there are differences.

Of course it’s not as simple as “conservatives have bushier eyebrows” or “liberals frown more.” Nor does it come down to demographics, which would make things too easy and simple. After all, if political party identification correlates with both age and skin color, that makes for a simple prediction algorithm right there. But although the software mechanisms used by Kosinski are quite standard, he was careful to cover his bases in order that this study, like the last one, can’t be dismissed as pseudoscience.

The most obvious way of addressing this is by having the system make guesses as to the political party of people of the same age, gender, and ethnicity. The test involved being presented with two faces, one of each party, and guessing which was which. Obviously chance accuracy is 50 percent. Humans aren’t very good at this task, performing only slightly above chance, about 55 percent accurate.

The algorithm managed to reach as high as 71 percent accurate when predicting political party between two like individuals, and 73 percent when presented with two individuals of any age, ethnicity, or gender (but still guaranteed to be one conservative, one liberal).

Image Credits: Michael Kosinski / Nature Scientific Reports

Getting three out of four may not seem like a triumph for modern AI, but considering people can barely do better than a coin flip, there seems to be something worth considering here. Kosinski has been careful to cover other bases as well; this doesn’t appear to be a statistical anomaly or exaggeration of an isolated result.

The idea that your political party may be written on your face is an unnerving one, for while one’s political leanings are far from the most private of info, it’s also something that is very reasonably thought of as being intangible. People may choose to express their political beliefs with a hat, pin, or t-shirt, but one generally considers one’s face to be nonpartisan.

If you’re wondering which facial features in particular are revealing, unfortunately the system is unable to report that. In a sort of para-study, Kosinski isolated a couple dozen facial features (facial hair, directness of gaze, various emotions) and tested whether those were good predictors of politics, but none led to more than a small increase in accuracy over chance or human expertise.

“Head orientation and emotional expression stood out: Liberals tended to face the camera more directly, were more likely to express surprise, and less likely to express disgust,” Kosinski wrote in author’s notes for the paper. But what they added left more than 10 percentage points of accuracy not accounted for: “That indicates that the facial recognition algorithm found many other features revealing political orientation.”

The knee-jerk defense of “this can’t be true – phrenology was snake oil” doesn’t hold much water here. It’s scary to think it’s true, but it doesn’t help us to deny what could be a very important truth, since it could be used against people very easily.

As with the sexual orientation research, the point here is not to create a perfect detector for this information, but to show that it can be done in order that people begin to consider the dangers that creates. If for example an oppressive theocratic regime wanted to crack down on either non-straight people or those with a certain political leaning, this sort of technology gives them a plausible technological method to do so “objectively.” And what’s more, it can be done with very little work or contact with the target, unlike digging through their social media history or analyzing their purchases (also very revealing).

We have already heard of China deploying facial recognition software to find members of the embattled Uyghur religious minority. And in our own country this sort of AI is trusted by authorities as well — it’s not hard to imagine police using the “latest technology” to, for instance, classify faces at a protest, saying “these 10 were determined by the system as being the most liberal,” or what have you.

The idea that a couple researchers using open-source software and a medium-sized database of faces (for a government, this is trivial to assemble in the unlikely possibility they do not have one already) could do so anywhere in the world, for any purpose, is chilling.

“Don’t shoot the messenger,” said Kosinski. “In my work, I am warning against widely used facial recognition algorithms. Worryingly, those AI physiognomists are now being used to judge people’s intimate traits – scholars, policymakers, and citizens should take notice.”

#artificial-intelligence, #facial-recognition, #machine-learning, #michal-kosinski, #stanford-university, #tc

0

A Year of Watching Earthly Beauty Burn

From orbit, satellites send tragic evidence of climate change’s destructive power. This film covers 10 days, Sept. 7-16, 2020, a period of intense fires activity in North and South America.

#air-pollution, #amazon-jungle, #anxiety-and-stress, #australia, #brazil, #california, #canada, #carbon-capture-and-sequestration, #china, #colombia, #colorado-state-university, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #earth, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #european-union, #fires-and-firefighters, #floods, #forests-and-forestry, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #gulf-coast-us, #hurricane-laura-2020, #international-space-station, #marshall-tex, #new-zealand, #north-america, #oregon, #pantanal-brazil, #politics-and-government, #sacramento-calif, #seasons-and-months, #stanford-university, #texas, #united-states, #washington-state, #weather, #western-states-us, #wildfires

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Edward P. Lazear, Economist and Presidential Adviser, Dies at 72

He was a widely respected labor economist at Stanford who led President George W. Bush’s economic council during the financial crisis.

#bush-george-w, #california, #colleges-and-universities, #deaths-obituaries, #economics-theory-and-philosophy, #labor-and-jobs, #lazear-edward-p, #productivity, #stanford-university, #united-states-economy, #united-states-politics-and-government, #white-house-council-of-economic-advisers

0

Stanford Study Seeks to Quantify Infections Stemming From Trump Rallies

The researchers used a statistical model to extrapolate infections tied to 18 rallies, and the study’s figures were not based on individual cases traced directly to particular campaign events.

#biden-joseph-r-jr, #cain-herman, #contact-tracing-public-health, #duluth-minn, #phoenix-ariz, #presidential-election-of-2020, #stanford-university, #trump-donald-j, #tulsa-okla

0

Why Cutting College Varsity Sports Could Be a Good Thing

Few of the cut programs will perish, instead transitioning to club teams that allow athletes to continue playing more on their terms, without the strain of the N.C.A.A. rule book.

#admissions-standards, #college-athletics, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #stanford-university, #university-of-connecticut

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Oregon’s President Says Money Wasn’t Discussed in Pac-12 Return. It Didn’t Need to Be.

Universities in the Pac-12 were clearly struggling financially even before the pandemic, which magnified the importance of football once it hit.

#athletics-and-sports, #college-athletics, #colleges-and-universities, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #football-college, #pacific-12-conference, #stanford-university, #university-of-california-berkeley, #university-of-california-los-angeles, #university-of-oregon

0

Clouds of Smoke are Blowing Misery Across the West

Wildfires are burning from California to Minnesota, leaving millions of people to cough and wheeze through the toxic air. Gathering indoors brings the risk of coronavirus. Is there no respite?

#california, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #santa-cruz-calif, #stanford-university, #wildfires

0

As Stanford Cuts Teams, Olympic Hopefuls All Over the U.S. Feel a Chill

If Stanford, which has deep resources and a reputation as a factory for Olympians, can’t maintain its sports programs amid the pandemic, athletes fear that no one can.

#budgets-and-budgeting, #college-athletics, #colleges-and-universities, #draft-and-recruitment-sports, #stanford-university, #volleyball

0

College Students Invent New Jobs Amid Coronavirus

When traditional college jobs suddenly went away, these students used their ingenuity to find new ways to pay the bills.

#clemson-university, #colleges-and-universities, #computers-and-the-internet, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #courtney-brunson, #fashion-and-apparel, #instagram-inc, #labor-and-jobs, #masks, #quarantines, #raymond-cabrera, #sabrina-surgil, #social-media, #stanford-university, #tamarek-sweat, #texas-am-university, #texas-state-university, #theo-charusi, #unemployment, #vassar-college, #youtube-com

0

Osmind pitches clinical management and data analysis for mental health practices using psychedelics

Jimmy Qian and Lucia Huang, the co-founders of a new clinical practice management and data analysis platform for mental health providers focusing on cutting edge psychedelic treatments, met at Stanford University. 

The two both come from healthcare backgrounds. Huang, whose mother was a biomedical engineer, worked as an associate at Warburg Pincus focused on healthcare and worked at the startup Verge Genomics before heading to Stanford’s business school while Qian was in medical school at Stanford.

Both also went to high school in the Bay Area and were intimately familiar with the mental health crisis affecting the communities around Silicon Valley.

Qian worked on a few non-profits in the mental health space through his undergraduate years at Penn and then again in the Bay Area while he was at Stanford.

Osmind’s founders say the goal for their young startup is to help patients access innovative treatments to mental health by providing clinicians and pharmaceutical companies with software and services that will make the provision of care, and proof of the efficacy of treatment, more readily available.

There are 11 million Americans that are resistant to most mental health therapies, according to Huang and Qian. Those patients can cost the healthcare as much as $250 billion, they said. “Nobody has been able to help this patient population,” said Huang in an interview. “Pharma doesn’t develop drugs for them.”

Now graduating with Y Combinator’s latest cohort of companies, Osmind’s public benefit corporation intends to aggregate data from the sickest patient population and provide that data to drug developers for clinical trials and to help insurers route patients to the treatment providers that can benefit them the most, according to Qian.

The company, which launched its services two months ago, already has 30 practices using its software covering 3,000 patients.

“The beauty of all of this is that it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Huang. Providers get a software platform that streamlines administrative tasks and provides patient outreach and remote monitoring services. They also have a web portal that allows them to view patient progress.

Qian said its a service designed for physicians that are not necessarily technically savvy. It also provides a dataset that can be used to clinically validate some of these more experimental forms of therapy including psychedelics and ketamine treatment.

“We improve the care journey,” said Qian. “These are clinics that don’t have the manpower to do that.. You can’t call your patients every single day.”

#articles, #disability, #health, #health-care, #healthcare, #mental-health, #pennsylvania, #pharmaceutical, #primary-care, #software-platform, #stanford-university, #tc, #verge-genomics, #warburg-pincus, #web-portal, #y-combinator

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This looping aquatic treadmill lets tiny ocean creatures swim forever under the microscope

Observing the microscopic creatures that fill our oceans is important work, but keeping your eye on one in the wild is practically impossible — and doing so in a dish isn’t the same. This ‘hydrodynamic treadmill’ however provides the best of both worlds: An unending water column for the creatures to swim in, without ever leaving the watchful eye of an automated microscope.

The Gravity Machine, as it’s called, is the brainchild of Stanford researchers under bioengineering professor Manu Prakash. He and some students, during a research trip to Madagascar, had built a slightly clunky meter-long tube with an attached microscope that could follow a creature as it moved up and down. But these microorganisms sometimes travel hundreds of meters a day to chase the sun or nutrients in the water.

“We haven’t had the opportunity to observe this life in its own habitat… or the last 200 years, we’ve been doing microscopy with confinement. You’d have to have a kilometer-long tube if you wanted to track an organism over a kilometer,” Prakash said. “While we were thinking about this problem, it dawned on us — there was this ‘aha!’ moment where we thought, instead of a long tube, what if the two ends of the tube were connected?”

Image Credits: Stanford University

The gadget is, in retrospect, almost obvious. Instead of having a microscope pointing downwards at a dish where the creatures swim around in a shallow pool of water — nothing like their natural environment — you have one pointed sideways at a closed glass loop filled with water and the organisms of interest. They can swim freely up and down, and as they do so the loop slowly spins to keep them within the frame of the microscope.

A computer vision system attached to the 3D microscope carefully tracks the location of the target creature and keeps it in focus, while auxiliary systems note the exact distances traveled and other metrics.

The team has used the device to capture all manner of beautiful and scientifically interesting behaviors by microscopic organisms.

“It’s fair to say that every time we have put an organism into this instrument, we have discovered something new,” Prakash said.

One such novelty is the fact — obvious upon inspecting these creatures in this way — that despite living in a fluid environment and at a scale of microns, gravity is a major factor in their lives. “They’re all aware of gravity, and they all care about gravity,” said Prakash. Exactly how would be very difficult to say until the creation of this machine, which lets the scientists observe these behaviors directly — hence the name.

A close-up of a microorganism being tracked by the circular microscope.

Image Credits: Stanford University

A close-up of a microorganism being tracked by the circular microscope.

Image Credits: Stanford University

The imagery produced by the instrument is visually arresting and interesting even to a layperson, as well — and capturing the interest of the general public is remarkably difficult to do when it comes to the field of marine microbiology. People’s eyes tend to glaze over when you talk about the diurnal migratory habits of dinoflagellates, but seeing one of these beautiful creatures up close and in focus, doing what it does best (whatever that is), is simply fascinating.

While the water stays in the loop (ideally — “we do explode wheels in our lab,” noted Prakash) that doesn’t mean that it’s a totally closed system.

“We can introduce things based on what the creature is doing,” said grad student Deepak Krishnamurthy. “We can introduce nutrients, tie the light intensity to it —  it’s a feedback loop between the organism and its environment. We’re also working on doing that with pressure, temperature, and other aspects of the ocean.”

I couldn’t shake the idea that I’d seen something like this before, and well into development of the Gravity Machine, Prakash himself came across a similar idea from the ’50s, a much larger loop that a marine biologist named Hardy used to allow jellies to swim endlessly in a similar fashion. Of course the present device could only happen with the advance machine learning and robotics tech that we have today, but as Prakash said, “the historic context is quite beautiful, actually. We got a big kick out of that in the lab.”

Stanford’s Gravity Machine wasn’t quite the first, then, and the team means to make sure it isn’t the last, either, by publishing all the details on how to build and run the instrument.

“We were careful to make it as open as possible, and that affected our choices of harware and software,” said Krishnamurthy. “The intention is for it to be completely open source for research purposes. We use open source algorithms for tracking, we wrote our own for the controls that keep it in focus, the UI for watching and collecting data.”

“We’ll be putting instructions for people to build this on the gravitymachine.org site itself,” added Prakash. An ordinary microscope can be used with some modification and a few easy to get parts, and ultimately it’s no more than a lab might do to create or customize its own equipment anyway. He even hinted at a “home edition” that could show a curious user what critters in the endless water column were up to. Sort of like having your sea monkeys live on TV.

The exact specifications of the Gravity Machine will be published soon, as will the team’s first paper using the device to discover something new and extremely weird: diatoms that can voluntarily control their own density to rise or fall in the water column. You can read more about the device at its site or this Stanford news post.

#artificial-intelligence, #biology, #gadgets, #hardware, #robotics, #science, #stanford, #stanford-university, #tc

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Former Manhattan Federal Prosecutor Fired by Trump to Teach at Stanford

Geoffrey S. Berman will be a visiting professor of law at Stanford Law School.

#berman-geoffrey-s, #house-committee-on-the-judiciary, #legal-profession, #stanford-university, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Lucius Barker, Expert on Race in American Politics, Dies at 92

He was a passionate Jesse Jackson delegate at the 1984 Democratic National Convention and, later, a mentor to future politicians like Senator Cory Booker.

#barker-lucius-j-1928-2020, #black-people, #civil-rights-and-liberties, #colleges-and-universities, #deaths-obituaries, #jackson-jesse-l, #stanford-university, #united-states-politics-and-government, #washington-university

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College Football Season Teeters on the Brink

Bit by bit, workouts, programs or seasons are canceled by conferences, throwing into question if it is worth having a season at all in a pandemic.

#atlantic-coast-conference, #big-sky-conference, #big-ten-conference, #college-athletics, #colleges-and-universities, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #football-college, #ivy-league, #national-collegiate-athletic-assn, #ohio-state-university, #stanford-university, #teevens-buddy

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Stanford Cuts 11 Sports Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

The university said in a statement that it faced a $70 million shortfall over the next three years.

#athletics-and-sports, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #stanford-university

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Colleges Plan to Reopen Campuses, but for Just Some Students at a Time

To provide some semblance of the campus experience during a pandemic, colleges say large chunks of the student body will have to stay away and study remotely for all or part of the year.

#colleges-and-universities, #cornell-university, #coronavirus-reopenings, #dormitories, #e-learning, #foreign-students-in-us, #georgia-institute-of-technology, #harvard-university, #immigration-and-customs-enforcement-us, #princeton-university, #rutgers-the-state-university-of-new-jersey, #stanford-university, #tuition, #university-of-pennsylvania, #yale-university

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College Is Worth It, but Campus Isn’t

Bringing millions of students back to campus would create enormous risks for society but comparatively little educational benefit, an economist says.

#boston-university, #california, #california-state-university, #colleges-and-universities, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-reopenings, #e-learning, #education-k-12, #florida, #fort-benning-ga, #georgia, #harvard-university, #layoffs-and-job-reductions, #northeastern-university, #quarantines, #rural-areas, #sex-crimes, #shutdowns-institutional, #stanford-university, #tuition, #united-states-army, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #university-of-michigan, #workplace-environment

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La Haus is bringing US tech services to Latin America’s real estate market

The alchemy for a successful startup can be hard to parse. Sometimes, it’s who you know. Sometimes it’s where you go to school. And sometimes it’s what you do. In the case of La Haus, a startup that wants to bring U.S. tech-enabled real estate services to the Latin American real estate market, it’s all three.

The company was founded by Jerónimo Uribe and Rodrigo Sánchez Ríos, both graduates of Stanford University who previously founded and ran Jaguar Capital, a Colombian real estate development firm that had built over $350 million worth of retail and residential projects in the country.

Uribe, the son of the controversial Colombian President Daniel Uribe (who has been accused of financing paramilitary forces during Colombia’s long-running civil war and wire-tapping journalists and negotiators during the peace talks to end the conflict) and Sánchez Ríos, a former private equity professional at the multi-billion-dollar firm Lindsay Goldberg, were exposed to the perils and promise of real estate development with their former firm.

Now the two entrepreneurs are using their know-how, connections and a new technology stack to streamline the home-buying process.

It’s that ambition that caught the attention of Pete Flint, the founder of Trulia and now an investor at the venture capital firm NFX. Flint, an early investor in La Haus, saw the potential in La Haus to help the Latin American real estate market leapfrog the services available in the U.S. Spencer Rascoff, the co-founder of Zillow, also invested in the company.

“Latin America is very early on in its infancy of having really professional agents and really professional brokerages,” said Flint.

La Haus guides home buyers through every stage of the process, with its own agents and salespeople selling properties sourced from the company’s developer connections.

“The average home in the U.S. sells in six weeks or less,” said La Haus chief financial officer Sánchez Ríos in an interview. “That timing in Latin America is 14 months. That’s the dramatic difference. There is no infrastructure in Latin America as a whole.”

La Haus began by reaching out to the founders’ old colleagues in the real estate development industry and started listing new developments on its service. Now the company has a mix of existing and new properties for sale on its site and an expanded geographic footprint in both Colombia and Mexico.

“We have a portal… that acts as a lead-generating machine,” said Sánchez Ríos. “We aggregate listings, we vet them. We focus on new developers.”

The company has about 500 developers using the service to list properties in Colombia and another 200 in Mexico. So far, the company has facilitated more than 2,000 transactions through its platform in three years.

“Real estate now is turning fully digital and also in this market professionalizing,” said Flint. “The publicly traded online real estate companies are approaching all-time highs. People are just prizing the space that they spend their time in… the technologies from VR and digital walkthroughs to digital closes become not just a nice to have but a necessity. “

Capitalizing on the open field in the market, La Haus recently closed on $10 million in financing led by Kaszek Ventures, one of the leading funds in Latin America. That funding will be used to accelerate the company’s geographic expansion in response to increasing demand for digital solutions in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

“Because of Covid-19, consumers’ willingness to conduct real estate transactions online has gone through the roof,” said Sánchez Ríos, in a statement. “Fortunately we were in the position to enable that, and we expect to see a permanent shift online in how people conduct all, or at least most, of the home-buying process. This funding gives us ample runway to build the end-to-end real estate experience for the post-Covid Latin America.”

Joining NFX, Rascoff, and Kaszek Ventures are a slew of investors, including Acrew Capital, IMO Ventures and Beresford Ventures. Entrepreneurs like Nubank founder David Velez; Brian Requarth, the founder of Vivareal (now GrupoZap); and Hadi Partovi, CEO and founder of Code.org, also participated in the financing.

“We backed La Haus because we saw many of the same ingredients that resulted in a fantastic outcome for many of our successful companies: A world-class team with complementary skills; a huge addressable market; and an almost religious zeal by the founders to solve a big problem with technology,” said Hernan Kazah, co-founder and managing partner of Kaszek Ventures. 

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