Animals Infecting Humans Is Scary. It’s Worse When We Infect Them Back.

Mink farms threaten to become a source of new coronavirus variants — and an object lesson in how ‘spillback’ can make deadly diseases even deadlier.

#agriculture-and-farming, #animals, #coronavirus-delta-variant, #coronavirus-omicron-variant, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #denmark, #disease-rates, #epidemics, #minks-animals, #utah

Fugitive Who Faked His Death and Fled U.S. Is Caught in Scotland, Officials Say

Nicholas Alahverdian, a suspect in a 2008 rape in Utah, was traced to a hospital in Glasgow, where he had been placed on a ventilator with Covid-19, the authorities said.

#elorza-jorge-o, #extradition, #forensic-science, #fugitives, #funerals-and-memorials, #glasgow-scotland, #langevin-james-r, #ohio, #providence-ri, #rhode-island, #sex-crimes, #utah

Billionaire Jeff T. Green Resigns From Mormon Church

Jeff T. Green, the chief executive of a technology firm, said he was leaving because of the church’s wealth and stance on social issues such as gay rights.

#brigham-young-university, #forbes-magazine, #green-jeff-t, #homosexuality-and-bisexuality, #mormons-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints, #philanthropy, #salt-lake-tribune, #transgender-and-transsexuals, #utah

Soda Shop Chains Are Taking Hold of the West

With locations now numbering in the hundreds, regional soda-shop chains are spreading far beyond Utah, where they first found popularity.

#caffeine, #fiiz-drinks, #mormons-church-of-jesus-christ-of-latter-day-saints, #sodalicious-inc, #soft-drinks, #swig-holdings-llc, #twisted-sugar, #utah

Doctor Charged With False Report to Summon Helicopter on Denali

Federal prosecutors said the climber called rescuers to say that two other people on the mountain, the tallest in North America, were having a medical emergency. But it was a ruse.

#alaska, #anchorage-daily-news, #helicopters, #mountaineering, #national-park-service, #north-america, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #rescues, #united-states, #utah

Utah School District Ignored Racial Harassment for Years, Report Says

Black and Asian American students were often called racial slurs, while teachers and staff members ignored their complaints, the Justice Department found.

#asian-americans, #black-people, #civil-rights-and-liberties, #discrimination, #education-k-12, #justice-department, #race-and-ethnicity, #utah

87 Rescued From ‘Near-Whiteout’ Conditions During Utah Ultramarathon

The runners were participating in a 50-mile race when they were caught in 12 to 18 inches of snow in the Wasatch Mountain range north of Salt Lake City.

#falls, #marathon-running, #rescues, #running, #snow-and-snowstorms, #ultramarathon-running, #utah

Fiancé Is a ‘Person of Interest’ in the Disappearance of Gabrielle Petito

Gabrielle Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, left on July 2 for an adventure in their outfitted van. Now, the police say, she is missing and her fiancé is “a person of interest” in her disappearance.

#federal-bureau-of-investigation, #florida, #grand-teton-national-park-wyo, #instagram-inc, #laundrie-brian, #long-island-ny, #missing-persons, #petito-gabrielle, #police-department-nyc, #utah

Booming Utah’s Weak Link: Surging Air Pollution

A red-hot economy, wildfire smoke from California and the shriveling of the Great Salt Lake are making Utah’s alarming pollution even worse.

#air-pollution, #antelope-island-utah, #aral-sea, #dust-and-sand-storms, #great-salt-lake-utah, #utah, #wildfires

Howard University cancels classes after ransomware attack

Washington D.C’s Howard University has canceled classes after becoming the latest educational institution to be hit by a ransomware attack.

The incident was discovered on September 3, just weeks after students returned to campus, when the University’s Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) detected “unusual activity” on the University’s network and intentionally shut it down in order to investigate.

“Based on the investigation and the information we have to date, we know the University has experienced a ransomware cyberattack,” the university said in a statement. While some details remain unclear — it’s unknown who is behind the attack or how much of a ransom was demanded — Howard University said that there is no evidence so far to suggest that personal data of its 9,500 undergraduate and graduate students been accessed or exfiltrated. 

“However, our investigation remains ongoing, and we continue to work toward clarifying the facts surrounding what happened and what information has been accessed,” the statement said.

In order to enable its IT team to fully assess the impact of the ransomware attack, Howard University has canceled Tuesday’s classes, opening its campus to essential employees only. Campus Wi-Fi will also be down while the investigation is underway, though cloud-based software will remain available to students and teachers. 

“This is a highly dynamic situation, and it is our priority to protect all sensitive personal, research and clinical data,” the university said. “We are in contact with the FBI and the D.C. city government, and we are installing additional safety measures to further protect the University’s and your personal data from any criminal ciphering.”

But the university warned that that remediation will be “a long haul — not an overnight solution.”

Howard University is the latest in a long line of educational institutions to be hit by ransomware since the start of the pandemic, with the FBI’s Cyber Division recently warning that cybercriminals using this type of attack are focusing heavily on schools and universities due to the widespread shift to remote learning. Last year, the University of California paid $1.14 million to NetWalker hackers after they encrypted data within its School of Medicine’s servers, and the University of Utah paid hackers $457,000 to prevent them from releasing data stolen during an attack on its network. 

According to Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow last month, ransomware attacks have disrupted 58 U.S. education organizations and school districts, including 830 individual schools, so far in 2021. Emsisoft estimates that in 2020, 84 incidents disrupted learning at 1,681 individual schools, colleges, and universities.

“We’ll likely see a significant increase in ed sector incidents in the coming weeks,” Callow tweeted on Tuesday.

#california, #cloud-based-software, #crime, #crimes, #cyberattacks, #cybercrime, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #ransomware, #security, #united-states, #university-of-california, #utah, #washington

Some vaccine hesitant now express regret

People who once rejected the vaccine or simply waited too long are now grappling with the consequences, often in raw, public ways.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #utah, #vaccination-and-immunization

Google faces a major multi-state antitrust lawsuit over Google Play fees

A group of 37 attorneys general filed a second major multi-state antitrust lawsuit against Google Wednesday, accusing the company of abusing its market power to stifle competitors and forcing consumers into in-app payments that grant the company a hefty cut.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is co-leading the suit alongside with the Tennessee, North Carolina and Utah attorneys general. The bipartisan coalition represents 36 U.S. states, including California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Colorado and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

“Through its illegal conduct, the company has ensured that hundreds of millions of Android users turn to Google, and only Google, for the millions of applications they may choose to download to their phones and tablets,” James said in a press release. “Worse yet, Google is squeezing the lifeblood out of millions of small businesses that are only seeking to compete.”

In December, 35 states filed a separate antitrust suit against Google, alleging that the company engaged in illegal behavior to maintain a monopoly on the search business. The Justice Department filed its own antitrust case focused on search last October.

In the new lawsuit, embedded below, the bipartisan coalition of states allege that Google uses “misleading” security warnings to keep consumers and developers within its walled app garden, the Google Play store. But the fees that Google collects from Android app developers are likely the meat of the case.

“Not only has Google acted unlawfully to block potential rivals from competing with its Google Play Store, it has profited by improperly locking app developers and consumers into its own payment processing system and then charging high fees,” District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said.

Like Apple, Google herds all app payment processing into its own service, Google Play Billing, and reaps the rewards: a 30 percent cut of all payments. Much of the criticism here is a case that could — and likely will — be made against Apple, which exerts even more control over its own app ecosystem. Google doesn’t have an iMessage equivalent exclusive app that keeps users locked in in quite the same way.

While the lawsuit discusses Google’s “monopoly power” in the app marketplace, the elephant in the room is Apple — Google’s thriving direct competitor in the mobile software space. The lawsuit argues that consumers face pressure to stay locked into the Android ecosystem, but on the Android side at least, much of that is ultimately familiarity and sunk costs. The argument on the Apple side of the equation here is likely much stronger.

The din over tech giants squeezing app developers with high mobile payment fees is just getting louder. The new multi-state lawsuit is the latest beat, but the topic has been white hot since Epic took Apple to court over its desire to bypass Apple’s fees by accepting mobile payments outside the App Store. When Epic set up a workaround, Apple kicked it out of the App Store and Epic Games v. Apple was born.

The Justice Department is reportedly already interested in Apple’s own app store practices, along with many state AGs who could launch a separate suit against the company at any time.

#android, #app-store, #apple, #apple-inc, #attorney-general, #california, #colorado, #companies, #computing, #department-of-justice, #epic-games, #florida, #fortnite, #google, #google-play, #google-play-billing, #google-play-store, #letitia-james, #massachusetts, #new-hampshire, #new-jersey, #new-york, #north-carolina, #search, #social, #tc, #technology, #tennessee, #the-battle-over-big-tech, #united-states, #utah, #washington

Two Team Photos, One Difference: The Cheerleader With Down Syndrome

A junior high cheerleading team took nearly identical photos with and without Morgyn Arnold. The school called the publication of the photo without her a mistake that is under investigation.

#arnold-morgyn, #cheerleaders, #down-syndrome, #education-k-12, #layton-utah, #shoreline-junior-high-school, #utah, #yearbooks

Deb Haaland Wants to Restore National Monuments Slashed by Trump

Deb Haaland has advised the president to reinstate former boundaries at Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, and also in a marine area off New England.

#bears-ears-national-monument-utah, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #cox-spencer-j-1975, #environment, #global-warming, #grand-staircase-escalante-national-monument-utah, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #haaland-deb, #interior-department, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #native-americans, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government, #utah

Navajo Nation Becomes Largest Tribe in U.S. After Pandemic Surge

A rush to secure federal benefits during the coronavirus pandemic accelerated enrollment in the Navajo Nation, pushing its population past the Cherokee Nation’s to nearly 400,000.

#arizona, #cherokee-indians, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #native-americans, #navajo-indians, #new-mexico, #population, #utah

The Mountain Bike Cure: Exercise, Fresh Air and Fellowship

Thanks to more trails, better bikes and a rise of high-school interest, mountain biking has experienced a meteoric rise of popularity in the past decade. The pandemic added fuel to the fire.

#albuquerque-nm, #appalachian-region, #austin-tex, #bentonville-ark, #bicycles-and-bicycling, #content-type-service, #crested-butte-colo, #cycling-mountain-bike, #electric-and-hybrid-vehicles, #mountain-bike-runtastic-gmbh, #travel-and-vacations, #utah, #whistler-british-columbia

Mitt Romney Is Booed by Members of His Own Party

Mr. Romney, a Utah Republican and an outspoken critic of former President Donald J. Trump, was booed and heckled as he addressed the Utah Republican state convention on Saturday.

#republican-party, #romney-mitt, #senate, #state-of-the-union-tv-program, #united-states-politics-and-government, #utah

Why Biden Must Save Bears Ears National Monument

‘We are rooted to Mother Earth through her body like the plants are rooted to the soil.’

#bears-ears-national-monument-utah, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #earth, #federal-lands, #indigenous-people, #land-use-policies, #language-and-languages, #lee-michael-s-1971, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #obama-barack, #trump-donald-j, #united-states, #united-states-politics-and-government, #utah, #women-and-girls

Utah Will Require Fathers to Help With Pregnancy Bills

The law, set to take effect in May, requires any father whose paternity has been confirmed to pay half of a mother’s insurance premiums while she is pregnant, and any related medical costs.

#abortion, #cox-spencer-j-1975, #law-and-legislation, #planned-parenthood-federation-of-america, #pregnancy-and-childbirth, #utah

Neighbor raises $53M for self-storage marketplace after 5x YoY revenue growth

Neighbor, which operates a self-storage marketplace, announced Wednesday that it has raised $53 million in a Series B round of funding.

Fifth Wall led the financing, which notably also included participation from returning backer Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and new investors DoorDash CEO Tony Xu and StockX CEO Scott Cutler. Xu and Cutler will join former Uber CEO Ryan Graves as investors and advisors to the Lehi, Utah-based startup. A16z led Neighbor’s $10 million Series A in January of 2020.

At a time when the commercial real estate world is struggling, self-storage is an asset class that continues to perform extremely well. Neighbor’s unique model aims to repurpose under-utilized or vacant space — whether it be a person’s basement or the empty floor of an office building — and turn it into storage.

Colton Gardner, Joseph Woodbury and Preston Alder co-founded in 2017 with the mission of giving people a more accessible and personal alternative to store their belongings. 

Image Credits: Neighbor

The $40 billion self-storage industry is ripe for a shake-up, considering that most people are used to renting space out of buildings located in not necessarily convenient locations. 

Neighbor has developed a unique peer-to-peer model, connecting “renters” in need of storage space with “hosts” in their neighborhood who are willing to lease storage space in their home, garage or even driveway. The company says it has hosts on the platform making more than $50,000 a year in passive income.

“We really grew into a national business over the last year and now have active renters in more states than Public Storage, which is a $43 billion publicly traded company,” CEO Woodbury said.

Neighbor makes money by charging a service fee (a sliding-scale percentage) of each rent. Its algorithms provide suggested rental fees for hosts.

COVID has only accelerated Neighbor’s business, with revenue growing “5x” and organic reservations increasing “7x” year over year.

“If you think about it, fundamentally on the demand side, everyone’s moving out of these major metro areas like New York and San Francisco, and are moving to these more rural locations. All that moving activity has created a lot more storage demand,” Woodbury told TechCrunch. “In addition to that, people are just spending more time at home and cleaning out their homes more. And they no doubt need storage as a result of that.”

 It also doesn’t hurt that the company claims the self-storage offered on its marketplace on average is priced about 40% to 50% less than traditional storage facilities.

Neighbor also partners with commercial real estate operators to turn their under-utilized or vacant retail, multifamily or office space into self-storage. This provides new revenue streams to landlords hurting from the pandemic keeping so many people at home. And that increased demand led to Neighbor’s commercial real estate footprint growing 10x in 2020. 

With its new capital, the company plans to expand its nationwide network of hosts and renters as well as continue to spread awareness of its marketplace.

“We have tens of millions of square feet of self storage on the platform,” Woodbury said. “The beauty of that square footage is that it’s in every single state. But we want to continue to expand nationally and as we grow and mature, we’ll turn our eyes globally as well.”

Interestingly, before leading the round for Neighbor, Fifth Wall approached the company about business development opportunities. Partner Dan Wenhold said he offered to introduce the concept to the real estate venture firm’s LPs, which include more than 65 of the world’s largest owners and operators of real estate from 15 countries. For example, Fifth Wall partners Acadia Realty Trust and Jamestown are already onboarding properties onto Neighbor’s platform. 

“We are sort of the bridge between the largest owners and operators of physical real estate assets and the most disruptive technologies that are impacting those property managers and landlords, Wenhold said. “And Neighbor fits perfectly into that thesis for us.”

After introducing Neighbor to a short list of Fifth Wall’s strategic LP partners, the feedback the firm got “was fantastic,” Wenhold said. 

“A lot of owners in retail, office and even multi-family expressed interest in working with Neighbor to help monetize space,” he added.

The company’s mission also has a sustainable component considering that creating self-storage space out of existing property can help minimize the amount of new construction that takes place.

Fifth Wall, Wenhold added, is aware of the waste and the emissions that come from the construction process to build new space and admires Neighbor’s role in minimizing that.

“Our firm ardently pursued the opportunity to invest in a transformative proptech business like Neighbor,” he said.

#andreessen-horowitz, #fifth-wall, #funding, #fundings-exits, #marketplace, #neighbor, #real-estate, #recent-funding, #ryan-graves, #scott-cutler, #self-storage, #startups, #tc, #tony-xu, #utah, #venture-capital

Square’s bank arm launches as fintech aims ‘to operate more nimbly’

Known for its innovations in the payments sector, Square is now officially a bank.

Nearly one year after receiving conditional approval, Square said Monday afternoon that its industrial bank, Square Financial Services, has begun operationsSquare Financial Services completed the charter approval process with the FDIC and Utah Department of Financial Institutions, meaning its ready for business.

The bank, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, will offer business loan and deposit products, starting with underwriting, and originating business loans for Square Capital’s existing lending product.

Historically, Square has been known for its card reader and point-of-sale payment system, used largely by small businesses – but it has also begun facilitating credit for the entrepreneurs and smalls businesses who use its products in recent years.

Moving forward, Square said its bank will be the “primary provider of financing for Square sellers across the U.S.”

In a statement, Square CFO and executive chairman for Square Financial Services, Amrita Ahuja said that bringing banking capability in house will allow the fintech to “operate more nimbly.”

Square Financial Services will continue to sell loans to third-party investors and limit balance sheet exposure. The company said it does not expect the bank to have a material impact on its consolidated balance sheet, total net revenue, gross profit, or adjusted EBITDA in 2021.

Opening the bank “deepens Square’s unique ability to expand access to loans and banking tools to underserved populations,” the company said.

Lewis Goodwin had been tapped to serve as the bank’s CEO, and Brandon Soto its CFO. With today’s announcement, Square also announced the following new appointments:

  • Sharad Bhasker, Chief Risk Officer
  • Samantha Ku, Chief Operating Officer
  • Homam Maalouf, Chief Credit Officer
  • David Grodsky, Chief Compliance Officer
  • Jessica Jiang, Capital Markets and Investor Relations Lead

The trend of fintechs becoming bank continues. In February, TechCrunch reported on the fact that Brex had applied for a bank charter.

The fast-growing company, which sells a credit card tailored for startups with Emigrant Bank currently acting as the issuer, said that it had submitted an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions (UDFI) to establish Brex Bank.

A number of fintech companies, or those with fintech services, have spun up products typically offered by banks, including deposit and chequings accounts as well as credit offerings. Often, these are designed to provide capital to customers who might not be able to get funding on favorable terms from traditional banking institutions, but who might qualify for business-building loans from a provider who knows their company, like Square, inside and out.

#amrita-ahuja, #bank, #banking, #fdic, #finance, #salt-lake-city, #square, #square-capital, #startups, #tc, #utah

Brex applies for bank charter, taps former Silicon Valley Bank exec as CEO of Brex Bank

Brex is the latest fintech to apply for a bank charter.

The fast-growing company, which sells a credit card tailored for startups with Emigrant Bank currently acting as the issuer, announced Friday that it has submitted an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions (UDFI) to establish Brex Bank.

The industrial bank will be located in Draper, Utah, and be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Brex.

The company has tapped former Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) exec Bruce Wallace to serve as the subsidiary’s CEO. He served in several roles at SVB, including COO, Chief Digital Officer and head of global services. It also has named Jean Perschon, the former CFO for UBS Bank USA, to be the Brex Bank CFO.

Last May, Brex announced that it had raised $150 million in a Series C extension from a group of existing investors, including DST Global and Lone Pine Capital.

With that raise, Brex, which was co-founded by Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, had amassed $465 million in venture capital funding to-date.

The company said in a statement today that “Brex Bank will expand upon its existing suite of financial products and business software, offering credit solutions and FDIC insured deposit products to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).”

Offering credit products to small businesses has become a popular product offering and source of revenue for tech companies serving entrepreneurs, including Shopify and Square in the commerce arena. Likewise, offering business-focused bank accounts, like Shopify Balance, which is currently in development with a plan to launch sometime this year in the U.S.

These financial products can provide additional opportunities for revenue on interest and cost of borrowing for these companies, who might have better insight into the risk profiles of the types of businesses they serve than traditional lenders and FIs.

“Brex and Brex Bank will work in tandem to help SMBs grow to realize their full potential,” said Wallace.

Brex is based in San Francisco and counts Kleiner Perkins Growth, YC Continuity Fund, Greenoaks Capital, Ribbit Capital, IVP, and DST Global as well as Peter Thiel and Affirm CEO Max Levchin among its investors. It currently has over 400 employees, and though it had significant layoffs mid-year in 2020, it cited restructuring rather than financial difficulty as the cause of that downsize.

Other fintechs that have made moves toward bank charters include Varo Bank, which this week raised another $63 million and SoFi, which last October was granted preliminary approval for a national bank charter.

#bank, #brex, #business-software, #california, #ceo, #cfo, #credit-card, #draper, #dst-global, #finance, #greenoaks-capital, #henrique-dubugras, #ivp, #kleiner-perkins, #lone-pine-capital, #max-levchin, #peter-thiel, #ribbit-capital, #san-francisco, #shopify, #silicon-valley-bank, #sofi, #tc, #utah, #varo-bank

What You Need to Know About Avalanche Safety in the Backcountry

A dangerously unstable snowpack and an influx of people to the backcountry have contributed to a rash of deaths this winter. Here’s what you need to know about avalanche safety.

#accidents-and-safety, #alpine-skiing, #avalanches, #colorado, #content-type-service, #skiing, #utah

A Utah School Made Black History Month Optional. Then It Reversed Itself.

The Maria Montessori Academy, a charter school in North Ogden, allowed parents to opt their students out. But after an outcry and discussions with the parents, it changed course.

#black-people, #charter-schools, #education-k-12, #history-academic-subject, #montessori-schools, #north-ogden-utah, #parenting, #utah

Utah Man Who Looked for Treasure Pleads Guilty to Digging in National Park

Rodrick Dow Craythorn, 52, pleaded guilty to causing more than $1,000 worth of damages in his quest to find Forrest Fenn’s treasure, prosecutors said.

#fenn-forrest-1930, #fines-penalties, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #new-mexico, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #public-property, #rocky-mountains, #santa-fe-nm, #treasure-troves, #utah, #wyoming

Scenes From a Pandemic Holiday Road Trip

Scenes from a holiday season that shone bright in dark times.

#arizona, #asheville-nc, #christmas, #hanukkah, #holidays-and-special-occasions, #maryland, #memphis-tenn, #nashville-tenn, #new-mexico, #pennsylvania, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #road-trips, #texas, #united-states, #utah

How Mink, Like Humans, Were Slammed by the Coronavirus

Rampaging infections at farms caused scandal, scientific head-scratching and a search for a vaccine — for mink.

#agriculture-and-farming, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #denmark, #direct-action-everywhere, #ecohealth-alliance, #epstein-jonathan-h, #fur, #minks-animals, #utah, #your-feed-science

One Wild Mink Near Utah Fur Farms Tests Positive for the Coronavirus

Infection seems to have come from farm animals, but there is no evidence of further spreading.

#agriculture-and-farming, #animal-and-plant-health-inspection-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #ecohealth-alliance, #epstein-jonathan-h, #minks-animals, #utah, #world-organization-for-animal-health-oie, #your-feed-science

Dixie State University in Utah Says It’s in Need of a Name Change

The public university in St. George said about one in five recent graduates surveyed had received negative feedback from prospective out-of-state employers about the name.

#dixie-state-university, #national-assn-for-the-advancement-of-colored-people, #st-george-utah, #utah

How To Build a Monolith

Experts in design and special effects said the monoliths appearing around the world are not that difficult to replicate. (That doesn’t mean you should try.)

#art, #atascadero-calif, #design, #monoliths, #utah

California Men Declare Themselves Makers of Pine Mountain Monolith

Four artist-fabricators say they made the mysterious manifestation in stainless steel that sprang up in Atascadero. Meanwhile, another rises in Las Vegas.

#2001-a-space-odyssey-movie, #art, #atascadero-calif, #california, #las-vegas-nev, #steel-and-iron, #utah

German Phallus Statue Vanishes From Mountain, Then Reappears (Sort of)

The authorities are stumped by what happened to the wooden phallus, a popular Instagram stop for hikers. Along with all the monoliths, it has been quite a month for mysterious public art.

#bavaria-germany, #kubrick-stanley, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #romania, #social-media, #utah, #wood-and-wood-products

Ex-Arizona Official Gets More Than 6 Years in Prison in Adoption Fraud Scheme

Paul D. Petersen, who served as Maricopa County’s assessor, arranged for women from the Marshall Islands to fly to the United States to give birth, prosecutors said.

#arizona, #arkansas, #fayetteville-ark, #fines-penalties, #frauds-and-swindling, #health-insurance-and-managed-care, #human-trafficking, #maricopa-county-ariz, #marshall-islands, #mesa-ariz, #parenting, #petersen-paul-d, #phoenix-ariz, #pregnancy-and-childbirth, #utah, #women-and-girls

Earthlings, It Seems, Not Aliens, Removed the Utah Monolith

A photographer said four men dismantled the mysterious shiny object that has captivated the country.

#aliens, #art, #deserts, #mccracken-john, #monolith, #sculpture, #utah

That Mysterious Monolith in the Utah Desert? It’s Gone, Officials Say

The metal structure has been removed, Utah officials said on Saturday, adding that they had not taken it down.

#art, #bureau-of-land-management, #utah

Did John McCracken Make That Monolith in Utah?

It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, buried in the desert: If the sculptor made this tall, silvery object, it was without mentioning a word to his dealer or his art friends.

#2001-a-space-odyssey-movie, #art, #deserts, #extraterrestrial-life, #john-mccracken, #kelley-mike-1954-2012, #ruscha-edward, #sculpture, #star-trek-tv-program, #utah, #zwirner-david-gallery

7 Places Where the Slopes Are Less Skied

These under-the-radar resorts offer plenty of room to turn, and plenty of challenge amid a winter of social distancing.

#california, #colorado, #idaho, #montana, #new-hampshire, #skiing, #travel-and-vacations, #utah, #vermont

A Weird Monolith Is Found in the Utah Desert

A team surveying bighorn sheep for Utah’s wildlife agency found the strange object, 10 to 12 feet tall, embedded in the ground in a remote part of Red Rock Country. It’s probably art, officials said.

#2001-a-space-odyssey-movie, #art, #bureau-of-land-management, #federal-lands, #utah

Spirits of Grandfathers Past

My wife and I thought we were two strangers meeting on social media. Turns out, we shared some history.

#grandparents, #myspace-com, #utah

From Fashion to a Fantasia in Stone

The photographer Priscilla Rattazzi brings to life the amazing, endangered Hoodoo rock sculptures of southern Utah.

#art, #content-type-personal-profile, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #photography, #priscilla-rattazzi, #staley-wise-gallery-manhattan-ny, #utah

Hiker Is Rescued in Zion National Park After Nearly Two Weeks Missing

Holly Suzanne Courtier, 38, went missing on Oct. 6 after getting off a shuttle bus at the park in Utah. She was found safely on Sunday, the authorities said.

#holly-suzanne-courtier, #national-park-service, #national-parks-monuments-and-seashores, #parks-and-other-recreation-areas, #utah, #zion-national-park-utah

A Utah Man Meets a Cougar. Chasing and Swearing Ensue.

Kyle Burgess, 26, encountered an adult mountain lion while trying to take a video of her cubs. For nearly six minutes, he retreated backward on a hiking trail, keeping his eyes and his phone trained on the cat.

#animal-behavior, #conservation-of-resources, #mountain-lions-and-cougars, #social-media, #utah

Man Pleads Guilty to Killing and Burning a Utah College Student

Under a plea deal, Ayoola A. Ajayi, 32, will avoid a possible death sentence and will be sentenced to life in prison without parole later this month, prosecutors said.

#lueck-mackenzie-d-2019, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #police-department-salt-lake-city-utah, #seeking-arrangement, #utah

Coronavirus Schools Briefing: Lunch Along With Learning

Providing free meals is a crucial function for schools.

#bloomington-ind, #bogota-colombia, #colleges-and-universities, #coronavirus-reopenings, #education-k-12, #florida, #georgia, #missouri, #oklahoma, #tennessee, #utah

Mountain Time Is the Best Time Zone in America

Not that it needs to prove anything.

#albuquerque-nm, #idaho, #jackson-hole-wyo, #time, #utah

Coronavirus Strikes Mink in Utah

Five animals on two farms test positive, but many more are believed to be affected.

#agriculture-and-farming, #agriculture-department, #animals, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #humane-society-of-the-united-states, #minks-animals, #netherlands, #utah

As it adds Jeremy Milken to the partnership, Watertower Ventures nears $50 million close for its new fund

Derek Norton and Jeremy Milken have known each other for twenty years. Over their longtime personal and professional relationship, the two Los Angeles-based serial entrepreneurs have invested in each other’s companies and investment firms, but never worked together until now.

Milken is taking the plunge into institutional investing, joining Norton as a partner in Watertower Ventures just as the firm prepares to close on a $50 million new fund.

It’s an auspicious time for both Los Angeles-based businessmen, as the LA venture community sees a wave of technology talent relocating from New York and San Francisco in the newly remote work culture created by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“I see two things happen. One people look at the effects of where the market’s going. We’re seeing a lot more companies that are starting up now as a result of a [the pandemic],” said Norton. “New company formation is happening faster than before covid. [And] a lot of venture capitalists that have relocated to LA. They’ve moved down to LA for lifestyle reasons and they’re saying that they don’t need to go back to San Francisco.”

For Milken, the opportunity to get into venture now is a function of the company creation and acceleration of digital adoption that Norton referenced. “The pandemic is accelerating change in the marketplace. Things that might have taken a decade are taking two years now,” Milken said.

These opportunities are creating an opening for Watertower Ventures in markets far beyond the Hollywood hills. The firm, whose original thesis focused on Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, is now cutting checks on investments in Texas and Utah, and spending much less time looking for companies in the Bay Area.

Derek Norton, founder, Watertower Ventures: Image Credit: Watertower Ventures

Norton’s latest fund is the only the most recent act in a career that has seen the investor traverse the financial services digital media and the early days of the internet. Norton built Digital Boardwalk, a pioneering internet service provider and the second commercial partner for the trailblazing browser service, Netscape.

Later, at Jeffries Technologies, and the $120 million Entertainment Media Ventures seed and early stage venture capital fund, Norton was intimately involved in bringing tech to market and focusing on early stage investments. With that in mind, the Watertower Ventures group, which launched in 2017 with a small, $5 million fund, is a return to those roots.

The plan, even at the time, was always to raise a larger fund. After founding and running the boutique investment banking business at Watertower Group, Norton knew he had to raise a starter fund to prove the thesis he was working on.

That thesis was to provide a bridge between early stage companies and large technology companies using the network that Norton has built in the Southern California tech and entertainment community over decades.

“We want to take our contacts at Google, Apple, Facebook, Disney, Microsoft, Cisco, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and other companies we believe should have a relationship with our portfolio companies, and help the CEOs and management teams more effectively do business development,” Norton told SoCal Tech when he closed his first fund in 2017. “We want to connect them to the right person at those companies to create a commercial relationship. That has a really large impact on early stage companies, who typically don’t have a deep network of relationships, and the ability to get to those type of people. It’s because of our advisory business that we have those relationships, and that’s also why those relationships stay fresh and active, versus people who aren’t in those businesses. It’s almost a full time job to maintain that, and that’s where our value-add is.”

Milken, who has spent his professional career in entrepreneurship, was ready to try investing, and was intimately familiar with Watertower and its portfolio, as an investor in the firm’s first $5 million fund.

“Two years ago we started having those conversations,” said Norton in an interview. “As Jeremy exited his business in September it created the opportunity to go out and raise together as the evolution of our partnership.”

Jeremy Milken, general partner, Watertower Ventures. Image Credit: Watertower Ventures

With the new capital coming in, Norton expects to back some 30 to 35 companies, he said. And, in a testament to the first fund’s performance, which has it in the top decile of venture funds for its vintage, Norton said he was able to raise the capital amidst the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 70 percent of the existing portfolio has been marked up, according to Norton.

Even though limited partners, the investors who back venture funds, were reluctant to commit capital to new firms in March and April, fundraising returned with a vengeance in June and July, according to Norton. The paper performance likely was enough to woo additional limited partners and individual investors including TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer, the former head of streaming at Disney.

Mayer’s presence in the firm’s investor base is a testament to the firm’s pitch to founders. “We view fundraising as a massive distraction for these early stage companies from their business. We try to deliver that network that’s ours to those founders,” said Norton.

“I think we’re in a unique position starting with a fresh fund here,” says Norton. “Uncertainty creates opportunity and people are bringing solutions. We haven’t noticed any slowdown whatsoever, we’re working with twenty five companies per week. Since the inception of the fund, we haven’t seen deal flow at this level.”

#att, #comcast, #corporate-finance, #entrepreneurship, #facebook, #finance, #financial-services, #google, #investment, #kevin-mayer, #los-angeles, #louisiana, #money, #new-york, #partner, #private-equity, #tc, #texas, #tiktok, #utah, #venture-capital, #verizon

With technology to perfect product pitches in digital marketplaces Pattern raises $52 million

Pattern, a Lehi, Utah-based reseller that offers large and small brands a way to optimize their sales on marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Google Shopping, has raised $52 million in growth funding, the company said.

The money, from Ainge Advisory and KSV Global, will be used to expand the company’s business worldwide.

Founded in 2013, the e-commerce reseller uses analytics to lock down market specific keywords in advertising and has managed to reach a run-rate that should see it hit $500 million in annual revenue by the end of 2020, according to Pattern co-founder and chief investment officer, Melanie Alder.

Brands like Nestle, Pandora, Panasonic, Zebra and Skechers sell their goods to Pattern in an effort to juice sales on digital marketplaces.

“Pattern represents our brands in the US, across Europe, and in select markets in Asia, selling for us on global marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, Tmall, and JD as well as building and managing three of our direct-to-consumer sites,” said Kyle Bliffert, CEO and president of Atrium Innovations, a Nestle Health Science company, in a statement. “The global e-commerce growth we have experienced by leveraging Pattern’s expertise is extraordinary.”

Pattern places bets on where a product is likely to receive the most attention using specific keywords, according to the company’s chief executive, Dave Wright. The company buys products from its brand partners and then sells them widely across marketplaces in the US, Europe and Asia. These markets represent $2.7 trillion in total sales and Wright expects it to reach $7 trillion by 2024.

As Wright noted, a majority of searchers for sales begin on Amazon . The company just opened its eighteenth location in Germany. Pattern has grown sales for brands from $3 million to $26 million and the company makes money off of the margin on the sales of products. With the new funding, the company intends to expand into other geographies like Japan and India.

Wright says his company addresses one of the fundamental problems with advertising technology — the proliferation of tools hasn’t meant better optimization for most brands, because they’re teams aren’t equipped to specialize.

While there may be hundreds of different advertising and marketing folks working at a company, each company may have hundreds of brands that it sells and the dedicated teams to specific brands may only have one or two  people on staff.

“Data makes all the difference,” said co-founder and CEO Dave Wright. “I’ve spent the bulk of my career in data science and data management, and our ability to detect and act on ‘patterns’ on ecommerce platforms has allowed the brands we represent to be incredibly successful.”

#amazon, #asia, #brand, #data-management, #e-commerce, #ebay, #europe, #germany, #google, #india, #japan, #nestle, #panasonic, #retailers, #tc, #tmall, #united-states, #utah, #walmart, #zebra

Thinking of Traveling in the U.S.? These States Have Travel Restrictions

A third of states have strict measures in place for visitors, from mandatory testing to quarantine requirements.

#alabama, #alaska, #american-automobile-assn, #automobiles, #boise-idaho, #california, #chicago-ill, #connecticut, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-reopenings, #delaware, #florida, #georgia, #hawaii, #idaho, #illinois, #indiana, #iowa, #kansas, #louisiana, #maine, #massachusetts, #miami-dade-county-fla, #mississippi, #nevada, #new-england-states-us, #north-carolina, #pennsylvania, #rhode-island, #south-carolina, #states-us, #tennessee, #texas, #travel-and-vacations, #travel-warnings, #utah, #vermont, #wisconsin