Andreessen Horowitz could make the carbon offset API Patch its latest climate bet

The early-stage carbon offset API developer, Patch, could be another one of Andreessen Horowitz’s early bets on climate tech.

According to several people with knowledge of the investment round, former OpenTable chief executive and current Andreessen Horowitz partner Jeff Jordan is looking at leading the young company’s latest financing.

Such an investment would be a win for Patch, which could benefit from Andreessen Horowitz’s marketing muscle in a space that’s becoming increasingly crowded. And, if the deal goes through, it could be an indicator of more to come from one of the venture industry’s most (socially) active investors.

Companies like Pachama, Cloverly, Carbon Interface, and Cooler.dev all have similar API offerings, but the market for these types of services will likely expand as more companies try to do the least amount of work possible to become carbon neutral through offsetting. A growing market could generate space for more than one venture-backed winner.

Neither Patch’s co-founders nor Andreessen Horowitz responded to a request for comment about the funding.

One concern with services like Patch is that its customers will look at offsetting as their final destination instead of a step on the road to removing carbon emissions from business operations. To fix our climate crisis will take more work.

Founded by Brennan Spellacy and Aaron Grunfeld, two former employees at the apartment rental service Sonder, Patch raised its initial financing from VersionOne Ventures back in September.

Around 15 to twenty companies that are using the service now, according to people familiar with the company’s operations.

The company has an API that can calculate a company’s emissions footprint based on an integration with their ERP system and then invests money into offset projects that are designed to remove an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.

While services like Pachama privilege lower-cost sequestration solutions like reforestation and forest management, Patch offers an array of potential investment opportunities for offsets. And the company tries to nudge its customers to some of the more expensive, high technology options in an effort to bring down costs for emerging technologies, said one person familiar with the company’s plans.

Like other services automating offsetting, Patch evaluates projects based on their additionality (how much additional carbon they’re removing over an already established baseline), permanence (how long the carbon emissions will be sequestered) and verifiability.

And, as the company’s founders note in their own statement about the company’s service, it’s not intended to be the only solution that customers deploy.

“The majority of climate models indicate that we need to reduce our emissions globally, while also removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” the founders wrote in a Medium post. “We take care of a company’s carbon removal goals, while they focus their efforts on reducing emissions, a more proprietary task that requires intimate operational knowledge. Patch complements this behavioral shift and gives us a real chance to mitigate climate change.”

VersionOne’s Angela Tran addressed any concerns about the defensibility of Patch’s technology in her own September announcement.

“We also believe that defensibility comes with the aggregation and “digitization” of quality supply. When we view Patch as a marketplace, we believe that businesses (demand) care about the type of projects (supply) they purchase to neutralize their emissions,” Tran wrote. “For example, a company might choose their sustainability legacy to be linked with forestry or mineralization projects. Patch is partnering with the best carbon removal developers and the latest negative emission technologies to build a network of low-cost, impactful projects.”

While Patch is explicitly focused on climate change, Andreessen has made a few early investments in a broad sustainability thesis. The firm led a $9 million investment into Silo last year and backed KoBold Metals back in 2019.

Silo has developed an enterprise resource planning tool for perishable food supply chains. Currently focused on wholesale produce, Silo said in a statement last year that it would be extending its services to meat, dairy and pantry items over the next year.

“The market potential for an innovator like Silo to reduce waste and improve margins is enormous and we’re excited to support its efforts as the system of record for food distribution in the United States,” said Anish Acharya, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a statement at the time. “Silo is well-positioned to scale beyond the west coast to help more customers modernize and transition their operations from pen and paper to software.”

Meanwhile, KoBold is a software developer that uses machine learning and big data processing technologies to find new prospects for the precious metals that companies need to make new batteries and renewable energy generation technologies.

“By building a digital prospecting engine — full stack, from scratch — using computer vision, machine learning, and sophisticated data analysis not currently available to the industry, KoBold’s software combines previously unavailable, dark data with conventional geochemical, geophysical, and geological data to identify prospects in models that can only get better over time, as with other data network effects,” wrote Connie Chan in a blog post at the time.

Taken together, these investments coalesce into a picture of how Andreessen Horowitz and its pool of $16.5 billion in assets under management may approach the renewables industry.

#andreessen, #andreessen-horowitz, #anish-acharya, #api, #chemistry, #general-partner, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #jeff-jordan, #opentable, #pachama, #patch, #renewable-energy, #tc, #united-states, #west-coast

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Bristol entrepreneur who exited for $800M doubles-down on the city with deep-tech incubator and VC fund

Harry Destecroix co-founded Ziylo while studying for his PhD at the University of Bristol. Ziylo, a university spin-out company, developed a synthetic molecule allowing glucose to bind with the bloodstream more effectively. Four years later, and by then a Phd, Destecroix sold the company to Danish firm Novo Nordisk, one of the biggest manufacturers of diabetes medicines, which had realized it could use Ziylo’s molecule to develop a new type of insulin to help diabetics. He walked away with an estimated $800m.

Destecroix is now embarking on a project, “Science Creates”, to repeat the exercise of creating deep-tech, science-based startups, and it will once more be based out of Bristol.

To foster this deep tech ecosystem it will offer a specialized incubator space able to house Wet Labs, a £15 million investment fund and a network of strategic partners to nurture science and engineering start-ups and spin-outs.

The Science Creates hub, in partnership with the University of Bristol and located in the heart of the city, is aspiring to become a sort of ‘West Coast’ for England, and the similarities, at least with an earlier version of Silicon Valley, are striking.

The Bay Area of old was cheaper than the East Coast of the US, had a cornerstone university, access to capital, and plenty of talent. Bristol has all that and for capital, it can access London, less than 90 minutes by train. But what it’s lacked until now is a greater level of “clustering” and startup-focused organization, which is clearly what Destecroix is planning to fix.

In a statement for the launch, he explained: “Where a discovery is made has a huge bearing on whether it’s successfully commercialized. While founding my own start-up, Ziylo, I became aware of just how many discoveries failed to emerge from the lab in Bristol alone. No matter the quality of the research and discovery, the right ecosystem is fundamental if we are going to challenge the global 90% failure rate of science start-ups, and create many more successful ventures.”

Science Creates is be grown out of the original incubator, Unit DX, that Destecroix set up in collaboration with the University of Bristol in 2017 to commercialize companies like his own.

The Science Creates team

The Science Creates team

The ‘Science Creates ecosystem’ will comprise of:

Science Creates Incubators: Unit DX houses 37 scientific and engineering companies working on healthtech, the environment and quality of life. The opening of a second incubator, Unit DY, close to Bristol Temple Meads train station, will mean it can support 100 companies and an estimated 450 jobs. The Science Creates’ physical footprint across the two units will reach 45,000 sq ft.

Science Creates Ventures: This £15 million EIS venture capital fund is backed by the Bristol-based entrepreneurs behind some of the South-West’s biggest deep tech exits.

Science Creates Network: This will be a portfolio of strategic partners, mentors and advisors tailored to the needs of science and engineering start-ups.

Destecroix is keen that the startups nurtured there will have more than “Wi-Fi and strong coffee” but also well-equipped lab space as well as sector-specific business support.

He’s betting that Bristol, with its long history of academic and industrial research, world-class research base around the University of Bristol, will be able to overcome the traditional challenges towards the commercialization of deep tech and science-based startups.

Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of Bristol, commented: “We are delighted to support the vision and help Science Creates to build a thriving deep tech ecosystem in our home city. Great scientists don’t always know how to be great entrepreneurs, but we’ve seen the impact specialist support can have in helping them access the finance, networks, skills, and investment opportunities they need. Working with Science Creates, we aim to support even more ground-breaking discoveries to progress outside the university walls, and thrive as successful commercial ventures that change our world for the better.”

Ventures in Unit DX so far include:
– Imophoron (a vaccine tech start-up that is reinventing how vaccines are made and work – currently working on a COVID vaccine)
– Cytoseek (a discovery-stage biotech working on cell therapy cancer treatment)
– Anaphite (graphine-based science for next gen battery technology).

In an exclusive interview with TechCrunch, Destecroix went on to say: “After my startup exited I just got really interested in this idea that, where discovery is actually founded has a huge bearing on whether something is actually commercialized or not. The pandemic has really taught us there is a hell of a lot more – especially in the life sciences, and environmental sciences – that has still yet to be discovered. Vaccines are based on very old technology and take a while to develop.”

“Through this whole journey, I started trying to understand it from an economic perspective. How do we get more startups to emerge? To lower those barriers? I think first of all there’s a cultural problem, especially with academically-focused universities whereby entrepreneurship a dirty word. I had to go against many of my colleagues in the early days to spin out, then obviously universities own all the IP. And so you’ve got to go through the tech transfer office etc and depending on what university you are at, whether it’s Imperial, Cambridge or Oxford, they’re all different. So, and I put the reason why there were no deep terch startups in Bristol down to the fact that there was no incubator space, and not enough investment.”

“I’ve now made about 14 angel investments. Bristol has now catapulted from 20th in the league tables for life sciences to six in the country in the last three years and this is largely due to the activities that we’ve been helping to encourage. So we’ve helped streamline licensing processes for the university, and I’ve helped cornerstone a lot of these deals which has resulted in a wave of these technology startups coming in.”

“I thought, now’s the time to professionalize this and launch a respectable Bristol-based venture capital firm that specializes in deep technologies.”

#advisors, #articles, #bristol, #business, #cambridge, #cancer-treatment, #deep-tech, #east-coast, #economy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #finance, #london, #oxford, #private-equity, #start-up, #start-ups, #startup-company, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #venture-capital, #west-coast, #wi-fi

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Microsoft announces its first Azure data center region in Denmark

Microsoft continues to expand its global Azure data center presence at a rapid clip. After announcing new regions in Austria and Taiwan in October, the company today revealed its plans to launch a new region in Denmark.

As with many of Microsoft’s recent announcements, the company is also attaching a commitment to provide digital skills to 200,000 people in the country (in this case, by 2024).

“With this investment, we’re taking the next step in our longstanding commitment to provide Danish society and businesses with the digital tools, skills and infrastructure needed to drive sustainable growth, innovation, and job creation. We’re investing in Denmark’s digital leap into the future – all in a way that supports the country’s ambitious climate goals and economic recovery,” said Nana Bule, General Manager, Microsoft Denmark.

Azure regions

Image Credits: Microsoft

The new data center, which will be powered by 100% renewable energy and feature multiple availability zones, will feature support for what has now become the standard set of Microsoft cloud products: Azure, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365 and Power Platform.

As usual, the idea here is to provide low-latency access to Microsoft’s tools and services. It has long been Microsoft’s strategy to blanket the globe with local data centers. Europe is a prime example of this, with regions (both operational and announced) in about a dozen countries already. In the U.S., Azure currently offers 13 regions (including three exclusively for government agencies), with a new region on the West Coast coming soon.

“This is a proud day for Microsoft in Denmark,” said Brad Smith, President, Microsoft. “Building a hyper-scale datacenter in Denmark means we’ll store Danish data in Denmark, make computing more accessible at even faster speeds, secure data with our world-class security, protect data with Danish privacy laws, and do more to provide to the people of Denmark our best digital skills training. This investment reflects our deep appreciation of Denmark’s green and digital leadership globally and our commitment to its future.”

#austria, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #computing, #denmark, #developer, #europe, #microsoft, #microsoft-azure, #renewable-energy, #subscription-services, #taiwan, #united-states, #west-coast

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Elon Musk says Tesla will ‘one day’ produce ‘super efficient home HVAC’ with HEPA filtering

Elon Musk has previously touted the ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’ boasted by Tesla’s vehicles, which are designed to provide excellent air quality inside the car even in the face of disastrous conditions without, thanks in part to high-efficiency HEPA air filtration. Now, Musk has said on Twitter that he hopes to one day provide similar air filtration along with home HVAC systems.

Tesla, while primarily an automaker, is also already in the business of home energy and power generation, thanks to its acquisition of SolarCity, its current production of solar roofing products, and its business building Tesla batteries for storage of power generated from green sources at home. While it hasn’t yet seemed to make any moves to enter into any other parts of home building or infrastructure, HVAC systems actually would be a logical extension of its business, since they represent a significant part of the overall energy consumption of a home, depending on its heating and cooling sources.

Boosting home HVAC efficiency would have the added benefit of making Tesla’s other home energy products more appealing to consumers, since it would presumably help make it easier to achieve true off-grid (or near off-grid) self-sufficiency.

As for the company’s HEPA filtration, despite the jokey name, Tesla actually takes ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’ very seriously. In a blog post in 2016, it detailed what went into the system’s design, along with testing data to back up its claims of a HEPA filter that’s “ten times more efficient than standard automotive filters.” While Tesla doesn’t cited wildfires in that post, it does list “California freeways during rush hour, smelly marshes, cow pastures in the Central Valley of California, and major cities in China” in terms of challenges it wanted it to to be able to handle.

Many experts are predicting that the wildfires we’re currently seeing devastating large portions of the west coast of the U.S. will only get worse as environmental conditions continue to suffer the impact of climate change. Given that, and given Tesla’s larger business goals of offering a range of products that neutralize or reduce the ecological impact of its customers, more efficient and effective home HVAC products don’t seem that far outside its operational expertise.

#articles, #california, #china, #elon-musk, #greentech, #hardware, #health, #solar-city, #solarcity, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #united-states, #west-coast

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Kibbo wants to remake the trailer park so #vanlife can be a life and not a lifestyle

Colin O’Donnell was already rethinking the notion of what makes cities and communities function even before the COVID-19 epidemic swept through the U.S. and revealed some of the cracks in centuries-old structures of urban life.

O’Donnell was part of the early wave of urban tech innovation, which began to rise about six years ago. He co-founded Intersection, a company manufacturing digital kiosks for public transportation services, which was eventually rolled up in one of the first big acquisitions from the Alphabet-owned subsidiary Sidewalk Labs .

While the initial optimism for — and interest in — technology’s ability to reshape the built environment has stumbled thanks to both Sidewalk’s data collection overreach in its initial Toronto project and the financial stresses that the COVID-19 epidemic has placed on cities across the country, experiments with how to integrate technology into society more intelligently continue on the margins. And investments in real estate technology continue to rise.

O’Donnell’s new company, Kibbo, takes advantage of both trends. The San Francisco-based startup aims to upgrade the American trailer park, making it a network of intentional communities for the remote-working, previously urban professionals (PUPs?).

To ensure that these remote working puppies (I’m going with it) can navigate the American roadways in the manner to which they’re accustomed, Kibbo pitches exclusive RV parks outfitted with amenities like kitchen supplies and basic staples like coffee and snacks, a gym and recreational facilities for congregating. The company is now taking applications for membership and will be charging $1,000 per month to access its locations of sites near major national parks across the West Coast.

For members who don’t have their own vehicles, Kibbo offers access to top-of-the-line Mercedes Sprinters outfitted with the latest in #vanlife amenities. The vans cost roughly $1,000 per month to rent.

Beginning in the fall, members who get past Kibbo’s virtual velvet rope and gain access to the company’s communities will be able to visit spots in Ojai, Zion, Black Rock Desert and Big Sur. Those locations will be complemented by spots in urban cores in Los Angeles, San Francisco and somewhere in Silicon Valley, according to a statement from O’Donnell.

“With the pressure of months of quarantine fueling the desire for people to get out of their expensive apartments in the city to explore nature and connect with people, we now have the demand and opportunity to rethink how we live, work, have fun, and find meaning,” he said. “We get to rethink the urban experience and define what we want cities of the future to really look like.”

With Kibbo’s launch, would-be puppies (still going with it) attracted to its vision of a network of community spaces shared by professionals whose companies have embraced remote work, can now pay $100 to apply to be part of the network.

Image Credit: Kibbo

The company is tapping in to a part of the American zeitgeist that’s nearly as old as the country itself. From its inception, people came (and colonized) the country in an effort to create communities that would reflect their values and beliefs and afford them an opportunity to flourish (at the expense of others).

It’s also working off of the glamping phenomenon that netted HipCamp a valuation over $100 million and grabbed Tentrr an $11 million round of financing. HipCamp offers a database of campsites that earns money by taking a commission from the bookings it facilitates to over 300,000 sites across the U.S.

Like Tentrr, Kibbo is using private land to set up sites accessible to membership. But unlike Tentrr, Kibbo owns its own real estate and is setting up its sites to be part of a community rather than just an experience for travelers looking for a different option from a city vacation or competing for campsites at national parks.

Kibbo also thinks of itself as developing a new kind of roving cities comprised of a certain kind of membership.

“Unlike, traditional top-down designed and built real estate developments, Kibbo is setting out to build the first of the next generation of cities: flexible, reconfigurable, designed and defined by the people that live in it, off the grid and sustainable,” O’Donnell said. 

That’s what attracted Urban.us investor Shaun Abrahamson.

“In the short and medium term, I think this looks like a specialty part of the RV market. However, our sense is that RV experience was designed for vacations or retirees and trends like remote work and van life suggest there is demand for different kind of infrastructure and experience… Our longer term interest is climate and affordable housing,” Abrahamson said.  

Climate change and the resulting flooding, fires and rising sea levels are going to change the kinds of infrastructure to support permanent housing, Abrahamson said.

Van life is benefitting from mobile infrastructure — solar + batteries make off-grid easier. As prices come down, mobile housing and infrastructure will become more attractive. And Kibbo is filling in other lightweight pieces of infrastructure related to things like sanitation and security and, yes, they’ll layer in experiences, too,” he said.  

Both Abrahamson and O’Donnell think there will be more nomadic communities far beyond vacations and retirement, and Kibbo is the firm’s attempt to tap into that trend. It’s a vision for a future of cities that doesn’t include them, and one that O’Donnell, a New York transplant living in a communal space in San Francisco, embraces.

“While Kibbo offers an exciting lifestyle from day one, we’re making a bet that the future of cities is electric, autonomous, distributed, renewable and user-generated,” O’Donnell said.

Image Credit: Kibbo

#hipcamp, #kibbo, #new-york, #real-estate, #san-francisco, #sidewalk-labs, #tc, #west-coast

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From bioprinting lab-grown meat in Russia to Beyond Meat in the US, KFC is embracing the future of food

From a partnership with the Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions to make chicken meat replacements using plant material and lab cultured chicken cells to an expansion of its Beyond Fried Chicken pilots to Southern California, KFC is aggressively pushing forward with its experiments around the future of food.

In Russia, that means providing 3D Bioprinting with breading and spices to see if the company’s chicken replacements can match the KFC taste, according to a statement from the company. As the company said, there are no other methods available on the market that can allow for the creation of complex products from animal cells.

“3D bioprinting technologies, initially widely recognized in medicine, are nowadays gaining popularity in producing foods such as meat,” said Yusef Khesuani, co-founder and Managing Partner of 3D Bioprinting Solutions, in a statement. “In the future, the rapid development of such technologies will allow us to make 3D-printed meat products more accessible and we are hoping that the technology created as a result of our cooperation with KFC will help accelerate the launch of cell-based meat products on the market.”

KFC beyond meat

Image: Beyond Meat

Closer to its home base in the US, KFC is working with the publicly traded plant-based meat substitute developer Beyond Meat on an expansion of their recent trials for KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken.

Continuing its wildly successful limited trials in Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte, KFC is now setting its sights on the bigger markets in Southern California, near Beyond Meat’s headquarters in Los Angeles.

Beginning on July 20, KFC will be selling Beyond Fried Chicken at 50 stores the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego areas, while supplies last, the company said.

Unlike the 3D bioprinting process used by its Russian partner, Beyond Meat uses plant-based products exclusively to make its faux chicken meat.

Beyond Fried Chicken first appeared on the market last year in Atlanta and was made available in additional markets in the South earlier this year.  The menu item — first available in a one-day consumer test in Atlanta — sold out in less than five hours, the company said.

“I’ve said it before: despite many imitations, the flavor of Kentucky Fried Chicken is one that has never been replicated, until Beyond Fried Chicken,” said Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer, KFC U.S. “We know the east coast loved it, so we thought we’d give those on the west coast a chance to tell us what they think in an exclusive sneak peek.

Beyond Fried Chicken nuggets will be available as a six or 12-piece à la carte or as part of a combo, complete with a side and medium drink starting at $6.99, plus tax.

Meanwhile, KFC’s Russian project aims to create the world’s first lab-made chicken nuggets, and plans to release them this fall in Moscow.

Popularizing lab-grown meat could have a significant impact on climate change according to reports. The company cited statistics indicating that growing meat from cells could half the energy consumption involved in meat production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while  dramatically cutting land use.

“Crafted meat products are the next step in the development of our ‘restaurant of the future’ concept,” said Raisa Polyakova, General Manager of KFC Russia & CIS, in a statement. “Our experiment in testing 3D bioprinting technology to create chicken products can also help address several looming global problems. We are glad to contribute to its development and are working to make it available to thousands of people in Russia and, if possible, around the world.”

#articles, #atlanta, #beyond-meat, #charlotte, #east-coast, #emerging-technologies, #energy-consumption, #fast-food, #food, #food-and-drink, #forward, #fried-chicken, #greenhouse-gas-emissions, #kfc, #los-angeles, #moscow, #nashville, #russia, #san-diego, #synthetic-biology, #tc, #united-states, #west-coast

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Lawsuits allege Microsoft, Amazon and Google violated Illinois facial recognition privacy law

In a set of new lawsuits, two Illinois residents argue that three tech giants violated state laws prohibiting the use of personal biometric data without permission. Illinois residents Steven Vance and Tim Janecyk allege that images of their faces appeared in IBM’s “Diversity in Faces” database without their consent and were used to train facial recognition systems at Amazon, Microsoft and Google’s parent company Alphabet.

While all three companies are based on the West Coast, the suit accuses the tech giants of running afoul of an Illinois law known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). The suit names Vance and Janecyk as plaintiffs but also seeks class action status on behalf of “all other similarly situated individuals” in Illinois. In the lawsuit, the pair of plaintiffs seek $5,000 per violation of the law, an injunction barring the companies from using Illinois residents’ “biometric identifiers” and the destruction of any relevant facial data that’s been stored.

“In its effort to improve its facial recognition technology, Defendant Microsoft violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act… by, among other things, unlawfully collecting, obtaining, storing, using, possessing and profiting from the biometric identifiers and information of Plaintiffs Vance and Janecyk and all other similarly situated Illinois residents and citizens (hereinafter, the “Class Members”),” the version of the suit against Microsoft states.

The law cited in the suit, passed more than a decade ago, is designed to protect Illinois residents from having their biometric data harvested or stored without their explicit permission. Lawsuits involving BIPA pop up with some frequency now, as facial recognition becomes both more commonplace and more controversial. In the absence of federal privacy protections in the U.S., the Illinois law poses an interesting hurdle for companies that are used to extracting data from Americans with little oversight.

In January of this year, Facebook paid $550 million to settle a class action lawsuit stemming from BIPA. The suit was filed on behalf of Illinois residents in 2015 and alleged that the social media giant collected facial recognition data from user images without disclosing it to users. At the time, Snapchat, Google, and Shutterfly faced similar suits.

In 2019, a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court swatted away Facebook’s claim that facial recognition data did not count as biometric data, stating that “development of face template using facial-recognition technology without consent (as alleged here) invades an individual’s private affairs and concrete interests.”

The IBM dataset the companies trained facial recognition systems on also poses its own controversies. As NBC News reported last year, IBM claimed that its Diversity in Faces dataset was designed “purely for academic research” and not for the company’s own commercial interests. The IBM dataset was apparently culled from more than 100 million Creative Commons-licensed Flickr images, a decision that raised its own ethical questions around the use of facial imagery and if corporations should be allowed leverage images with open licensing for facial recognition applications without the consent of photographers and the people they photograph.

#access-control, #amazon, #appeals-court, #authentication, #biometrics, #creative-commons, #face-id, #facebook, #facial-recognition, #google, #ibm, #illinois, #microsoft, #privacy, #recognition, #shutterfly, #surveillance, #tc, #united-states, #west-coast

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Former Lime exec launches Cabana, a company that merges #vanlife and hotels

Is it glamping on wheels? Hotel #vanlife?

It’s Cabana, a new startup from a former Lime executive that’s bringing tricked out vans with all the amenities of a Holiday Inn hotel room to cities on the West Coast starting in Seattle.

Because of Lime I spent 54 consecutive weeks on the road staying at hotels,” recalls Scott Kubly, the co-founder and chief executive of Cabana . “I got this bug that there needed to be a better way.”

So with the benefit of a few years of startup salary in the bank, Kubly launched Cabana. “The way I would describe is vanlife, meets car-sharing, meets a boutique hotel. It’s a hotel room packed into the back of a van.”

The vans come with showers, toilets, a slide out two-range stovetop that can serve as a kitchen and the freedom to hit the road after a customer crushes that last sales meeting, conference appearance, convention, or just needs to travel and experience the outdoors.

The vans cost $200 per-night plus tax to rent and there’s a fleet of several vans already available in Seattle. Booking a van is simple through the company’s app and everything is contactless — an important feature in the COVID-19 era.

Kubly estimates that there’s around $15 billion spent on travel that he thinks he can unlock with Cabana and the company is definitely tapping into a small, but not insignificant trend of glamping, vanlife, luxury experiences that investors are already backing.

Companies like Tentrr, HipCamp and even Airbnb have gotten in on the vanlife movement and Cabana’s founder definitely thinks he can ride the wave.

Cabana has already raised $3.5 million from investors led by Craft Ventures — the investment firm founded by David Sacks. Other investors included Goldcrest Capital, Travis VanderZanden, the chief executive and founder of Bird, and Sunny Madra, Vice President Ford X at Ford Motor Company.

“Cabana gives people an ideal combination of freedom, comfort, and convenience,” said David Sacks, co-founder and general partner of Craft, in a statement.  “Despite the societal upheaval of the last few months, the human desire to travel and explore remains unchanged. Why shelter in place when you can shelter in paradise?”

Sacks may be on to something. According to Kubly, the RV rental business has exploded and are up 650% year-on-year. “People are going a little stir crazy,” he said.

Back in 2019 when Kubly and his co-founder Jonathan Savage, a former nuclear engineer for the Navy and the bassist in the Red Not Chili Peppers (a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band), launched the company, they weren’t expecting to have to deal with running a hospitality business during a pandemic, but they’ve adapted.

Image credit: Cabana

Cabana’s fleet of vans are cleaned and then irradiated with UVC light (the same treatment the President suggested, wrongly, for people) and then left to stand for six-to-eight hours between rentals.

The hardest part of the business hasn’t been handling the vans or disinfecting them for customers concerned about the novel coronavirus, but the more mundane task of cleaning out the toilets.

“There is a toilet and a toilet tank,” said Kubly. “At the end of every trip we swap that out. Just like scooters have swappable batteries we have swappable toilet tanks. It is the big downside of the business.”

He should know. He spent the first six months that the company was in business cleaning out the tanks himself on the retrofitted van that he and Savage had bought to test the business idea.

“Ideas that utilize existing infrastructure and satisfy a previously unseen or emerging consumer need are often the genesis of companies that can establish and lead a new industry,”  said VanderZanden in a statement. “Cabana fits squarely within this theory and provides travelers a new way to experience and explore destinations that might not otherwise have been available to them while also avoiding carbon-emitting flights.” 

#airbnb, #bank, #cabana, #car-sharing, #co-founder, #craft-ventures, #david-sacks, #executive, #hipcamp, #navy, #president, #seattle, #sports, #tc, #tentrr, #travis-vanderzanden, #van, #west-coast

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Polestar’s first all-electric vehicle will start at $59,900 in the US

Polestar, the electric performance brand spun out of Volvo, said the base price of its first all-electric vehicle will be $59,900 in the United States, lower than originally targeted.

The 2021 Polestar 2, an electric performance fastback, is the first EV to come out of a brand that was relaunched three years ago. Polestar, once a high-performance brand under Volvo Cars, was recast as an electric performance brand in 2017. The aim was to produce exciting and fun-to-drive electric vehicles — a niche that Tesla was the first to fill and has dominated ever since.

The company believes the vehicle is well-positioned for a successful entry into the U.S. market thanks to its lower pricing, tax incentives and the ability for customers to buy it online, said Gregor Hembrough, who heads up Polestar USA. The U.S. prices are also below incentive thresholds in a few critical markets such as California and New York.

Polestar has been trickling out announcements around the upcoming Polestar 2 for months now, including pricing for Europe, which starts at €58,800. On Thursday, the company revealed a few more pricing details for the various options customers can buy, including a $5,000 performance pack, a $4,000 upgrade of Nappa leather interior and $1,200 for 20-inch alloy wheels.

The Polestar 2 will likely be held up as a possible competitor to the Tesla Model 3. The pricing on the two vehicles don’t quite match up unless the $7,500 federal tax incentive, for which Polestar still qualifies, is considered. Tesla no longer qualifies for the federal tax credit because it has sold more than 200,000 electric vehicles.

Stripping out the incentives, the base price of the Polestar 2 is slightly more expensive than the performance version of the Model 3, which starts at $56,990.

Until the automaker begins delivery to the U.S., which is expected this summer, it won’t be clear how it stacks up against the Model 3.

Polestar is aiming to attract customers with tech and the performance specs of the fastback, which produces 408 horsepower, 487 pound feet of torque and has a 78 kWh battery pack that delivers an estimated range of 292 miles under Europe’s WLTP. Polestar hasn’t released the EPA estimates for the Polestar 2.

The interior of the Polestar 2, which features Google’s Android Automotive operating system.

The Polestar 2’s infotainment system will be powered by Android OS and, as a result, bring into the car embedded Google services such as Google Assistant, Google Maps and the Google Play Store. This shouldn’t be confused with Android Auto, which is a secondary interface that lies on top of an operating system. Android OS is modeled after its open-source mobile operating system that runs on Linux. But instead of running smartphones and tablets, Google modified it so it could be used in cars.

Polestar, which is jointly owned by Volvo Car Group and Zhejiang Geely Holding of China, plans to open physical retail showrooms called Polestar Spaces once stay-at-home orders prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted. The first of these locations will open on the West Coast of the United States and New
York in late summer 2020, the company said. The Polestar 2 will be available in all 50 states to buy or lease.

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Impossible Foods rolls out to nearly 1,000 new grocery stores and supermarkets

Starting tomorrow, 777 supermarkets in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Nevada will begin stocking the Impossible Foods plant-based meat substitute.

Fueling the increased distribution and a push to expand its product suite and geographic footprint domestically and internationally is a $500 million round of funding the company closed in March.

Some of that money is supporting the company’s debut at stores like Albertsons, Jewel-Osco, Pavilions, Safeway and Vons.

In all, the company said it would be in nearly 1,000 grocery stores by tomorrow. That includes all Albertsons, Vons, Pavilions and Gelson’s Markets in Southern California; all Safeway stores in Northern California and Nevada; Jewel-Osco stores in Chicago, eastern Iowa and northwest Indiana; Wegmans stores on the East Coast and Fairway markets in and around New York.

Since its debut in September, the company said it was the number one item sold at the locations it was available on the East and West coasts.

The company’s 12-ounce packages are sold for somewhere between $8.99 and $9.99 and it plans to soon introduce the Impossible Burger at even more stores nationwide.

“We’ve always planned on a dramatic surge in retail for 2020 — but with more and more Americans’ eating at home, we’ve received requests from retailers and consumers alike,” said Impossible Foods’ president Dennis Woodside, in a statement. “Our existing retail partners have achieved record sales of Impossible Burger in recent weeks, and we are moving as quickly as possible to expand with retailers nationwide.”

Even as the company announced its expansion, it made moves to assuage any consumer concerns over the processes in place at its manufacturing facilities.

Impossible Foods said it had instituted mandatory work from home policies for all of its employees who can telecommute; restricted visitors to its facilities and those operated by co-manufacturers; banned all work-related travel; and implemented new sanitizing and disinfection procedures at its workplaces.

“Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our employees, customers and consumers,” Woodside said. “And we recognize our responsibility for the welfare of our community, including the entire San Francisco Bay Area, our global supplier and customer network, millions of customers, and billions of people who are relying on food manufacturers to produce supplies in times of need.”

The company said it was proceeding with its research and development initiatives; accelerating the ramp of its production facilities; and moving to broadly commercialize its Impossible Sausage and Impossible Pork products.

Impossible Foods has raised $1.3 billion from investors, including Mirae Asset Global Investments, Khosla Ventures, Horizons Ventures and Temasek.

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