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California Says PG&E Power Lines Caused Camp Fire That Killed 85

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Accidents and Safety, Bankruptcies, California, Electric Light and Power, Fires and Firefighters, Newsom, Gavin, Pacific Gas and Electric Co, Paradise (Calif), Wildfires | 0 comments

State officials concluded that Pacific Gas & Electric lines caused the Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise and is the deadliest in state history.
Source: New York Times

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White House refuses to endorse the ‘Christchurch Call’ to block extremist content online

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Australia, California, Canada, censorship, Facebook, France, freedom of speech, Google, hate crime, hate speech, New Zealand, Social Media, Software, TC, Terrorism, Twitter, United Kingdom, United States, White House, world wide web | 0 comments

The United States will not join other nations in endorsing the “Christchurch Call” — a global statement that commits governments and private companies to actions that would curb the distribution of violent and extremist content online.

“While the United States is not currently in a position to join the endorsement, we continue to support the overall goals reflected in the Call. We will continue to engage governments, industry, and civil society to counter terrorist content on the Internet,” the statement from the White House reads.

The “Christchurch Call” is a non-binding statement drafted by foreign ministers from New Zealand and France meant to push internet platforms to take stronger measures against the distribution of violent and extremist content. The initiative originated as an attempt to respond to the March killings of 51 Muslim worshippers in Christchruch and the subsequent spread of the video recording of the massacre and statements from the killer online.

By signing the pledge, companies agree to improve their moderation processes and share more information about the work they’re doing to prevent terrorist content from going viral. Meanwhile, government signatories are agreeing to provide more guidance through legislation that would ban toxic content from social networks.

Already, Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet — the parent company of Google — have signed on to the pledge, along with the governments of France, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The “Christchurch Call” is consistent with other steps that government agencies are taking to address how to manage the ways in which technology is tearing at the social fabric. Members of the Group of 7 are also meeting today to discuss broader regulatory measures designed to combat toxic combat, protect privacy and ensure better oversight of technology companies.

For its part, the White House seems more concerned about the potential risks to free speech that could stem from any actions taken to staunch the flow of extremist and violent content on technology platforms.

“We continue to be proactive in our efforts to counter terrorist content online while also continuing to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” the statement reads.”Further, we maintain that the best tool to defeat terrorist speech is productive speech, and thus we emphasize the importance of promoting credible, alternative narratives as the primary means by which we can defeat terrorist messaging.”

Signatories are already taking steps to make it harder for graphic violence or hate speech to proliferate on their platforms.

Last night, Facebook introduced a one-strike policy that would ban users who violate its live-streaming policies after one infraction.

The Christchurch killings are only the latest example of how white supremacist hate groups and terrorist organizations have used online propaganda to create an epidemic of violence at a global scale. Indeed, the alleged shooter in last month’s attack on a synagogue in Poway, Calif., referenced the writings of the Christchurch killer in an explanation for his attack, which he published online.

Critics are already taking shots at the White House for its inability to add the U.S. to a group of nations making a non-binding commitment to ensure that the global community can #BeBest online.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Demo your tech onstage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2019

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Alisyn Malek, California, Events, General Motors, LinkedIn, Populus.ai, Regina Clewlow, san jose, Smithsonian, stanford, TC, TC Sessions: Mobility 2019, Transportation, uc-berkeley | 0 comments

Moving anything or anyone from point A to point B will never be the same, thanks to the rapid evolution taking place in mobility technology. And if you’re ready to demo your mobile-focused early-stage startup tech to this community’s top influencers, there’s no better place to do it than onstage at TC Sessions: Mobility 2019.

More than 1,000 of mobility’s top tech makers, founders, investors, engineers and researchers and will descend on San Jose, Calif. on July 10 to learn, teach, share and connect. This is your chance to show the community what you’ve got — submit your application to demo today.

We’re preparing a day-long intensive event that features world-class speakers, interviews, panel discussions, workshops, demos and, of course, networking. We’re not kidding around when we say world-class. Here are just two of the incredible speakers that will step onstage to share their vision, their journey and the lessons they learned along the way:

  • Alisyn Malek, COO and co-founder of May Mobility, an autonomous vehicle company, comes with serious bona fides. The former head of the innovation pipeline at General Motors, Malek also spent time as an investment manager at GM Ventures. Among other notable achievements, she’s been recognized as a top 10 female innovator to watch by Smithsonian in 2018 and named a top automotive professional under 35 to watch by LinkedIn in 2015.
  • Regina Clewlow is the CEO and co-founder of Populus AI, a data platform that helps cities manage the future of mobility. She brings more than a decade of transportation experience, during which she served as a research scientist and lecturer at Stanford, UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Before founding Populus, Clewlow was the director of business development and strategy at RideScout, and she was named a 40 Under 40 by Mass Transit magazine and the San Francisco Business Times.

TC Sessions: Mobility 2019 focuses on one of the most exciting and rapidly evolving tech categories on the planet, and this is your opportunity to place your early-stage startup smack dab in front of the people with the potential to take you and your business to the next level. Apply to demo your tech and join us onstage on July 10 in San Jose, Calif.

Startup Demo packages are also on sale. Demo packages include three (3) tickets and a table space in the exhibition hall for just $1,575. Book your Startup Demo Package here.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Sessions: Mobility? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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A brief history of Uber’s bumpy road to an IPO

Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Alphabet, Anthony Levandowski, Arizona, California, carsharing, Colorado, Commuting, driver, Emil Michael, equal employment opportunity commission, executive, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission, Google, Lyft, pandodaily, Sarah Lacy, self-driving car, TC, transport, Travis Kalanick, Uber, Uber Startup, waymo | 0 comments

It’s been nine years since UberCab made its first appearance on the WordPress pages of this website. In the ensuing years, the startup has grown from an upstart looking to upend the taxi cab cartels, to a juggernaut that has its hands in every form of transportation and logistics service it can think of.

In the process, Uber has done some things that might give (and in fact has given) some shareholders pause.

From its first pitch deck to this historic public offering, TechCrunch has covered the über startup that has defined the post-financial-crisis era of consumer venture investing.

Here are some of the things that shouldn’t get swept into the dustbin of Uber’s history as the company makes its debut as a public company.

  • In 2014 Uber used a tool called “God View” to track the movements of passengers and shared those details publicly.At the time, the company was worth a cool $18.2 billion, and was already on the road to success (an almost pre-ordained journey given the company’s investors and capitalization), but even then, it could not get out of the way of its darker impulses.
  • A former executive of the company, Emil Michael, suggested that Uber should investigate journalists who were critical of the company and its business practices (including PandoDaily editor Sarah Lacy).
  • As it expanded internationally, Uber came under fire for lax hiring practices for its drivers. In India, the company was banned in New Delhi, after a convicted sex offender was arrested on suspicion of raping a female passenger.
  • Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opened an investigation into the company for gender discrimination around hiring and salaries for women at the company. Uber’s problems with harassment were famously documented by former employee Susan Fowler in a blog post that helped spur a reckoning for the tech sector.
  • Uber has been forced to pay fines for its inability to keep passenger and driver information private. The company has agreed to 20 years of privacy audits and has paid a fine to settle a case that was opened by the Federal Trade Commission dating back to 2017.
  • While Uber was not found to be criminally liable in the death of an Arizona pedestrian that was struck and killed by a self-driving car from the company’s fleet, it remains the only company with an autonomous vehicle involved in the death of a pedestrian.
  • Beyond its problems with federal regulators, Uber has also had problems adhering to local laws. In Colorado, Uber was fined nearly $10 million for not adhering to the state’s requirements regarding background checks of its drivers.
  • Uber was also sued by other companies. Notably, it was involved in a lengthy and messy trade secret dispute with Alphabet’s onetime self-driving car unit, Waymo. That was for picking up former Waymo employee Anthony Levandowski and some know-how that the former Alphabet exec allegedly acquired improperly before heading out the door.
  • Uber even had dueling lawsuits going between and among its executives and major shareholders. When Travis Kalanick was ousted by the Uber board, the decision reverberated through its boardroom. As part of that battle for control, Benchmark, an early investor in Uber sued the company’s founder and former chief executive,  Travis Kalanick for fraud, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
  • Uber’s chief people officer, Liane Hornsey was forced to resign following a previously unreported investigation into her alleged systematic dismissals of racial discrimination complaints within Uber.
  • Lawsuits against the company not only dealt with its treatment of gender and race issues, but also for accessibility problems with the ride-hailing service. The company was sued for allegedly violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Disabled Persons Act.
  • The ride-hailing service also isn’t free from legal woes in international markets. Earlier this year, the company paid around $3 million to settle charges that Uber had violated local laws by operating in the country illegally.
  • Finally, the company’s lax driver screening policies have led to multiple reports of assault by drivers of Uber passengers. Uber recently ended the policy of forcing those women to engage in mandatory arbitration proceedings to adjudicate those claims.
  • Not even the drivers who form the core of Uber’s service are happy with the company. On the eve of its public offering, a strike in cities across the country brought their complaints squarely in front of the company’s executive team right before the public offering, which was set to make them millions.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Netflix to open a production hub in New York and invest up to $100 million in the city

Posted by on Apr 18, 2019 in California, E-Commerce, executive, Governor, Netflix, New York, Streaming Media, TC | 0 comments

Start spreading the news. Netflix is coming to New York City in a big way.

The streaming media service has committed to invest up to $100 million to build a production hub and hire hundreds of new staffers in the Big Apple, according to a statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

Netflix’s new production hub will include an expanded Manhattan office and six sound stages in Brooklyn that could bring in hundreds of executive positions and thousands of production crew jobs to New York within the next five years, according to a statement from the Empire State Development Corp. 

“New York has created a film-friendly environment that’s home to some of the best creative and executive talent in the world, and we’re excited to provide a place for them at Netflix with our production hub,” said Jason Hariton, Director of Worldwide Studio Operations & Real Estate at Netflix, in a statement.

The new corporate offices Netflix has planned will occupy 100,000 square feet in Manhattan at 888 Broadway, housing 127 new executive content acquisition, development, production, legal, publicity and marketing positions. They’ll join the 32 employees Netflix currently has in New York.

Netflix already produces Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, She’s Gotta Have It, The Irishman, Someone Great, Private Life and Russian Doll in New York and has leased 161,000 square feet to build sound stages and support spaces in Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg neighborhood.

To sweeten the pot for Netflix, the Empire State Development Corp. has offered $4 million in performance-based Excelsior Tax Credits over ten years, which the corporation says are tied to real job creation. To receive the incentive, Netflix must create 127 jobs by 2024 at its executive production office and retain those jobs for another five years.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Sila Nano’s battery tech is now worth over $1 billion with Daimler partnership and $170 million investment

Posted by on Apr 16, 2019 in Automotive, automotive industry, Battery Technology, Bessemer Venture Partners, BMW, California, chief executive officer, connected, Daimler AG, electric vehicle, energy storage, fuel cells, General Electric, GreenTech, Jeff Immelt, lithium-ion battery, Matrix Partners, Mercedes-Benz, partner, plug-in hybrid, siemens, Sila Nanotechnologies, smart, sutter hill ventures, TC, transport | 0 comments

Sila Nanotechnologies and its battery materials manufacturing technology are now worth more than $1 billion.

The company, which announced a $170 million funding led by Daimler and a partnership with the famed German automaker, started building out its first production lines for its battery materials last year. That first line is capable of producing the material to supply the equivalent of 50 megawatts of lithium-ion batteries, according to Sila Nano’s chief executive officer Gene Berdichevsky.

That construction, made on the heels of a $70 million investment round, is now going to be expanded with the new cash from Daimler and 8VC along with previous investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Chengwei Capital, Matrix Partners, Siemens Next47 and Sutter Hill Ventures.

Berdichevsky would not comment on how much production capacity would increase, but did say that the company’s battery materials would find their way into consumer devices before the end of 2020. That means the potential for longer-lasting batteries in smart watches, earbuds and health trackers, initially.

From its headquarters in Alameda, Calif., Sila Nanotechnologies has developed a silicon-based anode to replace graphite in lithium-ion batteries. The company claims that its materials can improve the energy density of batteries by 20 percent.

“If you can increase energy density by 20 percent… you can use 20 percent fewer cells and each pack can cost 20 percent less,” says Berdichevsky. “The subtext of it is that it is the way to drive price of energy storage down. And that’s the way for the electric vehicle market to sand more and more on its own.”

That kind of cost reduction is what brought BMW and Daimler to partner with the company — and what led to the massive funding round and the company’s newfound unicorn status.

Our valuation is over $1 billion dollars now,” Berdichevsky says. 

Sila Nanotechnologies

Image courtesy of Sila Nanotechnologies

For Daimler, the materials that Sila Nanotechnologies are developing will give the company’s commitment to electrification a much needed boost.

Mercedes-Benz has plans to electrify its entire product suite by 2022, the company has said. That means Daimler has to accelerate its production of electrified alternatives to its fuel-powered fleet — everything from its 48-volt electrical system (the EQ Boost), to its plug-in hybrids (EQ-Power) and the more than 10 fully electric vehicles powered by batteries or fuel cells. The company is projecting that between 15 percent and 25 percent of its total sales will be electric by 2025 — depending on customer preferences, infrastructure development and the regulatory environment in each of the markets in which it sells vehicles, the company said.

In all, Mercedes-Benz cars has committed to investing €10 billion ($11.3 billion) in the production of vehicles and another $1.3 billion into a global battery production network. The global battery production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars will in the future consist of nine factories on three continents.

“We are on our way to a carbon free future mobility. While our all-new EQC model enters the markets this year we are already preparing the way for the next generation of powerful battery electric vehicles,” said Sajjad Khan, executive vice president for Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Electric Mobility, Daimler AG in a statement.

Still, consumers shouldn’t expect to see vehicles with Sila Nano’s technology until at least the mid 2020s, as automakers look to prove that the company’s battery technology meets their quality assurance standards. “The qualification time means there’s many years of work to make sure it is reliable for next 10 to 20 years,” says Berdichevsky. “Our partnership is geared towards mid-2020s production targets, but the qualification is something that takes quite a while.”

The company’s latest round brings its total financing to just under $300 million since its launch in 2011. And as a result of the latest funding, former General Electric chief executive Jeff Immelt will take a seat on the company’s board of directors.

“Advancements in lithium-ion batteries have become increasingly limited, and we are fighting for incremental improvements,” said Immelt. “I’ve seen first-hand that this is a huge opportunity that is also incredibly hard to solve. The team at Sila Nano has not only created a breakthrough chemistry, but solved it in a way that is commercially viable at scale.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Earn a free ticket to TC Sessions: Mobility 2019 with SocialLadder

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 in apple store, bird, California, Events, henry ford, san jose, TC, TC Sessions: Mobility 2019, Transportation | 0 comments

Mobility is an expansive topic that includes drones, dockless scooters and autonomous cars — both terrestrial and aeronautic — plus all the ancillary tech required to get the job done. If Henry Ford and the Wright brothers were alive today, you can bet they’d be headed to TC Sessions: Mobility on July 10 in San Jose. TechCrunch’s one-day event takes a deep dive into the future of mobility and transportation with the industries’ revolutionary thinkers, founders, investors and technologists.

For the first time ever, TechCrunch is launching an ambassador program (powered by SocialLadder) where participants can earn a free pass. Free is awesome right? You betcha, and here’s how the program works:

  1. Download the SocialLadder app on your phone (Apple Store) (Google Play)
  2. Input Invite code “TechCrunch” to join our instance
  3. Create your own unique ticket code to share with your friends
  4. Complete social-sharing challenges in the app to earn points
  5. Once you earn enough points, you’ll be sent a free ticket to attend the event!

Already have SocialLadder? Just tap “Find a New Area” > Add Invite Code > Enter “TechCrunch”.

The day’s programming will include interviews, panel discussions, fireside chats and workshops with some of the greatest minds at work to push mobility to the next level. We’re busy creating the event agenda, and we’ll be announcing speakers and demos in the coming weeks, so check back for updates.

TC Sessions: Mobility 2019 takes place July 10 in San Jose, Calif. Buy your early-bird ticket or save even more money by becoming a TechCrunch ambassador with the SocialLadder app. Tell your friends and earn a free ticket. Either way, we can’t wait to see you — and the future of mobility — in July.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Former Dropbox exec Dennis Woodside joins Impossible Foods as its first President

Posted by on Mar 14, 2019 in California, Chief Operating Officer, cloud storage, Companies, computing, dennis woodside, Dropbox, executive, Food, food and drink, Google, Impossible foods, manufacturing, meat substitutes, Motorola Mobility, president, Redwood City, Singapore, supply chain, TC, United States | 0 comments

Former Google and Dropbox executive Dennis Woodside has joined the meat replacement developer Impossible Foods as the company’s first President.

Woodside, who previously shepherded Dropbox through its initial public offering, is a longtime technology executive who is making his first foray into the food business.

The 25-year tech industry veteran most recently served as the chief operating officer of Dropbox, and previously was the chief executive of Motorola Mobility after that company’s acquisition by Google.

“I love what Impossible Foods is doing: using science and technology to deliver delicious and nutritious foods that people love, in an environmentally sustainable way,” Woodside said. “I’m equally thrilled to focus on providing the award-winning Impossible Burger and future products to millions of consumers, restaurants and retailers.”

According to a statement, Woodside will be responsible for the company’s operations, manufacturing, supply chain, sales, marketing, human resources and other functions.

The company currently has a staff of 350 divided between its Redwood City, Calif. and Oakland manufacturing plant.

Impossible Foods now slings its burger in restaurants across the United States, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore and is expecting to launch a grocery store product later this year.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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After Soul Searching, Gov. Gavin Newsom Will Halt Executions in California

Posted by on Mar 13, 2019 in California, Capital Punishment, Newsom, Gavin | 0 comments

He said he didn’t know what he would do if he had to sign a death warrant. Opponents of capital punishment hope his move will echo through the country.
Source: New York Times

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Lower Profile Sports Are at the Center of an Admissions Cheating Scandal

Posted by on Mar 13, 2019 in Admissions Standards, Austin, Wanda M., California, Coaches and Managers, Colleges and Universities, Connecticut, University of Southern California, Yale University | 0 comments

The likes of volleyball, sailing and water polo were at the heart of a corrupt scheme to gain admission to elite universities, the Justice Department says.
Source: New York Times

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