#USA Startups Weekly: Understanding Uber’s latest fintech play


Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about how SoftBank is screwing up. Before that, I noted All Raise’s expansion, Uber the TV show and the unicorn from down under.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

Uber Head of Payments Peter Hazlehurst addresses the audience during an Uber products launch event in San Francisco, California, on September 26, 2019. (Photo by Philip Pacheco / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP PACHECO/AFP/Getty Images)

The sheer number of startup players moving into banking services is staggering,” writes my Crunchbase News friends in a piece titled “Why Is Every Startup A Bank These Days.”

I’ve been asking myself the same question this year, as financial services business like Brex, Chime, Robinhood, Wealthfront, Betterment and more raise big rounds to build upstart digital banks. North of $13 billion venture capital dollars have been invested in U.S. fintech companies so far in 2019, up from $12 billion invested in 2018.

This week, one of the largest companies to ever emerge from the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem, Uber, introduced its team focused on developing new financial products and technologies. In a vacuum, a multibillion-dollar public company with more than 22,000 employees launching one new team is not big news. Considering investment and innovation in fintech this year, Uber’s now well-documented struggles to reach profitability and the company’s hiring efforts in New York, a hotbed for financial aficionados, the “Uber Money” team could indicate much larger fintech ambitions for the ride-hailing giant.

As it stands, the Uber Money team will be focused on developing real-time earnings for drivers accessed through the Uber debit account and debit card, which will itself see new features, like 3% or more cash back on gas. Uber Wallet, a digital wallet where drivers can more easily track their earnings, will launch in the coming weeks too, writes Peter Hazlehurst, the head of Uber Money.

This is hardly Uber’s first major foray into financial services. The company’s greatest feature has always been its frictionless payments capabilities that encourage riders and eaters to make purchases without thinking. Uber’s even launched its own consumer credit card to get riders cash back on rides. It’s no secret the company has larger goals in the fintech sphere, and with 100 million “monthly active platform consumers” via Uber, Uber Eats and more, a dedicated path toward new and better financial products may not only lead to happier, more loyal drivers but a company that’s actually, one day, able to post a profit.

VC deals

Meet me in Berlin

The TechCrunch team is heading to Berlin again this year for our annual event, TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, which brings together entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe. We announced the agenda this week, with leading founders including Away’s Jen Rubio and UiPath’s Daniel Dines. Take a look at the full agenda.

I will be there to interview a bunch of venture capitalists, who will give tips on how to raise your first euros. Buy tickets to the event here.

Listen to Equity

This week on Equity, I was in studio while Alex was remote. We talked about a number of companies and deals, including a new startup taking on Slack, Wag’s woes and a small upstart disrupting the $8 billion nail services industry. Listen to the episode here.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on iTunesOvercast and all the casts.

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#Blockchain Andrew Yang’s ‘Freedom Dividend’ Is Not Only Unnecessary, It’s Unethical

Andrew Yang’s 'Freedom Dividend' Plan Is Not Only Unnecessary, It’s Unethical

Andrew Yang has taken to Twitter in dynamic fashion as of late, advertising his universal basic income (UBI) proposal known as the “Freedom Dividend.” While throwing money at people out of pocket always generates a buzz, there’s a mathematically and ethically broken side to the plan few are talking about.

Also Read: Do You Know the Newspeak of the Looming ‘NIRP’ Economic Meltdown?

A Real-Life Political Cartoon

Not so long ago people used to joke about the typical shyster politician and their larger than life campaign promises. Wisecracks about the next White House wannabe centered around grease-ball politicians literally throwing money at voters to buy their support. Well now, under the guise of a hip new presidential campaign, the money throwing is actually happening. To critique Andrew Yang is no easy task, given the understandable and dynamic support he’s received against the backdrop of a totally corrupt and greedy political and financial system. It stands to ask, though: Is he really set to change things? Upon closer examination, UBI is little more than an inept and unethical ploy for socioeconomic power.

Generous (With Other People’s Money)

Math. It’s a discipline unlike others for its exact answers and lack of room for debate. One plus one is two. There’s not much dissent possible here, outside of the occasional stoner drum circle or deep metaphysical fireside discussion. Nothing wrong with either, of course, but this is just to lay the groundwork for an argument. Namely, that one cannot give away value one doesn’t have. While Yang is currently giving a “Freedom Dividend of $1,000 a month for an entire year to 10 American families” out of his own pocket, once in office that money set to “do the same for hundreds of millions of us” will come from your pockets.

Andrew Yang’s 'Freedom Dividend' Is Not Only Unnecessary, It’s Unethical
UBI: something doesn’t add up.

Mixed Up Math

Yang’s campaign website lays out the groundwork for his proposed “Freedom Dividend.” While a dividend is usually defined as a share of profits paid out to shareholders, Yang’s “dividend” will be made possible “by consolidating some welfare programs and implementing a Value Added Tax of 10 percent.” Not exactly a share of profits as much as money pulled from the pockets of Americans, but for the sake of argument, that will do for now. In assuaging fears of inflation, negative economic impact and even incoming communism, Yang maintains on the site:

The federal government recently printed $4 trillion for bank bailouts in its quantitative easing program with no inflation.

This assessment is massively dishonest, and if not, massively ignorant of basic economic realities. It ignores math, in other words. There are many types of inflation and some of the most pernicious hide beneath the surface of popular reference. While consumer price index inflation (CPI) may appear almost unaffected during some periods of quantitative easing (QE) due to a mix of market factors (including the psychological aspect of consumer confidence), asset price inflation is the real trigger for more serious problems. In other words, even as the debt racket of modern government paper spirals out of control, if the people are confident in their money and the state’s reassurance of its value, CPI may stay relatively stable, and businesses will be unable to increase prices due to this psychology and other factors such as healthy, corrective deflation.

Andrew Yang’s 'Freedom Dividend' Is Not Only Unnecessary, It’s Unethical
Source: St. Louis Fed, realinvestmentadvice.com

While Yang claims the printing of $4 trillion for bailouts caused “no inflation” the housing and asset market is calling BS in unprecedented and truly frightening fashion. If a house was worth $200,000 five years ago, and now is worth $300,000, this doesn’t necessarily mean the house changed, or that the property became legitimately more valuable. What it often means is that the dollar became significantly weaker against the asset. As these asset prices are thus inflated, banks are able to give out bigger and bigger loans against the asset collateral. Once the jig is up, the bubble bursts and the tumble down is severe, with collateral value no longer covering loans. The graph above shows just how dramatically this buildup is happening currently, with asset inflation signaled by U.S. household net worth against GDP at an all-time-high since 1952 of 535%.

Andrew Yang’s 'Freedom Dividend' Is Not Only Unnecessary, It’s Unethical

Stolen Generosity

Not only is Yang’s proposition economically unsound, it’s also morally objectionable. This is a hard pill to swallow for many hopeful millennials and Yang gang supporters of all ages, tired of scraping by and struggling in the current corrupt, Keynesian paradigm. That notwithstanding, Yang’s “Forward” is no different from the vague and vapid “Hope,” Change,” or “I’m a better man” of previous candidates.

To pay the Freedom Dividend, Yang proposes you be robbed. Business owners not wishing to apply his suggested VAT would be punished for refusal. Consumers not wishing to pay it, as well. It’s an unpleasant reality, but there’s no way to put it more accurately. Yang explains:

A Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax on the production of goods or services a business produces. It is a fair tax and it makes it much harder for large corporations, who are experts at hiding profits and income, to avoid paying their fair share.

Many are unsure of what Andrew Yang’s fair share of their income should be. If I similarly were forced to pay every neighbor I have a portion of my paycheck because 15 or 20 of them said I must, or be put in a cage, people would be understandably scandalized by the sociopathic suggestion. But if the theft is euphemized as a “Freedom Dividend” it’s suddenly made much more palatable to the masses. While some maintain taxation is a necessary evil for preserving civilization, this position is illogical. There’s nothing civil about stealing from anyone under threat of violence, and a social need doesn’t justify criminal activity, anyway. If it did, the folks in the U.S. during the plantation slavery era would have been correct in their protests against abolition: “But who will pick the cotton!?”

Andrew Yang’s 'Freedom Dividend' Is Not Only Unnecessary, It’s Unethical

Bitcoin’s Fix

Leaving Andrew Yang’s universe for a moment, it seems important to address crypto as a potential solution for the current political corruption he supposedly stands against. A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post proclaims: “Facebook’s cryptocurrency won’t help the poor access banks. Here’s what would.” The piece goes on to detail the impossibility of Facebook’s upcoming Libra cryptocurrency actually helping the unbanked of the world, due to government regulations. The article un-ironically closes by suggesting that the very same overbearing government is the solution, stating: “It’s true that financial inclusion would help millions of Americans and benefit the economy. But it can be achieved through time-tested and democratic institutions. In fact, the United States already has a public payments system: the Federal Reserve.”

What so few in the space seem to realize about crypto is that the potential for banking the unbanked, pulling people out of poverty, and enabling savings and the building of wealth for the average individual is already here. The state stands in the way with endless surveillance, KYC/AML requirements, taxes and capital controls, so it happens in the regulatory cracks, at present.

Instead of a $1,000 monthly paycheck in trash money, why not drop all restrictions on trade and allow people to grow their wealth and businesses independently? If we’re worried that criminal warlords and kingpins would take over, just look around — they already have. It is precisely because of the illogical centralization of power and lack of a logical, level playing field that a candidate like Yang can gain any prominence at all. In a free society — and no offense here to Yang personally — he’d likely be known as just a common con artist.

What are your thoughts on Yang’s proposed UBI? Let us know in the comments section below.

OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. Bitcoin.com is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Eric Glenn, Fair Use.

Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see what’s happening in the industry.

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#Blockchain Trusted Friends Can Become Crypto Custodians With the Vault12 Platform

Trusted Friends Can Become Crypto Custodians With the Vault12 Platform

A firm called Vault12 launched its new passkey security solution for cryptocurrency assets. Vault12 is an application that allows people to enlist their trusted friends and family members to help safeguard their assets. According to the project’s creators, the new application leverages the cryptographic algorithm Shamir’s Secret Sharing which allows keys to be split in a distributed fashion.

Also Read: French Ministry of Education Publishes Bitcoin Resource Guide for Educators

Distributing Digital Asset Seeds Using Vault12 and Shamir’s Secret Sharing

Vault12 believes there’s a dire need to safeguard crypto assets as the onset of blockchain-powered innovation continues to grow exponentially. Since the birth of Bitcoin and a slew of other digital currencies, various applications and devices like hardware wallets have been created to protect cryptos. Vault12’s new product allows individuals to take advantage of trusted family members and friends who are willing to help them secure digital currencies. Moreover, guardians are rewarded with ethereum (ETH) to protect the assets as well, giving the trusted network of friends incentive to be a safe keeper. The project officially launched at the San Francisco Blockchain Week and the company is backed by investors like Naval Ravikant, True Ventures, Data Collective, and Winklevoss Capital.

 Trusted Friends Can Become Crypto Custodians with the Vault12 Platform

The Vault12 white paper explains when it comes to precious digital assets, there is an “unprecedented threat level” looming for people in need of a strong security solution. “To protect these assets, we need a new cryptographic security platform – one that does not leave security centralized in a single place, with a single person, on a single device or in a single organization,” the research paper details. In order to bolster the security of digital currencies even more, the firm created a decentralized storage system for digital assets via a hierarchical Shamir’s Secret Sharing (SSS) system. The SSS infrastructure is a well known algorithm in cryptography designed by the cryptographer and mathematician Adi Shamir. Essentially the secret (passkey) is shared in the distributed Vault12 system between 3-5 trusted contacts giving each participant its own unique part.

 Trusted Friends Can Become Crypto Custodians with the Vault12 Platform

Vault12 Hopes to Fill the Gap Between the Digital Currency Economy and Unresolved Security Challenges

Vault12 allows any owner to set up a vault with friends and family. Custodians can always be recruited from the owner’s personal network at any time. But high-net-worth individuals who need added security can opt for a professional custodian service (PCS). However, the registration for this service requires far more effort and additional safeguards like verifying the owners’ identity with a government-issued ID. “One of the unresolved challenges for the mass adoption of cryptocurrency and the blockchain economy is the continued challenge and burden associated with securing crypto assets,” said Max Skibinksy, cofounder and CEO of Vault12. Skibinksy further added:

Previously, to keep our digital money safe, we had to keep our extremely valuable cryptographic backups on pieces of paper and store them in traditional banks. It was ironic. We built Vault12 to be an innovative, convenient solution that replaced this cumbersome process.

 Trusted Friends Can Become Crypto Custodians with the Vault12 Platform

Vault12 Setup

Setting up the Vault12 application is a fairly simple process, but you need to decide on 3-5 trusted individuals to help secure your assets. That part of the process may take longer, but setting up the vault after this decision is made doesn’t take too long. The app works for Android and iOS devices and when opened, it immediately asks you if you want to set up a vault and then asks permission to access your phone’s contacts. The company claims the information is not held on the company’s server and you can skip this part and manually add each contact individually as well. After deciding on sharing your contacts with the application, the platform asks you for your name so you can be identified by your guardians helping you protect your vault.

 Trusted Friends Can Become Crypto Custodians with the Vault12 Platform

The platform then requires you to choose the number of guardians between 3-5 contacts and the more custodians you use, the more secure the vault will be. Once you save the security level (number of guardians), you cannot change it unless you start a whole new vault. If you opted to manually add contacts, you can send them an invitation or scan their device if they already have Vault12 installed. To add digital assets to the vault you simply upload a picture of the seed phrase or use a file containing the seed. The application will inform you of how many people are guarding the seed held within the Vault12 system.

 Trusted Friends Can Become Crypto Custodians with the Vault12 Platform

Overall the Vault12 method is an interesting, novel method of safekeeping digital assets but people may have a hard time with a few requirements such as sharing their name, phone number, and contacts. People also may not trust the upload part where the user is required to upload a file or an image that contains a seed phrase protecting digital assets. However, the project’s key elements are open source and Vault12 users can take a look at the ZAX relay network infrastructure and the distribution of how the shards work. “In the future, other elements of the platform will be released as open-source libraries,” Vault12’s website notes.

What do you think about the Vault12 digital currency storage system? Would you use an application like this or are there concepts about the security approach that you don’t like? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: Walkthrough editorials are intended for informational purposes only. There are multiple security risks and methods that are ultimately made by the decisions of the user. There are various steps mentioned in reviews and guides and some of them are optional. Neither Bitcoin.com nor the author is responsible for any losses, mistakes, skipped steps or security measures not taken, as the ultimate decision-making process to do any of these things is solely the reader’s responsibility. This editorial is not a recommendation or endorsement by Bitcoin.com or the author of any products, applications, software, services, or companies mentioned in this article.

Image credits: Shutterstock, Vault12, and Pixabay.

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#USA Los Angeles-based BuildOps, subcontracting software for real estate, raises $5.8 million


Software development companies tackling services for niche industries, like commercial real estate subcontracting, continue to find Los Angeles to be fertile ground for development.

The latest company to raise funding from a clutch of investors is BuildOps, which raised $5.8 million in seed financing from some big names in the Los Angeles tech ecosystem.

Led by Fika Ventures, with additional investments from MetaProp VC, Global Founders Capital, CrossCut Ventures, TenOneTen, IGSB, 1984 Ventures, L2 Ventures, GroundUp, NBA all-star Metta World Peace, Oberndorf Enterprises, Wolfson Group and scouts from Sequoia Capital, the new financing will be used to support the company’s continued growth.

BuildOps sells software that integrates scheduling, dispatching, inventory management, contracts, workflow and accounting into a single software package for commercial real estate contractors with staff ranging from a few dozen to several hundred employees.

Software for the service industry is nothing new for Los Angeles entrepreneurs. The unicorn ServiceTitan hails from the greater Los Angeles area and a number of other software as a service businesses are calling the greater Los Angeles area home.

It’s hard to argue with the size of the commercial construction market. Over the past three years, commercial construction spending grew from $626 billion to $807 billion, according to data provided by the company. And while most large vendors — architects, general contractors and property management companies — have some project management software, the fragmented group of subcontractors that provide services to those customers has remained resistant to adopting new technologies, the company said.

The firm was co-founded by former ServiceTitan developer Neeraj Mittal; Microsoft, Nextag, Swurv and Fundly former executive Steve Chew; and Alok Chanani, who previously founded a commercial real estate company and was a former commander of a transportation unit of the Army in Iraq.

“At BuildOps, we are on a mission to bring a true all-in-one solution on the latest technology to the people who keep America’s hospitals, power plants and commercial real estate running. We are privileged to be working closely with some of the country’s top commercial contractors,” said Chanani.

That sentiment is echoed by Liquid 2 Ventures managing partner and former National Football League superstar, Joe Montana .

“Liquid 2 Ventures has an investment thesis in supporting America’s working class and I just love the idea of making their lives far easier and better. You have one solution that does it all and talks seamlessly to every single part of their business from parts to ordering to inventory and more,” said Montana in a statement. “There are very few world-class technology solutions for commercial subcontractors like this and we believe in the founders.”

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#USA This startup is making customized sexual harassment training that it says employees won’t hate (or forget)


If you work for someone else, you know the drill: in comes that annual email reminding you that it’s time for unconscious bias or sexual harassment training, and if you could please finish up this mandatory module by this date, that would be terrific.

The email — not to mention the programming itself — is straight out of “Office Space.” Little surprise that when Anne Solmssen, a Harvard-trained computer scientist, happened to call a friend recently who was clicking through his own company-sponsored training program, his answer to how it was going was, “It’s more interesting when I have baseball on.”

Solmssen has some other ideas about how to make sexual harassment training far more interesting and less “cringe-worthy.” Indeed, she recently joined forces with Roxanne Petraeus, another Harvard grad, to create Ethena, a software-as-a-service startup that’s promising customizable training delivered in bite-size segments that caters to individuals based on how much they already know about sexual harassment in the workplace. The software will also be sector specific when it’s released more widely in the first quarter of next year.

The company first came together this past summer led by Petraeus, who joined the U.S. Reserve Officers’ Training Corps to help defray the cost of her Ivy league education and wound up spending seven years in the U.S. Army, including as a civil affairs officer, before cofounding an online meals marketplace, then spending a year with McKinsey & Co. to get a better handle on how businesses are run.

Petraeus says that across her experience, and particularly in the Army, she had “great leaders who were super thoughtful” about sexual harassment training, “who cared about their [reports’] development goals and what was happening in their personal lives, and brought out the best in their people, rather than making them feel less than or marginalized.”

Still, she was aware that from an institutional standpoint, most harassment training is not thoughtful, that it’s a matter of checking boxes on an annual basis to ensure compliance with different state laws, depending on where an organization is headquartered. She marveled that so much of the content employees are being forced to consume seems “designed for a 1980s law firm.”

Solmssen was meanwhile working for a venture-backed public safety software company, Mark43. She was getting along just fine, too, but when a friend put the two in touch on the hunch that their engineering talent and vision could amount to something, that instinct proved right.

“I’d been working for Mark43 for four years, and I wasn’t particularly interested in starting a business,” Solmssen says. “But I fell in love with Roxanne and this idea, and I came to this thinking that someone needs to make [this training process] better. We’re still using the tools and technologies that we’ve had since 1997.”

So how is what they’re building different than what’s currently available? In lots of ways, seemingly. For starters, Ethena doesn’t want to employees to “knock it out all at once” in an hour or two of training at the end of each year. Instead, it’s creating what it calls monthly “nudges” that deliver relevant studies and questions on a monthly basis — information that can then be used in an all-hands meeting, for example, helping to reinforce its goals.

It’s also focused on sending content and questions to people that’s iterative and that evolves based on how an individual responds. A new hire might answer very differently than a sponsor of other women within an organization, for example. It’s a stark contrast to to the black-and-white scenarios that every employee is typically presented. (Think: “Judy and Brian go to a bar after work.”)

These subtleties are a significant development, argues Petraeus, because “traditional training implicitly tells employees that going to spending time together outside of work is bad for mentorship. It’s why you hear things like, ‘I just hired my first female analyst; can I get into an Uber with her when we’re traveling?’” Turning every mixed-gender occasion into a potential minefield is “not the message we should be conveying.”

Yet it’s a message that’s being absorbed.  According to a survey conducted earlier this year by LeanIn.Org and SurveyMonkey, 60% of managers who are men are now uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together. That’s a 32% jump from a year ago.  According to that same survey, senior-level men are now 12 times more hesitant to have one-on-one meetings with junior women, 9 times more hesitant to travel together and 6 times more hesitant to have work dinners together.

Even the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission thinks sexual harassment training has gone wrong somewhere, noting that it hasn’t worked as a prevention tool in part because it’s been too focused on simply avoiding legal liability. Indeed, a few years ago, a task force studying harassment in the workplace on behalf of the EEOC concluded that “effective training cannot occur in a vacuum – it must be part of a holistic culture of non-harassment that starts at the top.” Similarly, it added, “one size does not fit all: training is most effective when tailored to the specific workforce and workplace and different cohorts of employees.”

Toward that end, and with compliance in mind, Ethena is also modernizing the content it delivers, including as it pertains to dating at work, which definitely happens; and inclusivity around pregnant colleagues, who are often subtly marginalized; and transgender colleagues, who can also find themselves feeling either misunderstood or overlooked by current sexual harassment training materials.

There’s also a heavy focus on analytics. If 60 percent of employees don’t know about a company’s policies around office dating, for example, or employees in an outfit’s marketing department appear to know less about an organization’s values than other departments, it will flag these things so managers can take preventative action. (“Say there’s a new manager in the L.A. office where employees seem to be answering less consistently,” suggests Solmssen. “We can provide additional training to get that person up to speed.”)

For Petraeus — who is the daughter-in-law of retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus — the overarching goal is to kill off mandatory yearly training where the takeaway for many employees, the fundamental standard, is, “Can I go to jail for this comment?”

It’s too soon to say if Ethena will be successful. It’s only halfway through a pilot training program at the moment. But Solmssen and Petraeus are strong pitchmen, and they say their software will be available beginning in the first quarter of next year for $4 per employee per month, which is on a par with other e-learning programs.

The startup has also won the support of early backers who’ve already given the months-old outfit $850,000 to start hiring. Among those investors: Neo, a venture fund started last year by serial entrepreneur Ali Partovi; Village Global; and Jane VC, which is a fund focused on women-led startups.

Numerous angel investors have also written Ethena a check, including Reshma Saujani, who is the founder of the organization Girls Who Code, and a handful of military veterans.

As for the last, “they’re not a group that’s typically represented in startup ventures,” observes Petraeus, “but in terms of leadership and thinking about how to get a diverse team oriented around the same goal,” they’re hard to match, she adds.

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#USA After signing a big food additive deal, cell-based protein company Geltor is looking for at least $50M


After inking what sources said was a nine-figure deal with the world’s leading supplier of collagen proteins, Gelita, the cell-based collagen maker Geltor is in the market for at least $50 million in new funding, TechCrunch has learned.

According to people with knowledge of the company’s plans, the new funding could range from $50 million to as much as $100 million.

The money would be used to scale up the company’s collagen manufacturing capacity as it preps for the long-term Gelita contract.

Geltor is one of a slew of companies developing technologies to culture proteins at scale as a way to supplement and ultimately replace animal-based proteins in manufacturing.

While other companies pursue meat replacements using cultured products, Geltor is focused on another aspect of the supply chain: the collagen and gelatin additives that are typically made from the waste materials left over from the meat industry.

Traditionally, gelatin is made by boiling skin, cartilage and bones from animals. The material finds its way into any number of cosmetics and foodstuffs thanks to its ability to act as a thickening agent.

The markets for collagen and gelatin are worth a combined $9 billion dollars, which is a pretty sizable market for Geltor to tackle.

Just as importantly, should the meat replacement industry take off, then replacements will need to be found for the secondary markets that had been supplied by the waste streams for traditional meat processing.

Geltor already sells an animal-free collagen under the “Collume” brand as a marine collagen, and “HumaColl21,” which is a human collagen. Both products are used in the skincare market.

The agreement with Gelita marks the company’s first move into food and beverage additives.

“Gelita’s decision to invest in biodesign technologies is a prime example of our commitment to innovation and satisfying market needs,” said Hans-Ulrich Frech, Gelita’s global vice president of Business Unit Collagen Peptides in a statement last month. “This addition to GELITA’s collagen portfolio will complement the already robust portfolio of scientifically substantiated Bioactive Collagen Peptides®, which are key ingredients in foods and nutritional supplements for their protein content and physiological benefits.”

Meanwhile, for Geltor, the deal further proves out the company’s thesis that protein manufacturing can be a big business outside of the meat market that attracted players like Memphis Meats, Future Meat Technologies and other companies developing cell culture replacements for traditional animal husbandry.

“This pact further solidifies our view that we have entered a new era in how proteins are being utilized to improve products that consumers around the world use every day,” said Alexander Lorestani, the chief executive of Geltor in a statement. “Today, the market is ready and eager for premium offerings of protein ingredients, and this is the need that Geltor is serving.”

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#USA Backed by Will Smith and FabFitFun, OurPlace brings cookware and dinnerware direct to consumers


The husband and wife co-founders behind the direct-to-consumer cookware and dinnerware startup retailer OurPlace are big believers in the notion that the doorway to inclusive communities opens through the kitchen. 

Amir Tehrani, the company’s co-founder and chief executive spent, his life in the cookware and kitchen business, while his wife, Shiza Tehrani, is the co-founder of the Malala Fund, supporting educational initiatives for young women around the world, and Now Ventures, an impact seed investment fund based in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles-based company is taking Shiza’s belief in social missions and the power of entrepreneurialism to transform communities, and Amir’s knowledge of the multibillion-dollar cookware and dinnerware business, to create a consumer-focused business that celebrates the culture surrounding cooking and uses it as a way to educate and inform — all while selling high-end pots, pans, plates and glasses to an audience of socially conscious consumers.

The project has received its initial capital from some pretty high-end backers. So far, the company has raised $2.35 million in financing from investors, including the venture arm of Los Angeles’ startup retail giant, FabFitFun and Will Smith’s Dreamers VC.

Two of the new products available from startup direct to consumer cookware and dinnerware brand OurPlace

The company’s initial line of dinnerware and cookware is manufactured in China and its glassware is manufactured in Thailand.

But the two executives have plans to source its future collections from artisans living in emerging markets around the world. “Our next collection is sourced from Oaxaca,” says Tehrani. “The Oaxaca line… it’s artisans making things out of their home. They’re making everything by hand and there’s no sophisticated machinery to speak of.”

The challenge, says Amir Tehrani, is to help these artisans begin producing products at scale, while staying true to the artisanal nature of the products.

Ultimately, the idea is to educate and inform consumers about the cultural context behind the products they buy, according to the company’s two founders.

There’s also a financial incentive to launch a direct-to-consumer brand, the founders say. It’s an industry that has yet to be disrupted by the technological innovations that have reshaped so many other retail markets, they say… and one that’s equally as large as the mattress industry.

By 2021, the cookware and dinnerware market is projected to be $12.7 billion, according to a study by Freedonia Focus Reports. By comparison, mattresses are about a $14 billion market in the U.S.

And it’s a market that Amir Tehrani knows well. His grandfather founded TableTops Unlimited, one of the largest white-label suppliers of kitchenware, cookware and dinnerware in the U.S. That experience is what brought investors like FabFitFun to the table.

“They understand our capabilities around the family business and they want to help bring it to their community as well,” says Amir Tehrani. “Aside from what they were already doing around fashion and cosmetics the largest opportunity they weren’t already doing was around cookware.”

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#Blockchain Blockchain Conference TNABC Returns to Miami

Blockchain Conference TNABC Returns to Miami

On January 16-17, The North American Bitcoin Conference (TNABC) and Miami Blockchain Week are returning to the sunshine state as 2020 sets in motion. TNABC, celebrating its seventh year running, will feature prominent speakers, crypto developers, and blockchain executives during the event hosted in the financial district located on the gorgeous Miami coastline.

Also read: China Ranks 35 Crypto Projects as President Xi Pushes Blockchain

TNABC Returns to the Sunshine State

The longest-running and one of the largest crypto and blockchain conferences worldwide is coming back to Miami in 2020. The North American Bitcoin Conference has been a huge success since it started in 2013 and has seen crowds upwards of 20,000 attend the two-day event. The conference will return for its seventh year to Miami on January 16-17 to kick off the new year in 2020. The conference organizer and Keynote founder, Moe Levin, told news.Bitcoin.com that the Miami event will host a lineup of more than 60 world-class presenters that are deeply immersed in the Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency economy. Levin stressed that the speakers will be well-seasoned technology veterans who produce transformative blockchain software and work with these innovative concepts and ideas every day.

Blockchain Conference TNABC Returns to Miami

The first set of 2020 speakers announced for TNABC 2020 include crypto pioneer Nick Spanos, Shapeshift.io’s Veronica McGregor, Blockchain Tax Lead at Deloitte Alexia Hefti, Bitcoin pioneer Charlie Shrem, Bloq cofounder Matthew Roszak, and Marco Santori, President of Blockchain.com. TNABC has partnered with well known industry firms that are sponsoring the conference in Miami such as Bitcoin.com, Tradestation, and The Bitcoin Center.

Blockchain Conference TNABC Returns to Miami

A Pivotal Time for Crypto and Blockchain

The two-day conference will also showcase Q&A sessions, networking, investment themes, discussions about crypto regulation, taxation, and how blockchain is revolutionizing not only the financial industry, but a large swathe of public and private sectors worldwide. In the last seven years since the first TNABC, the ecosystem has seen crypto and blockchain infrastructure mushroom into a robust industry. TNABC is meant to keep everyone attending up to date in regards to the latest technologies being developed today.

Blockchain Conference TNABC Returns to Miami

Additionally, the Keynote founder detailed that the TNABC event will have a variety of satellite events like after parties, networking events, and hackathons.

“This conference comes at a pivotal time as innovation forces us all to make wise investing decisions,” Levin said during the TNABC announcement. “With an influx of new opportunities and new applications of the blockchain, Keynote wants to give our attendees the opportunity to meet the people and product they’ll be investing in and get a better understanding of the fast-expanding blockchain ecosystem.” Levin added:

We’re also excited for our attendees to meet and interact with our sponsors and exhibitors, who are the greatest blockchain companies active at the moment.

Blockchain Conference TNABC Returns to Miami

The conference plans to be another premiere event that melds the biggest names in traditional finance, banking, and multinational corporations with developers, executives, and influencers from the blockchain space. Tickets for the seventh annual TNABC event at the James L. Knight Center in Miami can be purchased today. The TNABC website highlights:

On both days of our highly curated agenda, attendees will attend stand-alone sessions, panel discussions and Q&A by leading experts and decision-makers, while also having the opportunity to learn about new and exciting projects.

Will you be attending The North American Bitcoin Conference 2020 in Miami? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Images credits: Shutterstock, Bitcoin.com, TNABC, Keynote Events, and Moe Levin.

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#Blockchain French Ministry of Education Publishes Bitcoin Resource Guide for Educators

French Ministry of Education Publishes Bitcoin-Resource Guide for Educators

As digital currencies transform the world, concepts like Bitcoin continue to percolate into academic courses and higher education worldwide. The French Ministry of National Education’s recently published economics and social sciences resource guide for teachers discusses cryptographic money like Bitcoin.

Also Read: ECB President: ’We Should Be Happier to Have a Job Than to Have Our Savings Protected’

A Bitcoin Resource Guide for Economics and Social Sciences Teachers in France

Economics and social sciences teachers from France may opt to teach students about cryptocurrencies in the near future. The French Ministry of National Education has issued a resource guide that touches on a wide variety of economic subjects. The eight-page guide discusses Bitcoin with a pedagogical activity card that teaches the different functions of money. The “educational activity two” lessons are comprised of classifying particular examples of money functions specifically with a cryptocurrency. The purpose is for educators to give the example of Bitcoin in order to show students the relationship between traditional money systems and trust as well as other properties. The Ministry of Education also provides resources and proposed activities which include four videos hosted by Dessine-Moi l’éco.

French Ministry of Education Publishes Bitcoin-Resource Guide for Educators

The videos are called “Do you have to trust your currency?”, “Can Bitcoin replace the euro?”, “Is Bitcoin a currency like any other?” and “Is Bitcoin the currency of the future?” The teachers’ resource guide of proposed activities explains that instructors can have students list the functions of currency and show how they apply to Bitcoin. Further, students can separate the euro and cryptocurrencies from a trust point of view. Prior to the Bitcoin section, the resource guide also discusses how central banks mobilize the instruments of monetary policy. According to the Ministry of Education, central banks “create sufficient money to support global demand, but also ensure the preservation of the purchasing power of the currency.” The activity card for French educators says that central banks such as the ECB and Federal Reserve must “react” if there is a risk of accelerated inflation.

French Ministry of Education Publishes Bitcoin-Resource Guide for Educators

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Education in High Schools and Universities Continues to Grow

The four videos about cryptocurrencies and bitcoin on the Dessine-Moi l’éco website are a few years old as they were published in 2017. Despite the age, they are very informative and the transcript from the video “Is Bitcoin a currency like any other?” explains that Bitcoin is “a virtual currency that circulates on the internet.” The video also notes that cryptocurrencies allow people to measure the value of goods and services in a digital sense and the network transactions serve as a medium of exchange. The film further says that the cryptocurrency can be stored for future use, but also emphasizes that users should “be aware that the euro and bitcoins have different characteristics.” “The euro is a legal tender, this means that it is recognized by the public authorities and that everyone in the Eurozone is obliged to accept to be paid in euros,” the video’s transcript reads. “Even if more and more e-commerce sites and even some physical shops accept the Bitcoin as a means of payment, nothing obliges a merchant to accept them and no one guarantees that they will be accepted in the future,” the video hosted on Dessine-Moi l’éco adds.

French Ministry of Education Publishes Bitcoin-Resource Guide for Educators

Academic institutionsaround the world have embraced spreading blockchain and digital currency knowledge for years now. For instance, the University of Luxembourg provides crypto security courses, Columbia University and IBM offer a slew of educational resources, and the University of Tokyo offers a blockchain innovation course as well. Coinbase recently published findings that disclosed more than 40% of the top universities around the world offer a course in cryptocurrency or blockchain. The study also found that 25% of the students surveyed were interested in taking a course on cryptographic technology. A high school in Brisbane, Australia had a lot of interest in Bitcoin so it prompted Brisbane students to create a cryptocurrency information night. Students at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, New Jersey were also curious about digital currencies and the school’s Business and Personal Finance class added a cryptocurrencies course during the second semester in 2018. Last year, news.Bitcoin.com reported on a Dutch high school exam that featured Bitcoin-themed questions. The French Ministry of Education teaching educators how to address current cryptocurrency trends indicates that academic institutions take the technology very seriously.

What do you think about the French Ministry of Education’s teacher resource guide that discusses Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies compared to the euro? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Image credits: Shutterstock, French Ministry of Education, Dessine-Moi l’éco, and Pixabay.

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#Blockchain ACIF – Asia Crypto Investment Forum Joins Thailand Blockchain Week

ACIF - Asia Crypto Investment Forum Joins Thailand Blockchain Week

This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release.

ACIF, Asia Crypto Investment Forum hosted by Hashcube, will hold its first meetup on 28th November at The InterContinental Bangkok, as part of Blockchain Thailand Week, to discuss the future of crypto investments.

The Forum will feature Global crypto-industry players such as Bitmain, Bitkub, BTC.com, Carboneum, Coinloan, CoolBitx, Six Network, and many more companies who are shaping the world of cryptocurrency today. Large stakeholders in the crypto industry will also be speaking and sharing their inside knowledge into building a profitable crypto investment portfolio in today’s constantly evolving crypto landscape.

In addition to company exhibits, you will also have the opportunity to speak and network with top individuals within the industry who will answer your questions and help you with your very own crypto investment portfolio.

ACIF will cover various crypto investment topics including:

The current landscape of cryptocurrency and where it’s headed

Investment opportunities in cryptocurrency today

How to start investing in cryptocurrency

How to build a high return crypto portfolio

Crypto Exchange and how you can invest and benefit through it

Mining your own cryptocurrency

Technologies to help you in crypto investment today

With an audience of crypto enthusiasts and top crypto visionaries all gathered together at the InterContinental Bangkok, you will build knowledge and network that will help you be successful in cryptocurrency investment. We hope to see you there!

Buy Ticket Here — Asia Crypto Investment Forum, Bangkok, 28th Nov’18

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