Convoy, the digital freight network that connects truckers with shippers, has raised $400 million in a Series D funding round as it aims to scale its business amid an increasingly competitive market.
The funding round brings Convoy’s post-money valuation to $2.75 billion.
The round was co-led by Generation Investment Management and previous Convoy investor T. Rowe Price Associates. Asset management firm Baillie Gifford, which has fondness for pre-IPO tech companies, Fidelity and Durable Capital Partners, as well as Series C investors CapitalG and Lone Pine Capital, also participated in the round.
Convoy has managed to attract a slew of high-profile investors — and their capital — such as Jeff Bezos, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and even U2’s Bono and the Edge. In the four years since its founding, Convoy has raised a total of more than $668 million. Early investors include Greylock Partners, Y Combinator, Cascade Investment (the private investment vehicle of Bill Gates) and Code.org founders Hadi and Ali Partovi.
And that money has been put to work. Convoy co-founders Dan Lewis and Grant Goodale set out in 2015 to modernize freight brokerage, a fragmented and oftentimes analog business that matches loads from shippers with truckers.
The company has gone from hundreds of loads per week in 2016 to tens of thousands per week across the U.S. Notably, Convoy’s platform handles 100% of the matching, as opposed to having humans complete the task.
Convoy also has about 100 routes, many of them concentrated around economic hubs such as Chicago, Michigan and California, Lewis told TechCrunch.
The 850-person company wants to accelerate those efforts with capital raised in this latest round. However, it’s bound to face more competition. Uber Freight, Loadsmart and Flexport are just a few online marketplaces that are targeting freight.
Convoy has added new features to its platform as part of its scaling strategy. The company launched in 2019 an automated reloads feature that allows truckers to book multiple loads at a time. It also added Convoy Go, which allows drivers to bring their truck cab and hook up to a trailer pre-filled with cargo.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s comments during an interview with Axios — and his subsequent apology — have done more than hand the company’s critics more ammunition in the renewed #boycottUber campaign. (Although, mission accomplished on that front.)
They also expose a weakness that if left uncorrected threatens to bring back the toxic culture Khosrowshahi promised he would eliminate when he took over as CEO in 2017.
First, a recap. During an interview, Khosrowshahi called the murder of journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia a “serious mistake” and compared it to the death of pedestrian Elaine Herzberg who was struck and killed by Uber’s self-driving car. And then he added, “People make mistakes, it doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven.”
Khosrowshahi has tried to reel those murder is forgivable comments back. He’s issued an apology and Axios editor Dan Primack noted that the CEO called his cell soon after taping the show to express regret for the “language he used” about Khashoggi.
There's no forgiving or forgetting what happened to Jamal Khashoggi & I was wrong to call it a “mistake.” As I told @danprimack after our interview, I said something in the moment I don't believe. Our investors have long known my views here & I'm sorry I wasn’t as clear on Axios https://t.co/RxapzktrXq
— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) November 11, 2019
Khosrowshahi’s comments had a familiar ring to them. And that’s because he has applied this people-can-change-and-mistakes-happen attitude to serious infractions before.
During an interview in 2018 at TechCrunch Disrupt SF, Khosrowshahi defended Uber COO Barney Harford, who had reportedly made insensitive comments about women and racial minorities. Khosrowshahi described Harford as “an incredible person” and “one of the good people” as it relates to diversity and inclusion.
“I don’t think that a comment that might have been taken as insensitive and happened to report by large news organizations should mark a person,” Khosrowshahi said at the time. “I don’t think that’s fair. And I’m sure I’ve said things that have been insensitive and you take that as a learning moment. And the question is, does a person want to change, does a person wants to improve? Does a person understand when they did something wrong, and then change behaviors? And I’ve known Barney for years and that’s why I stand 100 percent behind him.”
This people-make-mistakes stance might not seem like a dangerous position to take. After all people do make mistakes and forgiveness is supposed to be a virtue, not a vice.
But in a company where toxicity and bad behavior reigned for years, applying the equivalent of “oops!” to serious infractions risks undoing any progress Khosrowshahi has made. If progress was made at all.
This latest incident, as well concerns around Uber’s treatment of its drivers and a new NTSB report that found the company’s self-driving system design did not include a consideration for jaywalking pedestrians, begs the question of whether the culture has indeed changed for the better?
New research commissioned by UK VC firm Octopus Ventures has put a spotlight on which of the country’s higher education institutions are doing the most to support spin outs. The report compiles a ranking of universities, foregrounding those with a record of producing what partner Simon King dubs “quality spin outs”.
The research combines and weights five data points — looking at university spinouts’ relative total funding as a means of quantifying exit success, for example. The idea for the Enterpreneurial Impact Ranking, as it’s been called, is to identify not just those higher education institutions with a track record of encouraging academics to set up a business off the back of a piece of novel work but those best at identifying the most promising commercialization opportunities — ultimately leading to spinout success (such as an exit where the company was sold for more than it raised).
Hence the report looking at data over almost a ten year period (2009-2018) to track spin-outs as they progress from an idea in the lab through prototyping to getting a product to market.
The ranking looks at five factors in all: Total funding per university; total spinouts created per university; total disclosures per university; total patents per university; and total sales from spinouts per university.
Topping the ranking is Queen’s University Belfast which the report notes has had a number of notable successes via its commercialization arm, Qubis, name checking the likes of Kainos (digital services), Andor Technology (scientific imaging) and Fusion Antibodies (therapeutics & diagnostics), all of whom have been listed on the London Stock Exchange.
The index ranks the top 100 UK universities on this entrepreneurial impact benchmark — but the rest of the top ten are as follows:
2) University of Cambridge
3) Cardiff University
4) Queen Mary University of London
5) University of Leeds
6) University of Dundee
7) University of Nottingham
8) King’s College London
9) University of Oxford
10) Imperial College London
Octopus Ventures says the ranking will help it to get a better handle on which universities to spend more time with as it searches for its next deep tech investment.
It also wants to increase visibility into how the UK is doing when it comes to commercializing academic research to feed further growth of the ecosystem by sharing best practice, per King.
“We are looking at a number of data points which are all self-reported by the universities themselves to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. And then we combine those in the way that we think brings out at a higher level which universities are doing a good job of spinning out companies,” he says.
“It means that you take into consideration which university is producing quality spin-outs. So it’s not just spray and pray and get lots of stuff out there. But actually which universities are creating spin-outs that then go on to return value back to them.”
Jack Dorsey’s announcement that Twitter will no longer run political ads because “political messages reach should be earned, not bought” has been welcomed as a thoughtful and statesmanlike contrast to Mark Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s greedy acceptance of “political ads that lie.” While the 240-character policy sounds compelling, it’s both flawed in principle and, I fear, counterproductive in practice.
First: like it or hate it, the U.S. political system is drowning in money. In 2018, a non-presidential year, it is estimated that over $9B was spent on the U.S. elections. And unless laws change, more will continue to flow. Banning digital ads will not reduce the amount of money in politics, and will simply shift it to less transparent channels. In an ideal world, it would be great if all “political messages were earned and not bought,” but that is not how our system works. Candidates, Super PACs, C4s and others already allow the majority of their budgets to be swallowed up by other, less visible, accountable and cost-effective, channels — including television, mail, telephone, and radio.
More likely, at least some of the money will end up with even less transparent organizations that aren’t deemed “political,” but very much are.
Second, banning digital political ads will not only hurt the very candidates people should want to help, it will also damage our democratic process. Analog mediums are significantly more expensive and inefficient than digital ones, so candidates who have a lot of money and/or have spent time cultivating their followings will continue to dominate. In other words, incumbent candidates, rich people and reality TV stars enjoy an outsized advantage when digital advertising is denied.
A recent Stanford study found that, at the state house level, more than 10 times as many candidates advertise on Facebook than advertise on television. The research found that digital ads lowers advertising costs, which expands the set of candidates for whom advertising — and thus the potential to reach voters and seriously contest an election — is a real possibility.
Lesser well-known, but often highly-qualified candidates at the state, local and federal level are precisely the people who have been celebrated for their new perspectives, creative ideas and commitment to shake up the system. People who put their heads down, do good work in their communities and decide to run because they want to make a difference will be the ones that are disadvantaged.
You know who gets plenty of earned media opportunities? Donald Trump. He will be fine. In fact, he will be better than fine because we’ve just handed him and more extremist candidates like him a distinct advantage.
Democracy is about the combination of free speech and transparency. As the old adage goes, sunlight is the best disinfectant, so here are a few ideas that would be more effective than a ban:
Ultimately, decisions about what is permissible political speech and appropriate distribution and targeting is too important to be left to technology platforms and their conceptions of the public interest.
Do we want Google, Facebook and Twitter making the rules for all political ads and being responsible for enforcing them? What we need is a true oversight body — one with teeth. If non-political advertisers make false claims about their own products or those of their competitors, they can be fined by the FTC. This is an acknowledgment, not only that consumers need accurate facts, but also that companies can not police themselves. This is far too much power for them.
This isn’t a way to let technology companies off the hook, as there is plenty more they can do as noted above. But we need a truly independent organization overseeing political ads — the rules that govern them and holding organizations accountable to following those rules. Is this the FEC? I’m not sure.
As I write this today, I worry that no agency truly has the capacity or the expertise to create these rules and challenge bad campaign practices. We should remedy this post-haste and get to finding true solutions. The alternative seems easier and even principled to fight for, but the unintended consequences will be swift — a government full of the types of people who we say we don’t want.
Lyft has another year of building out its autonomous driving program under its belt, and the ride-hailing company has been expanding its testing steadily throughout 2019. The company says that it’s now driving four times more miles on a quarterly basis than it was just six months ago, and has roughly 400 people worldwide dedicated to autonomous vehicle technology development.
Going into next year, it’s also expanding the program by adding a new type of self-driving test car to its fleet: Chrysler’s Pacifica hybrid minivan, which is also the platform of choice for Waymo’s current generation of self-driving car. The Pacifica makes a lot of sense as a ridesharing vehicle, as it’s a perfect passenger car with easy access via the big sliding door and plenty of creature comforts inside. Indeed, Lyft says that it was chosen specifically because of its “size and functionality” and what those offer to the Lyft AV team when it comes to “experiment[ing] with the self-driving rideshare experience. Lyft says it’s currently working on building out these test vehicles in order to get them on the road.
Lyft’s choice of vehicle is likely informed by its existing experience with the Pacificas, which it encountered when it partnered with Waymo starting back in May, with that company’s autonomous vehicle pilot program in Phoenix, Ariz. That ongoing partnership, in which Waymo rides are offered on Lyft’s ride-hailing network, is providing Lyft with plenty of information about how riders experience self-driving ride-hailing, Lyft says. In addition to Waymo, Lyft is currently partnering with Aptiv on providing self-driving services commercially to the public through that company’s Vegas AV deployment.
In addition to adding Pacificas to its fleet alongside the current Ford Fusion test vehicles it has in operation, Lyft is opening a second facility in addition to its Level 5 Engineering Center, the current central hub of its global AV development program. Like the Level 5 Engineering Center, its new dedicated testing facility will be located in Palo Alto, and having the two close together will help “increase the number of tests we run,” according to Lyft. The new test site is designed to host intersections, traffic lights, roadway merges, pedestrian pathways and other features of public roads, all reconfigurable to simulate a wide range of real-world driving scenarios. Already, Lyft uses the GoMentum Station third-party testing facility located in Concord, Calif. for AV testing, and this new dedicated site will complement, rather than replace, its work at GoMentum.
Meanwhile, Lyft is also continually expanding availability of its employee self-driving service access. In 2019, it increased the availability of self-driving routes for its employees three-fold, the company says, and it plans to continue to grow the areas covered “rapidly.”
BMW has been equipping its cars with in-air gesture control for several years and I never paid attention to it. It seemed redundant. Why wave your hand in the air when there are dials, buttons and touchscreens to do the same? Until this week, that is, when took delivery of a BMW 850i loaner equipped with the tech. This is about the future.
I didn’t know the 850i used gesture control, because, frankly, I had forgotten BMW had this technology; I stumbled upon it. Just make a motion in the air to control the volume or tell the navigation to send you home. Now, in 2019, with giant touchscreens set to takeover cars, I find BMW’s gesture control smart and a great solution to a future void of buttons.
It’s limited in use right now. There are only a few commands: volume, nav, recent calls, and turning on and off the center screen. It’s easy to see additional functions added in the future. It’s sorely missing the ability to step back a screen. I want that function the most.
Here’s how it works: to control the volume, take one finger and spin it in the air above the center stack. Anywhere. The range is impressive. A person can do this next to the screen or two feet away. A person’s arm could be resting on the center armrest and lift in the air and twirl their finger. Bam, it controls the volume. Put two fingers up – not spinning, like a flat peace sign – and the screen turns on or off. Make a fist and open it twice to load the navigation or phone (user picks the function).
After using the system for several days, I never had a false positive. The volume control took about 10 minutes to master while the other gestures worked the first time.
In this car, these commands work in conjunction with physical buttons, dials, and a touchscreen. The gestures are optional. A user can turn off the function in the settings, too.
I found the in-air control a lovely addition to the buttons, though. At night, in the rain, they’re great as they do not require the driver to remove their focus from the road. Just twirl your fingers to turn down the volume.
I’m not convinced massive touchscreens are better for the driver. The lack of actual, tactile response along with burying options in menus can lead drivers to take their eyes off the road. For the automaker, using touchscreens is less expensive than developing, manufacturing, and installing physical buttons. Instead of having rows of plastic buttons and dials along with the mechanical bits behind them, automakers can use a touchscreen and program everything to be on screen. Tesla did it first, Ram, Volvo, and now Ford is following.
In-air gesture control could improve the user experience with touchscreens. When using BMW’s system, I didn’t have to take my eyes off the road to find the volume — something that I have to do occasionally, even in my car. Instead, I just made a circle in the air with my right hand. Likewise, BMW’s system lets the user call up the nav and navigate to a preset destination (like work or home) by just making another gesture.
BMW debuted this system in 2015. The automotive world was different. Vehicles were
Climate risk, including extreme events and the related pressures our environment, are fundamentally affecting the way businesses and governments operate — both tactically and strategically. Increasing climate volatility is causing food supply disruptions and increasing pressure on Enterprises (including financial institutions, insurers and producers) to disclose what’s going on.
The trouble is, while there is a lot of data about all this, its complexity, incompleteness and sheer volume is too vast for humans to process with the tools available today. So just as the climate changes, we are faced with “data chaos.” Equally, other parts of the world suffer from data scarcity, making it much harder to provide useful and timely analysis.
So the challenge is to address these issues simultaneously. So a new startup, Cervest, has created an AI-driven platform designed to inform the decision-making capabilities of businesses, governments and growers in the face of increasing climate volatility.
Cervest, has now closed a £3.7 million investment round to fund the launch of its real-time, climate forecasting platform.
Built on three years of research and development by a team of scientists, mathematicians, developers and engineers, Cervest says its Earth Science AI platform can analyze billions of data points to forecast how changes in the climate will impact the future of entire countries, right down to individual landscapes.
It does this by combining research and modeling techniques taken from proven Earth sciences — including atmospheric science, meteorology, hydrology and agronomy — with artificial intelligence, imaging, machine learning and Bayesian statistics.
Using large collections of satellite imagery and probability theory, the platform can identify signals, or early-warning signs, of extreme events such as floods, fires and strong winds. It also can spot changes in soil health and identify water risk.
Cervest says the platform could do such things as reveal the optimum location to build a new factory; warn a wheat grower that their crop yield isn’t expected to meet its targets; or be used by insurers to help them set premiums for the next 12 months.
The team comes from a network of more than 30 universities, including Imperial College, The Alan Turing Institute, Cambridge, UCL, Harvard and Oxford, and has published more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
A beta version of the platform is due to launch in Q1 2020.
Iggy Bassi, founder & CEO, Cervest said: “Our goal is to empower everyone to make informed decisions that improve the long-term resilience of our planet. Today decision-makers are struggling with climate uncertainty and extreme events and how they are affecting their business operations, assets, investments, or policy choices.”
Sofia Hmich, founder, Future Positive Capital said: “With reports suggesting we have fewer than 60 years of farming left unless drastic action is taken, the need for science-backed decisions could not be greater. Businesses and policymakers hold the key to change and with access to Cervest’s proprietary AI technology they can start to make that change a reality at low cost — before it’s too late.”
Bassi previously ran the impact-led agribusiness GADCO, which was supported by Acumen Fund, Soros, Gates Foundation, World Bank and Syngenta . Its impact was featured in UNDP, World Economic Forum, FT, The Guardian and Huff Post. He previously built a software company focused on data analytics.
Cervest was inspired by Bassi’s experience building a farm-to-market agribusiness whilst confronting first-hand the impacts of climate and natural resource volatilities.
The Cervest team includes eight scientists and four PhDs. Between them, they have published more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers with more than 3,000 citations in high-profile titles, including Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Statistical Society.
Using a computer and modern software can be a chore to begin with for the visually impaired, but fundamentally visual tasks like 3D design are even harder. This Stanford team is working on a way to display 3D information, like in a CAD or modeling program, using a “2.5D” display made up of pins that can be raised or lowered as sort of tactile pixels. Taxels!
The research project, a collaboration between graduate student Alexa Siu, Joshua Miele, and lab head Sean Follmer, is intended to explore avenues by which blind and visually impaired people can accomplish visual tasks without the aid of a sighted helper. It was presented this week at SIGACCESS.
The device is essentially a 12×24 array of thin columns with rounded tops that can be individually told to rise anywhere from a fraction of an inch to several inches above the plane, taking the shape of 3D objects quick enough to amount to real time.
“It opens up the possibility of blind people being, not just consumers of the benefits of fabrication technology, but agents in it, creating our own tools from 3D modeling environments that we would want or need – and having some hope of doing it in a timely manner,” explained Miele, who is himself blind, in a Stanford news release.
Siu calls the device “2.5D,” since of course it can’t show the entire object floating in midair. But it’s an easy way for someone who can’t see the screen to understand the shape it’s displaying. The resolution is limited, sure, but that’s a shortcoming shared by all tactile displays — which it should be noted are extremely rare to begin with and often very expensive.
The field is moving forward, but too slowly for some, like this crew and the parents behind the BecDot, an inexpensive Braille display for kids. And other tactile displays are being pursued as possibilities for interactions in virtual environments.
Getting an intuitive understanding of a 3D object, whether one is designing or just viewing it, usually means rotating and shifting it — something that’s difficult to express in non-visual ways. But a real-time tactile display like this one can change the shape it’s showing quickly and smoothly, allowing more complex shapes like moving cross-sections to be expressed as well.
Joshua Miele demonstrates the device.
The device is far from becoming a commercial project, though as you can see in the images (and the video below), it’s very much a working prototype and a fairly polished one at that. The team plans on reducing the size of the pins, which would of course increase the resolution of the display. Interestingly another grad student in the same lab is working on that very thing, albeit at rather an earlier stage.
The Shape Lab at Stanford is working on a number of projects along these lines — you can keep up with their work at the lab’s website.
The Shelby GT500 is a beast on the track. It’s not a surprise. After a day driving around Las Vegas, I found something that surprised me: The GT500 is as comfortable on the road as it is on the track.
The Shelby GT500 is an icon of motoring. The name implies a simple formula of stuffing a lot of power into a modest body. I’m pleased to report Ford stuck to the proven method for the 2020 GT500. A 5.2L supercharged engine provides 670 HP in this coupe. It’s the most powerful Ford ever mass-produced. The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is a future classic, and unlike its predecessors, the car is memorable for more than just going fast in a straight line.
The 2013-2014 GT500 was a monster. It was raw and unhinged and had the thumping soul of a muscle car from a bygone era. It was a Mustang in its purest form. Fast down the drag strip and prone to crash when burning out of Cars and Coffee. This time around, Ford created something different. The 2020 GT500 is still packed with power, but refined enough to create a vehicle that’s capable and comfortable.
On the track, The GT500 dives into corners and roars down the straights. On the drag strip, it hits the quarter-mile in less than 11 seconds (I did a 10.98). And on the street, it’s comfortable driving between red lights. The GT500 is a car someone could drive daily to and from an office park. I took my tester to Starbucks and through the back streets of Las Vegas. It’s sublime thanks to a brilliant implementation of a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The DCT manages the communication between the engine and tires. It’s lovely. The dual-clutch transmission is lightning quick, with shifts happening as fast as 80ms. On the track, that’s critical, and on the streets, it makes for easy driving. When cruising from red light to red light, the shifts are refined. They’re quick and light as they translate the engine’s obscene power into mild motoring.
During my short time with the 2020 GT500, I never felt overwhelmed with power when driving it on city streets. The 2020 GT500 is an exercise in controlled restraint. Somehow this 670 HP Ford can hit 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and still be easy to putz around town. It’s surprising and a testament to the advances made within Dearborn.
The on-street feel is critical to the success of the latest GT500. Not everyone is looking for a dragster or track superstar. With this performance car, Ford is punching up, appealing to entry-level Porsche and BMW buyers with sticker shock. The GT500 is not apologetic. It’s not trying to be a European sports car, and yet I find it competitive with some of the best from Germany.
Yet don’t sleep on this GT500. When instructed, the 670 HP engine will rip the soul from your body. Drop the pedal to the floor, and it hits 60 mph nearly as fast as Ford’s GT supercar.
The interior is lackluster for the price. When the GT500 is fitted with all the options, it approaches six figures. The performance is worth the sticker price, but the interior is that of a car costing around $30,000. The GT500 comes with upgraded seats, extra gauges and some materials are improved. In the end, the GT500 lacks the interior refinement of an M3 or AMG C Class, and it will likely cost Ford some sales.
Ford engineers fitted the Shelby GT500 with a powertrain that will devour tracks. The dual-clutch transmission keeps the 670 HP supercharged engine in line. During my time on the track, this DCT performed admirably, gleefully holding shifts until the right moment and rev-matching downshifts while dipping into corners. Sure, a manual transmission would be fun at times, but using this DCT means peak performance is more obtainable.
The 2020 Shelby GT500 attacks corners, unlike any most muscle cars, dipping and diving without a hint of the brakes fading. It grips better than expected, holding the tires on the tarmac even during the most extreme cornering. The on-track performance is impressive for any car, let alone a Mustang. The GT500 offers class-leading track performance. A Dodge SRT Hellcat Redeye will beat the Mustang to a quarter-mile, but the Mustang will pull ahead at the first corner.
On the drag strip, nearly anyone can hit an 11-second quarter mile. During my time at the track, there was a stiff headwind, and it took me four runs down the strip to go from 11.4 seconds to 10.98 seconds. Ford says the car can do it in 10.9, and I see little reason to doubt that time.
Monster burn-outs are a few menu options away. With just a couple button presses, a novice can lock the front wheels and spin the rears to create a massive plume of burning rubber.
Turn the exhaust to normal or track, and the car screams when the throttle is wide open. The noise is impressive. It’s full range and sounds more supercar than muscle car. I found the exhaust note to be more expansive than just an explosive rumble.
I asked a Ford engineer if the GT500 was louder than the GT350. He laughed before answering with a straight face. “First of all, both are legal,” he said, alluding to the explosive exhaust note. Unlike the GT350, the GT500 has a quiet mode. It’s not as soft as a Camry, but in this mode, the GT500 is less obnoxious, making it easier to drive daily.
It’s hard to imagine where the Mustang goes from here. I spent a day racing the GT500 around desert roads and the Las Vegas Speedway. It’s incredible and exceeded my expectations. The GT500’s power is endless, and the noise is intoxicating. How does Ford improve while maintaining the Shelby Cobra heritage? Likewise, will future versions lean on electric motors to squeak even more performance from Ford’s pony car?
Never mind about the future. As it sits right now, the 2020 GT500 is the pinnacle of muscle car performance.
Purists will decry Ford’s use of an automatic transmission in this car, saying the GT500 should have a standard instead. It’s understandable. A manual transmission results in a commanding feeling of control. And for those looking for such experience, the much-less expensive GT350 is worth a look. The GT350 offers much of the usable power of the GT500 in a more traditional package. In the run-up to driving the GT500, I borrowed a 2019 GT350 for a week. It’s a beast, and I loved it. The steering seemed more direct than the GT500, and the manual transmission resulted in the feeling of unhinged power that’s somewhat lacking in the carefully packaged GT500.
Want an over-the-top, muscle car feel? Get the GT350. Want a supercar experience at a pony car price? Get the GT500.
It’s nearly a mischaracterization to call the GT500 a muscle car. The GT350 is a muscle car with its standard transmission and raw 5.2L flat-plane crank engine. The GT500, with its supercharged 670 HP engine and dual-clutch transmission, is something more refined. It’s not a supercar, nor is it a muscle car. It’s just a fantastic sports car living its best life.
It’s undeniable: In 2019, we are living in the twilight of combustion engines. Electric is the future. And in these last days, internal combustion engines are a work of art. Automakers from all parts of the globe are turning out wonderful engines that are breathtaking in their efficiency and performance. The supercharged 5.2L found in the GT500 is a masterpiece.
The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is the most powerful Mustang to date, and I would venture to say, one of the last without an assist from an electric motor. Enjoy it while it lasts. These sorts of fossil fuel-burning, greenhouse gas-emitting monsters from Detroit are long for this world.
Autonomous vehicles are often painted as a utopian-like technology that will transform parking lots into parks and eliminate traffic fatalities — a number that reached 1.35 million globally in 2018.
Even if, as many predict, autonomous vehicles are deployed en masse, the road to that future promises to be long, chaotic and complex. The emergence of ride-hailing, car-sharing and micromobility hints at some of the speed bumps between today’s modes of transportation and more futuristic means, like AVs and flying cars. Entire industries face disruption in this new mobility world, perhaps none so thoroughly as automotive.
Autonomous-vehicle ubiquity may be decades away, but automakers, startups and tech companies are already clambering to be king of the ‘future of transportation’ hill.
How does a company, city or country “own” this future of transportation? While there’s no clear winner today, companies as well as local and federal governments can take actions and make investments today to make sure they’re not left behind, according to Zoox CEO Aicha Evans and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who spoke about the future of cities on stage this month at Disrupt SF.
Evolution in mobility is occurring at a global scale, but transportation is also very local, Evans said. Because every local transit system is tailored to the geography and the needs of its residents, these unique requirements create opportunities at a local level and encourages partnerships between different companies.
This is no longer just a Silicon Valley versus Detroit story; Europe, China, Singapore have all piled in as well. Instead of one mobility company that will rule them all, Evans and Granholm predict more partnerships between companies, governments and even economic and tech strongholds like Silicon Valley.
We’re already seeing examples of this in the world of autonomous vehicles. For instance, Ford invested $1 billion into AV startup Argo AI in 2017. Two years later, VW Group announced a partnership with Ford that covers a number of areas, including autonomy (via a new investment by VW in Argo AI) and collaboration on development of electric vehicles.
BMW and Daimler, which agreed in 2018 to merge their urban mobility services into a single holding company, announced in February plans to unify these services and sink $1.1 billion into the effort. The two companies are also part of a consortium that includes Audi, Intel, Continental and Bosch, that owns mapping and location data service company HERE.
There are numerous other examples of companies collaborating after concluding that going it alone wasn’t as feasible as they once thought.
Shuttle startup Via and the city of Cupertino are launching an on-demand public transportation network, the latest example of municipalities trying out alternatives to traditional buses.
The aim is for these on-demand shuttles, which will start with six vans branded with the city of Cupertino logo, to provide more efficient connections to CalTrain and increase access to public transit across the city.
The on-demand shuttle service, which begins October 29, will eventually grow to 10 vehicles and include a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Avis Budget Group, another partner in this service, is the fleet management service that will maintain the vehicles.
In Cupertino, residents and commuters can use the Via app or a phone reservation system to hail a shuttle. The network will span the entire 11-square-mile city with a satellite zone surrounding the Sunnyvale CalTrain station for commuters, Via said Monday. Cupertino Mayor Steven Scharf views the Via on-demand service as the next generation of “what public transportation can be, allowing us to increase mobility while taking a step toward our larger goal of reducing traffic congestion.”
The service, which will run from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, will cost $5 a ride. Users can buy weekly and monthly passes for $17 and $60, respectively.
Via has two sides to its business. The company operates consumer-facing shuttles in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York.
Via also partners with cities and transportation authorities, giving clients access to their platform to deploy their own shuttles. The city of Cupertino, home to Apple, SeaGate Technologies and numerous other software and tech-related companies, is one example of this. Austin’s Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority also uses the Via platform to power the city’s Pickup service. And Via’s platform is used by Arriva Bus UK, a Deutsche Bahn Company, for a first- and last-mile service connecting commuters to a high-speed train station in Kent, U.K.
In January, Via announced it was partnering with Los Angeles as part of a pilot program that will give people rides to three busy public transit stations. Via claims it now has more than 80 launched and pending deployments in over 20 countries, providing more than 60 million rides to date.
While city leaders appear increasingly open to experimenting with on-demand shuttles, success in this niche business isn’t guaranteed. For instance, Chariot, which was acquired by Ford, shut down its operations in San Francisco, New York and the UK in early 2019.
As part of San Francisco’s program to operate shared electric scooters in the city, it’s requiring providers to pilot adaptive scooters to ensure people with disabilities are not left out from this new form of transportation. Companies are expected to deploy these adaptive scooters within the first three months of the permit, which begins this month.
Last week, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency granted electric scooter permits to Uber-owned JUMP, Lime, Bird-owned Scoot and Ford-owned Spin. As part of their applications, each provider outlined its planned approach to developing adaptive scooters. We dig into the key details of their applications below.
The Boston-based company is one of a handful of U.S.-based early-stage companies that are on the forefront of developing the tools to modify genetic material for everyday applications.
“Cells are programmable similar to computers because they run on digital code in the form of DNA.” said Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, in a statement. “Ginkgo has the best compiler and debugger for writing genetic code and we use it program cells for customers in a range of industries. Today’s fundraise will allow us expand our technology and continue our drive to bring biology into every physical goods industry – materials, clothing, electronics, food, pharmaceuticals, and more. They are all biotech industries but just don’t know it yet.”
Ginkgo makes money in two ways. The company sells its development services to anyone who comes in with an idea. Kelly said that it’d be like any agreement with an entrepreneur who hires a coding shop to develop an application.
For example, if an entrepreneur wanted to develop houseplants that smelled like roses or lilies, they could approach Ginkgo, pay a (not-insignificant) fee, and Ginkgo would do the research into designing something like a lily-scented fern. (Kelly puts the sticker price on that kind of development somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million, so a founder best believe their product can sell.)
“You don’t need to come in with deep biological know-how,” Kelly says. “The question is, is capital interested in the problem?”
The other way that Ginkgo is approaching the market is by taking equity stakes in businesses that rely on its technology.
Those take the form of joint ventures with companies like Bayer (the first joint venture partner for Ginkgo) and the launch of Joyn, a $100 million spin-out that was created in the summer of 2018.
The two companies are collaborating on the development of seeds that require less fertilizer for growth — something that could save the industry millions and decrease pollution associated with traditional chemical fertilizers.
Since that first spinout, Ginkgo has created three other companies. There’s the $122 million deal to produce rare cannabinoids with the Canadian cannabis company, Cronos; a partnership with Roche that was born out of Ginkgo’s acquisition of Warp Drive Bio; and Motif Foodworks, which is working on manufacturing alternative proteins with a $120 million in financing.
Alongside these large-scale initiatives, Ginkgo has signed partnerships with the West Coast powerhouse accelerator program from Y Combinator and a new Boston-based life sciences-focused group called Petri to conduct development work for startups from those programs in exchange for an equity stake.
“We’re not going to have all the good ideas,” says Kelly. “We want to tap the much larger pool of smart people and really have them building on our platform. Of all of the people we can give value to, we can give the most to startups. If we can offer them to do their biowork without all of the fixed costs of build a lab,” that’s valuable, he says.
Investors in the company include Y Combinator, DCVC, MassChallenge, Felicis Ventures, General Atlantic, Baillie Gifford, Bill Gates, and Viking Global.
The meatless ground meat substitute will be appearing in stores across the Southern California as the first step in a phased nationwide rollout on Friday.
With the step into groceries, Impossible Foods moves into direct competition with its bigger, publicly traded rival Beyond Meat, which is already selling its patties and sausages in major stores nationwide.
Impossible Foods, which has had some supply chain hiccups as it began to increase its production in the wake of large deals with fast food chains, will be taking a phased approach to its national expansion. Expect it to begin appearing on store shelves in other parts of the country throughout the end of the year. Its next stop is going to be another store chain on the East Coast later this month, the company said.
To celebrate the debut, Impossible Foods has tapped Chrissy Teigen’s grandmother for a VIP event on Thursday night and will be handing out samples at a Los Angeles-area Gelsons on Friday.
“Our first step into retail is a watershed moment in Impossible Foods’ history,” said Impossible Foods’ Senior Vice President Nick Halla, who oversees the company’s retail expansion. “We’re thrilled and humbled that our launch partners for this limited release are homegrown, beloved grocery stores with cult followings in their regions.”
Gelsons and Los Angeles are something of a natural first stop for the company, given LA’s place in the nation’s food, environmental, and entertainment cultures.
Indeed, celebrities are some of the backers of Impossible Foods. In the company’s last, $300 million round, Jay-Z, Katy Perry, Serena Williams, Jaden Smith, Trevor Noah and Zedd all invested.
The Impossible Burger is made to have as much iron and protein as a traditional burger and contains 14 grams of total fat, 8 grams of saturated fat and comes in at 240 calories per 4-ounce servicing. It’s not better for a person than eating a traditional burger patty, but it is better for the environment. (The company says that a conventional 4-ounce patty has 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 23 grams of total fat, 9 grams of saturated fat and 290 calories.)
Founded in 2011 by chief executive officer and former Stanford biochemistry professor Pat Brown, Impossible Foods has raised nearly $700 million from investors including Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures, the slew of celebrities, the Singaporean government’s investment fund, and Hong Kong billionaire Li Kashing (along with his venture capital fund).
The company has set itself the goal of eliminating the need for animals in the food chain by 2035.
Already selling in White Castle, Burger King and Qdoba and is, according to a GrubHub survey, the most popular . late-night delivery item in the U.S.
Paul Brest didn’t set out to transform philanthropy. A constitutional law scholar who clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Harlan and is credited with coining the term “originalism,” Brest spent twelve years as dean of Stanford Law School.
But when he was named president of the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the country’s largest large non-profit funders, Brest applied the rigor of a legal scholar not just to his own institution’s practices but to those of the philanthropy field at large. He hired experts to study the practice of philanthropy and helped to launch Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, where he still teaches.
Now, Brest has turned his attention to advising Silicon Valley’s next generation of donors.
Scott Bade: Your background is in constitutional law. How did you make the shift from being dean at Stanford to running the Hewlett Foundation as president?
Paul Brest: I came into the Hewlett Foundation largely by accident. I really didn’t know anything about philanthropy, but I had been teaching courses on problem-solving and decision making. I think I got the job because a number of people on the board knew me, both from Stanford Law School, but also from playing chamber music with Walter and Esther Hewlett.
Bade: When was this?
Brest: I started there in 2000. Bill Hewlett died the year after I came. Walter Hewlett, Bill’s son, was chair of the board during the entire time I was president. But it’s not a family foundation.
Bade: What were your initial impressions of the foundation and the broader philanthropic space?
Brest: Not having come from the non-profit sector, it took me a year or so to really understand what it [meant] to use our assets in each area in a strategic way. The [Hewlett] Foundation had very good values in terms of the areas it was supporting — the environment, education, population, women’s reproductive rights. It had good philanthropic practices, but it was not very strategically focused. It turned out that not very many foundations were strategic.
Bade: What do you mean by ‘strategic’?
Brest: What I mean [by] strategic is having clear goals and having an evidence-based, evidence-informed strategy for achieving them. Big foundations tend to be conglomerates with different programs trying to achieve different goals.
[Being strategic means] monitoring progress as you work towards those goals. Then evaluating in advance whether the strategy is going to be plausible and then whether you’re actually achieving the outcomes you’re trying to achieve so that you can make course corrections if you’re not achieving.
[For example,] the likelihood that the roughly billionaire dollars or more that have been spent or committed to climate advocacy are going to have any effect is quite low. The place where metrics comes in is just having kind of an expected return mindset where yes, the chances of success are low, but we know that the importance of success — or putting it differently, the effects of failure — are going to be catastrophic.
What a strategic mindset does here is say: it’s worth taking huge bets even where the margins of error of the likelihood of success are very hard to measure when the results are huge.
I don’t want to say the [Hewlett] Foundation was anti-strategic, or totally unstrategic, but it really had not developed a [this kind of] systematic framework for doing those things.
Bade: You’re known in the philanthropic community for putting an emphasis on defining, achieving, measuring impact. Have those sort of technocratic practices made philanthropy better?
Brest: I think you have to start by asking, what would it mean for philanthropy to be good? From my point of view, philanthropy is good when I like the goals it chooses. Then, given a good goal, when it is effective in achieving that goal. Strategy really has nothing to say about what the goals are, but only how effective it is.
My guess is that 90 plus percent of philanthropy is intended to achieve goals that most of us think are good goals. There are occasions when you have direct conflicts of goals as you do with say the anti-abortion and the choice movements, or gun control and the NRA. Those are important arguments.
But most philanthropy is trying to improve education or improve the lives of the poor. My view is that philanthropy is good when it is effective in achieving those goals, and trying to do no harm in the process.
Khosla Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures and Chevron Technology Ventures also participated in the round. The company, which operates a ride-hailing service in retirement communities using self-driving cars supported by human safety drivers, has raised a total of $52 million since launching in 2017. The new funding includes a $3 million convertible note.
Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron has big plans for the fresh injection of capital, including hiring and expanding its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which always have a human safety driver behind the wheel.
Ultimately, the expanded G2 fleet and staff are just the means toward Cameron’s grander mission to turn Voyage into a truly driverless and profitable ride-hailing company.
“It’s not just about solving self-driving technology,” Cameron told TechCrunch in a recent interview, explaining that a cost-effective vehicle designed to be driverless is the essential piece required to make this a profitable business.
The company is in the midst of a hiring campaign that Cameron hopes will take its 55-person staff to more than 150 over the next year. Voyage has had some success attracting high-profile people to fill executive-level positions, including CTO Drew Gray, who previously worked at Uber ATG, Otto, Cruise and Tesla, as well as former NIO and Tesla employee Davide Bacchet as director of autonomy.
Funds will also be used to increase its fleet of second-generation self-driving cars (called G2) that are currently being used in a 4,000-resident retirement community in San Jose, Calif., as well as The Villages, a 40-square-mile, 125,000-resident retirement city in Florida. Voyage’s G2 fleet has 12 vehicles. Cameron didn’t provide details on how many vehicles it will add to its G2 fleet, only describing it as a “nice jump that will allow us to serve consumers.”
Voyage used the G2 vehicles to create a template of sorts for its eventual driverless vehicle. This driverless product — a term Cameron has used in a previous post on Medium — will initially be limited to 25 miles per hour, which is the driving speed within the two retirement communities in which Voyage currently tests and operates. The vehicle might operate at a low speed, but they are capable of handling complex traffic interactions, he wrote.
“It won’t be the most cost-effective vehicle ever made because the industry still is in its infancy, but it will be a huge, huge, huge improvement over our G2 vehicle in terms of being be able to scale out a commercial service and make money on each ride,” Cameron said.
Voyage initially used modified Ford Fusion vehicles to test its autonomous vehicle technology, then introduced in July 2018 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, its second generation of autonomous vehicles. But the end goal has always been a driverless product.
TechCrunch previously reported that the company has partnered with an automaker to provide this next-generation vehicle that has been designed specifically for autonomous driving. Cameron wouldn’t name the automaker. The vehicle will be electric and it won’t be a retrofit like the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid vehicles Voyage currently uses or its first-generation vehicle, a Ford Fusion.
Most importantly, and a detail Cameron did share with TechCrunch, is that the vehicle it uses for its driverless service will have redundancies and safety-critical applications built into it.
Voyage also has deals in place with Enterprise rental cars and Intact insurance company to help it scale.
“You can imagine leasing is much more optimal than purchasing and owning vehicles on your balance sheet,” Cameron said. “We have those deals in place that will allow us to not only get the vehicle costs down, but other aspects of the vehicle into the right place as well.”
Cooking may be under sustained attack by a wave of on-demand food delivery startups, with names that can double as gluttonous calls to action (oh hey Just Eat!), but that hasn’t stopped London-based startup ckbk from pushing in the opposite direction — with a digital service that offers on-demand access to high quality recipes licensed from major publishers of best selling cookbooks.
Indeed, the ckbk platform serves up not just individual recipes but entire cookbooks for browsing in app form.
The ckbk platform, which launches out of beta today — after a Kickstarter campaign last year that raised just over $55k — is being touted by its creators as ‘Spotify for recipes’. Think playlists of professionally programmed dishes.
At launch it offers access to a catalog of more than 350 cookbooks (80,000+ recipes) — a culinary library that’s slated to keep growing.
For $8.99/£8.99 per month the premium ckbk user gets to tuck in to unlimited access to this “curated collection of cookbooks” — with content selected using “recommendations from hundreds of chefs and food experts including Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi”.
A freemium layer offers access gratis to three recipes per month.
Subscribers are essentially paying for someone else with (most likely) superior knowledge of cooking to sort the wheat from the chaff so you don’t have to do the legwork of figuring out what freebie Internet recipes are worth investing your time (and after it, teeth) in.
Not just any old recipes, editorially curated recipes is the ckbk promise.
Content partners at launch include “dozens” of major publishers — including Chronicle Books, Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Rodale, Simon & Schuster, Workman Publishing and Penguin Random House’s Rodale and Struik imprints.
Culinary content available via the platform is billed as spanning both contemporary authors like Molly Yeh and David Tanis, to award winning authorities and Michelin starred chefs, while also dipping into old culinary classics, such as On Food & Cooking and the Oxford Companion to Food, and offering works penned by legendary French chef and restauranteur Escoffier.
Publishers participating in ckbk’s platform are being promised a new digital revenue stream (it’s not clear what the revenue share is) — sweetened with data in the form of “new insights into patterns of cookbook recipe usage” they can use to feed into future editorial output. So of course all ckbk users are having their foodie browsing extensively data-mined.
To push its ‘premium recipes’ proposition ckbk is trailing a bunch of forthcoming promotional partnerships with kitchenware brands, food-related ecommerce brands, food events, culinary schools and publishing channels — which it says will be launching in the next few months.
It also says recipes on the platform have been optimized for integration with connected kitchen appliances.
European company BSH (whose appliance brands include Bosch, Gaggenau, NEFF and Siemens) is named as the first strategic partner for ckbk. It will be offering premium membership of the service to UK buyers of its NEFF N90 connected oven.
A subset of ‘smart’ cookbook recipes on ckbk will automatically set the correct time and oven temperature via the N90’s Home Connect system — for anyone who can’t be bothered to twiddle the dials themselves.
ckbk adds that selected recipes will be further “optimized” to make the most of features and cooking modes of the smart oven. A tidbit which might make a seasoned chef raise an eyebrow and question whether that’s heading towards recipes for robots.
The licensing project has certainly been a slow burn. The company behind ckbk, 1000 Cookbooks, has been working on getting the concept to market since 2014, per Crunchbase.
It says it’s currently raising a $2M seed funding round — having previously raised a total of $750,000 in pre-seed funding via investors, the Techstars/BSH Future Home accelerator program, and its Kickstarter campaign.
Goop is cashing in on pseudoscience and, in the process, giving natural health practices a bad name. Krista Berlincourt, the co-founder and chief executive officer of a new startup, Kenshō Health, hopes she can take back the narrative.
“We’re the antithesis of Goop,” Berlincourt, a fintech veteran who previously led marketing and product at Simple Finance, tells TechCrunch. “What we are creating is less of a consumer magazine. We are a holistic health platform that approaches things as more of a holistic health medical journal — everything is backed by science.”
Kenshō, launching today, is an invite-only subscription-based platform for holistic healthcare providers to list their services and share knowledge. The startup has also collected information to construct a research-backed guide to holistic health, something the team believes has been missing from the natural health sector.
Berlincourt and Kenshō co-founder Danny Steiner, who previously worked at NBC Universal, Conde Nast and Hulu before pivoting to health and wellness, have raised $1.3 million in seed funding from Crosscut, a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm, and Female Founders Fund. The pair, based in the LA area, have both suffered from chronic illnesses that had them in and out of doctor’s offices for years.
“I had two years of working with a team of incredible Western physicians and then I had a crash that landed me in the ER. That’s when I realized, OK, this isn’t working,” Berlincourt said. “When you’re caring for yourself or someone you love, there are standards. I am focused on elevating and creating those standards in a way that can be better advised.”
The global wellness economy represented a $4.2 trillion market in 2017, according to The Global Wellness Institute, as subcategories like personalized medicine, healthy eating and fitness/mind-body accelerate growth.
Kenshō, nestled in the personalized and complementary medicine category, says it ensures all of the care providers featured on its platform are 100% validated. Before being allowed to list their services, providers complete a background check and their provider credentials are verified. Kenshō then affirms the providers use research-backed methods and that they have vetted peer references and clients who can provide positive feedback.
“When you look at health as a whole today in the U.S., we only treat the physical,” Berlincourt explains. “The reason that is destructive is 70% of death is premature and lifestyle related. We are dying faster and people are dying more quickly, generally speaking, as the world turns.”
Many, of course, are skeptical of natural care practices because they can be untested or dependent on unscientific principles. Additionally, holistic care often forces patients to pay out-of-pocket. Nonetheless, patients across the globe are turning to non-traditional methods.
”There’s been a massive shift in the zeitgeist in the way people look at health,” she adds. “One in three people have paid for supplemental care out of pocket from a holistic health provider.”
Ford unveiled a range of hybrid vehicles Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show as part of its plan to reach sales of 1 million electrified vehicles in Europe by the end of 2022.
Ford introduced hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Mondeo wagon, Puma compact crossover, Kuga (shown below) and Explorer SUVs as well as the new Tourneo “people mover” at the show.
But more are coming. Ford said earlier this year it plans to bring eight electrified vehicles to market this year and another nine that will be produced by 2024. One of those, an all-electric Mustang-inspired SUV, will come to market in 2020. The electric SUV with Mustang styling has a targeted range of 600 km (more than 370 miles) calculated using the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), and fast-charging capability.
Ford expects that electrified vehicles will account for more than 50% of its car sales in Europe by 2022, surpassing combined sales of conventional petrol and diesel models.
Ford’s upcoming portfolio is part of its broader plan to make its Europe division leaner and more profitable. The company said in June it will cut 12,000 jobs and consolidate its manufacturing footprint to a proposed 18 facilities by the end of 2020. Most of the job cuts, 2,000 of which are salaried position, will occur through voluntary separation programs.
The automaker also announced Tuesday partnerships with six energy suppliers in Europe, including Centrica in the U.K. and Ireland, to install home charging wall boxes and provide green energy tariffs. A partnership with NewMotion aims to help drivers locate and pay for charging more easily at more than 118,000 charging points in 30 countries.
“With electrification fast becoming the mainstream, we are substantially increasing the number of electrified models and powertrain options for our customers to choose from to suit their needs,” Ford of Europe President Stuart Rowley said in a statement.
Electrified doesn’t mean every vehicle will be solely powered by electricity. The term means the vehicles can use hybrid, plug-in hybrid or battery-electric technology. The showcase Tuesday supports the automaker’s earlier commitment that every new Ford passenger vehicle will include an electrified option.
While some automakers have stuck to an all-electric strategy, Ford plans to produce a range of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles.
“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to electrification – every customer’s circumstances and travel needs are different,” said Joerg Beyer, executive director of engineering at Ford of Europe. “Our strategy is to pair the right electrified powertrain option to the right vehicle, helping our customers make their electrified vehicle experience easy and enjoyable.”
Ford isn’t doing this alone. The automaker announced in July a partnership with Volkswagen Group that covers collaboration on electric vehicles and development of autonomous technology via a $2.6 billion investment by VW into Argo AI.
Under the EV part of the tie-up, Ford will use VW’s MEB platform, the underlying architecture for its upcoming line of passenger electric vehicles, to develop at least one fully electric car for Europe. VW debuted Monday the ID.3, the first model with MEB platform.
As California moves ahead with what would be the most restrictive online privacy laws in the nation, the chief executives of some of the nation’s largest companies are taking their case to the nation’s capitol to plead for federal regulation.
Chief executives at Amazon, AT&T, Dell, Ford, IBM, Qualcomm, Walmart and other leading financial services, manufacturing and technology companies have issued an open letter to congressional leadership pleading with them to take action on online privacy, through the pro-industry organization, The Business Roundtable.
“Now is the time for Congress to act and ensure that consumers are not faced with confusion about their rights and protections based on a patchwork of inconsistent state laws. Further, as the regulatory landscape becomes increasingly fragmented and more complex, U.S. innovation and global competitiveness in the digital economy are threatened,” the letter says.
The subtext to this call to action is the California privacy regulations that are set to take effect by the end of this year.
As we noted when the bill was passed last year there are a few key components of the California legislation, including the following requirements:
Businesses must disclose what information they collect, what business purpose they do so for and any third parties they share that data with.
Businesses would be required to comply with official consumer requests to delete that data.
Consumers can opt out of their data being sold, and businesses can’t retaliate by changing the price or level of service.
Businesses can, however, offer “financial incentives” for being allowed to collect data.
California authorities are empowered to fine companies for violations.
There’s a reason why companies would push for federal regulation to supersede any initiatives from the states. It is more of a challenge for companies to adhere to a patchwork of different regulatory regimes at the state level. But it’s also true that companies, following the lead of automakers in California, could just adhere to the most stringent requirements, which would clarify any confusion.
Indeed, many of these companies are already complying with strict privacy regulations thanks to the passage of the GDPR in Europe.