Spain’s Glovo, an on-demand delivery app, has announced a strategic partnership with Swiss-based real estate firm, Stoneweg.
The deal will see the latter invest €100M in building and refurbishing “prime city real estate” in some of Glovo’s key markets as the delivery app works to build out its network of dark stores and sign up more retail partners for its urban delivery service, it said today.
The initial focus for the partnership will be on growing its dark stores network in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Romania, with additional countries slated as under review in Europe.
“These are the countries in which both Glovo and Stoneweg have a major presence, and therefore are able to move much quicker when it comes to setting up,” a Glovo spokeswoman told us. “However, the deal is not limited to these countries. Glovo’s aim is to grow and strengthen their Q-Commerce and dark kitchens infrastructure across Eastern Europe too.”
Glovo currently operates 18 dark stores globally — in cities including Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon and Milan — but said it’s now looking to open similar stores in Valencia, Rome, Porto and Bucharest, among others.
It wants to have 100 dark stores up and running by the end of 2021, it added.
Last September the startup announced the sale of its LatAm ops to food-delivery focused rival Delivery Hero for $272M — leaving it more fully focused on Southern and Eastern Europe.
Then in November it announced the launch of a dedicated business unit to support expansion of the sub-30 minute urban delivery service, which it calls ‘Q-Commerce’ (that’s ‘Q’ for quick) — saying it would accelerate development of a b2b offering to stock third parties’ products in its city center warehouses (and have them delivered to shoppers via the couriers doing gig work on its platform).
Glovo said today that the Stoneweg strategic partnership will help it step on the gas to grow the infrastructure and fulfilment centers it needs to underpin this b2b offering.
The ‘deliver anything’ app is spying an opportunity to capitalize on the coronavirus’ impact on traditional bricks-and-mortar retail — betting urban consumers will make a permanent shift to outsourcing grocery and other convenience/essential shops to an app which bundles high speed delivery, rather than making such quotidian trips in person.
Its dialled-up focus on Q-Commerce is a direct response to “changing consumer sentiment and demand for instant and same-day delivery”, it added.
To date, Glovo’s platform has delivered more than 12 million multi-category orders globally, while in 2020 it experienced a growth rate of more than 300% year-on-year.
As well as supermarkets such as Carrefour, Continente, and Kaufland, Glovo’s list of retail partners includes the likes of Unilever, Nestle and L’Oréal, and IKEA — so it’s by no means focused purely on groceries.
It has said it wants Q-Commerce to power delivery of a wide range of products — from toys, music, books, flowers and beauty products to pharmacy items and groceries. And even, in some markets, a curated selected of IKEA wares — i.e. stuff that’s small enough to fit in couriers’ backpacks.
Commenting on the Stoneweg strategic investment in a statement, Oscar Pierre, co-founder and CEO, said: “We believe that the third-generation of commerce is already upon us. Following the close of Stoneweg’s investment, we are consolidating our strategic commitment to Q-Commerce, which will allow us to better connect people with a wide variety of available products in their cities.
“In the wake of COVID-19, we believe that dark stores represent the future of post-pandemic retail, and I think we’ll see a permanent shift in consumer habits towards same-day and instant delivery. We’re excited to continue to expand our offering, so that all types of businesses, from local independent stores to multi-national chains, can reach more and more customers thanks to new technological solutions and highly efficient infrastructure.”
In another supporting statement, Stoneweg’s Joaquín Castellví, founding partner and head of acquisitions for Europe, added that the strategic investment represents “an opportunity to offer our clients to diversify into a new class of retail asset through consolidated cities where Glovo operates — in a segment with great growth potential, accelerated by the situation we are experiencing”.
Glovo’s push to take a margin on a broad range of urban retail comes at a time when consolidation is eating into the thin margin food delivery space.
It is also facing legal challenges to its business model in Europe over the classification of couriers as self-employed — losing a supreme court ruling in its home market last September.
Ministers in Spain are working on a new regulatory framework for delivery apps and Glovo has said it’s awaiting that reform before making any changes but a lot will be riding on the detail.
UK-based Deliveroo also recently lost a legal challenge in Spain over the classification of its couriers after a court in Barcelona found last week that the company had falsely defined 748 riders as self employed, following an 2018 workplace inspection.
The Glovo food delivery rival announced Sunday the closing of a Series H funding round — raising $180M+ from existing investors, led by Durable Capital Partners LP and Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, which it said valued the business at over $7BN.
The investment would enable it to continue investing in “developing the best proposition for consumers, riders and restaurants”, it said, noting too that it would be expanding in on-demand grocery following rapid growth over the last year.
Deliveroo added that the Series H investment comes ahead of a “potential” IPO — and “reflects strong demand from existing shareholders to invest in the company, given the significant growth potential in the online food delivery sector in which consumer adoption is accelerating”.
French startup Alan is generating 100% of its revenue from health insurance products — and that isn’t going to change. But the company wants to start a conversation with a bigger use base. Alan is going to launch multiple mobile apps that let you learn more about health topics, contact a doctor and chat with the community.
“We are proud to announce today that we’re launching free medical apps for everyone,” co-founder and CEO Jean-Charles Samuelian-Werve said in a virtual press conference. “We’re going to develop services for specific groups of people who are facing specific issues or questions.”
And the company is starting with Alan Baby. As you can guess from the name, Alan Baby helps you stay on top of your baby’s health. The company has chosen to focus on that segment as your baby’s health can be a great source of mental stress.
When you first open the app, you get a feed of articles on specific topics, from sleep to nutrition and child development. You can get relevant articles by entering the birthdate of your child as you often don’t have the same questions at day one and day 100.
While parents usually have 10 pediatrician appointments in the first year, you may have a burning question that cannot wait that long. From Alan Baby, you can start a text discussion with a doctor. The company says users should expect an answer within 24 hours.
Alan had already hired doctors for a similar messaging feature for its users who are covered under the health insurance products. The company is opening up that feature to more users beyond its paid customers.
Finally, people who install Alan Baby can interact with each other in the community section. It works a bit like an online forum on health topics, except that it’s mobile-first and Alan wants to moderate it with some help from its doctors.
“Thanks to what we’re setting up for parents, we will be able to extend it to other topics soon,” Samuelian-Werve said. He names fertility, mental health or diabetes as potential topics for other free apps.
While the apps are going to be free, the company expects to attract new clients for its health insurance thanks to those new apps. Essentially, Alan is broadening the top of its sales funnel with free apps.
Back in October, Samuelian-Werve told me that 100,000 were covered through Alan. A few months later, 139,000 people are covered through one Alan insurance product or another. Overall, 8,300 companies have chosen the company as their health insurance provider. Basically, Alan’s user base has more than doubled in 2020.
In France, employees are covered by both the national healthcare system and private insurance companies. So Alan convinces other companies to use its product for its employees. The company has obtained its own health insurance license, which means that it can customize its health insurance products completely depending on the segment and client.
The company is also operating in Spain and Belgium. But it’s been a slow start with 300 members in Spain and 500 members in Belgium. Alan is going to focus on those two markets before launching new countries in the future.
It’s official. 2020 was one of the warmest years on record either edging out or coming in just behind 2016 for the warmest year in recorded history according to data from US government agencies.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had the year just tied with 2016, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration put the figure just behind 2016’s totals.
No matter the ranking, the big picture for the climate isn’t pretty according to scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York and the Washington, DC-based NOAA.
“The last seven years have been the warmest seven years on record, typifying the ongoing and dramatic warming trend,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt, in a statement. “Whether one year is a record or not is not really that important – the important things are long-term trends. With these trends, and as the human impact on the climate increases, we have to expect that records will continue to be broken.”
That’s a dire message for the nation considering the cost of last year’s record-breaking 22 weather and climate disasters. At least 262 people died and scores more were injured by climate-related disasters, according to the NOAA.
And the combination of wildfires, droughts, heatwaves, tornados, tropical cyclones, and severe weather events like hail storms in Texas and the derecho that wrecked the Midwest cost the nation $95 billion.
Homes are engulfed in flames in Vacaville, California during the LNU Lightning Complex fire on August 19, 2020. – As of the late hours of August 18,2020 the Hennessey fire has merged with at least 7 fires and is now called the LNU Lightning Complex fires. Dozens of fires are burning out of control throughout Northern California as fire resources are spread thin. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Both organizations track temperature trends to get some sort of picture of the impact that human activities — specifically greenhouse gas emissions — have on the planet. The image that comes into focus is that human activity has already contributed to increasing Earth’s average temperature by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the industrial age took hold in the late 19th century.
Most troubling to scientists is that this year’s near record-setting temperatures happened without a boost from the climatic weather phenomenon known as El Niño, which is a large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming.
“The previous record warm year, 2016, received a significant boost from a strong El Niño. The lack of a similar assist from El Niño this year is evidence that the background climate continues to warm due to greenhouse gases,” Schmidt said, in a statement.
The warming trends the word is experiencing are most pronounced in the Arctic, according to NASA. There, temperatures have warmed three times as a fast as the rest of the globe over the past 30 years, Schmidt said. The loss of Arctic sea ice — whose annual minimum area is declining by about 13 percent per decade — makes the region less reflective, which means more sunlight is being absorbed by oceans, causing temperatures to climb even more.
These accelerating effects of climate change could be perilous for the world at large, Katharine Hayhoe, a professor at Texas Tech University wrote in an email to The Washington Post.
“What keeps us climate scientists up in the dead of night is wondering what we don’t know about the self-reinforcing or vicious cycles in the Earth’s climate system,” Hayhoe wrote. “The further and faster we push it beyond anything experienced in the history of human civilization on this planet, the greater the risk of serious and even dangerous consequences. And this year, we’ve seen that in spades… It’s no longer a question of when the impacts of climate change will manifest themselves: They are already here and now. The only question remaining is how much worse it will get.”
Blue Origin launched its first mission of 2021, flying its New Shepard rocket in West Texas to a medium height of just over 350,000 feet. This is the first flight for this particular booster, and for the capsule it carried, which was equipped with a range of new passenger safety, control and comfort systems that Blue Origin was testing during flight for the first time. Also on board was a life-sized test dummy called ‘Mannequin Skywalker’ that recorded information during the flight and landing that the Blue Origin will now review.
Based on the video stream and commentary from the company, this looks like a very successful test, including a takeoff, booster separation, controlled landing burn and touchdown – and a parachute-aided landing back on terra firma for the crew capsule. The mission didn’t carry any real passengers, although there were 50,000 postcards on board from school kids globally that have now officially been to space (past the Karman line) which will be returned to those students via Blue Origin’s non-profit ‘Club for the Future.’
This is essentially what the mission will look like once Blue Origin actually begins to fly paying private astronauts to suborbital space as well; while we don’t have a timeline for when that’ll happen, today’s launch included key tests of a crew alert system that will provide anyone onboard with crucial mission information, as well as a new soft lining on the wall for protection during the weightless portion of the flight, as well as for sound and vibration dampening for the comfort of those on board. This capsule was also equipped with a carbon dioxide scrubber, which will be used to provide safe atmosphere for those within the capsule during the course of the flight.
Blue Origin is launching its New Shepard suborbital rocket for the first time in 2021, with a liftoff planned for 9:45 AM CST (10:45 AM EST/7:45 AM PST) [Update: Now targeting 10:57 AM CST (11:57 AM EST/8:57 AM PST)] from its launch facility in West Texas. This is the 14th flight of New Shepard, and it includes some key testing activities for Blue Origin in preparation for its first human spaceflight missions.
The company has been flying a crew capsule on board its rocket for quite a while now, albeit empty (or rather, loaded with scientific and other cargo, rather than people). This version includes some key systems that will be used when astronauts are inside, however, including communications systems, and cabin environment regulation technologies that will make the trip for private spacefarers more comfortable and safe.
Blue Origin has had 13 previous successful New Shepard launches, so one can reasonably expect things to go well today. But the company’s focus on that crew cabin and gathering data around systems crucial to human spaceflight is an exciting indicator that people could be on board that spacecraft sooner rather than later.
The stream above will begin 30 minutes before the liftoff time, so at around 10:15 AM EST/7:15 AM PST.
Weezy — an on-demand supermarket that delivers groceries in fast times such as 15 minutes — has raised $20 million in a Series A funding led by New York-based venture capital fund Left Lane Capital. Also participating were UK-based fund DN Capital, earlier investors Heartcore Capital and angel investors, notably Chris Muhr, the Groupon founder.
Although the company hasn’t made mention of a later US launch, the presence of US investors would tend to suggest that. Weezy is reminiscent of Kozmo, the on-demand groceries business from the dotcom boom of the late ’90s. However, it differs from Postmates in that it doesn’t do pickups.
The cash injection will be used to expand its grocery delivery service across London and the broader UK, and open two fulfillment centers across London. Some 40 more UK sites are planned by the end of 2021 and it plans to add 50 new employees in the next 4 months.
Launched in July 2020, Weezy uses its own delivery people on pedal cycles or electric mopeds to deliver goods in less than 15 minutes on average. As well as working with wholesalers, it also sources groceries from independent bakers, butchers and markets.
It has pushed at an open door during the pandemic. In Q2 2020 half a million new shoppers joined the grocery delivery sector, which is now worth £14.3bn in the UK, according to research.
Kristof Van Beveren, Co-founder and CEO of Weezy, said in a statement: “People are no longer happy to wait around for deliveries, and there is strong demand for a more efficient service.”
Weezy’s co-founders are Kristof Van Beveren and Alec Dent. Van Beveren is formerly from the consumer goods world at Procter & Gamble and McKinsey & Company, while Dent headed up operations at UK startup Drover and business development at BlaBlaCar.
Harley Miller, managing partner, Left Lane Capital, commented: “Weezy’s founding team have the right balance of drive, experience and temperament to lead in e-commerce innovation
and convenience within the UK grocery market and beyond.”
Nenad Marovac, founder and managing partner, DN Capital, said: “Even before the pandemic, interest in online grocery shopping was on the rise. The first time I ordered from Weezy, my delivery arrived in seven minutes and I was hooked.”
French startup Iziwork has raised a $43 million funding round. Cathay Innovation and Bpifrance’s Large Venture fund are participating in this funding round. The company has been building a platform focused on improving temporary employment.
While it’s a relatively large funding round, the startup is quite young. It was founded in September 2018 and it has raised $68 million overall.
Iziwork manages a marketplace of temporary work; 2,000 companies are using the platform in France and Italy, and 800,000 candidates have used the app to access job opportunities. You can consider it as a tech-enabled version of the good old employment agency.
Candidates can onboard directly from the mobile app. You then get personalized recommendations based on your profile (95% of assignments are filled in less than four hours). And of course, all your documents are managed from the app.
Iziwork tries to add some benefits to compensate for the fact that temporary workers often jump from one company to another. For instance, you get a time savings account, you can request a down payment on your pay every week, etc.
The startup has realized that it can’t open offices in every big and intermediate city. That’s why third-party companies can join the Iziwork network. As a partner, you find new clients and new job opportunities. You can then leverage Iziwork’s app, service and pool of candidates.
This is an interesting strategy, as it greatly increases supply on the Iziwork marketplace. Partners get a revenue sharing deal with Iziwork.
With today’s funding round, the company plans to expand to new countries and improve its tech product. There are still some growth opportunities in its existing markets as well.
But, let’s be honest, the temporary work market is huge. Adecco, Randstad and other legacy players still represent a bigger threat for this recent wave of temp staffing startups. Let’s see how it plays out in the coming years.
Blue Origin is set to launch one of its New Shepard rockets as early as tomorrow, January 14 at 9:45 AM CST (10:45 AM EST) for its first mission of 2021. This is a big one for the Jeff Bezos-founded space company, too — it includes upgrades to the crew capsule atop the rocket that are designed to improve the astronaut experience, a key preparatory step as the company approaches its first actual human spaceflight missions.
New Shepard has flown 13 times, and carried a number of different payloads to suborbital space before returning to Earth. The reusable launch vehicle aims to ultimately provide rides to space for people, too — and while there’s no stated timeline for this actually happening, tomorrow’s mission is a strong sign that it could be taking place sometime relatively soon.
Crew-focused upgrades flying on this New Shepard launch for the first time include acoustic and temperature regulation equipment, display panels that provide information to anyone who would be on board and push-to-talk communications systems installed in each of the crew capsule’s six seats. One of those seats will have a life-size test article on board, a humanoid flight dummy named Mannequin Skywalker that Blue Origin uses to measure various aspects of the vehicle’s performance.
It’ll test astronaut safety alert systems that Blue Origin intends to include on the final flight system, and it’ll also carry a payload with a very different purpose — 50,000 postcards provided to the Blue Origin nonprofit Club for the Future by school kids around the world.
The mission will be broadcast live by Blue Origin via its website and YouTube channel (embedded below) and you can expect the stream to begin around 30 minutes prior to launch time, so at around 10:15 AM EST (7:15 AM PST).
French startup Molotov provides an OTT TV streaming service in France with live TV, premium channels, a cloud DVR and on-demand content. While the service has managed to attract 13 million users in France, it has yet to expand to other countries.
Molotov is starting its international expansion this year with a dozen countries on the roadmap. First, the service will be available in seven African countries, starting with Ivory Coast where it’s already live, Senegal in January, Cameroon in February, Burkina Faso in March, Tunisia in April, Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo after that.
“When it comes to features, the service is more or less the same but content is different,” co-founder and CEO Jean-David Blanc told me. Molotov is betting on local partnerships to launch its service in new countries.
In today’s case, Molotov is partnering with Digital Virgo, a mobile payments company available in 40 countries. Digital Virgo is handling the relationships with local content owners. Molotov is taking care of operations and the tech stack.
There will be 15 channels at launch, such as Nina TV, Passions TV, Trace Urban, Trace Africa, Trace Urban Africa, Savannah TV, Gametoon, Africanews, Euronews, France24, Trace Sport Stars and DocuBox. Molotov will also grant access to its ad-supported on-demand streaming service Mango.
Image Credits: Molotov
In order to support its international expansion plans, the startup had to rework its infrastructure so that it’s more robust — it relies more on cloud hosting and it is partnering with more CDN companies. For instance, the service should work better if you don’t have as much bandwidth as before.
And this is just a start as Molotov is already talking with different B2B partners in Asia, South America and Europe. “Our strategy is that we lean on local players to launch Molotov in new countries,” Blanc said. So you can expect more news on the international front with new countries and new partners.
Amazon has begun the process of removing QAnon-related products from its platform.
A spokesperson for the company said that the process may take a few days. Any sellers that attempt to evade the company’s systems and list products will be subject to action, including a blanket selling ban across Amazon stores.
News of the ban was first reported by The New York Times.
The company is shutting down the nation’s newest favorite conspiracy theory by removing products sold by QAnon adherents from its platform after supporters were prominently on display at the riot in the nation’s Capitol last week.
Amazon’s ban of Q-related products follows the company’s decision to remove Parler from its web servers and cloud services platform.
The ban applies to any self-published books that promote QAnon or any clothing, posters, stickers, or other merchandise related to the Q conspiracy theory.
Amazon has policies that prohibit products that “promote, incite, or glorify hate or violence toward any person or group,” the company said.
A cursory search of the company’s platform on Monday revealed that the ban isn’t being applied to all of the Q-related products for sale.
Seven pages of Q-related products were surfaced under the search for “WWG1WGA” an acronym for the Q-related phrase, “Where we go one, we go all.”
The widely discredited Q conspiracy theory was born from a stew of different conspiracy theories that emerged from the 4chan message boards back in 2017.
Since its emergence, the conspiracy theory has grabbed the attention of conservative activists, and its supporters were highly visible among the group of rioters that stormed the Capitol building last week — even as at least one Q-believer joined Congress the same week.
Amazon’s decision to ban the sale of Q-related goods comes many, many, many years after the movement was first linked to violence, as TechCrunch previously reported.
The conspiracy’s followers have also interfered with legitimate child safety efforts by hijacking the hashtag #savethechildren, and exporting their extreme ideas into mainstream conversation under the guise of helping children. Facebook, which previously banned QAnon, limited the hashtag’s reach in late 2020 because of the interference.
Mapping the ocean’s floor is a surprisingly vital enterprise, which helps with a range of activities including shipping, coastal protection, and deep-sea resource gathering. It’s also a very costly and time-consuming activity, which can be demanding and dangerous for those involved. Saildrone is a startup focused on building out autonomous exploratory vessels that can do lots of mapping, while making very little impact on the environment in which they operate, and without requiring any crew on board at all.
Saildrone’s newest robotic ocean explorer is the Surveyor, its largest vessel at 72-feet long. The Surveyor can spend up to 12 months at a stretch out at sea, and draws its power from wind (hence the large sail-like structure, which is not actually used like the sail on a sailboat) and the sun (via the solar panels dotting its above-water surfaces). Its sensor instrumentation includes sonar that can map down to 7,000 meters (around 22,000 feet). That’s not quite as deep as some of the deepest parts of the world’s oceans, but it’s plenty deep enough to cover the average depth of around 12,100 feet.
As Saildrone notes, we’ve only actually mapped around 20% of the Earth’s oceans to date – meaning we know less about it than we do the surface of Mars or the Moon. Saildrone has already been contributing to better understanding this last great frontier with its 23-foot Explorer model, which has already accumulated 500,000 nautical miles of travel on its autonomous sea voyages. The larger vessel will help not only with seafloor mapping, but also with a new DNA sample collection effort using sensors developed the University of New Hampshire and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, to better understand the genetic makeup of various lifeforms that occupy the water column in more parts of the sea.