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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

WikiLeaks replaces Julian Assange as its editor-in-chief – CNET

Document-leaking site says it’s been unable to communicate with its self-exiled founder for six months.
Source: CNET

Amazon opens 4-Star store in NYC – CNET

Today was opening day for Amazon’s newest physical store featuring to-rated products from it’s expansive catalog. Special sections featuring the most popular products bought by New Yorkers were especially intriguing.
Source: CNET

Our 3 favorite startups from Urban-X’s 4th demo day

Urban-X, the urban-tech startup accelerator backed by MINI and early-stage urban-tech fund Urban.Us, hosted a demo day today for its fourth cohort of companies at its Brooklyn HQ.  The seven presenting companies offered solutions to issues plaguing modern cities, including toll-road pricing, energy and construction management, and even the inefficiencies of modern cycling helmets.

In a day that offered an impressive display of entrepreneurial talent, here are a few of the companies that really stood out to us:

Rentlogic

In hopes of improving landlord transparency, Rentlogic uses years of city government data to create objective algorithmic letter ratings for apartment buildings.  As CEO Yale Fox pointed out, despite city-dwellers spending half our paychecks on rent, urban housing hasn’t seen the same rating systems that we use to guide decisions on where we eat, what car we buy, or what shows we binge.  Rentlogic allows apartment hunters to screen buildings before signing a lease and avoid committing to unhealthy conditions or an absentee landlord.

Rentlogic partners with landlords looking to obtain a stamp of quality for potential renters, offering an added inspection feature that allows them to hang a letter rating outside their building. The company’s roster of customers already includes Blackstone and Phipps Houses, the largest for-profit and non-profit landlords in the world, respectively.   

What stands out with Rentlogic is its ability to scale. Though currently only in New York City, the same data used in New York presumably exists across all major US markets and Rentlogic has minimized the cost of entering new cities by building out the back-end infrastructure required to ingest and analyze the data.  From a demand perspective, as renters defer to Rentlogic for quality assurance and more competitors hang “A” ratings outside their buildings, landlords will face more pressure to maintain the same offering. 

The idea hit home for a born-and-bred New Yorker with my own set of landlord horror stories, and the first thing I did when I left was look up my building on Rentlogic.

Campsyte

Most companies wish they had mega-campuses or “motherships” where they could offer employees access to sprawling outdoor working areas. For companies based in urban areas, offering outdoor space can be tough, with many parks often privatized, far from city centers, or void of the amenities needed to be productive. 

Campsyte transforms underutilized urban outdoor spaces into productive and fun spaces that customers can book for co-working purposes, corporate off-sites, or events. Similar to WeWork’s approach with buildings, Campsyte takes a parking lot, and adds value by filling it with greenery, furniture, electricity, WiFi, and other services. With its services driving nearly 10x the annual revenue per square foot seen by traditional parking lots, the value proposition for lot owners is convincing.

Given the competition companies are facing when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, providing the same amenities as competitors based outside city centers seems invaluable, with Campsyte boasting an extremely impressive roster of partner companies, including LinkedIn, PayPal, Salesforce, and Airbnb. 

ODN (Open Data Nation)

As anyone who has driven in a city knows, car crashes or accidents can often be caused by the built environment around you. Yet insurers, who focus on personal characteristics like credit scores when underwriting a policy, lack the measurement tools to assess the risk of someone’s external environment.

Founded by an MIT-trained city planner, ODN builds risk models using machine learning and public data records to help insurers evaluate risk and mitigate accidents. The resulting analytics eases the selection process for insurers, allowing them to drive more sales with less cost and risk. ODN is already partnered up with some of the world’s largest insurers including Zurich, Travelers, and Hanover Insurance.

The potential use cases for ODN’s technology go far beyond the massive existing insurance market, with the eventual rollout of autonomous cars forcing insurers to ask how they construct policies when human behavior plays no role in accidents. ODN is working with carriers to help answer this question while helping create a more efficient and fair underwriting process today. 

Other members of Urban-X Cohort 4 included:

Avvir:  “Avvir automates quality assurance for the construction industry, providing real-time insights into the progress and potential defects on a project.”

ClearRoad:  “ClearRoad helps government agencies automate toll road pricing for any section of road without the need for traditional proprietary hardware infrastructure.”

Park & Diamond:  “Park & Diamond makes biking better by reinventing the bike helmet, using next-generation materials to build a safer, more portable helmet that can roll up into the shape of a water bottle for easier carrying, while looking like a regular hat, cap, or beanie.”

Sapient Industries:  “Sapient Industries has developed an autonomous energy management system that senses and learns human behavior in order to eliminate wasted energy in buildings.”


Source: TechCrunch

The Blasey Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings Through the Lens of One Woman

When Christine Blasey Ford spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning, Erin Schaff was one of the few photographers in the room
Source: Wired

Blasey Ford–Kavanaugh Testimony Tells a Tale of Two Internets

As Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh stood before Congress in turn, filter bubbles on the left and the right saw very different pictures.
Source: Wired

California cops bust crime ring that nabbed $1M worth of devices from Apple Stores

Fear not, citizens — the law enforcement apparatus of California has apprehended or is hot on the trail of more than a dozen hardened criminals who boldly stole from the state’s favorite local business: Apple . Their unconscionable larceny amounted to more than a million dollars’ worth of devices stolen from Apple Stores — the equivalent of hundreds of iPhones.

The alleged thieves would wear hoodies into Apple stores — already suspicious, I know — and there they would snatch products on display and hide them in the ample pockets of those garments. Truly cunning.

These crimes took place in 19 different counties in California, the police forces of which all collaborated to bring the perpetrators to justice, though the San Luis Obispo and Oakland departments led the charge. So far seven of the thieves have been arrested, and nine more have warrants out.

In a press release, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra harangued his state regarding the dangers of the criminal element:

Organized retail thefts cost California business owners millions and expose them to copycat criminals. Ultimately, consumers pay the cost of this merchandise hijacking. We will continue our work with local law enforcement authorities to extinguish this mob mentality and prosecute these criminals to hold them accountable.

You hear that, would-be copycats? You hear that, assembling mob? Xavier’s gonna give it to you… if you don’t fly straight and stop trying to stick ordinary consumers with the costs of your crimes. Not to mention California businesses. With Apple paying that $15 billion in back taxes, it doesn’t have a lot of cash to spare for these shenanigans.

Well, I suppose it’s doing okay.

I’ve asked Apple for comment on this case and whether they participated or cooperated in it. Perhaps Face ID helped.


Source: TechCrunch

With his internet cut off, Julian Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks has a new top dog. Its contentious figurehead and founder, Julian Assange, will step aside, letting former WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson take the reins due to what WikiLeaks calls “extraordinary circumstances” that have seen Assange “held incommunicado.”

Assange created the organization in 2006 and has served as its editor-in-chief ever since. Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist, will take over, though he’s not new to leadership at WikiLeaks. In the past, Hrafnsson has “overseen certain legal projects for WikiLeaks” and it is believed that Assange has had less of a day to day role in its operations over time. Assange will remain involved as the organization’s publisher.

Assange remains holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy after first seeking refuge there in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations. Six months ago, the Ecuadorian government took actions that isolated Assange, cutting off his internet access and disallowing him from seeing visitors.

Assange reportedly has tension with Ecuador’s new president, Lenín Moreno, who apparently views him an unsavory problem inherited from the former administration. Moreno has suggested that he will maintain Assange’s status “as long as we assume his life may be in danger” — a statement that leaves some room for doubt about the WikiLeaks founder’s near future.


Source: TechCrunch

Volkswagen and Stanford want to make hydrogen fuel cells cheaper – Roadshow

They figured out a way to make a fuel cell work with less platinum catalyst.
Source: CNET

SEC sues Elon Musk, seeks his removal from Tesla – Roadshow

The lawsuit comes on the heels of Musk’s August tweet saying he was ready to take Tesla private.
Source: CNET

The Porsche 935 is back as a GT2 RS-based motorsport monster – Roadshow

Only 77 will be built, and no, they are not street legal.
Source: CNET

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