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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Cannabis startup Caliva raises $75M from former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and Joe Montana

San Jose cannabis company Caliva is proving that weed’s still hot, even as some markets cool off.

The company is announcing a $75 million round of investment that includes participation from former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and football legend Joe Montana . If that pair seems unlikely, it just goes to show that cannabis attracts an eclectic mix.

With what the company itself refers to as a “war chest,” Caliva intends to expand its portfolio of products as well as ramping up its efforts courting cannabis users in California through a combination of branded brick and mortar stores, direct to consumer sales and sales to distributors. While state regulations slowed the overall market over the last year, Caliva grew its revenues by 350 percent, growing its company to 440 workers.

A general partner at Liquid 2 Ventures, Montana isn’t new to cannabis investing. In 2017, the former quarterback participated in a seed round for Herb, a cannabis-focused media company. Given the extreme toll pro sports take on the human body, it’s not uncommon for former athletes to get involved in the cannabis business, particularly with CBD products.

“As an investor and supporter, it is my opinion that Caliva’s strong management team will successfully develop and bring to market quality health and wellness products that can provide relief to many people and can make a serious impact on opioid use or addiction,” Montana said of his interest in the cannabis industry.

Caliva currently operates a popular retail location situated conveniently for Silicon Valley’s droves of weed acolytes, but the company is more than just a well-liked dispensary. Beyond just carrying popular brands, Caliva sells its own products at its own stores — everything from vape pen oil cartridges to pre-rolls — in addition to operating a distribution center nearby.

“I know great opportunities when I see them,” said Bartz, who will also join the company’s board.


Source: TechCrunch

Asian food delivery startup Chowbus raises $4M

When one food delivery startup fails, another gets funded.

Chowbus, an Asian food ordering platform headquartered in Chicago, has brought in a $4 million “seed” funding led by Greycroft Partners and FJ Labs, with participation from Hyde Park Angels and Fika Ventures. The startup, aware of the challenges that plague startups in this space, says offering exclusive access to restaurants and eliminating service fees sets it apart from big-name competitors like Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates.

The Chowbus platform focuses on meals rather than restaurants. While scrolling through the mobile app, a user is connected to various independent restaurants depending on what particular dish they’re seeking. Chowbus says only a small portion of the restaurants on its platform, 15 percent, are also available on Grubhub and Uber Eats. 

The app is currently available in Chicago, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Champaign, Ill. and Lansing, Mich. With the new investment, which brings Chowbus’ total raised to just over $5 million, the startup will launch in up to 20 additional markets. Eventually, Chowbus says it will expand into other cuisines, too, beginning with Mexican and Italian. 

Chowbus was founded in 2016 by chief executive officer Linxin Wen and chief technology officer Suyu Zhang.

“When I first came to the U.S. five years ago, I found most restaurants I really liked [weren’t] on Grubhub nor other major delivery platforms and the delivery fees were quite high,” Wen told TechCrunch. “So I thought, maybe I can build a platform to support these restaurants,”

TechCrunch chatted with Wen and Zhang on Tuesday, the day after Munchery announced it was shutting down its prepared meal delivery business. Naturally, I asked the founders what made them think Chowbus can survive in an already crowded market, dominated by the likes of Uber.

“The central kitchen model doesn’t work; the cost is too high,” Zhang said, referring to Munchery’s business model, which prepared food for its meal service in-house rather than sourcing through local restaurants.

“We don’t own the kitchen or the chef, we just take advantage of the resources and help restaurants make more money,” Wen added. “The food delivery space is really huge and growing so quick.”


Source: TechCrunch

Smartphones are about to get more interesting, but is it enough to drive growth?

Smartphone numbers are down. In 2018, global shipments dropped 3 percent, and while the long-promised arrival of 5G will help numbers get back into the black, IDC predicts that even then growth will be in the low-single digits.

With a few exceptions, handset makers are starting to feel the pain of stagnation, due to a confluence of different forces. There’s slowed economic growth in China and internationally, prolonged upgrade cycles and price hikes as tariffs are levied amid a looming trade war.

For many consumers, however, it comes down to one simple thing: most phones today are already quite good and manufacturers are offering fewer compelling reasons to upgrade every one to two years. Unlike many of the aforementioned external factors, this is something phone makers can actually do something about.

Of course, this could be the year that changes that. After years of minor upgrades, far-off concept designs and being backed into a corner by diminishing returns, handset makers are coming out swinging. Less than a month in, 2019 is already shaping up to be one of the most innovative years for smartphones in recent memory.

Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi and Royole all have folding phones in the works, and Motorola may be joining their ranks with a new Razr. Google, meanwhile, has promised to support the new wave of foldables with updates to Android. 5G phones are set to start trickling in this year, as well.

This week we saw a pair of handsets from Meizu and Vivo that take advantage of a handful of trends (wireless charging, Bluetooth headphones, etc.) to offer handsets fully devoid of ports. And then there’s whatever this LG thing is.

Not all are great or guaranteed hits, but with Mobile World Congress just over a month out, it already seems safe to declare that 2019 will be a good year for intriguing devices and concepts. Sales have been flagging, so companies are scrambling to stand out — heck, even HTC is going all-in on crypto with the Exodus One.

All of this should serve to make my job more interesting. But will far out concepts really drive growth? Foldables are already proving to be something of a mixed bag. Take Royole, which contorted its way into the spotlight by being the first company to make the long-promised folding screen a reality. The product ultimately left something to be desired. Early glimpses at devices like the dual-folding Xiaomi, however, have offered hope for the space’s potential.

5G, meanwhile, is going to have trouble living up to its own prolonged hype cycle. Those who pay attention to the industry have been hearing about its unlimited potential for years. The mainstream media has picked up on it in the intervening months, courtesy of CES and promises from handset makers and carriers alike.

But carriers have already done a lot to cloud the definition of 5G — take AT&T’s 5G Evolution. The carrier calls it its “first step on the road to 5G,” when really it’s more of a souped-up LTE. It has led to a whole lot of snipping between carriers, further muddying the waters for an already nebulous technology. There will be a number of 5G devices on the market before year’s end, but actually getting 5G coverage with your carrier in your city is another issue entirely.

Price will also be major a factor. Companies like OnePlus have shown just how good inexpensive handsets can be, all while prices have continued to rise on flagships. Models from Samsung and Apple now regularly start around $1,000, and the average price for a foldable looks like it will be more in the neighborhood of $1,500. At that price, it’s going to be difficult to attract anyone beyond early adopters with money to burn. Real mainstream adoption is going to require lower price points and a genuinely useful feature set that expands the products beyond sheer novelty.

The mobile industry is at a crossroads. It has hit maturation and, in some markets, saturation. 2019 will be a key year in determining the fate of the smartphone going forward, whether this space continues to have life in it, or if the stagnation will continue while we wait for the next big thing in consumer electronics.


Source: TechCrunch

Swarm Technologies raises $25M to deploy its own 150-satellite constellation

Swarm Technologies is one of several companies looking to populate low Earth orbit with communications satellites, setting itself apart with the sheer smallness of its devices — and of course with the notoriety of having defied the FCC and earned a fine. But investors are bullish, and the company has just raised a $25 million Series A round to put 150 of its tiny SpaceBEEs in orbit.

There are many communications markets to be served from space: Starlink wants to do mobile broadband; Ubiquitilink wants to eliminate “no signal;” and Swarm is taking aim at embedded devices, the so-called Internet of Things.

IoT devices don’t need high speeds or low latency; the data they produce can usually wait a few minutes, or even days. While they very well could be registered on your ordinary Wi-Fi network or even connect by a cellular connection, it’s easy to see that they would benefit from a separate form of connectivity more suited to their needs.

This is especially true when you consider how areas like farms and wildernesses are being outfitted with sensors to monitor soil, warn of poachers or lost hikers and otherwise provide some basic data on the huge swathes of land that are more or less off the grid.

Swarm has developed something entirely new: a low-bandwidth, latency-tolerant network that is extremely inexpensive, low-power and very easy to integrate for things that need to be connected anywhere in the world,” said Sky Dayton, EarthLink founder and leading participant in the round alongside Craft Ventures, Social Capital, 4DX Ventures and NJF Capital.

The focus at Swarm now is on speed and cost reduction. Especially in space, there’s a strong argument to get something, anything in place so you can demonstrate the utility of your service, however limited, while others are still at the drawing board.

That’s what the $25 million will be dedicated to — expansion and in particular the deployment of a 150-satellite constellation over the next 18 months.

Of course the success of the company’s ambitions here depend much upon finalization, regulatory approval, manufacturing and launch schedules. But Swarm’s satellites really are small — so small that the FCC was leery about allowing them to be launched — so dozens may well be launched at a time.

The company has already launched and tested a few of its satellites, but I’ve asked when they’ll have a finalized design and can begin manufacturing and launching them. I’ll update this article if I hear back.


Source: TechCrunch

'Resident Evil 2' Review: A Horror Masterpiece, Rebuilt For Today

A remake of the 1998 zombie thriller finds its tension in scarcity—and ever-more-powerful undead enemies.
Source: Wired

Pesticides Are Harming Bees in Literally Every Possible Way

The weed killer dicamba is emerging as a big culprit in the mass die-off of bees.
Source: Wired

Bing Went Down in China and No One Will Say Why

It could be technical issues or the government blocking Microsoft’s search engine. Regardless, the service is back online.
Source: Wired

Fortnite season 7, week 8 challenges and how to complete them – CNET

This week’s challenges feature some we’ve seen before and others that might take some work. We’re here to help.
Source: CNET

New Hubble view is 'deepest image of the universe from space' – CNET

It’s like the Mariana Trench of space.
Source: CNET

Moto G7, G7 Plus, G7 Power, G7 Play: Full specs leaked by Motorola itself – CNET

Motorola spilled the goods about its full lineup of Moto G7 phones ahead of the Feb. 7 launch.
Source: CNET

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