Canaan Partners gives $20 million to its two youngest employees to invest in consumer startups

Canaan Partners, the venture capital firm that has backed companies like Skybox Imaging, Match.com and Lending Club, has a new investment strategy. Called Canaan Beta, it entails setting aside $20 million of its $800 million fund to its two youngest employees, and then empowering them to make their own investment decisions as a duo. The bet is that, just how Jeremy Liew found out about Snapchat from his teenage daughter, Canaan’s youngest staffers will find other potentially lucrative opportunities. As the speed of technological innovation continues to increase, the barriers to starting a tech company decline and the demographics in the U.S. go in the direction of non-white, Canaan envisions its Beta program being potentially game-changing for the firm. Since January, Hootan Rashidifard (28 years old) and Adina Tecklu (27 years old) have invested in five seed stage startups, with checks ranging in size from $250,000 –
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Voyage teams up with Renovo for self-driving car operating system

In the world of autonomous driving, there exists a layer between the operating system running on the car and the algorithms that make the car truly autonomous. A number of companies use ROS, an open-source middleware for robotics, for prototyping, but you can’t do driverless with it. This is where mobility startup Renovo‘s AWare OS, which is custom-built middleware specifically designed for Level 4 autonomous driving, comes in. As Voyage founder Oliver Cameron described to me, its software and hardware redundancies can ensure a level of safety that ROS can’t match. After being introduced to Renovo, Cameron said he soon realized the value Renovo can offer from the operating system and computer perspective. “That’s where we saw a ton of value in Renovo, so we ditched our efforts internally and made this switch,” Cameron said. Cameron envisions this being a long-term partnership with Renovo, which “takes a way a
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Google releases first diversity report since the infamous anti-diversity memo

Google has released its first diversity report since the infamous James Damore memo and the fallout that resulted from it. Those are both long stories but the TL;DR is that Damore said some sexist things in a memo that went viral. He got fired and then sued Google for firing him. That lawsuit, however, was shot down by the National Labor Relations Board in February. Then, it turned out another employee, Tim Chevalier, alleges he was fired for advocating for diversity, as reported by Gizmodo later that month. Now, Chevalier is suing Google. “I was retaliated against for pointing out white privilege and sexism as they exist in the workplace at Google and I think that’s wrong,” Chevalier told TechCrunch few months ago about why he decided to sue. “I wanted to be public about it so that the public would know about what’s going on with treatment of minorities at
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Uber brings on Facebook product director to lead driver product

Uber has brought on Daniel Danker to serve as a senior director and head of driver product. Prior to joining Uber, he was a product director at Facebook responsible for video and Facebook Live. “Drivers are the heart of the Uber experience, and Daniel’s passion for our mission and deep product knowledge will ensure we continue to improve and innovate on their behalf,” Uber Head of Product Manik Gupta said in a statement to TechCrunch. Uber has been without a head of driver product since December, when Aaron Schildkrout left shortly after Uber wrapped up its 180 days of change driver campaign. As head of driver product, Danker will be responsible for planning, strategy and execution. Danker has had a long history in Silicon Valley. Between 2000 and 2010, Danker worked in a couple of roles at Microsoft, where he ended his stint as director of development and operations. He
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Self-driving shuttle startup May Mobility partners with auto supplier Magna

Magna, one of the largest tier-one automotive industry suppliers in the world, has teamed up with Michigan-based startup May Mobility for the building and deployment of self-driving shuttles. The plan is to scale May Mobility’s self-driving shuttle fleet across the U.S. The initial fleet will debut for passengers on June 26 in Detroit, Mich. What Magna brings to the table is the retrofitting of micro transit electric cars. So, while May Mobility is responsible for the design of self-driving shuttles, Magna will be responsible for the assembly. That assembly will entail  a complete rebuild with custom doors, a panoramic moonroof, sensor integration and conversion to an autonomous-ready state. On top of that, May Mobility will add its autonomous driving technology stack. 

“Magna shares our high technical standards and excitement about servicing the growing demand for self-driving vehicles to meet today’s transportation needs, while also laying the path for

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An update on black women raising startup funding

Black women are faring a tiny bit better in the tech industry than they (we) were a couple of years ago. While the number of black women who have received more than $1 million in investment is growing, the number is still small. In 2015, there were 12 black women who had raised more than $1 million in funding, according to digitalundivided’s new ProjectDiane report. In 2017, there were 34. Still, the median amount of funding raised by black women is $0. That’s because the majority of startups founded by black women receive no money. Of the black women who raised less than $1 million in funding, the average raised amount is $42,000. In total, according to digitalundivided, black women have raised just .0006 percent of all tech venture funding since 2009. Meanwhile, there are more than double the amount of black female-led startups than there were
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Macy’s acquires minority stake in tech retailer b8ta

Macy’s has partnered with b8ta, the retail-as-a-service startup that originally started as a way to let people try out new tech products. Macy’s has acquired a minority stake in b8ta and will use the startup to enhance The Market, an experiential-based retail concept at Macy’s. By partnering with b8ta, Macy’s envisions being able to scale its Market concept faster, Macy’s president Hal Lawton said in a statement. For b8ta, this is an additional source of revenue. “At b8ta, we believe physical retail will thrive as a platform for discovering new products and brands,” b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby said in a statement. “Macy’s was the best partner for b8ta to scale our pioneering retail-as-a-service model to a breadth of categories like apparel, beauty, home, and more. With b8ta’s software platform and business model, product makers can go from solely selling online to launching their products with Macy’s in a few clicks.
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Tesla lays off roughly nine percent of workforce

Tesla has laid off about nine percent of its employees, Electrek first reported. This is part of the reorganization Musk talked about in May on the company’s quarterly earnings call. The layoffs reportedly started on Monday and will be made official at some point today. Tesla, which also operates SolarCity, is only laying off salaried employees. Tesla isn’t letting go any production associates, as the company is trying to ramp up Model 3 production. “We made these decisions by evaluating the criticality of each position, whether certain jobs could be done more efficiently and productively, and by assessing the specific skills and abilities of each individual in the company,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk wrote to employees in an email obtained by TechCrunch. “As you know, we are also continuing to flatten our management structure to help us communicate better, eliminate bureaucracy and move faster.” When Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016, its headcount
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Why Bozoma Saint John is leaving Uber for Endeavor

Earlier today, news broke that Bozoma Saint John is leaving her position as chief brand officer at Uber to head over to Endeavor. At Endeavor, an entertainment industry behemoth, Saint John will serve as chief marketing officer, working across all of Endeavor’s portfolio companies, which includes William Morris Endeavor and IMG. I had the chance to catch up with Saint John for a little bit over the phone to learn more about why she left. For starters, “nothing horrible or terrible happened,” she told me in response to a question about if something bad caused her to leave. “I am very thankful for that because we’ve had enough of those stories. We don’t want any more of that.” Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Saint John told me she wasn’t looking to leave Uber. Instead, Endeavor reached out to her and she didn’t want to pass
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Uber’s chief brand officer, Bozoma Saint John, has left

Bozoma Saint John has left Uber for entertainment company Endeavor, Recode first reported. Saint John’s employment at Uber came in the midst of the company’s scandals around sexual harassment, management issues and toxic culture. “I want to thank Boz for her contributions over the last year,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told TechCrunch in an emailed statement. “Boz joined Uber at a time when the company was hurting—but her energy, optimism and creativity have been a key part of our ongoing turnaround. Endeavor is lucky to have her, and I’m excited to watch her work in her new role.” At Endeavor, Saint John will serve as chief marketing officer. Endeavor is the entertainment company behemoth that consists of William Morris Endeavor, IMG, UFC and others.

“Boz’s strong creative vision has the power to create cultural moments that are transformative for brands,” Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel said in a statement. “We’re excited

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Square’s Caviar agrees to pay $2.2 million to settle class-action lawsuit over gratuity

Square, the payments company led by Jack Dorsey, has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit involving its on-demand food delivery service, Caviar . Today, customers who ordered food from Caviar between January 20, 2012 and August 31, 2015 received a notice of the proposed class-action settlement. As part of the settlement, which TechCrunch has reviewed, plaintiff Spencer Janssen’s counsel is expected to seek up to $755,000 in fees and costs. Janssen himself is seeking up to $10,000, which means the remaining $1.44 million will be divvied up among other class members, who can use the money to put toward another Caviar order. The parties agreed there were 93,914 class members, so that comes out to about $15.28 per person. The court will make its decision to approve or deny the settlement on September 21, 2018. The lawsuit claimed Square collected gratuities from customers but
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Chinese electric car startup Byton raises $500 million

Byton, a Chinese electric car startup, has secured a $500 million Series B funding round to fuel the development of smart, connected cars. Investors include FAW Group, Tus-Holdings and CATL. Byton also announced the opening of a new HQ in Nanjing, China. This is on top of Byton’s research and development center in Santa Clara, Calif. “By combining our expertise in R&D and traditional car-making with innovative Internet technologies, we aspire to pioneer a smart mobility revolution,” Byton CEO and co-founder Dr. Carsten Breitfeld said in a statement. At the Consumer Electronics Show, Byton unveiled its all-electric SUV concept. Earlier this year, Byton also announced a partnership with self-driving car startup Aurora. The terms of the partnership entail Aurora powering Byton’s autonomous driving features via a pilot deployment in the next couple of years. Byton plans to roll out its first batch of prototypes in April 2019 with the goal
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Ford tests autonomous on-demand delivery with Postmates

Ford is teaming up with startup Postmates to pilot test autonomous on-demand delivery in Miami and Miami Beach, Fla. The pilot program includes 70 businesses like Coyo Taco Ford is also testing vehicle designs with multiple lockers in order to be able to serve more than one customer per delivery route. Since Postmates handles anything from food to hardware, the lockers are a variety of sizes. The goal is to see how businesses and consumers interact with self-driving delivery cars. On the employee end, they get an access code to place the item inside. On the customer side, they’ll receive a text message with an access code when the order is ready to be picked up. “Ultimately, we’re trying to make interaction with self-driving vehicles as easy as possible,” Ford wrote in a blog post. “Through our collaboration with Postmates, we’re testing different methods for efficient deliveries to help local
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Uber is looking to buy the bike-share company behind Citi Bike and Ford GoBike

Uber is reportedly looking into buying Motivate, the company that makes Ford GoBike’s in the San Francisco Bay Area and Citi Bike over on the East Coast. This comes following reports of Lyft getting close to purchasing Motivate in a $250 million deal. Uber bought bike-share startup JUMP, a dockless, electric bike-share service, earlier this year, for about $250 million. In April, Motivate deployed electric bikes in San Francisco. Once JUMP’s 18-month pilot program with the city is up next June, we can expect to see companies like Motivate, Lime and others apply to deploy their own dockless bikes in the city. I’ve reached out to Uber and will update this story if I hear back. Just this week, both Uber and Lyft applied to deploy electric scooters in San Francisco. You can read more about that here.

Silicon Valley scooter wars

Electric scooters have become the hot new area for startups and “innovation.” For those who haven’t been keeping track, there are three main players in the Silicon Valley scooter wars: Bird, Lime and Spin. Bird first launched in Venice, Calif. before expanding into San Francisco in March. It’s worth pointing out that Bird, for now, is strictly an electric scooter company. That’s not the case for Lime and Spin, which both have their own bike-share services deployed throughout various parts of the country and world. That same month — almost in complete lockstep — Lime and Spin deployed their own electric scooters in the city. Fast forward to June and the city of SF has placed a temporary hold on electric scooters until it can review permit applications. As part of a new city law, which went into effect June 4, scooter companies are not able to operate their services
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Uber and Lyft apply for electric scooter permits in SF

Uber and Lyft have officially put their respective names into the electric scooter competition. Uber and Lyft are among the 11 companies that applied to operate an electric scooter-sharing service within San Francisco city limits. The city, however, will only offer up to five companies permits to operate as part of a one-year test program. Uber declined to comment, but confirmed that it has applied for a permit via JUMP, the bike-share startup Uber acquired for about $200 million in April. Once Uber is cleared to operate electric scooters, the plan is to integrate them into the Uber app and continue fleshing out Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s vision for a full-fledged multi-modal transportation platform. Lyft also confirmed to TechCrunch that the company applied for a permit, but declined to share any further details. Here’s the full list of companies that applied, via the SF Chronicle:
  1. Bird
  2. CycleHop
  3. JUMP via
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Lime brings electric scooters to LA

While electric scooter startups are at a standstill in San Francisco, Lime is taking its scooter service to Santa Monica, Calif. — competitor Bird’s home turf. Lime was planning to launch its new model of scooter that it built in partnership with Segway in San Francisco last month, it’s now debuting them in the Los Angeles area first. These Segway-powered Lime scooters are designed to be safer, longer-lasting via battery power and more durable for what the sharing economy requires, Lime CEO Toby Sun told TechCrunch in May. Now, instead of a maximum distance of 23 miles or so, Lime scooters can go up to 35 miles. “A lot of the features in the past on scooters were made for the consumer market,” Sun said. “Not for the shared, heavy-duty markets.” On the safety side, Lime enhanced its night-light on both the front and back of the
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Tesla Model X sped up in Autopilot mode seconds before fatal crash, according to NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report detailing the fatal crash involving a Tesla Model X in March. The crash also resulted in a fire and shut down two lanes of Highway 101 near Mountain View, Calif. At this point, the NTSB has yet to determine a probable cause of the crash and is continuing to investigate the accident. The report says the Model X, while in Autopilot mode, sped up to 71 mph in the seconds leading up to the crash. “At 3 seconds prior to the crash and up to the time of impact with the crash attenuator, the Tesla’s speed increased from 62 to 70.8 mph, with no precrash braking or evasive steering movement detected,” the report states.

Source: NTSB/S. Engleman

Tesla’s Autopilot mode is designed to match the speed of a slower vehicle traveling ahead of it. At the time, Autopilot was
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Lyft redesigns rider app to encourage shared rides

Lyft has revamped its rider app in an attempt to help people get where they’re going faster. Instead of first asking for pickup information, the app will now ask where you’re going, which Uber first started asking in 2016. The app is also designed to encourage more shared rides. Oh, and Lyft is now no longer calling its carpool feature Line. Instead, they’re simply shared rides. “We’re updating [Line] to shared and you’re going to see a suite of options for shared as we evolve over time,” Lyft VP of Design Katie Dill told TechCrunch. “There are multiple different ways of sharing a ride. By calling it shared, we’re a lot more clear with our passengers.” This new app will roll out to everyone over the next month. Currently, 35 percent of Lyft rides are shared, but the goal is to reach 50 percent shared rides by 2020, Lyft
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Self-driving robot delivery startup Starship Technologies raises $25 million

The robots are here and one company, Starship Technologies, has raised $25 million to bring even more to the mainstream. This latest round of funding includes a follow-on investment from Matrix Partners and Morpheus Ventures. New investors include Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, Skype founding engineer Jaan Tallinn and others. These autonomous robots can carry items, like groceries or packages, within a two-mile radius. The plan with the funding is to deploy Starship robots in neighborhoods, corporate and university campuses in both the U.S. and Europe. Starship has also brought on former Airbnb business development lead Lex Bayer as chief executive officer. “We are at the point where we are ready to start deploying our network of robots at scale,” Starship co-founder Janus Friis said in a statement. “This additional funding, and Lex’s appointment, will allow us to bring our services to market. Lex joins us with a proven track
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