Home / Tech News Reporter (page 5)

Tech News Reporter

A Lime scooter rider died in Washington, D.C., marking the second fatality this month

Lime , the 18-month-old, San Francisco-based company whose bright green bicycles and scooters now dot cities throughout the U.S., launched a pilot program in Tacoma, Washington, today, but that tiny victory might have felt short-lived. The reason: on the opposite side of the country, a Lime rider was killed  today by an SUV while tooling around Washington D.C.’s DuPont neighborhood. The local fire department shared video of the rescue, which shows that the victim, an adult male, had to be pulled from the undercarriage of the vehicle. It’s the second known fatality for the company following a death earlier this month in Dallas, when a 24-year-old Texas man fell off the scooter he was riding and died from blunt force injuries to his head. On the one hand, the developments, while unfortunate, can hardly come as a surprise to anyone given how vulnerable riders or e-scooters are. E-scooter use is on the rise, with both Lime and its L.A.-based rival Bird , announcing this week that their customers have now taken north of  10 million rides . At the same time,  city after city has deemed their use on sidewalks illegal out of fear that fast-moving riders will collide with and injure pedestrians. That leaves riders sharing city streets with the same types of giant, exhaust-spewing machines that they hope to increasingly displace. In fact, sales of traditional SUVs has continued to surge , thanks in part to low unemployment, high consumer confidence, and Americans’ enduring love with gigantic vehicles. One solution to the issue, and one for which the e-scooter companies and their investors have been advocating, are protected lanes that would allow e-scooters to be operated more safely.

Read More »

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission lands on the surface of a distant asteroid

The coolest mission you haven’t heard of just hit a major milestone: the Japanese Hayabusa 2 probe has reached its destination, the asteroid Ryugu, and just deployed a pair of landers to its surface . Soon it will touch down itself and bring back a sample of Ryugu back to Earth! Are you kidding me? That’s amazing! Hayabusa 2 is, as you might guess, a sequel to the original Hayabusa, which like this one was an asteroid sampling mission. So this whole process isn’t without precedent, though some of you may be surprised that asteroid mining is essentially old hat now. But as you might also guess, the second mission is more advanced than the first. Emboldened by and having learned much from the first mission, Hayabusa 2 packs more equipment and plans a much longer stay at its destination. That destination is an asteroid in an orbit between the Earth and Mars named Ryugu. Ryugu is designated “Type C,” meaning it is thought to have considerable amounts of water and organic materials, making it an exciting target for learning about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life and the history of this (and perhaps other) solar systems. It launched in late 2014 and spent the next several years in a careful approach that would put it in a stable orbit above the asteroid; it finally arrived this summer. And this week it descended to within 55 meters (!) of the surface and dropped off two of four landers it brought with. Here’s what it looked like as it descended towards the asteroid: https://techcrunch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/hayadesc.mp4 These “MINERVA” landers (seen in render form up top) are intended to hop around the surface, with each leap lasting some 15 minutes due to the low gravity there. They’ll take pictures of the surface, test the temperature, and generally investigate wherever they land.

Read More »

Mithril Capital Management, cofounded by Ajay Royan and Peter Thiel, is leaving the Bay Area

From its glass-lined offices in San Francisco’s leafy Presidio national park, six-year-old Mithril Capital Management has happily flown under the radar. Now it’s leaving altogether and relocating its team to Austin, a spot that, among others the firm had considered, has “enough critical mass of a technical culture, an artisanal culture, an artistic culture, and is not necessarily looking to Silicon Valley for validation,” says firm cofounder Ajay Royan. The move isn’t a complete surprise. Royan, who cofounded the growth-stage investment firm in 2012 with renowned investor Peter Thiel, hasn’t done much in the way of public relations outside of  announcing MIthril’s existence . Thiel and Royan — who’d previously been a managing director at Clarium Capital Management, Thiel’s hedge fund — largely travel in social circles outside of Silicon Valley. The firm has always prided itself on finding startups that don’t fit the typical ideal of a Silicon Valley startup, too. One of its newer bets, for example, is a nine-year-old dental robotics company in Miami, Fla. that says it performs implant surgery faster and more effectively, which is a surprisingly big market. More than  500,000  people now receive implants each year.  “It was a hidden team, because it’s in Miami, and it was a field that was under invested in,” says Royan, noting that one of the few breakthrough companies in the dental world in recent years, Invisalign , which makes an alternative to braces, caters to a much younger demographic. Even still, Mithril’s departure is interesting taken as a data point in a series of them that suggest that Silicon Valley may be losing some of its appeal for a variety of reasons.

Read More »

VCs say Silicon Valley isn’t the gold mine it used to be

In the days leading up to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, The Economist published the cover story, ‘Why Startups Are Leaving Silicon Valley.’ The author outlined reasons why the Valley has “peaked.” Venture capital investors are deploying capital outside the Bay Area more than ever before. High-profile entrepreneurs and investors,  Peter Thiel, for example , have left. Rising rents are making it impossible for new blood to make a living, let alone build businesses. And according to a recent survey , 46 percent of Bay Area residents want to get the hell out, an increase from 34 percent two years ago. Needless to say, the future of Silicon Valley was top of mind on stage at Disrupt. “It’s hard to make a difference in San Francisco as a single entrepreneur,” said J.D. Vance, the author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ and a managing partner at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Fund, which backs seed-stage companies based outside Silicon Valley. “It’s not as a hard to make a difference as a successful entrepreneur in Columbus, Ohio.” In conversation with Vance, Revolution CEO Steve Case said he’s noticed a “mega-trend” emerging. Founders from cities like Pittsburgh, Detroit or Portland are opting to stay in their hometowns instead of moving to U.S. innovation hubs like San Francisco. “The sense that you have to be here or you can’t play is going to start diminishing.” “We are seeing the beginnings of a slowing of what has been a brain drain the last 20 years,” Case said

Read More »