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Tragedy strikes as Uber CEO Kalanick loses mother in boating accident, father in serious condition
We've received word from Uber that the Kalanick family suffered an unthinkable tragedy this weekend. CEO Travis Kalanick's parents were in a boating accident in Fresno and Kalanick's mother Bonnie Horowitz Kalanick has passed away. His father Donald Kalanick was also injured. His mother passed away in a devastating boating accident near Fresno and his father is in serious condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with Travis and his family in this heartbreaking time.
Chasing dreams may be the next sleeper hit for venture capitalists
There's also an ultra-hot mattress startup sector, with at least two companies reportedly on a credible path to unicorn status. In the consumer products area, the biggest investment recipient is Casper, which makes comfy mattresses and sells them online. While consumer-focused startups are gaining traction, life sciences and medical device companies still account for the lion's share of sleep-related venture investments. The Minnesota company has raised more than $110 million in venture funding, including a $38 million round in November.
Judah Vs. The Machines: The race for prowess against a toy car
In the latest installment of Judah vs The Machines, Judah ventures down to Anki, a company combining augmented reality and artificial intelligence to entertain fans of racing games. Anki utilizes smartphone cameras and a dedicated app to recreate the imagery of racing battles happening on a real physical track in front of you. Judah challenges three autonomous Anki cars to a death match complete with weapons.
Silicon Valley law firm Gunderson Dettmer's legal advice for Pied Piper
The whole firm was built from the ground up with the sole goal of being the employer of choice for high-growth, venture-backed technology companies. You see the DoorDashes, the Palantirs, the Warby Parkers and what not because they have name recognition. The market has become so sophisticated so often when we get the call we'll say 'hey, it's because we filed something. ' And I'm sure VC's don't like to hear that but the longer you can stay independent the more leverage you have.
Could the UK be about to break end-to-end encryption?
The underlying argument is that intelligence agencies need the power to be able to break encryption to combat terrorism. It's those powers that ministers are apparently intending to draw on to break social media firms' use of strong encryption. The situation is still ongoing fuzziness about the legality of e2e encryption in the UK.
Drones aren't having their mainstream moment yet
Here's a CNN story from 2013 titled Drones go Mainstream. Here's Slate with 2015 Was the Year Drones Went Mainstream. Of course, one for the Mavic Pro from last year titled, You Know Drones Have Gone Mainstream When Even Martha Stewart Loves Her Mavic. Like low end VR offerings, having a bad, cheap first experience could be enough to put many users off of the tech.
Chaos as global IT failure takes out all British Airways flights out of London
It's new IT system has completely crashed five times inside a year, and today it added a sixth global crash to the roster. All flights from Heathrow and Gatwick have been cancelled until at least 6pm in London tonight, affecting all BA flights globally. The airline has said it has found no evidence of a cyber attack, despite some reports of BA staff telling passengers this. It's highly unlikely to be a cyber attack at this point, but let's keep our minds open.
Sprig Is Shutting Down
Coinbase is an online platform that allows merchants, consumers, and traders to transact with digital currency. It allows its users to create their own bitcoin wallets and start buying or selling bitcoins by connecting with their bank accounts. In addition, it provides a series of merchant payment processing systems and tools that support many highly-trafficked websites on the internet.
Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates, Sam Altman invest $30 million in Change.org
LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman announced today that he's making a big bet on Change.org, the site for social justice petitions. Hoffman is leading a $30 million round, with other investors including big names like Bill Gates and Y Combinator president Sam Altman. Change.org, the global hub for collective action, is a crucial democratizing force in this era of growing civic participation, wrote Reid Hoffman on LinkedIn.
Molecule filter maker Membrion wins top prize at University of Washington Business Plan Competition
A team of chemical engineering and business students from the University of Washington earned the top prize at the 20th annual UW Business Plan Competition hosted by the Foster School's Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship Thursday evening in Seattle. Membrion won the Herbert B Jones Foundation Grand Prize and took home the $25,000 award. Discovery Health won the $10,000 Fran's Chocolates Second Place Prize for its comprehensive medical risk management program for the maritime industry.
Google has reportedly launched a new AI-focused venture capital program
Google has launched a new venture capital program focused on artificial intelligence, Axios is reporting. Google declined to comment on the report, which states that the initiative will be led by longtime Google VP of engineering Anna Patterson and involve a rotating cast of engineers instead of the venture investors who work for Alphabet Inc.'s corporate venture unit, GV.
This robot arm's AI thinks like we do about how to grab something
AI is helping there in the form of systems like Dex-Net, which uses deep learning let a robotic arm improvise an effective grip for objects it's never seen before. The basic idea behind the system is rather like how we figure out how to pick things up. In real life, the system looks at an object, compares its point cloud to those in its memory, and picks what it thinks is the closest fit.
UW honors long-time entrepreneurship program leader Connie Bourassa-Shaw at 20th Business Plan Competition
The University of Washington held its 20th Business Plan Competition on Thursday evening in Seattle. It also doubled as an evening of gratitude toward the heart and soul of the university's entrepreneurship program. Since Connie took the reigns, this program has exceeded expectations every year - and every year, expectations have been high, Jiambalvo said. I had a sense that this would be one of the best and biggest things that happens at the UW, Bourassa-Shaw said.
Roborace autonomous car takes a lap in Paris
At the Formula E Paris ePrix over the weekend, the driverless Roborace navigated a lap of the 1.9 km course all by itself - all 14 turns. All this data is processed by Nvidia's Drive PX2, which can perform 24 trillion operations per second, according to a Roborace press release. The Roborace car itself, however, is not.
KidPass raises $5.1 million for its children's activity subscription service
KidPass, a monthly membership program that gives parents access to a variety of kid-friendly activities across their city, has raised $5.1 million in Series A funding, the startup reported this week. To use KidPass today, parents choose from one of three membership options which start at $49 per month. Since its launch in January 2016, 20,000 families have signed up for the service and have booked over 100,000 activities.
On-demand food startup Sprig is shutting down today
Sprig, the on-demand food delivery service, is shutting down. It is with a heavy heart that my co-founders and I share that Sprig, Inc will be shutting down the app today, Sprig CEO Gagan Biyani wrote in an email customers will receive shortly. We apologize to those of you who relied on Sprig for daily meals, and to our extended Sprig team for how this will impact them.
UK wants G7 to take collective action on online extremism
Although there have been no suggestions so far that social media platforms could have thwarted the attack by providing pre-emptive intelligence. The problem for UK security services is they are under-resourced to meet the scale of the threat. May has also faced specific criticism in the wake of the Manchester attack for cuts the government made to UK police numbers.
Sergey Brin's giant airship will be world's largest, serve humanitarian role
Google co-founder Sergey Brin is building a massive airship, we learned in April, and now The Guardian reports some additional details about the purpose and nature of the project. It'll be used both as a private luxury air yacht for Brin and his retinue, as well as for humantarian aid purposes. Also, it'll be the largest aircraft in the world, at nearly 200 meters in length.
Insurance startup Quilt adds life insurance to its portfolio of products
The startup insurance application processor Quilt has added a life insurance product to its portfolio and has begun pitching its digital enrollment in 37 states across the country. In partnership with Generation Life, Quilt is looking to make the process of applying for life insurance easier so that the under-insured population of millennials can have the coverage they need.
Pickle is a TaskRabbit-style app for Generation Z
Share economy startups which allow someone to 'share' their labour or skills have proliferated over the last few years. Now these companies are joined by Pickle, a peer-to-peer mobile app that enables users to do 'jobs' for one another. The app takes 20% from each completed job, 10% from either side of the transaction. Within the app users can 'dare' each other, the idea being to add an entertainment element into the mix.

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