The Daily Ten – Compass acquires Modus, Sublease space soars, John McAfee arrested, the Divided Covid Economy…
The Daily Ten
1. The Covid Economy Carves Deep Divide Between Haves and Have-Nots | WSJ
Comeback since start of pandemic is kind to those who can work from home, to firms serving them and to regions hospitable to them. Many others are left behind.
A two-track recovery is emerging from the country’s pandemic-driven economic contraction. Some workers, companies and regions show signs of coming out fine or even stronger. The rest are mired in a deep decline with an uncertain path ahead.
Just months ago, economists were predicting a V-shaped recovery—a rapid rebound from a steep fall—or a U-shaped path—a prolonged downturn before healing began.
2. You can now order Miso Robotics’ latest kitchen robot for $30,000 | Venture Beat
Miso Robotics today announced that its newest kitchen robot, Flippy Robot-on-a-Rail (ROAR), is now commercially available. The final design, which can cook up to 19 food items, mounts the robot on a recessed overhead rail to avoid interfering with human staff.
On the backend, improvements to ChefUI, Miso’s software, aim to assist staff with workflows through a dashboard displayed on a 15.6-inch touchscreen mounted to the robot. An Intel depth sensor enables ChefUI to identify food and temperatures while learning to reclassify new foods introduced to ROAR.
ROAR costs around $30,000, but Miso plans to continue to price it down over the next year to $20,000 or less through a $1,000 monthly “robot-as-a-service” fee that includes regular updates and maintenance. ROAR can be purchased on a payment plan through TimePayments, and in the future, Miso says it will offer other financing options involving a lower upfront deployment fee and correspondingly higher software-as-a-service fee.
3. Nvidia unveils Maxine, a managed cloud AI videoconferencing service | Venture Beat
Nvidia today launched Nvidia Maxine, a platform that provides developers with a suite of GPU-accelerated AI conferencing software to enhance video quality. The company describes Maxine as a “cloud-native” solution that makes it possible for service providers to bring AI effects — including gaze correction, super-resolution, noise cancellation, face relighting, and more — to end users.
Developers, software partners, and service providers can apply for early access to Maxine starting this week.
Videoconferencing has exploded during the pandemic, as it offers a way to communicate while minimizing infection risk. In late April, Zoom surpassed 300 million daily meeting participants, up from 200 million earlier in the month and 10 million in December. According to a report from App Annie, business conferencing apps topped 62 million downloads during the week of March 14-21.
Nvidia says Maxine “dramatically” reduces how much bandwidth is required for videoconferencing calls. Instead of streaming an entire screen of pixels, the platform analyzes the facial points of each person on a call and then algorithmically reanimates the face in the video on the other side. This ostensibly makes it possible to stream with far less data flowing back and forth across the internet. Nvidia claims developers using Maxine can reduce bandwidth to one-tenth the requirements of the H.264 standard.
4. Real estate brokerage Compass to acquire Seattle-based home closing startup Modus | GeekWire
New York-based real estate brokerage and tech company Compass will acquire Modus, a Seattle startup that automates the title and escrow phase of closing on a home.
Compass plans to integrate Modus’ software into its tech-fueled platform used by more than 18,000 real estate agents across 165-plus U.S. cities. The Modus brand will continue to exist and its 60-plus employee team will join Compass, which employs more than 2,000 people.
Founded in 2018, Modus digitizes the home closing process. Last year it raised a $12.5 million round co-led by NFX and Felicis Ventures. Other backers include Liquid 2 Ventures; Mucker Capital; Hustle Fund; 500 Startups; Rambleside; and Cascadia Ventures. The company has raised $14 million to date.
“Compass’s customer-first approach is right in line with the way we think about our business – since day one we have been focused on empowering agents and their clients by improving all aspects of the home-closing process,” Modus CEO and co-founder Alex Day said in a statement. “We are incredibly excited to become part of the Compass team at this pivotal time in our industry, and look forward to joining in their mission of building the future of real estate for agents and their clients.”
5. Enjoy Your Meal—Quickly. Restaurants Introduce Time Limits. | WSJ
To survive the pandemic, some restaurants are limiting the time diners can spend on meals; ‘every minute counts’
When Kate Hayes showed up recently at a Chicago restaurant, she was surprised to learn that the wine-pairing dinner came with a 90-minute limit. Though it was a weekday and there were plenty of empty tables, the meal felt more like “Beat the Clock” than a leisurely catch-up.
“I thought, OK, I’ve got to suck this one down before the next wine arrives,” says Ms. Hayes, the 33-year-old co-founder of a gifting company.
6. Calamities Challenge California’s Economic Foundation | New York Times
The pandemic and wildfires have underscored issues of housing and growth. Will the disruptions and dislocations force the state to chart a new course?
SAN FRANCISCO — Businesses shuttered by the pandemic are slowly reopening, but technology complexes are quiet, their workers carrying on from home indefinitely. The smoke-filled skies had started to clear, but new fires have arrived in a fierce wildfire season that shows the intensifying effects of climate change.
Now California and its $3 trillion economy are confronting a profound question: How much will go back to normal, and how much has been permanently changed?
This is still the home of 40 million people, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and the country’s largest farming industry and port complex. In August, amid the pandemic, Apple became a $2 trillion company, just two years after hitting $1 trillion.
But the message from the recent calamities is clear. If California is to continue leading the nation’s economy deep into the future, its leaders and residents will have to rethink where and how the state grows.
For decades, California has operated under a trade-off: In exchange for high taxes and a high cost of living, its companies reap the rewards of an educated populace, an inviting lifestyle and a culture of innovation.
7. Housing Is How We End Homelessness, Not Police Sweeps | Bloomberg CityLab
Punitive measures only trap people in a homelessness-jail cycle. Indianapolis is showing that there’s a better way.
Before the pandemic, the streets of downtown Indianapolis bustled with hundreds of thousands of people on any given day. The city drew commuters, convention-goers and other visitors to its walkable downtown. But with the pandemic sending the number of office workers and tourists plummeting, Indianapolis’s sidewalks don’t hum with the same energy as before Covid-19 hit.
That doesn’t mean the streets are empty. Indianapolis has been confronted with the same stark reminder facing many other cities: Too many of residents are forced to endure the pandemic without permanent shelter or access to basic services. Covid-19 has made the presence of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness even more visible, and has made the need for cities to address these challenges — in both the short and long term — even more urgent.
When the safest place to be is at home, people experiencing homelessness face an even greater risk of exposure to the virus. And the number of people living outside could surge as pandemic-related job losses lead to a wave of evictions. Before the recent federal eviction moratorium (which, without federal rental assistance, is only a temporary stopgap), a study indicated more than 30,000 households in Marion County, Indiana, faced heightened risk of eviction, largely because of the pandemic. Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people have been disproportionately affected by both Covid-19 and homelessness, and the pandemic could widen racial disparities in health and housing stability even further — making an equitable response critical.
8. Real estate: Bay Area office sublease space soars, companies retrench amid coronavirus | The Mercury News
San Francisco empty sublease space triples, East Bay, South Bay show increases
SAN JOSE — The amount of office space available for sublease has risen in the Bay Area — and has more than tripled in San Francisco — an indication that work-from-home protocols amid the coronavirus may have prodded companies to rethink space needs.
Santa Clara County, the East Bay, and San Mateo County have all shown significant increases in sublease space, but San Francisco has earned the dubious distinction of suffering the largest increase by far in the Bay Area, according to a new report from Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm.
Significant increases in available sublease office space are a nationwide phenomenon but Cushman & Wakefield indicated in its report that the Bay Area is being hammered to a greater extent than the nation’s other major office markets, the Cushman & Wakefield report shows.
“The increase in sublease vacancy has been widespread, though one region has been hit the hardest: the San Francisco Bay Area,” Cushman & Wakefield stated in its report.
As of the end of June, San Francisco had 3.86 million square feet of sublease office space available, which was an increase of 2.81 million square feet. That equates to a jaw-dropping jump of 267 percent, or more than triple the 1.05 million square feet available at the end of 2019.
9. How COVID-19 will remake the restaurant industry | Fortune
The restaurant industry, with its razor-thin profit margins, is a brutal one even in the best of times.
Now COVID-19 has weakened its already fragile financial structure. Between March and the end of May, the restaurant sector had already lost $120 billion in sales, according to research from the National Restaurant Association.
But along with exposing some of the sector’s fundamental problems, the havoc coronavirus has wreaked has also highlighted the critical role that restaurants play in fueling other parts of the economy.
“We are banks,” says Momofuku chef and founder David Chang. “We just don’t hold on to the money and collect interest. We are banks that bring it in, and we immediately send it out to a variety of things, from florists to bakers to purveyors to farmers to employees.”
Chang spoke to Fortune for the first episode of Reinvent, a podcast about fighting to thrive in a world turned upside down by the coronavirus. For the inaugural episode, we dug into how COVID is remaking the restaurant industry.
10. John McAfee arrested after DOJ indicts crypto millionaire for tax evasion | TechCrunch
Cybersecurity entrepreneur and crypto personality John McAfee’s wild ride could be coming to an end after he was arrested in Spain today, and now faces extradition to the U.S. over charges spanning tax evasion and fraud.
The SEC accuses McAfee of being paid more than $23.1 million worth of cryptocurrency assets for promoting a number of ICO token sales without disclosing that he was being paid to do so. Furthermore the DOJ has levied a number of counts of tax evasion against McAfee, saying that he “willfully attempted to evade” payment of income taxes owed to the federal government.
In a brief announcing the arrest and unsealing of indictment documents, the DOJ also details that the charges are confined to McAfee the individual and that they did not find any connection with the “anti-virus company bearing his name.”