The coronavirus pandemic has been a brutal test for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest public transit agency in the U.S.
The coronavirus pandemic struck the largest public transit system in the U.S. just as it was beginning to recover from a long-standing funding and service crisis. Back in 2017, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a “state of emergency” for the New York City subway system and the agency that runs it, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Aging infrastructure, political squabbles and crowding had pushed the system to the brink, and the MTA embarked on a $54 billion campaign to improve service, with new subway cars and buses, refurbished tracks and stations, and modernized signals.
But progress on those investments has been dramatically disrupted by Covid-19, which saw MTA ridership plunge by more than 90%. As the city went into lockdown in March 2020, New Yorkers were faced with an unprecedented mass transit challenge: how to save the system that keeps the city alive.
One of the most complicated measures on California’s ballot this November is Proposition 19, which gives new property tax breaks to older homeowners, increases property taxes for those inheriting their parents’ properties and tacks on some tax relief for those affected by wildfires.
The measure is the product of more than two years of work by the California Assn. of Realtors to give a larger tax incentive to homeowners 55 and older to move into new homes. The Realtors also were behind Proposition 5, a failed 2018 initiative that would have done the same thing. But Proposition 19 adds many other elements — notably a tax increase for the heirs of some homeowners — in an effort to make it more fiscally sound and palatable to voters.
Here’s a breakdown of how Proposition 19 works, including who benefits from the measure and who doesn’t.
The tech giants are turning into giant landlords
1.6 million square feet: That’s how much Big Tech’s real estate footprint in New York City has expanded since the beginning of 2020. Amazon, Apple, and Facebook have all bought or leased large swathes of office space in the city this year, much of it during the pandemic, per the New York Times. That’s not even counting the 1.7 million square feet that Google announced it would be adding to its office space in the city last December.
As the pandemic causes a massive shift to remote work, commercial real estate has been hit hard, and so has the rest of the trillion-dollar economy that lives off the commuting office worker. Areas like midtown Manhattan, which cater almost entirely to office workers, have emptied out, causing some folks to leave the city for dead.
The nation’s homebuilders are seeing no fall chill in demand from buyers, and that has the industry more confident than ever.
Builder sentiment set a record high for the second month in a row, jumping to 85 in October on the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. September and October are the first two months the index has ever been above 80. Anything above 50 is considered positive. The index stood at 71 in October 2019.
All three components of the index either set records or matched their highest readings. Current sales conditions rose 2 points to 90. Sales expectations in the next six months increased 3 points to 88, and buyer traffic was unchanged at 74.
AiFi, a Santa Clara-based cashierless retail startup that emerged from stealth in February 2019, today secured an investment from Qualcomm and existing backers. A company spokesperson didn’t disclose the exact amount, but she said it doubles AiFi’s total raised to $30 million.
Platforms like Amazon Go piqued public interest in contactless brick-and-mortar payments, but the pandemic is accelerating adoption as retailers scramble to deliver touchless experiences.
Grabango and Standard Cognition both recently announced the launch of “no-line” payment experiences at supermarkets and college convenience stores. And facial recognition terminals like PopID are gaining traction among businesses looking to eliminate spread vectors. Speaking to Chargebacks 911, ABC reported banks’ use of contactless payment options has surged 150% since March.
Black borrowers pay $13,464 more over the life of a home loan, with interest, mortgage-insurance and tax expenses higher than for their White counterparts, further hurting African Americans’ ability to save for retirement, according to a new study.
The biggest reason for the gap is the risk-based pricing found in most U.S. mortgages, which disadvantage Black borrowers because they tend to make smaller down payments and have lower credit scores, said the report’s authors, who include Ed Golding, former head of the Federal Housing Administration. The lower down payment also results in more Black homeowners paying mortgage insurance, the researchers found.
PROPSELLER, a Singapore-based tech-enabled real-estate agency, has raised S$1.7 million in seed funding.
Investors in the round include startup accelerator Iterative, US and Singapore based venture capital (VC) firm Hustle Fund, angel network XA Network, Singapore-based family-funded investment firm Rapzo Capital, Lazada co-founder Stein Jakob and Ben Neve, the founder of property portal group Dot Property.
Propseller had announced angel funding of S$1 million in December 2018.
Dushyant Khare, an angel investor and member of the XA Network, said: “One of the things Propseller is doing well is to reduce the number of physical touchpoints, with features such as online dashboards and virtual viewings. With Covid-19, the need for such tools has become even more critical and providing them has resulted in accelerated growth for Propseller in recent months.”
8. More hours, more burned out: Survey finds remote tech workforce feeling strain of working from home | Geekwire
The pandemic and remote work are wearing on the tech workforce, with 68% of respondents to a new survey saying they are more burned out than when they worked in an office.
The data comes from a survey by Blind, the anonymous workplace community app. More than 3,000 workers from 40 companies were surveyed, including Seattle-area tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, T-Mobile and Expedia Group. Business Insider reported on the findings on Monday.
Amazon workers surveyed are 74% more burned out working from home and 76% of Microsoft workers feel that way. The number jumps to 83% at Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless carrier T-Mobile.
Blind also found 60% of those surveyed are working more hours than prior to the pandemic, with 67% at Amazon and 70% at Microsoft reporting longer work days.
On Friday, former Tiger Global Management investor Lee Fixel registered plansfor the second fund of his new investment firm, Addition, just four months after closing the first. According to a report on Friday by the Financial Times, the outfit spent last week finalizing the fundraising for the $1.4 billion fund, which Addition reportedly doesn’t plan to begin investing until next year.
Now a source close to the firm says the capital has not been raised. That’s perhaps good news for investors who were shut out of Addition’s $1.3 billion debut fund and who might be hoping to write a check this time around.
10. ShopUp raises $22.5 million to digitize millions of mom-and-pop shops in Bangladesh | TechCrunch
A startup that is aiming to digitize millions of neighborhood stores in Bangladesh just raised the country’s largest Series A financing round.
Dhaka-headquartered ShopUp said on Tuesday it has raised $22.5 million in a round co-led by Sequoia Capital India and Flourish Ventures. For both the venture firms, this is the first time they are backing a Bangladeshi startup. Veon Ventures, Speedinvest, and Lonsdale Capital also participated in the four-year-old ShopUp’s Series A financing round. ShopUp has raised about $28 million to date.
Like its neighboring nation, India, more than 95% of all retail in Bangladesh goes through neighborhood stores in the country. There are about 4.5 millionsuch mom-and-pop stores in the country and the vast majority of them have no digital presence.