A week before anyone knew that they would have to spend the next month in quarantine, Henry Gabriel got into his dream school.
“I got in!” he yelled from his bedroom door. At the time, he was staying with his mom, Dawn, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They celebrated together and made a FaceTime call to his dad, Scott, to share the news.
When he left to visit his dad toward the end of March, Dawn thought she’d see him again in a couple of days. But then her twins got sick, and it wasn’t safe, and now she couldn’t be with her son for an extended period of time in his last year at home.
For many separated adults, co-parenting in the midst of COVID-19 means redrawing territories and boundaries, trashing schedules and putting away hard-won compromises for new, more painful ones. It means not seeing your kids until the CDC gives the OK.
Scott and Dawn have been separated for 14 years. Ever since, they’ve shared time with Henry one week on and one week off.
In the coming weeks, Henry was supposed to be competing in a robotics competition, graduating high school and packing his things for college. In the midst of a quarantine, things still aren’t so certain.
“It feels like we’re missing huge life events,” Dawn said during a phone call.
Dawn knew it was the best to keep everyone safe. She has 10-year-old twins in the house who have already been sick. One of the twins was so sick that Dawn took her to get tested for COVID-19, but doctors said her symptoms weren’t severe enough. All she can do is wait to have her family back together and in good health.
Not all parents agree on what to do during a quarantine, said family Law Attorney Nicole Sodoma, managing principle of Sodoma Law in Charolette, North Carolina. She has gotten multiple calls from parents who can’t come to an agreement.
“There’s a reason people aren’t living in intact families,” she said. “There was a reason they got divorced. There was a reason they’re not living together anymore. It was probably because they didn’t trust each other, it might have been an abuse issue, it might have been mental health concerns—none of those things have gone away just because we’ve got a pandemic.”
One of the main issues is disagreements about the severity of COVID-19. While one parent might be more lenient about letting their child do what they normally do, the other might want to limit the exposure.
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A good way to mediate these conversations, Sodoma said, is through a physician. Having a medical professional to give the quarantine order can avoid conflict.
“There are some things that are not going to be within your control,” she said. “You have to reset your expectations in order to make the best decisions.”
Across the nation, parents are adjusting to the first wave of reopening, which can present even more challenges to co-parents. A trip to the reopened beaches might seem okay to one parent, but irresponsible to another. According to Sodoma, some parents aren’t ready to leave quarantine.
“If one family member is allowing the children to do things that aren’t in quarantine, how much at risk is the whole family of testing positive,” said Sodoma.
Sodoma advises families to over-communicate. She said it’s important to approach difficult decisions involving the pandemic with an understanding that the situation is unprecedented to everyone else as well.
Jeff Williams, 51, lives in Portland, Oregon and co-parents his 17-year-old daughter with his ex wife. Williams and his ex agreed early on in their separation that they would make all big decisions together before they happened in order to be prepared. Doing this, Williams said, would prevent any arguments that could arise from disagreements on big life decisions and plans.
In these agreements, they discussed visitations, suppers, vacations, schooling choices and college tuition. They had the details set in stone, but nowhere in those discussions saw a pandemic coming.
William’s ex is in Seattle, so the concern about being able to cross state lines was rising. Williams said being able to have the bigger things pinned down earlier on in their separation was what helped them get through quarantine. Instead of arguing over graduation, school or vacations, they were able to focus on getting through COVID-19.
For some families, the pandemic has derailed jobs, school and financial stability. From April to May, the unemployment rate dropped 1.4 percentage points to 13.3%.
Megan Perez, 46, worked four different jobs in Rogers, Arkansas before the pandemic hit. As COVID-19 kept getting worse, he lost those jobs and moved in with his parents in April.
“I found myself in a position where I had to choose between food and rent,” said Perez.
While moving in with his parents wasn’t in his prior plans, he said he’s lucky to have food, transportation and air-conditioning. His son is seven years old and he shares custody with his ex wife. He said he’s lucky that their relationship was amicable enough to work out issues that could have been a bigger problem sooner in their separation.
Perez said that they agreed that everyone would follow the same protocols. They would be isolating themselves as a family in order to keep everyone safe.
He said that even though they agreed on the quarantine, his son would still miss his friends and his regular activities. His son was in a taekwondo class that went virtual. It was okay at first, but as it went on, he started to miss the more physical parts of the class. He missed interacting with other kids his age.
For co-parents, thorough discussions and planning can get a family through a pandemic, but interactions their children have with others their age is something they can’t always provide.
Joanna Cooper, 48, lives in Durham, North Carolina with her seven-year-old son. She said that there’s only so much playing she can do to entertain him. They were playing a game in the yard when she realized that she couldn’t provide the type of connection that her son has with kids his age.
“It’s nice to see his imagination at work but this is the kind of imaginative play that really other kids are good for and that’s where he needs that community,” said Cooper.
When the pandemic hit, she and her co-parent had to balance their custody schedule in order to make switching over easier. She made sure that the more difficult conversations always stayed calm.
“There was a little worry here and there that we wouldn’t agree about something, so I’ve had to be diplomatic about how I approach certain things,” said Cooper.
Earlier on in the pandemic, her ex husband let her son have a social-distanced playdate. Cooper was skeptical that her son would be able to stay a safe distance from his friend. The plans weren’t run by her and she thought that was something they should have talked about.
“I’ve learned if I can hold off on my initial frustrated reaction and just give it some space and present it as a topic of discussion more than a criticism that that’s more useful,” she said.
She said that the conversations can be difficult, but they need to be at the forefront of the relationship in order to create the safest environment for children and loved ones.
Accept.inc secures $90M in debt and equity to scale its digital mortgage lending platform
A lot of startups were built to help people make all-cash offers on homes with the purpose of gaining an edge against other buyers, especially in ultra-competitive markets.
Accepti.inc is a Denver-based company that is attempting to create a new category in real estate technology. To help scale its digital mortgage lending platform, the company announced today that it has secured $90 million in debt and equity – with $78 million in debt and $12 million in equity. Signal Fire led the equity portion of its financing, which also included participation from existing seed investors Y Combinator and DN Capital.
Accept.inc describes itself as an iLender, or a “technology-enabled lender” that gives people a way to submit all-cash offers on a home upon qualifying for a mortgage.
Using its platform, a buyer gets qualified first and then can start looking for homes that fall at or under the amount he or she is approved for. They can purchase a more expensive home, but any amount above what they are approved for would have to come out of pocket. Historically, most buyers don’t know that they will have to pay out of pocket until they’ve made an offer on a specific home and an appraisal comes under the amount of the price they are paying for a home. In those cases, the buyer has to cough up the difference out of pocket. With Accept.inc., its execs tout, buyers know upfront how much they are approved for and can spend on a new home “so there are no surprises later.”
SignalFire Founding Partner and CTO Ilya Kirnos describes Accept.inc as “the first and only iLender.”
He points out that since it is a lender, Accept.inc doesn’t make its money by charging buyers fees like some others in the all-cash offer space.
“Unlike ‘iBuyers’ or ‘alternative iBuyers,’ Accept.inc fronts the cash to buy a house and then makes money off mortgage origination and title, meaning sellers, homebuyers and their agents pay no additional cost for the service,” he told TechCrunch.
IBuyers instead buy homes from sellers who signed up online, make a profit by often fixing up and selling those homes and then helping people purchase a different home with all cash. They also make money by charging transaction fees. A slew of companies operate in the space including established players such as Opendoor and Zillow and newer players such as Homelight.
Since its 2016 inception, Accept.inc says it has helped thousands of buyers, agents and sellers close on “hundreds of millions of dollars” in homes. The company saw ”14x” growth in 2020 and from June 2020 to June 2021, it achieved “10x” growth in terms of the size of its team and number of transactions and revenue, according to CEO and co-founder Adam Pollack. Accept.inc wants to use its new capital to build on that momentum and meet demand.
Pollack and Nick Friedman met while in college and started building Accept.inc with the goal of “turning every offer into a cash offer.” The pair essentially “failed for two years,” half-jokes Pollack.
“We basically became an encyclopedia of 1,000 ways the idea of helping people make all-cash offers wouldn’t work,” he said.
The team went through Y Combinator in the winter of 2019 and that’s when they created the iLender concept. In the iLender model, the company uses its cash to buy a house for buyers. Once the loan with Accept.inc is ready to close, the company sells back the house to the buyer “at no additional cost or fees.”
“Basically what we learned through those two years is that you have to vertically integrate all of your core competencies, and you can’t rely on third parties to own or manage your special sauce for you,” Pollack told TechCrunch. “We also realized that if you’re going to build a cash offer for anyone who could afford a mortgage, you’ve got to make it a full bona fide cash offer that closes in three days as opposed to a better version of what existed. And you have to own that, and take the risk that comes with it and be comfortable with that.”
The benefits of their model, the pair say, is that buyers get to be cash buyers, sellers can close in as little as 32 hours, and agents “get a guaranteed commission check.”
“Our mission is that everyone should have an equal chance at homeownership,” Friedman said. “We not only want to level the playing field, we want to create a new standard.”
Buyers using Accept.inc win 6-7 times more frequently, the company claims. With its new capital, It also plans to double its team of 90 and enter new markets outside of its home base of Denver.
SignalFire Partner Chris Scoggins believes that Accept.inc is different from other lenders in that its focus is on “winning the home, not just servicing the loan, with a business model that’s 10x more capital-efficient than other players in the market.
“The team is driven…to level the playing field for homebuyers who today lose out against all-cash offers from home-flippers and wealthy individuals,” he added. “We see an enormous opportunity for Accept.inc to become the backbone of the future of mortgage lending.”
Apple’s AirPods Max fall to a new all-time low of $489 at Amazon
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With good looks, quality construction and great natural sound, Apple’s AirPods Max headphones tick all the right boxes, but they’re mighty expensive at $550. However, you can now pick up a pair from Amazon at $490, the lowest price we’ve seen yet. That’s still not inexpensive by any means, but it’s a substantial savings on high-end headphones that only came out seven months ago.
With an Engadget review score of 84, the AirPods Max earned a spot in our list of the best headphones you can buy. They look and feel great thanks to the aluminum and metal design, breathable mesh fabric and large earcups. A rotating crown and dedicated button let you switch between ANC and and regular modes, and it’s easy to switch seamlessly between iPhones, Macs and iPads. They offer hands-free capability with Siri, and you can go for up to 20 hours between charges with both ANC and spatial sound enabled.
AirPods Max offer a more natural sound experience than other headphones, with bass that’s not overcooked. Active noise cancellation quality is right up there, though not quite on par with Sony’s WH-1000XM4 ANC headphones. And they support Apple’s Dolby Atmos-powered spatial audio on iPhones, iPads and Macs right now, and will come to Apple TV this fall. The main drawback is that they won’t stream Apple’s new lossless audio.
Still, they deliver in nearly every other area and are especially useful for folks with Apple devices. $60 is a substantial discount for an Apple product this new, so if you’re interested, it would be best to act soon.
Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.
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Visa to acquire open banking platform Tink for more than $2 billion
Visa has announced plans to acquire Tink for €1.8 billion, or $2.15 billion at today’s exchange rate. Tink has been a leading fintech startup in Europe focused on open banking application programming interface (API).
Today’s move comes a few months after Visa abandoned its acquisition of Plaid, another popular open banking startup. Originally, Visa planned to spend $5.3 billion to acquire the American startup. But the company had to call off the acquisition after running into a regulatory wall.
Tink offers a single API so that customers can connect to bank accounts from their own apps and services. For instance, you can leverage Tink’s API to access account statements, initiate payments, fetch banking information and refresh this data regularly.
While banks and financial institutions now all have to offer open banking interfaces due to EU’s Payment Services Directive PSD2, there’s no single standard. Tink integrates with 3,400 banks and financial institutions.
App developers can use the same API call to interact with bank accounts across various financial institutions. As you may have guessed, it greatly simplifies the adoption of open banking features.
300 banks and fintech startups use Tink’s API to access third-party bank information — clients include PayPal, BNP Paribas, American Express and Lydia. Overall, Tink covers 250 million bank customers across Europe.
Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Tink operations should continue as usual after the acquisition. Visa plans to retain the brand and management team.
According to Crunchbase data, Tink has raised over $300 million from Dawn Capital, Eurazeo, HMI Capital, Insight Partners, PayPal Ventures, Creades, Heartcore Capital and others.
“For the past ten years we have worked relentlessly to build Tink into a leading open banking platform in Europe, and we are incredibly proud of what the whole team at Tink has created together,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement. “We have built something incredible and at the same time we have only scratched the surface.”
“Joining Visa, we will be able to move faster and reach further than ever before. Visa is the perfect partner for the next stage of Tink’s journey, and we are incredibly excited about what this will bring to our employees, customers and for the future of financial services.”
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