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Cory Booker on Newark Pride, Black Lives Matter and ‘This Distraught Present’

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Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has long made criminal justice core to his politics, a focus that began during his days at Stanford, continued through his two terms as mayor of Newark and eventually formed the backbone of his presidential campaign.

Now, amid a groundswell of protests against racism and police brutality, Mr. Booker, the longest tenured black Democrat currently in the Senate, finds himself at the center of a defining national moment. He also became a voice of outrage earlier this month when a bill making lynching a federal crime, which he helped write, was held up over the objections of one senator, Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky.

We spoke to Mr. Booker about the shifting politics of race, his own experiences, and where this movement can go in the future. These are lightly edited excerpts from the conversation.

Far more than ever, in a very short period of time, millions of Americans are starting to say black lives matter. What do you make of that?

It’s showing that this country is truly growing and evolving and beginning to see and confront a lot of the systemic racism in our country, overt racism in our country, and how it affects not just the lives of black Americans, but how it undermines the truth and the promise and the possibilities for all of America.

Do you worry that this might just be a moment that will pass?

I’m certainly hopeful that it won’t pass. There are signs of hope in America right now, to see in all 50 states, millions of people being involved in some kind of activism or protests, virtually or in the streets. You’re seeing diversity, a coalition of people from all ethnic backgrounds, ages, religious backgrounds. You’re seeing major organizations come out and speak not only to the issues of racism but to their own complicity or culpability in that. From NASCAR to the N.F.L., from major companies to colleges.

But we are only in the foothills of the mountain we have to climb and the work that we have to do. And the question ultimately is, How will systems from health care to education to criminal justice — the systems that have so disparately impacted Americans along race — how will they actually fundamentally change?

Are issues like health care and education getting attention during this moment?

They’re not getting enough attention. And the violence against black people is not just what we witness with George Floyd. It’s that race is still the biggest indicator of whether or not you are going to live near a toxic site, breathe dirty air, drink dirty water. Racism is the most profound indicator of what kind of education you get, about how economically fragile your family might be, about whether you’re food insecure. These are issues that are combined to create this distraught present.

I remember the column you wrote in The Stanford Daily in 1992 about being stopped by police officers as you drove over the George Washington Bridge. How often do you think about that experience?

Often. Often. I mean, look, I’m still very conscious when I’m not dressed like a senator, and even when I am, that I still could be one misunderstanding away from a very bad incident. But I also realize that I’m in a position of power to do something about these issues.

And, you know, my Newark experiences have profoundly shaped my perspective on these issues. We came in as reformers, and we really believed in good faith, with a majority black City Council and black mayor, that we were doing a real good job when it came to changing our police practices.

But we were confronted by a Department of Justice investigation. And it dredged up the data that we were not moving fast enough. And it is a testimony to these issues — they can’t be gotten rid of with good intentions. So, this has been a life’s work for me from the time I was in college writing about policing issues to the time I was a reformer as a mayor to the time I’ve been a United States senator.

And I almost feel, and it’s not the best word, but I almost feel a sense of shame that here I am, 30 years of adulthood since Rodney King, and the lessons that I got in my teenage years from African-American adults who wanted to make me afraid of police for my own safety, who wanted to teach me coping mechanisms, I feel just a sense of profound regret that I’m having to have those conversations with young black men in my life, my mentees or my nephews. And that is really hurtful to me that we’ve had three decades since that horrific beating of a black man who was so demonized, so stripped of his humanity, like so many black Americans have been in policing practices.

The history of policing in this country, and its treatment of African-Americans, is thoroughly documented for every generation of being so far short of the highest ideals of this country. It’s been an affront to the very dignity of the nation as a whole. You can’t be comfortable with this. And it’s our comfort with it that has allowed it to fester.

On the campaign trail you told people to come see your city of Newark. Its peaceful protests have made national news. Why do you think the city has responded this way?

Protest traditions in Newark are in our genes. We elevate our protesters to elected office. I’m proud of [Mayor] Ras Baraka. His father was Amiri Baraka. His father was beaten by police on the streets of Newark during the dark periods of the [1967] riots. He’s a leader that people trust, people know.

I’m proud that I can go jogging in Newark and feel sometimes safer there with no security or anything like that — in my own community that many people are still afraid of — than I can in many other communities where people might not recognize a black man jogging, or follow them like we saw with Ahmaud Arbery. So, I love my community. I feel this deep loyalty to them.

Why do you think Rand Paul held up your anti-lynching bill?

I don’t know what he was thinking. Remember, Kamala [Harris] and I didn’t precipitate that conflict. He brought the bill up. And on that day that George Floyd was being memorialized.

I was very angry going down to the floor, that on this day in particular, he was choosing to have this confrontation. And it was a confrontation, and his willingness to stymie the passing of this legislation was deeply hurtful to so many Americans.

During the Democratic primary campaign, you had some critical words for former Vice President Joe Biden about his record on criminal justice. Are you at all worried that he’s the face of the party right now in this moment?

Well, I actually have been quite excited about Joe Biden in this last month. There’s something that he’s showing to me, that is so profoundly needed in our leadership in this country, which is humility and vulnerability. He’s showing vulnerability by saying, I don’t have all the answers. It is so counter to the toxic masculinity and weakness that this president is showing, who says he has all the answers and never apologizes.

Joe Biden is showing this extraordinary strength and he is humbling himself to talk about the kinds of teams he wants to build, and how inclusive and diverse it will be. I really think he sees himself as a bridge to the next generation of American leaders, and for him to talk openly about a woman vice president, a black woman Supreme Court justice.

Do you think he needs to pick a black woman as his running mate?

I trust him. I know he will weigh all of the competing issues of the day to come up with a person that can help lead us in this tumultuous time, so I trust that he will make the right decision.

You have introduced multiple criminal justice bills in the last couple of years, like legalizing marijuana, reconsidering long sentences and supporting incarcerated women. What gives you hope that these bills can pass?

It’s the American people. And I mean that sincerely. The suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, the disabilities rights movement, the L.G.B.T.Q. movement, the workers’ rights movement. All of these movements preceded major pieces of legislation, from the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Civil Rights Act of ’64, a lot of our most hallowed labor laws. All of them were preceded by ordinary Americans making an extraordinary commitment to be a part of the fight for justice.

The bill that I have authored [on police misconduct] this past week — it would not have been possible to get the majorities of the Democrats in Congress on it a month ago. But because of the activism of millions of Americans, it moved the needle of the possible. Well, we have to move it a lot more.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/us/politics/cory-booker-racism-black-lives-matter.html

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The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Crunchbase

Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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Coinpedia

GenTech Proudly Secures Deal with TruLife Distribution to Drive Growth in SINFIT Digital Sales

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Denver, CO, October 21, 2020 – OTC PR WIRE – GenTech Holdings, Inc. (OTC PINK: GTEH) (“GenTech” or the “Company”), an emerging leader in the high-end Premium Coffee (www.secretjavas.com), Hemp Wellness (www.hakunasupply.com) and Functional Foods (www.SINFITnutrition.com) marketplaces, along with its SINFIT Nutrition brand (“SINFIT”), is excited to announce that the Company has signed a new marketing, sales, and distribution agreement (the “Agreement”) with TruLife Distribution (“TruLife”) (TruLifeDist.com), a leader in marketing, distribution, compliance, e-commerce, and advisory services in the Functional Foods marketplace. The main focus of the new Agreement will be to accelerate the growth of e-commerce sales of SINFIT products, particularly over the Amazon.com platform.

TruLife provides direct access to sales on Amazon, Walmart, Rakuten, Wish, TopHatter, and other top e-commerce platforms, allowing clients to instantly list, ship, and sell products through any major platform, with an experienced team of experts and a proven track record of success in brand placement and digital sales strategies.

“We have already demonstrated a significant & expansive growth curve since taking control of the SINFIT brand in June,” commented Harold Vaca, VP Domestic Sales of SINFIT. “But the vast majority of that growth has been driven by large purchase orders from major distribution partners, both domestic and international. We are also committed to aggressively pursuing end-market consumer direct purchases through our e-commerce footprint, which will provide additional growth and diversify our cash flow ecosystem, making our overall strategy less dependent upon any one source of demand, while driving further growth in total sales.”

Management notes that e-commerce sales represent a sizeable portion of overall retail sales growth worldwide, with more than $3.5 trillion in online sales accounting for over 14% of total pre-pandemic global retail sales. Since the onset of the global health crisis, that ratio has shifted decisively further in favor of e-commerce sales, which is not likely to entirely revert back upon the advent of a viable and widely accessible vaccine.

Vaca added, “We have seen an epic process of market penetration for e-commerce platforms this year as major online retailers have begun to reach a much wider base of consumers – people who haven’t ever shopped much online, but have been forced to during recent months out of personal health concerns. Many of them will almost certainly continue to make use of e-commerce now that they have tried it out, at least to some extent, making e-commerce an essential sales channel for SINFIT products. TruLife has the network, team, experience, and resources to dramatically augment our e-commerce performance.”

SINFIT branded products registered over $2.2 million in global sales in 2019, and are now approved for sale and available for purchase on the Walmart.com and Amazon.com e-commerce platforms as well as in over 2,500 GNC locations in North America and over 10,000 global physical and e-commerce stores across more than 10 countries around the world.

SINFIT products as well-positioned relative to peers and to the long-term macro tailwind defining the functional foods market, which saw sales top $267 billion in February of this year on a global basis, with sales in the US reaching $63 billion, according to Euromonitor 2020. This trend is part of a larger supportive momentum in the general category, with global sales of organic food and drink topping $105 billion in 2018 (Ecovia 2019). U.S. organic food sales also reached $47.9 billion, up 5.9% in 2018 (OTA 2019). In 2019, 77% of U.S. adults used dietary supplements, an all-time high (CRN 2019). U.S. supplement sales are estimated to have reached $49.3 billion in 2019, up 6.2% (NBJ 2019).

About GenTech Holdings, Inc.:

GenTech Holdings, Inc. is a publicly traded company under the symbol GTEH. The Company launched a high-end Coffee Subscription service in early 2020 called Secret Javas, owns a Functional Food company, SINFIT Nutrition and recently closed its acquisition on Products-Groups’ “Hakuna Supply”.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including information about management’s view of GenTech, Inc.’s future expectations, plans and prospects. In particular, when used in the preceding discussion, the words “believes,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” or “may,” and similar conditional expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Any statements made in this news release other than those of historical fact, about an action, event or development, are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the results of GenTech, its subsidiaries and concepts to be materially different than those expressed or implied in such statements. Unknown or unpredictable factors also could have material adverse effects on GenTech’s future results. The forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date hereof. GenTech cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Finally, GenTech undertakes no obligation to update these statements after the date of this release, except as required by law, and also takes no obligation to update or correct information prepared by third parties that are not paid for by GenTech.

Corporate Contact:
invest@gentech.group

www.gentechholdings.com

Source: https://otcprwire.com/gentech-proudly-secures-deal-with-trulife-distribution-to-drive-growth-in-sinfit-digital-sales/

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