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Trucks VC launches two new funds for early and late-stage transportation startups

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Trucks Venture Capital, a fund that focuses on early-stage entrepreneurs in transportation, is launching two new funds that it says will help build the future of transportation.

Its new core fund, Trucks Venture Fund 2 (TVF2), was raised over the last year and recently closed on $52,525,252. The fund is backed by three auto OEMs and three auto suppliers that make everything from bicycles to Class 8 big rig trucks, as well as one communications company, according to Trucks VC. The VC’s new follow-on fund, Trucks Growth Fund, will provide later-stage capital to some of the most promising companies already in Trucks’ portfolio.

“Our mission is to fund companies making transportation safer, cleaner and more accessible,” Reilly Brennan, general partner at Trucks VC, told TechCrunch.

“Safer” companies that Trucks VC looks to invest in might focus on automated vehicles, driver monitoring or vehicle maintenance and improvements. Because we are at the beginning of a decade for zero-emission transportation, “cleaner” looks like batteries and charging, electric and hydrogen vehicle platforms and last-mile logistics. And “more accessible” means companies that focus on micromobility and mass transit, according to Brennan.

“We also believe heavily in automated vehicles in structured environments (agriculture, mining, logistics),” said Brennan. “Given the focus on delivery and changing consumer behavior, it’s not hard to see how logistics AV becomes more valuable than robotaxi. I would go so far as to say the forthcoming exits from those sectors in AV will make the previous five years of robotaxi exits (Cruise, nuTonomy, Zoox) look relatively low in comparison.”

Trucks VC is also looking beyond the micromobility horizon. Brennan says a lot of the VCs with “good hair” have been calling the end of micromobility, so now’s the perfect time to spot emerging companies building a new wave of ideas in B2B, hardware and operating systems. The investment firm will follow these criteria when searching for both newer startups for TVF2 and for the Growth Fund.

The Growth Fund is the first formal entity Trucks VC has established for later-stage companies, although it’s selected a few follow-on investments in the past, says Brennan.

“The origin of this is somewhat unusual: we have this amazing community of people who read our newsletter (FoT) and they have been asking us for investing opportunities for years,” said Brennan. “Once Naval Ravikant showed us the platform they built at AngelList for rolling funds, we decided to use it. I think we’re the first venture fund that is using the new rolling fund structure as a growth fund.”

The growth fund might kick off its portfolio by investing in Universal Hydrogen, Gatik and Bear Flag Robotics, according to Brennan. TVF2 has already made seed investments to Universal Hydrogen — an LA-based startup that’s developing hydrogen storage solutions and conversion kits for commercial aircraft. Universal Hydrogen recently closed a $20.5 million Series A round led by investor syndicate Playground Global.

TVF2 also made a seed investment and participated in a $17.5 million Series A to Swyft, a company trying to rival Amazon on same-day retail delivery, and it provided seed funding to Token Transit, a mobile ticket booking app.

Trucks VC makes up to eight investments from its core seed funds every year, and the Growth Fund will similarly invest in one or two companies each quarter. The San Francisco-based fund, founded in 2015, has invested in well-known exits such as Joby Aviation and DeepScale, which was acquired by Tesla.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/08/trucks-vc-launches-two-new-funds-for-early-and-late-stage-transportation-startups/

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Co-living startup Habyt closes $24M Series B, merges with Homefully

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When WeWork appeared, other entrepreneurs looked at the model and thought that if you could apple co-working to property, then why not apply co-living. Thus, in the US, Common appeared, as did Hmlet in Asia. Imn the EU, Habyt launched, but has already gobbled-up its competitors Quarters, Goliving, and Erasmo’s Room.

It’s now closed a series B round of €20M / $24M, and merged with another competitor, Homefully, founded by Sebastian Wuerz in 2016. The round was backed by HV Capital (formerly Holtzbrink Ventures), Vorwerk Ventures, P101 and Picus Capital.

Founded in 2017 by Luca Bovone, Habyt will now have over 5,000 units across 15 cities and 6 countries. The merged companies will offer fully furnished and serviced living units, coupled with a tech-enabled user-experience and a focus on community, aimed at young professionals between 20 and 35 years old who move jobs and cities fairly frequently.

Luca Bovone, Founder and CEO of Habyt, said: “We have been on an incredible journey in the past year and a half. In spite of less than perfect market conditions we have been able to grow a lot via a very successful M&A strategy that brought us into the position of leaders of our sector in Europe and that still has a lot of potential. This 20M series B round really opens our doors to keep building Habyt both via organic growth and via more M&As. We are now looking at strategic targets in Europe, specifically in France and Italy, and also in other continents, especially in Asia.”

Sebastian Wuerz, Founder of homefully, said: “The coliving market is going through a consolidation phase and Habyt has really seized this opportunity quickly and effectively and is on the best track to become the leader of the sector at a global scale. Joining forces is a crucial step in this direction and I am very excited for the team to be part of this journey.”

Felix Kluehr, Partner at HV said: “We are happy to see that Habyt has emerged as the leading player in the European co-living market and HV is excited to support the team in their ambitious plan to build the leading European coliving company”.

Over an interview, Bovone told me: “It’s like a member’s club. We have a subscription model, where people pay a monthly fee, which is your rent, and then you can, of course, apply for a room somewhere else and know that we have a fairly decent scale across Europe and eventually, also in southern Europe. You are able to move from one place to the other. Our motto is live anywhere.”

He said that the pandemic had meant that people were ditching co-working spaces and “They would prefer to spend 50 to 100 euro more per month on getting better housing where they can work comfortably from home.”

“We are already seeing within our customer base, they want to stay six months in Berlin, three months in Madrid, then move back to Berlin and so on. The traditional housing market just doesn’t allow that to happen. You have contracts with utilities and so on, which you can never break and it’s just an outdated product offering, and we’re trying to tackle that.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/16/co-living-startup-habyt-closes-24m-series-b-merges-with-homefully/

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A look inside Google’s first store, opening in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood tomorrow

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There have been plenty of pop-ups over the years, but tomorrow Google’s first store opens in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood. The brick and mortar model finds the company joining peers like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and even Amazon, all of whom have a retail presence in Manhattan, including several just around the corner from Google’s new digs.

The new space, which opens tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. local time, fills 5,000 square feet of selling space in Google’s big, pricey West Side real estate investment. The retail location was previously occupied by a Post Office and Starbucks, which vacated the premises once their leases expired under their new corporate landlord.

Image Credits: Photos courtesy of Google and Paul Warchol

The store’s layout is designed to be experiential, highlighting the company’s growing hardware portfolio along with select third-party partners. Essentially it’s a way for the company to get Pixel phones, Home offerings, Stadia, WearOS and the newest addition to the hardware portfolio, Fitbit devices, in front of tourists and locals.

“We really used the pop-ups over the last several years to get a better sense of what are customer expectations for what we can uniquely deliver at Google,” VP Jason Rosenthal said during a press preview week. We’ve taken learnings from our 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 pop-ups and really fed that learning into what we’re opening[…] in Chelsea.”

Due to pandemic restrictions, the preview was virtual. And while it’s open to the public this week, the company will be maintaining the standard safety precautions, as the city deals with (knock on wood) the tail end of the pandemic.

And while COVID-19 almost certainly slowed the planned opening, Google promises that things will be in full force starting tomorrow. This follows several weeks of piloting, wherein the store’s 50 or so staffers were put through their paces, while the company put the finishing touches on the experience. Prior to this, Google built a full-size store mockup in a hangar space in Mountain View to test out ideas.

Image Credits: Google and Paul Warchol

In addition to product screens and dioramas lining the 17-foot windows, the company filled the store with “sandboxes” — effectively scenarios like a living room, not dissimilar to what you might find in a large furniture store — albeit better lit. There’s also a gaming area for playing Stadia and a soundproof spot for testing out various Home/Nest products.

Like Apple’s Store, customers can bring in for repair broken devices like Pixels. The company says it’s growing the number of devices that can be repaired on-site, while certain issues, like a broken screen, should be able to be fixed same day.

It seems likely that the store is a pilot in and of itself, with further plans to open additional locations in the U.S. and, perhaps, international markets where the company sells hardware. For now, however, Google won’t discuss the subject beyond tomorrow’s opening in Chelsea.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/16/a-look-inside-googles-first-store-opening-in-nycs-chelsea-neighborhood-tomorrow/

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Ecommerce

A look inside Google’s first store, opening in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood tomorrow

Published

on

There have been plenty of pop-ups over the years, but tomorrow Google’s first store opens in NYC’s Chelsea neighborhood. The brick and mortar model finds the company joining peers like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and even Amazon, all of whom have a retail presence in Manhattan, including several just around the corner from Google’s new digs.

The new space, which opens tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. local time, fills 5,000 square feet of selling space in Google’s big, pricey West Side real estate investment. The retail location was previously occupied by a Post Office and Starbucks, which vacated the premises once their leases expired under their new corporate landlord.

Image Credits: Photos courtesy of Google and Paul Warchol

The store’s layout is designed to be experiential, highlighting the company’s growing hardware portfolio along with select third-party partners. Essentially it’s a way for the company to get Pixel phones, Home offerings, Stadia, WearOS and the newest addition to the hardware portfolio, Fitbit devices, in front of tourists and locals.

“We really used the pop-ups over the last several years to get a better sense of what are customer expectations for what we can uniquely deliver at Google,” VP Jason Rosenthal said during a press preview week. We’ve taken learnings from our 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 pop-ups and really fed that learning into what we’re opening[…] in Chelsea.”

Due to pandemic restrictions, the preview was virtual. And while it’s open to the public this week, the company will be maintaining the standard safety precautions, as the city deals with (knock on wood) the tail end of the pandemic.

And while COVID-19 almost certainly slowed the planned opening, Google promises that things will be in full force starting tomorrow. This follows several weeks of piloting, wherein the store’s 50 or so staffers were put through their paces, while the company put the finishing touches on the experience. Prior to this, Google built a full-size store mockup in a hangar space in Mountain View to test out ideas.

Image Credits: Google and Paul Warchol

In addition to product screens and dioramas lining the 17-foot windows, the company filled the store with “sandboxes” — effectively scenarios like a living room, not dissimilar to what you might find in a large furniture store — albeit better lit. There’s also a gaming area for playing Stadia and a soundproof spot for testing out various Home/Nest products.

Like Apple’s Store, customers can bring in for repair broken devices like Pixels. The company says it’s growing the number of devices that can be repaired on-site, while certain issues, like a broken screen, should be able to be fixed same day.

It seems likely that the store is a pilot in and of itself, with further plans to open additional locations in the U.S. and, perhaps, international markets where the company sells hardware. For now, however, Google won’t discuss the subject beyond tomorrow’s opening in Chelsea.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/16/a-look-inside-googles-first-store-opening-in-nycs-chelsea-neighborhood-tomorrow/

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Tractable raises $60M at a $1B valuation to make damage appraisals using AI

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As the insurance industry adjusts to life in the 21st century (heh), an AI startup that has built computer vision tools to enable remote damage appraisals is announcing a significant round of growth funding.

Tractable, which works with automotive insurance companies to let users take and submit photos of damaged cars that are then “read” to make appraisals, has raised $60 million, a series D that values Tractable at $1 billion, the company said.

Tractable says it works with more than 20 of the top 100 auto insurers in the world, and it has seen sales grow 600% in the last 24 months, which CEO Alex Dalyac told me translates as “well into 8 figures of annual revenue.” He also told me that “we would have grown even faster if it weren’t for Covid.” People staying at home meant far less people on the roads, and less accidents.

Its business today is based mostly around car accident recovery — where users can take pictures using ordinary smartphone cameras, uploading pictures via a mobile web site (not typically an app).

But Tractable’s plan is to use some of the funding to expand deeper into areas adjacent to that: natural disaster recovery (specifically for appraising property damage), and used car appraisals. It will also use the investment to continue building out its technology, specifically to help build out better, AI-based techniques of processing and parsing pictures that are taken on smartphones — by their nature small in size.

Insight Partners and Georgian co-led the round and it brings the total raised by the company to $115 million.

Dalyac, a deep learning researcher by training who co-founded the company with Razvan Ranca and Adrien Cohen, said that the “opportunity” (if you could call an accident that) Tractable has identified and built to fix is that it’s generally time-consuming and stressful to deal with an insurance company when you are also coping with a problem with your car.

And while a new generation of “insuretech” startups have emerged in recent years that are bringing more modern processes into the equation, typically the incumbent major insurance companies — the ones that Tractable targets — have lacked the technology to improve that process.

It’s not unlike the tension between fintech-fuelled neobanks and the incumbent banks, which are now scrambling to invest in more technology to catch up with the times.

“Getting into an accident can be anything from a hassle to trauma,” Dalyac said. “It can be devastating, and then the process for recovery is pretty damn slow. You’re dealing with so many touch points with your insurance, so many people that need to come and check things out again. It’s hard to keep track and know when things will truly be back to normal. Our belief is that that whole process can be 10 times faster, thanks to the breakthroughs in image classification.”

That process currently also extends not just to taking pictures for claims, but also to help figure out when a car is beyond repair, in which case which parts can be recycled and reused elsewhere, also using Tractable’s computer vision technology. Dalyac noted that this was a popular enough service in the last year that the company helped recycle as many cars “as Tesla sold in 2019.”

Customers that have integrated with Tractable to date include Geico in the U.S., as well as a large swathe of insurers in Japan, specifically Tokio Marine Nichido, Mitsui Sumitomo, Aioi Nissay Dowa and Sompo. Covéa, the largest auto insurer in France, is also a customer, as is Admiral Seguros, the Spanish entity of UK’s Admiral Group, as well as Ageas, a top UK insurer.

Japan is the company’s biggest market today Dalyac said — the reason being that it has an ageing population, but one that is also very strong on mobile usage: combining those two, “automation is more than a value add; it’s a must have,” Dalyac said. He also added that he thinks the U.S. will overtake Japan as Tractable’s biggest market soon.

The new directions into property and other car applications will also open the door to a wider set of use cases beyond working with insurance providers over time. It will also bring Tractable potentially into new competitive environments. There are other companies that have also identified this opportunity.

For example, Hover, which has built a way to create 3d imagery of homes using ordinary smartphone cameras, is also eyeing ways of selling its tech (originally developed to help make estimates on home repairs) to insurance companies.

For now, however, it sounds like the opportunity is a big enough one that the race is more to meet demand than it is to beat competitors to do so.

“Tractable’s accelerating growth at scale is a testament to the power and differentiation of their applied machine learning system, which continues to improve as more businesses adopt it,” said Lonne Jaffe, MD at Insight Partners and Tractable Board member, in a statement. “We’re excited to double down on our partnership with Tractable as they work to help the world recover faster from accidents and disasters that affect hundreds of millions of lives.”

Emily Walsh, Partner at Georgian Partners added: “Tractable’s industry-leading computer vision capabilities are continuing to fuel incredible customer ROI and growth for the firm. We’re excited to continue to partner with Tractable as they apply their artificial intelligence capabilities to new, multi-billion dollar market opportunities in the used vehicle and natural disaster recovery industries.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/16/tractable-raises-60m-at-a-1b-valuation-to-make-damage-appraisals-using-ai/

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