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U.S. may reimplement strict social distancing measures if coronavirus cases rise “dramatically,” CDC says

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Here we go again. For two weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been silent about the need for social justice protest to practice social distancing. Now that the demonstration is almost over, the CDC is back with its regular warnings.

Today, CDC warns that states may need to reimplement the strict social distancing measures that were put in place earlier this year if coronavirus cases go up “dramatically.”  The CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, Jay Butler, told reporters during a press briefing Friday.

“Right now, communities are experiencing different levels of transmission occurring, as they gradually ease up onto the community mitigation efforts and gradually reopen,” Butler said.

Covid-19 has sickened more than 2 million Americans and killed at least 113,820 since the first confirmed U.S. case less than five months ago, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. “If cases begin to go up again, particularly if they go up dramatically, it’s important to recognize that more mitigation efforts such as what were implemented back in March may be needed again,” Butler said.

He said the decision to reimplement measures will have to be made locally and based on “what is happening within the community regarding disease transmission.” The “pandemic is not over” and it’s important to recognize that Covid-19 is still making headlines everywhere, he added.

In addition, the CDC also published results of its recent survey. According to the survey, a majority of Americans say they would not feel safe if social distancing measures meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus were lifted nationwide. Of the 2,402 people who completed the surveys, 74.3% nationwide reported they would feel unsafe if U.S. restrictions were lifted, compared with 81.5% in New York City and 73.4% in Los Angeles, according to the CDC. New York City and Los Angeles have seen some of the largest outbreaks in the U.S.

Earlier today, the CDC issued a new set of guidelines for those who are planning to go out and what they need to do to stay safe. As part of the guidelines, CDC said: “In general, the more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. So, think about:”

  • How many people will you interact with?
    • Interacting with more people raises your risk.
    • Being in a group with people who aren’t social distancing or wearing cloth face coverings increases your risk.
    • Engaging with new people (e.g., those who don’t live with you) also raises your risk.
    • Some people have the virus and don’t have any symptoms, and it is not yet known how often people without symptoms can transmit the virus to others.
  • Can you keep 6 feet of space between you and others? Will you be outdoors or indoors?
    • The closer you are to other people who may be infected, the greater your risk of getting sick.
    • Keeping distance from other people is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with underlying medical conditions.
    • Indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces where it might be harder to keep people apart and there’s less ventilation.
  • What’s the length of time that you will be interacting with people?
    • Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected.
    • Spending more time with people increases their risk of becoming infected if there is any chance that you may already be infected.

Source: https://techstartups.com/2020/06/12/u-s-may-reimplement-strict-social-distancing-measures-coronavirus-cases-rise-dramatically-cdc-says/

Start Ups

Orbion, manufacturer of in-space plasma propulsion systems, raises $20M Series B

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Electric propulsion developer Orbion Space Technology has raised $20 million in a Series B funding round, which it says it will use to scale production capacity of its Aurora propulsion system.

The Michigan-based startup manufactures Hall effect plasma thrusters for use in small and cube satellites. Thrusters are used throughout the lifespan of a satellite (or any object in space that needs to maintain its orbit, like the space station) to adjust orbital altitude, avoid collisions, and de-orbit the craft once it has reached the end of its useful life. Hall thrusters use a magnetic field to ionize a propellant and produce plasma.

While they have long been used in space, this type of thruster has mostly been too expensive for small satellite operators. Orbion says it has created a cost-effective production capacity to meet the growing demand of startups and developers launching to low Earth orbit. Orbion CEO Brad King said in a statement that the company considered contract manufacturers but ultimately chose a vertically integrated manufacturing model. Now, the company says it has outgrown its existing manufacturing space.

The company is facing “unprecedented market demand” for its Aurora system, King said. With the boom of the so-called new space economy, driven in part by the decreased costs of processors, components and even launch, it’s no surprise that there’s been a concurrent uptick in demand for efficient in-space propulsion systems.

The company had previously raised a $9.2 million Series A in August 2019. Since that time, the company secured a research partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense that’s testing the resiliency of American space systems. Orbion also landed a contract with satellite manufacturer Blue Canyon Technologies last September.

This most recent funding round was led by the US-India VC firm Inventus Capital Partners, with additional participation from Material Impact, Beringea and Wakestream Ventures.

“The space game is changing,” Inventus Capital Partners investor Kanwal Rekhi said in a statement. “Large satellites are being replaced by a multitude of nano-satellites; just like the PCs replaced mainframes. Orbion is providing these nano-satellites maneuverability to get into more precise orbits and stay there longer.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/orbion-manufacturer-of-in-space-plasma-propulsion-systems-raises-20m-series-b/

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Accept.inc secures $90M in debt and equity to scale its digital mortgage lending platform

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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.

Image credit: Accept.inc. Left to right: Co-founders Adam Pollack, Nick Friedman and Ian Perrex.

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.”

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/accept-inc-secures-90m-in-debt-equity/

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Start Ups

Exclusive: Startup bttn. Takes On Medical Supply Ordering With $1.5M Seed

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Three months after launching, health care technology startup bttn. closed on a $1.5 million seed round, anchored by Amol Deshpande, to automate the purchase of medical supplies.

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JT Garwood and Jack Miller started the Seattle-based company in March after seeing health care companies struggle during the global pandemic to pay fair prices for supplies as they competed with other entities due to shortages.

“My background is in software sales at Microsoft, and we started and then sold PPE.Exchange, a marketplace to alleviate supply shortages during the pandemic,” Garwood told Crunchbase News. “As we talked to health care companies, we learned how hard it was to purchase supplies at a fair price. After conversations with vendors, hospitals and clinics, we saw an opportunity to change the medical supply industry.”

Targeting the U.S. wholesale medical supply market, which is predicted to be valued at $243.3 billion this year according to IBISWorld, bttn. developed a platform aimed at cutting out middlemen, offering direct-from-manufacturer pricing and providing a better ordering experience.

Its marketplace eliminates the need for exclusive and restrictive contracts and enables providers to save between 20 percent and 40 percent on their medical supply bills, while also taking advantage of improved shipping and delivery speeds, Garwood said.

“We are taking a process that traditionally involved fax machines or a sales rep, and putting it on a web application for order automation,” he added. “You can build a cart with gowns and syringes and then subscribe on a 30-, 60- or 90-day basis.”

In its first three months of operation, bttn. secured more than 300 customers and did more than $500,000 in sales, he added. In addition, the company formed partnerships with 11 health care associations and have 20 more being finalized.

The company will use the funds to expand its technical, sales and operations teams.

Deshpande, co-founder and CEO of Farmers Business Network, said in an interview that when he met Garwood, he admired his mission-driven approach to lowering costs for health care businesses.

“bttn. is bringing transparency to small businesses,” he added. “JT and Jack understand where small hospital systems are coming from when buying goods, and have easier options for how to do it. I liked the gritty way they launched and got initial traction. They have a big potential to make an impact and be a big company.”

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/exclusive-bttn-takes-on-medical-supply-ordering-with-1-5m-seed/

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Start Ups

The Briefing: Visa Buys Tink For $2.15B, A16Z Closes $2.2B Crypto Fund, 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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Visa acquires Swedish fintech Tink for $2.15B

Visa has announced that it is acquiring Tink, a Stockholm-based open banking platform, for $1.8 billion Euros (US$2.15 billion).

Founded in 2012, Tink previously raised over $300 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data. Through its API, the company allows  customers to access aggregated financial data and tap into services such as risk insights and account verification.

Under terms of the deal, Tink will retain its brand and current management team, and its headquarters will remain in Sweden.

— Joanna Glasner

New Funds

Andreessen Horowitz closes $2.2B crypto fund: Venture firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) said it has raised $2.2 billion for its Crypto Fund II, which will invest in crypto networks and the founders and teams building in the space. Previously, A16Z has been a heavy and active investor in the crypto space, capping its best exit year ever with this year’s market debut by Coinbase.

— Joanna Glasner

Cybersecurity

Illumio lands $225M: Sunnyvale, California-based Illumio, a provider of a SaaS platform offering automated enforcement against cyberattacks, said it raised $225 million in a Series F funding round led by Thoma Bravo at a $2.75 billion valuation.

— Joanna Glasner

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

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

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Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-6-24-21/

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