Author: Megan Rose Dickey

Blavity raises $6.5 million Series A round led by GV

TECHCRUNCH Blavity, the digital lifestyle media company geared toward black millennials, recently closed a $6.5 million Series A round led by GV with participation from Comcast Ventures, Plexo Capital and Baron Davis Enterprises. As part of the investment, GV Partner John Lyman is joining Blavity’s board of directors. As the media landscape continues to change, with some businesses up for sale, a prominent black media publication moving under new leadership and other ones shuttering, Blavity is at a point where it’s thinking about what phase two looks like, Blavity CEO Morgan DeBaun told TechCrunch over the phone. “There’s just a lot going on where it’s important now more than ever that Blavity is committed and has the resources it needs to grow as a publication,” DeBaun told me. Most of the funding will go toward opening a new office that is strictly focused on engineering and data, DeBaun said. As part of that, Blavity intends to triple the size of its engineering team. The office, which will likely be in Atlanta, will be home to engineers on additional products and content creation tools to facilitate better storytelling. “A lot of innovation will come out of that office in the next six to nine months,” she said. Currently, Blavity employs 30 people full-time and has between 60-80 contractors across its five brands. Since launching in 2014, Blavity has acquired Travel...

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Shared electric scooters probably won’t return to SF until August

TECHCRUNCH The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is still reviewing the 12 applications from companies to operate electric scooters in the city. In early June, companies like Uber, Lime, Bird, Lyft and others applied for permits to operate electric scooter share services in San Francisco. San Francisco’s permit process came as a result of Bird, Lime and Spin deploying their electric scooters without permission in the city in March. As part of a new city law, which went into effect June 4, scooter companies are not able to operate their services in San Francisco without a permit. The SFMTA initially said it expected to make a decision about which five, if any, companies would receive permits by the end of June. Well, it’s now July and still no decision. The SFMTA expects to finalize its recommendations and documentation “in the coming weeks,” the SFMTA wrote in a blog post today. Once that’s done, the agency says it will work with companies to finalize and clarify the terms and conditions of the permit. The goal, according to the blog post, is to issue permits sometime in August. As part of the 24-month pilot program, electric scooter companies selected to operate in the city will need to provide user education and insurance, share its detailed trip data with the city, have a privacy policy that protects user data, offer a low-income plan and operate...

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Self-driving car startup Voyage brings on ex-Tesla, Cruise and Uber exec as CTO

TECHCRUNCH Voyage, the autonomous driving startup that currently operates self-driving cars in retirement communities, has brought on its first CTO, Drew Gray. Gray most recently worked at Uber as its director of engineering, leading the deep learning and perception team in San Francisco, according to his LinkedIn. This comes shortly after the company poached Uber’s head of policy for autonomous vehicles and aviation, Justin Erlich, to lead its strategy, policy and legal efforts. Voyage, Gray said, was the obvious choice because of the mobility needs it addresses for the 125,000 residents in The Villages in Florida. “Private communities like...

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Bird now offers discounts to people with low incomes

TECHCRUNCH Bird, the scooter startup that has raised more than $400 million in funding, has introduced a program geared toward low-income people in order to increase access to transportation. Called One Bird, the program eliminates the $1 fee to unlock a Bird so that the rider just has to pay 15 cents per minute. “Everyone should have access to transportation that is accessible, affordable, and environmentally-friendly,” Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement. “One Bird makes this a reality by providing a way for everyone to ride Birds in their city. We warmly welcome all new riders, and...

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Uber partners with Cargo to help drivers make money by selling stuff to riders

TECHCRUNCH Uber has teamed up with Cargo, a startup that makes it easy for ride-share drivers to sell goods to their passengers. Cargo works by giving drivers free boxes, filled with goods like gum, phone chargers and snacks, to sell to passengers from the center of the car console. Cargo, which has partnered with brands like Kellogg’s, Starbucks and Mars Wrigley Confectionary, provides these boxes to drivers for free. The only requirement is that drivers must have at least a 4.7 rating and be relatively active on the platform, Cargo founder and CEO Jeff Cripe told TechCrunch. Each Cargo...

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Twitter is holding off on fixing verification policy to focus on election integrity

TECHCRUNCH Twitter is pausing its work on overhauling its verification process, which provides a blue checkmark to public figures, in favor of election integrity, Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour tweeted today. That’s because, as we approach another election season, “updating our verification program isn’t a top priority for us right now (election integrity is),” he wrote on Twitter this afternoon. Last November, Twitter paused its account verifications as it tried to figure out a way to address confusion around what it means to be verified. That decision came shortly after people criticized Twitter for having verified the account of...

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Self-driving car startup Zoox is raising $500 million at a $3.2 billion valuation

TECHCRUNCH Zoox, a once-secretive self-driving car startup, is closing a $500 million at a $3.2 billion post-money valuation, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Prior to the deal, Zoox was valued at $2.7 billion, Zoox confirmed to TechCrunch. The round, led by Mike Cannon-Brookes of Grok Ventures, brings its total amount of funding to $800 million. Zoox’s plan, according to Bloomberg, is to publicly deploy autonomous vehicles by 2020 in the form of its own ride-hailing service. The cars themselves will be all-electric and fully autonomous. Meanwhile, ride-hail companies like Uber and Lyft are also working on autonomous vehicles, as well as...

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Lyft outlines bike and scooter plans

TECHCRUNCH On the heels of Lyft’s acquisition of bike-share company Motivate, the company is gearing up to fully integrate bicycle and scooter sharing into the app. There’s no word on exactly when this will happen, but it’s likely this will happen soon. Lyft is also investing $1 million to advance transportation equity to people in underserved communities. As part of its commitment, Lyft will work with non-profit organizations like TransForm to develop programs that support people with low incomes. “Soon you will be able to get real-time transit information, plan a multi-modal trip, and use Lyft Bikes and Scooters...

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