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January 2023

Technology

Hear the right way to acquire customers with Cube and Mayfield on TechCrunch Live • TechCrunch


Finance people live and breathe spreadsheets, Mayfield’s Rajeev Batra was telling me. We were talking about our upcoming TechCrunch Live event featuring him and Cube’s Christina Ross, and Rajeev was explaining how he sees Cube’s position in the marketplace. Christina Ross co-founded the company in 2018 in a bid to provide a solution to CFOs who rely on spreadsheets but could benefit from modern data analysis, reporting, and collaboration. Now, some five years later, Cube is finding success and has raised over $45 million from venture capital.

I hope you can join us on this TechCrunch Live event on February 8 at 11:30 a.m. PST/2:30 p.m. EST. Christina Ross learned early on in Cube’s history that the solution must meet the customer where they’re at. Cube’s solution is unique in the FP&A world, in that it’s not trying to replace spreadsheets but rather work alongside spreadsheets. This gives her a unique take on finding product market fit — Cube isn’t trying to force customers to abandon their current solution.

We’re going to talk about Cube’s approach to customer acquisitions and finding product market fit, and why Christina’s favorite childhood toy was a cash register.

Register Here

Questions I want to ask

  • How did Cube so quickly acquire customers even though the company had yet to build a product?
  • Cube has countless competitors, so how does the company stay ahead of the curve?
  • What are some best practices for selling into an underserved market?
  • What personal qualities did Mayfield see in Christina Ross that led them to invest, and what’s a good founder fit for Mayfield?

And I want you to ask questions too!

Join the live event on Hopin, and ask questions in the chat. I’ll do my best to ask them when possible. Can’t make the live event but can listen to the replay/podcast? Tweet at me, and I’ll be sure to ask your questions.

Want to get feedback on your pitch during the show?

Pitch Practice is back! Apply to present your company using this form. We’ll select three companies to pitch during the show, including one wildcard company that will be selected from our Hopin audience during the episode.

Apply for TCL Pitch Practice





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Live albums recorded in Philadelphia: Green Day’s ‘Live at the Electric Factory’ released with ‘Nimrod’ reissue


Live albums can be a pretty divisive topic among music enthusiasts. Some people relish hearing the thrill and energy of a band’s interaction with the crowd. Others find live sets grating because of the muddy sound quality and imperfections on stage, preferring the high fidelity of modern studio recordings.

On Friday, Green Day entered the fray with the release of a complete live set recorded at Philly’s Electric Factory (now Franklin Music Hall) on Nov. 14, 1997. The live album is part of a 25th anniversary re-issue of “Nimrod,” including previously unreleased demos and a mellow cover of Elvis Costello’s “Alison” recorded during the making of that album.

What’s nice about this Electric Factory show is that Green Day intentionally recorded it as a live album and then quietly sat on it for more than 25 years. The audience that night was informed during the set by a very excited Billie Joe Armstrong, who riffed on possible album names.

“It’s called ‘F***ed Up in Philadelphia,” Armstrong told the crowd. “The Philly f*** ups!”

The whole live album has been posted on the band’s YouTube page and is also available on streaming platforms. The YouTube videos feature photos from the show, and the band’s ferocity in the recordings is more than enough to capture the aura that night.

The 20-song setlist from “Live at the Electric Factory” is an absolute gift to fans of that period of Green Day’s discography. It’s got a little bit of everything from 1991’s “1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours” up through songs from “Kerplunk,” “Dookie,” “Insomniac” and “Nimrod,” with deeper cuts from that album including “The Grouch,” “Scattered” and “Prosthetic Head.”

The crowd at the Electric Factory heard a band that was arguably at its peak, still mostly performing as a three-piece and touring venues much smaller than the arenas they’d fill around the release of “Dookie” in 1994 and post-“American Idiot” in 2004. Outside of secret shows, you’d never see Green Day play a venue with a capacity of 3,000 people anymore. 

The original Electric Factory and Flea Market was at 22nd and Arch streets until Larry Magid, the venue’s longtime promoter, redeveloped the former General Electric Switchgear Plant at 7th and Willow streets in 1994. Magid held onto the naming rights after he sold the venue to Arts & Crafts Holdings for $20.1 million in 2017. The venue was purchased and renamed the following year by AEG and is now run by promotion company Bowery Presents. It still draws solid acts in a competitive landscape for venues in the city.

In the broader context of live albums recorded in Philly, it’s worth taking pride in Green Day’s choice of venue for this release, especially at that point in time. It’s pure, homemade nostalgia.

In honor of the release, we took a look at some of the other notable live albums recorded at venues in the Philadelphia area over the years and released by the artists, as opposed to popular bootlegs that have enjoyed their own underground collectors’ market. Transport yourself back to these shows through the albums below:

Thin Lizzy – “Still Dangerous” – Live at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby (October 1977)

The Irish rockers were known for making direct transitions between songs during live shows, ending on notes that burst into their hits like “Jailbreak” and “The Boys Are Back in Town.” This album is completely live — no overdubs — and was recorded during their tour in support of “Bad Reputation.”

Aretha Franklin – “Oh Me Oh My: Aretha in Philly, 1972 Live” – National Association of Television & Radio Announcers Convention

The Queen of Soul was in the midst of a second wave of fame in the early 1970s when she performed this nearly hour-long set for an annual convention held in Philly. The concert is remembered for Franklin’s change in musical arrangements from those heard on her more well-known “Aretha Live at Fillmore West.” The Philly performance was remastered in 2007.

The Doors – “Live in Philadelphia ’70” – The Spectrum (May 1970)

The Spectrum was just three years old when The Doors recorded this double-album, then in the late stages of their career. It wasn’t released until 2005, as part of the band’s Bright Midnight Archives collection. The album got 3 1/2 out of 4 stars from Rolling Stone, which noted, “Jim Morrison sings like he’s drunk on the fire behind him instead of cheap hooch.”

Ween – “GodWeenSatan Live” – John & Peters in New Hope (September 2001)

The eclectic New Hope natives had their work cut out for them performing this show just three days after the 9/11 attacks. It must have been an incredibly unifying experience for those in attendance, both because of the context and because Ween played through their debut album, “WeenGodSatan: The Oneness.” The show was released as a double-album in 2016, marking 25 years since the band’s beginnings.

Grateful Dead – “Crimson White & Indigo” – John F. Kennedy Stadium (July 1989)

This concert had some added significance for Philadelphia, as it was the final event held at JFK Stadium in South Philly before the building was condemned by the city. It wouldn’t be demolished until September 1992. The late-stage Grateful Dead powered through 19 songs, with a runtime of a little under three hours. It wasn’t released until 2010. The full concert is available on YouTube, with “Box of Rain” below.

John Legend – “Live From Philadelphia – Tower Theater in Upper Darby (June 2008)

The University of Pennsylvania alum’s 2008 performance encapsulates why Legend is such a popular live artist. He’s a contemporary throwback to an earlier era of soulful entertainers, commanding rooms with a piano and vocals. This show happened shortly before Legend released his third album, “Evolver,” and let the music world know he wanted to push the boundaries of his talent through experimentation with new sounds. There’s a full-length video of the Tower Theater performance, but only a teaser is up on YouTube.

The Fray – “Live at the Electric Factory: Bootleg No. 1” – Electric Factory (July 2006)

The soft rockers from Denver had a real moment in the mid-2000s, drawing comparisons to Coldplay and Keane for their piano-driven style of pop rock. Less than a year removed from their debut album “How To Save A Life,” The Fray created a singalong scene at the Electric Factory.

Frank Zappa – “Philly 76” – The Spectrum (October 1976)

We’ll round this out with Zappa’s posthumous release from his 1976 show at The Spectrum, which is considered unique because of its inclusion of vocalist Bianca Odin on vocals and keyboard. She only toured with the band for a few weeks and this is the only official Zappa release that features Odin. She’s been credited with imbuing “Dirty Love” with a feminine power that softened some of the rougher, more controversial edges of Zappa’s lyrics.



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Why Jeff McNeil opted for Mets extension over free agency revealed


Jeff McNeil signed a contract extension with the New York Mets this past week. But why didn’t McNeil test the free agent market instead?

Jeff McNeil and the New York Mets came to terms on a four-year/$50M contract extension this past week. The versatile infielder and two-time All-Star will now stay put in the Big Apple for the foreseeable future.

McNeil was in his second year of arbitration eligibility, and after failing to come to terms on an agreement, he and the Mets were headed for an arbitration trial. The two sides were reportedly more than $1M apart in regards to McNeil’s 2023 salary.

But the two sides ultimately came together, and rather than go through what can oftentimes be a contentious process, the Mets and McNeil agreed to a contract extension. But there are some in the industry that feel as though McNeil sold himself short.

So, why did he go this route?

Why Jeff McNeil opted for Mets extension over free agency revealed.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan has shed some light as to why Jeff McNeil chose to ink an extension rather than entertain the free agent market.

McNeil was under team control for two more seasons, meaning he would have reached free agency after the 2024 season. McNeil would be turning 33 years old prior to Opening Day in 2025. That’s typically the wrong side of 30 when it comes to securing a long-term contract.

There’s also the matter of McNeil’s lack of power. General managers have put a big emphasis on power, and while McNeil led the National League in hitting last season, batting average doesn’t carry as much as it has in years past.

McNeil is also just two years removed from posting a .679 OPS. Another year like that over the next two seasons might have given teams cause to pause before signing McNeil to a hefty contract.

In the end, both Jeff McNeil and the New York Mets get what they wanted. McNeil has financial security for the next several seasons, and the Mets have part of their core returning for what owner Steve Cohen hopes is a World Series run.



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Omega Seiki to Invest $98.1 Million in India EV Parts Plants


The New Delhi-based company has tied up with startup iM3NY, which manufactures lithium-ion cells in New York, to produce batteries in the South Asian nation, it said in a statement Sunday. Omega, founded in 2018, has also entered a join venture with Jae Sung Tech Korea to make electric vehicle power trains locally, it said.





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Warner Bros. swiped our Harry Potter wand IP, says Kano • TechCrunch


Kano, the venture-backed U.K. startup known for its build-your-own computer kits and software for teaching coding and associated STEM skills, has accused Warner Bros. of copying one of its products and infringing on its intellectual property (IP).

The product in question is the Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand that Warner Bros. announced back in October, and which began shipping to consumers in the U.S. and U.K. for $150 just before Christmas. London-based Kano issued a “cease and desist” to Warner Bros. this week, which TechCrunch has seen, requesting that the media and entertainment giant halt its go-to-market and promotional activities.

While Kano is probably better known for its Raspberry Pi and Windows-based modular PCs, the company launched a device similar to Warner Bros.’ new wand way back in 2018. Kano’s Harry Potter Coding kit came replete with a physical gesture-controlled Bluetooth wand designed to engage children through coding spells, making on-screen cauldrons change color, or feathers fly, via elaborate swishing motions with the wand.

Powering the wand are various sensors, including an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer, which help the wand convey its direction and motion to the tablet or PC to which it’s connected.

In the intervening years, Kano says it has sold some 180,000 units of its Harry Potter coding wand, a figure that rises to 460,000 when you factor in similar gesture-controlled products Kano subsequently launched in partnership with Disney spanning the Star Wars and Frozen franchises.

While Kano is no longer actively marketing its Harry Potter wand, some of its retail partners — which have previously included Apple and Target — do still sell it.

Patented

Last April, Kano co-founder and CEO Alex Klein was granted a patent for the wand’s gesture recognition system, covering the basic mechanics of how it works: The user holds down a button to begin the gesture recognition, and the screen displays a cursor trail as the user moves the wand to show how a spell is being cast in real time.

It’s worth noting that Kano launched its wand as part of a brand-licensing partnership with Harry Potter rightsholder Warner Bros., which is why Klein says he was perturbed to learn of its new competing wand hitting the market a few months back.

In a conversation with TechCrunch, Klein explained that off the back of the initial success it saw with the Harry Potter wand in 2018, Warner Bros.’ corporate arm reached out to Kano to get it to explain a bit more about how the product works, including its componentry and how it’s able to recognize spells, and other potential use cases for the underlying technology.

And this is where things get interesting regarding its spat with Warner Bros.

Unlike Kano’s original Harry Potter wand, which was focused squarely on teaching kids how to code, Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand is all about the smart home. It’s designed to connect to devices such as TVs, lights and speakers, so users can control their contraptions using “spells” and choreographed wand gestures.

According to Klein, Kano had already envisaged such use cases with its own wand, and had made some early developments in the smart home realm.

“In the process of making it easy for a person to hold down the button on the wand and cast a spell, we realized that this is a new language for human computer interaction,” Klein said. “You could be casting spells not only to make Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans explode on a screen, but you could [also] be doing gestures to control your lights, unlock your door and control the volume of music. We realized that this gestural form of interaction could be quite powerful and extended into other domains in the smart home. So we came in, they [Warner Bros.] got really excited about this idea of controlling the smart home.”

Klein showed TechCrunch a video of an early prototype of Kano’s wand controlling various connected devices, which he says was recorded in November 2018 as part of a demonstration in Warner Bros.’ offices.

Fast-forward to 2022, and with Warner Bros. bringing a similar Harry Potter wand to market, Klein says that he reached out to various people at the company to get an explanation, adding that he was told that an internal investigation would follow. But he said the line of communication went cold, leading to the cease and desist letter that Kano issued to Warner Bros. this week.

“A side-by-side comparison of the operation of both the Coding Wand [Kano’s] and the Spellcaster Wand [Warner Bros.’] makes clear — and has now made clear to multiple third-party observers, including patent and intellectual property experts — that an issue has arisen,” the letter states. “The new product uses intellectual property — multiple patent-protected assets, trade secrets, inventions, etc. — of Kano’s, some of which were shared in strict confidence with WB during the many detailed engagements between the companies.”

The story so far

Founded in 2013, Kano has raised some $45 million in funding from notable backers, including European VC Index Ventures, Barclays, Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff and Microsoft, which worked with Kano to develop a Windows-based PC back in 2019.

Mark Zuckerberg is also apparently a fan of Kano’s products, according to this post from 2021.

Mark Zuckerberg apparently digs Kano. Image Credits: Mark Zuckerberg

However, Kano had been relatively quiet these past few years, announcing a round of layoffs in late 2019 and then not really releasing much in the way of new products. However, in 2021 the company did partner with Kanye West to launch Stem Player, a device that lets users isolate and remix individual song elements. It ultimately pulled back from the partnership due to antisemitic comments made by West.

Today, Kano continues to sell the Stem Player without West’s involvement, and a few weeks back the company unveiled the Stem Projector, while hinting at all manner of new products that may include food and clothes. The company also signaled its transition away from its legacy DIY PC business when it revealed it was spinning out its creative software suite Kano World as a standalone business.

However, the company does plan to stay at least a little bit true to its roots, as it’s developing a modular two-in-one device that can run Windows or ChromeOS, which Klein said it expects to push to market some time this year.

Kano’s upcoming DIY modular PC. Image Credits: Kano

Financially, things hadn’t been looking so great for Kano. At its most recently reported financial year ending of March 2021, Kano disclosed a pre-tax loss of £10.1 million ($12 million), though this was an improvement on the £16.8 million ($20.8 million) loss it reported the previous year. The company told TechCrunch a few weeks back that its provisional accounts for fiscal year 2022 show a pre-tax profit of around £1.2 million ($1.5 million).

What’s next

While Klein is naturally keen to paint an outwardly rosy picture of how things are going at Kano, the fact that it’s actively releasing and developing new products is an encouraging sign. However, a litigious IP scuffle with a billion-dollar mass-media conglomerate is probably the last thing it needs right now.

In a modern-day David versus Goliath scenario, defending IP rights in court as a relatively small startup is not a cheap pursuit — something that Klein is acutely aware of as he considers his next moves.

“It can cost up to $3 million to defend and protect a patent / technology IP,” Klein said. “This stacks the deck in favor of the big corporates. They can afford to throw aggressive lawyers at smaller companies and tie them up in process.”

There is nothing to say, at the moment at least, that this is definitely how things will unfold. But if it does, Klein indicated that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to defend Kano’s work, noting that he has been told by lawyers who have worked on the case so far, on a pro bono basis, that it’s a “pretty open and shut” case.

“If necessary, I’ll work late nights and weekends and represent us myself, pro se,” he said. “We will make sure our team’s hard work and creativity is not abused and ripped off. I may not have gone to law school, but all the proceedings are public, and can be understood with a little elbow grease.”

A Warner Bros. spokesperson finally provided TechCrunch with a comment, saying: “The claims made by Kano are without merit.”*

*This story was updated shortly after publishing to include a response from a Warner Bros. spokesperson.



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Joel Embiid applies for ‘Trust the Process’ trademark for toys and electronics


The phrase “Trust the Process” has become synonymous with the Sixers, especially center Joel Embiid over the past eight years.

Earlier this month, Embiid filed a trademark application for the phrase to create toys, games, puzzles, board games, action figures, and video game machines, a trademark attorney Josh Gerben reported

Embiid filed a similar application in 2018; however, it was canceled by the United States Patent and Trademark Office after he failed to provide proof of use. 

“Trust the Process” became a famous phrase by Sixers fans when the executive and general manager Sam Hinkie ran the team. His analytic-minded approach to building a team by acquiring high draft picks through losing by fielding teams of lesser talent was infamous. From 2013 through 2016, the Sixers lost 127 games, leading to high draft picks that were used to select Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Embiid, who has become a perennial All-NBA talent and an intricate part of the team’s success and position as one of the best in the league, has become identified as the “Process” himself, a nickname the team’s PA announcer Matt Cord calls him during the team’s starting lineup introductions.

Another attempt at a “Trust the Process” trademark was blocked by the USPTO when Embiid tried to file for sneakers, apparel, and clothing. In 2016 Camping World CEO Marc Lemonis was approved for a “Trust the Process” trademark of his own. He often used the phrase on his CNBC show “The Profit,” and the trademark board ruled that Embiid’s application would likely be confused with Lemonis’ registered trademark for clothing. 

“Since the “Trust the Process” marks are identical in appearance in sound, it outweighs any difference the marks may have in commercial impression with respect to the meaning of the mark in the world of basketball versus the CNBC show “The Profit,” the board said.





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Everything LeBron James and Lakers said about controversial loss in Boston


The Lakers suffered a painful, unjust loss to the Celtics. Here’s what LeBron James and the rest of the team had to say on a controversial no-call.

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers got absolutely screwed in their overtime loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night. The referees themselves admitted it.

James drove to the rim as time expired and was hit on the arm by Jayson Tatum who was attempting to block James’s shot. The no-call caused a dramatic reaction from James and several of his teammates, including Patrick Beverley who was ejected in memeable fashion.

Understandably, the team had comments after the game on the incident, which would have given James the opportunity to take free-throws to go ahead.

Lakers comment on Jayson Tatum no-call foul against LeBron James

James, of course, made his thoughts known with his body language but spoke about it after the game as well.

“You saw my reaction,” James said, and shook his head, silent, when he was offered the opportunity to talk about the controversial call.

“It’s challenging. I don’t get it. Um, I don’t get it. I’m attacking the paint just as much as any of the other guys in this league that’s shooting double-digit free-throws a night. And um, you know, I don’t get it. I don’t understand.”

“I don’t get into [talking to the league about missed calls], our organization decide they wanna do that, that’s cool. But I don’t, it ain’t gon’ change sh–,” James said.

Asked if it was something that has been building, here’s what James said:

“Nah, it’s been building. It’s been building, and that’s, I mean you guys [have] seen some of the games we missed this year on late-game missed calls. We had an opportunity to literally, you know, win the game, I mean that’s, you know, I had the second one in the last few weeks for myself against Dallas I had the opportunity to win the game if the foul was called. K. Nunn the other day had an opportunity to tie the game if the four-point play is called. You know, I, I don’t understand. I don’t understand what we’re doing. And I watch basketball every single day, I watch these games every single day and I don’t see it happening to nobody else. It’s just, it’s just weird.”

Head coach Darvin Ham, according to Dave McMenamin said, ““As much as you try not to put it on officiating, it’s becoming increasingly difficult”

And finally, Anthony Davis was bold in his critique of the officiating, too.

“It’s bullsh–. At the end of the day, it’s unacceptable. And I guarantee nothing will happen to the refs. We got cheated tonight, honestly,” Anthony Davis said.

Unhappy reaction for the Lakers, which is generally pretty understandable on what was a clear foul.





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Average Stay Of Visitors Declines In Shimla; Tourism Industry To Prepare Road Map To Attract Tourists: Report


The average stay of tourists in Shimla has come down from four-five days in the 1970s to one day at present, as per a report by Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association.

However, the tourists residing in unregistered/unauthorised accommodations are not accounted for, according to the report on major factors affecting the tourism and viability of the hotel industry in Shimla.

The decline is attributed to traffic jams, parking woes and mushroomed growth of unregistered accommodations in and around the state capital Shimla, which has led to a 70-80% decline in the number of average days of tourist stay in registered accommodations in the queen of hills over five decades, the association said.

Water shortage in summer, landslides on the Shimla-Parwanoo National Highway, making commuting risky during monsoons, advisories by the district administration of heavy traffic and to avoid commuting on slippery roads de-motivates tourists planning a trip to Shimla and bookings have been cancelled due to these reasons several times in the past, said a local hotelier Sushant Nag.

The association is preparing a road map for attracting tourists to increase their footfall and stay throughout the year. The Chief Minister will be appraised of the ground reality of the Tourism Industry with suggestions to create a tourist-friendly atmosphere and create new attractions in and around tourist destinations and publicise them, Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association president MK Seth said.

“The tourist arrival has increased manifold compared to the 1970s as people had more time and less push and pulls. When we calculate the mean average, the average duration decreases with an increase in the number of tourists,” Tourism department, Himachal Pradesh University, head Chander Mohan said, adding that tourists residing in unauthorised accommodations being sold on cheap rates are not included in this data.

Tourist stay in Shimla town might have reduced as some visitors look for solace in rural areas and with the improvement of roads and rural infrastructure and opening of homestays, tourists stay in those belts of the district has increased, Director Tourism Amit Kashyap said.

High tax slabs and huge water & garbage charges for genuine hoteliers, and cheap unregistered accommodations (hotels, homestays and units under Bread and Breakfast scheme) being offered to tourists have also affected the industry, hoteliers claim.

Even illegal structures awaiting regularisation are selling rooms online, creating unhealthy competition. Over 350 such unregistered units have come up in and around Shimla, which are neither registered with the government departments nor listed under HomeStay and Bed and Breakfast and are operating through online portals, as per the report.

Hotels and parking slots in Shimla town can accommodate about 2,800 – 3,000 vehicles. About 40% of the space in six main parking in the town is used by the locals. Overcharging by private or leased parking has become an accepted practice, and the tourists are at the receiving end, Seth said, adding that unable to survive, the hoteliers have started giving their hotels on lease, and the leaseholders sell rooms at a low tariff to cover the lease amount, creating unhealthy competition.

The total number of registered hotels, guest houses and homestay units in Shimla district was 556, with a total of 9,530 rooms, out of which about 50 per cent are in Shimla town and periphery, as per the data of the tourism department.

As per the guidelines, the Homestay units can have a maximum of three rooms while the Bed and Breakfast scheme can have six rooms, but these guidelines are often flouted.

The tourism sector of Himachal Pradesh contributes around 7.5% to the state GDP and is one of the highest employment-generating industries. In 2021, as many as 9,52,617 tourists visited the Shimla district.





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Atomos tows a $16M load of funding to create tugboats in space • TechCrunch


You may not have known that space needs tugboats, but now you do — and Atomos Space just closed a $16.2 million Series A investment, which will enable the company to complete its demonstration mission where it will show off its docking and towing capabilities. The company is building a series of Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTV) that makes it possible to reposition satellites in space. The theory is that, by making it possible to move flying objects into different orbits, they don’t have to have full navigation capabilities themselves, which in turn should make operating spacecraft much cheaper. The company claims its existence effectively halves the launch costs of satellite operators.

The company is starting with high-powered electric propulsion systems, and is eager to share that it sees those propulsion methods as stepping stones for its nuclear OTV options, which would be able to travel faster and farther, and offering commercial mobility services. The company is also positioning itself to be able to use these technologies for asteroid deflection, effectively putting Harry Stamper out of a job.

“I worked on launch vehicle design, and then spacecraft propulsion system design and also some advanced technologies for moving around in space, and realized very quickly that how we do space logistics is sub-optimal. The best analogy that we use is with aircraft. Imagine you have a single-use plane, you are the sole passenger, and you have to take everything with you, unable to do shopping on the way. So if you want to drive around at your end destination, you need to take the car and you need to take gas with you,” explains Vanessa Clark, CEO and co-founder of Atomos Space. “Ultimately, it’s very expensive and limited. What we really need is a hub and spoke logistics model for space. This allows us to do really cool things, commercial missions like Earth observation, global communications, broadband internet, but it also allows us to take the next step as a species and do more things in deep space that makes sense economically and from a scientific perspective.”

This is the company’s third round of VC funding, and so far it has built and tested on the ground, including its docking and propulsion systems. The next big step is to fly the first vehicle.

“This is a lot of autonomy. We are working on having a self-driving satellite that can detect and navigate to a client and grab onto it safely. We have the ability to optimize our propulsion system for operating just in space, unlike a launch vehicle that also has to design for getting into space,” Clark highlights the company’s competitive advantage. “That means we can go farther and use less propellant. With this new round of funding we’re finishing the build of our first two vehicles, and we have booked a launch in just under 12 months. It’s going to be a really exciting mission, where we are flying two full-size commercial vehicles.”

The first use cases of the technology is to take launched satellites to their final destinations and to reposition satellites mid-mission. When vehicles have reached their end of service, they can be moved to graveyard orbits, or disposal orbits so that they can burn up in the atmosphere.

“Our goal as a company is to make any orbit as accessible as low Earth orbit (LEO). On Earth, if you want to send something overseas, it is as easy as sending a package to the next town over. You just go to the post office. We want that to be possible for space,” explains Clark. “We want to be operating a fleet of orbital transit vehicles in Earth orbit that can provide the vast missions for a set of clients, spacecraft operators, Space Station operators and also companies and agencies that want to explore beyond the atmosphere.”

The company is particularly excited about nuclear propulsion in space, and are investing heavily on that front, telling us it offers an order of magnitude improvement in speed and payload capabilities.

With the current round of funding, the company says it will double the size of the team and launch its first two OTVs in early 2024. The investment was led by Cantos Ventures and the Yamauchi No. 10 Family Office (that’s the family that founded Nintendo), with participation from Upheaval Investments, Dolby Family Ventures, Arden Road Investments, Elefund and Techstars.



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Philadelphia Museum of Art is hosting a naked scavenger hurt for Valentine’s Day.


The month of love is upon us. To celebrate Valentine’s Day this February, couples can complete a naked scavenger hunt hosted by Watson Adventures at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Naked at the Museum Scavenger Hunt, participants will be fully clothed, but they will use centuries of nude art, including paintings, sculptures, and period rooms, to answer questions. 


MORE: Celebrate Valentine’s Day with a haunted tour by candlelight in Manayunk


“Along the way, you might uncover saints with shocking piercings, a sultry sea monster, exotic gods with many arms to keep an eye on, and a peeping Tom who discovers a new meaning for the term ‘stag party,” the hunt’s description says. 

The event takes place Saturday, Feb. 11, the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and is for adults only. Tickets must be purchased in advance and cost $19.00


MORE: Celebrate Galentine’s Day with pink prosecco at the Museum of Illusions


Admission to the museum is sold separately. Knowledge of art or nudity is not a prerequisite for the hunt.


The Naked at the Art Museum Scavenger Hunt

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023

2 p.m.-4 p.m. | $19

Philadelphia Museum of Art

2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy Philadelphia, PA 19130



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