Coronavirus Updates: Trump Jumps Into Musk Tweetstorm; L.A. May Extend Lockdown Until August; UpKeep's $36M Raise
Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.
- Now Trump weighs in on Elon Musk's defiant move to open a Tesla plant early
- Los Angeles may extend shelter-in-place directives until August, says county health official
- UpKeep raises $36 million Series B as maintenance services startup in demand amid COVID
UpKeep raises $36 million Series B as maintenance services startup in demand amid COVID
Ryan Chan, UpKeep founder and CEO, says the pandemic has only made UpKeep more attractive as companies put a greater emphasis on cleaning and maintenance.
UpKeep, a mobile platform that helps companies streamline maintenance requests, announced Tuesday it has raised $36 million in Series B funding. Though it is a difficult time for many companies to fundraise, Ryan Chan, UpKeep founder and CEO, says the pandemic has only made UpKeep more attractive as companies put a greater emphasis on cleaning and maintenance. "I feel fortunate that we are in a space that is growing because of this," Chan told dot.LA. "We were able to raise at very favorable terms, but for a lot of companies it's very difficult to raise right now."
Chan certainly does not want to be seen as gloating. "We got lucky, but through no fault of our own," he added. Though UpKeep is a Los Angeles company, it turned to New York-based Insight Capital to lead the round. Existing investors Emergence Capital, Battery Ventures, Y Combinator, Mucker Capital, and Fundersclub also participated.
"COVID-19 is bringing the importance of maintenance into the spotlight, underscoring UpKeep's mission," Deven Parekh, Managing Director at Insight Partners, said in a statement. Upkeep says it saw 206% revenue growth last year and has signed with notable brands including Unilever, Siemens, DHL, Thermo Fisher Scientific, McDonald's and Jet.com.
Los Angeles may extend shelter-in-place directives until August, says county health official
Los Angeles County may extend stay-at-home orders for the next three months, ending sometime in August, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. California began loosening stay-at-home rules last week, reopening trails and providing retailers with the ability to sell merchandise through curbside services.
But Ferrer warned Tuesday that further loosening of the rules will be slow. And that would only change if there was a "dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand." "Our hope is that by using the data, we'd be able to slowly lift restrictions over the next three months," she said, according to the L.A. Times. But without widely available therapeutic testing for the coronavirus or rapid at-home tests that would allow people to test themselves daily, it seems unlikely that restrictions would be completely eased.
Now Trump weighs in on Elon Musk's defiant move to open a Tesla plant early
This won't come as a surprise: President Trump joined in on the Twitter debate about Elon Musk reopening his Tesla Inc. plant in Fremont, Calif. "California should let Tesla & @elonmusk open the plant, NOW," Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday. "It can be done Fast & Safely!" Musk tweeted on Monday that Tesla would ramp up production at its only U.S. car plant, and risked being arrested after county officials ordered the company to stay closed. The billionaire entrepreneur has slammed California's strict reopening plan, saying his company has a right to manufacture cars and make money.
Musk wrote in an email to employees, in documents reviewed by Bloomberg News: "Just wanted to send you a note of appreciation for working hard to make Tesla successful. It is so cool seeing the factory come back to life and you are making it happen!!" Over the weekend, Musk stated he would move Tesla and his rocket company SpaceX out of the state unless restrictions were lifted, prompting one California lawmaker to tweet "F*ck Elon Musk."
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Minutes into filling out my absentee ballot last week, I was momentarily distracted by my dog Seamus. A moment later, I realized in horror that I was filling in the wrong bubble — accidentally voting "no" on a ballot measure that I meant to vote "yes" on.
It was only a few ink marks, but it was noticeable enough. Trying to fix my mistake, I darkly and fully filled in the correct circle and then, as if testifying to an error on a check, put my initials next to the one I wanted.
Then I worried. As a reporter who has previously covered election security for years, I went on a mini-quest trying to understand how a small mistake can have larger repercussions.
As Los Angeles County's 5.6 million registered voters all receive ballots at home for the first time, I knew my experience could not be unique. But I wondered, would my vote count? Or would my entire ballot now be discarded?
My distractingly sweet dog, Seamus.
Photo by Tami Abdollah
The creator of the emotive robot called "Moxie" sees a new wave of machines that recognize human emotions and will change how business is done.
"We are seeing a future that's a lot better than the dystopian future of robots taking over the world," Paolo Pirjanian, founder and chief executive officer at Embodied, Inc. told dot.LA in a virtual strategy session on May 5.
Dr. Paolo Pirjanian, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Embodied, Inc.<p>Dr. Paolo Pirjanian oversees technology, research and advanced development. Prior to joining iRobot, he served as chief executive officer of Evolution Robotics, Inc. for seven years. Before that, Pirjanian was the company's chief technology officer. Earlier in his career, he worked as a lecturer in the computer science department at the University of Southern California and as a researcher at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he received the Technical Leadership Award. Pirjanian is the former U.S. chairman of IEEE Robotics and received the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award in 2004. He holds a Ph.D. in robotics from Aalborg University.</p>
Jason Schoettler, Partner at Calibrate Ventures
Jason Schoettler, Partner at Calibrate Ventures<p>Jason Schoettler is a partner at Calibrate Ventures, a venture capital firm he co-founded in 2017.</p><p>He leads investments for Calibrate Ventures across its areas of focus: advanced automation, B2B SaaS, and managed marketplaces, including its investments in Alpha, Built Robotics, Embodied, FarmWise, Pared and XStream Trucking. </p><p>Jason has a proven track-record of identifying disruptive businesses and facilitating their development while generating outsized returns. Before forming Calibrate, he served as a Managing Director for over a decade at Shea Ventures, where he was responsible for numerous investments with notable exits, including: Dollar Shave Club (acquired by Unilever), Evolution Robotics (acquired by iRobot), Osmo (acquired by Byju's), SI-BONE (SIBN), and VictorOps (acquired by Splunk). </p><p>Prior to Shea Ventures, Jason served in an operating role at Oak Grove Systems, an enterprise software spin-out from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech, and as a management consultant at Ernst & Young. </p><p>Jason grew up in Central California and holds a BA from University of Notre Dame and MBA from Claremont Graduate University. </p>
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