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Jeff Bezos' legal team said a defamation suit brought by his girlfriend's brother represents an attempt to extort the Amazon CEO.
Michael Sanchez accused Bezos and his security chief Gavin de Becker in the lawsuit filed earlier this week of spreading false rumors that he leaked nude photos of the tech leader to the National Enquirer. Sanchez said in the suit he "never had possession of the graphic photographs in question."
Three days after the original suit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Bezos' team submitted a motion to strike the suit, arguing neither the Amazon CEO nor de Becker ever accused Sanchez of leaking nude photos. Sanchez, the motion argues, is making himself the center of the story and using that to try and get money from the world's richest person.
Extortion rears its head again in this lawsuit, this time not only aimed at Defendants but also directly threatening speech protected under the First Amendment. By filing this lawsuit, Mr. Sanchez hopes to put himself back on the front pages and extract money from Defendants by leveraging the current media environment to harass them. But no matter what Michael Sanchez says or how many times he repeats himself, at the heart of his Complaint lies the same public controversy he helped generate and has tried to exploit—and from which he surreptitiously earned $200,000.
A year ago, Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced their decision to divorce after 25 years of marriage. In the days after that announcement, the Enquirer published an exclusive cover story with images detailing what it called "the cheating photos that ended his marriage."
A month after that, Bezos accused National Enquirer parent company American Media of blackmail by threatening to publish intimate photos of him and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez unless he called off an investigation he launched into how the tabloid gained access to his private text messages. AMI later said Michael Sanchez was the sole source for the National Enquirer story.
Based on news reports and AMI's admissions, statements that Michael Sanchez was the source for the National Enquirer story are "substantially true" and don't meet the threshed for defamation, according to Bezos' motion. Sanchez, the motion argues, is suing Bezos because he's "unhappy" about media coverage of his alleged actions.
"This reporting has exposed the appalling truth that Michael Sanchez betrayed his sister by selling her out to the Enquirer by providing it with personal information and text messages after he was paid $200,000," according to Bezos' filing.
Read the original defamation lawsuit as well as Bezos' response on GeekWire, where this story originally appeared.
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Y Combinator startup Astroforge wants to use its new $13 million seed round to mine asteroids.
The Huntington Beach-based company aims to become the first company to bring asteroid resources back to Earth, TechCrunch reported Thursday. Initialized Capital led the funding round and was joined by investors Seven Seven Six, EarthRise, Aera VC, Liquid 2 and Soma.
“When you look at the opportunity here—and the opportunity really is to mine the universe—this is such a huge opportunity that investors are willing to make the bet on a longer time horizon,” Astroforge co-founder Matt Gialich told TechCrunch.
Virgin Orbit veteran Gialich launched the company alongside his co-founder, SpaceX and NASA alum Jose Acain, in January; the four-person firm, which Gialich said is now hiring for seven more positions, hopes to successfully mine an asteroid by the end of the decade. The seed money will fund Astroforge’s first two missions, with its first being a demo flight scheduled for a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare launch next year.
While Astroforge is keeping the specifics of its technology close to the vest, the company told TechCrunch that it involves a “high-rated vacuum” and requires a zero-gravity environment, but won’t involve actually landing on the asteroid itself. The company is eyeing asteroids ranging from 20 meters to 1.5 kilometers in diameter that carry high concentrations of platinum-group metals, which limits its potential targets to less than 1 million of the 10 million asteroids near Earth.
Astroforge wouldn’t be the first to attempt this science fiction-esque endeavor, though commercial space mining has faced financial and logistical obstacles that no company has yet overcome. NASA, for its part, is counting on the private sector to realize the U.S.’s space mining ambitions, then-deputy administrator Jim Morhard told dot.LA in 2020.
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Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.
Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.
Kirin Sinha wanted to be a dancer. When injury dashed that dream, she turned to her other passion: math.
On this week’s episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, host Yasmin Nouri talks with the founder and CEO of augmented reality (AR) technology and media platform Illumix.
Sinha received degrees from MIT, the University of Cambridge and LSE and founded a nonprofit to help middle school girls with their math skills. She ventured into AR while perusing an MBA at Stanford. Since founding Illumix in 2017, Sinha has raised $13 million from investors including Lightspeed and Maveron Ventures.
Her background in mathematics informs how she problem solves as a CEO, she said. Both math and her dance background taught her to seek out creative solutions.
“A lot of people think that math is very rote and analytical, but at its core it's truly not,” Sinha said. “It's about being creative. It's about having this building block for expressing and understanding the world around you.”
That creativity is bolstered by habits her mother taught her, such as surrounding herself with affirmations drawn onto post-it notes to bolster her spirits. Working in AR, Sinha said she's aware that what people surround themselves with impacts their inner world.
“Your diet is the people around you,” she said. “It's what you surround yourself with. It's the images and the words that surround your day-to-day life. I really spend a lot of time thinking about how can you improve the wider sense of the word diet around you.”
A crucial part of Sinha’s diet is carving out time for a daily walk to dedicate time to ponder Illumix’s future. Reflecting on big-picture goals and challenges allows her to consider how AR changes the ways people engage with the space around them.
dot.LA Editorial Intern Kristin Snyder contributed to this post.
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Rael, a Buena Park-based organic feminine care and beauty brand, has raised $35 million in a Series B funding round, the company announced Wednesday.
The funding was led by the venture arms of two Asian companies: Japanese gaming firm Colopl’s Colopl Next and South Korean conglomerate Shinsegae Group’s Signite Partners. Aarden Partners and ST Capital also participated, as did existing investors Mirae Asset and Unilever Ventures.
Rael described the new round—which takes its total funding to date to $59 million—as “the largest amount raised in the U.S. feminine care category to date.” The company said it plans to use the capital to grow its product offerings, retail partnerships and global marketing reach.
Having already branched into skincare products meant to combat hormonal acne, co-founder and CEO Yanghee Paik said Rael plans on further expanding beyond basic feminine care products. “We aspire to be a clean, holistic personal care brand for women, so we’re graduating from just being another organic feminine care company,” Paik told dot.LA.
Paik and her two co-founders, who are all Korean-American women, launched Rael in 2017 and started out by selling organic pads on Amazon. Paik said she was inspired by the products she would bring back home after trips to South Korea, where the organic category represents more than 30% of the feminine care market (compared to less than 10% of the U.S. market, according to Rael). The startup has since expanded into retail stores like Target and Walmart, and part of its new funding will be dedicated to further growing its retail presence.
“The feminine care industry is not like beauty, which attracted a lot of investors initially,” Paik said. “People are noticing that it’s one of the markets that has not been noticed by investors as much, but has a lot of growth potential because it’s been dominated by big brands. Now there are female-founded smaller brands that are trying to make a difference there.”
As part of Rael’s growth efforts, the company has also brought in Lauren Consiglio, a former marketing executive at Unilever and L’Oreal, as its president.
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