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Foresite Capital raises $969 million fund to invest in healthcare startups across all stages of growth

Health and life science specialist investment firm Foresite Capital has raised a new fund, its fifth to date, totally $969 million in commitments from LPs. This is the firm’s largest fund to date, and was oversubscribed relative to its original target according to fund CEO and founder Dr. Jim Tananbaum, who told me that while the fundraising process started out slow in the early months of the pandemic, it gained steam quickly starting around last fall and ultimately exceeded expectations.
This latest fund actually makes up two separate investment vehicles, Foresite Capital Fund V, and Foresite Capital Opportunity Fund V, …

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Daily Crunch: Alphabet shuts down Loon

Alphabet pulls the plug on its internet balloon company, Apple is reportedly developing a new MacBook Air and Google threatens to pull out of Australia. This is your Daily Crunch for January 22, 2021.
The big story: Alphabet shuts down Loon
Alphabet announced that it’s shutting down Loon, the project that used balloons to bring high-speed internet to more remote parts of the world.
Loon started out under Alphabet’s experimental projects group X, before spinning out as a separate company in 2018. Despite some successful deployments, it seems that Loon was never able to find a sustainable business model.
“While we’ …

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Alphabet shuts down Loon internet balloon company

Google’s parent firm, Alphabet, is done exploring the idea of using a fleet of balloons to beam high-speed internet in remote parts of the world.
The firm said on Thursday evening that it was winding down Loon, a nine-year-old project and a two-and-a-half-year-old spin off firm, after failing to find a sustainable business model and partners for one of its most prominent moonshot projects.
The demise of Loon, which assumed spotlight after the project helped restore cell services knocked out by a hurricane in Puerto Rico, comes a year after the Android-maker ended Google Station, its other major connectivity …

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Daily Crunch: Hundreds of Google and Alphabet employees unionize

Google employees take another step in their activism, Venmo adds a check-cashing feature and Slack has some issues. This is your Daily Crunch for January 4, 2021.
The big story: Hundreds of Google and Alphabet employees unionize
More than 200 employees at Google and its parent company Alphabet have announced that they have formed the Alphabet Workers Union.
Obviously, that’s only a tiny fraction of Alphabet’s workforce of more than 130,000 employees. But according to The New York Times, the group is a “minority union” designed to give more structure to employee activism, rather than one that negotiates for a contract. And …

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The built environment will be one of tech’s next big platforms

From the beginning, the plan for Sidewalk Labs (a subsidiary of Alphabet and — by extension — a relative of Google) to develop a $1.3 billion tech-enabled real estate project on the Toronto waterfront was controversial.
Privacy advocates had justified concerns about the Google-adjacent company’s ability to capture a near-total amount of data from the residents of the development or any city-dweller that wandered into its high-tech panopticon.
But Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs’ leadership and even Canada’s popular prime minister, Justin Trudeau, had high hopes for the project.

Startups working in real estate technology managed to nab a record $3.7 billion from investors …

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Sequoia-backed recycling robot maker AMP Robotics gets its largest purchase order

AMP Robotics, the manufacturer of robotic recycling systems, has received its largest purchase order from the publicly traded North American waste handling company, Waste Connections.

The order, for 24 machine learning enabled robotic recycling systems, will be used on container, fiber and residue lines across numerous materials recovery facilities, the company said.

The AMP technology can be used to recover plastics, cardboard, paper, cans, cartons and many other containers and packaging types reclaimed for raw material processing.

The tech can tell the difference between high-density polyethylene and polyethylene terephthalate, low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, and polystyrene. The robots can also sort for color, clarity, opacity and shapes like lids, tubs, clamshells, and cups — the robots can even identify the brands on packaging.

So far, AMP’s robots have been deployed in North America, Asia, and Europe with recent installations in Spain, and across the US in California, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In January, before the pandemic began, AMP Robotics worked with its investor, Sidewalk Labs on a pilot program that would provide residents of a single apartment building representing 250 units in Toronto with detailed information about their recycling habits.

Working with the building and a waste hauler, Sidewalk Labs  would transport the waste to a Canada Fibers material recovery facility where trash will be sorted by both Canada Fibers employees and AMP Robotics. Once the waste is categorized, sorted, and recorded Sidewalk will communicate with residents of the building about how they’re doing in their recycling efforts.

Sidewalk says that the tips will be communicated through email, an online portal, and signage throughout the building every two weeks over a three-month period.

For residents, it was an opportunity to have a better handle on what they can and can’t recycle and Sidewalk Labs is betting that the information will help residents improve their habits. And for folks who don’t want their trash to be monitored and sorted, they could opt out of the program.

Recyclers like Waste Connections should welcome the commercialization of robots tackling industry problems. Their once-stable business has been turned on its head by trade wars and low unemployment. About two years ago, China decided it would no longer serve as the world’s garbage dump and put strict standards in place for the kinds of raw materials it would be willing to receive from other countries. The result has been higher costs at recycling facilities, which actually are now required to sort their garbage more effectively.

At the same time, low unemployment rates are putting the squeeze on labor availability at facilities where humans are basically required to hand-sort garbage into recyclable materials and trash.

AMP Robotics is backed by Sequoia Capital,  BV, Closed Loop Partners, Congruent Ventures  and Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, a spin-out from Alphabet that invests in technologies and new infrastructure projects.

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