[TechCONNECT] Atlanta Tech News Roundup | May 2020
We know there’s a lot going on in the world right now. And that you’re doing your best to hold it all together. To save you some time and energy, we’ve gathered together the top tech stories in Atlanta and beyond. Enjoy!
Trending: Atlanta's Top Tech Stories
E-Scooters Could Make a Comeback in Atlanta – Thanks to Curiosity Lab
Curiosity Lab, an innovation center created by the City of Peachtree Corners, hopes to solve one of the biggest problems that Atlanta has had with micromobility since the first e-scooters hit our streets in the summer of 2018: littered sidewalks. Thanks to a partnership with micromobility startups, Go X and Tortoise. Curiosity Lab has been able to launch one of the world’s first fleet of teleoperated e-scooters. Go X is behind the scooter development and ride-hailing app, while Tortoise created the remote repositioning system all the scooters are equipped with. The scooters, which are controlled remotely, will return to a docking station after each use and will then go through a sanitation process- an essential step during COVID-19. Be sure to check out the video to see this technology in action.
Trending: Top National Tech Stories
What UFOs and Self-Driving Cars Might Have in Common
The Navy has released some UFO videos. Dr. Lance B. Eliot, a world-renowned expert on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), took it one step further by explaining how self-driving cars may be one of the easiest ways to finally crack the mystery of UFOs. In his article for Forbes, he takes the time to lay out his theory in much detail. Self-driving cars will eventually need to add upward pointing sensors, as well as mechanisms for capturing images and videos; therefore, with lots and lots of sightings from many angles, throughout the day and night, self-driving cars are bound to give us substantive clues about what UFOs are and how they have come to be. As Dr. Lance points out, this also means that we humans are going to become part of the massive detection efforts, as those cameras are equally pointed at ourselves, and thus the very cameras that we are using to find out whether there are aliens on earth, would also force us into giving up our sense of privacy and personal freedom of movement.
Self-Driving Cars Prove to be a Hard Deploy Amid Pandemic
In the autonomous vehicle industry investments are going to big companies rather than unproven start-ups and Waymo LLC is the poster child for this theme. They have raised an additional $750 million, pushing the total outside investment the company has announced in the past two months to $3 billion. The artificial intelligence technology required to create self-driving cars has proven harder to deploy than experts expected just 5 years ago. As Waymo’s CEO John Krafcik explains, “each milestone of development since the team began work in 2009 has only proven more complex. It takes more and more resources, more and more cash, more and more software resources, and more and more hardware expertise.” Learn more here about how the coronavirus pandemic has created new uncertainty in the race to develop self-driving vehicles.
Atlanta Tech Events
Venture Atlanta is Going Virtual This Fall
For the first time ever Venture Atlanta is going virtual! In order to prioritize the health and safety of attendees, presenting companies, and speakers VA 2020 will now be held online on October 21st & 22nd. The Venture Atlanta team wants to make sure that you understand that this event will not just be some basic Zoom conference or large-scale webinar. In true Venture Atlanta style, it will be high-energy, engaging, and powerful. As always there will be compelling keynotes, more than 75 live company pitches, opportunities to interact and share, and very strategic and intentional ways to connect entrepreneurs with investors. The call for companies will open the first week of June and will be followed by registration opening in mid-June. Be sure to check out Venture Atlanta’s website to keep up with these important updates.
Atlanta Companies and Tech Leaders On the Move
Johnson Venture Partners Moves into Buckhead
Johnson Venture Partners, a micro venture capital fund, has opened its new headquarters in Buckhead. JVP specializes in seed to Series A funding and has already invested in two Atlanta startups: Demand Driven Technologies and Acivilate. Matt Johnson, JVP’s managing partner, also shared his predictions for VC activity in Atlanta during the coronavirus pandemic, stating that he believes venture capitalists will stay active, but the time between initial discussions and a check in hand might take longer. Founders and start-ups in Atlanta frequently complain about the lack of initial funding. JVP might finally be able to fill that gap. Check out the full story here.
Microsoft Confirms Expansion in Midtown
Microsoft Corp. recently confirmed that they will be spending $75 million to occupy space at Atlantic Yards, two office towers under development within Midtown’s Atlantic Station. This expansion will create 1,500 new jobs. A hint about a major expansion in Midtown came during a May 1 earnings call with Cousins Properties Inc. CEO Colin Connolly, who said up to 80% of approximately 4 million square feet of new office space in Midtown may already be pre-leased. Microsoft is in good company as Google announced last October it would initially take five floors at 1105 West Peachtree. Atlanta Business Chronicle recently reported that Google might be engaged in a much larger expansion at that project. To learn more about tech companies spurring activity in Midtown click here.
Atlanta Mergers, Acquisitions, & More
Terminus Acquires Ramble, an Account-Based Chat Solution
Terminus, an account-based marketing platform in Atlanta, has acquired another Atlanta-based company, Ramble. Most recently, Terminus also acquired Sigstr, an email signature marketing solution. Ramble is an account-based chat solution and when combined with Terminus these solutions will allow customers to add on-page chats and workflows that provide lead qualification and data collection autonomously and the ability to connect advertising and brand activities directly to sales conversations. All Ramble employees will transfer to Terminus’ workforce and Justin McDonald, Ramble’s CEO, will join the leadership team at Terminus. Terminus’ CEO, Tim Kopp, believes that this acquisition allows the company to stay relevant during a major industry shift. Read his statement right here.
Facebook Buys GIPHY for $400M
Giphy will soon be part of the Instagram team, because Facebook recently acquired the company for around $400 million. According to Facebook, 50 percent of Giphy’s traffic comes from Facebook’s family of apps (WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram), and about half of that traffic comes from Instagram alone. Giphy has around $150 million in funding. It last raised money with its $72 million Series D in 2016. After Series D, it had a valuation of about $600 million. Learn more about this key acquisition here.
COVID-19 Related News
Delta Combatting #COVID19 by Requiring Face Masks of all Employees and Passengers
All Delta employees and passengers are required to wear facemasks in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks will be required starting at check-in and will continue across airline touchpoints including Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, jet bridges and on the aircraft for the duration of the flight- except during meal service. In addition to this new requirement, Delta has implemented new safety protocols including blocking the middle seats and reducing the number of passengers on each flight. It is no secret that the pandemic has severely impacted the airline industry. Delta recently reported that its network schedule has been reduced by 85% during Q2 when compared to the same period last year. Learn more about Delta’s plans and current travel schedule.
Chick-fil-A Offers the Perfect Recipe for Coping with COVID-19
Chick-fil-A’s recipe for coping with COVID-19 has been relying heavily on its partnerships with DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub- in addition to drive-thru changes and enhanced safety protocols. In fact, the next time you visit Chick-fil-A your food will be served in tamper evident packaging to ensure that it has not been opened. While some of its restaurants may open for carry out in the coming weeks, Chick-fil-A has made it clear that dining room seating and playgrounds will remain closed indefinitely. The company has also taken this time as an opportunity to begin offering ready to heat meals and selling it’s signature sauces at Publix, Target, Walmart and Winn Dixie stores in Florida. To take a closer look at Chick-fil-A’s other moves during the COVID-19 pandemic click here.
Returning to the Office Under Surveillance?
The post-pandemic era will mark a new chapter in the debate over privacy, and the trade-offs people are willing to make for safety. As employee’s head back to work, they will notice an undeniable increase in surveillance methods similar to those that we experienced after 9/11, but many companies see these measures as the only way to reopen offices without risking a rise in infection- at least until a vaccine becomes available. For example, those who work in offices at Rockefeller Center will be subjected to thermal cameras that measure body temperatures as well as a mobile app that will monitor and score how closely they are complying to social distancing. At this time, there are still very few agreed upon standards on what tools are effective, and how they should be used while respecting individual privacy. How do you feel about the potential increase in tracing and monitoring at work? Join the conversation on the Wall Street Journal article right here.
AI and Robotics to Help Reduce Hospital Staff Exposure to #COVID19
Hospitals are combining AI and robotics technologies to assess patients remotely in order to protect overworked emergency room and intensive care personnel from COVID-19. Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas is using high-resolution cameras; devices connected to the hospital’s secure internet and machine-learning algorithms to set up a clinical command center with the goal of creating a virtual ICU. These methods first launched in March as COVID-19 cases increased. Information from ventilators, electrocardiogram machines and oxygen pumps is combined with data from each patient’s electronic medical record and vital signs. The data is then sent to a patient monitoring analytics platform where machine-learning algorithms analyze the data to determine the status of ICU patients. If the algorithm identifies a patient that needs to be watched more carefully, the section of the command center computer screen associated with that person turns red. Using this technology, one medical worker can monitor dozens of patients by simply watching the computer screens in the clinical command center. To learn more about the innovative methods hospitals are using to keep their employees healthy and increase their efficiency, click here.
Chinese & Iranian Hackers Target Progress of #COVID19 Vaccine
In a recent alert, the FBI and the cyber wing of the Department of Homeland Security shared that China and Iran have waged cyberattacks against American universities, pharmaceutical and other health-care firms in an effort to steal intellectual property related to coronavirus treatments and vaccines. These attacks may have hindered vaccine research in some cases. Universities and research institutions are a top priority for Chinese state sponsored hackers because of information about biomedical advances and classified defense projects. While its commercial value is of importance, the geopolitical significance of being the first to develop a treatment or vaccine means the Chinese will try to get their hands on the information any way they can, this is explained in this Wall Street Journal article.
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