A hit to the ol’ billfold


February 21, 2019

After months of hype, Samsung’s new Galaxy Fold is here, and the price isn’t exactly cheap for people of Earth.
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Cannabis giant Tilray to acquire the world’s largest hemp food company

Canadian marijuana giant Tilray said it has entered into a “definitive agreement” to acquire Manitoba Harvest — the largest hemp food company in the world — for up to $318m.

This will be Tilray’s largest acquisition to date, a deal that gives the company access to a wide arsenal of food products that are currently pushed throughout 16k stores in the US and Canada.

Tilray is on a rampage

The Vancouver-based Tilray began trading on the Nasdaq in July, becoming the first cannabis company to go public in the US. Since then, the company has feverishly sped up the burn on its business partnerships. 

In December, Tilray announced a partnership with a division of the Swiss drug giant Novartis AG to commercialize its non-smokable cannabis products — and Tilray didn’t stop there.

In January, the company said it hopes to acquire cannabis cultivator Natura Naturals so it can further expand its infrastructure to supply its high-end products to the Canadian market.

Hemp helps

Tilray stock was up 4.5% yesterday after the company announced its cash-and-stock deal for Manitoba Harvest. Even more impressively, the company’s stock has skyrocketed 165% in the past year.

Manitoba Chief Executive Bill Chiasson told MarketWatch the current plan is to introduce a line of CBD-infused liquid extracts (including a CBD spray and CBD gel caps) in the US as early as this summer.

Other hemp-curious marijuana producers saw a jump as well: Aurora Cannabis, which is also investing in hemp, saw its shares rise 1.5%

Legal… with a caveat

Hemp is hot right now. But while it was legalized in the recent farm bill, the legality is still unclear.

CBD remains under the eye of the FDA, which has issued initial guidelines that say companies must get pre-approval before selling products with CBD in them — a stipulation both Tilray and Manitoba Harvest plan to adhere to. 

Big hempin’ spendin’ cheese
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Watch out, Big Tuna: The market for lab-grown fish is heading downstream

As plant-based beef inches closer to mainstream stomachs, a startup called Good Catch has been working on the same idea… but for fish. Now, lab-grown sea-life alternatives are hitting supermarkets.

Fast Company reports that the company’s plant-based albacore tuna chunks hit the aisles of Whole Foods and Thrive Markets yesterday, with plans to hit other retailers soon.

You can take the fish out of the tuna…

The startup began developing its version of tuna a few years ago, spending about a year workshopping the texture and taste.

Good Catch uses a mix of 6 legumes (from soy and peas to fava beans and navy beans) for texture, and, of course, algae oil and seaweeds to give it that ocean-life taste.

Good Catch isn’t the only brand leading the charge: About a year ago, Wild Type raised $3.5m, and the founders of Finless Foods — which also raised money last year — predict “rapid commercialization within years, not decades.” 

But you can’t take the tuna out of the fish

The issue of overfishing and depletion has long been on the back burner (85% of marine fish has been either fully exploited or overfished) — because what would people do without their fresh sushi??

Perhaps more importantly, fish are consuming more microplastics than ever as sea pollution hits record highs, and they’re carrying diseases into fisheries, which can then get transferred to humans.

So, much like Impossible Foods, Good Catch and others are not only working to save our oceans and wildlife, but also to help high-fish consumers stay healthy.

» Nothing fishy going on here

After months of hype, Samsung wins the race to unfold a pricey new phone category

After months of hype, yesterday Samsung released the world’s first folding phone, the Galaxy Fold. 

The Fold got mixed reviews from early users. But early reactions aren’t always a good litmus test when it comes to consumer tech.

The frontier of foldables

The Fold features several eye-popping numbers: The phone has 2 touchscreens, 6 cameras, a 7.3-inch display… and a $1,980 price tag (even more than Apple’s XS-ive starting iPhone price of $1,099).

Rival phonemakers have “teased” their own foldable prototypes for months — Xiaomi and Lenovo both leaked their prototypes, and Huawei claims to be on track to release its foldable this year. 

But now that Samsung has won the race to get a product to market, the next big question is obvious: Will consumers pay $2k for a phone that is also a tablet?

Now, we wait to see how consumer tastes unfold

Many people praised the phone’s features (the phone can run 3 apps simultaneously on its larger screen), but others ridiculed the phone’s massive price tag and unusual design.

But even though consumers often don’t like change at first, the market has a short memory: Apple’s Airpods were widely mocked when released 2 years ago, but now they’re a massive success that many users can’t imagine living without.

Despite the flurry of angsty tweets, Samsung could have the last laugh as the future unfolds.

» Fold move, Cotton

A partnership between Eviation and Siemens could build the first e-plane to really take off

Eviation, an electric plane startup based in Israel, is flying high after scoring a primetime partnership with German industrial giant Siemens.

Other companies have struggled to build electric planes. But Eviation’s flagship e-plane, Alice, is expected to take flight this year.

Why haven’t electric planes gotten off the ground?

The technology required to get electric planes in the air has existed since 1973, but the business model to get them off the ground still doesn’t exist.

E-planes aren’t cost-effective because they still require massive, heavy batteries. Since a tank full of jet fuel produces 43x as much energy as a battery that weighs the same amount, e-planes can’t hit the same passenger-weight ratio that their fossil-fuel cousins can.

But that hasn’t stopped startups from trying to make better batteries: Today dozens of startups — including Zunum Aero, Wright Electric, Ampaire, Safran, Kitty Hawk, and Lilium — are trying to develop e-planes light enough for commercial use.

The e-plane industry approaches new heights

Eviation’s plane, Alice, is still basically a giant battery with seats and wings: The entire plane carries a maximum weight of 14k pounds — and the battery alone weighs 7k pounds.

But Alice still shows promise… for short flights. The plane can carry 9 passengers up to 650 miles on a single charge, and after testing later this year, Eviation hopes to start shipping to buyers by 2022.

» Hey batta(ry), batta(ry), swing batta(ry)!
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LAUGH: At Lindsey Quinn’s satirical TED Talk, Watch now

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