Bring on the partnerships

September 20, 2019

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Today, Zume broadens its horizon and self-driving construction equipment is risin’, but first…

The Hustle Daily Email

That’s so future: Genetic programming startup, Ginkgo Bioworks, raises $290m

Computer programming is old news. Genetic programming is the hot new gig.

As TechCrunch reports, Ginkgo Bioworks, a genetic programming dev shop, just pulled in $290m in capital, elevating the company’s value to more than $4B. Its pockets padded, it’s ready to expand. 

Ginkgo hopes to go big by going everywhere

Jason Kelly, Ginkgo’s co-founder and CEO, says the company is primed to enter a host of physical goods industries such as clothing, electronics, pharmaceuticals, food, and more, saying: “They are all biotech industries but just don’t know it yet.”

That’s because Ginkgo looks at DNA sequences as a computer programmer looks at code: they’re something to compile, debug, write, and edit… until you get just what you want.

Ginkgo has two money-making models

The first is simply selling its development services. An entrepreneur can describe an as-yet-developed product with specific qualities, and the Ginkgo team does the research to design it… and charges about $10m a pop. 

The other way Ginkgo makes money is by taking equity stakes in the businesses it works with — often in the form of joint ventures. 

Ginkgo’s first partnership was with Bayer to form Joyn Bio, a $100m collaboration in which the 2 companies will develop environmentally friendly plant seeds. If successful, it could save the ag industry millions while decreasing pollution. GM-whoa!

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Zume moves outside of pizza bots with new ‘Forward Mobile Kitchens’

In 2015, Zume hit the scene as a pizza restaurant in San Francisco, featuring a kitchen where robots flipped pies and AI-powered trucks delivered grub prepared by onboard robots.

Now, the robo-za startup is focusing on a broader appeal within the mobile food industry. 

Yesterday, Zume announced a new partnership with &pizza, the first company to use its new “Forward Mobile Kitchen” trucks.

Don’t try and church it up, Zume… 

You’re providing &pizza with infrastructure for human-run “food trucks.” It’s OK to say it.

In Zume’s defense, the new Forward Mobile Kitchens also double as delivery trucks that use AI to provide customer service improvements based on location, traffic, and orders. 

Tossin’ two pizzas with one robot hand

*exits stage to crickets.

According to Zume CEO Alex Garden, the food truck model isn’t the end-all-be-all, but it will create opportunities outside of its brick-and-mortar business and give its brand exposure in new neighborhoods.

“It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and takes a year, sometimes more, to open up a bricks and mortar store,” the Zume chief told TechCrunch. Now, with Zume’s infrastructure, Garden says companies can open a new market in a matter of weeks — with a flexible financial model to boot.

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If you’re looking for TV so good you’ll postpone plans for it, look no further:
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Paying a premium for nostalgia: Streaming services drop big bucks on old-school TV shows  

As entertainment giants race into the subscription stream scene (Disney, HBO, Apple, and Comcast are all rolling out new platforms), they’re all looking to gain an edge in an increasingly saturated market. In particular, they’ve got their eyes — and their pocketbooks — trained on old-school bingeable content.  

[Ordering delivery and staying] in with the old, in with the new 

Networks already shell out serious coin for high-quality original content — but that’s small couch potatoes compared to their spending on the old-school shows we know and love. Recently, Netflix paid $500m for Seinfeld, WarnerMedia paid $1B for The Big Bang Theory, and Comcast paid $500m for The Office (….and is teasing us with a reboot. Rude if false).

Totally worth it. …Or is it? 

Here’s the crazy thing: It’s tough to predict the ROI here because, as streaming expert Dan Rayburn explains: “We have no actual information about what creates or reduces churn.” 

In the Seinfeld-era days, shows’ values were based on ratings and ad rev. But there’s no way to determine exactly why customers sign up for a given streaming platform — or whether one well-loved show can hook millions of new subscribers. And maybe the current nostalgic, Chandler-Bing-loving audience will lose interest as they age — making these giant purchases kind of worthless. We’ll just have to wait and watch.

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The world asked for self-driving cars… and it got self-driving bulldozers

Everyone and their Aunt Josephine seems to be talking about self-driving cars… but despite receiving more than $80B in investment (so far), the self-driving car industry has yet to put the autonomous pedal to the metal.

But while self-driving cars continue to idle, other types of vehicles — ranging from cargo ships to tractors — are pulling into the fast lane.

Now, self-driving bulldozers are joining the family

Yesterday, a startup called Built Robotics raised $33m to expand its self-driving construction equipment.

The company does not build its own vehicles. Instead, it creates conversion boxes — lidar, GPS systems, and other gizmos — that give normal bulldozers an autopilot mode.

Like other autonomous vehicles, Built’s ’dozers are equipped with a number of sensors that pull the plug if the machines lose their balance or something gets in their way.

In many cases, specificity is the key to successful autonomy

General-use self-driving cars are a cool idea, but they are really hard to build. Instead, it’s smarter to make self-driving vehicles that accomplish specific, well-defined tasks — like scooping dirt.

And the backhoeing of the autonomous vehicle market doesn’t stop there: Other startups also developing highly specific self-driving machines: Sea Machines has raised more than $12m to build self-driving ships; Bear Flag Robotics has raised $3.5m to build self-driving tractors; and Skydio has raised $70m to build autonomous drones.

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First KAYAK, now Meet the startup reimagining business travel

If you’ve made travel plans before, you know that every trip starts with a whooole lotta work. 

Scouring search engines, coordinating hotel and flight bundles, double-checking dates and times — it all adds up to one seriously complicated process. 

But fear not, people! We’re about to put those days of crying at your keyboard behind you, thanks to 

Forecast, budget, and reduce travel spend like only a pro can

Created by the same folks that brought you KAYAK, corporate travel software is built with one thing in mind: Making your life easier

What makes it so simple? Well… everything. 

See, keeps all your info in one place. You can book flights and hotels, handle expense reports, and manage itineraries, all from within their intuitive interface. 

Plus,’s 24/7 travel support team makes sure that when even the slightest of inconveniences arise (“There was no chocolate on my hotel pillow!”), someone will be available to help you sort it out. 

Get a $50 Amazon gift card* if you attend a demo of Sounds money to us.

Learn about

Terms apply.

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