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Inside Harley-Davidson’s EV shift with a ride on its LiveWire

Inside Harley-Davidson’s EV shift with a ride on its LiveWire

July 18, 2019

Harley-Davidson will release its first production electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, in September.

Yes, the American symbol for internal combustion, chrome and steel is going all-in on two-wheeled EVs.

Founded in Milwaukee in 1903, Harley-Davidson opened a Silicon Valley office in 2018 with plans to add a future line-up of electric vehicles — from motorcycles to bicycles to scooters.

With these moves, HD joins a list of established transportation companies that are redefining themselves in the transformation of global mobility.

TechCrunch talked to the company’s senior management on the EV pivot and got a chance to test the  LiveWire on New York’s Formula E race track. 

The battery-powered Harley will do 0-60 mph in 3 seconds, go 110 mph and charge to 100% in 60 minutes. It goes for $29,799, MSRP.

The motorcycle’s 15.5 kWh battery and magnet motor produce 105 horsepower and 86 ft-lbs of torque for a city range of 146 miles (and 95 for combined city/highway riding).

In contrast to some of Harley’s minimalist gas motorcycles, the company teched out the LiveWire. The e-moto has five processors to manage performance and app-based connectivity, according to HD’s chief engineer for EV Technology, Sean Stanley.

The LiveWire’s tablet-type dash synchronizes with smartphones and allows for preset and customized digital riding modes. From the dash or a smartphone one can calibrate and monitor the LiveWire’s power output, charge status, traction-control settings and ABS braking characteristics. The EV has navigation capabilities and a Bluetooth system for music, helmet comms and to accept incoming phone calls.

Harley-Davidson is famous for its internal combustion rumble — which warranted a new signature electric sound generated from the LiveWire’s mechanical movements. “We spent a lot of time optimizing it…The sound comes from a combination of the electric motor, the transmission and the drive line,” …

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Where's That 15-Hour Workweek We Were Promised?

July 18, 2019


The 44-hour workweek was considered long overdue when it became a right under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Two years later, Congress shortened it to 40. A lot has improved since then, but not this particular figure – in fact, it’s gone in the other direction. Today, by some estimates, the average American works as many as 47 hours per week. In certain industries, such as tech or finance, you’re lucky to manage a week under 60.

This wasn’t always the plan. In 1930, British economist John Maynard Keynes made a series of predictions about the state of the Western world 100 years hence. One prediction was that technological change will have progressed far beyond anything he could imagine. For another, compound interest will continue to accrue at 2%, such that the standard of living will increase four to eight times over. Finally, because of all this, no one will have to work.

OK, we’ll work occasionally – only because, according to Keynes, “we’ll be too glad to have the small duties and tasks and routines … three-hour shifts or a fifteen-hour workweek may put off the problem for a great while.”

We’re now only 11 years away from Keynes’ future, and so far, he’s two-for-three on his predictions. Mechanization has replaced most forms of manual labor, machine learning targets us with ads based on our internet history, and computerization allows us to summon all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, whether that’s Ariana Grande’s birthday or the current value of your Bitcoin wallet.

Meanwhile, not only has standard of living increased four times over since the 1930s, but U.S. per-capita income has increased more than eightfold. We may take economic growth for granted now, but at the dawn of the Great Depression, Keynes’ predictions were bold …

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VComply raises $2.5 million seed round led by Accel to simplify risk and compliance management

VComply raises $2.5 million seed round led by Accel to simplify risk and compliance management

July 18, 2019

Risk and compliance management platform VComply announced today that it has picked up a $2.5 million seed round led by Accel Partners for its international growth plan. The funding will be used to acquire more customers in the United States, open a new office in the United Kingdom to support customers in Europe and expand its presence in New Zealand and Australia.

The company was founded in 2016 by CEO Harshvardhan Kariwala and has customers in a wide range of industries, including Acreage Holdings, Ace Energy Solutions, CHD, the United Kingdom’s Department of International Trade and Burger King. It currently claims about 4,000 users in more than 100 countries. VComply is meant to be used by all departments in a company, with compliance information organized into a central dashboard.

While there are already a roster of governance, risk and compliance management solutions on the market (including ones from Oracle, HPE, Thomson Reuters, IBM and other established enterprise software companies), VComply’s competitive edge may be its flexibility, simple user interface and easy deployment (the company claims customers can on-board and start using the solution for compliance tasks in about 30 minutes). It also seeks out smaller companies whose needs have not been met by compliance solutions meant for large enterprises.

Kariwala told TechCrunch in an email that he began thinking of creating a new risk and compliance solution while working at his first startup, LIME Learning Systems, an education management platform, after being hit with a $4,000 penalty due to a non-compliance issue.

“Believe me, $4,000 really hurts when you’re bootstrapped and trying to save every single cent you can. In this case, I had asked our outsourced accounting partners to manage this compliance and they forgot!,” he said. After talking to other entrepreneurs, he realized compliance posed a challenge for …

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Toys ‘R’ Us taps tech startup b8ta to bring its stores into the future

Toys ‘R’ Us taps tech startup b8ta to bring its stores into the future

July 18, 2019

Retail-as-a-Service startup b8ta, which has partnered with the likes of Google and Macy’s, is getting into the kids’ toys space. As part of a new joint venture with Tru Kids Brands, which owns Toys “R” Us, b8ta will bring its expertise in experiential retail to the iconic children’s toy store. Both entities will own 50% of the venture.

After about eight to 10 months of working together, b8ta and Tru Kids Brands are pulling back the curtains on what they’ve been working on. With these new stores, parents and kids can expect theaters for movies and video games, a treehouse where kids can play, STEAM workshops and more. The first two stores, which will open in November in Houston and New Jersey, are about 6,500 square feet with future stores being closer to 10,000 square feet. For context, these are much smaller than the size of the Toys “R” Us stores people became used to, which were about 30,000 square feet.

B8ta’s solution offers brands a physical presence with an experiential-driven store that comes with software for checkout, inventory, point of sale, inventory management, staff scheduling services and more. That means toy brands will have the option to pay to showcase their products in an interactive way at Toys “R” Us. Those brands can then manage their in-store experiences and give customers the options to buy things in the store, or direct them to buy online.

“I think there is an interesting mash-up between experiential retail that b8ta has been perfecting in its store with those hands-on experiences,” Tru Kids Brands CEO Richard Barry told TechCrunch. “Having the ability for brands to showcase things and give them online experiences too.”

This joint venture comes after Tru Kids Brands announced the return of Toys “R” Us in February, following the …

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Immigrants Flock to U.S. for Better Life and More Pay

July 18, 2019


  • 92% of expats living in the United States told researchers they’ve been able to develop new skills.
  • More than 60% of respondents said they noticed an increase in pay, while 9% saw a decrease.
  • Since moving to the U.S., 63% of respondents said their quality of live has improved.

A newly released survey suggests that when it comes to expats, the United States remains the “land of opportunity” where people go to better themselves.

Released yesterday by HSBC Bank, the annual Expat Explorer survey found that, among the more than 10,000 expats from 163 countries and territories polled, 49% said they opted to come to America to advance their professional lives. That figure marks a 13% uptick from the global average of 36% and an almost 30% gulf with our neighbors to the north, Canada (20%).

The data also shows that 92% of expats reported that, since coming to the U.S., they’ve been able to develop their professional skills. As a result, 57% said they felt more confident at work, and 61% said they were more adaptable.

“Whether through choice or circumstance, moving to a new country brings a host of exciting and often life-changing opportunities,” said Paul Mullins, regional head of international banking for HSBC in the U.S. and Canada. “Our research shows that people don’t just move to the U.S. for career opportunities – they stay because of them too.”

Expats finding betterment in America

While the survey examined how expats were getting on after leaving their home countries, it also sought to understand why people stay in their new homelands. Researchers found that respondents felt staying in the U.S. benefited their careers.

According to the survey, 49% said they stayed in America longer than they initially intended to so they could “continue to progress their career.” A …

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Intel announces deep, multi-year partnership with SAP

Intel announces deep, multi-year partnership with SAP

July 18, 2019

Intel announced a deep partnership with SAP today around using advanced Intel technology to optimize SAP software tools. Specifically, the company plans to tune its Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel Optane DC persistent memory for SAP’s suite of applications.

The multi-year partnership includes giving SAP early access to emerging Intel technologies and building a Center of Excellence. “We’re announcing a multi-year technology partnership that’s focused on optimizing Intel’s platform innovations… across the entire portfolio of SAP’s end-to-end enterprise software applications including SAP S/4HANA,” Rajeeb Hazra, corporate vice president of Intel’s Enterprise and Government Business, told TechCrunch.

He says that this will cover broad areas of Intel technology, including CPU, accelerators, data center, persistent memory and software infrastructure. “We’re taking all of that data-centric portfolio to move data faster, store data more efficiently and process all kinds of data for all kinds of workloads,” he explained.

The idea is to work closely together to help customers understand and use the two sets of technologies in tandem in a more efficient manner. “The goal here is [to expose] a broad portfolio of Intel technologies for the data-centric era, close collaboration with SAP to accelerate the pace of innovation of SAP’s entire broad suite of enterprise class applications, while making it easier for customers to see, test and deploy this technology,” he said.

Irfan Khan, president of Platform and Technologies at SAP, says this partnership should help deliver better performance across the SAP suite of products including SAP S/4HANA, its in-memory database product. “Our expanded partnership with Intel will accelerate our customers’ move to SAP S/4HANA by allowing organizations to unlock the value of data assets with greater ease and operate with increased visibility, focus and agility,” Khan said in a statement.

Hazra says that this is part of a broader enterprise …

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How Micro-Interns Can Help Your Business

July 18, 2019


If the overflow of office selfies on Instagram doesn’t convince you, just look at the last-minute job postings for summer interns on Indeed. This year, companies are looking at fresh ways to leverage young talent during the summer and beyond while students are looking outside traditional channels to get experience. Enter: micro-internships. 

What Are Micro-Internships?  

Micro-internships are highly specific, often virtual, project-based contracts that consists of anywhere from five to 40 hours of paid work over a few days or weeks. Unlike its traditional counterpart, a micro-internship is a task with a deadline – not a full-time job. Assignments can range from market research to data entry and web testing.  

A product of the gig economy 

The gig economy is here to stay whether we like it or not. So it is no surprise that internships have joined the mix of freelance work available.  

Like many freelance or contract positions, micro-internships are usually remote. This means that students can take on virtual internships while still completing their coursework. For companies, this means having access to ambitious, young talent year-round.  

With more full-time employees having the option to work remotely, a growing number of companies now have the infrastructure and know-how to manage remote projects and workers. A virtual internship program, therefore, shouldn’t be too out of place. 

In addition, many companies are already using freelancers. Instead of simply ignoring or tolerating the trend, why not harness it? Through the increasing acceptance of the gig economy, managers at companies from startups to giants like Microsoft have found micro-internships a useful tool to build their talent pipeline.  

A diverse talent pipeline 

With financial risk minimized, companies can more confidently take a chance on someone that may be from a different major or background than their usual candidate profile. For example, a seasoned …

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Georgia Tech’s ant-sized micro-robots move through vibration

Georgia Tech’s ant-sized micro-robots move through vibration

July 18, 2019

The above image is a shot of Georgia Tech’s latest robot posed next to a penny. The 3D-printed bot is roughly two millimeters in length — or about the size of the world’s smallest ants, per the school. The tiny devices are designed to move using vibration from a variety of sources, ranging from ultrasound to more traditional speakers.

With the proper source, the bristles allow them to move four times their own size in roughly a second by moving the legs up and down. Different-sized legs react differently, responding to a variety of different frequencies. The actuators that generate the vibration are outside of the robot, however, as batteries small enough to be housed on their bodies simply don’t exist.

The research team believes robots of this size could ultimately prove useful for a variety of different tasks, ranging from environmental sensing to human body repair. For now, however, we’re just dealing with some tiny prototypes.

“We are working to make the technology robust, and we have a lot of potential applications in mind,” assistant professor Azadeh Ansari said in a release tied to the news. “We are working at the intersection of mechanics, electronics, biology and physics. It’s a very rich area and there’s a lot of room for multidisciplinary concepts.”

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How a Hong Kong startup gets caught up in US-China trade war

How a Hong Kong startup gets caught up in US-China trade war

July 18, 2019

Taylor Host has been operating his artificial intelligence startup out of Hong Kong for more than two years. The American entrepreneur has clients from Europe, North America and Asia, but he settled in the city for its adjacency to Southeast Asia and mainland China’s massive market.

Miro, which Host co-founded in 2017 with British software engineer Jamie Wilde, had bootstrapped to six employees before raising a small note investment. Backed by Silicon Valley-based SOSV, it’s now seeking $2 million in a new funding round. As trade tensions between China and the U.S. drag on, the company is considering relocating for the first time because being a Hong Kong entity starts to turn off western investors.

Miro uses computer vision to tag images and videos of runners for the brands they wear. It then attributes that data — sporting goods purchases — to consumer profiles that are part of its clients’ customer relations management (CRM) system. Miro’s AI processes data in markets around the world, but China data, in particular, is desirable for western sports brands.

The Chinese rising middle-class has been fueling a marathon fever in recent years as they search for a healthier lifestyle. When they participate in a race, Miro’s sensors could be tracking their shoes and outfits for event organizers and sponsors. The technology has so far been used in nearly 500 events around the world and analyzed more than 10 million athletes — while most of the technical development has been conducted in Hong Kong.

“My co-founder and I both spent a considerable amount of time in Hong Kong. The majority of our team would call themselves Hong Kong Chinese, so we have a very strong foothold in Hong Kong and we love it here,” Host told TechCrunch over a phone interview.

“Lately though, it’s …

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Toyota locks in more than a supply of EV batteries in deal with China’s CATL

Toyota locks in more than a supply of EV batteries in deal with China’s CATL

July 17, 2019

Toyota needs more than a secure and steady supply of batteries if it hopes to meet its ambitious global sales goal for electric vehicles. If it hopes to compete, the Japanese automaker will need better quality lithium-ion batteries that don’t squeeze profit margins.

The automaker is turning to Chinese EV battery supplier CATL for the answer. The companies announced Wednesday a wide-ranging partnership that covers the gamut of the battery ecosystem, from developing new technology and locking in supply to improving product quality and reusing and recycling batteries.

Toyota said in June that it would partner with CATL, also known as Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd and EV maker BYD for battery procurement. This new agreement widens the scope of the relationship.

The companies said the partnership was born out of a shared belief that a stable supply of batteries is critical and that battery technology must be further developed and advanced. CATL will combine its battery development and supply capabilities with Toyota’s electrified vehicle and battery development technologies, the companies said in a joint announcement.

Panasonic already supplies Toyota with batteries for hybrids and hybrid plug-ins. That won’t be enough, however, to meet its EV goals, considering that virtually every other automaker is adding electric vehicles to their portfolio mix. Tesla and Nissan, once the only two notable producers of electric vehicles, are no longer alone. Audi and Jaguar Land Rover have introduced new all-electric vehicles. Bigger acts will soon follow. Volkswagen plans to have a portfolio of more than 20 full-electric models and to sell 1 million electric vehicles annually by 2025.

Meanwhile, Toyota has said that electric vehicles will make up half of its global sales by 2025. (That means annual sales of about 5.5 million electric vehicles.) Those EV plans have extended to other Toyota

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