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Calling Lisbon VCs: Be featured in The Great TechCrunch Survey of European VC

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TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey the venture capital investors of Europe, and their cities.

Our survey of VCs in Lisbon will capture how the city is faring, and what changes are being wrought amongst investors by the coronavirus pandemic. (Please note, if you have filled the survey out already, there is no need to do it again).

We’d like to know how Lisbon’s startup scene is evolving, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19, and, generally, how your thinking will evolve from here.

Our survey will only be about investors, and only the contributions of VC investors will be included. More than one partner is welcome to fill out the survey.

The shortlist of questions will require only brief responses, but the more you can add, the better.

You can fill out the survey here.

Obviously, investors who contribute will be featured in the final surveys, with links to their companies and profiles.

What kinds of things do we want to know? Questions include: Which trends are you most excited by? What startup do you wish someone would create? Where are the overlooked opportunities? What are you looking for in your next investment, in general? How is your local ecosystem going? And how has COVID-19 impacted your investment strategy?

This survey is part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing to help founders find the right investors.

https://techcrunch.com/extra-crunch/investor-surveys/

For example, here is the recent survey of London.

You are not in Lisbon, but would like to take part? Or you are in another part of the country? That’s fine! Any European VC investor can STILL fill out the survey, as we probably will be putting a call out to your city next anyway! And we will use the data for future surveys on vertical topics.

The survey is covering almost every European country on the continent of Europe (not just EU members, btw), so just look for your country and city on the survey and please participate (if you’re a venture capital investor).

Thank you for participating. If you have questions you can email mike@techcrunch.com

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Microsoft wants to cut down pollution from its business travel  

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Microsoft announced a new effort today to reduce pollution coming from some of its employees’ flights. It plans to buy credits for sustainable aviation fuel to cover travel on the commercial flight routes most frequented by its employees during business trips.

It will buy the credits from Dutch company SkyNRG, which will then supply cleaner-burning fuel to Alaska Airlines. The less-polluting flights will be operated by Alaska Airlines for travel between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (near Microsoft’s corporate headquarters) and San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles international airports.

The fuel that SkyNRG provides would be made in the US with used cooking oil or other plant oils. When it’s burned, the fuel could emit 75 percent fewer CO2 emissions compared to traditional, kerosene-based jet fuel, SkyNRG claims.

This is Microsoft’s latest move to address their greenhouse gas emissions. In January, it pledged to remove more planet-heating carbon dioxide than it emits by 2030. It also said that by 2050, it would draw down all the emissions it’s ever released since its founding. Despite the splashy announcement, the technology needed to capture significant amounts of carbon dioxide doesn’t yet exist. Right now, the clearest way to avert more catastrophic climate change is to put out less pollution in the first place. When it comes to business travel, that means taking fewer flights and switching to cleaner fuels.

“We hope this sustainable aviation fuel model will be used by other companies as a way to reduce the environmental impact of their business travel,” Judson Althoff, executive vice president of worldwide commercial business at Microsoft, said in a statement.

Business travel accounted for about three percent of Microsoft’s carbon footprint during its 2019 fiscal year, according to a company factsheet. That climate pollution, equivalent to 392,557 metric tons of carbon dioxide, is roughly the same amount that 84,809 passenger vehicles might produce in a year. Although it’s a small fraction of Microsoft’s overall emissions, pollution from the company’s business travel has grown steadily since 2017.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic grounded flights en masse this year, aviation was one of the world’s fastest growing sources of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the industry was a country, it would be one of the top ten carbon polluters in the world. Driven by concerns for the climate, activists sparked a worldwide trend shunning air travel in 2017.

The pandemic devastated domestic and international travel this year, resulting in a nearly 47 percent drop in emissions from the sector during the first seven months of 2020. Microsoft says it’s currently allowing some employees to travel for “critical services and sales,” and expects more travel to resume when COVID-19 case numbers decline.

When more planes do start flying again, airlines will have to keep net emissions for international flights at 2019 levels, thanks to a decision by the United Nations’ aviation body, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), earlier this year. Reducing flights is still the best way to reduce emissions, but the airline industry, and frequent fliers like Microsoft are looking at alternatives. Batteries are still too heavy to power large, electrified commercial planes, which leaves cleaner-burning fuels as the best option to reduce pollution from flights.

Back in 2016, ICAO estimated that if sustainable aviation fuel powers every international flight by 2050, it would slash emissions by 63 percent. Microsoft’s announcement is one small step in that direction.

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Hide your Kindle SHAME with this case that looks like a REAL book

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I love ereaders, but regular books are better.

I’m not saying Kindles and the like aren’t worth your time, far from it. They’re amazing. Take, for example, my Kindle Paperwhite. It hold thousands of books, so I’m never at a loss for something to read. The backlight means I can devour novels in low-light. It’s easy to hold, so I can get comfortable everywhere. What’s not to like?

Well, I’ll tell you: it doesn’t make me look smart.

Books, and let’s be honest here, are a PR tool. Like… have you ever actually read a book? Me neither. Instead, I spend around 12 hours every day on public transport holding a copy of Gravity’s Rainbow so people really know just how smarter and more interesting and cleverer I am than them.

You can’t do that with a Kindle.

Whenever anyone looks at you using an ereader their first though will be “NERD.” That’s not what I want. Not at all. I need to be seen as a swashbuckling Lord Byron, not a basement-dwelling incel like Elon Musk.

Here we reach the crux of the issue: there are times I need to use a Kindle. Like if I’m going on holiday. Or want to read some ridiculous fantasy novel. Plus, Infinite Jest is playing havoc with my Vitamin D deficient wrist bones.

Thankfully there’s a solution, and it’s called the BookBook Kindle Paperwhite case from Twelvesouth. Confuddled? Take a look:

bookbook kindle case front on
GAZE UPON THY DOOM.

You see that? I’ll ask one more time: DO YOU SEE THAT? Not only does it look like an actual book, it looks like an old book. And if there’s one universal truth about people who read old books it’s that they’re supremely sophisticated and are brain geniuses because old books are basically written in a different language and are very, very boring.

The BookBook Kindle case: a good case

That sub-head says it all really.

The BookBook Kindle case is made for the latest version of the Paperwhite and fits it perfectly. Be a bit shit if it didn’t, right?

It offers decent protection, I’ve been able to throw it into my bag and leave it there with little to no damage. Obviously, it makes the Kindle a little heavier and harder to use with one hand, but not by much at all. It’s still easier to hold than a regular book.

Another cool thing: the case automatically wakes and puts your device to sleep when you open and close it.

Also, it only takes a few moments to slip the Kindle Paperwhite out if you do want to read it like that. Quick note though: if you’ll want to be taking the Kindle in and out constantly, maybe look at getting a sleeve rather than a case.

There’s a magnet on the back of the Kindle insert section to keep the device there when you’re reading laying down, but there’s something even cooler hidden in the back: a stand.

Have a look:

bookbook kindle case stand
GAZE UPON THE STAND (AND THE IRRITATING BLURRING AT THE TOP OF THE KINDLE I DIDN’T REALIZE WAS THERE UNTIL IT WAS TOO LATE BUT NOW YOU’RE SIMPLY GOING TO HAVE TO ACCEPT)

This is amazing for reading while you’re eating, or in any other situations where you don’t want to use your hands like a goddamn animal. I’m a big fan.

There really aren’t very many negatives. If I’m being picky, the zip curves into the spine a bit meaning it doesn’t always open in a totally smooth way, but I got used to this pretty quickly. Also, I’m not sure I’d trust it holding up if you got it wet (say, in the bath), but you can just take your waterproof Kindle out the case if you plan on doing that.

And the biggest negative? Well, you’re not gonna think much of this Kindle case if you believe hiding an ereader in a fake book is pathetic. But hey, you can’t please everyone!

bookbook kindle case - side angle and zips
GAZE UPON THE MERELY OKAY ZIPPING SYSTEM.

The conclusion: yes, the BookBook Kindle case is a Kindle case that looks like a book

If you think that’s cool (me), that’s great. If you don’t (losers), that’s also fine.

Basically, the BookBook Kindle case is a simple idea well executed. Plus, it’ll help everyone know how astute, educated, and downright brainy you are. And that’s what you want, right? For the world to know? At last, for the world to know precisely how fucking great you are? So it can quiver in fear? At your smarts? Make the world grovel at your smart little feet? Grovel, world, mewl and roll in your own dirt for my amusement, for I am Big Brain, look upon my works, ye mighty, and tremble.

Or you may just think it’s neat. The BookBook Kindle case costs $50 and you buy it here.

For more gear, gadget, and hardware news and reviews, follow Plugged on Twitter and Flipboard.

Published October 22, 2020 — 09:23 UTC

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Uber competitor Ola banned in London over safety concerns

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This article was originally published by Christopher Carey on Cities Today, the leading news platform on urban mobility and innovation, reaching an international audience of city leaders. For the latest updates follow Cities Today on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, or sign up for Cities Today News.

Transport For London (TfL) has refused to grant Indian ride-hailer Ola a new private hire vehicle (PHV) operator’s license for the UK capital due to public safety concerns.

The transit operator said the firm identified a number of failings – including that more than 1,000 trips were made by unlicensed drivers – and then delayed notifying TfL once it became aware.

Helen Chapman, TfL’s Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, said: “Through our investigations we discovered that flaws in Ola’s operating model have led to the use of unlicensed drivers and vehicles in more than 1,000 passenger trips, which may have put passenger safety at risk.

“If they do appeal, Ola can continue to operate and drivers can continue to undertake bookings on behalf of Ola. We will closely scrutinize the company to ensure passengers safety is not compromised.”

The ride-hailing firm, which launched in the capital in February, has already indicated it will appeal within the 21-day limit and therefore can operate in the meantime, according to the appeal rules.

Ola claims to have 25,000 drivers registered on its platform in London and serves dozens of other UK cities, including Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Coventry.

Response

In a statement, Marc Rozendal, Ola’s UK Managing Director, said: “At Ola, our core principle is to work closely, collaboratively and transparently with regulators such as TfL. We have been working with TfL during the review period and have sought to provide assurances and address the issues raised in an open and transparent manner.

“Ola will take the opportunity to appeal this decision and in doing so, our riders and drivers can rest assured that we will continue to operate as normal, providing safe and reliable mobility for London.”

The firm formed a partnership with ride-hailer Gett in August, as an extra capacity provider for its services.

Ola’s license refusal comes just one week after rival Uber won an appeal against having its license to operate withdrawn in London. A judge found that despite “historical failings”, the ride-hailer is now “fit and proper” to hold a PHVoperator’s license.

London’s taxi/PHV market has seen increased competition from several ride-hailing start-ups in recent years, with Bolt, Free-Now, Gett, ViaVan and Kapten competing alongside the city’s iconic black cabs and established private hire taxi and courier firm Addison Lee.


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Published October 22, 2020 — 09:00 UTC

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