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Nabis raises $5m Series A to grow its cannabis distribution platform



The cannabis industry is quickly growing up, and companies like Nabis play a critical role. Today, the company is announcing it raised $5 million in Series A funding, which will help it grow and expand its offering.

Nabis is a business to business distributor, handling logistics, payment, and warehousing. Instead of being a distributor for beer, snacks, or pet supplies, Nabis is a cannabis distributor. The company acts as a middleman between cultivators and retail establishments, providing both parties’ unique services. Since it’s illegal to ship cannabis through traditional means, most cannabis operators turn to private operations to transport goods.

Founded in 2107, Nabis says it ships a quarter of a billion dollars of cannabis each year to just the California market. With additional funding, the company expects to grow its business to reach 25% of the state’s legal cannabis. And to hit this goal, the company is building a business to business online marketplace where manufacturers and growers can sell their wares directly to retailers in bulk.

Nabis CEO and co-founder Vince Ning spoke to TechCrunch about the company’s funding round and future plans.

Nabis provides essential services to the California cannabis business. For the growers and cultivators, Nabis helps them reach storefronts and retailers while maintaining their own brand identity. For retailers, Nabis simplifies ordering, delivery logistics, and cash remittance — a key feature given the banking industry’s limitations on credit card transactions around cannabis.

The product is collected from manufacturing facilities and stored and tested in secure warehouses until a retailer places an order. Delivery is made to these retailers within 36 hours of the order. When dropping off cannabis products, Nabis can also pick up cash and deposit it for retailers.

“Apart from fulfilling products, we also double up and collect payments upon redelivery of new orders,” Ning said. “We offer a sort of Amazon Prime shipping experience where we ship everything in a 36 hour turnaround time basis. We often revisit the same dispensary multiple times a week, and it gives us a chance to collect payments as soon as invoices are due. We’ll collect cash, cheque, or electronic wire. And on our end, we have a really solid banking relationship that handles cash deposits.

“[The cash deposit service] has a pretty large fee,” Ning said, adding, “but for the cannabis industry, it’s much more palatable. We’ll deposit the cash, and then we remit payments back to the brand in an electronic form.”

Right now, Nabis is focused on the California market. The state accounts for one-third of all legal weed sales in the United States and is growing rapidly. Ning believes he can build Nabis into a billion-dollar company with just this market.

“California’s current market size is around $4 billion by retail value,” Ning says. “Every year it’s been growing by $1 to $2 billion in size, so we can be in California alone and build a billion-dollar distribution business without going out of the state. We plan to become a national distributor. California is a crown jewel centerpiece of the cannabis market given the cachet of California cannabis. [Its] products have the same credibility and reputation in the same way as Napa Valley wine. California cannabis is the homeland of a lot of the best cannabis grown in the US.

Eventually, Nabis hopes to operate nationwide though legal roadblocks stand in its way. Nationally, United States’ regulations prevent interstate cannabis commerce, and each state has its own set of regulations and licenses. Ning says its software is “copy and paste,” but the company would need to build new warehouses and distribution has to serve the customers in these new states.

The $5 million Series A included Y Combinator, Doordash co-founder Stanley Tang, Gmail creator Paul Buchheit, Twitch co-founder Justin Kan, Babel Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures, and Soma Capital. With this round, the company raised $10M since its founding in 2017.

The company raised its first cash following its graduation from Y Combinator in March 2019. Right now, the company says it handles 7% of California’s legal cannabis and sees an opportunity to capture 25% with additional funding. The company intends to invest the $5 million Series A into expanding its software offering and beefing up its financial services to provide cannabis operators capital.

Currently, Nabis works with 1000 dispensaries and 200 delivery services in the state of California. Its future plans include an online distributor ordering system that would let these retailers order directly from manufacturers. This would upend the traditional system where retailers work with sales teams to source and order products. Ning sees this platform as giving brands more control over their storytelling.

“Right now, [sales teams] have to go to each store, or do Zoom calls, just to place an order,” said Ning. “Then they have to punch it into our system. This marketplace flips the communication process on its head, and retailers come directly to us to place orders with each brand. We offer them, not just the ability to place orders, but to communicate through a chat function and get exposed to different marketing from brands.”

These channels have never existed before in the cannabis space, Ning claimed. He likens the system to that from McKesson, an online pharmaceutical ordering platform with its own fulfillment and delivery system, and operates in a heavily regulated space.

Safety is a huge concern, because to recap, the company collects, stores, and distributes a mass amount of cannabis and cash.

Ning tells me Nabis is licensed in California to ship cannabis and abides by regulations mandating specific requirements around its delivery vehicles. Everything is insured, he says. Each delivery van is outfitted with multiple cameras, floor-mounted safes, and GPS locators. What’s more, van operators can only deposit cash while a second warehouse team can only withdraw the cash.

The company beefed up security following the increase in civil unrest in America.

Operations like Nabis are quickly scaling to address the growing challenges of retail cannabis. As these young players scale and navigate ever-changing regulations, they’re quickly becoming major players with significant market share. But growth is hampered by a federal government that’s caught up in political dealings leaving many companies stuck at state lines. It seems most cannabis operators believe change is coming, but no one is sure when.


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Chrome OS may finally be getting a dark mode



Chrome OS may finally be getting a dark mode, but so far it’s only been spotted in its experimental Canary channel, Android Central reported.

Before you go tinkering with Canary just be advised: Canary is Google’s “bleeding edge” Chrome OS path, which receives daily updates of features before they’ve been widely tested. It can only be accessed from Chromebooks switched into a special developer mode (not to be confused with the Chrome OS Developer channel). Google warns that Canary can be “unstable.”

But at the moment, to activate dark mode on your Chromebook, you need to have the Canary channel installed. Once you’ve done that, Android Central says you just open Chrome and type in chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark and chrome://flags/#enable-webui-dark-mode into the URL bar. I should note I tried this on my older Chromebook and wasn’t able to get it to work. But here’s the view Android Police captured:

A look at the experimental Chrome OS dark mode
Android Police

Android Central says the dark mode has some bugs, but notes it seems to apply across the UI, not just as darker backgrounds.

Google has rolled out dark mode versions for its Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Fit, and its mobile app over the last several months. Both iOS and Android both began supporting dark mode at the system level last year.

We reached out to Google to see if there are plans to roll out dark mode in Chrome OS to all users, and will update if we hear back.


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The science of why lockdown barely affected global temperatures



Countries across the world took unprecedented action in the first few months of 2020 to control the spread of COVID-19. At its peak, one-third of the world’s population was in lockdown. Around the world, car travel fell by 50%, the number of flights plummeted by 75% and industrial activity fell by around 35%.

With so many cars parked, aeroplanes grounded and factories closed, global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions fell by around 17% compared with the same period in 2019. But greenhouse gases such as CO₂ weren’t the only emissions to fall, and not all pollution heats the planet. Some of the industrial activities that shut down – particularly heavy industry, including steel and cement making – also produced aerosols, which are tiny particles that linger in the atmosphere for weeks and reflect heat from the Sun.

Previous studies have suggested that if a lot of these industrial processes were to suddenly shut down, it would lead to short-term warming because the atmosphere would lose the reflective effect of aerosols. But as the lockdown cleared skies, temperatures didn’t rocket.

[Read: What audience intelligence data tells us about the 2020 US presidential election]

In new research, we show that lockdown had a negligible effect on global temperatures. So what really happened?

Climate and chemistry

Sulphur dioxide (SO₂) gas is mainly produced in industrial processes that burn coal. In the atmosphere, it reacts to form white sulphate aerosols. These particles offset some of the heating caused by greenhouse gases such as CO₂ by reflecting sunlight back into space, in a process known as global dimming. If SO₂ were the only pollutant whose emissions fell, we would expect Earth’s temperature to increase.

Soot, otherwise known as black carbon, is also made when burning dirty fuels, and emitted in large quantities from older cars. Since soot is black, it absorbs sunlight and heats the atmosphere. Cars and aeroplanes also emit lots of nitrogen oxides (NOₓ), gases that make ozone in the lower atmosphere where it acts as a greenhouse gas that warms the planet. Satellite images in March and April showed huge reductions in NOₓ over Europe as national lockdowns came into force.

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The different gases and aerosols we emit either contribute to global heating or global dimming. So determining how lockdown affected global temperatures is a matter of finding out which effect dominated.

We ran a series of computer model simulations of the atmosphere during lockdown, versus what we would have expected if the pandemic had never happened. We fed into the model the best estimates of how much emissions of SO₂, black carbon and NOₓ fell from industry, transport and aircraft for the period between mid-February and mid-June.

Our model simulations showed that reductions of these different pollutants only had a small and temporary influence on the climate, overall, in part due to their opposing effects. This may sound like a dull conclusion, but it has important lessons.

Which sectors were affected most was hugely important. The largest emissions reductions were in transport, where NOₓ and black carbon emissions are particularly high. This largely offset any heating that would otherwise have occurred from the drop in SO₂ caused by the slowdown in heavy industry.

The global average temperature saw little change, but there were regional variations. For example, the Middle East was cooler since less black carbon in the air meant the highly reflective desert sand could send more solar energy back out to space. Other regions, such as eastern China, saw more heating overall, as they had some of the largest reductions in industrial SO₂ emissions. These differences in heating patterns could affect weather systems, such as monsoon cycles.

What we’ve described here are model simulations – they’re not perfect, but they’re our best method for investigating global atmospheric changes. Simulating the effects of all these different pollutants is difficult. In fact, the struggle to simulate how aerosols affect the climate is one reason we cannot predict exactly how hot the climate will get.

The lockdown offered an invaluable test for our theories about how pollutants affect the climate. From this, we’ll be able to improve our models and make better predictions. We’ll also know better how to plan a strategy that reduces emissions from different sectors without inviting a sudden and sharp increase in global heating.

The post-pandemic climate

The long-term effects of the pandemic on our climate will be determined more by what happens to long-lived greenhouse gases, such as CO₂ and methane. These remain in the atmosphere for centuries and decades respectively, compared to a few days to weeks for NOₓ, SO₂ and black carbon. CO₂ emissions dropped during lockdown, but not enough to stop levels in the atmosphere growing. Global heating won’t stop until emissions reach zero.

It may seem daunting that the near shutdown of society didn’t cause a big enough reduction in emissions to stop climate change. But this just shows the limits of doing less of the stuff we normally do, instead of changing how our economies and infrastructure are powered. While lockdown measures have brought temporary reductions in emissions, there are better ways of doing this that cause less harm to society and people.

Only a decisive shift from fossil fuels will stabilize global temperatures. That’s why the decisions governments take to revive economic growth after COVID-19 will be pivotal. The 2008 financial crisis caused a similar slowdown, but emissions soon rebounded as a direct result of economic rescue packages which invested heavily in fossil fuels. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation by Scott Archer-Nicholls, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Atmospheric Science, University of Cambridge and James Weber, PhD Candidate in Atmospheric Chemistry, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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PayPal cuts ties with domain registrar Epik over digital currency



PayPal has terminated the account of domain registrar and web hosting company Epik for violating its “risk controls,” prompting angry letters and blog posts from Epik alleging conservative bias was to blame, Mashable reported.

Seattle-based Epik is perhaps best known for its support of right-wing social media site Gab. The site was banned by its hosting company, domain registrar, and PayPal in 2018, after it was discovered that the alleged shooter at a Pittsburgh synagogue had written anti-Semitic tirades on Gab. In a 2018 blog post, Epik CEO Robert Monster criticized what he called the “digital censorship” by other sites.

According to Mashable, the issue that got Epik kicked off PayPal has to do with Epik’s digital “alternative currency” Masterbucks. It can be used to buy Epik products or converted into US dollars, and Mashable reports Epik did not take proper legal steps to run the digital currency.

But in an open letter to PayPal employees dated October 19th and posted to Epik’s blog, Epik senior vice president for strategy and communications Robert Davis said PayPal’s actions amounted to “abuse of power and overreach by a de facto monopoly,” and questioned the timing of PayPal’s decision.

“It would appear that in a direct effort to silence conservative voices, PayPal has terminated our payment services— just two weeks before a Presidential election,” Davis writes in the post, echoing a common— but thoroughly debunked— complaint about online anti-conservative bias.

Epik did not immediately reply to a request for comment Sunday.

In a six-page letter to PayPal CEO Dan Schulman dated October 13th, Davis writes that Epik “has zero tolerance toward racism, believes itself to be a force for good in the fight against inequality,” before launching into a litany of bizarre and seemingly unrelated complaints about Hollywood, Hunter Biden, the Democratic Party, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Davis also asserted that Epik “has been targeted and past labeled in horrifically unfair ways that did not reflect either its actions or its core beliefs.”

A PayPal spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Verge on Sunday that “PayPal has sophisticated risk controls in place to alert our teams to potentially violative activity occurring on our platforms. The company independently reviews each matter and bases its decisions on the management of risk and compliance with our long-standing User Agreement.”


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