All posts in “Tesla”

Meet the 19 startups in AngelPad’s 12th batch

AngelPad just wrapped the 12th run of its months-long New York City startup accelerator. For the second time, the program didn’t culminate in a demo day; rather, the 19 participating startups were given pre-arranged one-on-one meetings with venture capital investors late last week.

AngelPad co-founders Thomas Korte and Carine Magescas did away with the demo day tradition last year after nearly a decade operating AngelPad, which is responsible for mentoring startups including Postmates, Twitter-acquired Mopub, Pipedrive, Periscope Data, Zum and DroneDeploy.

“Demo days are great ways for accelerators to expose a large number of companies to a lot of investors, but we don’t think it is the most productive way,” Korte told TechCrunch last year. Competing accelerator Y Combinator has purportedly considered their eliminating demo day as well, though sources close to YC deny this. The firm cut its investor day, a similar opportunity for investors to schedule meetings with individual startups, “after analyzing its effectiveness” last year.

Feedback to AngelPad’s choice to forego demo day has been positive, Korte tells TechCrunch, with startup CEOs breathing a sigh of relief they aren’t forced to pitch to a large crowd with no promise of investment.

AngelPad invests $120,000 in each of its companies. Here’s a closer look at its latest batch:

LotSpot is a parking management tool for universities, parks and malls. The company installs cameras at the entrances and exits of customer parking lots and autonomously tracks lot occupancy as cars enter and exit. The LotSpot founders are Stanford University Innovation Fellows with backgrounds in engineering and sales.

Twic is a discretionary benefits management platform that helps businesses offer wellness benefits at a lower cost. The tool assists human resources professionals in selecting vendors, monitoring benefits usage and managing reimbursements with a digital wallet. Twic customers include Twitch and Oscar. The company’s current ARR is $265,000.

Zeal is an enterprise contract automation platform that helps sales teams manage custom routine agreements, like NDAs, independently and efficiently. The startup is currently working on test implementations with Amazon, Citi and Cvent. The founders are attorneys and management consultants who previously led sales and legal strategy at AXIOM.

ChargingLedger works with energy grid operators to optimize electric grid usage with smart charging technology for electric vehicles. The company’s paid pilot program is launching this month.

Piio, focused on SEO, helps companies boost their web presence with technology that optimizes website speed and performance based on user behavior, location, device, platform and connection speed. Currently, Piio is working with JomaShop and e-commerce retailers. Its ARR is $90,000.

Duality.ai is a QA platform for autonomous vehicles. It leverages human testers and simulation environments to accelerate time-to-market for AV sidewalk, cars and trucks. Its founders include engineers and designers from Caterpillar, Pixar and Apple. Its two first beta customers generated an ARR of $100,000.

COMUNITYmade partners with local manufacturers to sell their own brand of premium sneakers made in Los Angeles. The company has attracted brands, including Adidas, for collaborations. The founders are alums of Asics and Toms.

Spacey is a millennial-focused art-buying platform. The company sells limited-edition collections of fine-art prints at affordable prices and offers offline membership experiences, as well as a program for brand ambassadors with large social followings.

LegalPassage saves lawyers time with business process automation software for law firms. The company focuses on litigation, specifically class action and personal injury. The founder is a litigation attorney, former adjunct professor of law at UC Hastings and a past chair of the Family Law Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.

Revetize helps local businesses boost revenue by managing reputation, encouraging referrals and increasing repeat business. The startup, headquartered in Utah, has an ARR of $220,000.

House of gigs helps people find short-term work near them, offering “employee-like” services and benefits to those freelancers and gig workers. The startup has 90,000 members. The San Francisco and Berlin-based founders previously worked together at a VC-backed HR startup.

MetaRouter provides fast, flexible and secure data routing. The cloud-based on-prem platform has reached an ARR of $250,000, with customers like HomeDepot and Sephora already signed on.

RamenHero offers a meal kit service for authentic gourmet ramen

RamenHero offers a meal kit for authentic gourmet ramen. The startup launched in 2018 and has roughly 1,700 customers and $125,000 in revenue. The startup’s founder, a serial entrepreneur, graduated from a culinary ramen school in Japan.

ByteRyde is insurance for autonomous vehicles, specifically Tesla Model 3s, taking into account the safety feature of self-driving cars.

Foresite.ai provides commercial real estate investors a real-time platform for data analysis and visualization of location-based trends.

PieSlice is a blockchain-based equity issuance and management platform that helps create fully compliant digital tokens that represent equity in a company. The founder is a former trader and stockbroker turned professional poker player.

Aitivity is a security hardware company that is developing a scalable blockchain algorithm for enterprises, specifically for IoT usage.

SmartAlto, a SaaS platform with $190,000 ARR, nurtures real estate leads. The company pairs agents with digital assistants to help the agents show more homes.

FunnelFox works with sales teams to help them spend less time on customer research, pipeline management and reporting. The AI-enabled platform has reached an ARR of $75,000 with customers including Botify and Paddle.

Elon Musk slams SEC ‘overreach,’ says he cut his Tesla-related tweets ‘nearly in half’

When you have the perfect tweet but then you think the SEC might read it.
When you have the perfect tweet but then you think the SEC might read it.

Image: Bill Pugliano / getty

The SEC wanted a judge to hold him in contempt.

Elon Musk quietly accepted their judgement and … just kidding. In a court filing, on the day of the deadline for his response, the Tesla CEO accused the SEC of “unprecedented overreach,” warned that his First Amendment rights were at risk of being violated, and patted himself on the back for “dramatically” reducing “his volume of tweets.”

So, let’s break this down. After the infamous “funding secured” tweet, Musk reached a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that required him to get pre-approval from Tesla before sending out tweets “that contain, or reasonably could contain, information material” to the company or its shareholders.

He then proceeded to tweet this: 

The SEC argued that disclosing those production numbers violated their agreement, which is probably why Musk later clarified in a tweet that Tesla wouldn’t make 500,000 cars by the end of 2019. Instead, he explained, it was making 10,000 cars a week — which would put it on pace for more than 500,000, but, seeing as they were making fewer cars earlier in the year, Tesla would only deliver 400,000 cars in 2019. 

In the court filing, Musk’s legal team argues the tweet was “celebratory, aspirational, and forward-looking” on numbers already disclosed to investors. 

Also, Musk didn’t have to get Tesla’s approval for his tweet, because he’s allowed to “exercise his reasonable discretion” on whether “his communications contain information requiring pre-approval.” So, you see, because he didn’t think the tweet needed to be approved, it didn’t need to be.

Also, he’s tweeting so much less! In the three months after the SEC order, he “cut his average monthly Tesla-related tweets nearly in half.” That “self-censorship” — that’s right, Musk has been censoring himself — shows how “committed” he is to the agreement. 

And if the SEC forced Musk to “seek pre-approval of any tweet that relates to Tesla, regardless of its significance, prior dissemination, or nature,” it would “violate the First Amendment.”

The court filing continued: “This contempt action, following Musk’s sincerely-held criticism of the SEC on 60 Minutes, also reflects concerning and unprecedented overreach on the part of the SEC.”

Seems like a lot of trouble compared to, you know, not tweeting or having someone look at your tweets beforehand, but hey, I never launched a rocket into space so what do I know.

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Tesla changes mind, says it’ll keep more stores open and raise car prices

Tesla isn't closing all of its stores after all.
Tesla isn’t closing all of its stores after all.

Image: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla has walked back on its decision to close most of its stores in order to save costs, announced two weeks ago

In a blog post Sunday, the company announced it would “keep significantly more stores open than previously announced.” As a result, the company will increase car prices by about 3% on average, globally. 

The silver lining: This will happen for all vehicles except the $35,000 Model 3.

It’s unclear how many stores Tesla will keep open, exactly, and where. The company said that the 10% of stores it had recently closed weren’t performing and would’ve been closed anyway. However, “a few stores in high visibility locations” will be reopened.

Furthermore, another 20% of locations are under review; depending on how they perform “over the next few months,” some will be shut down. 

Tesla says that all sales worldwide will still be done online. Buyers coming into stores will be able to do a test drive, and if they choose to buy a car, they’ll be shown how to do that on their phones. Tesla says that stores will cary a “small number” of cars in inventory so that some buyers can drive away in a Tesla right away. 

While the car price increase certainly isn’t something potential buyers will be happy about, Tesla says they’ll have a week to place their order before prices rise. 

As for the $35,000 Model 3, it’s pretty clear why the company isn’t raising the price of that one; Musk promised that the car will be available at that price point and any increase, especially this close to launch, would likely cause a lot of backlash. Note that the price increase does apply to the more expensive variants of the Model 3.

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Tesla hides an epic Easter egg inside of its Model Y event invitation

Elon Musk and Tesla have proven once again why they are the ultimate trolls. 

Tesla fans hoping to get a sneak preview of the upcoming Model Y electric SUV, which will be revealed on March 14, were treated to a spectacular Easter egg when they tried to run a teaser image of the vehicle through an image editor.

At first glance, the teaser image sent to event attendees like YouTuber Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) doesn’t reveal much about the Model Y. 

So Brownlee ran the cloaked image through iOS’s built-in image editor to see if he could uncover any details by brightening up the picture.

In true Tesla fashion, the company anticipated people trying to do just that and included… well just see for yourself:

Hidden within the shadows of the Model Y teaser image is a “NICE TRY” message waiting for sleuths.

Others have tried using different image editors, but no dice. Same deal.

You can sorta get a better outline of the Model Y, but not really. It looks like a the silhouette of a Model 3. 

Well played, Tesla. Well friggin’ played. Whoever thought of this clever hidden message deserves a raise. Guess we’ll all just have to wait a few more days until the Model Y’s proper unveil.

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Tesla called out for sneaky math on Model 3 pricing in Germany

Just like when Germany wasn’t too pleased with Tesla’s naming choice for its semi-autonomous feature (confusingly called Autopilot), the country’s automotive industry group is calling out the American electric vehicle company for misleading pricing online for the Model 3 sedan.

This week Reuters reported that the Wettbewerbszentrale nonprofit association that oversees fairness in the auto industry asked Tesla to include the full price of the car and remove the price based on gas savings and tax incentives and rebates. 

Tesla appears to have already reversed course ahead of the March 20 deadline for the change. Accessing the Model 3 website through a VPN set to a location in Germany Friday afternoon, the full price before savings is listed, with no mention of estimated savings on the bottom bar or elsewhere.

The Model 3 pricing page in Germany.

Image: tesla / screengrab

In the U.S., the “savings” price is featured more prominently, with the cost “before savings” listed at the bottom, reflecting the true price. So the $35,000 Model 3 looks at first glance like a $24,450 car — but there’s an asterisk. Germany wasn’t having it. The country considers the labeling non-transparent, calling the listings “marketing exaggerations.”

Pricing in the U.S. can be confusing.

Pricing in the U.S. can be confusing.

Image: tesla / screengrab

We reached out to Tesla about the price listings, but haven’t heard back yet.

Speaking of Autopilot, Tesla recently switched up the language on its website to make it a bit more vague and less likely to be accused of misleading or overpromising users on the system’s self-driving capabilities. Most noticeably, the Tesla Autopilot website’s main header now says “Future of Driving” instead of “Full Self-Driving Hardware on All Cars,” which was on the site as recently as Feb. 19, based on an Internet Archive search. Now, if only it could rename Autopilot …

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