SoftBank is negotiating an investment in DoorDash that could reach $300 million

UberEats could also pose a possible conflict for the Japanese investor, though.

The Japanese giant SoftBank is preparing to invest around $ 300 million into the food delivery startup DoorDash, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The investment would be the latest big bet from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, a $ 98 billion pool of cash that is striking massive deals in some of Silicon Valley’s flashiest companies.

While the DoorDash deal has not yet closed and could still fall apart, the sources added, the total investment is expected to be about $ 300 million, if it is completed. The exact terms of the deal couldn’t be learned.

The food delivery company was last valued at around $ 720 million in March 2016, according to PitchBook, which includes the $ 130 million it has raised.

DoorDash and SoftBank declined to comment.

DoorDash is competing with several rivals in the food delivery space, including GrubHub and Postmates. One way the company has tried to differentiate its business is by partnering with national restaurant chains on delivery.

DoorDash recently told Recode that 51 of the top 100 U.S. restaurant chains have delivery agreements with the company. They include Wendy’s, Cheesecake Factory and Jack in the Box.

Another fast-growing rival, UberEats, also presents a possible conflict for SoftBank, which has launched a tender offer to acquire up to 20 percent of Uber. Sources said that could be an issue that would prevent the DoorDash investment from proceeding.

The Uber deal though remains tentative, too.

Recode – All

Changes to National Monuments Could Benefit the Fossil Fuel Industry

Antiquities Act

On December 4, President Donald Trump announced plans to drastically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah.

“Some people think the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington,” Trump said during the announcement, according to the New York Times. “And guess what? They’re wrong.”

Trump’s plan will affect 1.1 million acres of land at the Bear Ears monument and 800,000 acres at the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument. That acreage accounts for 85 percent and 45 percent of the monuments’ total land area, respectively.

Both monuments are currently protected under the Antiquities Act, which was established in 1906 as a means of preserving federal lands with particular natural, cultural, or scientific merit. The Antiquities Act is typically used to protect areas with particular significance to native nations, as is the case with both sites affected by Trump’s plans.

Grand Staircase-Escalante is also a notable site in terms of paleontology. The monument is a hotspot for dinosaur fossils, and 21 species have been discovered in the area.

Monumental Consequences

In April 2017, Trump commissioned a report on national monuments that were designated as such in the past 20 years. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke shared his findings with the president in August.

He recommended that Trump change the boundaries of a total of six sites, as well as consider creating three new monuments. He also suggested that Trump modify the list of approved activities on the currently protected lands.

This list determines which activities are allowed within each monument’s borders. For example, new mining and drilling projects are currently prohibited at Bears Ears, but the interior department is permitted to issue leases for cattle grazing. Cattle grazing is prohibited at Grand Staircase-Escalante, however.

Grand Staircase Escalante. Image Credit: Asatira/Pixabay

The current president has made no secret of his intention to support the fossil fuel industry despite clear evidence of its negative impact on the environment. Zinke’s report claims Grand Staircase-Escalante alone contains “an estimated several billion tons of coal and large oil deposits,” and removing protections would enable the government to lease or even sell this land or its resources to private companies for new projects.

When President Bill Clinton gave Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument status in 1996, plans for a coal mining project were halted, so that project could be revisited if the size of the monument is successfully reduced or the approved activities list revised. Companies could also make deals to drill for oil on the land and establish pipelines, which opens up the potential for environmentally devastating leaks and spills.

However, Trump’s announcement is just the beginning of the process. The decision has been met by backlash due to its potential cultural and environmental consequences, and various lawsuits have already been submitted in an attempt to block the change.

However it plays out, this situation will set an important precedent with regards to national monuments. If Trump’s plan is successful, future presidents will be able to make similar reductions to other protected spaces. If blocked in court, the reverse will be true, and lands designated as national monuments will be untouchable by future leaders.

The post Changes to National Monuments Could Benefit the Fossil Fuel Industry appeared first on Futurism.


This wireless VR tech could make it easier to play with others

The next big hurdle for virtual reality is obvious to anyone who's put on a headset: Getting rid of all of those wires. We've seen cordless solutions from TPCast and Intel, but now Amimon, a company best known for developing wireless video technology…
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New Gene Therapy Could Regenerate Brain Tissue, Fix Neurological Diseases

Blood-Brain Barrier

A new study has demonstrated the advantages of a gene therapy transplantation technique that seeks to repopulate the brain’s supply of immune cells, called microglia. By introducing genetically engineered microglia into patients with neurodegenerative diseases, these cells could potentially regenerate brain tissue and even cure serious brain diseases.

These cells are injected straight into the ventricles, the four brain cavities that produce cerebrospinal fluid, which allows them to take effect much faster. This technique could be used to quickly amass a population of genetically engineered cells within the nervous system, at which point they can address damage to nearby tissue by releasing therapeutic molecules.

Alessandra Biffi, the director of the gene therapy program at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and leader of the study, has been looking at Lysosomal storage diseases (LSDs) for some time. This heterogeneous group is comprised of hereditary metabolic diseases that are caused by a genetic mutation, which prevents cells from generating enzymes necessary for metabolic processes, leading to organ and tissue damage.

LSDs are typically treated by injecting the absent enzyme into the bloodstream, and in many cases this is the only option available. However, this won’t work if the patient is already showing signs of neurological problems, as the blood-brain barrier will block the enzyme from reaching the brain.

Several years ago, Biffi collaborated with Luigi Naldini to solve this problem, extracting stem cells from the bone marrow of LSD patients and genetically engineering them to produce the desired enzyme. These cells are then injected back into the bloodstream, and are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier.

Their latest study builds on this work, showing that injecting these engineered stem cells into the ventricles of mice, rather than the bloodstream, rapidly caused dependable microglia-like cells to grow and begin producing the desired enzyme. These results have been published in Science Advances.

Population Growth

The timing of this new process is very important, as gene therapies that travel through the bloodstream are limited by the time required for cells to reach the brain and graft onto nervous tissue. As a result, only patients who have no symptoms can be treated with the previous blood-based technique. There are hopes that in the future, the ventricle-injection technique could be used on patients who have recently started presenting symptoms.

While LSDs are classified as rare genetic diseases when taken individually, as a group they are considered to be relatively common. Of course, the technique would be of even greater utility if it is indeed possible to use it to combat common conditions that arise in adults.

Brain of a mouse injected with the genetically engineered immune cells, which have distributed widely. This treatment has the potential to repair and regenerate brain tissue.
Reconstruction of a section of a mouse brain treated with the engineered immune cells, showing widespread distribution of the cells (in green) 90 days after injection. (Image Credit: Capotondo et al.) 

Biffi told Futurism that it could address neurodegenerative conditions such as LSDs affecting the central nervous system, and also has the potential to be used against more common neurodegenerative diseases of adult onset.

The benefit to patients is the fact that it could address conditions quicker, potentially staving off their damaging effects. “We might envisage that this approach could anticipate the kinetics of therapeutic molecule delivery to the brain and thus of clinical benefit, potentially arresting neurological disease progression earlier after treatment,” said Biffi. “This could possibly result in a better overall treatment outcome and prognosis of the treated patients.”

The post New Gene Therapy Could Regenerate Brain Tissue, Fix Neurological Diseases appeared first on Futurism.


Apple partner Catcher at work on new product category, could be rumored AR headset

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Apple chassis supplier Catcher has revealed it’s working on a product line outside of its usual categories, which could hint at involvement in ambitious Apple hardware — such as a rumored augmented reality headset.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News