A Fully 3D-Printed Rocket Is Not as Crazy as it Seems. Investors Agree.

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60 days.

That’s how long it will take to produce and launch a rocket if the parts are 3D printed, according to the CEO of Relativity Space, a startup that seeks to do just that.

Flying something made completely of 3D-printed parts into space sounds, frankly, pretty bonkers. But investors are on board. The Los Angeles-based startup recently secured $ 35 million to go ahead with its plan to produce a fleet of spacecraft using one of the largest 3D printers known to man, known as Stargate.

Relativity is not the first company to bring 3D printing to space. SpaceX has done it for its reusable rockets, and even NASA is looking into which spacecraft parts can be made more reliably and cheaply by 3D printers.

But Relativity stands alone in that it wants to print nearly all of a rocket — 95 percent of it — and by cutting the number of components that go into it, from from 100,000 to fewer than 1,000.

Since its launch in 2015, the company has raised more than $ 45 million, promising to speed up the production of rockets. The company plans to use this most recent cash infusion to buy a second Stargate printer, and to grow its staff.

A first round of tests on the company’s 3D-printed Aeon engines should be carried out before the end of the year. Relativity wants to put nine of those engines on its Terran rocket, which will have a 3D-printed booster, too. The company expects that each launch will cost about $ 10 million.

Relativity aims to send about 1,250 kg (2,756 pounds) into orbit. That’s minuscule compared to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy payload of 64,000 kg (64 metric tons, or 141,096 lbs), which is more than 50 times bigger, but quite a bit larger than the smallest rockets around, which can carry up to 150 kilograms.

But that’s just fine for Relativity. The company wants to tap into different markets, mostly launching commercial telecommunication satellites into low orbit, and feels no compulsion to compete with the likes of SpaceX or NASA. And if you consider that NASA recently made it clear that it has no intention of buying SpaceX’s rockets, Relativity’s plan seems to be a safer bet.

One day, Ars Technica reports, the startup hopes to send its rockets to Mars and back. But for now, it’s secured a solid foot on Earth, with a 20-year lease of NASA’s 25-acre E4 Test Complex at Stennis Space Center, in Mississippi.

Relativity plans to launch a first test flight by the end of 2020, Ars Technica notes. Should that be successful, commercial launches will begin in 2021.

The post A Fully 3D-Printed Rocket Is Not as Crazy as it Seems. Investors Agree. appeared first on Futurism.

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TheSkimm is raising $12 million from Google and other investors to build its subscription business

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TheSkimm co-founders Danielle Weisberg (on the right) and Carly Zakin

The startup has a newsletter with seven million subscribers, but it wants more revenue sources.

TheSkimm started out as a newsletter aimed at millennial women, but its founders have always said they wanted to expand into other product lines.

Now co-founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg have more money to make that happen: They have raised a $ 12 million round led by Google Ventures, along with Spanx founder Sara Blakely. Earlier investors, including 21st Century Fox, RRE and Homebrew, are in this round as well. The company has raised $ 28 million since 2012.

Investors the company talked to said Zakin and Weisberg were looking for a $ 100 million valuation; their last round, in September 2016, valued the company at around $ 55 million. The company declined to comment on its current valuation or whether it had sold secondary shares as part of this round.

TheSkimm’s core product is a daily newsletter that boils down world events into breezy, bite-sized chunks — today’s edition, on the U.K. expelling Russian nationals following the assassination of a former spy: “The Kremlin’s prob not stressing about all this.” The company says it now has seven million readers who open the letter at least once a month, with a 30 percent daily open rate.

But theSkimm has always positioned itself as a media brand with aspirations for multiple revenue streams. It has been building some of them in the last few years and now boasts podcasts, an e-commerce business and a subscription calendar app.

The company says it will use some of the money from its new round to build more subscription services — a very 2018 idea in mediaworld — and that it hopes Google Ventures and its Google connections can help it with some of its product plans.

Or, in the words of the company: “We have revolutionized the delivery of news and information to the most coveted demographic and, as we look to grow our membership by expanding our products and services, GV’s expertise and data-driven mindset makes them the ideal partner to aid in our expansion.”

Weisberg and Zakin appeared at Code Media last month, along with Brit + Co CEO Brit Morin, where they talked about building their brands and businesses. Here’s the video from that session:


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Snap is laying off dozens of engineers, but investors aren’t panicking

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Snap’s engineering team is expected to be hit hard, but other teams are also bracing for cuts.

Snap is preparing for another round of layoffs, and the company’s engineering team is expected to take the bulk of the cuts, according to a source familiar with the company.

Managers are being asked to identify team members who will be let go, though the timing of these layoffs is unclear. Cheddar, which first reported the layoffs, said that they’ll be the biggest in company history, and “could number over 100 people.”

Cheddar is reporting that the cuts are exclusive to Snap’s engineering team, but one source told Recode that other employees outside of engineering could also be impacted.

A Snap spokesperson declined to comment.

Snap has cut employees before: It laid off about a dozen employees from its hardware division last fall, and laid off a few dozen employees, including some on its content team, earlier this year during a restructuring.

It’s possible that Snap is simply trying to eliminate underperformers. The company did not give out end-of-year cash bonuses in 2017 because employees “didn’t beat internal goals,” according to Bloomberg.

The company, which has been public for just over a year, has been dinged in the past for excessive spending. It’s also possible that Snap is trying to work its way toward profitability, though that’s not usually a major priority for a young growth company.

Investors don’t seem to be worried about the move. Snap stock was up about 2.5 percent on Wednesday before the news, but has dropped down closer to Tuesday’s closing price.

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SEC issues stern warning for potential cryptocurrency investors

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The SEC has been zeroing in on cryptocurrency since the beginning of the year. The agency announced it would scrutinize companies generating hype by pivoting to crypto before delving deeper into initial coin offerings with subpeonas. But today the ag…
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Organizer of disastrous Fyre Festival admits he misled investors

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Billy McFarland has admitted that he forged documents and lied to investors to convince them to pour a total of $ 26 million into his company and the now infamous Fyre Festival. He was arrested last year after what he touted as "the cultural experienc…
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Glossier’s investors have pumped $52 million more into the popular beauty brand

The New York City-based startup has now raised nearly $ 90 million in venture funding.

Glossier, the digital-native beauty brand whose products have become a hit among teen girls as well as women in their 20s and 30s, has raised a new $ 52 million round of financing from its existing investors.

IVP and Index Ventures led the round, which brings the startup’s total funding to $ 86 million.

Glossier grew out of Into the Gloss, a beauty blog that founder and CEO Emily Weiss created in 2010. Since then, the company has built out a line of affordable makeup and skincare products that have helped it create a fanatical following. The company sells its wares almost exclusively through its own website and its New York City showroom.

Weiss told Recode that the new funds would be earmarked “to invest in technology, grow the team, and build the infrastructure to be a massive standalone company.”

Here’s a conversation that Recode Editor in Chief Dan Frommer moderated with Weiss and one of the Sweetgreen founders at Code Commerce in September:


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Coinbase is hiring a CFO — and still fending off interest from investors

Does the CFO hire say anything about an IPO at Coinbase?

Coinbase is moving to hire a chief financial officer in what would be a big move for the cryptocurrency platform’s growth plans.

It is also raising questions about the company’s potential plans to eventually go public. Adding an experienced, high-powered CFO is often read as a move that a business is eyeing an IPO. But that’s perhaps a less-revealing tea leaf at a financial services company like Coinbase, which could use help fine-tuning its massive, complicated business model.

Coinbase has been in late-stage talks with a number of candidates, according to people close to the company, and hiring a permanent CFO is one of its top priorities this year. Veteran CFO Tim Laehy joined the company last October to serve in the role in an interim capacity, according to his LinkedIn profile, but Laehy is not expected to stay in that role.

Other expected hires include vice presidents to handle communications and corporate development. Together, those additions would help the company manage its massive growth, which has been fueled by the surge of interest in cryptocurrencies late last year.

Coinbase declined to comment. CEO Brian Armstrong wrote a detailed post last year about how to hire senior executives, saying that it typically takes him six to 12 months to close on the right person.

The company is also continuing to fend off late-stage investors who have expressed interest in purchasing existing shares from the company, despite a recent warning from Coinbase to knock it off in a statement issued to Recode last month. Shareholders have been approached over the last few months by people interested in investing in the company at a valuation as low as $ 2 billion and as a high as $ 8 billion — a range that shows how volatile, opaque and illiquid the market is for hungry Coinbase investors.

So the company is weighing whether to launch a new financing round that would be mostly intended to allow for some existing investors to cash out as part of a “secondary” transaction, according to people with knowledge of the company’s thinking. The round, if launched, could also have a small “primary” component, in which Coinbase raises more capital, though the company is not wanting for money.

Coinbase doesn’t officially allow secondary trading, so a sanctioned round like this would require the company’s approval. Investors in recent weeks have been negotiating whether to sell shares or buy shares — hopefully with some guidance from the company about what would be a fair share price.

A large secondary transaction would likely weaken the pressure from any existing investors for the company to soon go public so that they can finally profit off their bet. And it would satisfy the swarming investors who want a piece of it.

Coinbase has also been adding independent directors to its board, another move typically done to prepare for an IPO. Facebook’s David Marcus joined the Coinbase board in December.

The company was last valued at $ 1.6 billion in August — a round that occurred largely before cryptocurrency’s bull run late last year. That round was led by IVP, a late-stage firm that specializes in leading one of a portfolio company’s last private financing rounds before the company sells its shares to the public.


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Telegram’s ICO is attracting the industry’s newer crypto investors while firms like Andreessen Horowitz sit this one out

The investors are not who you’d expect.

Some of the most prominent investors in cryptocurrency are passing on a much-hyped initial coin offering hosted by the messaging app Telegram, while the venture firms that have largely missed out are preparing to invest.

That role reversal is crystallizing ahead of a deadline to decide whether to participate in the $ 1.2 billion project. The venture firms that have been among the most aggressive in the burgeoning cryptocurrency sector — Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners — are all expected not to invest in the upcoming ICO, according to sources familiar with their plans.

This ICO, however, is attracting a range of U.S. investors who see the deal as less of an investment in cryptocurrency and more as another investment in a promising consumer product. Several major players in Silicon Valley who are newer to cryptocurrencies are investing: Benchmark, Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the investor Yuri Milner, in his personal capacity, according to people briefed on their plans.

Outside investors are being asked to contribute about $ 20 million in the pre-sale period of the ICO offered by Telegram, the encrypted social messaging app that is hugely popular overseas. The $ 1.2 billion made in the ICO would allow Telegram to build and support a payment system on its platform.

The Telegram Open Network offering would put the currency before the app’s 180 million monthly active users.

“TON is not a technology bet, since the ICO isn’t really proposing anything new. It is a user-traction bet,” said one investor with knowledge of the transaction.

Founders Fund, the investment vehicle started by Peter Thiel that has also taken the unusual step of buying cryptocurrencies directly, is also still deciding whether to allocate money to the ICO. Some of those interested firms’ plans were first reported by the Financial Times.

Venture capitalists in recent months have been huddling with their funds’ own investors to see whether they can purchase ICO tokens instead of securities — or stock in private companies, which is what they’re supposed to do. Some firms are treading cautiously, but others like Coinbase backers Andreessen and USV have effectively become branded as, in the words of one investor, “the establishment” in this market.

Nearly every major venture firm has had access to participate in the Telegram ICO. And this deal appeals to venture funds, they say, because it offers an easy, introductory way for them to gain exposure to the crypto-economy without taking a risk on whether the currency will gain sufficient distribution. Interested investors say that Telegram’s mainstream appeal means that venture investors are not betting on some obscure platform that could fail even if the underlying technology is brilliant.

“It’s an easy ‘first ICO’ for VC’s ramping up to get their head around” cryptocurrency, said another person close to the ICO.

But here’s the bearish case, in the eyes of investors that passed on the deal: The assumption that every Telegram user is interested in using cryptocurrency isn’t valid. And this ICO does not solve the underlying problem for all ICOs — it is unclear how venture firms will cash in, even if the project is successful.

And others worry about the ICO’s lockup period — which sources say ends one to two years after its launch — and whether that could handcuff participants. A savvier move, investors say, would be to merely buy the currencies directly and be able to ride the incredible rise in the value of things like bitcoin.

Some others worry about the background of Pavel Durov, Telegram’s controversial CEO, or say they are not impressed by the underpinnings of the technology.

But unlike in traditional financing, the opinions of top-flight venture firms are only somewhat relevant to cryptocurrency insiders. The blessing of a Benchmark — or the thumbs-down of an Andreessen Horowitz — does not have the same signaling effect as it does when a startup is raising capital.

And also unlike startup fundraising, there is not one or two “lead” investors that provide most of the money. Some venture funds here that are pushing around $ 20 million also later plan to distribute their investment to their own syndicates of investors.

Much of the cash for the Telegram ICO is expected to come from non-American financiers, too.

About half the money for the project will be raised from the public at large later this winter, after institutional investors have had the chance to buy in.


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BitConnect promoters are still targeting naive investors in Indonesia


Bitcoin investment website BitConnect might have closed down its fraudulent lending and exchange platform, but its task force of dedicated promoters are still at it – and are now targeting gullible “investors” in Indonesia and other parts of Asia. Duped BitConnect community members have tipped off TNW that some of the company’s promoters are now actively seeking to recruit potential investors via local social media channels and WhatsApp groups in Asia. “Stay calm,” the promoters insisted in their messages. “Don’t get upset. The price of BCC (BitConnect Coin) will go up within several months. So, just hold and save your BCC…

This story continues at The Next Web
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India wants to collect taxes from its cryptocurrency investors

India's income tax department has sent notices to tens of thousands of people dealing in cryptocurrency, after learning that $ 3.5 billion worth of transactions have been conducted over a 17-month period. The move comes as India's finance ministry gra…
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