LivBlends renames itself Replenish and gives us a first look at it futuristic smoothie machine

LivBlends renames itself Replenish and gives us a first look at it futuristic smoothie machine

Nearly one year ago LiveBlends was a Y Combinator smoothie delivery startup. The company has evolved since then, raised $3.8 million in seed from various investors and switched its name to Replenish.

It’s also moved away from delivery and into manufacturing a line of Keurig-like self-cleaning smoothie machines.

Replenish is still in the testing phase of the product, but founders Elise Polezel and Matthew Udomphol recently launched in some pilot locations around San Francisco — employees at SAP, Lucasfilm, SolarCity, Sephora, VMware, Uber and New Relic have been able to get the first taste of Replenish’s product for the past few months.

Where does the startup plan to go from here? Just like the idea behind its smoothie delivery business, Replenish plans to go after the b2b market by placing its machines in offices for free through food delivery services and then charging customers for the pre-made food pods used with the machines.

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Each pod costs $3.50 to $5, depending on the recipe and comes specially formulated with ingredients to make certain smoothie flavors. The founders also emphasized all ingredients are sugar-free and they try to pick organic ingredients where it makes sense. The pods are 100% recyclable plastic and Replenish says it is working on adding 100% compostable cups as well.

It works in a pretty simple way. All you do is pick a pod, pop it in the machine and Replenish does the rest. It even claims to be self-cleaning so you don’t get the normal mess after smoothie-making.

It’s easy to compare what Replenish is doing with juice machine startup Juicero, which raised a whopping $70 million from investors and is also going after the office worker industry. However, Replenish differs in several ways. For one, it’s a smoothie maker, not a juice maker, which means it leaves all the fiber intact. The founders also provide pods that can make baby food, hot soups, hummus and other types of purees.

The Replenish team hanging out in their R&D lab

The Replenish team hanging out in their R&D lab

Some example recipes from Replenish include:

  • Green Chakra

Spinach, mint, cucumber, pear, pineapple, cashew, coconut milk, honey, lemon juice

  • P.B. Protein

Peanut butter, unsweetened pea protein, banana, almond milk, avocado, vanilla, honey, cinnamon, almond

  • Blue Apricot

Blueberry, apricot, pumpkin seed, cinnamon

  • Coffee Date

Cold brew coffee, banana, cashew, almond milk, coconut milk, date, vanilla, honey, psyllium husk

TechCrunch went to check out the latest design at Replenish’s R&D lab on the outer skirts of San Francisco’s Mission District and try some of its smoothies (I tried the Green Chakra). Check out the video above to get a look at our visit and for more on how it works.

For those wanting a Replenish in their office, the startup has just launched a pre-order campaign so contact your company’s food vendor to sign up if you want to try out one of these machines in the near future.

Source: TechCrunch

Skully has crashed and burned

Skully has crashed and burned

Last week TechCrunch came to you with the dramatic departure of AR helmet maker Skully’s CEO and co-founder Marcus Weller and now several sources from inside the company tell us the startup is no more.

Operations have ceased within the company, and we’re told the website will be turned off at some point today. Weller has also been asked to sign a confidentiality deal with investors.

Weller told TechCrunch today he will not sign and that he’s completely walked away from all dealings with the company as of 10 days ago.

“I’m shocked and deeply saddened that they would now shut this company down,” Weller said in a phone conversation today. “We were raising a Series B to continue raising capital but then we had a buyer…I’m almost dubious to this.”

The site is still up for now but it says Skully’s AR-1 helmet is sold out in every size and no one is able to order. A source tells us sales were cut off on Monday.

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The shutdown leaves several vendors and Skully’s manufacturer Flextronics with unpaid bills and at least 50 full-time employees out of a job. It’s unclear if any of the vendors will be paid.

That also means the more than 3,000 people who pre-ordered a helmet may never get one – and one source tells us it’s doubtful any of them will be receiving a refund.

According to a source, Weller botched a possible acquisition deal with Chinese company LeSports before leaving the company last week. Another source inside the company said at the time Weller did not ruin the relationship with LeSports and that the deal might still happen now that the former CEO was out of the picture.

However, Weller counters that story, telling TechCrunch he and his brother were forced out of the company after investors disagreed with the LeSports deal he brought to the table, opting instead for an inside round. Another source familiar with the matter confirms his story that he brought in the LeSports deal but said Skully was rapidly running out of cash and it was down to the eleventh hour determining if the numbers added up.

Adding to that, we’ve been told the board thought Weller has been so difficult to deal with since leaving, they now don’t see the point in salvaging the company he started.

We’re told by a source inside the company that as of Monday, investors from Intel Capital determined it was better to just shut the whole company down instead.

“We’re disappointed Skully has closed its doors. We’ve been focused on the company’s success for nearly two years and have recently been trying to negotiate a funding round to keep it going,” Intel Capital said in a statement. “We’re certainly sorry for the employees who are losing their jobs, the crowdfunding backers whose investments didn’t work out and the customers who’d pre-purchased product. We continue to be excited by the promise of this kind of wearable technology.”

The news of the shut down is sad, particularly because Skully was a promising startup in a hot industry and with a lot of fans behind it. Just two weeks ago the startup sent out an email to fans announcing “Over 400 AR-1 units will be in customers’ hands by the end of July and all pre-orders will be fulfilled by the end of September.”

“We have 100% confidence in our delivery schedule and will continue to keep you in the loop. Please stay tuned because we have very exciting announcements coming up,” read the email.

But the hardware company now only adds to the heap of carnage starting to pile up in Silicon Valley. Shuddle, the Uber for kids, hit the brakes in April, Buffer and General Assembly both chopped a bunch of staff last week and Zenefits took a tumble earlier this year, letting go of roughly 250 staffers as part of a course correction after ousting Parker Conrad.

Much of the upheaval is likely due to overgrowth issues in an increasingly tight VC market. However, Skully’s demise seems to stem from one part manufacturing hiccup, which slowed shipment of the product, and a big dash of overblown egos, ultimately leading to its demise.

Weller was gutted at the news. He said he had not heard the company he’d started was shutting down before we’d reached out to him. When asked what he was going to do next he told us he was not sure.

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is reason number one to tune in to the RNC with us tonight

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is reason number one to tune in to the RNC with us tonight

Donald J. Trump is, to put it gently, not well liked within the Silicon Valley tech industry — and not because it is the liberal bastion it’s often portrayed to be. Mary Meeker, Meg Whitman and other tech leaders are die-hard members of the Republican party and plenty of those among the valley’s tech elite, including Marc Andreessen, Sean Parker and Elon Musk have given to GOP candidates in the past.

But many in tech’s top tier have been vocal about their contempt for The Donald. As of our most recent tally of Federal Election Commission data, less than 10 people up and down the San Francisco peninsula have actually donated to Trump’s campaign — and billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who will be speaking at tonight’s Republican National Convention, isn’t among them.

Thiel pledged to back Trump as a California delegate back in May and now plans to take the stage at the Quicken Loans Arena tonight to make history. Although Thiel and Trump seem to differ on several key policy issues, it’s easy to see how they might share the same core belief — that they’re using the power their money has given them to stand up to a powerful establishment.

According to several reports, Thiel is expected to say he is proud to be openly gay, a first on stage at the convention and a strange announcement, given that the GOP reaffirmed its opposition to gay marriage in its recent party platform. Thiel will also make the case against Hillary Clinton and his opposition to an expansionist military policy, favoring instead Trump’s view that the U.S. should avoid unnecessary wars.

Thiel will be the first gay man to speak at the RNC since 2000, when the openly gay Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona spoke, avoiding mention of his sexuality.

But it wasn’t too long ago that Thiel was fighting to keep information about his sexuality private. Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker over the publishing of his sex tape was quietly funded by the billionaire. Gawker’s subsidiary Valleywag outed Thiel in 2007 in a piece titled, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.”

According to several reports, Thiel waged the proxy war on behalf of Hogan because he was angry at the publication for forcing him out of the closet.

Silicon Valley and Thiel seem to have come a long way since then, but has the conservative GOP? Join Kate Conger and myself as we live blog the event to find out all that and more tonight starting about 5 p.m. PT.

Featured Image: Fortune Live Media/Flickr UNDER A CC BY-SA 2.0 LICENSE
Source: TechCrunch

Bioz pulls in $3 million from Esther Dyson, hopes to become Google for life science research

Bioz pulls in million from Esther Dyson, hopes to become Google for life science research

Bioz, a new search engine for life science experiments, wants to reduce the time it takes researchers to thumb through thousands of science articles published online and get them right to the findings relevant to their search.

The Palo Alto startup does this by offering up article extracts from published science papers using natural language processing. The Bioz platform helps researchers select products, plan experiments, write papers, apply for grants and collaborate, speeding up experimentation and drug discovery.

It’s not the first to offer up scientific papers through search – Google Scholar already surfaces articles for researchers from peer-reviewed resources, as does the popular PLOS ONE. But Bioz believes it has a business model that will set it apart from the others.

Bioz doesn’t charge the researcher for its findings. Instead, it makes money from a flat fee (for now) to the article publisher. If a researcher clicks on an article they want, the company serving up the article is charged.

Eventually, Bioz will work very similarly to Google Adwords says co-founder, Daniel Levitt. Publishers will bid for placement.

It works using NLP and machine learning to mine for hundreds of millions of pages of complex and unstructured scientific papers throughout the web and then summarizing those papers to make it easy for researchers to click through to the information they want.

“Bioz revolutionizes search technology and delivers information in a way that focuses on the researcher,” investor Gary Wilcox, a PhD and developer of Cialis, said of the platform.

The startup claims over 30,000 users from academic research labs and industry R&D labs, from more than 1,000 universities and biopharma companies, from 40 countries are using its search engine – all for free.

It’s a simple idea based on Google search and has already gained $3 million in seed funding from industry investors like Esther Dyson.

“The business model for Bioz is around things you can buy, but there’s a subtext that you should be paying attention to everything,” Dyson said of why she invested. “And Bioz can help you find all those external factors you may not be noticing.”

Source: TechCrunch

Hyperloop One files $250 million countersuit accusing BamBrogan of a “malicious smear campaign”

Hyperloop One files 0 million countersuit accusing BamBrogan of a “malicious smear campaign”

Hyperloop One filed a countersuit against co-founder and former CTO Brogan BamBrogan today, claiming he was part of a group of four employees engaged in misconduct and abusive behavior.

The transportation startup developing a high-speed shuttle is suing the plaintiffs for at least $250 million in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County.

Hyperloop One’s countersuit says BamBrogan and three other employees — referred to as “the Gang of Four” — “manufactur[ed] a rebellion and incit[ed] conflict in a transparent attempt to seize control of the Company.”

The suit accuses the four of increasingly disruptive misconduct and staging a coup in May of 2016, asking select employees to sign a “threatening” letter demanding board members give up their shares and significantly change Hyperloop One’s equity structure.

The counterclaim also alleges BamBrogan sought to start a competing company, Hyperloop Two, and of discouraging current and prospective investors in hopes they would invest in the new company instead.

When that move failed, says the suit, BamBrogan and the others filed a suit as part of a “media ploy filled with lies aimed at smearing Hyperloop One.”

BamBrogan abruptly left the company a week ago and sued the former colleagues for wrongful termination and claims of failure toward fiduciary duty. He also filed a separate restraining order against the company’s former head of legal counsel and co-founder Shervin Pishevar’s brother Afshin Pishevar for allegedly placing a hangman’s noose on his chair after a discussion, but a Los Angeles judge dismissed it last week.

Images included in BamBrogan’s suit show Afshin placing the noose on BamBrogan’s chair. However, the countersuit claims the “hangman’s noose” incident was a sham complaint the stuff of tabloid fodder and was a publicity stunt aimed at gaining leverage in BamBrogan’s case.

BamBrogan’s suit accuses Shervin of a pay-to-play arrangement and of paying a public relations vendor from Pramana who represented the company well above a normal salary ($400,000 a year) while they were allegedly dating. The countersuit claims none of it to be true and says, “the salacious personal attacks on Shervin are lies, as no decision to hire, increase the compensation of, or terminate Pramana was made in any way based on Shervin’s one-time relationship with the Pramana representative.

The woman is not identified in the suit, but her former employer has also called the salary accusation “inaccurate.”

“Hyperloop One remains stronger than ever, especially now that it is rid of the Gang,” the countersuit reads. “The Company’s engineering team is running full speed ahead, led by Josh Giegel; all of its employees besides the Gang of Four have remained loyal; and its investors, employees, and Board stand united to keep forging ahead as the Company seeks to develop the world’s first Hyperloop.”

Update: BamBrogan’s lawyer says Hyperloop One’s countersuit is “revisionist history, ” telling TechCrunch it’s “pure fiction, and that will be shown by the evidence.” He also counters there was no “Gang of Four” but a group of 11 employees from a cross-section of the company’s departments and that the noose placed by Afshin onto BamBrogan’s chair was a threat of violence recognized by the company, pointing out Afshin was fired shortly thereafter.

We’re sure this isn’t the last you’ll hear of the on-going drama between Hyperloop One and its former co-founder BamBrogan. In the meantime, you can read the full countersuit here:

FINAL Hyperloop One Cross-Complaint by TechCrunch on Scribd

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[embedded content] Featured Image: David Becker/Getty Images
Source: TechCrunch

Ex-Theranos customer files a lawsuit claiming faulty blood tests contributed to his heart attack

Ex-Theranos customer files a lawsuit claiming faulty blood tests contributed to his heart attack

Theranos is now steeped in an avalanche of legal woes, including a suit filed Monday, July 19 by an ex-customer alleging the company’s faulty blood tests caused him to have a heart attack.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Arizona, and first reported in Ars Technica, is now one of at least nine civil suits Theranos faces after an onslaught of investigations into the company’s technology.

The Arizona man known as R.C. to protect his privacy claims Theranos and its partner at the time Walgreens offered “false and misleading marketing around the Theranos tests and the accuracy of their test results prevented consumers from doing the right thing for themselves.”

R.C. is also suing Walgreens in the case and accuses the drugstore chain of “blindly” jumping in with Theranos.

Walgreens, which had formed a three-year partnership with Theranos, formally cut ties with the startup in June and shut down all 40 Theranos blood draw locations within Walgreens stores within Arizona; citing the myriad bad test results, the ongoing federal investigation and the criminal investigation into the blood analysis company.

Theranos claimed at the time its one-drop blood analysis could test for hundreds of diseases using its proprietary Edison machine, saying those tests were, “fast, easy, and the highest level of quality.”

The Arizona man says his doctor ordered him to get his sugar and blood lipid levels tested as part of routine heart monitoring. R.C. went to his local Walgreens store to get the tests, believing the pharmacy to be safe and reliable. The plaintiff says those tests came back normal and his doctor recommended he stick to what he was currently doing to stay healthy.

However, R.C. says less than a month later he suffered a heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. His cardiologists grew concerned the man would suffer a heart attack given his blood lipids came back normal just a month before.

“Additional blood work performed during his hospitalization strongly suggested that the near-contemporaneous Theranos blood test was inaccurate and that R.C. and his cardiologist’s reliance on the Theranos’ test results was potentially inaccurate or even harmful,” the lawsuit stated.

Those doubts were validated when Theranos later voided R.C.’s and tens of thousands of other test results from 2014 and 2015 in an effort to get into compliance with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Despite those efforts, U.S. regulators added harsh sanctions onto the startup earlier this month, including shutting down its Newark, California lab, and banning founder Elizabeth Holmes from running any labs for up to two years.

“Patient safety and clinical quality are our top priorities,” Theranos told TechCrunch in an email when asked about this case. “This matter involves ongoing litigation which will resolve itself in due course. In the meantime, we remain committed to the highest standards across all our labs and look forward to continuing to bring access to high-integrity, affordable health information to every person.”

Meanwhile, R.C. is seeking class-action status for his case, along with costs, restitution and damages, including punitive damages, in an amount to be determined at the trial.

Source: TechCrunch

Mushroom leather, tiny Zika detectors and lab-made breast milk debut at IndieBio’s third demo day

Mushroom leather, tiny Zika detectors and lab-made breast milk debut at IndieBio’s third demo day

It was a packed room at the Folsom Street Foundry in downtown San Francisco this afternoon as people poured in to check out the latest innovations from Indibio’s third demo day.

The accelerator’s demo day has grown so big we’re now live streaming it on TechCrunch.

But it was just a couple years ago that the only pure biotech accelerator launched out of SOS Ventures. Many accelerators and venture firms have started to take a keen interest in the space since then, but Indiebio is still the one many look to in the industry for weird and interesting ideas like 3D printed animal parts, egg whites form micro bugs and bioreactors to make better beer.

The third highly charming event was no exception, with startups presenting wild ideas on stage like mushroom leather clothing, a Zika-detecting tool the size of a stick of gum and human breast milk made in a lab. Here we present to you all 15 startups in IndieBio’s third batch:

Here we present to you all 15 startups in IndieBio’s third batch:

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Mycoworks– Mycoworks uses mushrooms to create natural alternatives to leather. Their materials are performance engineered, animal-free, sustainable, and cost-competitive, and the company says it has three partnerships in footwear and fashion. During demo day, they unveiled their cow-sized “mycoleather,” growing the equivalent of an entire cowhide within three weeks.

SyntheX Labs– SyntheX uses something called “synthetic lethality” to treat presently incurable cancers. The startup claims its platform can test more than 10 billion protein variants in one petri dish to create new therapeutics. SynthX says it is chatting with multiple pharmaceutical companies and has promising data, including a new, evolved cancer-killing mechanism they’re hoping to publish in the next few months.

Ava Labs– Ava promises to clone high-end wines without using grapes. It does this by analyzing molecular profiles of select wines and reconstructing them as a bioidentical match to more expensive wines, like an $11,000 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. Ava sold out in their pre-sale cloned wines, already raised $2.5M dollars and plan to start shipping wines to their first customers within six months.

Knox Medical Diagnostics– Knox wants to prevent asthma attacks in kids before they start. It has created what it says is a hospital-level asthma management tool that can give predictive insights at home. They conducted an 80 patient study in asthma patients so far and have started a 500 patient study with UCSF, which they plan to roll out with their product, post-FDA approval, by Spring of 2017.

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AstRoNA Biotechnologies– Food poisoning is a serious global concern today with over 1 in 6 people getting food poisoning every year. AstRoNA came up with a handheld detector for possibly contaminated foods that can be deployed on-site at every phase of food production. They say you can use the tool “from field to table,” giving labs accurate results within one hour. AstroNA has also established pilot programs with four food companies. It hopes to raise 1.7 million for an initial roll-out large scale sales by the end of the year.

BioNascent– BioNascent is making what they say is a bioidentical breast milk formula for babies who aren’t breastfed. It does this by making proteins found in human breast milk they hope can provide an alternative to dairy-based infant formulas. They say they already have a vendor relationship to roll out their first product, focused on the lab research market followed by a plan for approval within three years by the FDA.

Amaryllis Nucleics– Amaryllis wants to help researchers by accelerating RNA discoveries. Amaryllis says it can halve the time and reduce the cost of RNA sequencing by 8-fold to accelerate cancer diagnostics, pharmaceutical development, and food security. Amaryllis says it has closed over $250k in sales so far and aims to sell internationally by next year.

MiraculeX– MiraculeX wants to grow the next generation of healthy and tasty protein sweeteners by boosting plants producing these sweeteners. The team behind the startup says its natural proteins have zero calories, no bitter flavor, and taste better than sugar. MiraculeX plans to roll out its first protein sweetener by the end of this year and hopes to release more protein-based sweeteners by next year.

OneSkin Technologies– OneSkin has developed what it says is real human skin in the lab. OneSkin says it can replicate skin by ethnicity and age to develop a line of personalized skin care products. The startup also claims to have established its first customer relationship with a large cosmetics company and it aims to roll out personalized skin care with its own line of anti-aging cosmetics within a year.

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Willow Cup– Willow Cup is creating a line of plant-based milk products, starting with latte foam. The startup hopes to disrupt the plant-based milk industry using a patented plant protein library. It also says it has formed relationships and sales with 10 distributors within San Francisco so far and is looking to push into the nationwide market.

Endura Bio– California is still in a drought and water is precious in the Golden State. Endura is creating an agricultural spray to activate drought tolerance in crops to reduce water use by 33 percent and is currently conducting field trials in California to test the technology.

Ardra– Natural flavors and fragrances is the fastest growing category in a market worth over $23 billion globally. Ardra claims its enzyme technology enables them to make flavors at a lower cost and higher margin than any other natural alternative. Ardra says it was able to get to commercial yield numbers in their first product within their first four months, slashing years off of the product development cycle.

IndieBio Demo Day 3

mFluidX–  Zika is a scary disease linked to microencephaly in infants with mother’s who contract it while pregnant. Brazil is a company highly infested with the disease right as the world is headed there this August for the Summer Olympic Games. mFluidX has created a diagnostic chip the size of a pack of gum to replace bulky laboratory instrumentation for DNA / RNA analysis and claims it can detect Zika in the field. mFluidX says its power-free disposable chip costs 1000-times less than current technology and can be rapidly deployed to diagnose infectious diseases anywhere. Its first partnership is with the virologist who identified Zika in Brazil.

Jungla–  Jungla claims to be the world’s best predictor for variants of unknown significance in the genome, starting with cancers by combining machine learning with proprietary protein function maps. The startup says it has a partnership in the works with a well-known sequencing company, one of the leading genomic diagnostics companies and one of the largest heart hospitals in the U.S.

Qidni Labs– Qidni is an implantable artificial kidney. The startup just completed its first successful pre-clinical trial in a pig and plans to finish pre-clinical trials next year and get it to market within the next five years.

Ava promises to clone high-end wines without using any grapes

Ava promises to clone high-end wines without using any grapes

You’ve heard of turning water into wine, but Alec Lee and his founding team of bioengineers have taken to their San Francisco laboratory to turn molecules into wine

“We create the wine without any grapes, yeast, or any kind of fermentation,” Lee, the founder of Ava Winery, told TechCrunch.

Ava does this by analyzing molecular profiles of select wines and reconstructing them as a bioidentical match to more expensive wines like an $11,000 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, which essentially put New World wines on the map for the industry.

AVA in the wine industry stands for “AmericanViticultural Area” and the startup’s name plays on it as a wine made in an American lab. But the claim to make wine from a group of bonded atoms sounds a bit like alchemy, but Lee swears his products are the real deal.

“It’s essentially just a big chemistry problem,” he told me before getting ready for his presentation today at IndieBio SF’s Demo Day. “We don’t need alchemy to change one kind of molecule to another. You can deconstruct water and replicate it in the lab, for instance.”

Right now the startup is focused on replicating three wine clones – a Moscato d’Asti, a Dom Perignon, and just started work on a pinot noir.

But quantifying right out of the bottle is tough to do. Lee told me the biggest challenge is figuring out the concentrations of the different molecules. Each wine has between 80 to 200 compounds with both synergistic and anti-synergistic effects all in play to make it taste, feel and look the way it does.

“The goal is to get to a point where you just need a glass worth to identify the molecules,” Lee said.

Ava's wine cloning lab in San Francisco.

Ava’s wine cloning lab in San Francisco.

He sees Ava eventually getting into other luxury goods like chocolate and coffee, but there’s a lot of different wines in the world and the main focus is all on cloning the high-end good stuff for now.

Regulation will be another hurdle for the startup. Lee isn’t even sure he’ll be allowed to label his product as wine. “It’s a regulatory dance even though it’s essentially wine, biogenetical wine,” he said.

The startup is working on gaining the proper licensing to sell the product right now but says that will be about six months down the road. The team might go the direct-to-consumer route and told me they’re also chatting with some big distributors and retailers in the alcohol business to potentially place their wines throughout the world.

Ava recently raised $2.5 million in funding from institutional investors with experience in the space but did not want to disclose just yet who those investors are.

The founders are presenting their product for the first time to investors, biotech enthusiasts and press at IndieBio SF’s demo day today – and, by the way, you can watch the live stream of the event on TechCrunch. They’ll be joined by a batch of startups making everything from a better coffee foam to mushroom clothing.

“At a very high level, the way future generations will make food is through synthetics,” Lee said. “It’s just not sustainable the other way around. Wine is a very unique opportunity for us to legitimize synthetic foods because we can very quickly get to market. A rising tide lifts all boats and wine a great place for us to start.”

Featured Image: Shutterstock
Source: TechCrunch

L.A. judge dismisses Hyperloop One co-founder Brogan BamBrogan’s restraining order against Afshin Pishevar

L.A. judge dismisses Hyperloop One co-founder Brogan BamBrogan’s restraining order against Afshin Pishevar

A Los Angeles judge has dismissed former Hyperloop One CTO and co-founder Brogan BamBrogan’s restraining order against the company’s former head of legal Afshin Pishevar in “all of 30 seconds,” according to a lawyer for the defendant.

BamBrogan and several other former employees are suing Hyperloop One for harassment and claims of failure toward fiduciary duty. BamBrogan separately filed a restraining order against Pishevar for placing a hangman’s noose on BamBrogan’s chair after a disagreement.

Pishevar’s lawyer David Willingham called the request “baseless” and said BamBrogan only used the restraining order as leverage in the separate civil suit.

BamBrogan and Pishevar used to be roommates, according to a spokesperson for Hyperloop One. However, the judge determined Pishevar was not a threat to BamBrogan after determining the two no longer live or work together.

BamBrogan was forced out of the company just days after Pishevar, who was allegedly caught on security cameras placing the noose on BamBrogan’s chair, was also fired. Pishevar is the brother of Hyperloop One’s other co-founder and major stakeholder Shervin Pishevar.

BamBrogan filed the separate lawsuit after leaving, claiming he was demoted from his position as CTO and replaced by Josh Geigel, who has now been named as co-founder and CTO of Hyperloop One. The suit’s letter, addressed to Shervin, Afshin, investor Joe Lonsdale and CEO Rob Lloyd, accuses the men of wrongful termination and greed and using the company to boost their romantic lives.

“Those with the expertise to bring the hyperloop concept to fruition—the team that has done an incredible job building out hardware with their heads down and hands in the dirt—have been systematically marginalized,” reads the court document. “…while the ‘money men’ who do not understand the technology spent little time seeking to understand its potential, focusing instead on puffery—turning the company into a marketing-driven exercise, instead of the engineering-driven enterprise it should be.”

A spokesperson for Hyperloop One called the lawsuit “unfortunate and delusional.”

Featured Image: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images
Source: TechCrunch

Ousted Hyperloop One co-founder Brogan BamBrogan is suing Shervin Pishevar, claims harrassment

Ousted Hyperloop One co-founder Brogan BamBrogan is suing Shervin Pishevar, claims harrassment

Recently departed Hyperloop One co-founder Brogan BamBrogan has filed a restraining order and a lawsuit against his former partner Shervin Pishevar.

Hyperloop One, the brainchild of Elon Musk to transport people and goods across the country at 700 mph in a vacuum tube, has raised $92 million so far, largely backed by Shervin Pishevar’s VC firm Sherpa Capital. Pishevar is the board chair and co-founded the company with BamBrogan.

But BamBrogan abruptly left the company last week without explanation, replaced by Josh Geigel as the new co-founder and CTO. The sudden departure follows another immediate removal of the head legal counsel and Shervin’s brother Afshin Pishevar. Recode, which first reported Afshin’s departure, also noted that assistant general counsel David Pendergast left around the same time.

Afshin also allegedly threatened BamBrogan, according to the court documents, as well as footage from a surveillance camera, by placing a hangman’s noose on BamBrogan’s chair after a dispute between BamBrogan and Shervin about a trip to Russia. Hyperloop One announced it partnered with the Russian government in June to build a transit system in Moscow.

Neither Hyperloop One or BamBrogan were available for comment, but according to a source familiar with the matter, things had been tense at the top for some time. According to the filings, BamBrogan was forced to resign from his position.

BamBrogan requested a temporary restraining order against Afshin after the incident in mid- June and has filed four court documents in the case, including the temporary restraining order and a civil harassment restraining order, as first reported on BuzzFeed. The restraining order hearing is scheduled for this Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

There’s been much skepticism over Hyperloop’s technology, but the hefty funding and leadership gave the company a boost and some credibility. However, the recent lawsuit alleges the technology and executive team may not be all we’ve been led to believe.

The filings, which name Shervin, Afshin, Joe Lonsdale, Robert Lloyd and Hyperloop One as defendants, claim the technology that BamBrogan and other plaintiffs — Dr. Knut Sauer, David Pendergast and William Mulholland — helped to build is being “strangled by the mismanagement and greed of the venture capitalists who control the company.”

On top of that, the suit claims several employees had complained to Shervin about technological issues but were ignored and that the defendants violated labor laws and used the company to boost their romantic lives, personal brands and wallets.

“Those with the expertise to bring the hyperloop concept to fruition—the team that has done an incredible job building out hardware with their heads down and hands in the dirt—have been systematically marginalized,” reads the court document. “…while the ‘money men’ who do not understand the technology spent little time seeking to understand its potential, focusing instead on puffery—turning the company into a marketing-driven exercise, instead of the engineering-driven enterprise it should be.”

The court documents on the lawsuit are below:

2016-07-12 Hyperloop Complaint – Endorsed Copy by TechCrunch on Scribd

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