Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Fifth Wall Ventures, a four-year-old, the L.A.-based, real-estate focused venture firm, has just closed a $ 100 million vehicle called that it’s calling its “retail fund.” The vehicle comes hot on the heels of a $ 212 million debut fund that Fifth Wall closed in 2017, which was itself soon followed by a second, $ 503 million flagship fund. The firm is also reportedly raising a $ 200 million carbon impact fund.

So why raise more money via this separate pool? What does the Fifth Wall even mean by “retail”?

We’d talked with firm cofounder Brendan Wallace a couple of weeks ago about the opportunity the firm sees. As Wallace said then, there are growing number of venture-backed e-commerce brands that do — or will — rely heavily on physical real estate at some point. Fifth Wall — which is backed by a long list of real estate heavyweights, including landlord giants like Macerich Co. and Acadia Realty Trust — thinks it can play matchmaker. The idea is to introduce the startups to spaces owned by members of its investor base, while meanwhile enhancing the investors’ properties by ensuring they have the latest and greatest brands as tenants.

Thanks to Fifth Wall, for example, Taft Clothing, a Salt Lake City-based band that makes men’s shoes, opened its first brick-and-mortar store in New York’s SoHo district late last year. The building is owned by Acadia.

Fifth Wall has similarly helped another portfolio company, the men’s apparel brand UNTUCKit, find some of its many locations across the U.S.

Even further afield, Wallace also pointed to Fifth Wall’s investment in the e-scooter company Lime. While the deal raised questions at the time about how Fifth Wall could rationalize the deal, “[W]hen you look at that business, a huge part of it depends on distribution to where consumers are, which is real estate assets and establishing charging and docking stations at those assets,” Wallace said. “There is a huge real estate dependency to the scooter business [because you need a] network of charging stations, you need to structure relationships and deals with landlords and you also need to be able to deliver these devices in an organized way at these consumer endpoints at malls, office buildings and multi-family buildings.”

Meanwhile, by working with Lime and installing docking stations, those same building owners are navigating around sometimes onerous parking requirements.

Kevin Campos, a partner at Fifth Wall, is the head of its retail fund. In addition to Acadia and Macerich, some of its real estate backers include Cushman & Wakefield and Nuveen Real Estate.


TechCrunch

Japanese orbital debris removal technology startup Astroscale is going to be working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on the agency’s first mission to remove some of the junk that currently exists on orbit. They’ve been selected by the age y to participate in its Commercial Removal of Debris Demonstration project (CRD2) which includes two separate mission phases that together will aim to accomplish the removal of a large body currently on orbit, the spent upper stage of a Japanese rocket.

Astroscale, which was founded in 2013, is focused entirely on cleaning up orbital space, which it sees as a necessary step for long-term sustainable activity on orbit. Space debris has become a hot-button topic in the space industry, with current projections anticipating massive increases in the number of active satellites orbiting the planet, thanks to the uptick in satellite constellation projects in the works from commercial operators including SpaceX, Amazon and OneWeb.

The JAXA mission aims to complete its first phase by the end of 2022, and Astroscale will support that phase by building, launching and operating a satellite that will observe and acquire data on the rocket upper stage that the second phase will seek to de-orbit. The goal is to find out more about its movement and the surrounding debris environment in order to set up a safe and successful removal.

“The data obtained in Phase I of CRD2 is expected to reinforce the dangers of existing debris and the necessity to remove them,” said Astroscale founder and CEO Nobu Okada in a press release. “Debris removal is still a new market and our mission has always been to establish routine debris removal services in space in order to secure orbital sustainability for the benefit of future generations. The international community is growing more aware of the risks of space debris and we are committed more than ever to turning this potential market into a reality.”

Astroscale is also already involved in other orbital debris removal projects, and plans to launch a demonstration mission of its ‘End-of-Life Services’ offering sometime in the second half of this year. This mission will be a world-first demo of commercial orbital debris removal is all goes to plan, a key step in proving that its technology can meet the needs of this growing opportunity.

Earlier this year, a near-miss of two defunct orbital spacecraft made headlines, and observers noted that had a collision occurred, it would’ve resulted in a new debris cloud with “at least hundreds” of new pieces of trackable debris. Astroscale and others like it could, combined with other initiatives like more granular tracking and information sharing among satellite operators, provide a much more sustainable in-space operating environment for the range of commercial activities either planned or in progress for orbital space.


TechCrunch

As the insuretech space fills up, a new entrant is joining the fight.

Y Combinator -backed Goodcover is launching today to take on the likes of big insurance, as well as insurance startups like Lemonade, Jetty, Hippo, and Zebra.

The company offers renters insurance in California. The twist? Goodcover returns unclaimed premiums to policy holders at the end of the year.

Here’s how it works. Goodcover operates as a managing general agent, which means they write the policy, set the pricing, and build their own risk assessment model, but partner with insurance carriers to hold the backend capital and write on their book. This differs from Lemonade, who is its own insurance carrier, but is similar to Hippo and many other new insurtech startups.

The first priority of the company, according to cofounder Chris Lotz, is to use technology to bring down the cost of insurance in the first place. That means eliminating paperwork, sales agents, and expensive acquisition tactics used by big insurance. Statista reports that GEICO, Progressive and StateFarm alone spent upwards of $ 3 billion on advertising in 2018.

But tech is also used to rethink the insurance model. Here’s what the company said in its launch blog post:

Old models say the number one indicator you’ll make a claim is having a prior claim, and charge you accordingly, even when you were not at fault. Models designed with the Member in mind determine whether a claim is likely to reoccur, or whether mitigation has actually reduced risk and warrants a lower price. Good technology empowers us to build this new data into our models, keeping prices as low as possible for as many people as possible.

Cofounder and CEO Chris Lotz says that USAA was actually a part of the inspiration for Goodcover. Lotz worked at AIG for eight years before starting the company, inspired by the USAA’s member-first mentality. Lotz looked to model Goodcover after USAA, the insurance co-operative for military service members and their families, which has no outside agents, pays a dividend, and uses technology to both keep costs down and offer quality policy coverage.

Goodcover takes a 20 percent cut up front. The other 80 percent goes to Goodcover’s partners: KnightBrook Insurance (primary carrier), Transatlantic Reinsurance (reinsurance), North American Risk Services (Claims Services), and Milliman (Actuarial Services).

The majority of that 80 percent goes toward indemnity, or paying out claims, with some going toward loss adjustment expenses (paying the human that goes and checks out or works on the claim), carrier fees and reinsurance premiums. These portions of the revenue are where partners like Knightbrook and Transatlantic Reinsurance make their money.

Whatever is left over is passed on to the policy holders. Lotz says that that number is expected to range from 5 percent to 10 percent. However, in a case where reinsurance premiums are applied (if, for example, a major earthquake were to destroy multiple Goodcover-insured apartment buildings), there may not be extra cash leftover. In that case, Goodcover will take on the extra cost, eliminating the dividend to policy holders but also not costing them any extra.

“This isn’t about charging everyone and then giving 50 percent back,” said Lotz. “It’s a guarantee that we’re not overcharging you in the first place.” The company claims that it saves renters 45 percent on their renters insurance.

Goodcover has raised a total of $ 2 million in funding from Fuel Capital, YC, Liquid 2, Box Group, several angels, and Transatlantic Reinsurance, one of their insurance partners.

The company has plans to continue expanding, though insurance is regulated at the state level, which could make that a more tedious process. Lotz explained that starting in California was very purposeful, as regulatory approval is relatively difficult to secure in such a consumer protection-heavy state. The company is also interested in introducing home owners insurance.

Insurance is a crowded market, with startups racing to rethink the model, employ tech to advance the product, and update the value proposition for a millennial audience that may be new to insurance. But in an industry that hasn’t changed much in over a century, and who has lost the trust of the consumer, it makes sense that startups are scrambling to stake their claim.


TechCrunch

NASA has selected Houston-based Axiom Space, a startup founded in 2016, to build the first commercial habitat module for the International Space Station (ISS). This module will be used as a destination for future commercial spaceflight missions, potentially housing experiments, technology development and more performed by commercial space travelers taking rides up to the ISS via human-rated spacecraft like the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner, once those start regular operational service.

Axiom Space was founded in 2016, and is led by co-founder and CEO Michael T. Suffredini, who previously acted as program manager for the ISS at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The company boasts a lot of ex-NASA talent on its small team, and eventually it plans to make its in-space modules the basis of its own private space station, after first attaching them to the ISS while it’s still operating. NASA has extended the planned service life of the ISS, but the plan of the agency’s current leadership is to eventually encourage private orbital labs and commercial facilities as an ultimate replacement.

In 2018, Axiom teamed up with designer Philippe Starck (yes, the same one who famously designed a luxury yacht for Apple founder Steve Jobs) to provide a look at what their future space station modules might look like, including crew quarters with interactive displays and a cupola that provides a breathtaking view of Earth and surrounding space.

This ISS module may not be a full-fledged private space station, but it is a step in NASA’s goal of further commercializing the existing space station and ultimately paving the way for more commercial activity in low Earth orbit. Axiom’s mandate also includes providing “at least one habitable commercial module,” with the implication being that it might be awarded extensions to build more in the future. Next up for the new partners is negotiating terms and price for a contract for the module, which will also include a timeline for delivery.


TechCrunch

SpinLaunch, a company that aims to turn the launch industry on its head with a wild new concept for getting to orbit, has raised a $ 35M round B to continue its quest. The team has yet to demonstrate their kinetic launch system, but this year will be the year that changes, they claim.

TechCrunch first reported on SpinLaunch’s ambitious plans in 2018, when the company raised its previous $ 35 million, which combined with $ 10M it raised prior to that and today’s round comes to a total of $ 80M. With that kind of money you might actually be able to build a space catapult.

The basic idea behind SpinLaunch’s approach is to get a craft out of the atmosphere using a “rotational acceleration method” that brings a craft to escape velocity without any rockets. While the company has been extremely tight-lipped about the details, one imagines a sort of giant rail gun curled into a spiral, from which payloads will emerge into the atmosphere at several thousand miles per hour — weather be damned.

Naturally there is no shortage of objections to this method, the most obvious of which is that going from an evacuated tube into the atmosphere at those speeds might be like firing the payload into a brick wall. It’s doubtful that SpinLaunch would have proceeded this far if it did not have a mitigation for this (such as the needle-like appearance of the concept craft) and other potential problems, but the secretive company has revealed little.

The time for broader publicity may soon be at hand, however: the funds will be used to build out its new headquarter and R&D facility in Long Beach, but also to complete its flight test facility at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“Later this year, we aim to change the history of space launch with the completion of our first flight test mass accelerator at Spaceport America,” said founder and CEO Jonathan Yaney in a press release announcing the funding.

Lowering the cost of launch has been the focus of some of the most successful space startups out there, and SpinLaunch aims to leapfrog their cost savings by offering orbital access for under $ 500,000. First commercial launch is targeted for 2022, assuming the upcoming tests go well.

The funding round was led by previous investors Airbus Ventures, GV, and KPCB, as well as Catapult Ventures, Lauder Partners, John Doerr and Byers Family.


TechCrunch

Satellite industry giant Maxar is selling MDA, its subsidiary focused on space robotics, for $ 1 billion CAD (around $ 765.23 million USD), Reuter reports. The purchasing entity is a consortium of companies led by private investment firm Northern Private Capital, which will acquire the entirety of MDA’s Canadian operations, which is responsible for the development of the Canadarm and Canadarm2 robotic manipulators used on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station respectively.

Maxar’s goal in selling the business is to help alleviate some of its considerable debt, which stood at $ 3.1 billion as of this past September. The company was already known to be seeking potential buyers for MDA, so it’s not much of a surprise. MDA will continue to operate as its own company under the terms of the new ownership, which should mean that its current plans and contracts will continue.

MDA is working on a number of projects for various clients, including developing wildfire monitoring satellites, navigation antennas for use on other company’s satellites and to develop Canadarm3, the next version of its robotic appendage, for use on the NASA Lunar Gateway that will be a research and staging station orbiting the Moon as part of the U.S. space agency’s Artemis mission series.


TechCrunch

It’s gotten to the point now where a handful of angel investors can put a space company on the map. But the same changes that have made the industry accessible have made it increasingly complex to track its trends. By default, all space startups are exciting, but companies vary widely in risk, capital intensity and maturity. Here’s what you need to know about the four main areas of the new space economy.

Launch: playground of billionaires and forward thinkers

Perhaps simply the most exciting industry to be a part of today, orbital launch service has gone from a government-funded niche dominated by a handful of primes to a vibrant, growing community serving insatiable demand.

There’s a good reason why it was dominated for so long by the likes of ULA, whose Delta rockets took up a huge majority of missions for decades. The barrier to entry for launch is huge.

As such there are three ways to enter the sector: brute force, stealth, and novelty.

Brute force is how SpaceX and Blue Origin have managed to accomplish what they have. With billions in investment from people who don’t actually care whether money is made in the short term (or with Bezos, even in the long term), they can perform the research and engineering necessary to make a full-scale launch platform. Few of these can ever really exist, and participation is limited when they do. Fortunately we all reap the benefits when billionaires compete for space superiority.

Stealth, perhaps better described as smart positioning, is where you’ll find Rocket Lab. This New Zealand-based company didn’t appear out of nowhere — look at its timeline and you’ll see scaled-down tests being conducted more than a decade ago. But what founder Peter Beck and his crew did was anticipate the market and work doggedly towards a specific solution.

Rocket Lab is focused on small payloads, delivered with short turnaround time. This avoids the trouble of competing against billionaires and decades-old space dynasties because, really, this market didn’t exist until very recently.

“Responsive space, or launch on demand, is going to be increasingly important,” Beck said. “All satellites are vulnerable, be it from natural, accidental, or deliberate actions. As we see the growth and aging of small sat constellations, the need for replenishment will increase, leading to demand for single spacecraft to unique orbits. The ability to deploy new satellites to precise orbits in a matter of hours, not months or years, is critical to government and commercial satellite operators alike.”

Rocket Lab’s tenth launch, nicknamed “Running Out of Fingers.”

Investing in Rocket Lab early on would have seemed unexciting as for year after year they made measured progress but took on no cargo and made no money. Patience is the primary virtue here. But investors with foresight are looking back now on the company’s many successful launches and bright future and marveling that they ever doubted it.

The third category of launch is novelty: entirely new launch techniques like SpinLaunch or Leo Aerospace. The term may not inspire confidence, and that’s deliberate. Companies taking this approach are high-risk, high-reward propositions that often need serious funding before they can even prove the basic physical possibility of their launch technique. That’s not an investment everyone is comfortable making.

On the other hand, these are companies that, should they prove viable, may upend and collect a significant portion of the new and growing launch market. Here patience is not so much required as extra diligence and outside expertise to help separate the wheat from the chaff. Something like SpinLaunch may sound outlandish at first, but the Saturn V rocket still seems outlandish now, decades after it was built. Leaving the confines of established methods is how we move forward — but investors should be careful they don’t end up just blasting their cash into orbit.


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