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Plus: Checking in with tech workers amid layoffs.
Morning Brew November 16, 2022

Emerging Tech Brew

Miso

Happy Wednesday. About five months after it was launched, NASA’s CAPSTONE CubeSat—its trial balloon for a new moon mission—finally arrived at its destination.

To us humans, that may seem like a lengthy delay, but in space-time, that’s *checks intergalactic watch* essentially getting there on time. We profiled the companies behind the modern moonshot mission back in May, check it out here.

In today’s edition:

“Smart” city transportation will require more than passenger vehicles
Exclusive survey: Tech workers are worried about job security
🛍 Why retailers are becoming VCs

Grace Donnelly, Hayden Field, Erin Cabrey, Dan McCarthy

SMART CITIES

Thinking beyond cars

Thinking beyond cars Illustration: Morning Brew, Photo: Francis Dean/Getty Images

Becoming a “smart” city is not just about sprinting toward the shiniest new tech—it’s also about creating a sustainable future.

When it comes to making transportation more sustainable, electric vehicles have emerged as the preferred choice to decrease reliance on fossil fuels.

Zoom in: But EVs—while necessary in some cases—are not sufficient to bring about smarter mobility on their own. Cars simply aren’t the most efficient way to move people around a city.

  • “Electrification is awesome, but it’s still a car,” Ryan Gravel, an urban designer in Atlanta, told us. “It still takes up a lot of space.”

Getting smart: In Atlanta, a particularly car-centric city with a metro area that has grown outward into a sprawling collection of cities and counties, urban planners are rethinking the role mobility, housing, and infrastructure play in decarbonizing city transportation.

Whether their vision for a multimodal future pans out is still TBD, but efforts in the metro area of more than 6 million reflect a broader push among some city planners to focus not only on tech solutions, but on the right tool for the right job.

Read the full story on Atlanta’s attempt to reimagine its transit future.GD

This story is part of our new package exploring smart cities—click here to view the full interactive series.

        

TOGETHER WITH MISO

A new kingdom awaits

Miso

There’s a new king in town…and it’s not Charles.

It’s Miso Robotics, ruler of food-frying, drink-filling kitchen robots that have proven to offset fast-food labor shortages in the ​​$73b US market.

In fact, with 500,000 new unfilled jobs each month, top fast-food brands, including Jack in the Box and White Castle, have already joined Miso’s flock.

King Miso plans to expand its empire globally next…

Miso just landed a major international partnership to establish a foothold in places like Europe, where it’s up to 50% more costly to fill positions that could be automated through Miso’s robot-as-a-service (RaaS) model.

Soon, kitchens across the $675b global market will serve robot-made meals while raking in royal riches. And you can join the regime.

Invest in Miso Robotics before 11/18.

WORKFORCE

Some tech workers are getting nervous

layoffs fired lost job Francis Scialabba

More than 100,000 tech workers have been laid off so far in 2022, per Layoffs.fyi, a crowdsourced tracker. And the rising number has many tech workers feeling concerned about their jobs.

By the numbers: Nearly seven in 10 US tech workers said they feel less confident about their job security now than they did a year ago, according to a survey run by Blind, the anonymous professional networking platform, on behalf of Emerging Tech Brew from November 4 to November 7.

  • About 68% of respondents reported feeling less confident, 8% felt more confident, and 24% reported no change compared to a year ago.

The survey results come as tech companies look to cut costs and reduce headcounts amid geopolitical uncertainty, rising energy and material costs, recession concerns, and a decline in ad spending.

Bottom line: “Optimism is quickly shrinking,” an employee of Nirvana Money, a Miami-based fintech startup, told us on condition of anonymity.

Read the full story on tech layoffs here.HF

        

VENTURE CAPITAL

Retailers are feeling ad(venture)ous

hand holding cash illustration Francis Scialabba

Retailers have been zipping up their Patagonia vests lately to assume the role of venture capitalists.

This year, Ulta, The Home Depot, Chipotle, and most recently Dick’s Sporting Goods have all introduced their own VC funds to invest in early-stage companies.

Retail Brew had a few questions about these funds, like why they’re so popular (hint: $$ and missed opportunities are part of it) and how long this trend will last, so read on to learn more about the retail venture wave.

Why are retailers doing this? They’re mainly pushing for growth, according to Simeon Siegel, managing director and senior retail and e-commerce analyst at BMO Capital Markets.

Why now? As the capital market tightens and interest rates rise, startups need $$, and retailers are feeling the pressure to diversify their sources of revenue as the retail landscape evolves, Kassi Socha, director analyst at Gartner, said.

Click here for the rest of the retail-VC FAQ.—EC

        

TOGETHER WITH WORKIVA

Workiva

Teamwork makes the ESG dream work. With changes looming for publicly traded companies, your ESG and finance teams need to be totally in sync. Workiva outlined everything you need to know about creating the data dream team and leveraging tech to produce accurate, timely, audit-ready reports. Learn more here.

BITS AND BYTES

Image of Google logo on a pedestal above disintegrating lines of binary code Francis Scialabba

Stat: Google will pay a record-high $392 million to settle a privacy suit with 40 US states.

Quote: “It is probably impossible that the majority of people who use the web on a day-to-day basis haven’t at some point run into AI-generated content.”—Adam Chronister, an SEO professional, to the WSJ

Read: How Northwestern’s MBA program is courting laid-off tech workers.

Learn: Imagine joining 8 top leaders for dinner and asking them your biggest questions. With our Leading Questions series, you can get those answers you crave (dinner not included). Sign up here.

READER POLL: ELON TWITTER EDITION

Although the competition has been steep of late, Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition remains one of the most difficult-to-look-away-from news stories out there.

Last week was a particularly trainwrecky one, with more advertisers and execs departing from the platform and rampant funny business from users exploiting Twitter Blue’s new pay-for-verification system to impersonate brands, celebs, and, of course, Musk himself.

Pulse check: Amid the madness, we checked in with all of you, our very smart readers. Here’s where you shook out on the prospects for Elon Musk’s Twitter. Among our 1659 respondents

  • Nearly one in three (31%) said Twitter would succeed under Musk.
  • Just over one-quarter (27%) said Twitter would fail under Musk.
  • More than one in three (35%) said Musk’s Twitter would end up somewhere between success and failure.
  • About 6% said the sensible thing, which is…IDK.

Zoom out: In addition to cutting about half of Twitter’s workforce two weeks ago, the company reportedly fired ~4,400 of its ~5,500 contractors over the weekend. The contractors worked on everything from content moderation to infrastructure services, per Platformer.

This week’s poll: In the last six months, have you delayed the purchase of any new tech due to economic concerns?

Yes
No

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • New AI supercomputer alert: Cerebras, a startup, announced a new machine it claims is capable of exaflop performance.
  • Occidental is trying to transform from an oil business to a climate tech business.
  • Meta’s new Quest Pro headset isn’t impressing everyone.
  • Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite iPhone feature rolled out in the US and Canada yesterday. ICYMI, we broke down the strategy behind the service in this piece.
  • Tech companies are downsizing their office space in addition to their headcount.

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Written by Grace Donnelly, Hayden Field, Dan McCarthy, and Erin Cabrey

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