Morning Brew - ☕ More wattage

The power of incentives.
Morning Brew April 18, 2022

Emerging Tech Brew


Greetings. Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe kicked off the week with a pretty ominous quote to the Wall Street Journal:

“Semiconductors are a small appetizer to what we are about to feel on battery cells over the next two decades,” he said.

Indeed, as we reported last week, signs of the battery pinch are already showing—2022 will likely be the first year in over a decade to experience a jump in battery prices.

In today’s edition:
How to handle the electrification of everything
The HR tech boom

Grace Donnelly, Sam Blum, Jordan McDonald, Hayden Field, Dan McCarthy


Shifting the load

image of an EV plugged into a home with electricity motifs in background Francis Scialabba

The transition to cleaner energy will mean a lot more electricity consumption.

From growing electric-vehicle sales to wider use of tech like heat pumps that produce fewer greenhouse-gas emissions, people will need to use more wattage day-to-day.

Along with bolstering the grid’s resiliency as electricity demand rises, utility companies and policymakers are exploring new ways to design rates by testing dynamic-pricing mechanisms that could help manage the load at different times, maximizing the use of renewable energy.

How it works: Dynamic rates fluctuate in response to energy demand. One goal of this pricing strategy is to guide EV owners toward charging behavior that doesn’t strain the power supply by providing them with cost savings or even compensation for discharging EV batteries onto the grid.

  • “Rate design is a powerful tool,” Kiel Pratt, supervisor of the transportation planning and analysis unit at the California Energy Commission, told Emerging Tech Brew. “[The utilities are] seeing this incentive to move toward dynamic, time-of-use rates, which promise to more accurately communicate the grid conditions and economic signals to drivers.”

States testing rates

There were more than 150 rate-design policy initiatives across the US last year. California is one state where the need to improve grid reliability and the push to use more renewable energy have led utilities to explore innovative pricing mechanisms.

The current state: Most of California today already has time-of-use pricing. These rates set higher prices for times of day with greater energy demands and lower prices for other times, like during nights and weekends, when demand wanes. Half of Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) residential customers are currently on time-of-use rates, according to the company.

  • The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is considering applications for dynamic rates that vary day-to-day or hour-to-hour based on energy demands, unlike time-of-use rates, which remain static for an entire season.
  • PG&E is proposing a pilot program for real-time rates, for example, which would provide hourly pricing to customers a day ahead of time.

Offering more detailed pricing information in advance could provide a significant financial incentive and shift the load on the grid.

“That is sort of a cutting-edge development, and not just for EVs, but for grid services in general, whether you have a water heater that can respond to signals and save a few bucks, or some kind of industrial-process load where you could shift the time and there’s a big payoff for that,” Pratt said.

Click here to learn more about the future of rate design.GD



The HR tech boom

A hand feeding a dollar into a computer that says "hr," with dollar signs floating around it Francis Scialabba

Venture capitalists have the ability to place bets on the titans of tomorrow, and as they have done for companies most often associated with Big Tech—think social networks and e-commerce giants—they’re reaching into their pockets to fund startups that hope to reinvent HR for the future of work.

Historically, the technology used by the HR industry hasn’t seen the sky-high levels of financial investment lavished on industries like biotech.

The technical nuts and bolts of HR—payroll, compliance, onboarding—have not really been associated with great innovation, Jason Corsello, the founder and general partner of Acadian Ventures, an early-stage venture-capital fund focused on companies attempting to help workplace tech evolve, told HR Brew.

But, but, but…LaRocque said HR’s heightened emphasis on DE&I initiatives and the growing demands of hybrid work have “increased the amount of money looking for a home” around HR tech.

VCs have been steadily dumping more of their money into workplace technology startups since 2017, according to data provided by Corsello and reviewed by HR Brew, but 2021 was a banner year for the future-of-work industry, with $16.8 billion invested worldwide.

  • In 2019, by comparison, VCs threw $4.4 billion at similar companies, Corsello’s data shows.

Read the full piece from HR Brew.SB


Going virtual doesn’t have to be done in vain


We all know that feeling—the one you get when you plan a huge event and hope for hundreds of people but end up with just a handful.

Hopin gets it too, so they built an event-technology platform to help you create immersive virtual, hybrid, and in-person event experiences for your audience that are sure to rack up those attendance numbers.

Don’t think virtual events can be as engaging or popular as in-person affairs? Think again. With Hopin, you can get your audience involved in your virtual events with game-like elements and collaboration tools.

In fact, virtual is so en vogue that you can increase your attendance by 5X–10X when you lean into a digital format. So grab your nicest shirt (and comfiest pajama pants) and get ready to host your most interactive online event yet.

Get started here.


Coworking with…Brandon Bartneck

Headshot of brandon bartneck, director of new business development and marketing at FEV north america Francis Scialabba

Coworking is a weekly segment where we spotlight Emerging Tech Brew readers who work with emerging technologies. Click here if you’d like a chance to be featured.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in tech?

I find ways for our talented team to assist engineers who are developing the safe and sustainable mobility solutions of the future.

What’s your favorite emerging tech project you’ve worked on?

We’ve played a key role in developing one of the most exciting electrified propulsion systems currently in the automotive sector.

What emerging tech are you most optimistic about?

I’m most optimistic about electrified propulsion systems for aircraft and off-road vehicles (like mining and construction equipment).

The improvements in battery and electric drive technology in the automotive sector have been huge over the past decade, and it’s just now trickling over to some of these heavier applications. The potential for emissions reduction is huge if done correctly.

One thing we can’t guess from your LinkedIn profile?

I don’t really care much about the specific applications we’re working on (for example, I’m far from a “car person”), but I do care deeply about how transportation tech can be improved to become much safer and more sustainable.



Eden Health

Just what the doctor ordered. Of the digital health companies that received $57B in funding last year, only one sees the high utilization that employers value. Eden Health’s next-gen primary care integrates mental health and care navigation, leading to better care and lower costs. It’s a benefit that employees love. And they already cover millions of lives. See Eden Health in action.


a rocket blasting into space, full of money Francis Scialabba

Stat: About $7.2 billion was invested in 118 space companies in Q1 2022, per Space Capital’s Space Investment Quarterly report.

Quote: “If your job is to run an artillery campaign in which you’re attempting to demolish and demoralize a population, what better gift could someone give you than daily feedback on how your campaign is going?” Ivan Gayton, senior humanitarian advisor at HOT, said about OpenStreetMap potentially revealing sensitive wartime intelligence

Read: A deep-learning algorithm could become a key tool in detecting earthquakes by filtering out human-generated vibrations.

Does your business network … work? 9 in 10 business and IT decision-makers say an efficient company network is key to achieving company objectives. Ready to build a better network and nail business goals? Start with Aruba’s SMB Network Checklist.*

*This is sponsored advertising content.


  • California’s Air Resources Board proposed new regulations to scale down emissions from passenger vehicles and update zero-emission vehicle requirements.
  • Meta has a web and mobile version of its Horizon Worlds platform in the works, expanding the metaverse beyond the Quest VR headset.
  • The DOE announced $14 million in funding for five studies on leveraging zero- or low-carbon energy to supply direct air-capture (DAC) projects.
  • Niantic, developer of Pokémon GO, announced its next AR game: Peridot, where players will raise and breed unique magical pets.


News quiz branding Francis Scialabba

It’s Monday, which means it’s time to boot your brain back up. A time-tested method for doing so? Our weekly tech trivia.

Click here to play.


VC funding distribution for climate tech doesn’t completely align with the IPCC’s potential greenhouse-gas emissions reductions, according to authors at Climate Tech VC, which tracks investment in the industry.

Case in point: Some $16 billion worth of investments have gone to the electric mobility sector over the last two years.

  • That’s ~80x more money than VC invested in reforestation and restoration, which the IPCC estimates could cut nearly twice the amount of CO2 emissions by 2030.
  • Investors are spending ~$10 billion a year on a single gigaton of CO2 reductions via tech like EVs and e-bikes, but only $70 million for the same reduction impact via reforestation and ecosystem restoration.

Check out their full post, which has a great visual of this.


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Written by Grace Donnelly, Sam Blum, Hayden Field, Jordan McDonald, and Dan McCarthy

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