Posts tagged with "Axios"

Latest buzz: Genetically modified mosquito startup raises $6.8 million in venture capital

April 26, 2021

Oxitec— a U.S.-owned startup with headquarters and R&D facilities in the U.K., just a few miles from Oxford University—has raised US$6.8 million in venture capital from the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s largest chqritable foundations, Axios reports.

The company is generating buzz worldwide for its insect-based biological solutions for controlling pests that transmit disease, destroy crops, and harm livestock.

In its latest headline-making news, Oxitec will start releasing a total of 12,000 genetically modified,  non-biting male mosquitos from boxes into the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District to mate with the local biting female mosquitoes over  a period of 12 weeks.

The female offspring of these encounters cannot survive, the company says—making it possible to control the local population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The Aedes aegypti mosquito makes up about 4 percent of the mosquito population in the Florida Keys—but is responsible for virtually all mosquito-borne diseases transmitted to humans. This species of mosquito transmits dengue, Zika, yellow fever, and other human diseases; and can transmit heartworm and other potentially deadly diseases to pets and animals.

According to Axios, Oxitec is one of the world’s most controversial startup—even though everyone applauds its mission of reducing instances of mosquito-borne diseases.

Oxitec already has released more than a billion bugs, including in Brazil and the Cayman Islands—and, last year, the EPA and state officials approved field tests in the Florida Keys.

In the the Brazilian city of Indaiatuba, Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquito suppressed disease-carrying Aedes aegypti by up to 95%* in urban, dengue-prone environments following just 13 weeks of treatment, as compared to untreated control sites in the same city.

It’s a novel solution to human disease spread—particularly where native mosquitoes are increasingly resistant to insecticides—but many locals are concerned about how this will impact the broader ecosystem.

Research contact: @axios

Facebook explores paid deals for new publishing platform

March 17, 2021

Facebook will soon begin testing partnerships with a small group of independent writers for its new publishing platform, sources have told Axios.

The platform—which includes tools that  journalists can use to build actual websites, in addition to newsletters—will be tested with a small group of writers, some of whom Facebook plans to pay to help get the tools off the ground.

Yet to be officially named, the platform is designed to be free-to-use, and will be integrated with Facebook Pages, sources say.

Overall, according to Axios, the platform will comprise the following features:

  • The Pages integration will allow writers, journalists, and other types of professional experts to publish content outside of text, such as live videos and “Stories” status updates;
  • In time, Facebook plans to build tools within the platform that enable writers to monetize their websites and newsletters with subscriptions, and possibly other forms of revenue down the line; and
  • The platform is meant to help writers create an audience community that is loyal and engaged. Facebook will allow writers to create Groups for their products on the Facebook, and will provide writers with metrics about how content is performing.

The seeds of the new platform were planted at Facebook about four yeqrs ago, and have been nurtured since then. Facebook began investing in incubator programs, products and events  geared to help news companies—especially at the local level—build sustainable revenue streams.

The company also created a separate feature called the “News Tab” as a dedicated space for news on Faceboo—where it has paid partnerships with many established news companies.

The next step: Trying to help find ways individual journalists can thrive as creators.

The big picture, according to Axios: The pandemic has prompted many high-profile journalists to leaving newsrooms to launch their own newsletters or websites. Now, tech companies are getting in on the trend.

  • Twitter acquired Revue, a newsletter platform for writers and publishers, in January, and already has begun integrating its newsletter platform into its main product. It recently announced a new feature that allows users to charge their followers for more content via a payment tool called “Super Follows.”
  • LinkedIn, which is home to one of the largest communities of professionals on the Internet, also plans to launch a creator program, that would work closely with the company’s editorial arm, made up of many former journalists.

Research contact: @axios

Subscription podcast provider Quake launches with political content

October 27, 2020

Quake, a subscription podcast company founded by media veterans, launched on October 26 with $2.5 million in seed funding, executives told Axios. It debuts with exclusive political shows—and intentions to expand into religion, sports, and possibly Hispanic media.

Quake founders include Mike Morrell, former ESPN journalist and Bleacher Report executive; and Doug Rosenberg, a former political executive who launched one of the first Spanish-language syndicated radio shows in 2012.

The company is launching with six exclusive shows from big-name personalities in politics and media, including Laura Ingraham, Soledad O’Brien, Gretchen Carlson, Mike Huckabee, Andrew Gillum, Marc Lamont Hill, and Buck Sexton. (Hill and Sexton will launch a podcast together.)

“All of the talent we signed has significant media experience,” says Rosenberg. “We’re not training newbie political stars to do something like this.”

With such compelling talent and coverage, the founders hope to lure subscribers to the platform for a monthly fee of $4.99 or an annual fee of $49.99. All shows are ad free.

Investors include Wndrco, a holding company founded by media veterans—among them, Ann Daly and Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The outlook is promising: News and politics podcasts have increased in downloads by 98% from this same period last year, according to data from podcast analytics company Podtrac.

The company hopes to have locked down at least 50 shows by next year. “We’re having those conversations now,” says Rosenberg.

The app is available on Apple and Android, and content is accessible at QuakeMedia.com.

Research contact: @axios

Michelle Obama’s podcast debuts on Spotify on July 29

July 17, 2020

Spotify has announced that “The Michelle Obama Podcast“—the first podcast to be released as part of the platform’s partnership with the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground—will debut on July 29 and will be available for both free and paid subscribers, Axios reports.

Following the success of her biography, Becoming, and the subsequent documentary; the podcast represents the latest big media project from the former first lady. Her stated goal, alongside former President Barack Obama, is to use media platforms like podcasts, film, and social media to help Americans achieve a greater understanding of the world and to inspire young people.

Among the key need-to-know information about the podcast is the following:

  • The podcast, hosted by Obama, will focus on the relationships that shape people, like those with parents, siblings, friends, mentors and partners.
  • It will feature guests who have helped shape Obama’s life, including her mother and brother—Marian and Craig Robinson—and family confidant Valerie Jarrett.
  • Salesforce and Procter & Gamble brands Dawn and Tide will serve as the first season’s presenting sponsors.

“What I love about these conversations is they’re topics and issues we’re all dealing with no matter what’s going on, whether its a global pandemic or a nationwide reckoning with race,” Obama said in a promotional video about the podcast.

According to Axios,Because young consumers are spending more time on their phones with apps like Spotify and Netflix, former politicians are increasingly targeting that space to reach them —instead of eyeing more traditional paths, such as cable news.

A case in point: Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were in talks last year about creating a similar production company of their own.

The podcast is only the first from the Spotify-Higher Ground partnership, so expect more to come

Research contact: @axios

Colin Kaepernick joins Medium as board member, and contributor on civil rights and race issues

June 19, 2020

Former NFL player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick will join the board of the blogging platform Medium, CEO Ev Williams announced on Thursday, June 18.

“In addition to the board seat, Medium will partner with Colin and Kaepernick Publishing to create and feature stories focused on race and civil rights in America, and to elevate emerging voices from communities of color,” Williams said.

Specifically, the former San Francisco 49ers QB will write stories based on interviews with high profile leaders, activists, and athletes. He also will write and work with the editorial leadership of Level, Medium’s publication for black and brown men; and of and Momentum, a new blog on Medium about fighting anti-black racism.

Indeed, Williams said, he has known Kaepernick for some time and has envisioned a successful partnership. The Medium CEO said, “I met Colin a couple years ago and have been wanting to work with him ever since. When he launched Kaepernick Publishing in February, we started a conversation and quickly realized how closely our ideals and sensibilities align. I know he will bring valuable insights and leadership to Medium, especially in this moment when the world is finally catching up to his vision on racial justice.”

According to a report by Axios, Kaepernick sparked years of controversy when he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and oppression in 2016. NFL Commissioner Roger Gooddell recently told ESPN  that the league should have better listened to players who protested.

“We, the National Football League, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” Gooddell said. “We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all players to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe that black lives matter.”

Now, Williams says, “Kaepernick Publishing’s mission is to uplift and elevate voices for Black and Brown communities, something that has been desperately needed in the publishing space. Through this partnership, Colin will be publishing across Medium’s platform …. He will be sharing his thoughts on anti-Black racism in our society, and Medium; and Kaepernick Publishing will co-publish thought-provoking feature stories from diverse writers of color.”

He summed it up by describing Kaepernick as “an incisive, independent thinker, whose integrity has inspired so many,” and noting that, “The world needs more of that.”

Research contact: @Medium

What’s cooking: The quarantine diet

May 12, 2020

Now that we’re all sheltering in place, convenient and soothing comfort foods—like hot dogs, soup, and macaroni and cheese—are outselling the healthy options that prevailed pre-pandemic, Axios reports. Kimchi and kale? Not so much.

In fact, a lot of the foods that were trending at the beginning of this year—the plant-based meat substitutes, low-alcohol/no-alcohol drinks, and products billed as organic or sustainable—are not on our radar anymore,.

It’s back to the 1950s and 1960s, as frozen foods (vegetables, pizzas, entrees) enjoy historic sales increases, while canned goods and processed foods (soups, beans, tomato sauce) have been flying off of supermarket shelves.

And, Axios notes, meal kits are king:

On the beverage sidethe “sober curious” consumers who made “Dry January” such a big thing this year have been drowned out by the bored and anxious, who are driving up booze sales, quaffing “quarantinis” and hoisting Corona beer during Zoom happy hours.

“It goes back to what I can control and what will calm me down,” Suzy Badaracco, CEO of Culinary Tides, an agency that tracks trends for the food industry,  tells Axios.

By the same token, dairy, once villainized, is making a comeback. “It’s a complete protein, and it’s calming to the senses,” Badaracco says. “Whether it’s ice cream or cheese or butter—it’s comfort food.”

Faux meats — plant-based foods that are eaten primarily by non-vegetarians — have lost steam during the pandemic, and that trend will continue, Badaracco says. Even with a national meat shortage, she thinks people will seek out alternative sources of protein, like legumes, rather than imitation burgers.

“COVID-19 will push meat eaters back to animal protein at an accelerated pace, while vegetarians will celebrate plants being plants,” she predicted in an interview with the online news outlet.

And “sustainability sales,” which include organic foods, will continue to decelerate “due to cost, not desire,” Badaracco says.

Research contact: @axios

Axios: New group to focus on attacking McConnell, “the least popular politician in America”

January 29, 2020

As the Republicans ready their closing arguments in the impeachment inquiry, a new independent expenditure group called Fix Our Senate is gearing up to launch on Tuesday, January 28, to go after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, organizers have exclusively informed Axios.

As a national political figure, McConnell is both extremely powerful and highly unpopular, with a favorability rating of 29.8% in the latest average of polls tracked by Real Clear Politics.

Indeed, Axios reports, according to the new group’s director, Joshua Karp, a Democratic strategist and communications consultant: “McConnell is already the least popular politician in America, Now, we’re going to shine a light on McConnell and every ally who supports him.”

The group plans to conduct and disseminate research on McConnell and his record and leadership strategies to share with activists and surrogates, and shape opinion.

McConnell adviser Josh Holmes told Axios that the group is “welcome to take a number and get in line” in order “to fleece donors into underwriting yet another expedition in search the left’s white Ac\

Finally, according to Axios, polls show that President Donald Trump is more popular than McConnell. The new effort appears aimed less at trying to defeat McConnell in Kentucky—and more at asking U.S. voters to broadly associate Republican candidates and policies with negative feelings about McConnell.

Research contact: @axios@MidnightNMitch

John Bolton bad-mouths Trump for ‘bluffing’ about stopping North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

December 25, 2019

In his sharpest criticism yet of his old workplace—the White House; not Fox News—former National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested this week that the Trump Administration is bluffing about stopping North Korea’s nuclear ambitions—and soon might need to admit publicly that its policy has failed badly, according to an exclusive interview by Axios’ Jonathon Swan posted on December 22.

Indeed, according to Swan, “Bolton told me in an interview that he does not think the administration “really means it” when President Donald Trump and top officials vow to stop North Korea from having deliverable nuclear weapons—”or it would be pursuing a different course.”

Why now? Bolton, who “resigned” from the White House last September, is speaking out ahead of an end-of-year timetable. If Kim Jong-un follows through on his threatened Christmas provocation, Bolton says the White House should do something “that would be very unusual” for this administration—concede that they got it wrong on North Korea.

“The idea that we are somehow exerting maximum pressure on North Korea is just, unfortunately, not true,” Bolton told Axios. For example, he suggested, the U.S. Navy could start to squeeze Kim Jong-un by intercepting oil that is illegally being transferred to North Korea at sea.

If Kim thumbs his nose at America, Bolton told Swan, he hopes the administration will say: “We’ve tried. The policy’s failed. We’re going to go back now and make it clear that in a variety of steps, together with our allies, when we say it’s unacceptable, we’re going to demonstrate we will not accept it.”

Bolton, who has advocated for a more aggressive North Korea strategy, also criticized Trump for saying earlier this year that Kim’s short-range missile tests don’t bother him.

“When the president says, ‘Well, I’m not worried about short-range missiles,’ he’s saying, ‘I’m not worried about the potential risk to American troops deployed in the region or our treaty allies, South Korea and Japan.'”

The bottom line, according to Bolton:  “Time is on the side of the proliferator,” he said. “The more time there is, the more time there is to develop, test and refine both the nuclear component and the ballistic missile component of the program.”

Research contact: @axios

Scaramucci: Trump’s time in the White House is almost up!

August 13, 2019

The GOP needs a new presidential candidate for 2020, according to former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci—who is, perhaps, best-known for the amount of time he spent in the Trump administration (11 days).

Scaramucci told Axios on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s time in the White House is just about up, comparing it to a cable movie currently streaming on TV. “We are now in the early episodes of ‘Chernobyl’ on HBO, where the reactor is melting down and the apparatchiks are trying to figure out whether to cover it up or start the clean-up process,” Scaramucci told the news outlet.

“A couple more weeks like this and ‘country over party’ is going to require the Republicans to replace the top of the ticket in 2020,” he said.

Scaramucci, a prominent Republican donor, said that if Trump “doesn’t reform his behavior, it will not just be me, but many others will be considering helping to find a replacement in 2020.”

“Right now, it’s an unspeakable thing,” he continued. “But if he keeps it up, it will no longer be unspeakable. The minute they start speaking of it, it will circulate and be socialized. We can’t afford a full nuclear contamination site post 2020.”

Scaramucci’s comments to Axios came after he called Trump’s visit to El Paso following mass shootings last week a “catastrophe.”

Trump fired back soon after, saying that Scaramucci “knows very little about me other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence. Anthony, who would do anything to come back in, should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!”

Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld currently is the only Republican to announce a challenge to Trump for the nomination.

According to The Hill Any challenger would likely face long odds in a primary bid. The Republican National Committee already has voted to express its “undivided support” for Trump as its 2020 nominee, and Trump’s reelection campaign has staffed up with party insiders.

Research contact: @axios