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UK Start-Up VidOps Launches Virtual Content Creation Platform to Support Gig Economy



UK Start-Up VidOps Launches Virtual Content Creation Platform to Support Gig Economy

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Biden-Harris no gift for gig economy




While Silicon Valley and Big Tech have welcomed the news that former San Francisco district attorney Kamala Harris is to be Joe Biden’s running mate, gig economy companies ought to have reservations.

Both Biden and Harris are supporting opposition to Proposition 22, the California ballot measure backed by DoorDash, Lyft and Uber to define rideshare and delivery drivers as contractors rather than employees.

This suggests a Biden administration might pursue wider implementation of California’s initiative on gig workers’ rights. In the latest move in the state, San Francisco’s lead prosecutor filed for a preliminary injunction against DoorDash on Wednesday, which would soon force the company to reclassify its food delivery workers as employees — this coming days after a judge dramatically granted a similar request in a case against Uber and Lyft.

Lyft said on an earnings call on Wednesday it would suspend operations in California if it was forced to reclassify its drivers as employees. Uber threatened the same thing earlier in the day.

Lyft is in the tighter spot with its operations concentrated in California and the US. It is already under pressure from coronavirus, reporting a 61 per cent drop in revenues in the second quarter, although it said yesterday it was seeing signs of recovery as cities began to reopen from lockdowns.

Lex says Lyft’s ongoing losses mean it will need to raise more money and, with the share price on a downward trajectory, it will have to give more of the company away for fresh capital. Alphaville is even gloomier: it says the jig may be up for the gig economy amid ride-hailing’s collapsing house of cards.

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. UK contact tracing app’s better beta
The British government announced on Thursday that trials of a new coronavirus contact-tracing app were under way. The latest version will also help individuals assess their own level of risk by giving them detailed information about the infection rate in a given area, as well as enabling them to order a test and providing the results.

2. Cisco shares dive on sales warning
The cloud and data centres are supposed to be thriving in the pandemic, but Cisco Systems’ shares are down more than 11 per cent today after the network equipment maker warned that its current quarter to October might produce an even bigger drop-off in sales than it experienced during the sharp contraction of the most recent three months.

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3. Lenovo reports strong growth
The world’s largest computer maker is profiting from providing new equipment for the working-from-home era. Lenovo reported sales rose 7 per cent to $13.3bn for the June quarter. Its dual headquarters in Beijing and North Carolina may offer it some protection from US-China trade tensions.

4. Facebook still hosting fake-review groups
Facebook groups enabling the creation of fraudulent Amazon reviews are thriving, seven months after the social network assured the UK’s competition regulator it would curb the behaviour. An investigation by Which? discovered dozens of groups set up to game Amazon’s review system by offering refunds or commissions in exchange for favourable reviews.

5. Ripple seeks new uses for blockchain tech
The creator of the XRP cryptocurrency is striking out in a new direction as sales stall, reports Richard Waters. It is trying to become the Amazon of the cryptocurrency world, using its platform to support activities far beyond the original cross-border payments system it hoped to build.

Column chart of Value of XRP sold each quarter ($m) showing Ripple’s cryptocurrency sales stall

Forwarded from Sifted — the European start-up week

Holvi, the Finnish fintech offering banking for sole traders and small businesses, this week said it was pulling out of the UK less than six months after launch, citing increased uncertainty over coronavirus and Brexit. The departure comes after N26, the German challenger bank, pulled out of the UK in February, also citing Brexit (although also likely motivated by low customer traction and regulatory problems) and highlights how tough the UK market really is for new banks.

In other worrying fintech news this week, Revolut said that losses had tripled in the last financial year to £107.4m. This followed a similar widening of losses at digital banking competitors Monzo and Starling.

But it was not all bad news for European start-ups. Finland’s Varjo raised $54m in fresh funding just 18 months after the launch of its first virtual and mixed reality headset, in a sign that there are still investors willing to back this unfashionable sector. And new venture capital funds are still being launched, with one this week called La Famiglia backed by some of Germany’s biggest industrial names like Mittal, Oetker and Swarovski. Founding partner Jeannette zu Fürstenberg is a hereditary princess.

Tech tools — ShiftCam smartphone lenses

ShiftCam’s multi-lens product — for iPhone XS Max and iPhone 11 — gives a smartphone camera significant new potential, writes Jonathan Margolis. A five-lens version adds telephoto, fisheye, particularly fine 10x and 20x macro lenses and — the dark horse — a (slightly fiddly) polarising filter, as used by professionals to kill reflections from shiny surfaces. Things get more interesting with the range of ProLenses, which can be screwed on to the case. This includes a £135 12mm lens for ultrawide photos without distortions, which does the job of DSLR lenses costing 10 times as much.

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BVG Associates Wins North Carolina Offshore Wind Gig




UK-headquartered consultancy company BVG Associates has been awarded a contract by the North Carolina Department of Commerce to assist the agency with an offshore wind industry supply chain and infrastructure assessment.

BVG Associates will help the Department research and develop an inventory of businesses, organizations, and physical infrastructure best positioned to promote offshore wind development in North Carolina, according to a press release from 11 August.

“Moving to a clean energy economy will bring new jobs and economic growth to North Carolina”, said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. “The Commerce Department’s study will gather the information and insights we need to prepare our infrastructure and our workforce for the future opportunities this promising industry offers us”.

The new assessment report, which is part of the ongoing work to implement North Carolina’s Clean Energy Plan put into effect by the State’s Governor Roy Cooper two years ago, is expected to be published later this year.

In 2019, Governor Cooper set aside USD 1.5 million to boost clean energy and green businesses in the proposed 2019-2021 budget, including USD 300,000 for a study on North Carolina’s potential to host offshore wind operations and associated jobs.

On the North Carolina assessment, BVG Associates will work together with representatives from Lloyd’s Register Energy Americas, Timmons Group, and North Carolina State University.

Waters offshore North Carolina are home to the Kitty Hawk lease area. Avangrid Renewables secured the rights to develop the 122,405-acre lease area offshore Kitty Hawk in May 2017. 

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How A Side Hustle Became A Full-time Gig For Utah Adventurers




SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A few years ago, Allie Miraglia and Trent Childs were cleaning their home when they had an epiphany. 

“I was just like, why do we need all this space?” Childs said. 

So, they downsized. The couple bought a van, fixed it up and started living out of it. 

It was a unique adventure, so they logged it, documentary-style, posting clips to YouTube.

And they decided to monetize their page – maybe make a few bucks on the side of their full-time jobs.

“The first time a paycheck came in from YouTube (it) was probably like $25,” Trent said. “I lost my mind.” 

The views began to slowly increase.

“We started to really take it seriously,” Miraglia said. “What happens if we focus our effort and our energy on this?” 

They quit their jobs, sold their Salt Lake City home and began driving around and seeing the world — posting to YouTube along the way. 

With a camera and a van, the couple made it down to Argentina before COVID-19 struck.

They flew home and began working on a new place to live, YouTube clicks paying the bills.

Allie Miraglia paints a cabinet door at their new home.

“We have been making a living,” Trent said. “We’ve been paying our bills.”

 Childs and Miraglia (who recently married in a ceremony posted to YouTube), admitted living in a van is less expensive than living in a home, but said they are now earning enough income regularly to afford their former lifestyle. 

Still, he said it’s not for the faint of heart. 

“The hardest part of YouTube is that it’s a job where we go to work every day, we put out these videos and we kind of expect a paycheck,” he said. “But it’s not promised. There’s no guarantee nothing is for sure.”

According to an estimate by Forbesa YouTuber can make between $3 and $5 for every 1,000 views a video gets — which can add up to real money real fast. Using that math, a million views could mean between $3,000 and $5,000.

It’s also a rapidly growing industry. According to YouTube, a billion hours are watched daily. The number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube grew more than 40% year to year, the number of channels earning five figures per year on YouTube grew more than 50% and the number of channels with more than one million subscribers grew by more than 65%. 

Miraglia said she never dreamed their YouTube channel, which now has more than 250,000 subscribers, would become their main source of revenue — but she’s happy it has.

Allie Miraglia videos Trent Childs.

“My advice to anyone interested in starting a YouTube channel is to start one. One hundred percent. It’s easy. It’s free. You don’t lose anything by putting yourself out there and trying,” she said. 

YouTube said over the past five years, it’s paid out more than $2 billion to content creators under its YouTube Partner Program. A lot of that is going to the people at the top. Forbes reports that last year the top 10 YouTube channels alone made $162 million.

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