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Mov gives you a chance to win your favorite athlete’s game day attire — sweat, tears and all

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“If it smells, that’s how they’re going to receive it.”

While that claim would likely make most D2C founders cringe, for founder Chris Alston, it’s part of the magic of his company, Mov. The upstart, based in Los Angeles, connects fans to the game-worn apparel of their favorite athletes through a sweepstakes-style model. And in the market of sports memorabilia, authenticity (even if it includes sweat, blood and tears) is everything.

“We send it as is,” he said. “We want to make it a really special experience for the fans.”

Mov, launched just a few weeks ago, is more than a rebranded eBay or NBA auction site. The company, founded by Alston, his brother Brandon and Jacqueline Pounder, uses a sweepstakes-style model to raise money for a game-worn item. With each sale, 70% of money raised goes toward a cause of the athlete’s choice. The remaining 30% goes to Mov employees and operations. Causes currently listed on the website include Milwaukee Freedom Fund, Girls and Boys Club of Portland and With Us Foundation.

“Athletes wear these game-worn items, and our platform gives them a way to donate and make an impact without any extra time on them and their busy schedules,” Alston said. All an athlete has to do is ship their item to a Los Angeles warehouse after the game, and Mov will get it into the winner’s hands.

Like any sweepstakes model, there’s no purchase necessary to enter. Everyone gets one free ticket to win an item, whether it’s CJ McCollum’s Li-Ning Yushuai 13 sneakers or Pat Connaughton’s Equality jersey. However, if a fan wants to buy more tickets to increase their chances, they can do so for $1 to $2 a ticket.

“Typically with game-worn gear, it’s whoever has the most money,” Alston said. “For us, we’re allowing anyone to enter to win for one ticket, and so we’re decreasing the barrier to entry.”

Alston grew up surrounded by philanthropy and sports. His grandparents took their own school board to court, and helped lead desegregation efforts in Virginia Schools. His brother is a professional basketball player and Alston himself played college football at Columbia University. Eventually Alston dropped out of Columbia to pursue tech entrepreneurship.

With that background, it would have made sense that Alston landed on creating a product that combines charitable causes with athletes. However, the first iteration of Mov looked far different than it does today. The product started as a video e-commerce platform, basically creating a video version of eBay. After Mov had difficulty scaling its marketplace, he thought of new ways to define his market. He landed on the network of athletes that he and his brother know well — and the fact that a not-so-tiny NBA rule change had recently passed.

In 2018, NBA players were allowed to start wearing any sneaker color of their choice. While it might be a small deal to some, the ability to wear different kinds of sneakers quickly turned into players repping charities or causes on their gear during games. Alston saw Mov as a way to take gear that athletes either throw out or give away and repurpose it for a good cause.

The success of Mov, from both a charity and revenue perspective, depends on how many fans sign up for its service and eventually pay for a chance to win an item. While the founder would not disclose total users just yet, he finds optimism in how much money an item is able to make through Mov. For example, Pat Connaughton’s Jersey made $2,164 on Mov versus $560 on the NBA auction site.

“During this crazy time, crazy year, we’re really trying to maximize how everyone can give back,” he said.

 

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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AutoX becomes China’s first to remove safety drivers from robotaxis

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Residents of Shenzhen will see truly driverless cars on the road starting Thursday. AutoX, a four-year-old startup backed by Alibaba, MediaTek and Shanghai Motors, is deploying a fleet of 25 unmanned vehicles in downtown Shenzhen, marking the first time any autonomous driving car in China tests without safety drivers or remote operators on public roads.

The cars, meant as robotaxis, are not yet open to the public, an AutoX spokesperson told TechCrunch.

The milestone came just five months after AutoX landed a permit from California to start driverless tests, following in the footsteps of Waymo and Nuro.

It also indicates that China wants to bring its smart driving industry on par with the U.S. Cities from Shenzhen to Shanghai are competing to attract autonomous driving upstarts by clearing regulatory hurdles, touting subsidies and putting up 5G infrastructure.

As a result, each city ends up with its own poster child in the space: AutoX and Deeproute.ai in Shenzhen, Pony.ai and WeRide in Guangzhou, Momenta in Suzhou, Baidu’s Apollo fleet in Beijing, to name a few. The autonomous driving companies, in turn, work closely with traditional carmakers to make their vehicles smarter and more suitable for future transportation.

“We have obtained support from the local government. Shenzhen is making a lot of rapid progress on legislation for self-driving cars,” said the AutoX representative.

The decision to remove drivers from the front and operators from a remote center appears a bold move in one of China’s most populated cities. AutoX equips its vehicles with its proprietary vehicle control unit called XCU, which it claims has faster processing speed and more computational capability to handle the complex road scenarios in China’s cities.

“[The XCU] provides multiple layers of redundancy to handle this kind of situation,” said AutoX when asked how its vehicles will respond should the machines ever go rogue.

The company also stressed the experience it learned from “millions of miles” driven in China’s densest city centers through its 100 robotaxis in the past few years. Its rivals are also aggressively accumulating mileage to train their self-driving algorithms while banking sizable investments to fund R&D and pilot tests. AutoX itself, for instance, has raised more than $160 million to date.

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Google faces complaint from NLRB alleging surveillance of employees and other labor violations

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The National Labor Relations Board today issued a complaint against Google after investigating the firing of several employees last November. The complaint alleges Google violated parts of the National Labor Relations Act by surveilling employees, and generally interfered with, restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.

The NLRB also alleges Google discouraged “its employees from forming, joining, assisting a union or engaging in other protected, concerted activities,” the complaint states.

“This complaint makes clear that workers have the right to speak to issues of ethical business and the composition of management,” Laurence Berland, one of the fired Google employees, said in a statement. “This is a significant finding at a time when we’re seeing the power of a handful of tech billionaires consolidate control over our lives and our society. Workers have the right to speak out about and organize, as the NLRB is affirming, but we also know that we should not, and cannot, cleave off ethical concerns about the role management wants to play in that society.”

Ex-Googlers Berland and Kathryn Spiers previously filed a federal complaint with the NLRB arguing Google fired them for organizing, which is a protected activity. They had organized around a variety of topics, including Google’s treatment of its temporary, vendor and contractor workers, Google’s alleged retaliation against employees who organized, the company’s work with Customs and Border Protection and more.

Additionally, in November 2019, Google put Rebecca Rivers and Berland on leave for allegedly violating company policies. At the time, Google said one had searched for and shared confidential documents that were not pertinent to their job, and one had looked at the individual calendars of some staffers. Following a protest in support of the two, Rivers, Berland, Duke and Waldman were fired.

“Google has always worked to support a culture of internal discussion, and we place immense trust in our employees,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Of course employees have protected labor rights that we strongly support, but we have always taken information security very seriously. We’re confident in our decision and legal position. Actions undertaken by the employees at issue were a serious violation of our policies and an unacceptable breach of a trusted responsibility.”

This comes shortly after the NLRB issued a formal complaint against Google contractor HCL, alleging the company repeatedly violated the rights of unionized workers. Moving forward, Berland and Spiers are hoping the NLRB prosecutes the case against Google and seeks reinstatement and damages for them. But the next step is for the complaint to head to the desk of an administrative judge.

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Neuroglee gets $2.3 million to develop digital therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases

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There are now about 50 million people with dementia globally, a number the World Health Organization expects to triple by 2050. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia and caregivers are often overwhelmed, without enough support.

Neuroglee, a Singapore-based health tech startup, wants to help with a digital therapeutic platform created to treat patients in the early stages of the disease. Founded this year to focus on neurodegenerative diseases, Neuroglee announced today it has raised $2.3 million in pre-seed funding.

The round was led by Eisai Co., one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and Kuldeep Singh Rajput, the founder and chief executive officer of predictive healthcare startup Biofourmis.

Neuroglee’s prescription digital therapy software for Alzheimer’s, called NG-001, is its main product. The company plans to start clinical trials next year. NG-001 is meant to complement medication and other treatments, and once it is prescribed by a clinician, patients can access its cognitive exercises and tasks through a tablet.

Neuroglee founder and CEO Aniket Singh Rajput (brother of Kuldeep) told TechCrunch that its first target markets for NG-001 are the United States and Singapore, followed by Japan. NG-001 needs to gain regulatory approval in each country, and it will start by seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance.

Once it launches, clinicians will have two ways to prescribe NG-001, through their healthcare provider platform or an electronic prescription tool. A platform called Neuroglee Connect will give clinicians, caregivers and patients access to support and features for reimbursement and coverage.

The software tracks patients’ progress, such as the speed of their fingers and the time it takes to complete an exercise, and delivers personalized treatment programs. It also has features to address the mental health of patients, including one that shows images that can bring up positive memories, which in turn can help alleviate depression and anxiety when used in tandem with other cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.

For caregivers and clinicians, NG-001 helps them track patient progress and their compliance with other treatments, like medications. This means that healthcare providers can work closely with patients even remotely, which is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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