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Rivian electric pickup will debut with three editions, with a cheaper one to follow

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Rivian is opening up pre-orders for three editions of its upcoming electric pickup truck and SUV that start as low as $67,500 and with a battery range of more than 300 miles. However, more options will follow, including a base version that will have a smaller range of at least 250 miles and a price below $67,000.

Information on the three editions and their accompanying equipment packages, paint options and pricing is just a few of the numerous details released Wednesday on Rivian’s website. Perhaps one of the more notable tidbits include the addition of cheaper base version of the pickup and SUV, the official inclusion of the camp kitchen accessory and confirmation that a battery pack capable of more than 400 miles will be offered at some point in the future.

Rivian, which has attracted investment from the likes of Ford, Amazon, funds managed by BlackRock, T. Rowe Price and Associates and Cox Automotive, is aiming to become the first to bring an EV pickup truck to market. But it’s facing competition from legacy automakers such as GM as well as Tesla, which says it will start production of its futuristic looking Cybertruck in late 2021. Ford is also planning to bring an all-electric F-150 pickup truck to market in 2022.

rivian interior gif

Image Credits: Rivian

Deliveries of the first and, so far, most expensive version of the pickup truck called the Launch edition will begin in June 2021. The Launch edition of the RT1 truck will start at $75,000 (that’s before federal tax incentives are applied) and be able to travel more than 300 miles on the standard battery. The Launch edition will also have a special paint color called “Launch Green” along with other special badging and 20-inch all-terrain or 22-inch sport wheel upgrades included.

Tho other packages — the Adventure and Explore — will be offered for the RT1 truck and the R1S SUV. All of these versions will have more than 300 miles of range. The big differences come in the finishes. The Launch and Adventure editions, for instance, come standard with an off-road upgrade with reinforced underbody shield, dual front bumper tow hooks and air compressor as well as “compass yellow” interior accents, 100% recycled microfiber headliner and “Chilewich floor mats.”

The various pickup truck editions range between $75,000 and $67,500 in price. The R1S SUV prices range between $77,500 and $70,000. And all of these editions will arrive in the marketplace at different times between June 2021 and into January 2022.

Customers who place pre-orders now, which requires a $1,000 deposit, will have access to a configurator November 16. Everyone else will have access to the configurator, which allows customers to pick the paint color, equipment package and other details, on November 23.

The bigger 400-plus mile battery will come to the pickup truck first, starting in January 2022, according to Rivian. A longer range R1S SUV with both five- and seven-passenger seating will be announced following start of production, the company said on its website.

Rivian specs

 

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Uber officially completes Postmates acquisition

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Uber today announced the official completion of its Postmates acquisition deal, which it announced originally back in July. The all-stock deal, valued at around $2.65 billion at the time of its disclosure, sees Postmates join Uber, while continuing to operate as a separate service with its own branding and front-end – while some backend operations, including a shared pool of drivers, will merge.

Uber detailed some of its further thinking around the newly combined companies and what that will mean for the businesses they work with in a new blog post. The company posited the move as of benefit to the merchant population they work with, and alongside the official closure announced a new initiative to encourage and gather customer feedback on the merchant side.

They’re calling it a “regional listening exercise” to be run beginning next year, wherein they’ll work with local restaurant associations and chambers of commerce to hear concerns from local business owners in their own communities. This sounds similar in design to Uber’s prior efforts to focus on driver feedback from a couple of years ago in order to improve the way it works with that side of its double-sided marketplace.

Focusing on the needs of its merchant population is doubly important given the current global pandemic, which has seen Uber Eats emerge as even more of a key infrastructure component in the food service and grocery industries as people seek more delivery options in order to better comply with stay-at-home orders and other public safety recommendations.

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Facebook-backed Libra Association rebrands as Diem

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The Libra Association, a consortium created by Facebook to support its Libra cryptocurrency efforts, announced this morning that it has a new name — the Diem Association — and made some key hires ahead of its launch.

This is just the latest course correction since the Libra project was announced last year. In an attempt to appease financial regulators around the world, the association shifted its strategy away from creating a global stablecoin and will instead launch multiple stablecoins, each tied to a different fiat currency (such as the U.S. dollar and the euro).

The project has also seen some high-profile departures, with announced partners like Visa and Stripe leaving the project. And Facebook has rebranded its cryptocurrency wallet, changing the name from Calibra to Novi.

In a statement, Diem Association CEO Stuart Levey more-or-less acknowledged that the new name is an attempt to distance the group from Facebook, and from its earlier controversies.

“The Diem project will provide a simple platform for fintech innovation to thrive and enable consumers and businesses to conduct instantaneous, low-cost, highly secure transactions,” Levey said. “We are committed to doing so in a way that promotes financial inclusion – expanding access to those who need it most, and simultaneously protecting the integrity of the financial system by deterring and detecting illicit conduct. We are excited to introduce Diem – a new name that signals the project’s growing maturity and independence.”

As for the new hires, they include Chief Technology Officer Dahlia Malkhi, Chief of Staff Christy Clark, Chief Legal Officer Steve Bunnel and Executive Vice President for Growth and Innovation/Deputy General Counsel Kiran Raj. Diem Networks, the subsidiary that will actually operate the Diem payment system, has also hired James Emmett as managing director, Sterling Daines as chief compliance officer, Ian Jenkins as chief financial and risk officer and Saumya Bhavsar as general counsel.

While today’s announcement doesn’t include any specifics about timing, it suggests the association is positioning itself for an imminent launch — albeit one that will “proceed only upon receiving regulatory approval, including a payment systems license for the operational subsidiary of the Association from FINMA.”

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Loop Team wants to give remote workers an in-office feel

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As we’ve moved to work from home during the pandemic, it’s been challenging for remote workers to feel connected. Loop Team, a new entrant into the enterprise communications space, thinks the way we are communicating needs improvement. That’s why the startup is releasing Loop Team today, a tool that is trying to use software to reproduce the in-office experience.

Company founder and CEO Raj Singh says that he learned about the problems of feeling disconnected first-hand at a previous remote-first company, but in spite of his best attempts to use technology to produce that in-office feel, he said he continued to feel out of the loop (so to speak). That’s when he decided to build the solution he wanted.

“We’ve looked at a lot of the interactions that happen when you’re physically in an office — the visual communication, the background conversations, the hallway chatter, the serendipitous bumping, things like that. And we built an experience that effectively is a virtual office. And so it tries to represent the best parts of what a physical office experience might be like, but in a virtual form,” Singh explained to me.

While he created this company prior to COVID, the pandemic has highlighted the need for a tool like this. Before he created the software, he interviewed hundreds of people who worked from home to understand their issues working outside of the office and he heard a lot of common complaints.

“There was an office and they didn’t necessarily know what was going on. They didn’t know who was available. They didn’t know who was around. It was difficult to connect. Everything was scheduled through calendar. They were missing some of that presence — and they were feeling lonely or out of touch or out of the loop,” he said.

His company’s solution tries to reproduce the office experience using AI, good, old-fashioned presence awareness and other tech to let team members know what you’re doing and if you’re available to chat. So just as you would wander down the hall and see your colleague on the phone or deeply involved with work on the laptop, and know to leave them be, you could get that same feel with Loop.

Loop Team Highlights

Image Credits: Loop Team

It gives the current status of the person, and you can know from looking at the list of people on your team, who’s available to talk and who’s busy. As you go into virtual discussions, the team can see who’s having meetings and individuals can pop in too, just as you might do in the office.

What’s more, you can set up rooms (like in Slack), but these are designed to give you a more personal connection using video and audio for actual discussion. You can work on projects via screen share and people who miss these meetings because of other obligations or time zone differences, can always review what they missed.

While you can do all of these things in Slack and Zoom, or in some combination of similar tools, Loop’s layout and presentation is designed to help you see the conversations in a clear way and expose what you want to see, while hiding parts of the day that don’t interest you.

The product is available for free starting today, but Singh wants to introduce a pricing model sometime next year based on team size. He expects there will always be a freemium version for teams under 10 people.

The company was founded in 2018 and nurtured at the Stanford SRI Institute. It has raised $4.75 million so far. Today it starts on its journey as a startup with its first product, and it’s one that comes with good timing as more teams find themselves working remotely than every before.

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