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Uber vet raises $5.2M for blue-collar logistics marketplace



After working as a general manager for Uber in Nevada, Jason Radisson realized the need for a way to connect blue-collar workers to companies looking to employ them.

So in late 2018, the idea for Shift One — a marketplace aimed at pairing workers and employers — was born. The startup is focused on last-mile logistics and delivery, e-commerce fulfillment and large-scale event management.

Since formally launching in 2019, Shift One has grown to have 25,000 workers on its platform — many of whom it says were unemployed at the time of hire. And it has about 50 clients in the U.S. and Colombia, including Amazon, NASCAR, Weee!, Mensajeros Urbanos and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

It matches employers with workers, and also helps them with tasks such as time, taxes, attendance, productivity and work-order management.

To help it grow and further expand its reach, Shift One just raised a $5.2 million seed round led by City Light Capital, with participation from K50 Ventures, Ventura Investments and Human Ventures, as well as Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen’s JAM fund and angel Felipe Villamarin.

On the operations side, all of Shift One’s original team either worked for Uber or Lyft, according to founder and CEO Radisson. The early technical team were all previously Uber employees.

Radisson says the impetus behind starting the company was the desire “to correct and improve some of the things in Gig 1.0.”

“We wanted it to be more balanced for workers, and break some negative flywheels where people were cycling through a lot of logistics jobs and not getting paid well,” he told TechCrunch. “We wanted to give them stability.”

At the same time, Radisson said, he knew that companies on the logistics side were struggling to find good workers. Shift One works with a range of skill levels, from entry-level employees to supervisors and warehouse managers.

Knowing that many logistics workers are used to working as contract employees with no benefits, Shift One gives all the workers on its platform full benefits with “low contributions” from the first day of hire. It also provides them with checking accounts and debit cards.

“A lot of these workers are unbanked and didn’t have the ability to even get a paycheck,” Radisson said.

It also aims to give them “full schedules” and have them work on whole teams as much as possible.

“It’s part of our value prop that our teams are cohesive and really high functioning,” he added.

Until now, San Francisco-based Shift One has been bootstrapped. It is “slightly” profitable and has been re-investing that money into growing the business. It saw its revenue climb by tenfold in 2020 from an admittedly “small base.” The startup has offices in Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Bogotá and Bucharest. 

Looking ahead, it plans to use its new capital to expand into new markets (it’s currently operating in about 12 states), boost its headcount of 20 and accelerate its tech roadmap.

“In the last four to five months, we’ve moved very strong into last mile” as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, Radisson said. “We want to give opportunities to millions that didn’t go to college and that have seen stagnant wages for years. We want to give them opportunities to get ahead.”

JAM Fund principal and Tinder co-founder Mateen believes Shift One is turning the labor problem of “adverse selection” on its head.

“Gig work has been defined by seasonality and availability — neither are particularly good for workers,” he said. 

Even Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has thoughts, pointing out that blue-collar jobs have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19.

With Shift One, “workers receive fairly compensated jobs with the opportunity to grow and develop,” he said in a written statement. “Companies get access to a steady, predictable source of high-quality labor. And Miami benefits from the virtuous circle of higher employment and strong local businesses.”


Facebook will pay $650 million to settle class action suit centered on Illinois privacy law



Facebook was ordered to pay $650 million Friday for running afoul of an Illinois law designed to protect the state’s residents from invasive privacy practices.

That law, the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), is a powerful state measure that’s tripped up tech companies in recent years. The suit against Facebook was first filed in 2015, alleging that Facebook’s practice of tagging people in photos using facial recognition without their consent violated state law.

1.6 million Illinois residents will receive at least $345 under the final settlement ruling in California federal court. The final number is $100 higher than the $550 million Facebook proposed in 2020, which a judge deemed inadequate. Facebook disabled the automatic facial recognition tagging features in 2019, making it opt-in instead and addressing some of the privacy criticisms echoed by the Illinois class action suit.

A cluster of lawsuits accused Microsoft, Google and Amazon of breaking the same law last year after Illinois residents’ faces were used to train their facial recognition systems without explicit consent.

The Illinois privacy law has tangled up some of tech’s giants, but BIPA has even more potential to impact smaller companies with questionable privacy practices. The controversial facial recognition software company Clearview AI now faces its own BIPA-based class action lawsuit in the state after the company failed to dodge the suit by pushing it out of state courts.

A $650 million settlement would be enough to crush any normal company, though Facebook can brush it off much like it did with the FTC’s record-setting $5 billion penalty in 2019. But the Illinois law isn’t without teeth. For Clearview, it was enough to make the company pull out of business in the state altogether.

The law can’t punish a behemoth like Facebook in the same way, but it is one piece in a regulatory puzzle that poses an increasing threat to the way tech’s data brokers have done business for years. With regulators at the federal, state and legislative level proposing aggressive measures to rein in tech, the landmark Illinois law provides a compelling framework that other states could copy and paste. And if big tech thinks navigating federal oversight will be a nightmare, a patchwork of aggressive state laws governing how tech companies do business on a state-by-state basis is an alternate regulatory future that could prove even less palatable.


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AWS reorganizes DeepRacer League to encourage more newbies



AWS launched the DeepRacer League in 2018 as a fun way to teach developers machine learning, and it’s been building on the idea ever since. Today, it announced the latest league season with two divisions: Open and Pro.

As Marcia Villalba wrote in a blog post announcing the new league, “AWS DeepRacer is an autonomous 1/18th scale race car designed to test [reinforcement learning] models by racing virtually in the AWS DeepRacer console or physically on a track at AWS and customer events. AWS DeepRacer is for developers of all skill levels, even if you don’t have any ML experience. When learning RL using AWS DeepRacer, you can take part in the AWS DeepRacer League where you get experience with machine learning in a fun and competitive environment.”

While the company started these as in-person races with physical cars, the pandemic has forced them to make it a virtual event over the last year, but the new format seemed to be blocking out newcomers. Since the goal is to teach people about machine learning, getting new people involved is crucial to the company.

That’s why it created the Open League, which as the name suggests is open to anyone. You can test your skills and if you’re good enough, finishing in the top 10%, you can compete in the Pro division. Everyone competes for prizes as well such as vehicle customizations.

The top 16 in the Pro League each month race for a chance to go to the finals at AWS re:Invent in 2021, an event that may or may not be virtual, depending on where we are in the pandemic recovery.

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Free 30-day trial of Extra Crunch included with TC Sessions: Justice tickets



TC Sessions: Justice is coming up on Wednesday, and we’ve decided to sweeten the deal for what’s included with your event pass. Buy your ticket now and you’ll get a free month of access to Extra Crunch, our membership program focused on founders and startup teams with exclusive articles published daily.

Extra Crunch unlocks access to our weekly investor surveys, private market analysis and in-depth interviews with experts on fundraising, growth, monetization and other core startup topics. Get feedback on your pitch deck through Extra Crunch Live, and stay informed with our members-only Extra Crunch newsletter. Other benefits include an improved experience and savings on software services from AWS, Crunchbase and more.

Learn more about Extra Crunch benefits here, and buy your TC Sessions: Justice tickets here.  

What is TC Sessions: Justice? 

TC Sessions: Justice is a single-day virtual event that explores diversity, equity and inclusion in tech, the gig worker experience, the justice system and more. We’ll host a series of interviews with key figures in the tech community. 

The event will take place March 3, and we’d love to have you join. 

View the event agenda here, and purchase tickets here

Once you buy your TC Sessions: Justice pass, you will be emailed a link and unique code you can use to claim the free month of Extra Crunch.

Already bought your TC Sessions: Justice ticket?

Existing pass holders will be emailed with information on how to claim the free month of Extra Crunch membership. All new ticket purchases will receive information over email immediately after the purchase is complete.

Already an Extra Crunch member?

We’re happy to extend a free month of access to existing users. Please contact and mention that you are existing Extra Crunch members who bought a ticket to TC Sessions: Justice. 

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