Tech

Here’s How Elon Musk Is Going To Save The World

By Matthew Alvarez

A lot of people wonder when the future’s coming, while others make it.

That’s what Tesla is currently doing, and most everyday folks either don’t know or don’t care about it unfortunately.

A revolution of how we use energy to power our homes and transport ourselves is on the horizon, and the future is very bright.

For over a hundred years, the oil and car manufacturing industries have had smooth sailing, not just dominating their respective fields but also literally controlling how we as a species power the world.

That incredibly strong foundation is however, starting to show small cracks with concepts like climate change earning widespread recognition and evidence that we might be running out of fossil fuels sooner than later. Whether we want it to or not, the methods we use today to extract and use energy has to change, and Tesla is leading the way in widening those cracks.

Let’s start with a bit of context as to why Tesla is more than just your average high end car dealer. The company was founded by Elon Musk (a dude who not only created PayPal, but is currently running SpaceX, SolarCity and Tesla).

Realizing that electric cars could not only be practical, but also eventually affordable, Musk set out to create just that vision.

Tesla’s plan from the beginning was to make the Model 3 (which we’ll get to soon), but they needed capital and trust from the automobile market before, so they made the Roadster, a high end 100% supercar that goes 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

Then came the Model S, a 4 door electric luxury sedan that goes 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds and has the highest safety rating of any vehicle ever, followed by the Model X, an electric luxury SUV. The sales, high praise and recognition from these three EV’s (Electric Vehicles) paved the way for the flagship product that has every tech geek and automobile enthusiast either panicking or cheering for, the Model 3.

The Tesla Model S. Photo Credit: Christopher Dorobek/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Tesla Model S. Photo Credit: Christopher Dorobek/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

There’s a reason The Model 3 made over 325,000 preorders with a $1000 deposit within days of its announcement.

Without any significant advertising the company has captured the world’s attention with its grassroots origins and completely unique business operation.

Tesla built their cars from scratch, reworking the idea of what makes a car, all with the goal of making the Model 3.

It starts at $35,000, goes from 0 to 60 in under 6 seconds, has a 5 star safety rating in all categories, can drive up to 215 miles on a single charge, and has autopilot. Oh and that’s just the basic version of it, Tesla is known to continuously update their vehicles, beefing up both software and hardware.

Alright cool, all that has somehow failed to impress you, so why should you care?

Because that package comes in the same price range as a Cadillac ATS, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes CLA, and Lexus IS (without Tax incentives). The Model 3 won’t just be competing with high end luxury vehicles like its predecessors, but will now enter the market of middle class affordable vehicles, which is the most important market to tap if they want to reach their goal of selling 500,000 Model 3’s.

The Model 3 is offering quality on par with luxury brands while staying just above current competitor EV prices. Tesla already proved you don’t need to sacrifice the commodities of a gas powered sports car for an electric engine, so if they keep up their end of the deal with the Model 3 they’ll prove that you can get more out of an electric powered car than whatever you’re driving right now.

To accomplish this very, very ambitious goal, Tesla started building their own battery production plant, a lithium ion battery Gigafactory, which will also happen to be the second largest building in the world volume wise.

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The Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. Photo Credit: Windell Oskay/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Other than needing their own supply of mass produced car batteries, Tesla built this plant with another end goal in mind: Driving up the global supply of lithium ion batteries while cutting down production costs by getting rid of the middlemen, which in turn lowers prices of the battery by a projected 30%.

This is crucial for Tesla if they want to produce the Model 3s both in time and for a profit. Once production begins sometime in 2017, the Gigafactory will aim to double the world’s production of these batteries by 2020 when it becomes fully operational. To account for the lack of infrastructure to supplement long range travels with an EV, Tesla is building hundreds of charging stations worldwide along highways and major cities, called Superchargers, giving incentives for people who like to take long distance trips.

Of course all these magical accomplishments haven’t come without massive struggles. Tesla’s stocks have zig-zagged since its inception, and they almost went completely bankrupt in 2008.

They have pushed back every deadline they have ever set, and every new venture they take still has incredible risk to fail. Even with their impressive growth, their projected and current numbers only make a small dent in the auto industry compared to other EV’s (even if those other cars are of inferior quality).

There are endless reports on the obstacles Tesla has ahead of itself, which include likely deadlines pushes, lack of resources, long term failure to lower costs, and ultimately the demand for their vehicles outside of tech-savvy wealthy liberals (frankly). It’s important to understand all these upcoming challenges are valid and apparent, even if Tesla is currently addressing them.

What has seemed to be ignored by a lot of reports are the possibilities and implications the Model 3 would give not just Western society, but the future.

The optimistic future pans out if the Model 3 continues to run its hype train reaching 500,000 sales, and have the Gigafactory reach full manufacturing capacity by 2020 with only minimal deadline setbacks. At that point Tesla would cement itself as a serious threat to anything powered by gasoline. And of course there is the future beyond Model 3. Musk has always said that Tesla’s main focus would go to low cost, widely available products, so it only makes sense that we could possibly see cheaper versions of the Model S and Model X along with new models.

On top of its own growth, the influence Tesla has given to the rest of the industry to start experimenting with electrically powered vehicles has started seeing significant results. Cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt have gained traction, and more companies are pushing towards creating hybrids and EV’s every year.

With everything thrown at it, and every odd against it, Tesla has gotten this far and that’s an accomplishment in itself. They have passed their proving grounds, now Tesla is standing up to the test of time. It won’t be easy for them to reach the finish line that they are quite literally still building, but the change has started.

Electric cars are just a small step that the world will have to embrace and take if we want optimize our long term energy habits for generations to come. A world where you charge your car every night like you do your phone is closer than you think, and will need to be.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us

Africa’s First Billion Dollar Start Up Is A Bet On The Rise Of The Continent’s Middle Class. But Is It A Smart Bet?

For decades, the narrative around African business has been pretty negative. But things are changing as demonstrated by the recent achievement by the Africa Internet Group– as it became the first ever African based “Unicorn” start up company.

Africa Internet Group just received an $85 million investment, valuing the company at over $1 billion, and making it a “Unicorn”.

AIG is essentially Silicon Valley, but all packed into one business.

They invest in and help manage over 30 African companies like Easy Taxi, Jumia, and Lamudi, which mimic the Uber’s, Amazon’s, and Zillow’s of the world.

Glassdoor reviews from former employees of AIG give it a 3.2 rating out of 5 with 21 reviews. The pros largely coalesced around the work: always busy and challenging.

The cons all focused on the same issues surrounding management, with every negative review either highlighting a lack of communication or unrealistic expectations for their subordinates.

These complaints about management seemed to be shared by ownership, as last December, the company began to lay off upper level staff left and right, with one of its largest companies, Jumia, firing over 300 workers in Nigeria, its largest market.

It is not unusual for one startup to go through upheaval like this, but when many companies all operating under the same umbrella go through the same issues, it is a bit worrisome.

However, AXA and Orange would not have invested in AIG at the valuation they did unless it was satisfied with its executive team, so one would think that this massive shakeup is largely a good thing for the company.

Given the timing of the overhaul and the subsequent transaction, this management purge was most likely a contingency for these large firms’ financing, because ultimately, they are not investing in AIG, but in the rising African middle class.

The common theme amongst AIG’s portfolio is e-commerce, as they have laid the foundation of their company on the emerging proletariat.

The size and the economic maturity of the middle class is the subject of fierce debate, as companies like Nestle serve as cautionary tales; their billion dollar expansion hit a rut and was forced to scale back its African workforce by 15% once returns proved to be smaller than expected.

WATCH: Inside a Africa Internet Group Office in Lagos, Nigeria. 

Much of the investment in Africa has been based around the notion that one third of Africans are “middle class,” which emerged from a 2011 paper from the African Development Bank Group which stated that the middle class had tripled over the last 30 years.

However, the AfDB defined it as Africans living off of $2 to $20 in purchasing power per day, with it divided into three separate tiers which further muddied the certainty surrounding the definition of “middle class.”

Standard Bank released a study last September that looked at 11 African countries which account for over half the continent’s GDP, and found the size of their middle class to be 15 million people, or about 300 million less than AfDB estimated for the entire continent.

The middle class of the largest African country by GDP, Nigeria, is estimated at 11%, with 86% of all Africans reportedly falling under “low income.”

The Pew Research Center provides extra support to this assertion as they estimate that just 6% of Africans qualify as “middle class,” which they define as living off of $10 to $20 per day.

90% of Africans are estimated to still live off of less than $10 per day according to Pew.

However, even though the data seems to hint that investors may be too bullish, it does not mean that they should reverse course and become bearish on the many different African economies.

Capital is still flowing into the continent, as foreign direct investment is up over 12% since 2008.

Additionally, some of the struggles companies like Nestle experienced could be due more to cultural misunderstandings than a lack of disposable income across Africa.

“There was no presumption [from the AfDB] that this middle class would exhibit Western modes in terms of consumption of food formula for middle-class babies [Nestlé] nor for whisky [Diaego],” Kayizzi-Mugerwa, one of the chief economists for the AfDB said. “In the latter case, Africans have always had a partiality for beer − irrespective of class – and the beer companies are doing roaring business.”

Many African countries are still dealing with structural issues that go back centuries, as Egypt’s inflation is 210th in the world due to the instability that has arisen over the last 5 years.

Nigeria needs to modernize its workforce as 70% work in agriculture, yet farming accounts for just 20% of its GDP.

South Africa, which remains the model for many African countries, has 66% of its workforce comprising the services industry, which accounts for 67.4% of its GDP, yet the rest of the continent’s labor pool is much closer to Nigeria than its most modernized nation at its southernmost tip.

The historic investment in Africa Internet Group must be seen as a larger investment in Africa as a whole, because without a modernized Africa, the e-commerce that AIG provides would have no market for buyers or sellers.

Africa is still an emerging economy, but it has shed many of the 3rd world caricatures that the West has forced upon it over the years, with Sacha Poignonnec, CEO of Africa Internet Group providing a mission statement for the company that could be construed as one for the entire continent as well:

“We want to be profitable but we are very long-term oriented. Amazon is a great model to look at. They have a great valuation, they have a great customer base. Everyone one is confident that Amazon has a great future but they are still yet to make money.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us

Kodak Is Planning To Sell Its First Film Camera Since 1982

LAS VEGAS — Few American tech brands are as iconic—or seemingly as doomed to history—as Kodak. And yet the venerable Rochester, N.Y., company managed to create some of the biggest buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show with a retro product with some really famous fans: a new Super 8 motion picture camera that will shoot old-school… Read More

US Wind Capacity Tops 70 Gigawatts In Major Renewable Milestone

Hundreds more gigawatts expected in the coming decades More than 70 gigawatts of wind power is installed around the U.S., according to new figures from the American Wind Energy Association. The milestone was hit in November. It took three years to get from 60 gigawatts to 70 gigawatts due to the temporary expiration of the Production… Read More

AT&T Is Ending Two-Year Contracts, But There’s A Catch For Existing Customers

A leaked memo sent to AT&T employees this morning reveals that the company is finally putting and end to two-year contracts for all customers. While some might be excited that AT&T has finally given in to the contract-free peer pressure, there appears to be a catch for existing customers. Looking at the memo, which Engadget received… Read More

2016 Could Be A Make Or Break Year For Apple

With two weeks left in 2015, Apple’s future is looking surprisingly uncertain given its status as the world’s most valuable company. Its market cap over the course of the year has fallen from its peak of $775 billion to just over $614 billion as of Thursday. Its iPhone — which accounts for well over half its… Read More

Tesla Recall In Effect for 90,000 Model S Cars

Tesla, the American electric car maker has announced that is recalling 90,000 of its Model S vehicles due to a potential issue with the seatbelt system in the cars.

The Tesla recall is a voluntary one spurred on by one incident in Europe.

According to Business Insider, one Telsa owner sitting in the front passenger seat in Europe turned around in her seat to speak to people sitting in the rear of the car, and her seat belt came unbuckled. When Tesla tested the problem, it confirmed similar problems and issued the recall.

The issue is only impacting the Model S and a company spokesperson told Business Insider that the recall was being done out of an “abundance of caution.”

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors. Photo Credit: Maurizio Pesce/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors. Photo Credit: Maurizio Pesce/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Tesla broke the news to customers in an email.

From the email sent to Tesla customers (obtained by The Next Web):

“We are sending you this email to inform you of a proactive action Tesla is taking to ensure your safety. Tesla recently found a Model S in Europe with a front seat belt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pretensioner. This vehicle was not involved in a crash and there were no injuries. However, in the event of a crash, a seatbelt in this condition would not provide full protection. First and foremost, we care about your safety.

This is the only customer vehicle we know of with this condition. Even though we have since inspected the seat belts in over 3,000 vehicles spanning the entire range of Model S production and found no issues, we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall as a proactive and precautionary measure to inspect all front Model S seat belts and make absolutely sure that they are properly connected. (We have no concerns regarding seat belts in the rear of Model S.)”

Tesla has asked all Model S customers to schedule an appointment at a Tesla service facility so they can do an inspection.

More to come. Stay with Rise News.

Cover Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

South Florida Tech Should Make It A Priority To Make Miami A 2016 NewCo City

By David Capelli

Miami is on everyone’s radar, as the NewCo movement sparked heightened interest in the Magic City’s bustling ecosystem. I was able to go behind the scenes of Newco San Francisco and Oakland earlier this month. While there, I made the case for why Miami should be the next Newco city in 2016.

NewCo is a movement celebrating people in a city sharing a new narrative of business and culture. From a selected applicant pool companies, non-profits, and initiatives open their doors to the public and share their space, story and experience with an interactive crowd, catalyzing a narrative of collaboration, culture and ecosystem building for a more resilient economy.

“Business is changing” NewCo CEO John Battelle said at Newco’s open house in the Bay Area. “75% of millennials say they prefer working for a company focused on positive change. Technology is not a vertical, it’s horizontal.”

Read More: Start Up Miami-LiveAnswer Leads The Way In South Florida Tech Innovation

At a time when the economy is rapidly changing from an industrial to innovation economy, Newco empowers communities to celebrate and spark new positive change. Battelle, a former media executive with several successful exits, was inspired to start Newco for the Valley to “see a world bigger than them.”

After a while, Battelle realized he needed to “ stop being half- pregnant and go. Just do it.”

NewCo is now in 17 cities and rapidly expanding, with their newest media platform featuring Newco companies around the world on their daily newsletter, building community around the new innovation economy.

NewCo experiences cost at most $500 for the VIP level. The aim is to engage the entire community in the experience. For included companies and non-profits, there is zero cost to host and much to gain, most notably, exposure, customers, and connections. Being selected as a Newco city is a rigorous process.

 “Although I don’t know Miami well, I know Miami has a strong connection to Latin America. To me, that is an interesting narrative for Miami.” Chris Redlitz, Managing Partner at Transmedia Capital said.

“We look to see the city’s narrative, their unique companies and extensive team of various leaders that can pull off all components of hosting a Newco experience,” Lee Ann Mariglia, NewCo’s Communications Director said.

During the NewCo event, I was able to meet the CEO’s and go behind the scenes of Slack, Lyft, BetterDoctor, EatWith, NovaEd, the City of Oakland, Comrade, and Uber. Each session has Newco “ambassadors” that assist with the open-house experiences in the companies.

I served as an ambassador for EatWith, an in-house restaurant experience concept. The next day their team and I grabbed coffee and discussed their interest in entering the Miami market, along with other plans for the Miami ecosystem to spur more food entrepreneurs. Experiences like these connect cities and people together for stronger economies, something Miami has been doing for years for tourists.

Sitting next to me at the Newco session was one of Newco’s first investors, Chris Redlitz, Managing Partner at Transmedia Capital. I asked him what about Miami excites him as an investor and what he hopes to discover in Miami.

Read More: In Miami’s Wynwood Art District, A 25 Year Old Artist Is Ready To Take The City By Storm

“I am interested in discovering global market trends early on and nurturing that unique, fresh talent” Redlitz said. “Although I don’t know Miami well, I know Miami has a strong connection to Latin America. To me, that is an interesting narrative for Miami.”

Miami has a narrative that truly resembles the mission of NewCo of identifying, celebrating and connecting engines of positive change in our society. The entrepreneurial community, governments, and tourism/travel groups all contribute to our developing ecosystem and are critical to having a successful NewCo festival in Miami.

Miami has a new narrative to share with the world: the most diverse and bustling entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country at the nexus of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Let’s tell the story together and make Miami a Newco city in 2016.

David Capelli is Founder/CEO of TECH Miami and a contributor to Rise News.

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? (No matter how big or small!) Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

Cover Photo Credit: Vladimir Kud/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

VICE Media Executive To Give Free Advice For Miami Startups At Event Tuesday Night

Miami’s bustling startup community will be centered on Lincoln Road Tuesday night for a talk by VICE Media’s Dan Perry on how to produce an effective content strategy for new businesses.

The event is hosted by Jurnid, a publishing platform startup that connects publishers with top freelance talent. The event will allow people in Miami’s startup and small business ecosystem to ask questions and learn from Perry on best practices to web content.

From Jurnid on what to expect:

“Join Dan Perry and a growing list of game changing Miami based startups for an evening of discussion focused on content strategy. Develop a content strategy for your startup, brand, organization or business that works. Build a more engaged community around your products and services. Learn what current trends are affecting your digital signals and how to cut through the noise of information overload. We focus heavily on Q&A after a very short presentation, so bring your questions!”

contentstrategyforstartupsdanperry

Andrew Quarrie, the founder of Jurnid said that the event could be a game changer for some local businesses.

“We want founders and attendees to walk away with answers and insights related to their specific implementation of a content strategy,” Quarrie said. “Since we focus heavily on Q&A, this becomes a forum where we can learn from each other’s experience. Aside from knowledge gained, making peer and media related connections are important to building relationships for the exchange of ideas and more.”

Quarrie said that Perry was picked as the speaker because of his experience leading Vice Media’s expansion across three continents.

“He [Perry] comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share,” Quarrie said. “Entrepreneurs, marketers, and anyone in business responsible for developing a content strategy can learn from engaging in this discussion.”

The event will be taking place October 13 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at WeWork co-working space (350 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139).

Quarrie said that there is a shift happening in the digital marketing space, as display ads and traditional SEM style push in advertising are not as effective as the pull of stories that are native to the websites, apps, and various media properties of businesses and brands.

“Organic and native stories perform better for engaging readers, which can help with high quality web traffic, lead generation, and brand loyalty,” Quarrie said. “It is important for startups to tell original stories even while in the early stages of building a product. Drive better engagement with your current and potential customers – pre and post launch – know what resonates with your audience.”

Rise News is a media sponsor of the event.

Rise News readers can attend it for free by using this link for tickets: 

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/content-strategy-for-startups-powered-by-jurnid-tickets-18928268962?discount=WE1013

Photo Credit: b k/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. 

This App Will Let You Swipe Right To Match With Donald Trump

By Klaudia Balogh

Swipe left for no, swipe right for yes, but this time not because you want to match with the blue-eyed girl or the handsome guy on your screen.

With the Voter app, you can use the Tinder model to find the 2016 candidate of your dreams.

Swipe one way or the other whether you agree or disagree with a political view, such as subsidizing student loans, labeling GMO foods, increasing funding for renewable energy or requiring background checks to buy a gun.

According to a Census data from 2012, only 45 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted during the election, compared to 72 percent of Americans 65 and older.

Voting begins at the basic awareness level. The more the public knows about the parties and candidates, the more likely they are to make a decision as to which one they support.

Pew Research Center conducted a study during the summer of this year about the political interest and awareness of Millennials and found that only 26 percent names politics and government as one of the top three topics they are interested in, making them the group that’s the least interested in the subject.

Social media apps are out to change that. They are designed to capture Millenials’ attention quickly and educate them in a way that’s most convenient to them — through their smart phone.

Voter is a matchmaker for politics, or you can call it the Tinder of politics. The app brings up different questions about political views and based on whether you agree or disagree with them, by swiping left or right, it will show you a percentage how closely your views align with each party and candidate.

Founders Hunter Scarborough and Suneil Nyamathi say they created Voter to make political data more available and deliver it faster to the 18 to 29-year-old generation who is best approachable through their phone.

“According to Pew, 57 percent of 18 to 29 year olds get political news from social networking apps and nowhere else,” Scarborough said in an interview with GovFresh “The stage is primed to engage Millennials and younger generations on their turf.”

To make sure the data the app uses is accurate, Voter partners and gathers resources from organizations including GovTrack.us, the Sunlight Foundation, Google’s Civic API, OpenSecrets, and Project Votesmart.

“To ensure the highest level of accuracy, we hold politicians accountable to their actions, analyzing candidates’ voting records, public agenda, personal views, speeches and more,” the 25 year old Scarborough said to GovFresh.

Another company that takes politics to social media platforms is Brigade with Facebook’s co-founder Sean Parker being behind the wheel of its development.

The Brigade team wanted to start small with discussion tools that will engage users to talk about their political views, what they agree or disagree with, make survey questions, create groups that follow similar issues and keep up a conversation on hot topics and debates.

Through Brigade users can take a stand on their civic identity. CEO Matt Mahan told The Guardian, it “really comes down to ‘What you believe and care about?’ and ‘What have you done about those things?’”

Starting social media sites and apps that will trigger the political interest of Millennials has been a challenge.

Both Voter and Brigade aim to increase mass civic participation and bring politics to a level where users can not only see the different parties and ballots in a simple setup, but can also share their views on related subjects.

Citing a Gallup poll Scarborough said that 82 percent of Americans do not trust the news and other media when it comes to politics. And with that lack of trust in traditional sources of information, perhaps these new tools will democratize the way voters pick their candidates moving forward.

“When we were thinking about how to engage people in politics, most people say they don’t care about politics. They hate politicians,” Parker told TechCrunch. “Congressional approval ratings are at a historic low. Trust in government is at a historic low. From one point of view, the system is about as broken as it can be, but when we interview users, we find that everyone has an issue they care about or something that they want to change the world.”

Like this piece? Rise News just launched a few weeks ago and is only getting started. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with global news. Have a news tip? Send it to us- editor@risenews.net. (We can keep your identity hidden.)

Cover Photo Credit: Voter App/ Facebook

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