Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia are pushing an antitrust investigation against Google – gpgmail

Fifty attorneys general are pushing forward with an antitrust investigation against Google, led by the Texas state Attorney General Ken Paxton.

In an announcement on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building, Paxton and a gathering of attorneys general said that the focus of the investigation would be on Google’s advertising practices, but that other points of inquiry could be included in the investigation.

The investigation into Google comes as big technology companies find themselves increasingly under the regulatory microscope for everything from anticompetitive business practices to violations of users’ privacy and security, to accusations of political bias.

Last week, the New York State Attorney General launched an investigation into Facebook.

Action from the states follows movement from the federal government which is investigating just about every major technology company including Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook.

This story is developing.

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There’s an ocean of opportunity for startups targeting the seafood industry – gpgmail

Seafood has blown past its iceberg lettuce stage and entered trendy greens territory, with eaters loading up on oceanic superfoods and falling in love with previously unknown species as fast as daters swipe right. Even inland-dwelling locavores can easily satisfy their seafood cravings. What once was waste is now a premium snack, or maybe a wallet. We get that farmed fish is good—in every sense of that word. Mystery fish are a thing of the past. Sustainability is a minimum standard, not a luxury.

Just two years ago, that’s what I thought the seafood world would look like in 2027. Back then, as I studied trends in consumer desires, seafood sustainability initiatives, technology and investment, I foresaw seven transformative changes happening within a decade.

At the time it seemed like I was surfing the edge of plausibility. But based on what I’ve learned from the 200 or so seafood innovators entering the Fish 2.0 network over this past year, it’s all happening—in many cases much faster than I expected. And it’s happening all over the world.

So what does the future of seafood look like today?

Our palates are getting schooled

I predicted more diverse seafood diets, and while lionfish is not (yet) the new kale, don’t be surprised to see it sitting atop a Caesar salad in a few years.

People are looking beyond the shrimp-salmon-tuna triumvirate and learning to love the less familiar. Barramundi and cobia are going mainstream in some markets. Sustainable seafood purveyors are turning species that used to get thrown away into high-end treats, and celebrity chefs are buying invasive species (like that lionfish) and overlooked delicacies (like scampi caviar). At the same time, it’s getting easier to grow healthful, great-tasting salmon and other popular species in land-based farms, thanks to better feeds, disease prevention and production systems.

It looks like we really will stop loving our favorite wild fish to death and become more adventurous seafood eaters.

Fish and boat, Saint Louis, Senegal, West Africa, Africa (Photo: Godong / robertharding/Getty Images)

We’re buying direct

Local seafood still isn’t easy to come by for many of us, but options for buying direct from fishers—near or far—are proliferating. The number of community-supported fisheries (seafood’s take on the farm-to-table model) on Local Catch has quadrupled since 2017, and some fishers are looking to copy Seattle’s Pike’s Place fish market model. Even more are selling direct to restaurants and fishmongers in their home markets and overseas.

Fishers are finding that quality and diversity earn a premium. By selling boat- or farm-fresh seafood direct to chefs and market owners, they can earn three to six times the price distributors pay. And mobile apps are making it fast and easy for those who provide top-notch seafood to connect with those who want it. This trend is likely to grow as food packaging and preservation technologies continue to improve, making shipping cheaper. Big picture: sustainable seafood is reaching a broader market than ever, at prices that reflect its value.

Mystery fish are so yesterday

So many startups are working on traceability and transparency challenges that there’s little doubt we’ll soon know who caught a fish, where they caught it, how cold they kept it and more. Mystery fish is well on its way to no longer being a thing, at least in regions where regulations are enforced.

The rise of seatech is speeding efforts to clear up seafood’s notoriously murky supply chain. Sensors, robotics, networked cameras and other technologies that operate in and out of the water are helping fishers and farmers collect and analyze real-time data, so they can catch and grow seafood in the best possible way. Labor practices are getting a dose of daylight too.

The questions today are not about whether we can collect essential data, but about who owns the data, how public it should be and which datasets are most important. This is a huge leap forward.

Courtesy of Mikael Damkier/Shutterstock

Fish feed solutions accelerate

Right now, most farmed fish eat food made from wild forage fish. That’s not sustainable, which is why two years ago we were thrilled by the mere existence of alternative fish feed ingredients. Now more sophisticated thinking about the problem is fueling surprisingly fast progress.

Today it’s all about optimizing and scaling production. Many companies are turning black soldier flies into fish feed, and now they’re working on genetics that make flies richer in omega 3s and function better as feeds. Others have turned algae, grains and even industrial methane emissions into nutritious fish feed ingredients, and they’re figuring out the best mix of ingredients to grow each species.

This confluence of creative thinking means the fish feed problem is likely to get solved sooner than we thought possible, and make an even bigger impact on the aquaculture industry.

Farmed fish are big—and that’s a good thing

Speaking of aquaculture, I said farmed fish would fill out more of our seafood plate, and they are. Aquaculture is growing at a clip of 5.8 percent a year and accounts for more than half the fish we eat.

Not all farmed fish are raised right, but they can be. Solutions to aquaculture’s sustainability challenges are heading to market. In addition to the fish feed problem, innovators are working on escape-proof ocean farms, resource-efficient land farms, natural remedies for healthier fish, capturing and upcycling fish farm waste, and more productive hatcheries. This is all good—we need sustainable fish farming to take the pressure off wild fisheries and meet global demand for clean protein.

Photo courtesy of GettyImages/Johanna Parkin

There’s a war on waste

Turning waste into value was a niche in 2017. Now it’s one part of a broader campaign to crack down on waste at every point in the seafood supply chain. Does throwing out heads, tails and bones really make sense? Increasingly, the answer is no. New processing and preservation technologies allow higher yield from each fish, and people are taking a fresh look at “trash.”

Fish jerky from California whitefish offcuts is making a splash, as are bone broths made from seafood. In Australia, new products like scampi caviar, honey bugs and GT shrimp (named by Aussies after the car)—all recently discarded as bycatch—are yielding higher profits than the traditional deep-water scampi catch. The challenge now shifts from reducing waste in these supply chains to making sure the full fisheries remain sustainable.

Sustainability is the table stake

Over 90 percent of large-scale, U.S.-based seafood buyers have committed to selling only sustainable products. They’re trying to pluck the junk from their supply chains—and they have plenty of work yet to do—so there’s no way they’re buying something new that’s not sustainable. And the seafood itself is just the start of the conversation. Buyers want to know what a supplier is doing about labor, packaging and resource use, and new products must beat the status quo to gain space on shelves and screens. Introducing an unsustainable seafood product to today’s marketplace would be like introducing a petroleum-powered Hummer to the current car market. We can’t claim victory on sustainability yet, but the tide truly has turned.

Change goes deeper and faster

What most surprises me about all this progress is not just how fast it’s happening, but how people are redefining the problems. Instead of simply creating different fish feeds, innovators are asking how we can cut the amount of feed needed to grow each fish, make feeds more nutritious and breed fish that are light eaters or thrive on vegetarian diets. Instead of wondering whether aquaculture can advance, they’re working on clearing bottlenecks around hatcheries, disease and genetics. Packaging waste was barely on the seafood world’s radar two years ago; now it’s a prime target.

This has a lot to do with the sheer number of talented entrepreneurs and investors entering the seafood sector. The more ideas and technologies we put in play, the more hits we’re going to have. It also has to do with connections. I’m struck by how eager people are to work together regionally and across oceans and borders, once they get out of their caves and meet each other. The entrepreneurs participating in Fish 2.0 are as interested in partnerships with other businesses as they are in investment. As these personal networks pull together pieces of innovation bubbling up around the world and more investors jump into the pool, the pace of change in seafood has moved from a simmer to a rolling boil.

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African incubator MEST has a new MD and 11 fresh startup investments – gpgmail

Pan-African incubator MEST announced investments in 11 startups from its 2019 cohort that will each receive $100,000 in financing.

The $1.1 million backing for a graduating class is the largest to date for the Accra-based organization — which operates as a training program and seed fund for African innovators to build successful commercial tech companies.

By country presence and membership, MEST is one of Africa’s largest tech hubs, and has a new managing director — Ashwin Ravichandran — who succeeded Aaron Fu in July.

This year’s investment recipients come from four countries: Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. The startups offer goods and services across diverse sectors, from agtech to fintech to beauty and entertainment (see full list below).

Ghanaian fintech startup Bezo Money will use the funding from MEST to launch its app aimed at formalizing and digitizing West Africa’s traditional savings groups, founder Mubarak Sumaila told gpgmail on a call from MEST’s Accra offices.

MEST 2019 cohort graduate and investment recipient Zuri has created a platform to organize, review and connect beauty services and professionals to clients online. “The global beauty services industry is worth over $100 billion and the African market is worth over $30 billion,” said Zuri founder Onyinye Nnedolisa. The company will use its investment funds on product development and business development.

MEST takes equity in its portfolio startups, which have 18 months of incubation support from the organization, including the option to work out of MEST incubators in multiple African markets, MEST’s new MD Ashwin Ravichandran told gpgmail.

On future focus, MEST is looking to expand to additional countries. It currently has incubator spaces in Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya and has a strong eye on setting up shop in Cote d’Ivoire, according to Ravichandran.

MEST will continue its entrepreneurial training programs, aimed at shaping founders who can launch companies, and maintain a strong focus on developing and investing in Africa’s early-stage startups.

MEST is funded primarily by Norwegian entrepreneur and philanthropist Jorn Lyseggen’s Meltwater Foundation. For several years, the incubator has discussed forming a full on VC fund.

That could be imminent. “We have all the pieces in place right now, I think Jorn’s just figuring out the last steps before announcing it,” said Ashwin. The VC fund would have more capital and go beyond MEST’s seed-stage investments to consider Series stage rounds to African startups.

Africa has seen a boom in tech hubs over the last decade that have become focal points for startup formation, digital skills building, events and IT activity.

A joint GSMA, Briter Bridges report tallied 618 tech hubs across the continent. Like MEST, many of the hubs got their start from grant funding, and there’s an ongoing conversation about viability and sustainability for these spaces going forward.

TechHubsinAfricain2019 Briter BridgesIncreasingly, some of the largest African hubs — such as MEST, Nigeria’s CcHub and Kenya’s iHub — have moved toward more fee-based services and investment activities to generate greater operating revenue. On whether this is a future model for Africa’s tech hubs, “Yes, it definitely is,” Ravichandran said.

Startups interested in joining MEST’s 2020 cohort, and potentially gaining investment upon graduation, can get recruitment updates online.

Here’s MEST’s list and description of the 11 ventures from its 2019 class that earned $100K seed rounds:

  • Massira: a social support network and healthcare service aggregator for women,
    launching in Ghana
  • BezoMoney: a digital savings platform for traditional savings groups, launching in Ghana
  • Farmula: a web and USSD platform to create a direct connection between farmers and businesses using an automated process to increase order efficiency, launching in Kenya
  • CoFundie: a platform for crowd-sourcing funds for the development of buildings using cost efficient and time-saving techniques, launching in Nigeria
  • Niqao: a financing platform that connects merchants and lenders to enable them to offer customers the option of paying in installments, launching in Ghana
  • Saada: a messaging and mobile money ticketing services for increasing digital sales and data collection, launching in Kenya
  • Nadia: a personalized automated health companion that provides quick medical attention and prescriptions, launching in Kenya
  • Kweza: a service that enables informal retailers to order products at the best price and receive deliveries directly to their stores, launching in South Africa
  • CoVibes: a platform that pairs verified studios and producers, allowing them to list their profiles and manage bookings while enabling artists to find and collaborate with them and each other, launching in Nigeria
  • Adi+Bolga: a platform using the power of technology and community to gather data and create conversations around the black skin and black skincare, launching in Ghana
  • Zuri: a platform that helps beauty professionals manage their customers and provides an easy way for people to find and book beauty services, launching in Nigeria

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