Author: LauraLorek@gmail.com (Page 5 of 343)

LauraLorek@gmail.com

Austin Startups See Uptick in Fourth Quarter VC Funding but Overall Deals and Dollars are Down for 2023

Austin startups raised more than $1.12 billion in venture capital in the fourth quarter of 2023,  an almost 10 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago, according to the latest Pitchbook-National Venture Capital Association Venture Monitor Report.

The fourth quarter VC funding is also an almost 46 percent increase from the $607 million Austin startups raised in the third quarter of this year.

The number of deals funded in the Austin Round Rock metropolitan area also hit 126 deals in the fourth quarter, an almost 11 percent increase from 114 in the fourth quarter of 2022.

For all of 2023, Austin startups raised $3.8 billion, down 30 percent, compared to $5.5 billion for 2022. The number of deals funded in the Austin Round Rock metropolitan area also dropped to 416 in 2023, down 15 percent from 492 deals in 2022.

The top deal financed in the fourth quarter of 2023 was $300 million to Firefly Aerospace, based in Cedar Park, creating rockets for commercial launches to orbit.

The second largest deal was Infinitum Electric, which makes electric motors and received $200 million in venture funding. The third largest funding went to Mach Industries, a defense startup developing hydrogen-powered unmanned aerial vehicles, weapons, and generators, and received $84.1 million.

Deal, fundraising, and exit activity were down for the fourth quarter, according to the National Venture Capital Association. But the market isn’t in crisis, according to Bobby Franklin, president and CEO of the NVCA.

“Rather,  the market has changed,” he wrote in a statement. “From interest rates to foreign conflict, the world looks very different than it did two years ago, and a new set of problems needs to be solved for.”

Overall, startups nationwide attracted $170.6 billion in venture capital, down $71.6 billion from 2022.

Top Austin VC Deals in the Fourth Quarter

Firefly Aerospace.   $300.0 million

Infinitum                   $200.0 million

Mach Industries          $84.1 million

Saronic                         $55.0 million

Paradromics                $50.1 million

Source: Pitchbook

Harbor Health Raises $95.5 Million to Expand Healthcare Services in Central Texas

Austin-based Harbor Health, a primary and specialty clinic group, recently announced that it has secured an additional $95.5 million in funding.

General Catalyst led the round of funding with participation from Alta Partners and *VC. To date, Harbor Health has raised more than $128 million.

The company plans to use the funding to provide more primary care services and specialty care offerings.

Harbor Health was founded by Dr. Clay Johnston, Eric Scott (from 8VC), and Tony Miller.

“We realized in order to maximize the impact of our innovations, we needed to combine our efforts into one enterprise as a vertically integrated ‘pay-vider’ – both a payer and a provider,” Johnston said in a statement. “We have built a geographically dense care model that is organized around integrated practice units and focused on member health conditions. This new investment and our rapid growth confirm our innovative care model is working, and we’re meeting more people where they are with collaborative, team-based care.”

Harbor Health is creating a new healthcare model that puts consumers in control of their health.

“Eventually, we see a future where current care design and benefit design models become obsolete, replaced by a health-producing and health-promoting system that follows people along their life journeys,” Miller said in a statement.

This new approach and the history of success by both Johnston and Miller have attracted attention in the marketplace and from investors.

 “There’s a strong appetite for a fresh approach to healthcare delivery among employers that prioritizes outcomes, enhances consumer engagement, and is proactive by design,” Chris Bischoff, Managing Director at General Catalyst said in a statement.. “We believe Harbor Health is providing ease of access to the largest covered population in the U.S. and bringing much-needed change as the company seeks to transform value-based care for the commercial sector. This aligns with our Health Assurance thesis. We look forward to supporting Tony, Clay, and the Harbor Health team in this new phase of growth.”

Harbor Health has eight locations in Central Texas, with more planned this year. It also launched two mobile health units. It employs 43 clinicians. Harbor Health touched consumers more than 25,000 times in Austin in 2023 with in-clinic appointments, virtual appointments, mobile clinics, and other modes of communication.

From Frog Design to argodesign: Mark Rolston’s Journey of Innovation, Creativity, and AI Insights

When frog design fired Doreen Lorenzo for doing great work for a client but not charging enough, Mark Rolston decided to leave the firm and start his own company.

It was the “actual kick in the pants to do it right then,” Rolston recalled.

He worked at frog for 20 years since 1994 and wanted to “remake what I enjoyed about frog” and roll it out into the marketplace. argodesign encourages a “culture of open willingness to argue” and challenges each other’s work to get the best possible solution and products. argodesign focuses on creating products that interact with technology.

Lorenzo, assistant dean of the School of Design and Creative Technologies at the University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts, interviewed Rolston at BigIdeasATX, a monthly event series hosted by Silicon Hills News. Unnanu, evisio, and Swyft sponsored the event.

Rolston founded argodesign in 2014, and in 2018, he sold to a $22 billion IT company, DXC Technology, for an undisclosed sum. Rolston, who has a more than 30-year career in the design industry, has worked with some of Austin’s most innovative startups, including Apptronik on its Apollo robot for NASA and ICON on its massive 3-D printer for houses and other structures. argodesign also works with Dreamworks, Sam’s Club, and others. argodesign has offices in New York, Amsterdam and Munich.

During an hour-long talk at argodesign’s headquarters in downtown Austin, Lorenzo asked Rolston about topics such as AI, creativity, copyright, technology evolution, and AI’s future.

Here are five key takeaways from the talk:

  1. Shift in Technology and Product Development and AI in Software Development:
    Rolston talked about the evolution of the products being developed, from stereos and toasters to software and mobile apps. He discussed the challenges of creating AI tools for developers to make sense of AI at scale. He mentioned a shift toward dynamic, on-the-fly application creation, exemplified by the mention of Google’s Gemini.
  2. Velocity of Change and Creativity:
    Lorenzo and Rolston talked about the rapid pace of technological change and its impact on creativity. They explored ideas on the potential for AI to create dynamic, ephemeral applications based on user requests.
  3. Copyright Issues:
    Rolston said there is a need for potential regulation in the context of copyright, mainly as AI generates content inspired by existing works. He said there are challenges in existing copyright law, and there is a need for a rewrite to address AI-generated content.
  4. Creativity and Human-AI Collaboration:
    Rolston acknowledged the role of humans in creativity and the belief that creatives will find ways to protect their work in the digital space. He believed that AI could enhance the creative processes and contribute a new form of collaboration.
  5. Complexity of Emotion in AI and AI as a Tool for Empowerment: Rolston said detecting emotion in AI is a complex problem. Humans often attribute emotions to machines that are programmed to react like Furbys, according to Lorenzo. Rolston has a vision of designing AI systems that empower individuals to participate actively in conversations and the world around them.

Watch the entire talk in the YouTube video embedded below for more information.

Mark Rolston, Founder and Chief Creative of argodesign interviewed by Doreen Lorenzo

BigIdeasATX with Mark Rolston, Founder and Chief Creative of argodesign Doreen Lorenzo, Assistant Dean, School of Design and Creative Technologies at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, will interview Mark Rolston at the event.

Handraise Lands $6.3 Million in Funding to Create AI-Powered PR Platform

Former TrendKite Founder and CEO Matt Allison has raised $6.3 million in seed funding to launch Handraise.

Austin-based Handraise will create a platform powered by artificial intelligence to help companies increase the impact of their press coverage.

Allison built TrendKite into a top media monitoring and analytics platform, which Cision acquired in 2019 for $225 million.

“As we worked with the world’s foremost PR and communications professionals at TrendKite, I realized there is a massive opportunity to help everyone involved – brands, communications professionals, journalists, and news consumers – get more out of the news by connecting the right audience to the right content,” Allison said in a news release.

“TrendKite was known in the industry for delivering on its promises of being consultative thought partners to its customers,” Allison said. “We helped our customers prove their value through our intuitive analytics and domain expertise. We’ll deliver on those same promises at Handraise while using generative artificial intelligence to help our customers measure their business impact and amplify it.”

Handraise is leveraging large language models to deliver simple yet profound insights without manual effort. This allows users to focus on strategy and impact.

“We were excited to learn that Matt and his former TrendKite colleagues are back together building a new product in the PR technology market,” Morgan Flager, Managing Partner at Silverton Partners, said in a news release. “Matt and his team of industry veterans are experts in the space, and we’re thrilled to back them again.”

Silverton Partners, Floodgate, Bill Wood Ventures, Firebrand VC, Aperiam Ventures, Active Capital, Sputnik ATX VC, Capital Factory, and a handful of world-class angel investors back Handraise.

“The ongoing advancements in generative AI are creating opportunities we’ve never seen before in the earned media space,” Mike Maples, Jr., Co-Founding Partner at Floodgate and early investor in Twitter, Lyft, Twitch, and others, said in a news release. “We believe the Handraise team is best suited to leverage their industry expertise and unique implementation of AI to unlock the power of news for everyone.”

Samsung Austin Semiconductor Donates $1 Million to Taylor ISD for a Career and Technical Education Center

Circuit board close-up, with Samsung and TI chips

Samsung Austin Semiconductor announced Tuesday that it has donated $1 million to the Taylor Independent School District for a new career and technical education center.

The money will pay for equipment, staff, and training needed for classrooms, dual credit labs for coursework, robotics and automation, and other manufacturing-related program-specific laboratories at Taylor ISD’s new CTE building at Taylor High School. The new center is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2025.

“This new investment from Samsung Austin Semiconductor underscores our shared commitment to the next generation of advanced manufacturing talent,” Jennifer Garcia-Edwardsen, superintendent of Taylor ISD, said in a news release. “Our students have enjoyed working as interns and learning about the semiconductor industry. We look forward to our continued long-term partnership in ensuring that our scholars are inspired, equipped, and empowered to achieve their unique potential.”

The district offers 16 CTE programs that provide hands-on experience in various careers, from engineering to health science.

 In November of 2021, Samsung Austin Semiconductor announced Taylor as the site for a $17 billion manufacturing facility. Since then, Samsung has provided tours of its facility to students, hosted a summer internship program, provided funding for teachers, and awarded a one-time grant of $250,000.

 “We are excited to expand our relationship with Taylor ISD and invest in the vital resources necessary to provide an effective learning method about the semiconductor industry,” said Samsung Austin Semiconductor president Bonyoung Koo in a news release. “We believe our partnership can help build the future workforce of Texas, and we look forward to supporting education that will encourage students to consider a career in the semiconductor industry; our partnership is important for Taylor, our state, and the nation, and the impact will be felt worldwide.”

 “This collaboration and Samsung presence in Taylor will provide opportunities for our scholars to find great employment in their hometown,” Rachelle Finck, director of Behavioral Health & Student Services at Taylor ISD, said in a news release.

Turning Trash into Treasures: The Startup Rockstars and Origin Tale of SXSW

The founders of SXSW got the idea for the event from New Music Seminar or NMS, a New York-based music festival in the mid-80s.

NMS always featured many Austin-based bands, said Hugh Forrest, Co-President and Chief Programming Officer of SXSW. After a plan to organize NMS South in Austin fell through, the four founders created South by Southwest during Spring Break of 1987. They picked that week in March because it was the slowest week of the year for the music venue.

It started with just 700 people. Today, SXSW has 60,000 badge holders and hundreds of thousands of consumers.

Forrest started the discussion Thursday afternoon at Austin Startup Week on “Why & How Startups Rock SXSW” by providing a “very brief look at the SXSW origin story.”

“I love telling the SXSW origin story, particularly when talking to startups,” Forrest said. “As with a lot of origin stories, SXSW happened more by coincidence than by design.”

The big takeaway from SXSW is that entrepreneurs turn trash into treasures, Forrest said. He said there’s a lot to learn from SXSW’s origin story.

“Find something that everyone has overlooked and create intense value,” Forrest said. “Or find an idea that no one has thought of before and create intense value. Or execute on a great idea that no one has executed on effectively before.”

The key is to “persist, persist, and then persist even more – and don’t take no for an answer,” Forrest said.

The four founders of SXSW were Roland Swenson, Louis Jay Meyers, Louis Black, and Nick Barbaro.

“These four SXSW founders paved the way for so much more March entrepreneurism,” Forrest said,

Among the great entrepreneurs to emerge from SXSW, Forrest included Johnny Cash in 1994,  

Foster the People in 2011, Billie Eilish in 2017, Grimes in 2012, and other musicians.

Another takeaway from SXSW is that entrepreneurs are rockstars and vice versa, Forrest said.

There are a lot of similarities between entrepreneurs and musicians, and that’s why SXSW has survived for so long, Forrest said.

“SXSW always focuses on Creativity, authenticity, originality, and innovative ideas,” Forrest said. Those are the traits and characteristics that define successful SXSW bands and startups, he said. Forrest said they want to be on the same stage and intermingle at SXSW. He also encouraged everyone to reconsider and broaden their idea of what an entrepreneur is today.

“What can you learn from other creative types that will help you as a startup,” Forrest asked. The mission of SXSW is to help creative people achieve their goals, he said.

The event has attracted big names like President Barrack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden through the years. It has also been a launching pad for companies like Twitter, Tim Ferris’ 4-Hour Workweek, Meerkat, ICON, and others.

At SXSW, entrepreneurs are even more critical than celebrities, Forrest said.

Chris Valentine, event manager for the SXSW Pitch competition, gave a quick presentation on the SXSW Pitch competition. Applications for SXSW Pitch are due on Sunday. There’s still time to apply at SXSW.com/Pitch, Valentine said.

Since 2009, SXSW Pitch has showcased 647 startups, which have raised a combined $23.2 billion in funding. Google, British Telecom, Apple, and others have acquired seven percent of those startups.

SXSW Pitch competition alums include Klout, ICON, Hipmunk, Tubemogul, Siri, Foodspotting, and Tango.

More than 700 startups apply for the SXSW Pitch competition every year, Valentine said. Of those, 45 finalists are selected to compete in nine categories, he said.

Startup Valuations Take a Hit as Investors Demand Profitability: Austin’s Evolving VC Landscape and Entrepreneurship Realities

Startups’ Valuations are down, and entrepreneurs must do more with less money and focus on their core business to become profitable.

The days of startups valued at 20 times revenue are over, and now, it’s more common to have five-, six– or seven-times revenue as a valuation, according to Mike Dodd, general partner of Silverton Partners.

He spoke on a panel during Austin Startup Week’s discussion on “The Shift of the VC Fundraising Landscape: What This Means for Texas Entrepreneurs” Wednesday morning at Capital Factory. Charlie Plauche, general partner of S3 Ventures, moderated the panel, which also included Venu Shamapant, founding partner of LiveOak Venture Partners, Kerry Rupp, general partner of True Wealth Ventures, and Tom Ball, Cofounder and managing partner of Next Coast Ventures.

“There was just a matter of time before this bubble burst,” Dodd said.

But the situation could be more dire. Dodd said the panel had $1 billion worth of “dry powder” or venture capital funds looking for an investment. Many of the firms raised significant funds a year or two ago, and they have been more discerning in the last three quarters of making investments.

That shows in the latest VC data on the Austin-Round Rock metro area. Austin companies completed 78 deals worth $589.9 million in the third quarter, down 33 percent in value and nearly 20 percent in deal volume from the same quarter a year ago, according to the latest Pitchbook-National Venture Capital Association Venture Monitor report.

In the first three quarters of 2023, Austin companies have raised nearly $2.8 billion in 290 deals.

“Austin will likely reach 400 completed deals for the third consecutive year in 2023,” according to the report. “That figure would be just a 20 percent decline from the 2021 high, making Austin one of the more resolute VC ecosystems of the major markets.”

“It’s been an entrepreneur-friendly environment for a while, but it’s shifted in the last ten months. It’s more investor-friendly,” Dodd said.

“It’s a very cyclical business,” said Ball, managing partner of Next Coast Ventures. Ball emphasized that there has never been a better time to start a business.

“You are in it for longer than the average marriage in America,” Ball said. “As long as you have a good idea and can fund it, it’s good.”

Ball said Next Coast Ventures has pushed all of its portfolio companies to reach profitability to survive. Three to four years ago, VCs told startups to pursue growth at all costs, and now they need to be profitable, Ball said.

“It’s a tough environment as an entrepreneur with all the different advice you get,” Ball said.

Entrepreneurs must focus on their core business, Rupp said.

Also, debt isn’t available like it was a few years ago, Shamapant said. He said the days of getting a low-interest loan from Silicon Valley Bank are gone.

Companies that have moved here need to know that things are going to get better, said Plauche, general partner of S3 Ventures.

Dodd said that Austin VCs have a lot of capital to focus on Austin investments.

In the past five years, Austin has seen a flood of people move from the California coast to Austin, and that’s been good for the ecosystem, Dodd said.

“I’m a bit of an Elon Musk fanboy,” he said.

In addition to relocating Tesla’s headquarters to Austin, Musk has brought SpaceX, the Boring Company, and Starlink operations here, and that’s good for everyone, Dodd said. He said that brings in many talented people, and some might decide to launch their own business.

“It’s better than it’s ever been,” Dodd said. “It may not look like that in your shoes right now because it’s hard to get capital. But I think we’re in a great spot.”

Silverton has made five new investments in the last three months; before that, it had yet to do any in the previous ten months, Dodd said.

Next Coast Ventures has also closed on five new deals in the last three months, Ball said.

Shamapant said he’s been in Austin for 24 years, and the venture capital industry is the healthiest it has ever been. Austin Ventures used to be the only venture capital firm in town two decades ago; now, there are dozens of firms, he said.

“Money has a lot better chance of getting to you when there are multiple firms in the market,” Shamapant said.

Austin needs to focus on its infrastructure to deal with the influx of new residents and companies, Shamapant said. In particular, there is a need for affordable housing.

“Inflation has hit here hard,” Ball said.

Californians have also driven up compensation levels, and startups need more capital at an early stage to build a company, he said.

“Every deal is going to need more money,” he said.

Plauche, general partner of S3 Ventures, asked the panelists what startup metrics they look at when deciding to invest.

At the early stage, many of the metrics True Wealth Ventures looks at in startups are qualitative, Rupp said.

“The first metric is the team,” she said. She said that it’s a bit more than just math at the seed stage.

“We don’t invest until we see efficacy that something improves health,” Rupp said.

Next Coast Ventures looks at the team and product market fit, Ball said.

LiveOak Venture Partners also looks at the team and product market fit, Shamapant said.

Silverton Partners focuses on product usage, Dodd said.

“If the usage is pretty high and becomes part of the daily workflow of the customer, then you are onto something,” he said. 

Rupp said seed investors and series A investors want a well-thought-out plan for how the entrepreneur uses the money.

“It’s kind of a long exercise of iterating around what can I do with the capital to get to the next stage,” she said. “You need to have a plan that makes sense to the investor around the assumptions you’ve made.”

Raising money is like being a plane, Ball said. And he said the entrepreneur has to take the plane apart and put it back together again before it crashes.

Q3 2023 Top 10 VC Deals in the Austin-Round Rock Metro Area

SpyCloud                          $110 million         Software                          Series D

Hidden Layer                    $50 million           Software                         Series A

One Model                        $41 million           Software                         Series B

Black Ore                           $40 million           Commercial Services    Series A

Diligent Robotics              $26.5 million        Computer Hardware    Series B2

Osano                                 $25 million           Software                         Series B

Chipletz                              $23.2 million        Computer Hardware    Series B

CertifID                               $20 million           Software                         Series B

Terminal Industries          $17 million           Software                         Seedstage

SkyFi                                    $14.4 million       Commercial Services    Seedstage

Source: Q3 2023 Pitchbook-NVCA Venture Monitor

Wise Expands Austin Operations and Relocates to Domain Tower II, Anticipates 50% Workforce Growth in 2024

Wise, a global fintech company, announced last week it is expanding its Austin operations and moving its office to The Domain Tower II.

Wise has announced plans to increase its Austin-based workforce by 50 percent in 2024.

“As our North American business continues to grow, having a full-stack operation based in Austin has allowed us to move swiftly to build an innovative and collaborative team dedicated to creating products and services to meet the needs of our customers,” Harsh Sinha, Chief Technology Officer, and interim CEO, said in a news release. “The move to the Domain Tower II will allow us to continue to meet that demand by giving us the space to grow our Austin-based headcount in 2024 and beyond.”

In January 2022, Wise moved to Austin and now has 180 employees in product management, software engineering, operations, sales, and customer support.

Wise will be the sole tenant on the 23rd floor of Domain Tower II and will occupy 29,000 square feet. It previously had offices at 14205 North Mopac.

Wise’s expansion is driven by the growth of its North American operations, with $221.5 million in fiscal 2023. The Austin operations comprise 21 percent of the company’s total revenue.

Wise is a global company with more than 5,000 employees representing 125 nationalities working across 17 offices around the world. In the US, Wise has more than 700 employees within office locations in Austin, Tampa, and New York City. It created online accounts that allow people and businesses to hold more than 40 currencies to move money between countries and spend money abroad. It has 7.2 million customers, including large companies and banks. It processes more than $10 billion in cross-border transactions every month.

Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus founded Wise in 2011 under the name TransferWise. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker WISE.

“As Wise, a global technology leader, expands its Austin footprint and plans to significantly expand its local workforce, we witness a remarkable testament to Austin’s thriving tech ecosystem,” said Roland Pena, senior vice president of global tech and innovation at Opportunity Austin, said in a news release. “This expansion exemplifies the unwavering confidence global companies have in our region as a hub for innovation and growth. Austin’s unique blend of talent, infrastructure, and entrepreneurial spirit continues to attract world-class organizations like Wise. It’s a testament to the fact that Austin is a top global destination for business and investment through the power of our vibrant community and ecosystem of innovation.”

Sana Lays Off Half of its Staff

Sana laid off 74 employees last Wednesday, about half of its staff, according to a post on its website.

“This is one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do at Sana,” Will Young, co-founder and CEO of Sana, wrote in a blog post on the company’s website. “We have had to say a lot of goodbyes, and I mostly feel awful at this moment. The impacted employees are talented, mission-driven people, many of whom are not only colleagues but also friends.”

It’s the second round of layoffs for Sana this year. In February, the healthcare insurance startup laid off about 19 percent of its staff or 40 employees.

Sana, founded in 2017, provides healthcare options for small businesses. The company has raised $107 million since its inception, including a $60 million Series B funding in June 2022.

“Since Sana’s founding in 2017, we have been venture-funded,” Young wrote in the blog post. “That meant we spent a lot of money on growth and a lot of money on R&D. It was okay we weren’t profitable because we could keep raising venture dollars to fund the business. We prioritized investing in the future over profitability today. I’m grateful for that time, because it allowed us to build the special company and product we have today.”

But Young said “the world has changed.” And the climate for raising money is more difficult today, he said.

“Particularly for companies in the healthcare and insurance worlds (we check both boxes),” Young wrote. “The hard fact is this new environment rewards profitability today over future investments. We have to reposition ourselves accordingly.”

Young said the company is focused on profitability, and the latest layoffs will help it get there.

“We will continue to invest in growth and R&D, but only to the extent our profits support that investment,” according to Young.

Cruise Halts “Robotaxis” in Austin and Nationwide

A Cruise self-driving car was undergoing testing in the SoMa District of San Francisco.

Cruise, an autonomous vehicle company of which General Motors owns 80 percent, announced Thursday the shutdown of its Robotaxi operations in Austin.

“The most important thing for us right now is to take steps to rebuild public trust,” Cruise wrote in a post on Twitter. “Part of this involves taking a hard look inwards and at how we do work at Cruise, even if it means doing things that are uncomfortable or difficult.”

Cruise shut down its autonomous vehicle operations everywhere, including San Francisco and Phoenix.

“In that spirit, we have decided to proactively pause driverless operations across all of our fleets while we examine our processes, systems, and tools and reflect on how we can better operate in a way that will earn public trust,” Cruise posted.

The move comes after the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered Cruise to halt its operations in the state after an accident with a pedestrian and another vehicle involved a Cruise Robotaxi which dragged the pedestrian forward, according to a story in Reuters.

Axios Austin reported earlier this year that 19 complaints were filed with city officials about Cruise’s Robotaxis. No deaths or injuries were associated with those complaints, which included Cruise cars stopped on the road and Cruise cars being unable to recognize a traffic officer’s hand signals.

At SXSW in March of this year, Mary Barra, GM’s Chair and CEO, spoke in a session on “Self-Driving Cars: From Science Fiction to Scale.” At that time, she said she believed AVs are the future of transportation and an essential part of General Motors’ business.

Shortly after that, Cruise’s robotaxis service started to scale up in the Austin market, which was already testing the vehicles.

Cruise contends that AVs provide increased safety and mobility for those who cannot drive.

At SXSW, Kyle Vogt, Cruise CEO, said that Cruise had built its cars for dense urban areas, forcing them to solve problems such as construction zones, traffic light outages, and road blockages. He said the company had solved most of the technical and scientific risks.

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