According to a , Apple is working on a feature that would let you pair your iPad with your Mac to turn your iPad into a secondary Mac display. That feature codenamed Sidecar could ship with macOS 10.15 this fall. If you’ve been using or , you’re already quite familiar with this setup. Those third-party hardware and software solutions let you turn your iPad into an external display. You can then extend your Mac display, move windows to your iPad and use your iPad like an external display. And it sounds like wants to turn those setups into a native feature. It could boost iPad sales for MacBook users, and MacBook sales for iPad users. Apple wants to simplify that feature as much as possible. According to 9to5mac, you would access it from the standard green “maximize” button in the corner of every window. You could hover over that button and send the window to an iPad. By default, apps will be maximized on the iPad and appear as full screen windows. Maybe you’ll be able to send multiple windows and split your display between multiple macOS apps, but that’s still unclear. Graphic designers are going to love that feature as you’ll be able to use the Apple Pencil. For instance, you could imagine sending the Photoshop window to your iPad and using your iPad as a Wacom tablet. Sidecar will also be compatible with standard external displays. It should make window management easier as you’ll be able to send windows to another display in just a click. Finally, 9to5mac says that Apple is also working on Windows-like resizing shortcuts — you could drag a window to the side of the screen to resize it to half of the screen for instance.
Showdigs interfaces for property managers, users and brokers. (Showdigs Photo) Another new Seattle startup has raised cash to fix problems in the complicated world of real estate. raised a $3 million seed round to make life easier for property managers who are inundated with requests for showings of rental homes and apartments. The company operates an Uber-like marketplace model, connecting property managers in need of people to show houses and apartments with real estate brokers looking to make some extra cash. “They get bombarded with hundreds of inquiries every time they have a vacancy,” Showdigs CEO said in an interview with GeekWire. “The problem is they have to start following up with everyone and scheduling meetings and times for people to see the unit, and this is where they get swamped and need help.” Showdigs CEO Kobi Bensimon. (Showdigs Photo) Showdigs plugs into property managers’ systems, and when they get a request for a showing from a site like Zillow or Apartments.com, the company sends back a link to set up an appointment. Visits can be scheduled with as little as 30 minutes notice, and Showdigs then pings brokers on the platform in the neighborhood to do a showing, the same way Uber finds nearby drivers for ride requests. Brokers make $25 per showing, paid by property managers, with Showdigs taking a cut. The company is still tinkering with how it brings in revenue, testing options like taking a percentage off each showing, offering subscriptions for property managers, flat fees per vacant unit and more. Showdigs just launched its service in November, starting small in the West Seattle neighborhood. A month later, the company expanded to all of Seattle and Portland. In 2019, Showdigs plans to expand to more major markets. Showdigs is one of a number of Seattle startups tackling problems in the real estate industry. Some are dealing with the sales process (FlyHomes), while others aim to solve construction (Blokable) and title and escrow (JetClosing). FlyHomes is testing a similar service — “a role where rideshare drivers who were also real estate agents could show homes on demand,” as this notes — but for those looking to buy properties, not rent. Today, Showdigs has about 150 brokers on the platform and is working with 10 large property managers. The company just showed its 1000th unit. The nine-person company is split between Seattle and Tel Aviv, Israel. Bensimon and a lot of the business team are in Seattle, while the product team, led by Waze veteran Ohad Ron, is in Israel. The seed round was led by Bellevue, Wash.-based venture capital firm . Bensimon said the cash infusion will be used to beef up the company’s software and platform, so that when the time comes to expand, scaling up the business will go smoothly. Bensimon is a veteran of the real estate tech business. He co-founded and led a startup called ActiveBuilding that helped large apartment complexes communicate with tenants. He in 2013. The experience at ActiveBuilding gave Bensimon a window into the issues property managers deal with and inspired the idea that became Showdigs. Brokers rarely show apartments anymore thanks to technological innovations from sites like Zillow. But they possess unmatched local knowledge, the training to show units and flexible schedules to take some load off overbooked property managers. Brokers are primarily reliant on sales commissions, so Showdigs gives them an opportunity to earn extra money in between sales or keep cash coming in during a dry spell. “It’s a way for them to complement their income,” Bensimon said of the platform for brokers. “They get a commission every time they make a sale, and sometimes they could go for months without having an income.”
wants robots to do the dirty part of farming: weeding. With that thought, the San Francisco-based startup enlisted the help of Michigan-based manufacturing and automotive company Roush to build prototypes of the self-driving robots. An early prototype is pictured above. Financial details of the collaboration were not released. The idea is these autonomous weeders will replace herbicides and save the grower on labor. By using high-precision weeding, the robotic farm hands can increase the yield of the crops by working day and night to remove unwanted plants and weeds. After all, herbicides are in part because weeding is a terrible job. With Roush, FarmWise will build a dozen prototypes win 2019 with the intention of scaling to additional units in 2020. But why Michigan? “Michigan is well-known throughout the world for its manufacturing and automotive industries, the advanced technology expertise and state-of-the-art manufacturing practices,” Thomas Palomares, FarmWise co-founder and CTO said. “These are many of the key ingredients we need to manufacture and test our machines. We were connected to Roush through support from PlanetM, and as a technology startup, joining forces with a large and well-respected legacy automaker is critical to support the scale of our manufacturing plan.”Roush has a long history in Michigan as a leading manufacturing of high performance auto parts. More recently, the company has expanded its focus to using its manufacturing expertise elsewhere including robotics and alternative fuel system design. “This collaboration showcases the opportunities that result from connecting startups like FarmWise with Michigan-based companies like Roush that bring their manufacturing know-how to making these concepts a reality,” said Trevor Pawl, group vice president of PlanetM, Pure Michigan Business Connect and International Trade at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “We are excited to see this collaboration come to fruition. It is a great example of how Michigan can bring together emerging companies globally seeking prototype and production support with our qualified manufacturing base in the state.” FarmWise was founded in 2016 and has raised $5.7 million through a seed-stage investment. TechCrunch first saw FarmWise .
Dauntless co-founder and CEO Clark Musser and Soro CEO Jerry Tindall at this year’s CannaCon. (Dauntless photo.) , a Seattle-area software developer providing point-of-sale and tracking software to the cannabis industry, has acquired pot sales software company . The combined companies aim to create an all-encompassing platform serving growers, packagers, and retailers across the U.S., said Soro CEO Jerry Tindall. “The vision is to build an entire ecosystem around what it means to be a cannabis business,” Tindall said. “By putting our softwares together we now have a full stack, a fully integrated offering, and that doesn’t really exist yet — not from the grower all the way to the retail plant sale … there isn’t anyone who is doing the end-to-end product suite at this point.” Soro brings to Dauntless its analytics and customer relationship management sales software, which connects growers and packagers. Soro will keep its brand name for now, Tindall said. Dauntless, which launched in 2013, provides traceability and compliance for growers, as well as point-of-sale, compliance and inventory management software to retailers. Dauntless co-founder and CEO Clark Musser, who left Microsoft to launch the startup, said between 30 and 40 percent of all the state’s retail pot transactions go through his company’s retail software. Executives at both Soro and Dauntless, both private companies, declined to disclose the terms of the all-stock deal. All four of Soro’s employees will join Dauntless, making for a total of 33 employees. Soro will bring about a dozen customers to Dauntless, which has roughly 120 customers. The Dauntless executive team includes vets from Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks. The combined company plans to pursue between $5 million and $10 million in a Series A funding round, Musser said. The acquisition comes especially fast for Soro, which only a year ago. Tindall said the company bootstrapped itself, foregoing a formal investment round and taking a $25,000 investment from Tindall’s dad to cover the bills. “Yeah, we worked hard,” Tindall said of the breakneck timeline from launch to acquisition. With today’s acquisition, Soro and Dauntless are trying to capitalize on what is seen as sky’s-the-limit opportunity in a young and burgeoning legal cannabis industry that is hungry for customized software solutions. There are 87,000 cannabis business in the U.S., Musser said. , which tracks the legal pot market, said U.S. consumers spent more than $10.5 billion on cannabis for both recreational and medical uses in 2018. Recreational pot spending more than doubled from $2.7 billion in 2017 to $6 billion last year as more states legalized cannabis, BDS said. The company said recreational pot is likely to be a $14.3 billion market by 2022, with the medical pot market growing from its current $4.5. billion to $7.9 billion. Patrick Rea, CEO and co-founder of , a venture fund that invests in the pot industry, said that leaves plenty of opportunities for companies like Dauntless to grow, especially if it can improve on the existing models. “The growth opportunity for these seed-to-sale software tracking companies is probably larger than the growth of the industry overall because so many new businesses are coming online,” he said. In a , New Cannabis Ventures said that, of the 44 point-of-sale software vendors it counted in the cannabis industry, only five make up 80 percent of the sector’s market share. The biggest is BioTrack, with Green Bits a close second followed by Flowhhub, MJ Freeway, and Adilas. “If you can do better, there’s reason for you to play in the space,” Rea said. “The need for better solutions is greater than any market share that any of the top (cannabis software) companies has. The industry is hungry for better.” And there’s plenty of room for improvement. Last year, Washington state enlisted a new cannabis traceability system called Leaf Data Systems, which has been , including businesses being unable to log in, scrambled orders and missing shipping manifests. The system has also, compromising data and creating even more havoc across the state’s pot businesses. Executives from both Soro and Dauntless, who did not know each other well at the time, said they found themselves exchanging pained glances during a 2017 Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Control Board meeting about implementing Leaf’s system, which wasn’t yet ready and still lacks key features promised by Leaf, Tindall said. Tindall said he and the Dauntless executives began talking about merging as they discussed their “shared misery” caused by the state tracking system at industry events. The merger made sense, they said, because the cannabis business is still fragmented, and software platforms for large-scale agriculture operations are often ill-suited to fit the unique needs of pot operations. “The different people in the supply chain, they all get stuck in their little silos,” Tindall said. To solve that problem, Dauntless has developed a platform called GIANT, which stands for “Global Interoperable Application Network Technology.” Musser said GIANT has a universal API that can connect every cannabis business — grower, packagers and retailers — as well as regulators, regardless of different state tracking systems. Instead of modifying software for each state regulatory environment, only one adjustment is needed in GIANT, Musser said. This month, Dauntless was showing off GIANT at Seattle’s , the country’s largest cannabis industry event. Late last month, Dauntless that , the Seattle company that publishes a directory of where to buy pot and gets more than 16 million visitors to its site each month, will begin using GIANT to update retailers’ menus of cannabis products. Tindall said the combined companies, quite ambitiously, want to “create the most transparent and connected industry on earth.” “The goal is to create a better industry,” he said, adding later, “this is us responding to a need that exists globally.”
Scorebook Live CEO Dan Beach. (Scorebook Live Photo) has reeled in another $2.5 million to help high school sports programs get access to the same level of technology that professional leagues use on a daily basis. The Spokane, Wash.-based company started with an app that lets high school football and basketball teams record stats and play-by-play information, but it has expanded to more sports and products. It now offers additional tools for scheduling, roster management, and a team website service. Scorebook Live also recently partnered with DragonFly Athletics to build software targeted at high school athletic departments and launched . (Scorebook Live Photo) , a media company that owns The Spokesman-Review in Spokane and a handful of TV stations across the Pacific Northwest, led the funding round. “Cowles leadership of Stacey Cowles, Steve Rector and Spokesman-Review Editor Rob Curley understand how important high school sports are to local communities and see that Scorebook Live’s technology and vision are solving a number of problems that have existed inside this market for many years,” said Scorebook Live CEO Dan Beach. Beach previously worked at ESPN from 2009 to 2012; he “spearheaded ESPN’s entry into the ‘high school scoring’ market,” according to his . Scorebook Live relocated from San Diego to Spokane after Beach’s son accepted an offer to play for Gonzaga’s basketball team; the CEO and his wife also grew up in the area. Other investors in Scorebook Live include ex-NBA players such as Jerry Stackhouse and former Gonzaga star Adam Morrison. Dan Dickau, another former NBA player who also starred at Gonzaga, is the company’s vice president of market development. Scorebook Live employs 11 people and makes money off a combination of licensing and sponsorship/advertising sales. Cowles Company has also in Pacific Northwest tech startups such as Zipwhip, Phytelligence, Skyward, etaliz, AnswerDash, SheerID, TurboPatent, and others.
Over the last 20 years, smart home gadgets have evolved from fantasy to commodity. Walk into Best Buy and there are dozens of products that take just a few minutes to set up. It’s wonderful. Even better, it’s easy. There are lights and locks and screens from big and small companies alike. And therein lies the problem. There isn’t a unified solution for everything and Amazon’s vertically integrated offering could be the solution for the consumer and retail giant alike. Sure, most smart home gadgets work, but nothing works well together. The smart home has to be as easy as flipping a switch to control a lightbulb. , Eero, speaks to the problem. Assembling a smart home containing more than a couple of smart gadgets is hard. There are countless spots where something can go wrong, exposing a smart home as nothing more than a house of cards. What’s best for the average consumer is also the best for Amazon. In order for the smart home to be easy and functional as possible, one company should control the experience from every entry point. This is Apple’s approach to smartphones and Apple has long offered the easiest, most secure smartphone experience. In theory, Amazon will likely look to either bundle Eero routers with the purchase of Amazon Echos or build mesh networking into Echo products. Either way, Amazon is ensuring its Fire TV and Echo products can reliably access Amazon’s content services, which is where Amazon makes its money in the smart home. As Devin , mesh networking is the solution to the problem created by Amazon’s push into every room. Wifi is critical to a truly smart home, but there’s more to it. The smart home is complicated and it goes back over 20 years. Before wireless networking was ubiquitous, hobbyists and luxury home builders turned to other solutions to add electronic features to homes. Some gadgets still use modern versions of these protocols. Services like Z-Wave and ZigBee allowed home security systems to wireless monitor entry points and control power to otherwise disconnected gadgets like coffee makers and lamps. Later competing wireless protocols competed with Z-Wave and ZigBee. Insteon came out in the early 2000s and offered redundant networking through RF signals and power line networking. In 2014 Nest with the help of Samsung, Qualcomm, ARM, and others introduced Thread networking that offers modern network redundancy and improved security. And there’s more! There are gadgets powered by Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi HaLow and line of sight IR signals. This cluster of competing protocols makes it difficult to piece together a smart home that’s controlled by a unified device. So far, at this nascent stage of smart home gadgets, Amazon and Google have built a compelling case to use their products to control this bevy of devices. Apple tried, and in some ways, succeeded. Its HomeKit framework put iOS devices as the central control point for the home. Want to turn on the lights? Click a button in iOS or more recently, tell a HomePod. It works as advertised, but Apple requires compatible devices to be certified, and therefore the market of compatible devices is smaller than what works with an Amazon Echo. Meanwhile, Goole and Amazon stepped into the smart home with their arms wide, seemingly willing to work with any gadget. It worked. Over the last two years, gadget makers took huge steps to ensure its products are compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Last month, at CES, this became a punchline when a toilet was announced that was compatible with Alexa. Smart commodes be damned. All of these connected gadgets require their own setup process. Every connected light, thermostat and toilet demand the initial user be comfortable navigating several smartphone apps, knowing their network configuration and what to Google when something goes wrong — because things go wrong. Amazon’s own Alexa app doesn’t help. The single app is loaded with several tentpole functions including voice calling, skill setup, remote operation and access to Alexa — it’s overwhelming and unwieldy once several Echos are configured under the same account. Something has to change. If the smart home is to reach new demographics, barriers have to be dropped and centralized control has to become paramount. A layman should be able to purchase a couple of voice control hubs, connected lights, and a thermostat and set them up through a single app even though the devices might use different networking methods. Amazon has already taken a big step towards working with different smart home wireless protocols. In 2017 the company introduced the Echo Plus. This version of the Echo speaker included support for Zigbee (Philips Hue lights use Zigbee). Later, in 2018 the company upgraded the Echo Plus and included a temperature sensor and offline smart home networking so when the Internet goes down, the user can still control their connected products. Amazon has a growing portfolio of smart home companies. Along with its own Echo products, Amazon owns Ring, a video doorbell company, Blink, a wireless video camera system, and recently purchased, Mr. Beams, an outdoor lighting company. Now, with Eero, it can offer buyers a WiFi solution by Amazon. The only thing missing is a unified experience between these devices. In order for any company to win at the smart home, consumers need to fully trust this company and Amazon has so far only had several, relatively, minor incidents concerning the privacy of its users. A couple reports have surfaced reporting Amazon handing over voice data to the authorities. Other reports have taken issue with Amazon’s video doorbell company’s neighborhood watch system that could lead to profiling and discrimination. Amazon can weather disparaging reports. Amazon cannot weather dysfunctional products unable to reach Amazon’s revenue-generating services. Amazon is not alone in its quest for smart home domination. Google, Samsung, and Apple take this growing market seriously and will not let Amazon eat the whole pie. Consumer electronic giants will likely continue to scoop up smart home gadget companies that have traction with consumers. Look for companies like Arlo, ecobee, Belkin, Wyze Labs, sevenhugs and Brilliant to be acquired. These companies offer some of the best products in their respective fields and would compliment the companies currently owned by the big players as they look to offer consumers a the most complete experience.