Startup of the week:
Who they are: Openwater
What they do: They’re working on a ski cap that would let people read your mind.
Why it’s cool: Telepathy has long been a favorite theme of science fiction writers, and recently some in Silicon Valley have deemed it an achievable goal — Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, for example, is working on it with a new startup called Neuralink. But unlike Musk, who wants to implant tiny electrodes in your brain, Openwater founder Mary Lou Jepsen, formerly an executive at Facebook/Oculus and Google[x], just wants you to put on a hat. She plans to line the inside of a ski cap with sensors akin to those inside a hospital MRI machine, eventually using them to detect our thoughts.
“It’s the next step in computing,” Jepsen said onstage at South by Southwest this year, according to a video posted online.
And until her telepathy technology is perfected, Jepsen’s hat could be used to disrupt the medical field, she said in the video. The average MRI costs $2,600, personal finance website NerdWallet reported in 2014, and Jepsen hopes to condense that technology down into a personal, affordable wearable device. Patients could use a cap to improve treatment of mental or neurodegenerative disease, a bra to detect breast cancer, or a bandage to diagnose internal bleeding.
To learn more, visit opnwatr.io.
Where they stand: Openwater plans to release a limited number of prototypes next year, according to the company’s website.
Only in Silicon Valley:
Want to get paid to party? This Silicon-Valley-meets-Los-Angeles app does just that. Sign up with Surkus (surkus.com) and the app will direct you to clubs, restaurants and events that need bodies to fill the room, order drinks and “liven the place up,” according to a press release. They call it “CrowdCasting.” Once you arrive, the company that brought you there tracks your location, automatically checking you in, and noting, for example, when you leave the rooftop bar and head downstairs.
Run the numbers:
The internet is not always a nice place. We all know it, but a recent study from the Pew Research Center provides evidence. According to the survey of more than 4,000 U.S. adults, 41 percent of Americans have been harassed online, and 66 percent have seen it happen to others. That online abuse takes a variety of forms — 27 percent of respondents said they had experienced name-calling, 10 percent reported physical threats, and 6 percent reported sexual harassment.
Another venture capitalist is out of a job after a misconduct scandal. Seattle-based Frank Artale, managing partner of Ignition Partners, has been forced to resign, his firm tweeted this week. Without providing details, the firm said it learned of a complaint of misconduct by Artale on July 5, and four days later, asked him to resign. The complaint followed a 2016 accusation that Artale had behaved inappropriately, according to the firm. In that instance, the firm investigated and found the allegations were not substantiated, but determined Artale did exercise poor judgement. The firm says it addressed that with him and hired a consultant to conduct sensitivity training.
“We deeply regret any adverse effects to any of the individuals involved in these events,” Ignition Partners tweeted.
The move follows a string of scandals in which investors including Binary Capital founder Justin Caldbeck and 500 Startups founder Dave McClure were removed from their posts over allegations of bad behavior. Both were accused of sexually harassing women.
Statement by Ignition Partners on the resignation of Frank Artale pic.twitter.com/P761dnQe7g
— Ignition Partners (@ignitionVC) July 12, 2017
Photo: A screen shot from Openwater’s website.
Tags: crowdcasting, Ignition Partners, Openwater, Surkus, telepathy