In pursuit of air mobility, Voom’s Seattle office blazes a trail for working remotely

In pursuit of air mobility, Voom’s Seattle office blazes a trail for working remotely

3:39am, 31st July, 2019
Voom, a subsidiary of Airbus, offers on-demand helicopter booking services in Brazil and Mexico. (Airbus Photo) Add the Airbus subsidiary to the — and to the list of pioneers in co-located and distributed workplaces. Both of those talking points are highlighted in a on working remotely, written last month by Robert Head, a senior software engineer at Voom. The posting was brought to light today by the . The California-based startup has been offering its app-based, on-demand helicopter taxi service in Mexico City and São Paulo, and last month it in league with . In his blog posting, Head, who works remotely from Ashland, Ore., talked about software development rather than flight plans. “When Voom decided to grow our own internal team of developers, we chose to locate the office not in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, but rather in Seattle, which has a similarly booming technology scene and an ecosystem of great talent,” he wrote. Today LinkedIn , and the company’s careers webpage has, including a spot for a vice president of engineering. But the point of Head’s posting wasn’t how Voom conducts its operations in Seattle. Instead, he focused on how the Seattle office serves as a springboard for a far more widely dispersed team. “For the first year, all new hires were local to the Seattle office and the rest of the team was ‘on the big screen,’ as we say,” Head wrote. “After a year, recruiting was getting tougher and we were at a crossroads. We knew we wanted access to a wider, more diverse range of experienced colleagues, but it’s tough to find that within one city.” Voom’s solution was to go to a blended pair programming model, facilitated by screen-sharing and videoconferencing. Co-workers can pop into a virtual shared space and pair up with colleagues. “A good pairing session gets into a rhythm, a give and take,” Head said. “In typical pairing terminology, one person is ‘driving’ (using the mouse and keyboard) and the other is ‘navigating’—holding mental context, noticing opportunities, making suggestions. It’s important to a healthy, egalitarian environment that these roles are switched frequently.” Thanks to pair programming, Voom no longer limits its job pool to local hires, Head said. Additional details about the workplace model are laid out in , and on . Does Voom’s Seattle presence suggest that its helicopter ride-hailing service will be swooping in anytime soon? We didn’t immediately get an answer to that question from Head or from Voom’s HQ in San Francisco when we contacted them, but we’ll update this item with anything substantive we hear back. In the meantime, it’s worth considering that a lot of companies tap the Seattle area’s software engineering talent even though they put their products and services through real-world tests elsewhere. , which is working on ride-hailing services that make use of self-driving cars, serves as a good example. Even though LinkedIn as working in the Seattle area, and has here, the company says it has no immediate plans to test-drive its cars in the Emerald City. For now, you’ll have to travel to San Francisco, Phoenix or Detroit to see Cruise’s cars in action. And unless we hear differently, you’ll have to go to Mexico City, São Paulo or maybe San Francisco to see the results of the paired programming work that Voom is doing in Seattle.
Spawned by Google, Wing wins FAA’s air carrier certification for drone deliveries

Spawned by Google, Wing wins FAA’s air carrier certification for drone deliveries

12:10pm, 23rd April, 2019
Wing’s drone makes a delivery. (Wing Photo) Alphabet’s has stolen a march on Amazon’s plans for drone domination by winning air carrier certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. “Air Carrier Certification means that we can begin a commercial service delivering goods from local businesses to homes in the United States,” celebrating the milestone. Wing was from (formerly known as Google X), and has been taking part in an in Southwest Virginia. The company has also conducted a test program in Australia that involved more than 3,000 drone deliveries to doorsteps, backyards and driveways. In all, Wing’s drones have flown more than 70,000 test flights, and is starting up . Wing said the data submitted to the FAA for certification showed that “a delivery by wing carries a lower risk to pedestrians than the same trip made by car.” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao hailed the certification. “This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy. Safety continues to be our No. 1 priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential,” she said in a statement. Wing said its next step will be to further its participation in the Virginia pilot program. “For the next several months, we’ll be reaching out to businesses and community members in the Blacksburg and Christiansburg areas to demonstrate our technology, answer questions, and solicit feedback with the goal of launching a delivery trial later this year,” the company said. Amazon has been conducting its own drone delivery test flights in locations ranging from Israel and France to . The Seattle-based online retailing giant showed off more than two years ago. Amazon missed out on participating in the FAA’s first wave of drone pilot programs, however. We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment, and will update this item with anything we hear back.
Fancy rentable dog houses with air conditioning and a ‘puppy cam’ arrive in Seattle

Fancy rentable dog houses with air conditioning and a ‘puppy cam’ arrive in Seattle

7:45pm, 16th April, 2019
(DogSpot Photo) The nation’s fanciest dog houses are coming to the most dog-friendly city in the U.S. , the maker of shared dog houses that you can rent by the minute, is launching in Seattle as part of a national expansion. The startup has partnered with grocery chain QFC for an initial roll-out of eight houses that are set to launch by early June. Just how fancy are the houses? They come with air conditioning and ultraviolet lights to disinfect the interior between uses. Pet parents can even check in on their pups during their stay through a “puppy cam” on the DogSpot app. Dog owners can book a house up to 15 minutes in advance or on arrival. The company’s cloud-based platform operates on Microsoft Azure. “[DogSpot] is good for local business, and it’s good for dog owners to have one of their problems solved. And it’s great for dogs because they get more walks and more quality time with the people they love,” said Rebecca Eyre, director of communications at DogSpot. DogSpot launched in New York City in 2016, but abruptly removed all 50 of their dog houses last year following conflicts with the city. Eyre said that new legislation, which will enable the company to return to its hometown, should pass in the next few months. The startup has raised $5.8 million to date. DogSpot is avoiding zoning problems by leasing the houses to local businesses, which will keep them on private property. For pet owners, the rental rate is $0.30 per minute, but QFC will offer the houses for free to shoppers. DogSpot is actively looking for additional partners who want to put the dog houses outside of their buildings. The company has 60 houses across 14 states, with many located at rest stops along freeways in New York and Connecticut. “Grocery stores and rest areas are huge pain points for dog owners who need to stop but have their pets and have no safe alternative,” said Eyre. For the time being, DogSpot doesn’t have any obvious competition. “We’re kind of the only dog in the fight, so to speak, for this specific piece of technology,” said Eyre, who grew up in Redmond, Wash., near Seattle. Seattle was recently ranked the by Rover and Redfin, which looked at factors including the number of dog walkers, the walk score of apartment buildings and share of property listings that included the word “dog.” When asked if DogSpot would ever partner with Rover, the Seattle-based tech platform for dog sitters and walkers, Eyre said the startup would be happy to. “We have some existing relationships with some key folks there, looking for the right opportunity,” she said. In addition to Seattle, DogSpot is also making a push into Washington, D.C. The startup initially launched as Dog Parker, but rebranded last year as it geared up for the national expansion. “I was wanting to change the name for so long because we never use the language of parking your dog,” Eyre said. “The national expansion with our last chance to do a rebrand.” DogSpot doesn’t have any Seattle-based employees but eventually plans to hire a local community manager.
Mars helicopter bound for the Red Planet takes to the air for the first time

Mars helicopter bound for the Red Planet takes to the air for the first time

6:24pm, 28th March, 2019
The Mars 2020 mission is on track for launch next year, and nesting inside the high-tech new rover heading that direction is a high-tech helicopter designed to fly in the planet’s nearly non-existent atmosphere. The actual aircraft that will fly on the Martian surface just took its first flight and its engineers are over the moon. “The next time we fly, we fly on Mars,” said MiMi Aung, who manages the project at JPL, . An engineering model that was very close to final has over an hour of time in the air, but these two brief test flights were the first and last time the tiny craft will take flight until it does so on the distant planet (not counting its “flight” during launch). “Watching our helicopter go through its paces in the chamber, I couldn’t help but think about the historic vehicles that have been in there in the past,” she continued. “The chamber hosted missions from the Ranger Moon probes to the Voyagers to Cassini, and every Mars rover ever flown. To see our helicopter in there reminded me we are on our way to making a little chunk of space history as well.” Artist’s impression of how the helicopter will look when it’s flying on Mars A helicopter flying on Mars is much like a helicopter flying on Earth, except of course for the slight differences that the other planet has a third less gravity and 99 percent less air. It’s more like flying at 100,000 feet, Aung suggested. It has its own solar panel so it can explore more or less on its own The test rig they set up not only produces a near-vacuum, replacing the air with a thin, Mars-esque CO2 mix, but a “gravity offload” system simulates lower gravity by giving the helicopter a slight lift via a cable. It flew at a whopping two inches of altitude for a total of a minute in two tests, which was enough to show the team that the craft (with all its 1,500 parts and four pounds) was ready to package up and send to the Red Planet. “It was a heck of a first flight,” said tester Teddy Tzanetos. “The gravity offload system performed perfectly, just like our helicopter. We only required a 2-inch hover to obtain all the data sets needed to confirm that our Mars helicopter flies autonomously as designed in a thin Mars-like atmosphere; there was no need to go higher.” A few months after the has landed, the helicopter will detach and do a few test flights of up to 90 seconds. Those will be the first heavier-than-air flights on another planet — powered flight, in other words, rather than, say, a balloon filled with gaseous hydrogen. The craft will operate mostly autonomously, since the half-hour round trip for commands would be far too long for an Earth-based pilot to operate it. It has its own solar cells and batteries, plus little landing feet, and will attempt flights of increasing distance from the rover over a 30-day period. It should go about three meters in the air and may eventually get hundreds of meters away from its partner. , arriving at its destination early in 2021. Of course, in the meantime, we’ve still got Curiosity and Insight up there, so if you want the latest from Mars, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from.
MagniX and Vancouver’s Harbour Air team up to test all-electric plane for B.C. flights

MagniX and Vancouver’s Harbour Air team up to test all-electric plane for B.C. flights

8:06am, 26th March, 2019
MagniX’s 750-horsepower magni500 all-electric motor will be used on a converted Harbour Air DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver seaplane for tests. (Harbour Air Photo) Two Pacific Northwest companies — MagniX, an electric propulsion venture headquartered in Redmond, Wash.; and Harbour Air Seaplanes, an airline that’s based in Vancouver, B.C. — say they have a firm plan to create the first all-electric fleet of commercial airplanes. MagniX aims to start by outfitting a Harbour Air DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver with its 750-horsepower magni500 electric motor for a series of test flights scheduled to begin by the end of this year. The electric propulsion company, which shifted its global HQ from Australia to Redmond last year, has tested a prototype motor on the ground — but this would be the first aerial test of the technology. “The excitement level is yet another notch up,” MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski told GeekWire, “because now we’re not talking about just putting the system on an ‘Iron Bird’ on the ground and having it turn a propeller … but actually taking an aircraft into the sky, an actual aircraft that will be operating and taking people and cargo back and forth as well.” Ganzarski said the initial tests would be done without passengers, in the Vancouver area. Regulators from Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration would monitor the tests, under an arrangement that has yet to be worked out in detail, he said. If all proceeds according to plan, the converted plane would win a supplemental type certificate and clearance to start commercial service by 2022, Ganzarski said. Eventually, all of Harbour Air’s more than 40 seaplanes — — would go all-electric. Harbour Air flies routes between , mostly in British Columbia . The airline carries more than 500,000 passengers on 30,000 commercial flights each year. Due to battery limitations, Harbour Air’s first all-electric routes are likely to involve 10- to 20-minute trips between relatively close destinations, and not the Seattle-Vancouver “nerd bird” route. But the planes’ range will increase as battery technology improves. Greg McDougall, founder and CEO of Harbour Air Seaplanes, noted that his airline was the , through the purchase of carbon offsets. “We are once again pushing the boundaries of aviation by becoming the first aircraft to be powered by electric propulsion,” McDougall said in a news release. “We are excited to bring commercial electric aviation to the Pacific Northwest, turning our seaplanes into ePlanes.” Ganzarski paid tribute to Harbour Air’s willingness to push the envelope on electric propulsion. “They understand what it means to go all-electric early on,” he said. MagniX isn’t alone in pressing for electric-powered aviation. An Israeli startup called is reportedly in northwest France, thanks to an estimated $200 million in investment. Eviation’s Alice business and commuter plane could have its first flight at the Paris Air Show in June, if the company gets the regulatory go-ahead in time. Eviation aims to conduct further testing at its base in Arizona and move on to type certification and entry into service in 2022. Kirkland, Wash.-based is developing its own hybrid-electric airplane with backing from Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures — again, with 2022 as the target date for . Meanwhile, MagniX is working with other potential partners beyond Harbour Air. “I can tell you this, it’ll be a really exciting year,” Ganzarski said.
Apple launches new iPad Air and iPad mini

Apple launches new iPad Air and iPad mini

9:26am, 18th March, 2019
has refreshed its iPad lineup with . The company is (finally) updating the iPad mini and adding a new iPad Air. This model sits between the entry-level 9.7-inch iPad and the 11-inch iPad Pro in the lineup. All new models now support the Apple Pencil, but you might want to double check your iPad model before buying one. The new iPad models released today work with the first-gen Apple Pencil, not the new Apple Pencil that supports magnetic charging and pairing. So let’s look at those new iPads. First, the hasn’t been refreshed in three and a half years. Many people believed that Apple would simply drop the model as smartphones got bigger. But the iPad mini is making a surprise comeback. It looks identical to the previous 2015 model. But everything has been updated inside the device. It now features an A12 chip (the system on a chip designed for the iPhone XS), a 7.9-inch display that is 25 percent brighter, features a wider range of colors and works with True Tone. And it also works with the Apple Pencil. Unlike with the iPad Pro, the iPad mini still features a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, a Lightning port and a headphone jack. You can buy it today for $399 for 64GB. You can choose to pay more for 256GB of storage and cellular connectivity. It comes in silver, space gray and gold. Second, the iPad Air. While the name sounds familiar, this is a new device in the iPad lineup. When Apple introduced the new iPad Pro models back in October, Apple raised the prices on this segment of the market. This new iPad Air is a bit cheaper than the 11-inch iPad Pro and looks more or less like the previous generation 10.5-inch iPad Pro — I know it’s confusing. The iPad Air now features an A12 chip, which should represent a significant upgrade over the previous generation iPad Pro that featured an A10X. The iPad Air works with the Smart Keyboard. You can buy the device today for $499 with 64GB of storage. You can choose to pay more for 256GB of storage and cellular connectivity. It comes in silver, space gray and gold. The $329 iPad with a 9.7-inch display hasn’t been updated today. It still features an A10 chip, 64GB of storage and a display without True Tone technology or a wider range of colors. — Tim Cook (@tim_cook)
Now boarding: Everett’s Paine Field and Alaska Air celebrate first passenger flights

Now boarding: Everett’s Paine Field and Alaska Air celebrate first passenger flights

7:27pm, 4th March, 2019
Fire trucks shoot out sprays of water to form a celebratory arch for the first Alaska Airlines jet to take off on a scheduled passenger flight from Paine Field in Everett, Wash. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) EVERETT, Wash. — Today marks a “first” for the new at Everett’s Paine Field, thanks to Alaska Airlines’ kickoff of daily service. But it’s a “second” for Thomas Paine, the grandnephew of the airport’s namesake. Paine and another grandnephew, Nicholas Moe, were here in 1955 when the airport dedicated a bust of their granduncle, airmail pilot , who grew up in Everett. , but to mark today’s terminal opening, dignitaries dedicated a bronze statue of the elder Paine, standing right on the curb where passengers walked in to catch their flights. Thomas Paine and Moe pulled the veil off the statue, rekindling 64-year-old memories in the process. “Things have changed a lot since then,” Paine said. When it’s fully up and running, the 30,000-square-foot terminal will offer 24 daily nonstop flights to eight destinations in the western U.S., providing a quicker alternative to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for northern Puget Sound communities. Alaska kicked things off today with three departures, starting with a 10 a.m. VIP-laden flight to Portland and following up with flights to Las Vegas and Phoenix. The number of departures will eventually rise to 18 a day, with Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose added to the mix. At the end of the month, United Airlines will kick things up a notch with six daily departures to Denver and San Francisco. Both airlines will be using 76-passenger, single-aisle Embraer 175 jets. cost as little as $44, and daily on-site parking ranges from $20 for economy-class to $40 for valet service. Here we go!! Boarding for flight to begins now. (Agent just offered to check carry-ons to "final destination"… but what if I'm coming right back to ??
Atlas Air 767 cargo jet, part of Amazon fleet, crashes in Texas; 3 people onboard killed

Atlas Air 767 cargo jet, part of Amazon fleet, crashes in Texas; 3 people onboard killed

6:35pm, 24th February, 2019
An Amazon-branded Boeing 767 cargo jet flies over Seattle in 2016. (Red Box Pictures Photo / Scott Eklund) An Atlas Air Boeing 767 cargo jet crashed today into Trinity Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast with three people on board, . “Human remains have been found on scene,” . “At this time, there are no signs of survivors.” Update, Feb. 24, 3 p.m. PT: In a new on Sunday, Atlas confirmed that the three people aboard the flight did not survive. Atlas set up Family Assistance Center to support the families affected. Boeing updated its statement . The Daily Mail one of the pilots as Sean Archuleta. Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the crew of Atlas Air 3591. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the crew, and stand ready to support Atlas Air. FULL STATEMENT: — Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) The plane is part of the Amazon Air package delivery fleet, . It was heading from Miami to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport when radar and radio contact was lost shortly before 12:45 p.m. CT (10:45 a.m. PT), about 30 miles southeast of Houston, the FAA said. Local TV stations aired video showing a long trail of debris in the bay’s shallow waters. “Who knows what’s under the water that we can’t see, but it looks like total devastation from the aircraft part,” . “Knowing what I saw, I don’t believe anybody could survive it.” Names of the crew were not released. Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are on their way to the accident site. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation. New York-based Atlas Air Worldwide, which operated the plane on Amazon’s behalf, said it is cooperating fully with the FAA and the NTSB. “We can confirm there were three people on board the aircraft,” “Those people and their family members are our top priority at this time.” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, expressed sympathy and concern. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy,” Clark said in a written statement sent to GeekWire. “We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support.” Boeing said it was “deeply saddened to learn of the Atlas Air 767 freighter that crashed near Anahuac, TX, earlier today.” “We are concerned about the safety of the three people reported to be on board,” . “Boeing is prepared to provide technical assistance to the NTSB as it investigates the accident.” Atlas Air and another leasing company, Air Transport Services Group, or ATSG, each operate 20 Boeing 767-300 jets to serve Amazon’s delivery network. The service was launched in 2016, and now flies in and out of more than 20 airports. Today’s incident was the first fatal air accident connected with the Amazon transport operation. Last December, Amazon said it would work with ATSG to over the next couple of years. Atlas Air Flight 3591 made use of a 767 jet that was converted from a passenger aircraft to cargo, and entered service with Atlas in April 2017, . The plane was registered with the tail number N1217A. Like all the tail numbers associated with planes servicing the Amazon network, . Pilots working for Atlas Air and ABX Air, a subsidiary of ATSG, have relating to the Amazon delivery operation. But it’s way too early to say whether such issues played a role in today’s crash, or to speculate about the cause of the crash. Update for 6:35 p.m. PT Feb. 23: Daniel Wells, Atlas Air captain and president of the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224, released the following statement on the crash: “Our union stands together as a family and in support of our members’ families. Our focus is on our friends and colleagues who were on that plane, and we are doing everything we can to support their families. “Teamsters Local 1224 representatives are already on the ground supporting this investigation. We also thank the first responders who rushed to the scene to help.” The union said members of Teamsters Local 1224 were on the flight.
Atlas Air 767 cargo jet, part of Amazon fleet, crashes in Texas; three feared dead

Atlas Air 767 cargo jet, part of Amazon fleet, crashes in Texas; three feared dead

9:58pm, 23rd February, 2019
An Amazon-branded Boeing 767 cargo jet flies over Seattle in 2016. (Red Box Pictures Photo / Scott Eklund) An Atlas Air Boeing 767 cargo jet crashed today into Trinity Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast with three people on board, . “Human remains have been found on scene,” . “At this time, there are no signs of survivors.” The plane is part of the Amazon Air package delivery fleet, . It was heading from Miami to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport when radar and radio contact was lost shortly before 12:45 p.m. CT (10:45 a.m. PT), about 30 miles southeast of Houston, the FAA said. Local TV stations aired video showing a long trail of debris in the bay’s shallow waters. “Who knows what’s under the water that we can’t see, but it looks like total devastation from the aircraft part,” . “Knowing what I saw, I don’t believe anybody could survive it.” Names of the crew were not released. Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are on their way to the accident site. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation. New York-based Atlas Air Worldwide, which operated the plane on Amazon’s behalf, said it is cooperating fully with the FAA and the NTSB. “We can confirm there were three people on board the aircraft,” “Those people and their family members are our top priority at this time.” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, expressed sympathy and concern. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy,” Clark said in a written statement sent to GeekWire. “We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support.” Boeing said it was “deeply saddened to learn of the Atlas Air 767 freighter that crashed near Anahuac, TX, earlier today.” “We are concerned about the safety of the three people reported to be on board,” . “Boeing is prepared to provide technical assistance to the NTSB as it investigates the accident.” Atlas Air and another leasing company, Air Transport Services Group, or ATSG, each operate 20 Boeing 767-300 jets to serve Amazon’s delivery network. The service was launched in 2016, and now flies in and out of more than 20 airports. Today’s incident was the first fatal air accident connected with the Amazon transport operation. Last December, Amazon said it would work with ATSG to over the next couple of years. Atlas Air Flight 3591 made use of a 767 jet that was converted from a passenger aircraft to cargo, and entered service with Atlas in April 2017, . The plane was registered with the tail number N1217A. Like all the tail numbers associated with planes servicing the Amazon network, . Pilots working for Atlas Air and ABX Air, a subsidiary of ATSG, have relating to the Amazon delivery operation. But it’s way too early to say whether such issues played a role in today’s crash, or to speculate about the cause of the crash. Update for 6:35 p.m. PT Feb. 23: Daniel Wells, Atlas Air captain and president of the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224, released the following statement on the crash: “Our union stands together as a family and in support of our members’ families. Our focus is on our friends and colleagues who were on that plane, and we are doing everything we can to support their families. “Teamsters Local 1224 representatives are already on the ground supporting this investigation. We also thank the first responders who rushed to the scene to help.” The union said members of Teamsters Local 1224 were on the flight.
Atlas Air 767 cargo jet, part of Amazon fleet, crashes in Texas with 3 people aboard; remains found amid wreckage

Atlas Air 767 cargo jet, part of Amazon fleet, crashes in Texas with 3 people aboard; remains found amid wreckage

7:54pm, 23rd February, 2019
An Amazon-branded Boeing 767 cargo jet flies over Seattle in 2016. (Red Box Pictures Photo / Scott Eklund) An Atlas Air Boeing 767 cargo jet crashed today into Trinity Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast with three people on board, . “Human remains have been found on scene,” . “At this time, there are no signs of survivors.” The plane is part of the Amazon Air package delivery fleet, . It was heading from Miami to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport when radar and radio contact was lost shortly before 12:45 p.m. CT (10:45 a.m. PT), about 30 miles southeast of Houston, the FAA said. Local TV stations aired video showing a long trail of debris in the bay’s shallow waters. “Who knows what’s under the water that we can’t see, but it looks like total devastation from the aircraft part,” . “Knowing what I saw, I don’t believe anybody could survive it.” Names of the crew were not released. Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are on their way to the accident site. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation. New York-based Atlas Air Worldwide, which operated the plane on Amazon’s behalf, said it is cooperating fully with the FAA and the NTSB. “We can confirm there were three people on board the aircraft,” “Those people and their family members are our top priority at this time.” Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, expressed sympathy and concern. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the flight crew, their families and friends along with the entire team at Atlas Air during this terrible tragedy,” Clark said in a written statement sent to GeekWire. “We appreciate the first responders who worked urgently to provide support.” Boeing said it was “deeply saddened to learn of the Atlas Air 767 freighter that crashed near Anahuac, TX, earlier today.” “We are concerned about the safety of the three people reported to be on board,” . “Boeing is prepared to provide technical assistance to the NTSB as it investigates the accident.” Atlas Air and another leasing company, Air Transport Services Group, or ATSG, each operate 20 Boeing 767-300 jets to serve Amazon’s delivery network. The service was launched in 2016, and now flies in and out of more than 20 airports. Today’s incident was the first fatal air accident connected with the Amazon transport operation. Last December, Amazon said it would work with ATSG to over the next couple of years. Atlas Air Flight 3591 made use of a 767 jet that was converted from a passenger aircraft to cargo, and entered service with Atlas in April 2017, . The plane was registered with the tail number N1217A. Like all the tail numbers associated with planes servicing the Amazon network, . Pilots working for Atlas Air and ABX Air, a subsidiary of ATSG, have relating to the Amazon delivery operation. But it’s way too early to say whether such issues played a role in today’s crash, or to speculate about the cause of the crash.
This DNA-driven dating startup says love is in the air — and they’ll help you sniff it out

This DNA-driven dating startup says love is in the air — and they’ll help you sniff it out

8:22pm, 14th February, 2019
DNA Romance co-founders Timothy Sexton and Judith Bosire. (DNA Romance Photo) It’s Valentine’s Day, so romance is in the air. But it’s not the smell of Axe Body Wash or Chanel No. 5 that will do the wooing. It’s the scent that comes from the unique combination of proteins that pepper the surface of our cells, helping our immune system tell the difference between friend or foe. At least that’s the matchmaking strategy being embraced by , a Vancouver, B.C.-based startup that launched in 2014. “We are deciphering the essential elements behind the ‘scent of love’ and the ideal personality combinations for successful relationships,” said co-founder and CEO . DNA Romance generates potential matches based on a DNA analysis of genes involved with immune system response that research has connected to human attraction. It appears that people with greater differences in their receptors — known as the — are more likely to be appealing to each other. Opposites, it seems, do attract — which has the evolutionary advantage of potentially creating kids with a wider range of immuno-weapons for fighting disease. As an added layer of screening, the service also uses the results of Myers-Briggs personality tests to match singles. People can use a kit purchased from DNA Romance to sample and create their genetic blueprint, or share their results from one of the other DNA sequencing companies. Then DNA Romance applies its proprietary algorithm to the DNA results, adds in the Myers-Briggs analysis and runs the combo against the site’s other users, which number between 8,000-12,000 (Sexton declined to give an exact number). The company promises to generate potential matches within 30 minutes of providing your data. While the idea of bringing scientific rigor to dating holds an appeal, some researchers are skeptical that these genes provide meaningful insights into love connections. A 2018 advised that “experts caution the science behind matching you with someone who has different immune system genes remains theoretical,” though Sexton countered that the story incorrectly mixed up the idea of pheromones with MHC-driven attraction. Sexton, who has a Ph.D. in population genetics and a bachelor’s in biochemistry and molecular biology, is convinced by the research, and the DNA Romance website links to more than two-dozen research papers on the topic. He touts some anecdotal evidence as well. Sexton met DNA Romance co-founder through OkCupid. On his initial dates with Bosire, they talked about the concept of DNA-based matchmaking. Sexton explained the science and Bosire, who holds master’s degrees in economics and international development, considered the business case, asking why DNA-driven dating was not already being used. It appeared that the backend was difficult to code, Sexton said, requiring input from experts in fields including genomics, dating, software engineering and business. DNA Romance provides matching scores based on genetic results and a personality test. (DNA Romance Image) “Despite the challenges, we were still curious and decided to collect a DNA sample from both of us, and then prepare our couples DNA comparison,” he said. “It was a nerve-wracking few weeks waiting for the DNA testing and the analysis to be completed.” The test confirmed that they were a match, and the couple ultimately married in May 2016. Bosire is the chief financial officer for DNA Romance and a senior associate for Deloitte. The third member of the founding team is , now a project manager at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Shortly after launching, the trio participated in UBC’s accelerator. Other contributors include , a Google engineer who helped build the software side of DNA Romance, and lead investor , a psychology researcher at James Cook University who developed the personality compatibility rating. The startup has raised $120,000 from friends and family and has customers in 93 countries. Their business model was initially subscription based, but in the fall they shifted to selling home DNA testing kits and online advertising to generate revenue. The kits — on sale for Valentine’s Day — cost $74.75. DNA Romance is available online, with plans to develop mobile apps. Competitors in the DNA-assisted dating space include Pheramor, GenePartner and Instant Chemistry. We caught up with Sexton for this . DNA Romance co-founder and CEO Timothy Sexton. (DNA Romance Photo) Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: DNA Romance is an online dating platform where predictions of romantic chemistry are made online. DNA Romance also evaluates personality compatibility using information from Myers-Briggs personality types. Like other dating apps, users also see a photograph of each match allowing them to evaluate attraction to appearance. Inspiration hit us when: We had suffered from online dating fatigue! Judith and I had both been using online dating for about four years before we meet on OkCupid, both of us had several mismatches dates — with no “chemistry” at all. As a population geneticist, I understood that while online dating provided many choices, mismatching was occurring because the online sites were failing to predict chemistry before a first date. Online dating sites were overlooking decades of scientific research validated in independent labs showing that there was a genetic basis for romantic chemistry, and the mode of action was similar in all vertebrates. VC, Angel or Bootstrap: We have bootstrapped in order to demonstrate the vision and attract investment from accredited investors. In recent weeks we have been talking to angel investors, VCs and even larger dating sites to secure our next round. Our ‘secret sauce’ is: Romantic chemistry is written in your DNA code, and DNA Romance translates this genetic information into actionable advice to help your dating life. DNA Romance has developed a technological pipeline that has been improving with every customer. At the heart of our business is the DNA Romance matchmaking algorithm, which identifies the DNA markers of interest and calculates predictions of romantic chemistry between our members. The smartest move we’ve made so far: We didn’t hire full-time employees until our growth trajectory was clear. We have hired or contracted subject matter experts who could help to make DNA Romance a reality. The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: We did not fully understand the challenge of educating people about our product. Consumer genetics is a fairly new field with precision health applications finally catching on. We also wish we had learned to code before day one. This would have made the overall development less stressful and costly. A potential match? (DNA Romance Image) Which entrepreneur or executive would you want working in your corner? In an ideal world, we would love to be advised by Markus Frind, founder of the Vancouver, B.C.-based online dating service PlentyOfFish. He built the company and sold it to The Match Group (owner of Match.com and OkCupid) for $575 million. Our favorite team-building activity is: A day hike up a local mountain has so many benefits: We share spectacular views, take a break from technology and achieve a tough goal together. The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: We look for the smartest people available with a passion for our product and the company. It’s important for us to be able to meet every new hire in person. What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: Get out of the office and talk, people will only invest their time and money if they know you and believe in your vision, not everyone will like your idea if they don’t just move on. Starting a business is an endurance contest, strap in for the long haul and get multiple revenue streams flowing early.