The Boston genetic engineering company Ginkgo Bioworks and its CEO, Jason Kelly, have been spectacularly successful selling a story: that synthetic biology will transform the manufacture of physical products. What computers did for information, Kelly says, biology will do for the physical world. Instead of making a chemical from petroleum, why not have Ginkgo’s multi-floor “foundry” in Boston’s seaport design a yeast cell to manufacture it instead from a broth of sugar water?
I first saw Kelly, a boyish figure in a tight sport coat and sneakers, give his pitch a few years back. It was the same talk he’d been giving successfully in Silicon Valley for years. One slide featured a photo of an Apple computer, an iPhone, a camera, and a metal watch on a gray desk decorated with a potted plant and a black swivel lamp. “What’s the most complicated device on this table?” Kelly asked.
Of course, it’s the house plant. The point is that biology can make just about anything. Think of its incredibly sophisticated miniature machines, like the swirling flagellum that helps a bacterium swim. In Ginkgo’s hands biology would become programmable, revolutionary, and insanely lucrative, just like those famous tech products in the slide. “This is a much more powerful manufacturing platform than any of those other things,” Kelly said.
Given Kelly’s spiel, it is surprising that 13 years after it was founded, Ginkgo can’t name a single significant product that is manufactured and sold using its organisms. To the company’s fans, that’s no problem. They say Ginkgo embodies the biggest trends in DNA science and surely will become the Intel, Microsoft, or Amazon of biology. Kelly has compared Ginkgo to all three. To skeptics, however, Ginkgo is a company with modest scientific achievements and little revenue, and its greatest talents lie in winning glowing press coverage and raising money.
Ginkgo’s story matters because it has become the face of synthetic biology to many investors as it prepares to begin trading as a public stock in September following a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, called Soaring Eagle. A SPAC is a shell company that sells shares to the public in an IPO with the intention of merging with a promising private business, thereby taking it public too. SPACs can open exciting (and risky) young tech companies to ordinary investors, although it’s at a price negotiated by a small circle of dealmakers. Earlier this year, Soaring Eagle announced it would merge with Ginkgo in a deal that valued the Boston company at $15 billion. Kelly’s stake will be worth well more than $700 million.
Some biotech investors believe this valuation is excessive for a company with little revenue; in 2020 Ginkgo brought in $77 million providing research services and covid-19 tests but lost plenty of money while doing so (more than $137 million, to be exact). “It looks like a great example of a clever story that caught the attention of investors,” says Jean-François Formela, a venture capitalist at Atlas Venture in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “If you boil down the message, it’s that biology is programmable. But it’s not that easy,” he says. Formela adds that the $15 billion valuation “seems insane.”
But in today’s bull market, being a skeptic doesn’t pay. So it’s difficult to say with any certainty what Ginkgo is really worth. After all, a single Bitcoin now costs $48,500 and Tesla has a market capitalization of around $700 billion, more than 10 times that of Ford. “Speaking with assurance on certain types of companies belies how difficult it is to know,” says Doug Cole of Flagship Pioneering, an organization that forms biotech startups in Cambridge. That’s especially true with companies that, like Ginkgo, are “creating new markets.”
Ginkgo’s success telling its story and raising money without introducing significant products has some skeptics wondering whether it will be next in line to crater once reality sets in. Earlier this month Zymergen, a competing synthetic-biology company, saw its stock price plunge 75% in a day after it said sales of its main product, a biological film for foldable phones, would be delayed by at least a year. Zymergen’s CEO, Josh Hoffman, who had also touted a coming era of “biofacturing,” resigned as well.
In a phone call, Kelly said his company purposely isn’t betting on any one product. Instead, he says, Ginkgo is a science and engineering “platform” for other companies to use. He compared Ginkgo to an online app store, except that the apps are programmed cells. Like an app store, Kelly says, Ginkgo will eventually profit by taking a cut of customers’ revenues, in the form of royalties or shares. It will be up to them to make and sell the biomanufactured products.
“I am not a product company, and I have no desire to be a product company,” Kelly told me. “People in biotech are brainwashed to think
By: Antonio Regalado
Title: Is Ginkgo’s synthetic biology story worth $15 billion?
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2021/08/24/1032308/is-ginkgos-synthetic-biology-story-worth-15-billion/
Published Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2021 10:00:00 +0000
LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.
This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.
The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.
The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.
“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México
Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.
The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.
Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/29/latam-crypto-exchange-bitso-and-fmf-launch-nft-of-mexicos-national-team-jerseys/
Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000
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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.
Some new developments underway at EXMO:
Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.
EXMO’s new logo
The rationale for the re-brand:
“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding
The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.
Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/26/long-running-crypto-exchange-exmo-unveils-lively-rebrand-amidst-growth/
Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000
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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country.
The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already.
Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.
The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines.
If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.
The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.
The case of Texas
The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.
One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more.
These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.
ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.
The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts. Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.
Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures
By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/07/28/1056483/stitching-together-the-grid-will-save-lives-as-extreme-weather-worsens/
Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000
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