You can reach the stars by following your dreams

Good morning friends! Welcome back to Week in Review!

After a fun, uplifting couple of weeks I am back. Although I missed this newsletter writing it, Greg did an amazing job and I will not be returning to the helm anytime soon. Plenty happened this week and I struggled to zero in on a single topic to address, but I finally chose to focus on Bezos’s Blue Origin suing NASA.

This article can be downloaded from TechCrunch’s newsletter page. Follow my Twitter @lucasmtny if you are reading it on TechCrunch.

It’s the big deal

I had planned to write about OnlyFans this week for their newsletter and their rather shocking decision to ban explicit sexual content on their website in a bid for friendly payment processors. But I couldn’t resist writing an article for ole TechCrunch.com instead. If you are interested, here’s the link.

Also, it is worth noting that I didn’t get to hear any of the discussion surrounding Apple’s controversial software for detecting child sexual abuse. This really does seem to affect the integrity of devices. This is a worrying development, even though Apple claims it will not allow for a worse outcome. I hope to have time with people in decentralized computing about the negative effects of our dependence on just a few tech companies that operate with very little consumer input. In the meantime, I will point you to some reporting from TechCrunch’s own Zack Whittaker on the topic which you should peruse because I’m sure it will be a topic I revisit here in the future.

Then,Let’s get to the point.

The federal government agencies are not often admired. Although great accomplishments have been made thanks to federal funding and civil servants’ tireless efforts, many agencies are viewed as bureaucratic waste and not worthy of passionate advocacy. NASA is a little more sacred among technologists and the general public. The American space agency has generally been a source of bipartisan enthusiasm, as has its goal to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024.

This brings us to this week’s news. We have some news this week. While there was so much ink spilled about Jeff Bezos’s trip to space with his cowboy hat and champagne, less attention has been paid to NASA’s suit against him. This lawsuit will likely delay development of a lunar lander for months. It could also threaten NASA’s plan to bring back astronauts to the Moon on time.

Blue Origin, Bezos’s startup is protesting that they weren’t awarded a contract by the government while SpaceX’s Elon Musk earned a contract worth $2.89B to construct a lunar lander. The contract was not just awarded recently. SpaceX had won the contract back in April, and Blue Origin already complained to the Government Accountability Office. Before Bezos wrote an open letter promising NASA a $2B discount after it had suffered budget cuts. NASA was not convinced by any of the maneuverings, prompting Bezos’s startup space company to sue.

Long-suffering Twitter users have found this gem in a Bezos 2019 speech, as transscribed by Gizmodo. It highlights Bezos’s disapproval for NASA’s limitations to reaching for the stars because of bureaucracy.

To the extent that NASA’s big programs are viewed as job programs, they must be allocated to states with the appropriate Senators. This is going to alter the goal. Your objective now isn’t to, you understand, get a man or woman to orbit the Moon, but to send a woman there while keeping X many jobs here in my area. This is complexifying, but not healthy i>

Today there would have been, well, at most, three demonstrations. The losers would then sue the federal government for not winning. Procurement is the biggest thing slowing down things. It’s fascinating. This is the biggest bottleneck, besides the technology. I can tell you that it frustrates all of the NASA employees.

Blue Origin spokeswoman said that the suit was an attempt to “remediate the flaws found in NASA’s acquisition process discovered in NASA’s Human Landing System.” However, the lawsuit seems to show how critical this agreement is for Blue Origin’s ability to retain top talent. It is worth considering whether the startup will be able to handle NASA’s reputational risks and delay America’s return on the moon.

Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Additional things

These are TechCrunch’s top news stories this week.

OnlyFans bans “sexually explicit content”
Many people felt very visceral after OnlyFans decided to end what appears to be an important part of their business and ban “sexually explicit material” from the platform. The decision seems to have been made because of the influence of banks and other payment partners.

Musk “unveils” the “Tesla Bot”
It’s hard to call this news. However, Elon Musk made a man wear a spandex suit and go about doing his robot. This led to hundreds of stories and news articles.

Facebook drops a VR meeting simulator
Facebook has released one its best virtual reality apps this week. It is a workplace app that allows people to host virtual reality meetings. Although no one asked for it, the company did a lot of PR for the app, which allows headset users to experience the pure joy of being in a conference hall.

Taliban presence on social platforms is a problem for social platforms
__S.54__ Some platforms are now in an awkward position.

Facebook releases content transparency report
Facebook has released the first ever transparency report on content. It highlights which data was most popular over the past three months. The list of posts that have the greatest reach appears to be quite benign, as opposed to the lists that highlight which posts receive the most engagement, which are populated mostly with right-wing news sources and influencers.

Safety regulators open inquiry into Tesla Autopilot
Musk speaks of building a humanoid robot brand-named, but U.S safety regulators worry about why Tesla cars on Autopilot crash into so many emergency vehicles parked nearby.

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Additional things

These are some of my favourite reads this week from Extra Crunch’s subscription service:

The Nuro EC-1
Although Jiajun Zhangu and Dave Ferguson are not the only Google employees who have launched AV startups, they may be the most overlooked. They founded their company.NuroThe company is worth $5 billion. It has strong partnerships with leading companies in logistics, retail and food such as FedEx and Domino’s. They seem to have successfully navigated through the regulatory hurdle course — at least …”

A VC shares 5 keys to pitching VCs
“The success of a fundraising process is entirely dependent on how well an entrepreneur can manage it. At this stage, it is important for founders to be honest, straightforward and recognize the value meetings with venture capitalists and investors can bring beyond just the monetary aspect..

A crash course on corporate development
“… If you are going to be acquired, you will likely spend lots of time working with corporate development teams. The environment is very favorable for acquisitions, with a booming stock market and a lot of money.

Thank you for reading! Until next week…

Lucas M.

Publiated at Sun, 22 August 2021 @ 18:02:24 +0000

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