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$35M-funded Omni rentals in acqui-hire talks with Coinbase – TechCrunch

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Physical storage-turned-rentals startup Omni is dealing with layoffs today, two sources familiar with the situation tell TechCrunch. Omni just shed seven operations team members. The startup is in talks to sell its engineering team to Coinbase after also receiving interest from Thumbtack.

Omni’s rental business was doing poorly without enough users paying a few bucks to borrow a tent, bike or power drill. Omni had planned to launch a white-labeled platform allowing brick-and-mortar merchants to operate and market their own rental business.

But despite having plenty of cash left after raising $25 million from cryptocurrency company Ripple early last year, Omni feared the new platform would flop too and its prospects would worsen.

The company is in talks with Coinbase to hire some of the engineering staff, who would have them work on Coinbase Earn, which rewards users with cryptocurrency for completing online educational programs. Some employees are interviewing at Coinbase today. However, a Coinbase spokesperson told me there’s currently no official deal — before noting that there is nothing on the record they can share. Omni promised TechCrunch a statement but then refused to talk on the record.

Omni got its start in on-demand storage, where it would come to your home, pick up and tag your stuff, store it in a warehouse and bring it back whenever you wanted it. It grew popular in San Francisco and started to scale out to other cities. In April, Omni began allowing users to earn money by renting out their stored goods to other Omni customers.

But by May, Omni was selling its storage business to SoftBank-funded competitor Clutter, and the transition was rocky. Users complained about changing prices and misplaced items, alarmed that suddenly a different startup had control of their possessions.

I was formerly a happy Omni customer of its storage business, but the transition to Clutter was botched and shook faith that users’ stuff would be taken care of. At one point they lost some of my belongings, until C-level executives stepped in to figure out what happened.

Going forward, instead of storing goods itself, Omni would rely on local storefronts for pickup and drop-off of rentals. But many users balked at the hassle of rentals when Amazon makes buying so easy.

One source said that Omni had discussed telling rental partners in two weeks that it would be shutting down the rental service, though TechCrunch cannot confirm that. Another source said Omni was frantically trying to stop members of its team from talking to the press today.

Omni’s vision of cloud storage for the physical world and access over ownership had attracted capital from Flybridge, Highland, Allen & Company, Founders Fund, Precursor and a wide array of angels. But efforts to change user behavior and operate a logistically complicated business, matched with spotty execution, led the startup to hit the skids and seek a soft landing.



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Kia EV6 GT Packs 576 Electric Horses And A Drift Mode

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You might not associate Kia with performance vehicles, but with 576 horsepower on tap, the new EV6 GT unveiled during Monterey Car Week aims to change that.

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This Electronic ‘Skin’ Lacking A Chip Could Be The Future Of Wearables

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But here’s the exciting part: The electronic skin can also be easily customized with a different kind of ion-sensing membrane that is sensitive to other chemicals like glucose and cortisol in the sweat. “We showed sodium sensing, but if you change the sensing membrane, you could detect any target biomarker,” adds co-author of the paper, Jun Min Suh. 

In 2018, a team from Stanford University also came up with a wearable device that can measure cortisol levels in sweat and analyze stress levels. Additionally, 2021 wearable-centric research from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in France revealed that cortisol can be used as a biomarker for treating conditions like burnout and obesity.

Another critical benefit is that the electronic skin is flexible, which means the comfort aspect has already been taken care of. That’s a huge relief, as sleeping while wearing a smartwatch so that it collects detailed information about heart rate patterns is not the most comfortable experience. Plus, sleep tracking coupled with continuous heart rate monitoring is also quite taxing on the battery life of a smartwatch. 

An electronic skin that can transmit data related to heart rate and changes in the chemistry of sweat without a chip or transmission gear is a truly remarkable step. Work in the domain has been making tremendous process. From the potential for tattoos that monitor health to artificial skin that can heal its own bruises, the possibilities are almost endless. 

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TikTok Is Furious About This Dodge Charger EV Feature

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While the TikTokers present at the event seemed blown away by the new Daytona SRT, their comments sections were not as kind. The vehicle’s exhaust feature was panned by a number of users in the replies, with one of the commenters on Fitrich76’s video simply replying: “We reving [sic] speakers now.” Another TikToker, Justin Hillard, is amongst the crowd predicting the move to electric will backfire on Dodge. He said: “Funny part is they will see the sales go down very quickly. Because no one wants electric. Especially because if everyone has to go electric then.” Caleb Schueng added, “You [sic] can I download the challengers exhaust sound? I wanna put it in my civic.”

Comments on ModdedDetroit’s TikTok followed a similar theme, with one user stating: “Such a sad era we’re going into.” Another user simply said, “we truly are going into dark times,” and one user criticized the vehicle’s figurative lack of soul. A notable portion of the comments section claimed Dodge was going to go out of business, though one user did say the car was better than Ford’s Mach-E.

These are just examples from a couple of accounts, but they do seem to reflect the broader reaction across social media. Influencers attending the events seemed quite complimentary about the new EV, while the majority of their followers tore the concept apart. In several cases, the electric engine sound was likened to the noise Simba from “The Lion King” made when he was trying to roar. You could easily argue that comment sections are the last places you want to look while gauging public opinion, but there’s also a case for saying these are the exact people Dodge was hoping to win over with the Daytona SRT.

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