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Briq, the next building block in tech’s reconstruction of the construction business, raises $3 million – TechCrunch



Bassem Hamdy has been in the construction business for a long time.

He spent the last few years at the construction software business Procore, now a $3 billion company developing technology for the construction industry, and now Hamdy is ready to unveil his next act as chief executive and co-founder of Briq, a new software service for the industry.

Hamdy started Briq with his own cash, amassed through secondary sales as Procore climbed the ranks of startups to reach its status as a construction industry unicorn. And the company has just raised $3 million in financing to fund its expansion.

“With enough secondaries you can afford to make your own decisions,” Hamdy says. 

His experience in construction dates back to his earliest days. Hailing from a family of construction engineers, Hamdy describes himself as a black sheep who went into the financial services industry — but construction kept pulling him back.

Beginning in the late nineties with CMIC, which was construction enterprise resource planning, and continuing through to Procore, Hamdy has had success after success in the business, but Briq is the culmination of all of that experience, he says. 

“As much as data entry helps people it’s data intelligence software that changes things,” says Hamdy. 

Briq chief executive Bassem Hamdy

The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company is part of a growing number of Southern California technology startups building businesses to service large swaths of specific industries — specifically real estate and construction.

Already, Procore is a $3 billion behemoth, and ServiceTitan has become a billion-dollar company as well, with its software and services for air conditioning and appliance repairmen.

Now Hamdy’s Briq, with backing from Eniac Ventures and MetaProp NYC, is hoping to join their ranks.

“Bassem built and helped run the most successful construction software businesses in the world. It is rare and humbling to have an opportunity to help build a company from the ground up with an industry legend,” says Tim Young, founding general partner at Eniac Ventures . “The technology Bassem and his team are building will do something the industry has never seen before: break down data silos to leverage information in real time. Bassem has built and run the most successful construction software businesses in the world, and his knowledge of the construction space and the data space is second to none.”

The company, formerly called Brickschain, uses a combination of a blockchain-based immutable ledger and machine learning tools to provide strategic insights into buildings and project developments.

Briq’s software can predict things like the success of individual projects, where demand for new projects is likely to occur and how to connect data around construction processes.

Briq has two main offerings, according to Hamdy. ProjectIQ, which monitors and manages individual projects and workflows — providing data around different vendors involved in a construction project; and MarketIQ, which provides market intelligence around where potential projects are likely to occur and which projects will be met with the most demand and success.

Joining Hamdy in the creation of Briq is Ron Goldschmidt, an experienced developer of quantitative-based trading strategies for several businesses. Hamdy, a former Wall Streeter himself, has long realized the power of data in the construction business. And with the new tools at his disposal — including the blockchain-based ledger system that forms the backbone of Briq’s project management software, Hamdy thinks he has developed the next big evolution in technology for the industry.

Briq already counts Webcore, a major contractor and developer, as one of its clients, along with Kobayashi, Probuild, Hunter Roberts OEG and Gartner Builders. In all, the company has contracts with nearly 12 developers and contractors.

All of the insights that Briq can provide through its immutable ledger can add up to big savings for developers. Hamdy estimates that there’s roughly $1 trillion in waste in the construction industry.

Briq relies on IBM’s Hyperledger for its blockchain backbone and through that, the company has a window into all of the decisions made on a project. That ledger forms the scaffolding on which Briq can build out its projections and models of how much a building will cost, and how could conceivably be made on a project.

“Construction and infrastructure are integral to society, but the decision-making process behind how, when, where, and why we build is no longer working,” said Hamdy, in a statement. “We aren’t just solving a construction problem, we are solving a societal problem. If we are to meet the infrastructure needs of both the developed and developing world, we must improve our decision-making and analysis around the data we have. We are thrilled to have the support of Eniac Ventures as we enter the next phase of our journey.”

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Researchers find four big reasons people become digital hoarders



Hoarding is a behavior that’s difficult to miss — it often involves filling one’s home and other spaces with a huge number of items that end up having a major impact on the hoarder’s life. Less visible is the growing issue of ‘digital hoarding,’ an activity that involves amassing huge amounts of digital content that one may find difficult to part with.

Unlike typical hoarding, digital hoarding is the activity of collecting a large amount of digital data without deleting content over time. This amassing of information may be deliberate, such as for archival purposes, but in other cases may be more passive, with someone merely growing their data over time by failing to regularly delete it.

This can include, for example, downloading huge collections of images with the idea that they may be useful one day; in other cases, someone may never delete their emails, ending up with an inbox containing thousands or tens of thousands of messages that are hard to sort through. According to a new study, digital hoarders can be split up into four different categories.

The four types of digital hoarders fall into one of the following categories: anxiety, disengagement, compliance and collection. Perhaps the basic of the four is the compliance category, which refers primarily to workplaces in which policy or practices result in employees retaining large amounts of digital data, such as old emails and spreadsheets.

While this category isn’t as much of a big deal at the personal level, the researchers point out that it may end up being a problem for companies, particularly if they were to suffer a data breach. Following the compliance category are the collectors — the users who behave in a way that could be defined as hoarding, but without the anxiety, disorganization, or company orders that motivate other types of digital hoarders.

Rounding out the categories are disengaged and anxious digital hoarders, which refers to people who amass large amounts of digital clutter due to being unorganized or worried that deleting data may end up getting rid of something that will be important in the future. The researchers note that companies may be able to reduce digital hoarding by reassuring employees about which information can be safely deleted, but more research is necessary to determine which strategies may help reduce overall digital hoarding behavior.

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New iPhone 6 throttling lawsuit gives Apple fresh headaches in Europe



Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit over iPhone throttling, with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s owners in Europe seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages over how the Cupertino firm dealt with degrading batteries. The tweak, pushed out in iOS 10.2.1 back in 2017, quietly capped the maximum performance of several older iPhone models, after Apple realized that they could otherwise crash if demanding apps were run.

The problem, it turned out, came down to the natural degradation of lithium-ion batteries. Over time, they’re unable to hold the same level of charge and thus deliver the same peak voltage: if the iPhone’s chipset demanded more power than the older battery could provide, it could crash and reboot.

iOS 10.2.1 fixed that by secretly throttling maximum CPU performance on phones like the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, and iPhone 6s Plus with older batteries. However Apple then faced accusations that it was intentionally limiting how fast those iPhones could run, in the hope of pushing battery replacements or driving upgrades to newer models.

Class-action suits in the US followed, with Apple paying up to $25 per iPhone in an American settlement – though not admitting any actual wrongdoing. However new cases have been filed in Europe: most recently in Italy, TechCrunch reports, but in Belgium and Spain back in December 2020. A fourth suit is expected to be added to the list, as owners in Portugal lend their voices to the complaints.

The Italian class action lawsuit is a familiar one. According to local consumer protection agency Altroconsumo, Apple is guilty of planned obsolescence in how it handled iOS 10.2.1. As with the US case, it argues that Apple’s motivation in making the changes was to seed dissatisfaction with otherwise functional iPhones, and encourage upgrades to newer models.

The lawsuit is seeking 60 million euro ($70m) in compensation, or roughly 60 euro ($70) per iPhone owner enrolled in the case. iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, and iPhone 6s Plus owners are invited to participate.

Apple released iOS 11.3 in 2018, with a toggle switch to control what had until then been automatic throttling behavior. Owners could check the current health of their iPhone’s battery, and then choose whether to override the CPU control. The company also offered subsidized iPhone battery replacements for those with impacted devices, bringing the price down to $29 from its usual $79.

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Coca-Cola with Coffee in cans: Different from BLAK



This week Coca-Cola with Coffee in cans launched in stores in a variety of flavors and mixes. This isn’t the first time Coca-Cola tried to launch a coffee mix drink, but it might be the most successful. Thanks to a newly formulated mix of elements and a far, far better branding scheme than with previous releases, the Coca-Cola with Coffee in cans release will likely be in your hand by the end of the month.

The branding is such that you’ll notice the Coca-Cola logo in white in a red circle on the can – not diluted whatsoever by any element that surrounds it. Below the brand you’ll see “with COFFEE” in strong, off-white lettering. Below this rests a photo of a pair of coffee beans.

At the top of each can you’ll see a flavor and a color. There’s a tag that suggests which flavor you’ll get, with a matching color if you’re getting the original (with sugar) version, or black if you’ve picked the ZERO SUGAR version.

Dark Blend will be released in original and Zero Sugar versions, the same with Vanilla. There’ll be one Caramel version that will have no Zero Sugar version – at least on launch day in the USA.

Each can will have 70 calories of drink, or zero calories for the zero sugar variations. Price is as yet unknown – but you’ll likely see a variety of cans available in stores by the end of January, 2021.

NOTE: This is the product announced back in July of 2020. We took a peek at the original plan with cans that more or less stayed the same as they’d planned back then. Cross your fingers they taste as OK as early reviews suggest.

ALSO NOTE: This is different from that time Coca-Cola released Coca-Cola BLAK, circa 2006-2008. That… didn’t taste great.

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