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Following a record year, Illinois startups kick off 2019 on a strong foot – TechCrunch

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Illinois’s startup market in 2018 was very strong, and it’s not slowing down as we settle into 2019. There’s already almost $100 million in new VC funding announced, so let’s take a quick look at the state of venture in the Land of Lincoln (with a specific focus on Chicago).

In the chart below, we’ve plotted venture capital deal and dollar volume for Illinois as a whole. Reported funding data in Crunchbase shows a general upward trend in dollar volume, culminating in nearly $2 billion worth of VC deals in 2018; however, deal volume has declined since peaking in 2014.1

Chicago accounts for 97 percent of the dollar volume and 90.7 percent of total deal volume in the state. We included the rest of Illinois to avoid adjudicating which towns should be included in the greater Chicago area.

In addition to all the investment in 2018, a number of venture-backed companies from Chicago exited last year. Here’s a selection of the bigger deals from the year:

Crain’s Chicago Business reports that 2018 was the best year for venture-backed startup acquisitions in Chicago “in recent memory.” Crunchbase News has previously shown that the Midwest (which is anchored by Chicago) may have fewer startup exits, but the exits that do happen often result in better multiples on invested capital (calculated by dividing the amount of money a company was sold for by the amount of funding it raised from investors).

2018 was a strong year for Chicago startups, and 2019 is shaping up to bring more of the same. Just a couple weeks into the new year, a number of companies have already announced big funding rounds.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the more notable deals struck so far this year:

  • On Thursday, commercial real estate search firm Truss raised $15 million in additional financing, extending the Deerfield, IL-based company’s Series A round. The deal was led by Boston-based General Catalyst. The deal brings Truss’s total equity and debt funding to more than $24 million.
  • Learning management system company BenchPrep announced $20 million in a Series C round co-led by Chicago-based Jump Capital and Bay Area-based Owl Ventures, LP. Part of that capital reportedly comes in the form of debt. The SEC filing for the round, dated December 2018, discloses that $14.53 million was raised in an equity offering, of which $2,999,999 was used to buy shares from “certain executive officers” at the company.
  • Delivery service Bringg raised $25 million in Series C funding, which was led by Next47. Other investors in the deal include The Coca-Cola Company, Salesforce Ventures and Aleph. Bringg’s customers include Walmart and McDonald’s. The company has raised at least $52 million in known venture funding to date.

Besides these, a number of seed deals have been announced. These include relatively large rounds raised by 3D modeling technology company ThreeKit, upstart futures exchange Small Exchange and 24/7 telemedicine service First Stop Health.

Globally, and in North America, venture deal and dollar volume hit new records in 2018. However, it’s unclear what 2019 will bring. What’s true at a macro level is also true at the metro level. Don’t discount the City of the Big Shoulders, though.

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Apple May Bring Major Design Changes To Entry-Level iPad

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The changes aren’t skin deep, of course, and the next base iPad is expected to sport changes that may make it more appealing to the casual consumer. At the top of that list is the anticipated switch from the Lightning connector to USB-C, something that all other iPad models have already received. This would not only open up the entry-level iPad to more use cases like hooking up external displays but would also break compatibility with plenty of accessories, particularly the first-gen Apple Pencil.

The first Apple Pencil charges using a Lightning port, but with this connector gone from the upcoming iPad, what would no longer be possible. Given its expected switch to flat edges, it’s likely that the iPad 10 will support the second-gen Apple Pencil. That, in turn, means the days of the original Apple Pencil are numbered, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Apple immediately halts its production.

With the changes to the design and Lightning port would also come a change to the one other legacy connector that has been present since the first iPad: the 3.5mm headphone jack, which will supposedly be making its exit from the iPad this year. If that rumor proves true, Apple’s transition away from wired headphones — at least as far as a direct connection goes — will be complete. These changes also mean that accessory makers will have to alter their designs, as well, especially case manufacturers. The magnetic Smart Cover’s design, for example, no longer has a place in this flat-edged world.

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BMW Is Testing Electric Cars With Four Motors For Its Fiercest M EVs

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The company’s M xDrive four-wheel drive system is currently in the testing phase, but has already produced some very promising results. The system gives each wheel its own electric motor and runs through a “highly integrated control unit” that takes action based on the driving conditions and the driver’s choices. Along with the driving surface, several other factors are taken into consideration, including accelerator pedal position, steering angle, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, and wheel speeds. All of this is continually monitored and the optimal amount of power and torque is given to each wheel. The decisions the control unit makes are put into action within milliseconds.

BMW has already tested this technology and claims it delivered a number of benefits, including “significantly higher cornering speeds” even in tough conditions, like rain-soaked or snow-covered roads. A specific example the company gave involved the control unit eliminating understeer by temporarily giving more power to the rear outside wheel. The motors also recoup energy when braking. This has been a common feature on many EVs and hybrids for several years, but BMW’s experimental drive train may be the first to optimize energy recovery on all four wheels.

The concept is being tested out on a modified BMW i4 M50 with the front end based around an adapted body strut concept taken from an M3/M4 chassis, and a radiator unit configuration modeled on current high-performance sports cars. The test car is designed to have high torsional rigidity during dynamic driving situations.

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The Truth About Porsche’s Complicated Model Number System

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Why did it start with the number seven? According to the book “Porsche, Excellence Was Expected” by Karl Ludvigsen, the designers didn’t want Wanderer to “think they were a bunch of novices.” And if you want to get really technical, the very first car Ferdinand built was the Egger-Lohner C2 Phaeton (designated P1) in 1898. Remember, literally every project the company worked on received a successively higher number, from axles to suspensions, gearboxes, and even tractors. Yes, Porsche designed an even slower vehicle than the Volkswagen Thing.

In 1932 came type 22, its first Grand Prix car, the 16-cylinder Auto Union race car. For Porsche, the race was indeed on as figuratively as it was literally. Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche GmbH worked on all sorts of things, from steering components for Citroën and Fiat to axels, plane and motorcycle engines, and yes… the type 60 KdF-Wagen for Volkswagen (and Hitler), which would go on to fame as the VW Bug. However, the system got a little wonky during World War II, when many numbers in the 200 range were simply skipped over (via Ingenieurbüro Kukuk).

By 1948, its internal numbering system had gotten up into the mid-300s. In June of that year, the first vehicle that displayed the official Porsche name rolled into existence with the now iconic Porsche 356, according to the automaker. But it came with a new wrinkle: as the 356 evolved with the latest technological advances, each subsequent model was designated with letters (A, B, C). Alphabet soup with your zip codes, anyone?

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