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So that's what rain feels like. I guess Austin needed a bath. But we're still an inch and a half behind the average for July with a few soggy days ahead. Let's duck under the umbrella and explore today's top tech news. 

Billy: Dude, what's Project Titan? Is Elon Musk going to one of Saturn's moons? 

Brent: Not quite. But you can bet Musk is paying attention to news today that Apple has appointed one of its most successful executives to lead its sort of secretive self-driving car project, dubbed Project Titan. Bob Mansfield, a 1982 University of Texas graduate who joined Apple in 1999 and has had a big hand in all of the companies most important projects, is returning to Apple full-time (after being in a consulting role since 2013) to take on the company's most ambitious project yet. Apple hasn't officially said a peep about its car project, but the Wall Street Journal reports Apple has hired a batch of auto industry veterans who understand new battery technology and autonomous driving.

Dude, the race for self-driving cars, which seemed more like a Jetson's vision just a few years ago, is in full-swing. Put Apple's latest move into context for us.

Billy: Oh man, where to start? While Apple's working on their version, there are a number of forays into the self-driving business. Google is in town, as you've seen rolling around your 'hood, testing their autonomous vehicles. Tesla has their autopilot feature, to somewhat mixed success. There's also GM saying that their self-driving Lyft autos will come to Austin first.  

Audi has joined the dance as well, stating that in addition to setting a goal of 30% electric vehicle sales by 2025 and three new electric models by 2020, the company has developed a self-driving car that kind of drives like a jerk so human drivers know what's going on.

Also, it was announced today that Tesla is severing ties with Mobileye, an Israeli company that creates software to prevent crashes, following disagreements on how the software was deployed in Tesla's autopilot feature. Mobileye will instead focus on full autonomy. And they also count GM, Nissan, BMW and Hyundai as clients.

So bottom line is we're seeing a convergence of autos and tech and it's still unclear which model will prove ultimately successful in building a fully autonomous vehicle. Tesla took the tech angle and built a car from the ground up -- and we'll see how Apple does with this approach -- but auto companies are also going all in and deploying tech within the framework of a traditional automobile manufacturing process. 

MAKING MOVES

Brent: Favor, the on-demand delivery company, is doubling its coverage footprint in Austin. The company announced this morning that its new turf will encompass most of north Austin and Cedar Park, as well as a much larger swath of south Austin, stretching down to Slaughter Lane. It launched a discount for Chik-fil-A deliveries ($1 instead of the usual $5 delivery fee) to help boost adoption in the new areas. 

This is a strong play. It covers areas that their competitors don't. And it's good to see them adding territory so quickly after announcing that they would pull out of five major markets it had only recently launched in. 

What else is new in the delivery space? 

Billy: Austin-based Dropoff is expanding to Los Angeles -- The City of Angels, dude -- their first city outside of Texas. Seeing that Favor got in front of their skis a little bit with their quick market growth, we'll have to see how Dropoff manages their expansion in the coming months. Clearly they're taking a more patient approach -- they're in 5 markets vs. Favor's 20.

Brent: Any hot takes from NewCo Austin today? 

Billy: Yea man, the panel I went to was all about culture. It was a full lineup, featuring leaders from Sailpoint, JDI and Bazaarvoice

One of my favorite parts was learning that JDI has a big quote inside their office saying "No Shit Work." That's a maxim of theirs, speaking not only to their incessant desire to deliver a quality product, but also to make sure that they're not taking on projects that don't meet their requirements.

But aside from that, the panel talked about maintaining culture at the front of every employee touchpoint. What's important is the tone and tenor of every message, according to Bazaarvoice Chief People Officer Ryan Robinson. Also, did you know that Mark McClain, CEO of Sailpoint is the #1 rated CEO on all of Glassdoor? Me neither. What'd you get into today?

Brent: I swung by MWR Legal and caught a few hilarious anecdotes about inexperienced founders trying to solicit equity investments on Craigslist -- one of them for a gentlemen's club, no less.

"I see a lot of shock in the crowd," said Roberto ‘RC’ Carlos Rondero de Mosier (on the left in the photo below), a partner at the firm. "That's good."



They also tackled a scenario many first-time founders encounter -- when mom and dad want to invest $20K in the company, but they're not accredited investors. In that case, you either need a lot of paperwork and audited statements to provide an offering to non-accredited investors. Or, you can provide your folks with an executive role that typically comes with voting rights. The downside to that is that they have a level of control over your business. I suspect that for many people, having mom and dad also overseeing a business -- not matter how cool you are with them -- could make life tricky. 

"It may be one of those deals where you have to roll the dice... or move on to the next group of investors," said Michael McGovern, a partner with MWR Legal (on the right in the photo above). 

Billy: Well, let's file this one under "your heart's in the right place." An Austin Kickstarter campaign is pretty far off from its goal of $200K to try and start a "rideshare for kids." 

It doesn't feature any child drivers, but instead allows parents to schedule secure pickup and dropoff times for their wee ones. The campaign has yet to raise any money, and it's probably because parents just don't trust their kids with strangers. 

But let's say this gets off the ground. Brent, would you be pumped for yet another ride-hailing platform in Austin? 

Brent: I've heard more than a couple people talk about how they don't care about fingerprint background checks, and that they're generally cool with being able to see who their driver is, get a license plate number and track things on their phone.

But if you ask the same people if they'd let their kids, nieces, nephews and so on get in to a car with a stranger, the answer is a swift "hell no." I think Dryft has the right idea with heavy-duty background checks. But I think it would take a big time company with a high level of consumer trust and experience with kids to gain the trust of parents. On a bus, you have strength in numbers. One kid in a car alone with a driver, even if you have done the background checks and introduced yourself, is still a tough sell. 


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