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Updated: 1 hour 16 min ago

Miso Robotics, Makers of Burger Flipping Robot, Gets New CEO

Thu, 2020-08-13 17:40

Pasadena-based Miso Robotics, which specializes in intelligent automation technology for commercial kitchens, such as Flippy the burger-flipping robot, announced the selection of a new CEO on Thursday.

Mike Bell will now head the company as CEO, Miso Robotics said in a written statement. His predecessor, company co-founder Buck Jordan, will continue with the company as board chairman and president. He previously served as COO of Ordermark.

“With the skyrocketing demand for contactless integrated tech solutions in restaurant chains and uptick in delivery and take out in the wake of COVID-19, Bell’s expertise and leadership will guide the company through a new phase of operational growth,” the statement said.

“Over the last year, Mike Bell has served as a board member for Miso Robotics, working closely with Buck Jordan to advise on initial operational enhancements – his new role as CEO will be a seamless transition built on a proven successful partnership.” according to the statement.

The change in leadership took effect immediately.

Miso Robotic’s automated kitchen assistant, known as Flippy, has already begun flipping burgers and frying French fries at places including Dodger Stadium, Chase Field, and Caliburger.

The company also announced in July that the robots would be tested at White Castle locations.

“As the company experiences a surge in interest on the heels of an accelerated need for industry automation, Miso Robotics has found a new need to scale their operational chain to meet demand, quickly,” the statement said.

“Buck is a valuable and collaborative leader and I’ve been thrilled to watch Miso Robotics grow more under his direction over the last year,” Bell said.

He added that it was an exciting time to take the reigns of the company.

“Flippy is able to solve some of the most crucial problems facing restaurants today,” he said. “I’m both excited and proud to be a part of making automation an integral part of the kitchen of the future. I see great success before us today – the food service market is primed for artificial intelligence and robotics to enter at a new level of scale. Miso Robotics will be ready for the demand ahead.”

Jordan also said he was looking forward to moving forward under the new leadership structure.

“This is an extremely timely and strategic leadership shift for Miso Robotics. Interest is pouring in and we need to operationalize and scale faster. Handing him the torch is truly exciting,” he said.

“Miso Robotics has had different needs at various stages,” Jordan added. “My experience in fundraising served the needs of Miso Robotics going into our Series C crowdfunding raise, and now Mike’s business operations expertise is what we need for our next stage of expansion.”

Hahn & Hahn Bolsters Corporate Team

Tue, 2020-08-11 12:38
Kevin M. O’Sullivan

Southern California-based law firm Hahn & Hahn LLP announced today that seasoned corporate attorney Kevin M. O’Sullivan has joined the firm’s Business Department.

“As the complexities of the marketplace continue to grow for our business clients, we continue to expand to meet their needs,” said Managing Partner Christianne Kerns. “Kevin’s deep experience will be a tremendous resource to our clients.”

O’Sullivan represents business entities in all aspects of corporate and business law, including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital financing, public and private placements of securities, and securities regulation. He has represented companies in various industries in the structuring, negotiating, and drafting of corporate transaction documents.

“Hahn & Hahn has a strong reputation in Southern California, and I am looking forward to working with an exceptional team of lawyers and professionals,” said O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and JD from the University of Michigan Law School. A native Angeleno, O’Sullivan started his career practicing corporate law with Paul Hastings LLP in downtown Los Angeles, where he spent nearly eight years. Most recently, O’Sullivan served in the role of associate general counsel with TeamHealth, a national healthcare company, out of its Los Angeles office, a position that he held for the past five and half years.

Hahn & Hahn LLP has been an active member of the Southern California business and legal communities since 1899. For more information visit https://www.hahnlawyers.com/

Pasadena Pharmaceuticals Company Begins Study of New Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

Tue, 2020-08-11 11:21

A Pasadena-based pharmaceuticals company has begun human trials of a new drug intended to treat cystic fibrosis, the company announced Tuesday.

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals has begun a Phase 1/2 study of ARO-ENaC, an inhaled drug meant to combat the respiratory symptoms of cystic fibrosis through inhibiting the expression of certain genes through a process known as RNA interference, the company said in a written statement.

“The Phase 1/2 clinical study, AROENaC1001, is designed to assess safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics and potentially provide an early assessment of efficacy in patients with CF,” said Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Chief Medical Officer Dr. Javier San Martin.

“We believe ENaC, or epithelial sodium channel, is a target with great potential for many CF patients that may not be eligible for existing therapies due to their specific genotypes, commonly called class I patients, and for those that have an inadequate response to therapy,” he said. “Our preclinical work on ARO-ENaC has been highly promising and we are eager to see how these results translate to humans.”

The study involved 24 healthy volunteers and 30 cystic fibrosis patients to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the new treatment.

The medication is primarily intended to help with dehydration and mucous retention in the lungs experienced by people with cystic fibrosis, “a rare disease caused by genetic mutations that lead to progressive deterioration in lung function,” according to the statement.

More information about drugs under development at Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals is available on the company’s website at arrowheadpharma.com.

New Facial Recognition Tech Created, Rolled Out in Pasadena

Mon, 2020-08-10 16:40

Pasadena-based PopID’s facial recognition payment service, called PopPay, is now in use in at least 25 Pasadena establishments, making it easier for small businesses and their customers to observe restrictions and safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Cali Group company, PopID introduced the hands-free payment service around 2016, enabling thousands of customers at restaurant chains ?across the country to quickly and easily access their loyalty accounts, view and select from past orders and pay at self-service kiosks.

Soon after, companies began using the technology to enable workplace entry for their employees without having to use an electronic key card. The initial deployments of the PopID door entry system were near areas where PopID was already being used by consumers for food ordering and payment.

A Fox 11 Los Angeles report last weekend said dozens of businesses in Pasadena have now embraced PopPay and are making customers feel more secure in their contact-free purchases. These businesses include Again Café, Arroyo Chop House, BAN SUP refill, Bar Celona, Bubble Puff and Tea, Contessa Italian Foods, Daddy’s Chicken Shack, DogHaus, Fair Oaks Burger, The Fit Bar Superfood Cafe, Food Bar, Lêberry Bakery, Lemonade, Mediterranean Grill, Milkcow Café, Monopole Wine, Parkway Grill, Pho Banh Mi Che Cali, Real Food Cafe, Space Bar Wellness Center, Smitty’s, Sorriso, Taste of Pace, and Tortas Mexico.

Companies like Belcampo, Bojangles, Dairi-O, Deli Time, Plant Power, and Port of Subs adopted the system earlier.

PopID’s sister company Caliburger was among the first restaurants to use the platform, the company said.

Caliburger also started deploying touch-free entry screening in March, with devices attached to doors measuring the body temperatures of restaurant staff, delivery drivers, and guests before they enter the building.

The technology could be applied to other buildings such as retail stores, offices, and homes to enhance health and safety.  Wider adoption of this system could serve to identify hot spots and spikes in the spread of COVID-19 and other transmissible viruses.

Customers can use PopID’s facial recognition payment service at drive-thrus or in-venue kiosks via a display screen affixed to the sneeze guard at the counter, or tableside with a waiter scanning the patron’s face using a handheld Android device, the Fox 11 LA report said.

Once recognized, the business simply draws from the customer’s PopID account before sending a text message confirming payment. With PopID accounts tied to loyalty programs for automatic credit, users have full control over their account and can opt-out of the secure service at any time.

To register for PopID, visit www.popid.com.

Pasadena-Based Company Buys Palo Alto Building From Stanford

Mon, 2020-08-10 16:09

Pasadena-based Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. has purchased an office building in Palo Alto from Stanford University for $115.2 million, according to a report by the San Jose Mercury News.

The deal for the 100,000 square-foot Class A office building at 3180 Porter Drive in prestigious 700-acre Stanford Research Park was completed early this month, the report said.

The acquisition is Alexandria’s latest move to expand its greater Stanford innovation cluster footprint. Citing Santa Clara county records, the Mercury News report said Alexandria has now spent about $815 million to buy properties in Palo Alto since 2018 when the company began buying parcels in the Silicon Valley city.

Alexandria’s affiliate in San Francisco pursued the acquisition, the report said.

Alexandria first purchased the Embarcadero Place office complex on Geng Road in Palo Alto in 2018 for $136 million, according to the Mercury News. In January 2019, the company spent $100.3 million for an office building at 3170 Porter Drive that’s leased to Jazz Pharmaceuticals. In August 2019, Alexandra paid $97 million for an office building at 3160 Porter.

Last December, Alexandria paid $291 million for a vast property near Fabian Way in Palo Alto that contains several aging buildings previously owned by Space Systems/Loral, LLC, a well-known defense contractor.

In February, the company paid $75.9 million for office buildings at 3412 and 3330 Hillview Ave. in the same city, the newspaper reported.

Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. focuses on investments in office buildings and laboratories leased to tenants in the life science and technology industries. The company also has a venture capital arm, Alexandria Venture Investments, which invests in life sciences firms.

For more information, visit www.are.com.

Men’s Wearhouse in Pasadena to Remain Open

Mon, 2020-08-10 04:00

Men’s Wearhouse in Pasadena will remain open despite a bankruptcy filing last week by the store owners, Tailored Brands.

Tailored Brands is closing 500 stores as it restructures in bankruptcy, including the nearby Jos. A. Bank, which is located on South Lake Avenue. The local Men’s Wearhouse store is also the Avenue, at 406 S. Lake.

The fate of the company has been in limbo since June when reports of a pending bankruptcy reached the mainstream press.

Rocked by the coronavirus, year-over-year sales of men’s formal clothing fell 74 percent between April and June, according to GlobalData Retail.

At least nine retailers filed for bankruptcy protection last month, including Ascena, owners of Lane Bryant, which earlier closed its Pasadena store.

According to CNN, Tailored Brands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a district court in Texas to implement a restructuring plan that has the support of 75 percent of its lenders.

The plan is expected to reduce its debt by at least $630 million and ensure it can keep operating.

According to BankruptcyData.com, more than 20 private and public retailers have declared bankruptcy this year.

Government Stimulus Spending Boosts Green Dot’s Second Quarter Revenue

Mon, 2020-08-10 04:00

As most U.S. banks suffered losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pasadena-based Green Dot Corp. reported total operating revenues of $316.2 million for the second quarter of 2020, up from $278.3 million in the second quarter of 2019, a 12 percent increase.

Green Dot’s profits were hurt by rising expenses, which were down substantially from a year ago, but the company still came up with a modest net income of $3.3 million, according to a report appearing in the industry publication American Banker. Much of the benefit came from emergency government payments to consumers that have been loaded onto the company’s prepaid cards, according to the report.

Last year’s second-quarter income was about $34.7 million, Green Dot said in a statement.

Dan Henry, who took the helm as Green Dot CEO last spring, reported about the company’s performance during an earnings conference call Tuesday.

“I am very pleased with all the early signs of progress that we are making,” Henry said.

Green Dot shares have also soared in 2020, defying the industry-wide trend, according to American Banker. Green Dot’s stock price closed above $53 on Tuesday, up from less than $24 at the start of the year.

Jess Unruh, interim CFO at Green Dot, said many of the company’s KPIs (key performance indicators) experienced accelerating growth, with the number of direct deposit active accounts growing by 35 percent year-over-year, and gross dollar volume and purchase volume growing by 51 percent and 31 percent.

“We saw a strong recovery from the combination of stimulus funds and incremental unemployment benefits provided under the CARES Act and the acceleration of many of the digital payment trends that existed pre-COVID,” Unruh said in the company’s second-quarter report. “This resulted in a higher demand and usage of our products and services that has persisted into July.”

Overall, the year-over-year trends in Green Dot’s key metrics and revenues in January and February were strong and then exhibited a marked slowdown in late March and early April as the impact of COVID-19 intensified, the company said. Later in the second quarter, key metrics and revenue improved as new and existing customers utilized Green Dot’s platform to receive stimulus funds and unemployment benefits.

Henry also reported total operating expenses climbing by 33 percent to $311 million during the second quarter. He said call centers that serve Green Dot have experienced staffing disruptions, leading to longer waiting times and higher costs. The company also reported increased losses due to disputed transactions.

Henry had promised to keep expenses in check when he started as CEO.

In March, the Federal Reserve announced reductions in short-term interest rates that have lowered the yields on Green Dot’s cash and investment balances. As a result, Green Dot expects a reduction in the amount of interest income it earns for the remainder of the year.

Green Dot Corp., founded in 1999 by Steve Streit as a prepaid debit card for teenagers to shop online, is now considered the world’s largest prepaid debit card company in terms of market capitalization.

Green Dot is also a payments platform company and is the technology platform used by Apple Pay Cash, Uber, and Intuit. Since its inception, Green Dot has acquired a number of companies in the mobile, financial, and tax industries including Loopt, AccountNow, AchieveCard, UniRush Financial Services, and Santa Barbara Tax Products Group.

For more about the company, visit www.greendot.com.