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Green Dot to Move Headquarters from Pasadena to Texas

Pasadena Now - Fri, 2021-05-07 14:59

Green Dot Corporation, which has called Pasadena its home since establishing its headquarters here upon forming in 1999, will soon be moving its main office to Austin, Texas, according to company officials.

The financial services company best known for prepaid debit cards will allow the lease to expire on its 160,000-square-foot building at 465 E Foothill Blvd. and plans to have its new operation set up in the Lone Star State by the end of the year, President and CEO Dan Henry said in a statement to Pasadena Now.

“Texas is a business-friendly state, and we’re looking forward to engaging and benefiting from the impressive talent pool in the region, as we work to seamlessly connect more people to their money, both directly through our own fintech, and through our partners,” Henry said.

In addition to the new Texas headquarters, the company will continue to operate out of shared workspaces in California, Ohio and Florida as it moves toward permanent remote work for employees, CNBC reported.

“This move supports our ‘Work From Anywhere’ strategy,” Henry confirmed to Pasadena Now, “to hire great talent all over the country while offering the benefits and flexibility of remote work, along with hub locations in Pasadena, Cincinnati, Tampa and Austin where teams can gather, connect and collaborate effectively.”

“I want the best and brightest people we can find to join our team to help us be successful, and you can live anywhere you want,” Henry said in an interview with CNBC. 

“What Covid did was force a mind shift; we see how productive we are working from anywhere and how much our employees love it,” Henry added. “It’s more important to be productive than be busy. If you force people to come to an office every day, then everybody’s going to try to be busy.”


Green Dot Names VP to Oversee New Banking Service

Green Dot’s Gyorgy Tomso Becomes Part of Pasadena Company’s Executive Management Team

Pasadena-Based Green Dot Launches ‘Mobile Bank’

Panda Express Launching Grant Program For AAPI Groups

Pasadena Now - Wed, 2021-05-05 16:26

Panda Express is launching a $10 million community investment program with a $1.5 million pledge to Asian American & Pacific Islander groups, the company announced Wednesday.

The chain was started by Pasadena restaurateur Andrew Cherng in 1983, ten years after he and Master Chef Ming Tsai Cherng opened the Panda Inn restaurant in East Pasadena. Panda Express locations now span the globe.

The original Panda Inn still stands (and serves diners) at 3488 E. Foothill Boulevard in Pasadena.

Panda CommUnity Fund “supports immediate and sustainable solutions from national and local organizations to uplift diverse groups, including people of color and other marginalized communities,” according to the Rosemead- based Chinese fast-food chain.

The AAPI fund — launched during Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month — will continue to allocate resources across various initiatives over the next five years.

“We are proud of our multicultural heritage and have always believed that this identity connects us to the best of American culture. Because of the duality in who we are, Panda champions a greater sense of belonging and supports engagement efforts that reflect the diversity of our guests, associates and communities,” said Peggy Cherng, co-founder and co-CEO of Panda Express.

“Following a year of hardship and civil unrest, it has become more apparent that the responsibility is on each of us to come together to create meaningful change,” she said. “And that is why we are making the commitment to put forth the resources and platforms needed to continue energizing community organizations on the ground.”

Among the first groups receiving funding are Asian American Advancing Justice Chapters, GoFundMe.org AAPI Community Fund, Welcome to Chinatown and the Asian Mental Health Collective.

The fund will also support initiatives focused on education and empowerment through partner organizations, such as Gold House and The Asian American Foundation.

Tourism Industry in Pasadena, a Key Local Economic Force, Aims for a Strong Rebound

Pasadena Now - Wed, 2021-05-05 06:17
Tourists seen in Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum in an undated pre-pandemic photo. (Image courtesy of Pasadena Convention & Visitor Bureau)

The coronavirus pandemic shattered the local travel and hospitality industry, but the Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau said Tuesday the economic power of tourism is igniting a comeback as pandemic restrictions loosen and California Tourism Month begins.

The month’s theme — appropriately — is the “Power of Possibility.”  

“Despite the hardships of the last year, Pasadena is ready and eager to welcome back visitors and help drive Pasadena’s recovery efforts,” said Pasadena Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jeanne Goldschmidt. “This month is an opportunity to remind visitors and residents of the incredible contributions of the travel industry, not just to our local economy and workforce, but to our community’s identity and culture.” 

“There is genuine optimism for recovery. People are making travel plans. Pasadena attractions like the Norton Simon and USC Pacific Asia Museum are reopening this month. Kidspace Children’s Museum is now open. The Rose Bowl Flea Market has returned to the Rose Bowl Stadium and UCLA Football Season begins in August. The Gamble House is serving visitors with “Gardens & Gables” and neighborhood walking tours. The Pasadena Ice Skating Center has also reopened for private sessions. And within driving distance visitors can enjoy The Huntington, Descanso Gardens and Los Angeles County Arboretum,” Goldschmidt continued. 

Despite losses due to Covid-19 business closures and community lockdowns, California and Pasadena is well-positioned for recovery, she said. 

The long-term outlook for California has brightened. Tourism Economics projects domestic visitor spending in California will reach 76% of 2019 levels this year. In 2022, domestic spending is projected to hit 94% of 2019 levels, and total visitor spending, including resurgent international travel, will hit 87%, according to a statement from the Pasadena CVB. 

The Golden State remains among the best-performing states in case counts and vaccination rates and has implemented long-term health measures so visitors can feel safe. 

The outlook for summer travel in California is very positive, as the state expects to remove most restrictions by June 15 – just before summer officially arrives. 

As Californians resume traveling, they have the power to jumpstart the state’s economic recovery by choosing to keep their trips within California. 

“California’s tourism industry has long provided Californians with a strong civic foundation and generated billions of dollars in state and local tax revenues to help provide services that benefit everyone in the state,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “Now, residents can help their fellow Californians by keeping their tourism dollars in California and supporting local businesses as a modern-day act of patriotism. Together we can support our own economic recovery. There is power in California civic pride.” 

But there is still work to be done, particularly in rebuilding the vibrant travel and hospitality workforce. A month after the mid-March lockdown, more than half of the 1.2 million tourism workers found themselves without jobs. 

Even as the economy re-opens and businesses gradually offer more services to more consumers, the foundation of the industry – its people – still strive to return to work in a safe and confident manner that makes economic sense for them and their families.


Pasadena Company Closes $1.5 Million Seed Round Funding Deal

Pasadena Now - Wed, 2021-05-05 05:53

Goalswell, Inc., a Pasadena-based company that seeks to help high school and college students develop healthy financial habits, has closed $1.5 million in seed round funding led by Andrew Nikou, founder and CEO of private equity firm OpenGate Capital, based in Los Angeles and Paris.

Nikou will be joining the Goalswell board as a result of the seed round.

A wholly owned subsidiary of MoLab Inc., Goalswell, founded in March this year, leverages the latest insights from behavioral science and cognitive psychology research to help students practice personal finance management and social accountability.

Led by Dr. Amanda Lash, the team’s senior cognitive psychologist, the company blends social goal setting with interactive and gamified learning of financial literacy to drive learning by doing. The company is set to launch a financial goal-setting app on iPhone and Android devices later this summer.

“Developing healthy financial habits at an early age has never been more crucial,” Nikou said in a statement. “Goalswell goes beyond teaching students financial literacy and actually helps them discover their own habits and behaviors will lead them to financial success. Most importantly, the gamification, competition and community aspects of Goalswell’s not only differentiate it from other services, but also ensure that the lessons it teaches really resonate with its target demographic at this early age.”

Citing research, Goalswell said financial literacy alone does not drive long-term behavior changes. At a time when close to 70 percent of Americans do not have enough to retire and student debt exceeds $1.7 trillion, financial empowerment is more important than ever, the statement said.

“We are honored to have Andrew, who shares our passion and belief in instilling healthy financial behavior at an early age, join Goalswell as an investor,” Walter Yuan, MobLab CEO, said. “In addition to the capital infusion which will help us bring this innovative platform to market, he brings us financial acumen, an unparalleled network of potential resources, and practical business advice that I have no doubt will be immediately accretive to the company. I know I speak for the entire company when I say how excited we are for this next phase of our growth.”

Goalswell said Dan Goldstein, a renowned computer scientist and cognitive psychologist from Microsoft Research, will also join the Goalswell board.

For more information about Goalswell Inc., visit www.goalswell.com.

Software Powering Pasadena Company’s Robotic Kitchen Assistant Now Available as Standalone Product

Pasadena Now - Tue, 2021-05-04 13:09
A worker uses CookRight software while preparing a dish in an undated photo provided by Miso Robotics.

The artificial intelligence-powered software serving as the brain of a robotic kitchen assistant created by a Pasadena company is now being sold as a standalone product to assist human cooks, the company announced Tuesday.

Miso Robotics, maker of the Flippy burger grilling and French fry frying robot, is now selling the CookRight software by itself, allowing restaurants to incorporate its sensors and artificial intelligence to help its human counterparts to cook up safer, tastier and more consistent food, the company said in a written statement.

Rather than installing an entire Flippy robot system, customers now also have the option of instead using a computer and tablet to access the software, along with a small camera to serve as CookRight’s eye, according to representatives.

“CookRight’s first platform application is focused on the grill and will deliver new levels of precision, quality and efficiency to restaurants — a long-standing gap within the industry,” the statement said. “As operators look to rebound from the effects of the pandemic, Miso Robotics brings a data-driven operational approach to enhance customer satisfaction and curb costs to help move the industry into long-term recovery and new growth.”

The system can automatically identify foods placed on a grill, determine how best to cook them, monitor their progress carefully and give alerts to the cook, according to Miso.

Miso Robotics President and Chairman Buck Jordan said the system’s strength is its smarts.

“The beauty of CookRight and its machine learning capabilities is that it can literally learn how to identify any item placed on a grill and know how long it needs to be cooked, moved or flipped in real-time,” he said.

“CookRight obtains unprecedented amounts of information on kitchen operations that have never been captured before, leading to better food for customers, a better workplace for kitchen staff and cost savings for restaurant owners,” Jordan added. “It’s the partner restaurant operators and staff need in the kitchen. This is a critical time for the industry and solutions like CookRight can truly turn the tide and move us into recovery.”

More information on Miso Robotics is available on the company’s website at misorobotics.com.


Pasadena’s Miso Robotics Raises $22 Million in Investment During Pandemic

Pasadena’s Miso Robotics Partners With White Castle For Flippy, the Burger-Flipping Robot

Pasadena’s Miso Robotics, Makers of Burger Flipping Robot, Gets New CEO

White Castle to Test Robot Cooks Made by Pasadena Company

Pasadena’s Burger-Flipping Robot is Being Called Up by the Majors, Signed by Dodgers to Fry Chicken Tenders

Pasadena Law Firm Marks 130th Anniversary With Expansion

Pasadena Now - Tue, 2021-05-04 11:27

A law firm marked its 130th year in Pasadena by announcing the addition of a new partner and two new attorneys this week.

Brittany Duke has joined the firm now called Barbaro, Chinen, Pitzer & Duke LLP as a partner, the  estate planning, trust administration and family law firm said in a written statement.

“[Duke] brings a vibrancy to our practice, ensuring our long legacy will continue well into the future,” according to the firm’s longest-serving partner, Philip Barbaro Jr..

The firm has also recently added attorneys Kirsten Schwarz Jones and Daniel Sullivan to its staff, representatives said.

“Founded on April 15, 1891, by J.H. Merriam, the law firm has held a prominent place in Pasadena’s history since its inception,” the statement said. “While the firm’s name has changed from time to time through the years, to reflect the names of its partners, what has not changed is its dedication to providing high-quality legal counsel in trust administration, estate planning, trust and estate litigation, conservatorships, guardianships, and probate work, as well as family law.”

Barbaro said he was proud of the company’s long history, which he said is built on word-of-mouth referrals from clients, colleagues and the professional business community.

“While we are not a large law firm, we have among us some of the most prominent attorneys in their respective fields who, along with our incredible staff, are committed to serving our clients and our community,” Barbaro said. 

“Each of us are involved in sustaining our community by serving in positions of leadership, just as our founder Judge Merriam did as one of the founding members of the Pasadena Bar Association. As we celebrate the past, we are also focused on our future,” he added.

The new additions to the firm help position it well to continue to grow, Barbaro said.

Duke said she was looking forward to her new role.

“Being named a partner by the firm’s well-respected attorneys is an honor and an achievement that makes me proud to continue our 130-year heritage,” she said. “My vision for the future is to continue to add amazing talent and great lawyers to our firm who can provide the same high-level legal services for our clients.”

More information on Barbaro, Chinen, Pitzer & Duke can be found on the law firm’s website at 1891law.com.

Pasadena Coffee Roaster Expands Reach Throughout San Diego

Pasadena Now - Mon, 2021-05-03 19:58

Pasadena-based Copa Vida has just opened its latest location at the Kilroy Center Del Mar in San Diego, where it already has a significant presence, with cafes in the East Village, San Marcos, Sorrento Valley, and Carlsbad.

Eater San Diego reports that the company is establishing a significant presence in the Carmel Valley area.

Copa Vida’s first cafe in the area was set up in 2018. A third spot is headed for the Torrey Ridge neighborhood at 10578 Science Center Drive, the report said. The cafe will be part of the impressive lineup coming to UC San Diego’s new North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood.

The Kilroy Center Del Mar branch is open 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and features outdoor patios and a new menu focusing on portable, handheld food items.

The coffee and tea menu features new signature beverages such as the Nitro Oat Milk and Golden Chai lattes.

To learn more about Copa Vida, visit www.copa-vida.com.