No. 93: Soviet treats, an expensive Yahoo party and the nation’s least charitable states

TGIF: A good Friday everybody and howdy new readers. Also, a special welcome to our newest sponsor, Teachers Federal Credit Union. Happy to have you aboard, TFCU.

Behind the Fed hike: More expensive money is likely to send a herd of unicorns to the equity markets next year as they become unable to borrow or raise private equity with the ease they enjoyed in 2015.

There’s now a name for that: CB Insights is calling it “dragged to IPO.”

So you know: A group of unicorns is actually called a “blessing.”

High on the Rockies: Catalyst Investors, an NYC-based growth equity company, led a $47 million round in Denver’s Datavail Corp., an outsourced database administration startup that thinks it can triple its business in five years.

The power of tax credits: Forty-six TV shows have been shot in the Big Apple in the past year, up from 29 the year before. There have also been 250 films made in NYC this year, compared with 194 in 2014, Crain’s reports.

Miles and miles of pre-owned: Flatiron District used-car platform Vroom raised $95 million in a C round and acquired Houston’s Texas Auto Direct, which supplements a robust online business with Texas-sized car lots.

Warming up to it: Business took a new and not insignificant interest in the just-done climate summit in France. Google execs, for example, were there to plug their rooftop solar program and the $2.5 billion they’ve plunked into renewable energy projects. IKEA showed up to talk LED lighting and Novartis unveiled a plan to offset emissions by growing trees in Argentina.

The coal companies skipped, of course, but the corporate world generally stepped up.

Move over: Google’s no-driver program is expected to spin off as a stand-alone company next year, readying it to compete with just about everyone, including Uber, Lyft, Amazon, Seamless – even UPS and FedEx.

However, hate when this happens: California’s DMV is proposing a ban on driverless car testing.

All systems go again: Congress is expected to remove a cap on imports of Russian-made RD-180 rockets, which are used by Colorado’s United Launch Alliance to ship goods to the International Space Station. The cap was in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea.

Opposed: Sen. John McCain, who authored the cap and said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “gang of thugs” are enriched by the sale of rocket engines to ULA. (Which is true but, hey, the astronauts gotta eat.)

About our sponsor: Teachers Federal Credit Union is a full-service, not-for-profit financial institution. Founded on Long Island in 1952, it has grown into a 250,000+ member organization with 25 branches in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties. More information is available by visiting or by calling 631-698-7000.

Prime source: 51 percent of Americans said they will do “most” of their holiday shopping on Amazon.

Marginally related: The Washington Post, acquired two years ago by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has topped The New York Times in web traffic.

Wasn’t invited: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is under fire for having spent at least $2 million – although some say it was as much as $6 million – on a lavish Gatsby-themed holiday party this year for 4,000 attendees.

Ken had no comment: The Hello Barbie doll has 8,000 programmed responses and can learn more from your daughter using cloud-based software. Which is why the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a campaign it calls #HellNoBarbie warning parents against the toy.

Let’s get one of these: The University of California has launched a $250 million venture fund to invest in technologies emerging from the system’s 10 campuses.

Adieu, adieu: Topsy, the San Fran platform that specialized in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment, has been shut downby Apple, which acquired it two years ago for $200 million.

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All-star lineup: Inventor and fashion designer Sharone Piontkowski and her father, retired medical whiz Shlomo, have launched SyNC Ny to bring their patented foot-soothing shoe technology to market. Helping out are Jonathan Gilbert and man of apparently limitless talents, Paul Schwartz.

Go forth and prosper: The Bioscience Hub has rounded out its first brood of bioentrepreneurs in residence, adding the richly CVed Derek Brand to the mix. Now comes the mentoring, grant writing, spinning out, funding and unicorn-sized growth. (And, no pressure, bioentrepreneurs.)

Patience required: After months of negotiating, Suffolk County Community College has bagged a Start-Up NY designation. Small problem: No place to put any startups.

Related: The guv announced 16 new Start-Up NY tenants this week, none here but worth a look-see, especially the build your own bones company.

Shine on: The Suffolk County IDA is helping Harvest Bakery bring its delectable lineup to a new building in Holtsville, where it will expand and make many, many more pound cakes. Which is a good thing.


Babylon and North Hempstead are getting state funding for water treatment infrastructure, sorely needed.

Just another record quarter for Applied DNA.

North Shore-LIJ announced a partnership with BioReference Laboratories. Not entirely sure what they’re up to, but it involves genomics and something called “genetic counseling.” (I think my wife demanded that before we got married.)

We checked in with MitoGenetics, a South Dakota-based firm that is doing pretty awesome research at the Broad Hollow Science Park at Farmingdale State College. (And you’re welcome, Kathy Coley.)

Stony Brook handed out 1,495 sheepskins yesterday, including 123 doctoral degrees.

Lock-Mart has been awarded almost $150 million for engineering work on the navigational system of the Navy’s Trident II missile, some to be done here.

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Stuff we’re going to: The unveiling of the AVZ economic survey and opinion poll, with Rick Lazio, Jamie Moore and more, Jan. 7, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Crest Hollow, Tom Murray and Kominicki co-moderate, $35 or call 631-913-4258 for display tables and sponsorships.

Plus: A tech networker hosted by Innovate, LISTnet and LaunchPad, Jan. 19, 5 to 7:30 p.m., Jewel, free to attend but the drinks cost money.


Humbug: The nation’s three least charitable states are Rhode Island, Louisiana and California. (Top giver: Utah; New York was 45th.)

Need a theme for your holiday feast? Food historians Olga and Pavel Syutkin are out with the CCCP Cook Book: True Stories of Soviet Cuisine. (Because nothing says Christmas like a nice cold bowl of okroshka.)

Honest: The North Carolina city of Woodland, population 809, has put a moratorium on solar projects out of fear that the panels will “suck up all the energy from the sun.”

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Compiled by John Kominicki. Thanks for reading.