No. 531: In which GM gets rolling, Channel 13 goes live and the pandemic silences sports, once again

Seal the deal: The two sides of the Great Seal of the United States of America, which became a thing 238 years ago today.


So hard to keep this smile from our face: Inventors to the left of us, investors to the right – happy to be stuck in the middle with you, dear readers, as we hurdle the hump of this latest busy workweek.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen – please welcome Stealers Wheel!

Chip in: It’s easy being green on National Guacamole Day.

Island hopping: It’s Sept. 16 out there, which is of course Independence Day (in Papua New Guinea), Malaysian Armed Forces Day (in Malaysia, duh) and Malaysia Day (in Malaysia and Singapore, gotcha there).

Here on Long Island, and across the USA, get your avocado on – it’s National Guacamole Day.

Tell me, Great Seal: The Great Seal of the United States – the eagle carrying the “E Pluribus Unum” banner, the zenith eye, the unfinished pyramid, etc. – was first affixed to a document on Sept. 16, 1782.

Still authenticating certain federal documents (treaties and U.S. passports, for instance), the seal has undergone various permutations but remains largely unchanged from its 1904 version.

Fairly successful, in General: Ambitious former carriage-maker William Durant plopped down two grand to incorporate General Motors 112 years ago today.

Being there: “The Galaxy Being” introduces viewers to “The Outer Limits” in 1963.

Viewers like you: Thank you! Still entertaining and educating, New York’s Channel Thirteen started broadcasting on Sept. 16, 1963.

Speaking of historic broadcasts, “The Outer Limits” anthology series premiered on the ABC Television Network on that same date 57 years ago. (Tonight’s episode: “The Galaxy Being!”)

Montreal rub: Before we even knew there was a hole up there, there was the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed on this date in 1987 to regulate global chlorofluorocarbons and such.

First prize: And the U.S. patent system’s “first to file” statutes were significantly strengthened on Sept. 16, 2011, when President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act.

Runneth over: Happy birthday, “Mr. America’s Cup.”

Penney’s worth: Industrialist James Cash Penney (1875-1971) – who established one of the world’s largest department store chains, which is now bankrupt but was nonetheless acquired this week for $1.75 billion – would be 145 years old today.

Also born on Sept. 16 were neurotic to the core German-American psychoanalyst Karen Horney (1885-1952); German-American illustrator Hans Augusto Rey (1898-1977), co-creator of “Curious George”; Westbury-based innovator Marvin Middlemark (1919-1989), who raised rabbit-ear antennae; blues legend B.B. King (1925-2015); and French knight David Kotkin (born 1956, known best as magician David Copperfield).

Ahoy: And take a bow (or a stern), Dennis Walter Conner – the American yachtsman, known for winning an Olympic bronze medal and three America’s Cups, turns 78 today.

Give the sailor, the neo-Freudian psychologist and all the other Sept. 16 innovators your best at, where story tips and calendar events always make us less neurotic.


About our sponsor: SUNY Old Westbury empowers students to own the future they want for themselves. In a small-college atmosphere and as part of the dynamic, diverse student body that today is 5,000 strong, students at Old Westbury get up close and personal with the life and career they want to pursue. Whether it’s a cutting-edge graduate program in data analytics, highly respected programs in accounting and computer-information sciences or any of the more than 70 degrees available, a SUNY Old Westbury education will set students on a course towards success. Own your future.



Taste-o-vision: Albany is offering potential buyers a virtual smorgasbord of statewide foodstuffs via a uniquely appetizing business-to-business event.

Billed as the first of its kind, the Taste NY Producer Showcase will pair New York farms, craft-beverage makers and smaller food producers with retail-level distributors and other representatives of larger marketplaces. The virtual B2B networker is meant to bolster “a leading driver of New York’s economy,” according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called agriculture and small food-and-beverage producers “the bedrock of so many local communities.”

Hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Washington County and the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce & CVB, the two-hour Oct. 27 program will be capped at 50 statewide vendors (who must register online by Sept. 25; buyers must register by Oct. 20). “One of our goals … is to help connect the dots between our agricultural businesses and the marketplace,” noted State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball. “So many of our farms and small food businesses have endured a very challenging time because of COVID-19, so this event is needed now more than ever.”

Top billing: A half-ton wrought iron chimney crown designed in 1908 for scientist Nikola Tesla returns to its Shoreham perch this week.

Crowning achievement: Saturday promises high adventure at Shoreham’s Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, where a century-old wrought iron chimney crown will be restored to its original heights above inventor Nikola Tesla’s one-time workshop.

The Tesla Center removed the chimney crown (which is actually 112 years old and was designed by American Renaissance architect Stanford White) during extensive renovations of the Shoreham property. As a sort of archeological bonus, while painstakingly restoring the aged chimney, workers found a previously undiscovered brick arch built into its base – possibly a link to secret tunnels Tesla built under Wardenclyffe as part of his wireless-power experiments.

Historical engineers are still working on that mystery, but Saturday’s chimney-crown restoration (involving a huge crane and livestreamed here beginning at 9 a.m.) puts a 1,200-pound cherry on top of “a renovation project marked by challenges as well as unexpected discoveries,” according to Tesla Science Center Executive Director Marc Alessi, who said in a statement that Saturday’s event also “pays tribute to the volunteers and supporters who made it possible.”



Silent running: The psychology of sports is changing before our eyes – or our ears, as the lack of roaring crowds affects players and fans alike.

Keep them coming: Plenty of room at our table for your entire innovation team, which really should have individual Innovate LI newsletter subscriptions – always here, always free.

Innovation in the Age of Coronavirus: SUNY holds its own (at least on Long Island) and the Northern Marianas get flagged  – these and other important updates in the world’s only LI-focused pandemic primer.



Charities are lamenting a lost “fall fundraiser” season – but they don’t have to, according to nonprofits expert Jeffrey Reynolds, who trumpets a world of non-event-based fundraising alternatives.



Put me in, coach: The best leaders are also good coaches. Forbes checks the playbook.

Ready to play: European and Asian conglomerates know how to de-risk their corporate startups. Sifted mines the data.

Center field: Sports teams are pushing for stadiums to become voting centers. NBC News beats the drum.



+ Spine Align, a Maryland-based medical device company focused on surgical spinal alignment, closed a $1.75 million seed funding round led by the Rockies Venture Club, with participation from the Berkeley Angel Network, NO/LA Angel Network, Pasadena Angels, Bellingham Angels, the Abell Foundation and VentureWell.

+ ​Decent​, a Texas-based insurance startup creating affordable health plans for small businesses and self-employed professionals, received $10 million in Series A funding led by QED Investors, Vulcan Capital, Santander InnoVentures, Asset Management Ventures, Future Positive, Work Life Ventures, the Airbnb syndicate AirAngels and Unpopular Ventures.

+ Agragene, a California-based sustainable ag-tech company developing eco-friendly alternatives to chemical pesticides, raised an additional $4 million in Series A financing. Ospraie Ag Science made the investment.

+ Pharmapacks, a New York City-based e-commerce enablement platform, closed a $40 million bridge financing round led by Reckitt Benckiser, The Craftory, The Straus Group, The Emerson Group and Sawaya Capital Partners.

+ Biorez, a Connecticut-based medical device company advancing tendon and ligament repair, raised $3.5 million in seed financing led by New York Angels, with participation from Connecticut Innovations, the Pritzker Vlock Family Office, Brainchild Holdings and The Vertical Group.

+ Korro Bio, a Massachusetts-based med-tech focused on RNA editing, raised $91.5 million in Series A financing led by Wu Capital, Atlas Venture and New Enterprise Associates, and new investors Qiming Venture Partners USA, Surveyor Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, MP Healthcare Venture Management and Alexandria Venture Investments.


BELOW THE FOLD (Rabbit’s Foot Edition)

Survivor: Our money is still on T-Rex.

Self-serendipity: How to make your own good fortune.

‘Lucky break’: How the novel coronavirus saved Netflix.

Lucky beak: How birds survived extinction when dinosaurs couldn’t.

Luck favors the prepared mind: And nobody prepares minds better than innovative SUNY Old Westbury, one of the amazing institutions that support Innovate LI. Check them out.