No. 58: Russ Artzt, bio-Legos and a brief mention of unmentionables

STATE OF THE ARTZT: CA Technologies cofounder Russ Artzt has announced plans to retire. Not to us, of course, but that’s the word leaking out of Islandia.

BIG PAYDAY: Converting Uber’s 45,000 California drivers from contractors to part-time employees, as a lawsuit there is demanding, would cost the ride-sharing giant 10 percent of current revenue, according to analysis by Re/Code. And it could probably afford the $210M annual hit.

Of course, that’s just California. Imagine what Uber’s NYC costs might be. Which is maybe why the firm is courting Al Sharpton.

VISIT US: Between newsletters, check out breaking news at And don’t forget to like us on Facebook.

[YOUR LOGO HERE] SMART PHONES: A growing clamor of Chinese companies is producing Android smart phones with off-the-shelf technology, driving prices as low as $20 a unit on a minimum order of 50, or what you might spend on a corporate holiday gift. The bigger market: 2 billion consumers in China and India who can’t afford Samsungs.

IVY NETWORKING: The Women’s Collaborative, a joint venture between Ivy Algazy, the Long Island Association and LIU, holds its first outing tonight at the Tilles Center, with words by Grit to Great author Linda Kaplan Thaler plus the official launch of the Women’s Leadership Institute, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., $75 but you get Thaler’s book. Register here.

ABOUT OUR SPONSORThe Accelerate Long Island 2015 Startup Report and Survey is the most comprehensive look at the region’s growing innovation economy and the challenges we face in ensuring its success. Be sure to check out the 14 Hottest Startups section at the end of the report:

FIRST ON INNOVATE LI.COM: Stony Brook clean energy startup ThermoLift snagged $2.75M from local investors.

Also: Symbiotic Health, a Feinstein Center spinoff battling the deadly C. Dif hospital infection, landed $100K from Accelerate Long Island and its investment partners, Topspin Fund and Jove Equity.

COMMUTE REQUIRED: Brooklyn’s Interfaith Medical Center has hired a recruiting firm to help find a permanent CEO to replace Steven Korf, who signed on last year to navigate Interfaith through bankruptcy. Korf had been Brookdale’s COO and previously worked at St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers and Long Island College Hospital.

BAL’SHOYE SPASEEBA: AnyClip Media, an Israeli startup with NYC operations, announced a $21M investment by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. AnyClip has in-stream video targeting technology that allows the usual suspects – advertisers, publishers, etc. – to infiltrate audiences across 200K sites.

@AI: Twitter is beefing up its Twitter Cortex artificial intelligence operation in NYC.

Also adding carne de vaca in NYC: Spanish kitchen sensation José Andrés, who pulled out of a Trump deal last week, will open his first New York eatery next summer at 444 Park.

Plus: Spoon University, a how-to cooking platform for millennials that launched out of Northwestern University, just raised $2M.

IN THE EVENT YOU NEED ONE: We can work with you to increase registration and awareness for your events. Want to partner with us on an event? We do that, too. Email

DON’T LIKE THIS: Facebook is readying a digital helper that, like Clara, Cloe, Julie, Amy and others, perpetuates the stereotype that all assistants are female. This one’s code-named Moneypenny, after M’s right hand in the Bond, James Bond, novels.

THE BEAT IS ON: Scientists have figured out how to grow functioning heart tissue from stem cells.

MORE BLESSINGS: FanDuel, the NYC sports fantasy platform, raised $275M, making it the latest Big Apple unicorn.

REAL BIG BLUE: The feds have established centers of excellence for supercomputing at labs in Oakridge, Tenn., and Lawrence Livermore, Calif., where new IBM- and Nvidia-developed machines will help researchers plow through really big data sets. The centers, part of a $325M grant from DOE, will allow technology teams to start designing applications for the supercomputers, which are named Summit and Sierra.

ON CALL: Pager, the NYC doc-on-demand service, has raised $14 million in Series A funding from investors that include Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures. The bucks will be used to expand to cities outside NYC, including San Francisco, and to upgrade the company’s technology.

LIKE THIS? Please pass along a good thing to a friend or colleague. Forward this newsletter and encourage your crowd to sign up here.

LEGO MY FOSSIL FUELO: Lego has launched a 15-year effort to find an eco-friendly material to replace petroleum-based plastics in its bricks and hinged characters. Why does it think it will take that long? Low oil prices have significantly hurt research into bio-alternatives.

MISSED A ROUNDUP? Most are archived here.

BUILDING A BETTER BRA: Female entrepreneurs, tired of “inner wear” that doesn’t suit their needs, are reshaping the lingerie market. Interest is so high you can get $200K in launch capital with anything approaching a decent pitch.

IMAGINE: All the El Chapo prison break memes we’re not linking to. Oh, what the heck.

A REMINDER: There’s really no such thing as “free” news. Please support our sponsors.

Compiled by John Kominicki. Thanks for reading.