Mar 5, 2019

Bill Gates fund backs new California cobalt venture

Photo: David Santaolalla/EyeEm via Getty Images

Quartz reports Tuesday that a California startup called Kobold, which has developed advanced methods to chase down supplies of cobalt, has won backing from the Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the VC powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz.

Why it matters: Cobalt is a critical component in batteries needed for smartphones and the growth of EVs, so demand is growing.

The impact: The majority of the world's supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where mining is associated with human rights and environmental problems.

The intrigue: Per Quartz, Kobold employs experts in fields ranging from quantum computing to economic geology and says it can bring advanced digital tech to bear on finding supplies outside the DRC.

  • "Kobold's bet is that it can sniff out new cobalt reserves by deploying machine learning and other AI techniques to large sets of geological, physical, and chemical data," Akshat Rathi reports.

Go deeper: The Congo's chaotic election throws the future of cobalt in doubt

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America's funeral homes buckle under the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Morgues, funeral homes and cemeteries in hot spots across America cannot keep up with the staggering death toll of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The U.S. has seen more than 10,000 deaths from the virus, and at least tens of thousands more lives are projected to be lost. The numbers are creating unprecedented bottlenecks in the funeral industry — and social distancing is changing the way the families say goodbye to their loved ones.

Navarro memos warning of mass coronavirus death circulated in January

Image from a memo to President Trump

In late January, President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro warned his White House colleagues the novel coronavirus could take more than half a million American lives and cost close to $6 trillion, according to memos obtained by Axios.

The state of play: By late February, Navarro was even more alarmed, and he warned his colleagues, in another memo, that up to two million Americans could die of the virus.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index: The virus hits home

Data: Ipsos/Axios poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The share of Americans who know someone who's tested positive has more than tripled in just a few weeks, to 14%, according to the latest installment of our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • It's still highest in the Northeast, but last week alone it doubled in the South — and it's becoming most pronounced among people who still must leave home to work.
Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Health