Forest fire in Riau Province, Indonesia, on March 1. Indonesia's fires have been an annual problem for decades, much of it human-made for more palm oil plantations. Photo: Afrianto Silalahi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

C16 Biosciences, a company seeking to commercialize a manufactured alternative to palm oil, announced yesterday that it has raised $20 million in Series A funding from backers including the Bill Gates-led Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

Why it matters: Palm oil is used in a massive array of products — from shampoo to foods to biofuels.

  • Palm plantations are fueling deforestation that releases CO2 and erodes wildlife habitat in multiple countries.

How it works: The New York-based startup has a fermentation-based "bio-manufacturing" process for "brewing palm oil like beer."

What they're saying: "Consumers want to buy the products they love, but they don’t want to buy products that are directly responsible for climate change," CEO Shara Ticku said.

The intrigue: They're not alone in this space. Per Bloomberg...

  • "California-based startup Kiverdi Inc. is using microbes to convert carbon dioxide into an alternative to palm oil. Scottish startup Revive Eco is extracting useful oils from coffee waste and Indonesian startup Biteback is finding those oils in insects."

Go deeper: Automating food from farm to front door

Go deeper

The CIA's new license to cyberattack

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2018 President Trump granted the Central Intelligence Agency expansive legal authorities to carry out covert actions in cyberspace, providing the agency with powers it has sought since the George W. Bush administration, former U.S. officials directly familiar with the matter told Yahoo News.

Why it matters: The CIA has conducted disruptive covert cyber operations against Iran and Russia since the signing of this presidential finding, said former officials.

2 hours ago - Technology

Tech hits the brakes on office reopenings

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tech was the first industry to send its workers home when COVID-19 first hit the U.S., and it has been among the most cautious in bringing workers back. Even still, many companies are realizing that their reopening plans from as recently as a few weeks ago are now too optimistic.

Why it matters: Crafting reopening plans gave tech firms a chance to bolster their leadership and model the beginnings of a path back to normalcy for other office workers. Their decision to pause those plans is the latest sign that normalcy is likely to remain elusive in the U.S.

The existential threat to small business

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the game for U.S. businesses, pushing forward years-long shifts in workplaces, technology and buying habits and forcing small businesses to fight just to survive.

Why it matters: These changes are providing an almost insurmountable advantage to big companies, which are positioned to come out of the recession stronger and with greater market share than ever.