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Mark Johnson. Photo: GrainBridge

In 2011, Mark Johnson sold his startup Zite to CNN for $20 million (it was later acquired by Flipboard). Three years later, he moved to New Mexico, where he ran Descartes Labs, which makes sense of satellite imagery. In May, Johnson made another big move — relocating to Omaha to run GrainBridge, an agriculture tech company that is a joint venture between Cargill and ADM.

Why it matters: Tech is seen as vitally important for the global agriculture industry, which faces the stresses of climate change and predictions of a significant increase in food demand with roughly the same amount of land devoted to farming.

How it works: GrainBridge's software helps farmers figure out the best time to sell their crops. With crop prices in constant flux, farmers' timing of their sales is critical to their bottom lines.

What they're saying: Johnson said he became fascinated by agriculture during his time at Descartes Labs.

  • "We did a lot of work on understanding sustainability from space, looking at global crop productions, trying to understand demand factors, and understanding global shipping," Johnson told Axios. "If we're going to both feed a growing population and do so more sustainably over the next few decades, technology is key."

The big picture: Johnson notes that while many U.S. farms are multimillion-dollar businesses, few have the sophisticated software tools they need. And, he said, that challenge is compounded by a trade war with China and supply chain disruptions brought on by COVID-19.

As for Omaha, Johnson said he continues to believe there are lots of places outside of Silicon Valley that are filled with talent.

Go deeper: John Deere quietly opens tech office in San Francisco

Go deeper

Oct 13, 2020 - Podcasts

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the COVID-19 vaccine race

Johnson & Johnson has paused Phase 3 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, after one patient reported an “unexplained illness.” This comes after AstraZeneca paused its Phase 3 trials due to an adverse event, and Moderna slowed its trial because of enrollment difficulties.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper with Tom Frieden, who led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2009 and 2017.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.