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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.

20 mins ago - World

Scoop: Israel's "top priority" mission to discredit UN probe

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the UN. Photo: John Minchillo/Pool via Getty

Israel is planning a campaign to discredit a UN commission formed to investigate the violence in Gaza last May and the root causes of the protracted conflict in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, according to an Israeli Foreign Ministry cable seen by Axios.

Why it matters: Israeli officials say they are highly concerned that the commission’s report will refer to Israel as an "Apartheid state" and that its findings could damage Israel's reputation, particularly among progressives in the West. The report is expected in June.

Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire: reports

Justice Stephen Breyer. Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP via Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, NBC news first reported and multiple outlets confirmed on Wednesday, giving President Biden his first — and maybe only — chance to put a stamp on the high court.

What’s next: Appointing a new Supreme Court justice will be one of the longest-lasting pieces of Biden’s legacy — and could give Democrats a jolt of energy ahead of next year's midterms.