Axios Seattle

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☕️ It's Thursday! Time to sip your caffeinated beverage of choice.

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🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Seattle member Jenna Chavez!

Today's newsletter is 920 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: What's behind the fall of Seattle unicorn Convoy

Illustration of a semitruck and shipping containers surrounded by abstract shapes and money elements.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The future of Convoy, a digital freight startup that was once hailed as the "Uber for trucking," is in doubt after rumors of a potential buyer emerged just days after the company's abrupt closure.

Driving the news: The Seattle Times reported on Tuesday there could be a last-minute buyer for the unicorn darling. Axios could not confirm the potential sale through emails to the pressroom or calls to the main office.

Why it matters: Backed by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff and Bono, Convoy was seen as a game changer and another potential tech giant from the region that produced Amazon and Microsoft.

  • The collapse of the company, valued near $4 billion just last year, underscores how rapidly tech fortunes can change in a tightening venture capital market.

Details: In an email sent to employees last week, Lewis wrote that a massive freight recession coupled with a contraction in the capital markets "dramatically dampened investment appetite and shrunk flows into unprofitable late-stage private companies," GeekWire reported.

The big picture: The freight and shipping industries have seen a sharp and protracted decline after a massive pandemic surge.

  • Convoy aimed to increase efficiency in the $800 billion trucking industry through technology that connected shippers directly to truckers, bypassing the old system that relied on people to broker deals.

Yes, but: The shipping and freight industries depend on humans with experience, expertise and flexibility to manage all the unpredictable variables that arise, said Michele Taylor, president of the Customs Brokers & International Freight Forwarders Association of Washington State.

  • "They're always trying to replace us," she told Axios. "But you just can't do it. You need actual people on the ground because nothing in the world of trade is ever cut and dried."

Go deeper

2. Narrowly averted air disasters raise alarms

Illustration of a flying airplane with a fingers crossed emoji on the tail.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A pair of recent alarming incidents — including one in which an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot is accused of nearly causing a flight out of Everett to crash — are raising concerns about aviation safety.

Why it matters: Air traffic controllers and other experts are warning that the system is overtaxed and that recent near-misses are blaring warning sirens that must be addressed, Alex Fitzpatrick writes.

Driving the news: In the most recent chilling event, the off-duty pilot was charged with 83 counts of attempted murder after allegedly trying to shut down a jet's engines shortly after takeoff Sunday on a flight from Everett to San Francisco.

  • The rogue pilot, Joseph David Emerson, 44, later told police that he hadn't slept in 40 hours, that he'd been battling depression for about six months, and that it was "his first time taking mushrooms," per a court filing published this week.
  • The pilot was riding in the jump seat — a common way for off-duty pilots and crew to fly back to home base or another airport — and reached for switches that would have disabled the engines.
  • He was subdued and then restrained in the back of the plane. The flight, operated by Horizon Air — which shares a parent company with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines — diverted to Portland.

What they're saying: Alaska issued a statement Monday night saying that Emerson had completed his mandated medical certifications and "at no point were his certifications denied, suspended or revoked."

Plus: Another near-miss occurred Oct. 16 at Portland International Airport, when the pilots of an Alaska Airlines flight briefly turned toward another departing jet before an air traffic controller intervened and redirected the Alaska plane.

What we're watching: The Federal Aviation Administration's focus on the near-misses.

  • The FAA "supports law enforcement in their response and will be focused on any safety considerations for the future that emerge from investigations," Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.

Plus: The off-duty pilot incident is shining a fresh spotlight on pilot mental health.

Full story

3. Morning Buzz: Alternate 911 response pilot launched

Illustration of an orca holding a coffee cup.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

📞 Seattle officials announced the launch yesterday of a new pilot program to respond to mental health calls, with the goal of taking pressure off police. (Seattle Times)

📉 Boeing is reporting a $1.6 billion loss in the third quarter, amid a slowdown in jet deliveries and higher-than-expected costs to produce two new presidential jets. (KING 5)

4. Monster bracket, round 3: Bigfoot vs. Jackalope

Graphic: Sara Wise/Axios; Illustrations: Allie Carl, Brendan Lynch, Lindsey Bailey, Maura Losch and Sarah Grillo/Axios
Graphic: Sara Wise/Axios; Illustrations: Allie Carl, Brendan Lynch, Lindsey Bailey, Maura Losch and Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than 2,400 of you weighed in during the last round to crown our Final Four monsters.

  • The latest: After barely securing a win over Wendigo, Chupacabra now stares down the mighty Mothman.
  • The other side: Fan favorite Bigfoot faces off against the enduring Jackalope.

What's next: Now we head to the semifinals.

📬 Vote for your favorite before polls close at noon Thursday.

Make your choice here

Fresh job openings around town

💼 Take your career to the next level and see who's hiring.

  1. Director of Group Sales at Fairmont Olympic Hotel.
  2. Controller at Cadrex Manufacturing Solutions.
  3. Director, Service Lines - Odessa Brown Children's Clinic at Seattle Children's.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. Map du jour: We have questions about Idaho

Share who say they live in the Midwest
Data: Middle West Review, Emerson College Polling; Note: Includes 22 states traditionally considered part of or surrounding the Midwest; Map: Axios Visuals

A new poll finds that roughly a quarter of Idahoans think they live in the Midwest — to which we say, "What?"

Details: Emerson College Polling and Middle West Review asked 11,000 people across 22 states, "Do you consider yourself to currently live in the Midwest?"

  • Just over 25% of Idaho respondents said yes.

👋 Melissa here. I've always considered Idaho a part of the Pacific Northwest, even if many of its residents don't feel that way.

  • Midwest feels like … a major stretch.

Your turn: Do you consider Idaho part of the Pacific Northwest? Why or why not?

  • And if it's not, what exactly is it?

Hit reply to share your thoughts.

🌡️ Melissa is on Day 3 with a sick kid. You know it's bad when he's saying he doesn't want to be sick anymore and wants to go to school.

🚬 Clarridge is dabbing her window sills with homemade nicotine spray in the ongoing battle against her stink bug enemies. (Warning: The concoction works, but it does stain wood.)

This newsletter was edited by Delano Massey and copy edited by Egan Millard.