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David Goldman / AP

We attended the first leg of Y Combinator's "demo day," its twice-a-year event at which startups participating in its accelerator program present their businesses in front of a room of investors and journalists. One startup that stood out was 70MillionJobs: a job-placement service for folks with a criminal record.

The opportunity: 70 million Americans have criminal records, according to the company (hence its name). Most of the current organizations helping them with employment are small non-profits. 70MillionJobs founder and CEO Richard Bronson believes there is an opportunity to build a large for-profit service. "This population is having their moment," Bronson told Axios.

The startup addresses a number of issues for job seekers, employers and cities aiming to cut back on recidivism by ensuring former inmates can find work:

  • Good job candidates might not pass background checks: 70MillionJobs can connect these candidates with employers that may hire them despite their background, says Bronson.
  • Bronson says that in some cases these candidates are even better suited for certain jobs because they're used to working hard and following directions.
  • In addition to helping employers find candidates (they're currently paying the company $250 when they hire a candidate),it's also in the best interest of municipalities for convicts to get jobs. 70MillionJobs ran a test program with the City of Los Angeles recently.

The backstory:

For Bronson, his company's mission is a personal one. Once living the high life on Wall Street (including some time working for the infamous Stratton Oakmont firm portrayed in

Wolf of Wall Street

), he found himself in prison for securities fraud after founding his own firm. Since getting out, he's spent time working with organizations that helps convicts get back on their feet, including as a director at Defy Ventures. A year ago he left to start working on 70MillionJobs.

Go deeper

7 mins ago - Technology

3D printing's next act: big metal objects

Chief Scientist Andy Bayramian makes modifications to the laser system on Seurat's 3D metal printer. Photo courtesy of Seurat Technologies.

A new metal 3D printing technology could revolutionize the way large industrial products like planes and cars are made, reducing the cost and carbon footprint of mass manufacturing.

Why it matters: 3D printing — also called additive manufacturing — has been used since the 1980s to make small plastic parts and prototypes. Metal printing is newer, and the challenge has been figuring out how to make things like large car parts faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Rising rates may hammer the stock market

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

Stocks are much more vulnerable to interest rate swings than they used to be.

Why it matters: A sharp rise in rates in early 2022 is the key reason the stock market is off to an ugly start. And with the Federal Reserve making noise about trying to keep inflation in check, rates could go higher.

Ina Fried, author of Login
52 mins ago - Technology

Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal complicates Big Tech regulation

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Microsoft's surprise $68 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard is adding a fresh twist to the heated debate over which tech companies have monopolies that need to be reined in.

The big picture: The deal could force a question the company has happily ducked for a decade: whether its size and power make it just as deserving of regulatory scrutiny as its Big Tech rivals.