Boeing requests FAA ground the 737 as the President pushes an emergency order

After consulting with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, and airlines, Boeing is throwing its support behind a decision to ground its 737 Max planes.

“Boeing has determined — out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety — to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft,” the company said in a statement.

Boeing’s statement comes amid mounting pressure for the FAA to ground Boeing’s planes and belies the company’s reported efforts behind the scenes to keep its planes aloft — at least in the United States.

The company’s chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, reportedly called from Chicago to assure President Trump about the safety of the planes, which have been involved in crashes on flights operated by Nigerian and Indonesian airline carriers, according to a report in The New York Times

According to the Times report, the call had been planned since Monday, but came after the President had called the safety of passenger airlines into question — blaming an overabundance of technology for the recent spate of accidents.

Indeed, Boeing’s acquiescence arrives even as President Donald Trump was readying  an emergency order that would ground the planes.

“We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry,” according to a statement from Boeing. “We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again.”

And the Federal Aviation Administration has now grounded the planes.

Here’s the statement from the FAA

The FAA is ordering the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory. The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.

The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders. An FAA team is in Ethiopia assisting the NTSB as parties to the investigation of the Flight 302 accident. The agency will continue to investigate.

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Verizon will switch on mobile 5G in Chicago and Minneapolis April 11th

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Verizon is planning to bring 5G mobile service to at least 30 US cities this year, and now we know when it’ll switch on the first parts of its new network. The provider (which owns Engadget’s parent company, Verizon Media) will open up its 5G mobile network in Chicago and Minneapolis April 11th.

In Chicago, you’ll have access to Verizon’s 5G in The Loop, Magnificent Mile (around the Verizon store there), The Gold Coast, River North and Old Town at the outset. In Minneapolis, the initial coverage areas are Downtown West, Downtown East, Elliot Park and close to the Verizon store in the Mall of America. When you move out of a coverage zone, your phone will switch to the 4G LTE network, though Verizon says it plans to rapidly expand its 5G service areas.

The provider also revealed pricing details for the network. For an extra $10 month on top of typical Verizon unlimited plans, you’ll have unlimited 5G data. The first three months of access will be free.

Still, 5G won’t be of much use unless you can connect to the network. Verizon will open pre-orders for the 5G Moto Mod March 14th, which turns Motorola’s Moto Z3 into a 5G-ready phone. It’s selling the accessory for $50 for a limited time (it will typically cost $350). On Thursday only, the provider is also offering a free Z3 to people who sign up for a new line of service on a device payment plan. Meanwhile, when Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G arrives in the next few months, it will be a Verizon exclusive for a limited time.

Verizon owns Engadget’s parent company, Verizon Media. Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.

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Philadelphia is the first US city to ban cashless stores

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Philadephia has passed a law requiring almost all businesses to accept cash payments, effectively banning cashless stores. It comes into force July 1st, and businesses which violate it face a fine of up to $2,000.

Cashless businesses can be efficient and convenient while acting as a barrier against robbers looking to steal a stack of bills. However, they can exclude people without a bank account or those who can’t or don’t want to load funds onto a prepaid debit card, which often charge fees.

“It just seemed to me unfair that I could walk into a coffee shop right across from City Hall, and I had a credit card and could get a cup of coffee. And the person behind me, who had United States currency, could not,” Councilman Bill Greenlee, a bill co-sponsor, told the New York Times. A spokesman for Mayor Jim Kenney, who signed the bill into law last week, noted to the Wall Street Journal that 26 percent of city residents are below the poverty line.

Similar legislation is under consideration in cities including New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, DC. In New Jersey, the legislature has approved a bill which now just needs Governor Phil Murphy’s signature to become law. Massachusetts, meanwhile, has long required businesses to accept cash.

There are a few exemptions to the Philly law, namely parking garages and lots, online and phone transactions, retailers with a membership model (such as Costco) and companies where a credit card deposit is usually necessary, like hotels and rental car businesses.

There’s also a measure that could exempt stores like the cashierless Amazon Go chain. The provision allows cashless “transactions at retail stores selling consumer goods exclusively through a membership model that requires payment by means of an affiliated mobile device application.” However, Amazon reportedly told the city Go stores would still be affected, because consumers don’t have to be Prime members to shop there. They only need an Amazon account.

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On the strength of its Mixer partnership, streaming toolkit developer Lightstream raises $8 million

Lightstream, a Chicago-based company which develops tools to augment livestreams, has raised $8 million in new funding as it looks to add monitoring, management, and monetization services to its suite of editing technologies.

Last year, the company inked a partnership with Microsoft‘s live-streaming Twitch competitor, Mixer, to let streamers on the platform add professional flourishes like images, overlays, transitions and text to streams or to edit streams, without a lot of professional editing tools or expertise.

“We got started when Twitch was the only game in town,” says Stu Grubbs, Lightstream’s co-founder and chief executive. “Twitch was the only big name back in 2014 when we started and to be a live streamer you needed to understand bit rates and codex. We set out to make that easier.”

The company works with Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer, but it was when the partnership with Mixer came along that the company’s user base began to explode.

Key to the adoption was Microsoft’s adoption of Beam which lowered the latency on Mixer’s video streams and made that product more compelling to users. Coupled with Microsoft’s reach as the one of the most popular platforms for PC and console gamers, Lightstream’s toolkit gained a powerful, and large user base.

For the past few years, the company has had between 1,000 and 2,000 streamers signing up every week to use its tools. There are now roughly 10,000 streamers on the platform, according to a rough estimate.

Now, with the new money, the company will look to double the size of the team and add some features that have been requested by Lightstream’s growing community of users, Grubbs said.

As a result of the new round, which included a $6 million equity commitment from investors including Drive Capital, MK Capital and Pritzker Group, and a $2 million debt facility from Silicon Valley Bank; Drive Capital General Partner, Andy Jenks, will take a seat on the company’s board of directors.

“Lightstream is an incredible company that has seen tremendous growth because of smart and efficient practices. Stu and his team stand at the convergence of multiple massive and rapidly growing industries,” said Jenks, in a statement. “Stu has immense passion and a keen vision for what they can do for creators and the impact Lightstream can have in live streaming, gaming, and beyond. They have assembled an incredible team, made smart strategic moves, created massive partnerships and are building towards something so big that we had to be a part of it.”

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Clutter confirms SoftBank-led $200M investment for its on-demand storage service

There’s plenty of speculation right now around apparently disgruntled investors in SoftBank’s Vision Fund, but the drum continues to beat and the checks continue to be written. The latest deal for the $100 billion mega-fund is Clutter, an on-demand storage company that pulled in $200 million in new financing for growth.

Eagled-eyed viewers will recall that TechCrunch broke news of an impending SoftBank-led round of that size back in January, and now it is official.

The startup is one of a number of companies that provide storage options for consumers who don’t want to part with items but equally don’t have the capacity to keep it where they live. The service is based around an app that is used to summon Clutter staff to pack up, take away, store and (later) return possessions, but it can also be used for regular house moving, too. Competitors in the space include MakeSpaceOmniTroveLivible, and Closetbox.

Joining SoftBank in the deal are existing Clutter investors Sequoia, Atomico, GV, Fifth Wall and Four Rivers who fronted the company’s last round, a $64 million raise nearly two years ago. This new capital means that Clutter has raised $297 million from investors to date.

There’s no confirmation of a valuation for the startup, but our well-placed sources previously told us that this round would value Clutter at between $400 million and $500 million. One thing that is confirmed, however, is that SoftBank’s Justin Wilson will join the board.

The money will go towards expansion in the U.S. as Clutter explained in an announcement, but there are hints that it harbors overseas ambitions, too:

This funding will accelerate the company’s expansion into new markets in 2019, including Philadelphia, Portland and Sacramento. It’s also doubling down in its existing markets in the greater areas of New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, Orange County and northern New Jersey, as it marches toward a goal of operating in America’s largest 50 cities and expanding internationally.

“We believe that storage is a vast and traditional market with huge potential for disruption, and Clutter’s technology and superior customer proposition will help facilitate future growth in expanding urban communities where space is at a premium,” said SoftBank’s Wilson in a statement.

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