Google’s Sleep API to Improve Sleep Tracking, Save Your | Sidnaz Blog

Google Sleep API is being made publicly available, and this will allow sleep tracking apps on Android smartphones use less power to detect sleep patterns, the tech company said. The Sleep API will be built right into Google Play Services, and will centralise sleep detection processing. It is one the Activity Recognition APIs which, “with the user’s permission, can detect user’s activities such as whether a user is biking or walking”. Google has collaborated with Urbandroid, the developer of the popular alarm app, Sleep As Android, for this.

As per a blog post by Google, the Sleep API is an Android Activity Recognition API that surfaces information about the user’s sleep after being given permission to do so. It uses an on-device artificial intelligence model which records input data, like the usage of screen and device movement, from the device’s light and motion sensors. The data is reported at a regular interval (up to 10 minutes) in the background. The sleep-tracking apps do the same process to deliver information about your sleep, however, the detection algorithms of those apps may be inconsistent.

If a user has multiple apps they will independently and continuously check for changes in user activity leading to more battery usage. Since the Sleep API will come built in the Google Play Services, users won’t be needing additional sleep-tracking apps to run in the background and get their sleep data. With centralised processing the phone’s battery will not suffer.

For this launch, Google has collaborated with Urbandroid, the developer of the popular alarm app, Sleep As Android. “The new Sleep API gives us a fantastic opportunity to track it automatically in the most battery efficient way imaginable,” the team said. Sleep As Android can be downloaded from the Android Store. As mentioned, the app must be granted the Physical Activity Recognition runtime permission from the user to detect sleep, Google said.

What will be the most exciting tech launch of 2021? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Americans of All Stripes Are Flush With Cash | Sidnaz Blog

As a group, Americans have amassed an astounding amount of savings during the pandemic. A lot of that money rests in the bank accounts of the rich, but—and this is crucial—not all of it.

The Commerce Department on Friday reported that personal income shot up a seasonally adjusted 10% in January from December, buoyed by the latest round of pandemic-relief payments. Spending rose strongly, too, but with a gain of 2.4% from the prior month, not by nearly as much. And with that, the personal saving rate—or saving as a share of after-tax income—shot to 20.5% from 13.4%. That marks its highest level since May. The only time the saving rate was higher before the pandemic was during World War II.

The elevated savings rate isn’t just about government payments. It also stems from the weakness in services spending that has occurred during the Covid-19 crisis as people have forgone things like vacations and dining out. Friday’s report showed that services spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of all consumer spending, was down 5.3% from its year-earlier level.

The high saving rates that have been in place since the pandemic began have added up to a lot more cash on household balance sheets. Federal Reserve figures show that as of the end of the third quarter households had $2.2 trillion more in cash and cash equivalents than at the end of 2019. That amount is undoubtedly higher now and, with another round of government relief in the works, could go higher still. As the pandemic eases, there will be plenty of money to spend.

The rub is that, when it comes to absolute dollar amounts, it is wealthier households that have amassed the most savings. They have had an easier time keeping their jobs during the crisis, and they had the most discretionary spending to cut back on. So there is a case to be made that if the pandemic eases, it will be companies that cater to the better off that will do best.

Many poorer Americans could boost their spending substantially once the crisis eases.


Mark Moran/Associated Press

But the less wealthy appear to be amassing savings, too. An analysis of 1.8 million family checking accounts conducted by economists at the JPMorgan Chase Institute shows that as of the end of October the median balance was up by about 40% from a year earlier. And median balances for families in the lowest quarter of the income distribution were up by about 45%. While that figure might have ground lower in November and December, it probably got a bump up with the latest payment round.

While there remain many in tough financial straits, especially those once employed in service-sector jobs, many poorer Americans could boost their spending substantially once the crisis eases. As they likely have more needs that aren’t already met, they have a much higher propensity to consume; and with fewer worries that the job market is going to take another hit, they will be less nervous about their finances.

The toll that the past year has exacted on poorer Americans is enormous, but that hardly means they will feel any less relief if the pandemic starts to fade.

Write to Justin Lahart at [email protected]

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Agriculture, Industrial Sectors Witness Growth In | Sidnaz Blog

The agriculture sector grew by 3.9 per cent in the third quarter of the financial year

The economy snapped from recession and returned to growth in the October-December quarter after two successive quarters of contraction in growth. The gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.4 per cent in the third quarter, which is a sharp improvement from the de-growth of 23.9 per cent and 7.5 per cent in the previous two quarters. India is one of the few economies that witnessed positive year-on-year growth in the October-December period. The gains in the economy in the third quarter were driven by growth in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, electricity, gas, water and utility services, construction and financial, real estate, and professional services. (Also Read: India Exits Recession With 0.4% Quarterly Growth )

The agriculture sector grew by 3.9 per cent in the third quarter of the financial year, compared to three per cent growth in the year-ago period. The gradual unlocking of the economy with the steady decline in COVID-19 cases during the three-month period boosted consumption and activity across sectors. 

The agriculture and industrial sector witnessed growth, while the contact intensive services sectors registered de-growth. The industrial sector witnessed a growth of 2.7 per cent supported by the growth in manufacturing (1.6 per cent), electricity, gas, water and utility services (7.3 per cent) and construction (6.2 per cent).

The output of eight core infrastructure sectors grew 0.1 per cent in January 2021, compared to last year, according to government data. The infrastructure output, which comprises eight core sectors including coal, crude oil, and electricity, fell by 8.8 per cent during April-January period, against a growth rate of 0.8 per cent in the same period of the previous year. (Also Read: Infrastructure Output Of Core Sectors Up 0.1% In January 2021 )

Despite the improvements, the growth rates are significantly lower than those in the year-ago period. The real GDP growth in the third quarter of the current financial year is 0.4 per cent – notably lower than the 3.3 per cent growth in the corresponding quarter of the previous financial year.

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Dasoju Sravan: KTR misleading 40 lakh youth on jobs | Hyderabad News

HYDERABAD: All India Congress Committee (AICC) spokesperson Dasoju Sravan on Friday charged Telangana municipal minister KT Rama Rao with misleading people particularly the youth by stating that the TRS government has filled up 1.32 lakh jobs in the government sector.
High drama prevailed at Gun Park where in the Congress members gathered stating they were waiting for KTR to come for a debate on jobs filled up and existing vacancies in the government sector.
Though KTR did not say he would come to Gun Park, Sravan-led party members waited there for over an hour and had arranged a chair draped with a pink towel and flowers to welcome the municipal minister.
The Congress – during a press conference, while reacting to KTR’s claim of the government having filled up 1.32 lakh vacancies and that he was ready for a debate on the issue – threw a challenge at him to come for a debate at Gun Park on Friday.
Sravan said more jobs were given to the youth by previous Congress governments in the undivided state compared to the number of jobs given after the formation of Telangana state, Sravan said.
“Why is the TRS government not providing employment to even the family members of all the 1200 youth who sacrificed their lives for separate statehood?” the Congress asked.
The TRS government-appointed Biswal PRC report says there are 1.91 lakh vacancies.
With the formation of new districts and gram panchayats, more jobs were created but not filled up.

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Is It On PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah’s Suggestion Mamata | Sidnaz Blog

Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of targeting the “only woman Chief Minister in the country”

New Delhi:

Shortly after election dates were announced for four states and a Union Territory, an outraged Mamata Banerjee alleged that the eight-phase voting in Bengal was part of a “conspiracy” by the Centre’s ruling BJP. 

“From BJP party sources, I have seen the list of poll dates they wanted. And now I have seen the list out in the public. They are the same. I am sorry. I am shocked. Are Bengal poll dates suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah?” the Chief Minister questioned. 

Bengal will begin voting on March 27 but unlike Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, it will have eight phases spread over a record 33 days before the May 2 results.

“I am the only one woman chief minister in the country… I will win… and then Modi and Shah, you watch the battle in the 2024 general elections. We will fight it and how,” Ms Banerjee said, adding, “you will face the music for this blunder.”

Bengal voted in seven phases in the 2016 state election and in the 2019 national polls. The Election Commission said the reason for more phases was concerns over possible violence.

“When we have an assessment of law and order, we have an assessment based on several factors. We have to see movement of forces, we have to see current charges and counter charges. We have to find a way out,” Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora told reporters.

“In 2016 and 2019, the polls were held in seven phases. Eight phases in not such a big jump,” he added. 

Mamata Banerjee accused the BJP of dictating the poll schedule. “States with almost the same number of seats were voting on a single day. Why is Bengal being humiliated”, she wondered.  

Among the issues that have particularly irked her is that polls will be held in some districts over several phases. She suspects a motive. 

“South 24 Parganas will vote over three phases. Why? Because we are strong in that district? Why half-half district election every day? Is this on the advice of Modi and Shah? So that they can come and campaign here after they finish with Assam and Tamil Nadu? This is a khela (sport) but we will defeat you and turn you into ghosts. We are people of the grassroots,” she declared.

Her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee is MP from Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district. BJP has been targeting him in their poll campaigns.  

“I am Bengal’s daughter. I am in politics for 40 years. I know every district, every assembly seat. Whatever you do, I will smash your conspiracy. People of Bengal will rule Bengal. People of Bengal will avenge this insult of eight phase polls,” she added. 

Beside multiple phase elections in many districts, what has angered Mamata Banerjee is the deployment of two special police observers to the state, including Vivek Dubey. “He was here in 2019 also and we know all the drama he did and games that he played.” she said.  

Around 1,200 central paramilitary troops are on patrol in Bengal already, which saw a spurt in political violence and killings ahead of the 2018 panchayat polls, violence that continued over the past two years. 

The BJP welcomed the dates. The party has invested heavily in winning Bengal, especially after 2019, when it stunned the Trinamool Congress by scoring 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats. That tally was 16 more than 2014. In the 2016 state polls, the BJP got just three seats and the Trinamool 211. But as per the 2019 results, the score was 124 assembly segments for the BJP and 164 for the Trinamool. 

PM Modi and Amit Shah, besides other top BJP leaders, have prioritized Bengal in their campaign schedule. Most of these visits have seen large defections from the Trinamool Congress to the BJP.

BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh said, “Now that the model code of conduct will kick in and central security forces will be on the streets, please expect more defections from the Trinamool to the BJP. We are ready for the polls and victory in Bengal.”

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Illegal constructions continue to flourish in Hyderabad | | Hyderabad News

HYDERABAD: Illegal constructions continue to flourish in parts of city. Deviations in construction by raising double the number of floors allowed are seen in parts of Kondapur in Serilingampally circle, parts of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s (GHMC) Kukatpally zone and Malakpet circle (Old City).
A recce of Serilingampally circle revealed several property owners in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and Sudarshan Nagar Colony have raised double the number of floors than permitted. Town planning officials, who are under the lens of state vigilance department, have already been promoted even as the investigation in previous cases is underway. Also on cards after MLC elections is transfers of assistant city planning officers (ACPs), who are responsible for ensuring illegal constructions do not occur.
“Several officials are trying to bag the post of ACPs in GHMC circles where construction activity is more,” said a civic official.
“Special drives were held post the lockdown, and demolitions carried out. But many owners have approached the courts. In Serilingampally circle alone, more than 400 people have moved court. In such cases, we need to follow orders,” said P Srinivas Rao, GHMC deputy city planner of Serilingampally circle and in-charge city planner.
Experts said additional floors in violation of rules spell danger to inmates of the buildings and passers-by too. “Illegal floors increase load on soil and pillars and can result in a serious accident,” said SP Anchuri, vice-president (south), Structural Engineers World Congress.
“GHMC has stopped Prajavani (weekly meeting), and video conferencing where people report irregularities and air civic grievances,” said Harish Daga, an activist.

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PlayStation Users to Get Free Games Until June as Part | Sidnaz Blog

PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 users can own a copy of Ratchet & Clank for free, as part of the company’s Play At Home initiative. Sony introduced Play At Home in April last year, as the world was just entering consecutive lockdowns due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the initiative, the company gave away digital copies of two games last year – Journey and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection – completely free-of-cost. These free titles could be downloaded by anyone, whether a person has a PlayStation Plus subscription or not. Sony has brought back the initiative again this year, starting with a free copy of Ratchet & Clank for the month of March, with more games expected to be announced until June.

Making the announcement via a blog post on February 23, Sony said that the Play At Home is kicking off in March and will extend through June.

The first free game to be offered is Ratchet & Clank (Review), the strangely addictive and surprisingly hilarious space adventure starring Ratchet, a lombax (a feline humanoid) and his trusty robot buddy, Clank. Developed by Insomniac Games of Spider-Man fame, Ratchet & Clank is marked by outlandish weapons, engaging gameplay, and gorgeously rich worlds to explore. Starting March 1 at 8pm PST (March 2/ 9:30am IST), users can redeem the game free-of-cost anytime before March 31 8pm PDT (April 1/ 9:30am IST).

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need a PS Plus subscription to access the Play At Home titles. All you need to do is redeem the game and it will be yours to download and play. Interestingly, PlayStation 5 owners will automatically have free access to Ratchet & Clank via the PlayStation Plus Collection. Sony is going to announce more free games as the Play At Home initiative continues until June.

PS Plus Free Games for March announced

PlayStation has announced the free games lineup for March. The free slate of games include the critically accalimed Final Fantasy VII Remake, the puzzle Maquette, the sci-fi RPG shooter Remnant: From the Ashes, and the first-person PS VR shooter Farpoint. 

Out of the lineup, only Maquette is a PS5-exclusive title. It should be noted that the PS4 version of Final Fantasy VII won’t be available for a PS5 digital version upgrade. Apart from these, PS5 users will still have free access to Destruction AllStars.

The games will be available for download starting March 2 until April 5.

You will need to have an active PlayStation Plus subscription to have continued access to the games, once you’ve added them to your library. PlayStation Plus subscriptions are available in India at Rs. 499 for a month, Rs. 1,199 for three months, and Rs. 2,999 for 12 months.

PS5 vs Xbox Series X: Which is the best “next-gen” console in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Telangana: Congress urges governor to order CBI probe into | Hyderabad News

HYDERABAD: The Congress has said it did not have confidence that the state police will do a fair investigation into the murder of the advocate couple and urged governor Tamilisai Soundararajan to use her good offices and ensure that a court monitored CBI probe is ordered into the double murder of Gattu Vaman Rao and PV Nagamani.
A Congress delegation comprising TPCC president N Uttam Kumar Reddy, MLC T Jeevan Reddy, MLA D Sridhar Babu and T Jayaprakash Reddy among others met the Governor on Friday and submitted a representation stating that the video clips circulating on social media showed Vaman Rao, lying on road with bleeding injuries and taking the name of Kunta Srinu, TRS mandal president as the main killer.
“Gattu Vaman Rao and his wife PV Nagamani were hacked to death by TRS activists in broad daylight at Ramgiri on 17th February, 2021. They lawyer couple, appearing as counsels in different cases, had filed a PIL about the alleged custodial death of a Dalit, Seelam Rangaiah, in Manthani police station of Ramagundam Police Commissionerate. During a recent hearing of the matter in the high court, Vaman Rao, who was appearing as counsel in the PIL plea filed by his wife stated that they were being harassed with false cases and threatening calls from the police and others,” Uttam informed the Governor in the representation.
Later, Uttam told reporters that CM KCR did not issue even a single-line statement condemning the brutal murders. “His silence indirectly gives a free hand to sand, land and mines mafia to establish their control by instilling fear among common people,” he alleged.
The Congress would also write to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President of the Bar Council of India and other authorities regarding the lawyer couple’s murder.
Later, the Congress leaders met director general of police requesting him to expedite the investigation into the double murder case and also to provide protection to the family members of Vaman Rao and Nagamani.

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Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Growth In Third Quarter | Sidnaz Blog

Experts say that the GDP growth in the third quarter was slightly lesser than expected

The economy expanded by 0.4 per cent year-on-year in the October-December quarter, returning to growth after shrinking for two straight quarters, government data showed on Friday. The readout for the December quarter was a tad lower than the 0.5 per cent growth forecast of analysts in a Reuters poll. (Also Read: India Exits Recession With 0.4% Quarterly Growth )

Shashank Mendiratta, Economist, IBM, New Delhi

“GDP growth returned to positive territory after contracting for two successive quarters. At component level, investment GDP recorded its first growth since December 2019. This recovery in investment is likely driven by capex spending.

Weakness in private consumption also eased markedly during the quarter, even as it continued to show a contraction. Consumption of durable goods has picked up following the lifting of lockdown, while those of services continue to weigh on private spending. 

Demand for contact intensive sectors will likely improve gradually as consumers regain confidence. While growth has returned to positive, the momentum would need to improve further for a sustained return to pre-COVID output levels.”

Kunal Kundu, India Economist, Societe Generale, Bengaluru

“The Indian economy has turned a corner during 4Q20, growing by 0.4 per cent yoy, slightly lower than the consensus expectation, though we expected one final quarter of contraction. 

To us, the data appears to be at variance with the high frequency data. Disaggregated data shows that domestic consumption continued to contract while real government spending dipped too, albeit marginally. 

A sharp pick-up in investment enabled the economy to record a marginally positive growth as did a lower trade deficit on account of less-than-robust economic activity. Going forward, we believe that investment and not consumption will be India’s growth driver.”

Rupa Rege Nitsure, Group Chief Economist, L&t Financial Holdings, Mumbai

“India’s GDP data for Q3 tells the same story, which many other nations are witnessing. Economic growth has turned positive for several countries in the Oct-Dec quarter, partly attributed to the policy stimulus and partly to the optimism created by COVID-19 vaccination. However, India’s GDP growth is lowly positive in Q3 as the stresses continue in mining, manufacturing & services sectors. 

Indian growth during the pandemic is primarily supported by agriculture, construction activities and the Government’s Capex spending. Consumption spending continues to stay weak both for the private and public sectors.”

Siddhartha Sanyal, Chief Economist And Head Of Research, Bandhan Bank, Kolkata

“The 0.4% y/y growth in real GDP is broadly in line with Street expectations and is significantly stronger than the GDP prints witnessed during the previous two quarters. The current print will likely further boost the expectation of a 7%-8% y/y contraction in real GDP during FY21.

Furthermore, while expectations of GDP growth during FY22 remain strong, partly reflecting a markedly favourable base, one needs to note that the path for sequential growth can still be uneven and uncertain. Given the uncertainties around investments and exports, recovery prospects currently hinge critically on an uptick in private consumption. 

Accordingly, one would expect support from public policy – both fiscal and monetary – will remain strong in the coming months.”

Sakshi Gupta, Senior Economist, Hdfc Bank, Gurugram

“Q3 GDP was slightly lower than expectations, albeit showed that the economy did move into the green. Going ahead, we are likely to see a continuation of a K-shaped recovery with some sectors growing faster than others.

We expect growth to print at 1.5% in Q4 and -7.5% for the whole year FY21. We expect GDP for FY22 at 11.5%. We expect the economy to reach pre-pandemic output levels by the end of the calendar year 2021.

That said, there are some risks that need to be watched out including rising commodity prices, slow global recovery, and the pace of recovery in the informal sector and contact intensive services with the resurgence of domestic cases.”

Prithviraj Srinivas, Chief Economist, Axis Capital, Mumbai

“Headline Dec-quarter GDP was a mixed bag with GVA (gross value added) growth +1% YoY coming close to our estimate, although some of the internals in the data were underwhelming. Having said that, the outcome is not entirely negative considering downward revisions for previous quarters.

These numbers will surely get revised further given this is an exceptional year. The GDP data confirms sharp activity uptick in Dec quarter and positive YoY growth one quarter ahead of earlier expectations. 

High frequency indicators in January and February show that activity levels have stabilized post Dec quarter therefore continued growth momentum. However, we haven’t overcome the health crisis as yet and hence policy will continue to lean towards supporting growth.”  

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SPAC Frenzy Emboldens Silicon Valley Startups to Forgo Venture | Sidnaz Blog

California aerospace startup Archer Aviation Inc. has a multibillion-dollar vision of flying people around town in autonomous electric helicopters. It doesn’t have revenue or a vehicle ready for liftoff, but that hasn’t slowed the three-year-old company.

Instead of toiling away in obscurity with a shoestring budget, the traditional way for startups to spend their formative years, Archer became part of the SPAC frenzy gripping Wall Street. This month it announced an agreement to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company, raising $1.1 billion—and gaining a valuation of $2.7 billion.

“The SPAC market was actually a really great spot to go to raise a lot of capital in one big swoop,” Archer co-founder and co-CEO

Adam Goldstein

said. The company is slated to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange in a few months.

SPACs have flipped the script on the multidecade model of development for early-stage startups, enabling fledgling companies with little or no revenue to tap public markets sooner. The shift lets amateur investors—long excluded from startup wealth creation—get in on the ground floor of disruptive businesses. It is a dynamic that can lead to huge returns but also carries big risks, as young companies are far more vulnerable to going belly up.

Since the start of last year, investors have poured more than $130 billion into SPACs, “blank-check companies” traded on an exchange with the goal of merging with a private company to bring it public. Amateur stock traders and hedge funds alike have piled in, seeking high-growth companies.

Increasingly that means companies, like Archer, arrive on public markets before establishing such business basics as commercially ready technology. In the past, private companies raised round after round of venture capital, growing in valuation and refining their business plans before listing publicly, often more than 10 years after their founding.

On average, companies going public with little revenue perform poorly.

Jay Ritter,

a finance professor at the University of Florida who studies public stock listings, found that the shares of tech companies going public with annual sales under $50 million underperform the market by 28% over the first three years of trading. The median annual sales for tech companies completing a SPAC deal since the start of 2020 is $48 million.

Unlike amateur investors, venture-capital firms use other people’s money and can absorb a high rate of failure among early-stage companies, typically making their returns from a handful of winners. While venture capitalists have enjoyed the high valuations brought by the SPAC frenzy, some have grown concerned.

In a letter to its limited partners that was shared by co-founder

Josh Wolfe,

Lux Capital wrote that SPACs have “resulted in a boon for many of our portfolio companies. But it also means that many of these speculative funds are capitalizing on otherwise low-quality businesses, letting them survive in the present” and signaling “much destruction later.”

Lux Capital is among many venture-capital firms and angel investors who have also formed their own SPACs.

Private companies are flooding to special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, to bypass the traditional IPO process and gain a public listing. WSJ explains why some critics say investing in these so-called blank-check companies isn’t worth the risk. Illustration: Zoë Soriano/WSJ

Leapfrogging years of private fundraising and growth to go public carries other practical concerns. Diversions and blunders that are common in startups could rattle public-market investors, who expect predictability. And accurate forecasting is more difficult for a company that has never made money, a structure that gives some venture-capital investors pause.

“SPACs allow many companies to capitalize on hype for the short term, potentially at the expense of building a sustainable company for the long term,” said

Natalie Hwang,

founding managing partner at tech-investment firm Apeira Capital Advisors.

Other than biotechnology companies—which have historically gone public to raise money for drug trials—highly valued companies with no revenue used to be extremely uncommon in the public markets. But some startups see the SPAC boom as an ultrafast way to get the cash they need upfront to grow and fend off rivals.

Joby Aviation, another electric-aircraft startup, announced a SPAC deal of its own this week.


Joby Aviation

So far this year, at least 15 non-biotech startups with zero revenue have completed SPAC mergers or announced a SPAC deal valuing them at $1 billion or more, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis and data provided by Mr. Ritter. That already exceeds the annual peak in large listings by zero-revenue companies during the dot-com bubble, according to Mr. Ritter’s findings.

Çetin Meriçli,

CEO and co-founder of autonomous trucking company Locomation, said he has been approached by a number of SPAC investors to take his company public, which he called “a proposition to take seriously.” The $23 million raised from venture capitalists is a fraction of what his rivals have.

A SPAC would “be the big quantum of capital that would allow us to compete with a larger war chest,” Mr. Meriçli said.

Unlike companies going public through a traditional IPO, those using a SPAC are permitted to issue earnings projections several years into the future—useful for exciting prospective shareholders.

Rocket startup Astra Space Inc., which got investors’ attention with its first and only successful test launch in December, this month struck a deal to raise about $500 million from a SPAC at a $2.1 billion valuation. The company, whose rockets launch small satellites—not humans, founder and CEO

Chris Kemp

points out—into space, projects a $6 million loss this year but a $1 billion profit by 2025.

Mr. Kemp said he needed a little more than $450 million to fully fund the company’s plans, and the SPAC got him there.

“I don’t run a


theme park,” he said. “This absolutely lets us deliver for our customers.”

Archer doesn’t anticipate any revenue until 2024, when it says it hopes its aircraft have gained federal regulatory approval, allowing the company to sell them to airlines and cargo carriers and offer consumers low-cost flights. Archer says much of its early revenue will come from replacing traditional helicopters, and initially its aircraft will be flown by human pilots.

It projects revenue will grow rapidly, exceeding $12 billion in 2030. By comparison,

Uber Technologies Inc.,

12 years old and the largest ride-hailing platform in the world, recorded $11.1 billion in revenue last year.

Archer announced a $1 billion deal to sell helicopters, when ready, to

United Airlines Holdings Inc.

The nearly 80-employee company has raised about $60 million in the private market.

Archer impressed Ben Coleman, a 56-year-old schoolteacher who lives south of Boston and has been investing in SPACs for about a year. He bought about 1,000 shares of the blank-check company that is merging with Archer. An aviation enthusiast who flies small planes and drones, he says he is excited about Archer’s prospects but notes the company has a long way to go.

“They don’t even have an aircraft that is flying yet,” he said.

To hedge his bet, he is investing in a competitor. Electric-aircraft startup Joby Aviation said Wednesday it, too, would go public in a SPAC deal. It will value the company at $6.6 billion.

Write to Heather Somerville at [email protected] and Eliot Brown at [email protected]

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