Who’s behind blockchain voting at San Francisco’s City Hall?

Also: Lipstick NFTs and billion-dollar valuations flowing like kombucha

What’s going on with blockchain voting at City Hall? I got a couple of concerned calls this week about meetings records on the SF Elections YouTube channel that show discussion of spending taxpayer dollars on a blockchain voting program that is — for some reason — being run through the Department of Emergency Management. The City has a policy opposing internet voting for security reasons, and money that was supposed to be spent on open-source voting appears to now be going toward this other mysterious pursuit. Who’s behind it? An Elections Commission meeting on Wednesday may shed more light on this. Go to sfgov.org/electionscommission

Some masks came down Friday at S.F. tech offices, because The City lifted its mask mandate for office employees. The fintech startup Fast ceremoniously removed the “Masks Required” signs in its SoMa office on Ninth Street. As its name might imply, Fast was also punctual to reopen in March, when The City allowed in-person work to resume for non-essential workers. The company, funded in part by Stripe, has a speedy scheduling tool it calls Fast Flex that lets employees choose whether to work in the San Francisco headquarters, their home or a company-sponsored WeWork….

If you haven’t gotten a digital version of your COVID vaccine record from the state, it really is easy to do at myvaccinerecord.cdph.ca.gov. That way you have the verified details on your phone with a QR code in case you lose the card…

If you read my story on supply-chain innovation in San Francisco, you might remember the sailors in the 1880s who got shipping information from San Francisco brothels and saloons. Those sailors were aboard a ship that is still docked proudly in The City. The 1886 square-rigger Balclutha, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the ships maintained by the San Francisco Maritime Museum. And boy, does it have a history…

As the kombucha flows, so the startups scene goes. And the ‘booch is apparently flowing again. Claude Burns, the CEO of Oakland’s Office Libations, says his 20-person company is again stocking the startups of SoMa. “Business is picking up again very quickly,” Burns told me. Startups run on cold brew, kombucha and other goodies. “They want to see the fridges stocked when they return.” What’s his oddest item? “Probably the vegan beef jerky,” he says. Any good? “I suppose if you’re a vegan who likes beef jerky.” ‘Nuf said…

GitLab, the Financial District-based open-source platform where developers can share code, went public Thursday at a market capital valuation of $15.6 billion. Good thing they’re in the Fi-Di, so they don’t have to drag that loot all over town. PitchBook thought the 10-year-old, 1,000-person company might reach a $10 billion market cap. Well, that escalated quickly…

Why aren’t VCs investing more in Bay Area startups run solely by women founders? This year NYC has outpaced us in funding rounds for startups founded by women 1,194-854. How is it possible that New York City raised money for 350 more startups led by women than we did? Look closer and the PitchBook data shows that the wallets come out if the startups are run by women and men. Got it. Some things never change. Maybe some of the investors who got rich on the GitLab IPO can get busy on this…

This PitchBook graphic shows more venture capital going to startups founded by both men and women, but women-only founders are not getting more. (Courtesy PitchBook)

This PitchBook graphic shows more venture capital going to startups founded by both men and women, but women-only founders are not getting more. (Courtesy PitchBook)

SparkPlug, a San Francisco-based retail fintech startup just raised $3.5 million to try to disrupt how workers are paid in retail and food service. Backers include the CEO of Foursquare, a former CEO of Deloitte and the inventors of Google AdSense. The way it works is, retailers can reward workers with financial incentives and paid time off for hitting in-store sales goals. What do the workers think of it? …

The latest non-fungible token I don’t understand is digital lipstick from Estee Lauder. The makeup company is giving fans NFTs of its top products. Here’s why: “If physical products such as the best-selling product Black Honey are out of stock or if there is a risk they sell out, loyal fans will always have their iconic beauty gems in their digital wallet.” Question marks are coming out of my head…

Sunday Streets returns this weekend, so get out and stroll around noshing and seeing friends you haven’t seen except on Zoom in ages. Kudos to the sponsors helping to get The City’s public life kickstarted again. Odd to see tech companies who have disappeared from the sponsors list, since we know they made money during the pandemic…

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