TuSimple autonomous truck
A TuSimple autonomous truck on the open road. Photo courtesy of the company

A San Diego tech startup is poised to launch the era of self-driving rigs on the open highway.

According to a report in biz mag Forbes, San Diego-based self-driving truck startup TuSimple has raised $350 million in a Series E funding round. The round, which included participation from two of its partners, truck-maker Navistar and Volkswagen, was apparently set to close late last month.

The startup has announced plans to build a hub for its autonomous trucks in Fort Worth. TuSimple, which also has offices in Beijing and a facility in Tucson, has revealed deals with U.S. Xpress and Penske Truck Leasing as well as Berkshire Hathaway-owned grocery distributor McLane. The 5-year-old concern, considered one of the leading tech entrants in the race to put self-driving trucks on the road, says it plans to launch a fully autonomous tractor-trailer next year.

The business is expected to file for public stock offering in the first quarter of 2021, which would sport a valuation ranging from $3.5 billion to $7 billion, according to several sources. Keep on truckin’!

* * *

Though Thanksgiving 2020 is rapidly receding into the rear-view mirror, this modest news item is worth a mention. CashCo Pawn Shop donated 50 turkeys to local nonprofit It’s All About the Kids. In all, CashCo has donated 1,000 turkeys over the past 19 years. The birds helped feed local families who use IAATK’s Food Pantry. Assisting with the effort are Rosie Tamayo and Rosie Sanchez. Despite health challenges, the nonprofit says the two “Rosies” have demonstrated their commitment to help other families in need through their volunteer work. The two help out at the pantry each Thursday at the pantry. Tamayo, who has a disability, volunteers with her grandchildren. Sanchez still finds time to volunteer despite many surgeries due to a debilitating blood clotting disorder.

* * *

San Diego PR firm Clearpoint Agency, says it has added three clients involved in the COVID-19 pandemic: They include ARCpoint Labs, Downtown Works and North County Biotech Laboratories. ARCpoint Labs recently added COVID-19 tests to its DNA, drug and alcohol, and blood test services. Downtown Works, a co-working facility downtown, recently opened a location in Carlsbad. North County Biotech Laboratories provides a private laboratory for scientists working on vaccines and medical therapies.

* * *

Have you ever seen the number 13 on the elevator in a high-rise building? That’s a no! With good reason. It’s considered unlucky to have a 13th floor. So, Hammer Ventures, the developer of the historic Spreckels Building at 625 Broadway is using the 13th floor to create two-story penthouses. This is easy to do considering the building is only 14 stories tall. When the structure was completed 90 years ago, the floor was used to store mechanical equipment. Now, by combining the two top floors, the developer was able to create loft-like units with 24- to 29-foot ceilings. The finished project will feature 231 residential units.

* * *

San Diego County’s supervisors voted recently to award $20 million in grants to businesses sent reeling by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants, to be split among the county’s five supervisorial districts, were proposed by supervisors Greg Cox and Nathan Fletcher to help offset the lost income. The grant money comes from the county’s general fund, the intent is to target such concerns as restaurants and health clubs. Businesses can use the funds to cover rent or mortgages as well as cover payroll. Business can apply here for one of the Small Business Stimulus Grants, which, by the way, do not have to be repaid.

* * *

The San Diego Clydesdale Community Leaders Program, designed to help Black business owners accelerate growth, has announced its first class. The business that will be included in the 24-month long program are:

  • Green Sustainable Consultants, Construction Services Workers, Right of Way Acquisitions
  • A-K Commercial & Construction Cleaning
  • Telemarketr, RDM Management Group
  • L3 Coaching Solutions
  • Black San Diego
  • Docfully
  • Sylvia Cartwright MD Inc.
  • Good Neighbor Gardens
  • OYA Femtech Apparel, Fulaba
  • Dreambuilders Youth Mentoring Network

The program gives participants a chance to land private and public contracts averaging $75,000. In addition, they will be given the right to apply to flexible revenue-based business growth loans ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. Owner who have been selected can expect to grow 25% annually on average, said organizers. Founders First CDC and Pacific Western Bank have contributed $500,000 to fund the effort. The program starts with a 60-day workshop taught virtually in small groups and in individual coaching sessions. Founders First CDC is 5-year-old nonprofit that “serves as a catalyst for positive change to entrepreneurs of color and female founders to become leading employers in their communities.”

Tom York

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.