The two have been together for a little less than a year but on each other’s radars for longer. Davison is entering his fifth season on the UW roster and Buss graduated from Indiana University in 2018 after playing four seasons for the Hoosiers — she even helped IU to a WNIT championship.
Their relationship began when Buss, 25, reached out to Davison, 22, on Instagram after hearing about him from a mutual follower. Direct messages led to swapping of numbers, which grew into long phone calls, FaceTimes and eventually in person dates. It all led to the pair’s engagement.
A mutual love of basketball and similar family values helped the pair grow a relationship while living 435 miles a part.
Their relationship was strengthened through basketball. Davison referred to Buss as his “biggest fan,” and she shared the same sentiment. They’d watch each other’s games whenever their schedules allowed them.
“I’m doing something that I’m really passionate about and she’s doing something that she’s really passionate about,” Davison said. “Even though we might be doing it on our own time, we kind of approach it as if we’re doing it together. You know, her games are my games, my games are her games.”
Not only are they each other’s biggest fans, but also can be each other’s harshest critics. Buss, now an assistant at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, said she didn’t shy away from pointing out mistakes in Davison’s on court performances last season.
The Blackhawks have been listing along for a few years now, riding the waves of mediocrity and teasing their fans with a splash of wins here and there.
So while it may not have been their intention, the organization definitely chose the perfect location to introduce Seth Jones to the media on Saturday — aboard Chicago’s First Lady tour boat on the Chicago River.
The superstar defenseman — acquired Friday from Columbus in a blockbuster deal — will cost the Hawks $9.5 million against the salary cap for eight years beginning in 2022-23.
Might that sink the Hawks’ ability to make moves in the future? Is a capsize on the horizon?
Or is this the move that begins a new era of smooth sailing?
OK, enough of that.
Saturday was all about Seth and brother Caleb getting a grand tour of the city. It began with them throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field before the Cubs hosted the Diamondbacks and continued with the aforementioned 45-minute ride in the scorching heat.
“I didn’t realize it gets this hot in Chicago,” said Seth, who loved the experience at Wrigley. “We didn’t completely botch the first pitches. We threw a little high (to) make sure we got it there. It was a lot of fun.”
Which is exactly what the Joneses hope they experience with the Hawks.
Caleb, acquired from the Oilers, has played in 93 NHL games and will fight for ice time with Ian Mitchell, Riley Stillman, Wyatt Kalynuk, Nicolas Beaudin and others. Seth, who has 65 goals and 221 assists in 580 games, has been in the playoffs five of the last seven seasons. Four appearances came in Columbus, although the Blue Jackets did not qualify this year.
There are some who see Seth’s declining numbers as a warning sign and wonder if the Hawks paid too steep a price. In addition to the whopping contract GM Stan Bowman handed out, he also parted with Adam Boqvist, moved down 21 spots in the first round of Friday’s draft and gave the Blue Jackets a second-rounder and next year’s first-rounder (as long as it’s not No. 1 or 2 overall).
Seth definitely isn’t deaf to the criticism.
“Obviously there’s always going to be critics in your game,” Seth said. “You can choose not to listen; you can choose to listen. So of them are wrong; some of them aren’t. I’ll be the first one to say that.
“I just want to prove every single night that I’m going to work hard for this team no matter if I make the mistake or not.”
Obviously the Hawks aren’t expecting many mistakes from their new star. That goes without saying when you make him the third-highest paid D-man in the league (beginning in 2022).
The 26-year-old Jones says he’s still learning and believes he has yet to hit his peak.
“Offensively I can get a little bit better,” said Jones, who scored a combined 20 goals the last three seasons after notching 28 the previous two. “I’ve been really focusing on that the past few summers. …
“Offensive awareness-wise, try to hunker down on when to go and find little areas — soft areas — so I can make more offensive plays happen.”
Seth left most of the contract negotiations up to his agent, Pat Brisson, who also represents Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Asked why he zeroed in on the Hawks, Seth said: “(I trust) Stan to do a good job to put teams together and (I) have an opportunity to play with a couple Hall of Famers.
“(It’s) the whole package. I love coming to Chicago. It’s a great city, it’s a sports town. I’ve always dreamt about playing here. So I’m extremely excited that I’m finally in a Blackhawks jersey.”
There were a few lighter moments on the boat — the highlight being when the brothers’ mom happily twirled after they were asked if their family was excited about the trades.
“I got off the ice (yesterday) and I saw five missed calls from my mom,” Caleb said.
One thing’s or sure: More calls will come for Bowman to lose his job if Friday’s whopper of a deal turns out to be a dud.
The immediate future of the Green Bay Packers could not be more murky right now, and the latest social media posts of their top players didn’t bring much clarity.
Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams almost simultaneously posted the same picture to their Instagram stories late Friday night. The picture: Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen exchanging fist bumps while playing for the Chicago Bulls.
Take that for what you will.
The simplest interpretation of Rodgers’ and Adams’ post is that the two see their situation as similar to the dynamic depicted in ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” in which a gifted team was eventually split apart by financial considerations and personal animosity.
That’s probably not the result Packers fans want to see, though it could at least mean getting one more season out of the pair.
When Rodgers no-showed for the Packers’ mandatory minicamp in June, both Adams and All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari showed their support. Adams left no room for misinterpretation:
“I’ve got his back through everything so he knows that at the end of the day, if there’s ever a wonder if he’s lost a teammate or something because of all that’s come out, he knows where I stand,” Adams said, per the Duluth News-Tribune. “I’ll stand on the f***ing mountain and scream on the mountaintop that I’ve got his back.”
Now, Rodgers and Adams are making cryptic social media posts together. That probably means they’re on the same page at this point, though who knows which book we’re talking about.
For three decades, the Peter Westbrook Foundation has brought the sport of fencing to communities throughout New York City that otherwise would not be exposed to the sport.
This summer in Tokyo, four fencers from the organization will be competing for the United States.
The story starts with Peter Westbrook, a pioneer in the sport of fencing, who competed in six Olympic games winning bronze in Individual Sabre in 1984.
Among the Olympians coming from the foundation is Daryl Homer. Homer comes from the Williamsbridge section of the Bronx. He is preparing for his third Olympic games after winning the silver medal in Individual Sabre in 2016, which was the first for an American men’s fencer in 112 years.
“The first games, you’re elated. Your second games you really want to prove to get back there. The third one’s kind of like… It’s tough, it’s tough. There’s a lot of pressure, you’ve done it twice. I medaled in the second one so that increased expectation,” Homer says.
While Homer is the veteran of this year’s group in Japan, 24-year-old Khalil Thompson is the newcomer. He qualified for his first games in dramatic fashion, winning the gold in Sabre at the North America Cup in May, the final qualifier for Tokyo.
While Olympians have become commonplace at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, Keeth Smart was among the first back in 2000. Smart finished his Olympics career by winning silver in 2008, and now serves on the board for the PWF, helping to direct the future of the program.
They’re inspiring not only the younger generation, but generations for years to come of how they carry themselves and how they give back.
Former Olympic wrestler Ken Chertow grew up in Huntington.
Back in the ‘80′s, he won just about every state title, and broke a lot of records along the way.
This summer, he returned to town to train future Olympians. Chertow says he enjoys coming back to where his career began.
Chertow’s journey is on display on the walls of Huntington High School and in the wrestling room at school.
The two-time sate champion went on to become a three-time All American at Penn State before making the 1988 United States Olympic team in Seoul, South Korea. Chertow was representing the United States at the age on 21.
He’s been training the next generation of Olympic hopefuls ever since. Chertow runs a wrestling club in Pennsylvania, but finds time to put on camps.
The next generation of Avon Lake baseball and softball players took to the fields at Weiss Field on July 21 as a part of the first annual Avon Lake Summer Classic.
The idea came from Avon Lake head baseball coach Andrew Means, who said it popped into his head while he was driving. Means then reached out to the city’s recreation department and Avon Lake softball coach Jana Peachman who helped make the idea a reality.
“I was trying to think what we could do to bring all of the kids in Avon Lake together, whether they’re on a travel team or a rec team,” Means said. “I let the city know what I was thinking and they were fully supportive of the idea.”
According to Means, the event had over 140 signups. Attendees were split up into teams based on grade level and those teams were coached by current — and former — Avon Lake baseball and softball players.
The player-coaches ranged from recent Avon Lake graduates to incoming freshmen baseball players. Means and Peachman gave them guidelines like practice plans, but for the most part, the players were responsible for running their players through drills.
“I put together a general practice plan for each team and each level, but I told the guys it’s their team. I want them to go out there and have fun and that’s the most important thing, I just want everyone to have fun.”
Means hopes that the event inspires both his current and future players to be role models.
“It gives them a unique opportunity to be a coach of a team and be around the kids,” Means said. “These kids look up to the high school players so it was a pretty good combination and they seem to be having fun with it and the little kids like it.
“I remember being a kid and looking up to the high school athletes. It was special, it’s a special connection between high school players and the youth. It just helps bring the community together.”
Kiley Boutin helped coach one of the softball teams at the event with the help of Peachman and her assistants. Boutin was a multi-sport athlete for the Shoregals, playing softball and basketball. She was joined by Mallory McLellan, another former Avon Lake softballer.
The Avon Lake graduate was happy to give back to her community and hopes she’ll be able to participate again in the future.
“It’s been super fun and it really reminds me how much I love the sport and it reminds me of why I started playing softball,” she said. “It’s great to see how many girls are out here having fun.”
For Peachman it was rewarding to see her former players help inspire the next generation of Avon Lake players.
“It really kind of warms your heart to see this,” Peachman said. “I’m very encouraged. I’ve talked with some of the parents and they seem so into what we’re doing here in the city with this program. They’ve had great feedback for us, they love to see this and what we’re doing for the community.
“For our program, if I can start the interest in the game of softball at this level it’s just going to help my program at the high school level so much.”
Through the first two days of the event, both Means and Peachman were encouraged by what they saw from their current and future players. Both expect the camp to continue in the future based on what they’ve heard from participants.
“This is just the beginning, I think it’s been going pretty well for it being the first time and it’s absolutely something we foresee being a yearly thing for us,” Means said.
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – American billionaires have been spending their riches on trips to space as of late.
Blue Origin, SpaceX, Richard Branson, and of course, NASA, all have their sites set on the final frontier.
James G. Kidrick, President and Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Air & Space Museum, joined KUSI’s Logan Byrnes on Good Evening San Diego to discuss the future of space travel for the next 20-30 years.
Kidrick emphasized that the next few years are going to be extremely exciting for space travel and encouraged anyone who is interested in it to get involved in a variety of ways by engaging in the STEM fields, talking to your children about joining robotics clubs, joining the museum for Space Day next May, and much more.
ESPN recently ranked all 32 teams based on their future outlook for the next three seasons, and in it the Tennessee Titans landed outside the top 10.
The outlet used a formula that took into consideration a team’s quarterback situation, entire roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching to come up with its rankings.
Based on those factors, the Titans landed at No. 14, with ESPN’s panel of experts ranking their roster at No. 16, quarterback situation at No. 14, coaching at No. 15, drafting ability at No. 17, and front office at No. 13.
Here’s how the panel of experts, consisting of Field Yates, Louis Riddick, Jeremy Fowler and Seth Walder, view things in Nashville:
Why they’re here: It’s easy to project an offensive core in Tennessee for the next three seasons that forces defensive coordinators into sleepless nights. Scoring should come easily with a wide receiver duo featuring A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, while defensive reinforcements added this offseason will go a long way in allowing Tennessee to earn a spot among the AFC’s top tier. — Yates
Biggest worry: For the Titans to make real noise, they need All-Pro level performances from two of their new additions this offseason on the defensive side of the ball: linebacker Bud Dupree and first-round cornerback Caleb Farley. Dupree is among the 25 highest-paid defensive players in the NFL despite recovering from an injury, and Farley was the best man-coverage corner in the 2021 draft but opted out of the 2020 season and is recovering from back surgery. — Riddick
What could change for the better: The Titans should be able to keep the high-powered running game intact for a few more years thanks to a stout offensive line in front of Derrick Henry. Third-year guard Nate Davis played well last year, and the Titans are high on rookie tackle Dillon Radunz. Both of those players should help offset the eventual transition from Ben Jones and Rodger Saffold III, who are producing well into their 30s. Taylor Lewan turns 30 this month, too. — Fowler
Stat to know: No team utilized play-action on a higher percentage of their pass plays than the Titans last season. Not only did the Titans have the fifth-highest expected points added per play-action play in the league last season, but it led them to the third-most-efficient passing offense, too. — Walder
While Tennessee certainly wants to have an eye on the future, it’s all about the 2021 season right now, as the team is in win-now mode and going all-in on the coming campaign, hoping to secure the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
Stocks, oil prices and government-bond yields slid Monday as anxiety mounted over the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant and its potential impact on the global economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 876 points, or 2.5%, in afternoon trading, putting the index on track for its worst one-day drop in point terms since October.
The S&P 500 fell 2%, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 1.3%. Monday’s losses marked an acceleration after U.S. stock indexes retreated last week, snapping a three-week winning streak.
Investors sheltered in the safety of government bonds. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell to 1.182%—its lowest level since February—from 1.30% Friday. Bond yields fall when bond prices climb.
Oil prices fell after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and a Russia-led group of big producers agreed to raise production. Futures on Brent crude, the international benchmark, tumbled 6.7% to $68.68 a barrel, their lowest level in more than six weeks.
The moves were reminiscent of trading patterns that prevailed in the early days of the pandemic. Investors sold shares of companies directly affected by restrictions on movement and business, while buying government bonds and stocks that stood to benefit from renewed lockdowns.
Surging cases of the coronavirus in many parts of the world, including highly vaccinated countries such as the U.K., have prompted investors to dial down their expectations of economic growth in the coming months. Last week, some of California’s most populous counties either reimposed mask mandates or recommended wearing masks indoors to fight the Delta variant.
“The emergence of this more highly transmissible Delta variant…has brought into the question the sustainability of this reopening and the recovery,” said
a portfolio manager at Fiera Capital. Still, she said the variant would delay rather than derail a big pickup in economic activity and called the selloff a chance to scoop up shares of energy producers, industrial firms and financial companies.
Despite Monday’s selloff, the S&P 500 is up more than 12% this year and closed at a record just one week ago.
“The market has been due for a pause or pullback or, dare I say it, a correction,” said Hans Olsen, chief investment officer of Fiduciary Trust.
Some investors also are concerned that rising prices will pinch consumption and prompt central banks to withdraw stimulus, creating an environment of lower growth and higher inflation in which stocks tend to struggle.
Inflation accelerated to a 13-year high in the U.S. in June. Some evidence suggests that the price increases have started to knock consumers’ confidence in their ability to keep spending. For much of 2021, business reopenings, rising vaccination rates and government pandemic aid have helped propel rapid gains in consumer spending, the economy’s main driver.
“What you’re seeing is a sense that the consumer is starting to be affected quite significantly” by the jump in prices, said
senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.
All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 dropped Monday. Energy and financials were the worst-performing groups.
plans to buy the provider of cloud-based customer-service software in a deal valuing the firm at $14.7 billion. Zoom shares shed 4.1%.
The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that the U.S. officially climbed out of a recession in April 2020. The pandemic-driven recession was two months long, making it the shortest on record, according to the bureau, the official arbiter of U.S. recession dates.
Looking ahead, investors will be monitoring corporate earnings this week for signs of how companies are faring amid the revival of economic activity. Air carriers American and United are among the hundreds of companies set to report quarterly results this week, along with
weighed on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which fell 1.8%.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 dropped 1.3%. More athletes and staff members attending the Tokyo Olympics have tested positive, while cases are surging in Indonesia. Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, is under lockdown because of a Delta outbreak.
David Chao, a market strategist at Invesco, said the spread of the Delta variant across Asia, coupled with low vaccination rates and expectations of additional social-distancing measures, has “taken wind out of the sail for many investors expecting an economic rebound” in the region.
Mr. Chao said he expected investors to continue to pull funds out of Asian stocks and shift them to shares in developed markets with high inoculation rates, such as the U.S. and U.K.
That was basically all a small group of employees at Boosted knew in early 2019 after they heard the rapper-mogul had taken an interest in the company’s electric skateboards.
A partnership, an investment, an endorsement — whatever he was considering, a meeting with Kanye West seemed absurd. But then again, Boosted was also working on a secret project with skateboard legend Tony Hawk at the time. Was it really a stretch to think the startup could work with Yeezy?
Apparently. Kanye spent the meeting — two, in fact, over the course of 2019 — focused more on his ultimately doomed vision for sustainable cities than he did discussing a tangible deal with Boosted, two former employees tell The Verge. (Kanye could not be reached for comment.)
At the time of the Kanye meetings, Boosted had outgrown its Kickstarter roots, and had defined the market for electric longboards — which had emerged as part of a rideables craze in the mid-2010s. The brand was potent, but the startup was losing focus. It wasn’t just Kanye’s off-topic meetings, though some employees felt they were symbolic. Boosted was just spread too thin. It had launched half a dozen models — each with different configurations — in just six years, on a shoestring budget. Then it was hit hard by the Trump administration’s tariffs on goods made in China, and a delayed electric scooter, and eventually ran out of money.
But while Boosted is dead, the beloved electric skateboard startup’s carcass is still drawing buzzards. Its biggest investor, the eponymous venture firm founded by surfer-fighting billionaire Vinod Khosla, has spent the last year waging a pair of lawsuits against Lime in an attempt to reverse the scooter-sharing giant’s purchase of Boosted’s intellectual property. (Khosla Ventures is also an investor in Vox Media, the parent company of The Verge.)
Khosla Ventures’ lawyers say Lime sabotaged a potential bailout of Boosted from Yamaha in late 2019 and conspired with Boosted’s biggest debt lender to rig the sale of the startup’s remains a few months later. Lime’s team has argued the powerhouse firm is simply raw about a “failed business negotiation” that ultimately couldn’t save a “dying business.”
The fight likely won’t end for months. (A trial is tentatively scheduled for May 2022.) But interviews with six former Boosted employees, as well as an examination of the lawsuits, help reveal in the greatest detail yet just how the category-defining electric skateboard startup fell apart, and why seemingly nothing — not a partnership with Tony Hawk, the constant support of one of YouTube’s biggest stars, or even Kanye West — could save it.
Things weren’t always so dire at Boosted. The startup was one of Kickstarter’s earliest success stories after it transitioned out of a Stanford incubator in 2012. A few years later, Boosted’s electric longboard became the go-to vehicle for YouTube star Casey Neistat. It seemed like in every vlog he posted, there was Boosted’s board: hanging behind him on the wall of his studio, or under his feet as he carved through Manhattan traffic.
Neistat made Boosted so popular that it was hard for the startup to keep up with the orders that were pouring in. And co-founder Sanjay Dastoor attained cult status among the startup’s customers — not just because of the quality and popularity of the product, but because he was so hands-on that in 2016 he flew across the country to a board owner’s house to diagnose a battery failure.
But Dastoor handed over the company to Jeff Russakow in 2017, a fellow Stanford grad. With that changing of the guard came new, much bigger goals. “The company is just doing splendiferously well, and we’re looking forward to an exciting roadmap of many new form factors of light vehicles and other cool stuff,” he said at the time. Russakow told The Verge he wanted to “be able to move faster on innovation,” and do “two major product releases of some cool exciting announcement” per year — “an Apple-like cadence,” he said.
Boosted rode this momentum for a while, and in early 2018 launched a second-generation board, along with a mini board and a high-performance variant called “Stealth” that eventually became its biggest hit. The startup then raised nearly $80 million by the end of 2018 from Khosla Ventures and others. In 2019 Russakow described that funding round to The Verge as being full of “really supportive investors” who are “absolutely committed to the vision of the company.” He used the money to take Boosted global, expanding the brand into more than 30 countries.
Boosted even started working with Birdhouse, the company run by perhaps the most famous skateboarder on the planet, Tony Hawk. The startup also discussed making a board for kids and tapped another pro skater, Andy Macdonald, to work on the project. Boosted’s electric longboards had never really been a natural fit with skateboard culture, so validation from two of the sport’s icons felt, to some of the employees, like recognition of what they (and customers) already knew: that Boosted’s boards kicked ass.
By 2019, Russakow’s efforts to grow the company appeared to be working, too. It even drew interest from premium bike company Specialized, two of the former employees tell The Verge.
But Boosted needed more money. The growth was eating up a lot of the revenue the company was generating in those new markets, and even cut into the money it had raised. Making matters worse, the company took a hit when then-President Donald Trump started a trade war with China. Boosted had outsourced manufacturing to China starting in 2016, and while Russakow told The Verge in May 2019 that the startup had “the financial ability” to “eat” the tariff on the skateboards, it turns out that was easier said than done. (Boosted eventually applied for, and was granted, exclusions from the tariffs, but refunds for them were still outstanding when the startup went under.)
The pressure of maintaining this pace of growth — which was coming from Russakow but also from Khosla Ventures, the former employees say — had Boosted running ragged. What especially tripped things up, though, was the Boosted Rev: the startup’s super-rugged, $1,600 electric scooter that debuted in early 2019.
Boosted announced the scooter just as its bank accounts started suffering, and almost immediately had to delay the rollout (in part because of an issue with the latch meant to keep it folded, but also because scaling up production was tricky). Khosla Ventures and Boosted’s other backers had just put money into the company — they didn’t want to add even more. So in May 2019, Boosted quietly turned to a “venture debt” firm called Structural Capital for what it hoped would be short-term help. The deal’s terms weren’t exactly favorable to Boosted: it had to use all its assets as collateral for an $18.5 million loan. Plus, if Boosted missed certain payments, Structural Capital could take control of parts of the business.
Boosted spent most of that loan in just a few months. So Boosted’s executives found themselves once again looking for money, just as the summer, their strongest sales period, was ending. In the meantime, Boosted started to delay payments to some vendors and began considering layoffs as early as September.
Khosla Ventures and another investor, Activate Capital Partners, made a small loan in October to help keep the lights on while Boosted looked for a way out, court documents show. But it wasn’t enough to stop Structural Capital from taking control of the company’s purse strings. Now every expense had to be run by the venture debt firm.
Employees quickly started to wonder how much longer Boosted had. The company no longer had access to its inventory, it stopped spending on advertising, and it certainly had no money to make any new products. Two former employees said they went on Thanksgiving break not knowing if there would be a company to go back to. That feeling of dread didn’t lift when they returned, though.
“We got stuck in this weird limbo land,” one former employee says. Some employees banded together to figure out what other sacrifices could be made to save money, like getting rid of free snacks and lunches (which Boosted eventually did) or giving up their company-subsidized Caltrain passes.
“The people at Boosted were great,” this person says. “Everyone felt very loyal to John [Ulmen, Dastoor’s co-founder, who remained with Boosted until the end] and wanted to stick it out. There was a lot of untapped potential with the brand. Everyone hung on longer than you’d expect because of that.”
At one point in mid December, one team inside Boosted was incorrectly told by their manager that everyone would be laid off the following morning. “Everyone panics. Rumors start flying. People are making sure they have their stuff backed up,” says the former employee. But when Russakow called the company together that following day, he swatted the idea down.
By that point, word had gotten around that something was going on with Lime, but most employees didn’t know what. The confusion ramped up when employees started taking jobs at Lime.
“We would expect to get let go every Friday,” the former employee said. “Then paychecks would come through and people would be surprised.”
In the days before Christmas 2019, Boosted’s executives hunkered at their office trying to engineer a way out of a small mountain of debt — who to fire and what to salvage to keep the company alive. Suddenly, Russakow and his team received news that seemed like a Christmas miracle: Japanese giant Yamaha was interested in buying them.
Those executives had already spent most of December hammering out a deal with Lime that would allow the scooter-sharing giant to hire away a small group of core Boosted employees and license some of the intellectual property around their new scooter in exchange for $30 million worth of stock.
That deal wouldn’t save the entire company, though, and it wasn’t done. A Yamaha acquisition, on the other hand, would have been transformational. It could have buttressed Russakow’s efforts to grow the startup and expand into new markets — moves supported by Khosla Ventures, which was looking for big returns on its investment, the former employees told The Verge.
A Yamaha deal could have helped Boosted diversify into new categories while shipping products it had waiting in the wings, like an electric bike and new versions of its electric skateboards. But Yamaha ultimately got cold feet.
The failed Yamaha deal is at the center of Khosla Ventures’ lawsuits, one of which was previously reported by The Information. (The Japanese conglomerate is never named in the lawsuits, instead referred to as the “Manufacturer.”) Khosla Ventures unequivocally blames Lime for Yamaha backing out in the lawsuits, which were recently consolidated into one case in San Francisco Superior Court.
Lawyers for the venture firm have argued that Lime poached Boosted employees while negotiations with Yamaha were ongoing — including the Boosted VP who was coordinating interviews with the people Lime might hire as part of that deal. Khosla’s lawyers also claim Lime coordinated with Structural Capital to freeze the startup’s bank accounts and force it into dissolution — effectively preventing the Yamaha deal.
Lime “acted with malice by intending to cause injury to Boosted’s economic relationship with [Yamaha],” lawyers for Khosla Ventures argued at one point. “Defendants engaged in wrongful, intentional acts designed to disrupt [Khosla Ventures] and Boosted from consummating an alternative transaction.”
This all amounted to “sabotage,” Khosla Ventures claimed in court. Boosted was losing crucial team members and access to cash, killing the Yamaha deal.
Khosla Ventures claims there was another twist of the knife, too. Just before this all allegedly played out in January 2020, Lime had come back to Boosted with a revised offer: $15 million in company stock and more Boosted employees in exchange for the scooter IP. Khosla’s team said in court that this was more evidence Lime was up to no good: it struck up negotiations with Boosted under false pretenses in order to steal employees and other nonpublic information from a startup on the rocks.
Khosla Ventures and Structural Capital did not respond to requests for comment. A Lime spokesperson declined to comment.
Khosla Ventures kept Boosted afloat through February with $2.4 million in bridge loans, but ultimately “decided not to fund Boosted any further” by the end of the month, according to one of the filings. The startup laid off most employees shortly after.
In March 2020, Structural Capital moved to foreclose on what was left of Boosted. The venture debt firm wound up in control of all of Boosted’s assets since the startup had used them as collateral. Structural also had the right to liquidate those assets if Boosted violated any terms of the loan — something Khosla Ventures agreed to when that deal happened, according to court documents.
Structural set up an auction for March 17th. It sent out a notice earlier in the month, which Khosla Ventures received. But one day before the sale happened, the San Francisco area received a shelter-in-place order, as an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19. Khosla says it didn’t attend the sale in order to comply with the public health order.
The auction went ahead anyway. There, Structural bought the rights to the tariff refund Boosted was waiting on from the government — a value in excess of $5 million — for just $400,000. Lime walked away with all of Boosted’s IP and remaining assets in exchange for 62 million shares of its stock. Khosla Ventures, Structural, and Lime were supposed to split the proceeds of any sale. But Khosla Ventures says Structural set up a new LLC that bought some of the assets — a move designed to dodge this contractually obligated proceed split.
Lime fought back hard against most of Khosla’s claims. During a hearing in the San Francisco lawsuit, one of Lime’s lawyers argued there was no agreement that Lime wouldn’t solicit or hire employees. He also said there were “zero factual allegations” in Khosla’s complaint to support the claim that Yamaha backed out because of Lime’s actions.
“Your Honor, I — this is, I think, a truly kind of… kind of a mind-bending, in some ways, complaint, because… [Khosla Ventures’] alleges that Boosted was gonna fire these employees; that Boosted was under financial distress; that it, you know, was defaulting under the loan security agreement; that there was gonna be this massive bloodletting,” Lime’s lawyer said, according to a transcript of the hearing. And yet, he continued, Khosla was trying to claim these employees were still valuable and that it held the right to take legal action against Lime for hiring them away. “It just simply doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
“It is odd, I’ll give you that,” judge Ethan P. Schulman responded. But, he said, “odd things happen in the world and give rise to lawsuit[s].”
Before the sale, the other shoe had finally dropped for employees in early March, when the building manager at Boosted’s San Francisco office was served an eviction notice. The company’s leadership told everyone to work from home, but just a few days after that, they laid everyone off.
“We understand this news will come as a surprise to many of you, but unfortunately, developing, manufacturing, and maintaining electric vehicles is highly capital-intensive, and over the last year-and-a-half our business has faced an additional unplanned challenge with the high expense of the US-China tariff war,” Russakow and Ulmen wrote on the company’s blog. (Russakow and Ulmen did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this story.)
Most of the employees who spoke to The Verge said they didn’t believe Boosted made obvious critical errors. Even the scooter, some said, could have been successful — especially if Boosted had survived through the first few months of the pandemic, after which the sales of bikes and scooters skyrocketed. Lasting until the Paycheck Protection Program launched in April of 2020 could have, at the very least, bought a little more time.
Instead, many of them simply blame Khosla Ventures and acknowledge that Russakow’s aggressive product goals were a reflection of the returns the big firm wanted on its investment. It was in pursuit of those goals that Boosted overextended itself.
In the days and weeks after Boosted’s downfall, some of the startup’s most loyal fans still held out hope that it could be resurrected. Every few days they would tweet at Casey Neistat, or Elon Musk, and beg for some sort of intervention — as if the right face with the right money would be able to untangle the legal knot tied around the remains of Boosted.
It’s hard to blame them; after all, throughout its early years, Boosted defied expectations. It was a successful Kickstarter project that turned into a bona fide company, and basically helped create an entirely new category of vehicle along the way. But at its end, Boosted had evolved into something far more common: yet another Silicon Valley startup that struggled to meet ambitious goals set by the people who wound up running the show.
Update:Added disclosure of Khosla Ventures’ investment in Vox Media.