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SVB’s commercial banking president: ‘Come on back, the water’s fine’

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Silicon Valley Bank famously collapsed back in March, setting off a wave across the banking world and left startups and investors alike scrambling to find a new place to put their money.

Four players in the banking industry spoke on the TechCrunch Disrupt Fintech Stage about how they are filling the gap left by that version of SVB and what they are doing to offer startups and investors new alternatives in a post-SVB world.

On the panel were:

  • Immad Akhund, co-founder and CEO of Mercury
  • Marc Cadieux, president of Silicon Valley Bank’s commercial banking business
  • Wendy Cai-Lee, founder and CEO of Piermont Bank
  • Melissa Smith, co-head of innovation economy and head of specialized industries for the middle market banking and specialized industries business within J.P. Morgan Commercial Banking

To SVB’s Cadieux, March 9 through that weekend was “a great study in why culture matters.”

“By Friday, things had already gone very much sideways,” Cadieux said. “Ultimately, reflexes took over. ‘All hands on deck’ probably wouldn’t even do it justice. It was a very hectic, chaotic 4,872 hours of figuring it all out.”

For Mercury’s Akhund and Piermont Bank’s Cai-Lee, that weekend was a different story. For both of them, all of a sudden, both entities were inundated with phone calls from concerned startups trying to find a new home for their money.

Mercury saw $2 billion and 3,000 customers come its way in a short period of time, which grew from there, Akhund said. Over at Piermont, it was all about a frenzy of just opening accounts. Fortunately, since Piermont was “The first true digital-only bank,” according to Cai-Lee, it was able to open accounts in hours rather than days.

Other takeaways:

Akhund: “There’s just so much room to improve banking. Banking should be amazing. We’re launching things every week. It’s just a very different view on what is banking? That’s the future. We only started four-and-a-half years ago, and we’ve gone from zero to having a significant share of startups.” He also referenced Mercury’s new product, Mercury Raise, which launched today to offer a free suite of tools, programs and networks for founders looking to raise capital.

Cadieux: “I’m certain that the client count is probably a bit less. What muddies the waters a little bit is that we have clients that we were considering if their balances post arc event dropped to 10% or less. We consider them to be exited, but also consider them candidates for reactivation. Unsurprisingly, what we’ve been doing ever since reopening with First Citizens is working with those clients to reassure them we’re still here, we’re open for business. ‘Come on back, the water’s fine.’ We are having a great degree of success with that so far.”

Cai-Lee: “At the end of the day, as a regulator of a banking institution, from a product standpoint, most of us have the same products. It’s about do they have the product, but more importantly, are they willing to offer you that product? Maybe only for larger companies, less startups. And the most important question, is that can they recalibrate it to your needs. For example, can they prioritize you — the startup — because that comes to the execution, the implementation part. This is where I want to give credit where credit’s due. That’s why fintechs, like Mercury, do so much better from that user experience standpoint. They understand the need for speed. Can the bank actually work at your speed and understand your pain points? That’s really the difference. It’s not the product.”

Smith: “I would certainly argue as many people would agree that for a startup specifically, it is often going to be inefficient to have to manage multiple banking partners, particularly for a team that is lean and mean and with no finance staff, per se. I do think, as one thinks about managing counterparty risk, some of the off balance sheet liquidity options that are available through sweeps and that sort of thing, are a good option for a startup. As the company grows and scales, it would make more sense to be thinking about multiple providers. That’s usually when your financing needs also have come to grow and scale. The most important point in choosing that banking partner is safety and stability.”



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Scientists Introduce Dune-Inspired Spacesuit Than Converts Urine Into Drinking Water

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Scientists have designed a futuristic spacesuit for astronauts which can transform urine into drinking water within five minutes. The suit has been designed by experts from Cornell University and they hope it will be brought into use by NASA for the Artemis Moon missions.

According to the experts, this new suit will enable long-duration spacewalks on lunar expeditions while ensuring hygiene for the astronauts.

NASA currently has Axiom Space making new spacesuits, technically called Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), for the Moon landing missions.

Urine collection garment of the new spacesuit.

“In response to difficulties astronauts have faced with personal hygiene and performance and work efficiency during EVAs, we designed a novel urine collection and filtration system for the next-generation of spacesuits,” the suit creators wrote in the journal Frontiers in Space Technology.

The moonwalks will begin with NASA’s Artemis 3 mission currently targeted for launch in 2026.

ALSO SEE: No Spacesuits For NASA As Major Partner Likely To End Partnership

The new suit developed by Cornell experts will be tested on volunteers later this year. This suit consists of a urine collection garment and a system that astronauts will carry like a backpack. It measures 38 cm by 23 cm by 23 cm and weighs about eight kg.

This system collects urine and converts it into drinking water which can be redirected to drinking tube. Collecting and purifying about 500 ml of urine takes about five minutes, the experts claimed.

ALSO SEE: Yes, NASA Astronauts Will Still Pee In Their New Spacesuits

The EMUs currently used by NASA has about one litre of water available which is not enough for moonwalks that can last several hours.

“Even in the absence of a large desert planet, like in Dune, this is something that could be better for astronauts,” said senior study author Christopher Mason of Weill Cornell Medicine per The Guardian.

(Image: NASA)



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SpaceX Rocket Suffers Engine Failure In Starlink Mission, Elon Musk Shares What’ll Happen Next

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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket suffered a rare failure on Friday. The launcher lifted off with 20 Starlink satellites at 8:06 am IST from California but failed to deploy them in the intended orbit.

According to SpaceX, the second stage of Falcon 9 did not complete its second burn necessary for reaching the desired orbit. The booster did its job and safely landed on the droneship in the Pacific Ocean. It was SpaceX‘s 70th mission this year.

Currently, the satellites are in a lower orbit than planned.

“SpaceX has made contact with 5 of the satellites so far and is attempting to have them raise orbit using their ion thrusters,” the company said in a statement on X.

ALSO SEE: Japan’s First Private Rocket Launch Ends In Massive Explosion, Video Goes Viral

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that it might not work “but it’s worth the shot. He also said that the satellites might fall toward Earth and burn up in the atmosphere if their thrusters are overpowered by the atmospheric drag.

In another post, Musk revealed that the upper stage engine exploded for unknown reasons while trying to raise the orbit. “Team is reviewing data tonight to understand root cause,” he said.

Notably, the reputed rocket by SpaceX has suffered only one full in-flight failure during a mission to the International Space Station in 2015.

ALSO SEE: Chinese Rocket Launches Accidentally, Crashes With Massive Explosion Seconds Later

(Image: SpaceX)





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China Plans To Destroy An Asteroid For Planetary Defense Mission By 2030: Report

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After the impeccable success of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, China is now planning to deflect an asteroid later this decade. According to The Planetary Society, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is preparing its first planetary defense test which is expected to launch by 2030.

Scientists have proposed the near-Earth asteroid 2015 XF261 as a candidate for the mission which will include two probes. One will ram into the space rock to deflect it and the second will conduct impact assessment.

The asteroid 2015 XF261 measures about 100 feet or 30 metres in diameter and it made a close flyby of our planet earlier this month. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the asteroid was about 50 million kilometres from our planet on July 9 and was travelling at a speed of around 42,000 kilometres per hour.

ALSO SEE: NASA Drills Freaky Scenario Where Elusive Asteroid Heads Towards Earth

Apart from China, Japan is also eyeing a ‘kinetic impact’ test mission to deflect an asteroid. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reportedly has plans to repurpose its Hayabusa2 spacecraft to collide with 1998 KY26. The probe which launched in 2014 is expected to rendezvous with the space rock in 2031 and potentially change its orbit.

The said missions by the two nations are driven by the success of NASA’s DART mission launched in 2021 which proved that smacking an asteroid can deflect them. It collided with Dimorphos which circles a larger rock Didymos in September 2022 and changed its orbit by about 32 minutes.

These missions are of immense importance as they enable technologies that could save Earth from a planet-killing asteroid. While predicting an impending asteroid armageddon is predictable, it is also the gravest threat that humanity faces.

ALSO SEE: Collision Of NASA’s DART With Asteroid Dimorphos Changed Its Shape; Finding Excites Scientists



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