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Inside Founders (Apr 23rd, 2019)

1. Beyond Meat founder Ethan Brown says redefining meat "by composition and structure" will lead to innovative solutions that address the problems with human health, climate change, natural resources and animal welfare. Brown, also Beyond Meat's CEO, details his company's origin story and vision in a letter filed Monday with the Securities Exchange Commission as part of the company's regulatory paperwork for its planned IPO in May. The filings state Beyond Meat hopes to sell 8.75 million shares at $19 to $21 per share. In his letter, Brown attributes his interest in plant-based meat substitutes to growing up on a farm where he was fascinated by animals. He attributes humans' meat consumption to the "carnivorous tendencies of our ancestor," the Great Southern Ape of Africa. — NEW YORK TIMES

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2. New research shows nearly every state in the US has a tech company worth at least $1 million in venture funding. California-based Uber tops the list, with $15.7 billion, followed by Infor in New York with $4.1 billion and Florida’s Magic Leap at $2.4 billion. CB Insights' data, presented in map form, used disclosed equity funding since 2014 to identify top tech startups geographically. Other standouts include Avant, an Illinois fintech company that has raised $655 million, and online lending platform Kabbage, in Georgia, which has raised $490 million. Alaska, Mississippi and Wyoming do not have any companies that met CB Insights' criteria. — BUSINESS INSIDER

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3. Company founders have pledged $1 billion through the Founders Pledge. The four-year-old initiative aims to create philanthropic accountability for new tech leaders, and was created as both response and disruption to the well-established Giving Pledge. The latter was created nearly a decade ago by Bill and Melinda Gates, along with Warren Buffett, and also seeks to establish philanthropic giving, but from the world's richest people. The Founders Pledge, on the other hand, aims at tech founders aspiring to become rich. The pledge asks founders to commit a minimum of 2 percent of potential personal proceeds. — RECODE

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4. Cannabis vape startup Pax Labs raised $420 million on April 20, also known as 420, aka national marijuana day. The funding, which brings the company to a $1.7 billion valuation, will be used to develop new products and expand into new markets, according to Pax CEO Bharat Vasan. Pax initially planned to only raise $150 million, but upped its outlook in response to investor demand. The cannabis startup landscape in general remains robust: Funding more than doubled for cannabis companies between 2017 and 2018, and last year investors sunk more than $1.3 billion into cannabis startups. Pax Labs' founders Adam Bowen and James Monsees first conceived of vaping as design students—and smokers—at Stanford University; in 2018, they become the first e-cigarette billionaires. — FORBES

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5. Melinda Gates advises tech founders to "treat creating an equal and inclusive work environment as they would any other business priority." Gates' book, The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, publishes today. — MARIE CLAIRE

6. New legislation from Washington state would curtail non-compete agreements for tech workers, which many consider a key step to fostering an innovative startup ecosystem; the bill's sponsor expects Gov. Jay Inslee to sign the new law in the coming weeks. — GEEKWIRE

7. Former Michelin chef Thomas Bowman's new startup, Eclipse Foods, is attracting investors with its plant-based dairy products. — WALL STREET JOURNAL

8. Gumroad founder Sahil Lavingia was Pinterest's second employee, but left to start his own company before his shares vested; he says it was worth it, despite the pain of watching Pinterest go public last week and knowing how much money he could have made. — CNBC

9. In response to declining sales and pressure from activist investors, Bed Bath & Beyond replaced five of its board members Monday, including co-founders Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein. — REUTERS

10.  Voiceflow co-founder and CEO Braden Ream says his voice app platform startup—which recently raised $3 million in seed funding—grew out of his own experiences as a developer building an interactive voice app providing children’s stories for Alexa. — TECHCRUNCH

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Julia Goldberg is a journalist and author living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She writes regularly about the intersection of technology and culture, and is the executive director of MIX Santa Fe, a networking organization for entrepreneurs. She writes the Inside Founders newsletter and can be found on Twitter @votergirl.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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