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The Briefing: Calif. Gig Workers May Remain Contractors, Twitter, Facebook Battle Election Misinfo, And More

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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Measure allowing gig workers as independent contractors passes in California

California’s Proposition 22—which allows gig workers to be classified as independent contractors—is headed for passage.

A number of San Francisco Bay Area-based gig economy giants, including Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash, were major backers of the measure.

The measure requires rideshare and delivery network companies to offer new protections and benefits for app-based rideshare and delivery drivers, including minimum compensation levels, insurance to cover on-the-job injuries, automobile accident insurance, and health care subsidies for qualifying drivers.

It also requires criminal background checks, driver safety training, and other safety provisions to help ensure app-based rideshare and delivery drivers do not pose a threat to customers or the public.

California voters approve new online privacy rules

Voters in California on Tuesday approved, with 56 percent of the vote, new rules governing online privacy. The state’s Proposition 24 expands and redefines aspects of the California Consumer Privacy Act, a 2019 law that had already introduced the strictest digital privacy rules in the nation.

The new measure establishing what’s now called the California Privacy Rights Act creates a new state agency to enforce rules around what digital data companies may collect, use and sell. Proponents touted it as an expansion on the 2019 law, but Proposition 24 faced criticism from a number of supporters of the existing law, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Consumer Federation of California, which contend that the new rules actually roll back many protections for consumers.

The privacy rules have far-reaching implications for tech companies that operate in the Golden State, but faced little in the way of vocal opposition from large online players like Google and Facebook.

Funding rounds

  • Skeleton secures $48.5M for energy storage: Skeleton Technologies, a cleantech startup based in Estonia, announced $48.5 million in Series D funding from unnamed new investors and existing investors, including EIT InnoEnergy. The company, which touts itself as “the largest European manufacturer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage,” will use the funding to address its contract backlog of more than 150 million euro from automotive and grid companies.
  • Podcastle raises $1.75M for podcast platform: Podcastle, a 4-month-old Armenia-based company developing podcast creation and streaming tools, announced a $1.75 million seed round. Sierra Ventures led the round with participation from AI Fund and Correlation VC.

Election news

  • Facebook, Twitter limit false election claims: Facebook and Twitter sought to label and place sharing restrictions on statements by President Trump declaring victory before votes have been counted. In several pivotal battleground states, votes are still being counted and a winner has not been projected.
  • Uber, Lyft shares jump following Calif. measure’s passage: Shares of Uber and Lyft were up in premarket trading Wednesday following the passage of a California ballot measure that would allow most drivers to remain independent contractors.
  • San Francisco tax measure targeting tech companies wins: A San Francisco ballot measure that overhauls the city’s business tax code and is expected to increase taxes on most technology sector companies won handily Tuesday night with about two-thirds of the vote. Proposition F could increase taxes on software and other tech businesses in the city by 15 percent by 2023.

Other news

  • EIT InnoEnergy creates center focused on green hydrogen: EIT InnoEnergy, a Brussels-based engine for innovation and entrepreneurship in sustainable energy in Europe, announced the launch of the European Green Hydrogen Acceleration Center aimed at developing a 100 billion euro green hydrogen economy by 2025 that could create half a million direct and indirect jobs across the green hydrogen value chain. The center is backed by Breakthrough Energy, a network of entities founded by Bill Gates and other top tech and business leaders to speed the transition to a clean energy future. Green hydrogen is expected to be a driver in “transforming Europe’s energy sector and a catalyst for decarbonizing its sizable industry,” according to EIT InnoEnergy. As such, the center will, among other duties, promote and co-create industrial projects and accelerate technology development.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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