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One of Kior's facilities. Image courtesy of Kior.

One of Kior’s facilities. Image courtesy of Kior.

Local media around Columbus, Mississippi are reporting that biofuel company Kior has started laying off workers at its Columbus-based plant, which hasn’t been in operation for more than six months. The company has close to $300 million in debt (more than $69 million to the Mississippi Development Authority) and has estimated that it has until the end of August to find new financing to help restart the plant before potentially facing bankruptcy. The stock was down to $0.36 cents per share on Friday afternoon. For the full story on Kior check out my reporting from March.

In Brief

The patent wall in Tesla, following Tesla's move to embrace an open source philosophy for its patents. Image courtesy of Tesla.

The patent wall in Tesla, following Tesla’s move to embrace an open source philosophy for its patents. Image courtesy of Tesla.

Last week Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla planned to embrace an open source philosophy for its patents and had removed the patent wall in its headquarters. A week later, this is what the wall where the patents were looks like. For more on what Musk did — and did NOT do — with the patent news check out Jeff Roberts’s analysis.

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In Brief

Electric car battery from Boston Power, image courtesy of Boston Power.

Electric car battery from Boston-Power, image courtesy of Boston Power.

Battery maker Boston-Power is closing on a round of $250 million from investors in China and elsewhere, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch blog. The company, founded in 2005 in Massachusetts, originally made lithium ion batteries for consumer electronics, but in 2011 launched its electric car lithium ion battery tech. Shortly after that, Boston-Power moved the bulk of its operations to China and raised a round led by China-based investor GSR Ventures. The WSJ report says Boston-Power has battery factory capacity for 300 megawatt-hours of batteries (with annual sales of $100 million) and next year plans to more than triple that factory capacity. The company is providing batteries for electric cars made by Beijing Electric Vehicle Company.

In Brief

Following Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s suggestion last month that California could be back in the running as a contender for Tesla’s massive battery factory, the state has now started to vie pretty hard for the deal. On Thursday, the Oakland Tribune reported that new legislation (bill SB 1309) was introduced that would enable the state government to use a variety of incentives and regulatory changes as a carrot for the battery factory. The bill is co-authored by state Senator Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, and state Senate President Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and is backed by Governor Jerry Brown.

In Brief

Nest-advertising

Will advertising creep onto the Nest thermostat now that it’s owned by Google? The Wall Street Journal reports that Google wrote a letter to the SEC saying one day it could serve ads and other types of content on “refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.” The disclosure was an effort by Google to defend its position to not disclose its revenue generated specifically from mobile devices (because cell phones are just one part of the equation). I asked Nest for comment, and will write more when I hear more.

Updated with comment from Google: “We are in contact with the SEC to clarify the language in this 2013 filing, which does not reflect Google’s product roadmap. Nest, which we acquired after this filing was made, does not have an ads-based model and has never had any such plans.”

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