The past few months have presented major challenges for businesses and startups across America, but we have been blown away by the work our portfolio companies continue to advance, including many unique projects to support those impacted by COVID-19. Our team is excited to share an update on some of the incredible work our companies have accomplished in the past few months.
Oklo: Powering America forward
2020 has been a watershed year for Oklo, an advanced fission technology company that is bringing safe, low-cost, always-on fission energy to the world. Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse has the ability to power 1,000 households in a community for over a decade, in areas where affordable electricity generation can be an enormous challenge. This year, Oklo saw several historic steps completed to bring this vision to reality.
In June, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepted Oklo’s combined license application to build and operate an Aurora, the first-ever acceptance for an advanced fission design in U.S. history. This capstone achievement followed the Department of Energy granting Oklo its first ever site permit to build an advanced fission plant. And in February, Oklo became the first company to be selected to receive and demonstrate recycling of nuclear material from Idaho National Lab to power the demonstration of its Aurora plant.
With these major regulatory achievements, Oklo is positioned to become one of the most important players in the clean energy space, with fission being the only cost-effective and scalable solution for zero-emission baseload energy. We are also excited to share that Oklo has accomplished all it has with remarkable capital efficiency. As a point of comparison, Oregon-based NuScale, which has spent nearly $800M on tech development, has their design under review, but has not yet submitted a combined license application to the NRC. Oklo’s combined license application is about 20x shorter and nearly 100x cheaper than NuScale’s submittal to the NRC. Read more in Power Magazine.
Visibly: Providing a free telehealth platform for eye care providers during COVID-19
Visibly announced that it will provide optometrists, ophthalmologists and eye care service providers free access to the company’s “anywhere, anytime virtual test technology” amidst COVID-19. “We are thrilled to offer Visibly to all doctors and service providers free of charge during this pandemic, which is making it increasingly difficult for patients and consumers to renew prescriptions for their corrective lenses and glasses,” Brent Rasmussen, CEO of Visibly, said in a press release. “We recognize that the limitations caused by COVID-19 have created significant strain on the optical industry,” he continued. “We are confident that our technology will streamline the process for optometrists, ophthalmologists and patients alike, resulting in a greatly reduced lapse in service for consumers, while keeping individuals safe.”
Due to the extraordinary demands caused by the coronavirus, the FDA this past April removed significant regulatory barriers standing in the way of getting Visibly’s online exams in the hands of consumers. The company has since closed dozens of business opportunities, filling a critical gap in today’s eyecare market.
ICON: Making affordable housing a reality
ICON has brought a game-changing solution to the national conversation for affordable housing, an issue that has become increasingly important as residual income-adjusted housing costs for low-income families have increased almost 15% within a period of just 19 years. With the Vulcan II printer, ICON has developed robotics, software, and advanced materials technology capable of 3D printing entire communities of up to 2,000 square foot homes. Using this technology, ICON can print a custom home, and can do it faster, with less waste, and at a 30% lower cost than traditional home building methods.
And they’ve taken some major steps this year. Our partners at Stand Together recently showcased ICON’s work supporting affordable housing outside of Austin, in partnership with non-profit Mobile Loaves & Fishes. In addition, this past December, ICON announced the construction of an entirely 3D printed village in Mexico for residents living in an area prone to flooding and seismic activity who needed stable housing. ICON was featured on “Home,” a new show on Apple TV+ where the human side of the company’s work was shown. Check out the preview for the episode here.
Veryable: Revolutionizing the virtual labor marketplace
COVID-19 has surfaced a host of manufacturing and supply chain shortcomings. Not the least of these is the labor situation. In normal, stable times, using a fixed labor model can make perfect sense. But that model can quickly break down when operational stability is upset in any way. Veryable solves that problem.
Their platform delivers a flexible labor solution to businesses by granting them direct access to high-quality operators at the click of a button, enabling higher productivity and minimizing administrative burden. For their operators, Veryable provides immediate access to diverse work experiences, the ability to build their own flexible schedule, the opportunity to expand their skill sets, and daily pay. Veryable saw their highest rate of signups ever in May as customers looked for new solutions to meet their labor needs. The company was recently profiled in Forbes and you can check out the piece here.
More to come
We’re extremely proud of the groundbreaking work the companies in our portfolio have undertaken in a challenging year. More importantly, we see more opportunities on the horizon for these companies to reshape some of the largest industries in our economy for the benefit of consumers.
Since our founding, we’ve helped our portfolio secure historically unprecedented regulatory clearances and change state and federal laws opening up over a billion dollars in addressable market. And we’re just getting started.
Stay tuned this fall for our next update.