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Tertill hires co-founder of iRobot as CEO

Helen GreinerHandout


Tertill hires co-founder of iRobot as CEO

If Tertill, the garden-weeding robot made by a Billerica startup of the same name, didn’t already remind you of the Roomba vacuum, the company’s latest hire should leave no doubt about its designs on the home automation industry. Tertill said Tuesday that it had hired as its chairman and chief executive Helen Greiner, who was co-founder and top executive at Roomba maker iRobot of Bedford. She later founded the drone maker CyPhy Works, before leaving that role to work for the US Army as an expert on robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence. At Tertill, Greiner is reuniting with Joe Jones, who was instrumental in creating the Roomba and later created the Tertill. Greiner said she had been independently looking for opportunities for outdoor home robots and a conversation with Tertill executives wound up convincing her to join the company. The solar-powered, weatherproof Tertill uses a small trimmer to cut weeds as they emerge while tilling the soil with its wheels to prevent unwanted plants from sprouting and taking root. It sells for about $350. — ANDY ROSEN



JPMorgan Chase to pay $920 million in ‘spoofing’ case

JPMorgan Chase admitted Tuesday to manipulating the markets for precious metals and US Treasuries, agreeing to pay $920 million in fines and penalties for the illegal behavior. US financial regulators and the Department of Justice said traders at JPMorgan used a tactic known as “spoofing” over an eight-year period. Spoofing is when traders send trading signals into a market, with no intention of buying or selling at those prices, in order to move a market in one direction or another. In the case of the US Treasury market, the Securities and Exchange Commission said JPMorgan traders submitted both trades they intended to act upon as well as spoof trades. The goal was to use the spoof to nudge the market in a certain direction, and then activate the intended trade to profit from the move. “J.P. Morgan Securities undermined the integrity of our markets with this scheme,” said Stephanie Avakian, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a prepared statement. “Their manipulative trading of Treasury cash securities created a false appearance of activity in the market and induced other market participants to trade at more favorable prices than J.P. Morgan Securities would have otherwise been able to obtain.” JPMorgan agreed to settle with US authorities, and will enter into what’s known as a deferred prosecution agreement for three years. It will also pay fines and penalties to the SEC as well as the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Disney to lay off 28,000 in Florida and California

Squeezed by limits on attendance at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida. Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to nonunion hourly workers, Disney officials said. Disney’s parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the United States. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Molson Coors, Coke team up on hard seltzer

With the help of Molson Coors, Coca-Cola will start selling hard seltzer. The companies said the new alcoholic beverage will come in the form of Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, which they hope to have onstore shelves in the first half of 2021. The hard seltzer will come in four flavors: Tangy Lemon Lime, Exotic Pineapple, Strawberry Guava, and Tropical Mango. Molson Coors, which has two other seltzer brands in its portfolio, will handle the marketing, sales, and distribution of the alcohol-infused mineral water, a product that has seen massive growth in the United States recently. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Google orders those working out of the country to return home by end of year

Google advised workers companywide to return to the country where they’re employed by the end of the year, according to a person familiar with the matter. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company allowed some of its staff to move abroad for personal reasons, such as returning to their home country, and continue working remotely. That policy is now coming to an end, but may be open to review in high-risk areas, the person said, asking not to be identified because the policy is private. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Tchibo, European coffee seller, sets its sights on the States

Tchibo, one of Europe’s biggest coffee purveyors, is betting that more than 70 years of industry experience will help it take on the likes of Starbucks and Peet’s Coffee in its first US foray. The Hamburg-based company is introducing its roast and ground coffees to the United States in the coming weeks in the latest initiative by chief executive Thomas Linemayr. Tchibo’s coffee will be distributed by Rainmaker Food Solutions and will be available at a broad selection of retailers in the Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The products include roast & ground, and whole bean — two categories boosted by lockdowns— and a coffee machine with grinding capacity will also be offered. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



French energy company Total buys London’s largest car-charging network

French energy giant Total snapped up London’s largest car-charging network, further expanding its non-oil business as consumers accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels. Total acquired Blue Point London from Bollore Group, giving it the Source London charging network, according to a statement Tuesday. Electric mobility is a growth area for European oil majors including Total, which has previously won contracts to install charge points in Belgium and the Netherlands. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Polaris to offer electric models by the end of next year

Polaris plans to electrify its off-road vehicles and snowmobiles with powertrains purchased from Zero Motorcycles, a California maker of electric models. Polaris is buying the technology needed to take the leap into electrification through a 10-year exclusive supplier agreement, while Zero, a closely held 14-year-old company that’s yet to turn a profit, will be able to lower costs by buying parts through Polaris’s supply chain, the companies said. Polaris plans to offer electric options across its off-road-vehicle and snowmobile lines by 2025, with the first electric model due at the end of 2021. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Amazon offers palm recognition technology in Seattle stores

Amazon has introduced new palm recognition technology in a pair of Seattle stores and sees broader uses in places like stadiums and offices. Customers at the stores near Amazon’s campus in Washington can flash a palm for entry and to buy goods. The company chose palm recognition, according to Dilip Kumar, vice president of Physical Retail & Technology, because it’s more private than other biometric technology, and a person would be required to purposefully flash a palm at the Amazon One device to engage. “And it’s contactless, which we think customers will appreciate, especially in current times,” Kumar wrote in a blog post Tuesday. — ASSOCIATED PRESS