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Massachusetts dethroned from energy efficiency top spot

David Paul Morris/Photographer: David Paul Morris/


Massachusetts dethroned from energy efficiency top spot

Massachusetts has been dislodged from its spot atop the annual “Energy Efficiency Scorecard” by California, coming in at second place for 2020. For the first time since 2010, Massachusetts did not rank No. 1 or tie for the top position with another state in the ranking of state energy efficiency efforts by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. California and Massachusetts are typically close in this competition; they even tied in 2016. The ACEEE praised California for adopting net-zero energy building codes and stringent vehicle emissions standards, crafting incentives to buy high-efficiency heat-pump water heaters, leading the charge on vehicle electrification, and strengthening efficiency standards for lighting and appliances. Massachusetts, meanwhile, was lauded for state efforts to integrate efficiency rules with electrification and strategies to reduce carbon emissions from buildings. Vermont was No. 3 this year, and Rhode Island was No. 4. — JON CHESTO



Openly secures $40 million in latest funding round

Openly, the venture-backed provider of home insurance policies, has secured $40 million in a new funding round that could allow it to triple its workforce in the coming year. A spokeswoman said Openly, which currently employs 45 people, could add up to 100 more jobs thanks to the latest investment. The round was led by Advance Venture Partners, and brought the total amount of equity funding in Openly to more than $62 million since founders Ty Harris and Matt Wielbut launched it a year ago. Openly also hopes to expand its market from six states to most of the country by the end of 2021. — JON CHESTO


Kyruus acquires firm that helps health plans provide information to members

Boston-based health IT firm Kyruus has acquired HealthSparq from Cambia Health Solutions. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it will give Portland, Ore.-based Cambia an ownership stake in Kyruus and a seat on its board of directors. Kyruus specializes in providing search and scheduling solutions for health systems that match patients with healthcare providers in those systems. HealthSparq helps health plans provide cost and quality information to their members about doctors and hospitals. Together, under Kyruus, they will employ about 400 people, 260 from Kyruus and 140 from HealthSparq.— JON CHESTO



Wrangler returns to China

Wrangler is bringing its jeans back to China, a bit later than planned. After the coronavirus pandemic upended efforts to return to the massive market earlier this year, the brand quietly began selling on Alibaba Group’s Tmall e-commerce site this month. Executives for the denim maker are now prepping local operations for a broader launch in March with a series of events. Denim companies are betting on China to become the next big growth engine for the industry, with Levi Strauss opening a Shanghai flagship in August. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Roku agrees to carry HBO Max

Roku shares were on pace for a record Thursday after the biggest US streaming-TV provider agreed to carry AT&T’s HBO Max, resolving a long impasse that kept the video service from reaching a wider audience. The agreement announced Wednesday lets AT&T potentially reach millions of new subscribers who couldn’t previously access HBO Max via the Roku boxes they use to stream to their living-room TVs. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


EU approves Google plan to buy Fitbit

The European Union on Thursday approved Google’s plan to buy fitness gadget maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion after it promised to restrict user data and ensure Android phones work with other wearable devices for at least 10 years. Human rights and consumer groups, which had called on authorities to block the deal over privacy and antitrust concerns, were unhappy with the decision. The deal also attracted scrutiny in Australia, where competition regulators are mulling a similar offer from Google. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Bark to go public

Bark, which ships pet toys and treats every month, is heading to Wall Street, taking advantage of the pandemic-related boom in online pet spending. Founded in 2012, Bark ships dog treats, chews, and squeaky toys, through its service called BarkBox. It also has other brands, including Bark Eats, which creates personalized meal plans for pups. More people are avoiding stores and shopping for their pets online during the pandemic. Pet supplies are one of the fastest growing categories online, with sales up 64 percent in the first eight months of this year, according to retail consulting firm 1010data. Pet store chain Petco, which has revamped its website, also plans to go public. And shares of online pet store Chewy, which went public last year, have more than tripled so far this year. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


US reduces ban on rival product to Botox

A 21-month US ban on imports of Jeuveau wrinkle treatment is “a major setback” for Evolus and its partner Daewoong Pharmaceutical in their bid to compete with AbbVie’s Botox, though the restriction on sales will be shorter than expected, analysts said. The US International Trade Commission on Wednesday upheld a judge’s finding that Evolus and Daewoong manufactured Jeuveau with a secret process stolen from AbbVie’s South Korean partner, although it said a bacterial strain involved isn’t covered by trade secrets. The ruling in the case reduces an initial 10-year ban proposed by the judge, which was based on his findings that the bacterial strain was a trade secret. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Tesla only US car company to equip all models with automatic braking

Tesla is the lone US automaker to meet a commitment to equip all its models with automatic emergency braking almost two years ahead of schedule, as Detroit automakers lag behind the safety leaders. Tesla is among 10 companies that have already fulfilled a promise to federal regulators to install the safety technology on its vehicles by Sept. 1, 2022, according to Consumer Reports magazine and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Automatic emergency braking helps avoid rear-end collisions by sensing a car stopped ahead and automatically applying the brakes. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Rates at their lowest in nearly 50 years

Mortgage rates have hit another record low. The average for a 30-year, fixed loan slipped to 2.67 percent, down from 2.71 percent last week, and the lowest in data going back almost 50 years, Freddie Mac said in a statement on Thursday. Mortgage rates, which started tumbling in March, have been below 3 percent since July. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


UK to extend pandemic help for businesses and workers

The UK government announced it will extend a package of measures aimed at helping businesses and workers through the pandemic, with support for wages and loans to firms at risk of collapse. Workers on furlough will receive 80 percent of their wages from the state until the end of April, a monthlong extension to the policy. The loans, which have already paid out 68 billion pounds ($92 billion) in government-guaranteed lending, will be extended until the end of March. They had been due to end Jan. 31. — BLOOMBERG NEWS