E’ville Biz: Bolt Threads debuts spider silk tie, Zymergen ditches “brogrammers”, Pirates Press leading vinyl resurgence

Published On April 14, 2017 | By Rob Arias | Local Business, News & Commentary

This month’s edition of E’ville Biz features two growing biotech companies, and one decidedly low-tech company.

Vanity Fair profiles Zymergen, who have succeeded in establishing gender diversity in a sector where larger players like Google and Facebook have struggled. Bolt Threads has created a technology that synthesizes fabrics from spider silk utilizing “microbial poop”. Their first product is a tie that retails for $314.

Pirates Press, which relocated to Emeryville at the former “Design Centro Italia” warehouse on Powell last year, is leading a surprisingly resurgent market for vinyl records. “We hope that in 2017, we’ll be making up to 7 million records,” notes founder Eric Mueller in the Chronicle piece.


Bolt Threads debuts its first product, a $314 tie made from spiderwebs

by Sarah Buhr

It may not look like a bunch of cobwebs, but the tie you see above was spun from the same material spiders spin out from their behinds. The difference is this thread was mass-produced from fermented microbial poop instead, and it’s the first product out from materials science startup Bolt Threads.

Intrigued? We first wrote about Bolt’s zany ambitions to build a spider-silk factory using microbugs when it was just getting started two years ago. The startup has since raised a total of $90 million from a slew of well-known Silicon Valley VCs and tells TechCrunch it has bold ambitions to someday clothe us from head to toe in various materials fermented first in the lab.

Read More on TechCrunch.com →


Zymergen software engineers, Barbara Frewen, Erin Rhode and Roxane Ambrose.

How one Tech Start-up ditched its brogrammers and became a better company

By Stephanie Mehta

Google has struggled. Facebook hasn’t cracked the code. And Uber, which released its first diversity report last month, certainly hasn’t figured it out. So how is it that Zymergen, a 272-person start-up in Emeryville, California, has built a technical team that is one-third female at a time when much of Silicon Valley is grappling with questions of gender discrimination and bias? We’ll explain in a moment exactly how this utterly unsexy tech company—clients include agriculture companies and chemical makers—has been able to outperform Google (19 percent of technical staff are women), Facebook (17 percent), and Uber (15 percent) when it comes to hiring women software engineers.

Read More on Vanity Fair →


Pirates Press founder and president Eric Mueller displays designs of vinyl albums at his Emeryville office (Photo: Paul Chinn/SF Chronicle).

Bay Area’s vinyl scene finds its groove as sales surge

By Dominic Fracassa

Eric Mueller founded Pirates Press in San Francisco in 2004 and said his company, which brokers vinyl-record manufacturing mostly for independent musicians and record labels, has grown exponentially every year since. Last year, the company moved to a 40,000-square-foot office and warehouse in Emeryville to accommodate the swelling volume.

“The first year, we made somewhere around half a million records, and we’re making somewhere in the 5 million range per year right now,” Mueller said. “We hope that in 2017, we’ll be making up to 7 million records.”

Read More on SF Chronicle (Paywall may apply) →


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About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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