Central Florida Roundup
An Orlando app developer builds on his 50 million-downloaded MyRadar
Sky’s the Limit
An Orlando app developer builds on his 50 million-downloaded MyRadar.
Andy Green got his start in the internet tech world in the late 1980s, when he set up a public access internet service company in Rhode Island. He sold it several years later and started Acme AtronOmatic, an Orlando-based company that created a flight-tracking website and mobile phone app called Flightwise.
While eating lunch outside during the summer of 2008, Green had an “aha” moment as he wondered whether rain would spoil his outdoor meal: “It dawned on me, we already had this app. The flight tracker app already had animated the radar in my location,” he recalls. Green stripped out all the flight tracking information and data and created a standalone weather app called MyRadar, which became an instant hit. “It took off like wildfire,” he recalls.
More than 50 million downloads later, MyRadar is one of the top radar and weather prediction smartphone apps on the market. Beyond its radar and rain alerts, the app provides information on wind patterns, wildfires, earthquakes and tropical cyclones. Earlier this year, the app launched a feature allowing users to track orbital objects, such as the International Space Station or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which rendezvoused with the space station in May. And other capabilities are in the works.
In its first decade, MyRadar relied exclusively on terrestrially based radar data that the government makes available for free. Now Acme is launching its own satellites to build its data network, Green says. The company launched a small prototype satellite from New Zealand last year, he says, and a second orbiter with a camera is going up on SpaceX that will allow app users to take photos from space. Green says the plan is to launch a “constellation of satellites” that will work as a “fancy camera” looking back at the Earth in different wavelengths of light to get “highly detailed imagery of the ground beneath it.”
Green says the data could prove useful for everything from agricultural forecasting to locating ships that are fishing illegally and improving predictions of the intensity of hurricanes.
- Chris McDonough, former chief sales and brand officer for L.L. Bean, was named CEO of Corkcicle, an Orlando company that designs and sells drinkware, lunch bags, barware and other insulated products, after Ben Hewitt stepped away from the role. Hewitt, a Corkcicle co-founder, continues to serve as chairman.
- Orlando-based GuideWell, Florida Blue and the Florida Blue Foundation are committing $25 million over five years to organizations focused on “diversity and inclusion and health equity” in the communities they serve. The move coincides with the launch of GuideWell’s “Equity Alliance,” an initiative focused on addressing systemic racism and resulting health disparities.
- The Golf Channel will close its Orlando headquarters at the end of the year as it consolidates its operations at NBC Sports Group’s headquarters in Stamford, Conn. The move will result in 342 layoffs.
- Deborah Marshall, senior vice president and COO of the American Fundraising Foundation in Maitland, was named 2020 fundraiser of the year by Nonprofit PRO as part of its annual recognition of outstanding nonprofit professionals.
- Amid declining sales and a stock slide, Tupperware Brands is selling 740 acres in Orange and Osceola counties — including 500 acres of wetlands — to New York-based O’Connor Capital Partners, for $87 million, according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Tupperware will lease back its 61- acre headquarters site for at least 10 years.
- The Orlando Regional Realtors Association will begin building a headquarters in Maitland in January, with the aim of completing it before the National Association of Realtors Conference and Expo in Orlando in November 2022.
- Roman Gonzalez, owner of Epic Cycles World in downtown Clermont, won approval to build a 50-room hotel on an acre next to his high-end bike shop. The Elyksian Hotel will feature a rooftop lounge, waterside dining and 8,000 square feet of event space.
- GRD Biomechanics, a Daytona Beach tech startup, landed a $100,000 investment from the Orlando Opportunity Fund to help launch its Ascend Knee Brace, which helps improve mobility during recovery from an injury or surgery.
- GLESEC, a cyber-security firm in Princeton, N.J., is moving its headquarters to Orlando and plans to add 26 jobs with an average annual salary of $70,000 over the next three years.
- AT&T rolled out its 5G network in Orlando and Melbourne as it expanded coverage across the country this summer.
- American Cruise-Aid Logistics, a freight forwarding and transportation company, has opened a warehouse at Port Canaveral next to its current facility on Atlantis Road.
- Switzerland-based MSC Cruises plans to start sailing from Port Canaveral for the first time this winter with the MSC Seaside, followed by the MSC Divina next spring. The luxury cruise line will offer three-, four-and seven-night cruises to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
- Restaurants continued to take a beating as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed over the summer. Two downtown Orlando restaurants —Wahlburgers and Ceviche Tapas Bar and Restaurant — closed for good and two eateries at Disney Springs laid off more than 100 workers in June.
- The University of Central Florida has set aside $175,000 in grant money for researchers who use artificial intelligence and big data to solve society’s “most complicated” pandemic-related problems. Their research findings will be presented at the COVID-19 Artificial Intelligence & Big Data Seed Funding Research Forum next year.
- Orlando International Airport installed six vending machines near ticket counters that sell face masks, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment. After a 97% drop in May, passenger traffic is slowly increasing as airlines add flights. Spirit Airlines resumed 45 daily flights at Orlando International Airport in July, compared to just 16 in May.
- The Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida received a $159,000 grant from Feeding America to fund distribution of meals, groceries and supplies to Brevard County residents. The grant was made possible by a $5-million donation from Raytheon Technologies. The need for food assistance in Central Florida has gone up 11% because of the pandemic, with residents of Brevard missing about 500,000 meals per week.
- Port Canaveral is projecting a loss of about $48.5 million in operating revenue for fiscal year 2020.
Read more in Florida Trend's September issue.
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