Tom York on Business: Del Mar Nonprofit Has App to Protect Kids from Predators

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Sex trafficking victim
An officer talks with a sex trafficking victim. Courtesy FBI

By Tom York

Del Mar-based nonprofit Humans Against Trafficking is about to launch a new piece of mobile software on Apple’s App Store aimed at helping parents better monitor and protect kids from predators on the wildly popular social media platform Instagram.

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Roger Martin, a retired Qualcomm attorney now president and CEO of the 4-year-old agency, said the app, named Radlee after one of the pivotal young characters in the classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to analyze kids’ Instagram profiles and detect those users who might be vulnerable to recruiters. It’s an important advancement in online protection providers to parents.

According to the nonprofit’s website, trafficking is now an eye-popping $150 billion industry, and growing rapidly, especially involving social media sites like Instagram. Indeed, the national human trafficking hotline said it receives 100 cases per day, with California generating most of the calls. Martin said Radlee should be available for free download Thursday, Aug. 20, at the App Dtore after all of the paperwork has been completed.

He emphasized that most parents face an uphill battle monitoring their children’s online activities, but Radlee should help make the job a little easier. “It never gets tired, and it never goes to sleep, so it will help parents in their battle to protect their children from predators.”

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Another impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rents may be holding steady in San Diego, but home prices are definitely movin’ on up, according to the most recent weekly report from Seattle-based website Zillow. Newly pending sales grew 3.3% from the week before, according to the report. At the same time, new listings grew 4.2%, with inventory down 38% from the same week in 2019. According to the Zillow website, the median price of homes currently listed in San Diego is $699,900 while the median price of homes that sold is $619,200. Homes that sold typically went under contract after eight days, 15 days faster than last year.

San Diego is part of the national trend that has buyers attempting to find properties in markets where inventories are extremely low. Homes are selling faster than last year, with pending sales up near 17% year-over-year nationally. The average selling price is $269,700 — obviously much lower than big city markets here in California. Meanwhile, rents in San Diego have dipped slightly, down less than 1%, with the average rent hovering under $2,000 a month, according to recent reports from Internet companies that follow trends, such as Rentjungle.com.

Rendering of Pacific Highlands Ranch neighborhood
A rendering of the new neighborhood at Pacific Highlands Ranch. Courtesy Pardee

And speaking of homes for sale…Despite the $1.9 million and up price tags, buyers are lining up at a chance to purchase one of 52 new homes in the Pacific Highlands Ranch development in north San Diego, according to developer Pardee. The homebuilder said the new tract of homes, ranging from more than 4,000 to more than 5,000 square feet, will be the last to be built at this site.

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CashCo Pawn Shop, which has two locations in San Diego, one in Encanto and one in City Heights, was recently named one of 2020 Top Pawn Shops by industry publication Pawn Leaders Magazine. The list recognizes the top 20 pawn shops that have made an impact on the pawnbroking industry. CashCo Pawn has been in business for more than 18 years, according to a news release. Moris Adato, a third-generation pawnbroker who trained at the Gemological Institute of America, is president of the company. He also sits on the board of the California Pawnbrokers Association.

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North County news. Visit Oceanside, the official destination marketing and management agency for Oceanside, celebrates its 10th anniversary this week with a special proclamation from Mayor Peter Weiss. According to an official news release, travel spending in Oceanside reached $415 million, which directly supports 3,500 jobs. The release noted that 74% of the spending went to businesses other than lodging, with the largest portion spent in restaurants followed by arts, entertainment and recreation.

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Boston-based Vertex Companies said this week it has acquired San Diego real estate consulting firm Xpera Inc. The local firm’s Xpera Group is recognized for its construction expert witnesses, construction consultants and strategic advisors for the construction industry. Vertex said that it is routinely ranked by industry publication ENR as a top construction, environmental and engineering design firm.

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Finally, San Diego-based startup GoSite has closed a $16 million first round of venture capital funding, according to a recent news release. GoSite is building an online platform for small businesses that traditionally operate offline, such as landscapers, hair salons and auto repair shops. The company said that by using its platform local businesses can engage customers more effectively, especially since many have had to shutter physical operations because of Covid-19. The funding round was led by San Diego’s Longley Capital, and included participation from Stage 2 Capital, Ankona Capital, Serra Ventures and SaaS Ventures, as well as a number of technology entrepreneurs. The release said GoSite will use the cash infusion to expand its national footprint. The startup said it has 6,000 customers nationwide and hopes to grow the number substantially.

Tom YorkTom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to [email protected]

Tom York on Business: Del Mar Nonprofit Has App to Protect Kids from Predators was last modified: August 17th, 2020 by Editor

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