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New West Daily Roundup for Nov. 30, 2016

Today in New West news: Boulder-based VictorOps raises $12M, famous hoodoo falls in Bryce Canyon, booze news in Utah and Colorado, and Wyoming uranium.

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, tech firm VictorOps has raised $12 million in funding, adding up to over $30 million raised since the business started four years ago. Per Victor Ops co-founder Todd Vernon, “It’s indicative of a company that found a product market in which customers are aggressively purchasing the product. It’s pretty significant.” From the Camera:

VictorOps has been carving out its place among companies whose operations are increasingly software driven and whose IT desks must be able to monitor and identify glitches and crashes almost immediately. In a world where new software applications are being developed continuously, integration has become more difficult and even more import.

“Almost all businesses today are enabled by software,” Vernon said. “It’s not like it used to be. It has to function all the time. Uptime is everything. We provide a software solution to allow all of your employees, and IT systems, to communicate about problems in real time and to solve them quickly. If it’s the middle of the night and your web site is not accepting e-commerce transactions, that’s bad. It’s something you need to solve regardless of time of day and where they are located.”

That market is growing rapidly, according to Gartner Research and others, who estimate annual growth of 20 percent annually in what is already a $10 billion market place worldwide.

The latest round of funding includes a new investor Walnut, Calif.-based Shea Ventures. Boulder’s Foundry Group and Palo Alto, Calif.-based Costanoa Venture Capital, who provided seed funding for VictorOps, also participated in this round.

“We were impressed by the depth of market knowledge the team at VictorOps possessed and the win rates against more conventional industry competitors,” said Shea Managing Director Jason Schoettler in a statement.

Sentinel Hoodoo Bryce Canyon Utah

Over in Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, the famous Sentinel hoodoo has finally fallen after decades of fame and speculation. The fall occurred Monday night, as the feature’s top 15 feet came crashing down. You can see a before and after photo of the feature above, courtesy of the National Park Service. From the Tribune:

“This is a hoodoo people would stop and look at and wonder if it would fall and they would see it,” said Joel Allen, an interpretive park ranger.

The hoodoo is near the Navajo Loop Trail, behind another famous formation called Thor’s Hammer.

Allen hiked to the site of the collapse Tuesday afternoon and found no evidence that its fallen pieces hit the trail.

“The most I could find was a suspect boulder, only about 4 or 5 feet long, caught high up, very precariously wedged in a small alcove,” Allen said.

Hoodoos are the eerie multi-hued reddish towers and fins eroding out of the eastern and southern walls falling off the Paunsaugunt Plateau, one of the upper treads of southern Utah’s Grand Staircase.

The Sentinel’s collapse illustrates how Bryce’s famed formations are constantly changing, with some falling apart as new ones emerge imperceptibly from the limestone matrix.

Usually the changes are too small to notice, but major rock falls are common. The biggest losses occur during seasonal transitions in late fall and early spring.

Keeping with Utah, per the Salt Lake Tribune, the Beehive State’s growing thirst for alcohol may necessitate the building of more liquor stores, especially along the populous Wasatch Front:

The report, conducted for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (DABC), lists 12 areas most in need of retail stores. Riverton and the surrounding area, was at the top of the priority list, followed by the communities around Layton, Pleasant Grove, Sandy, Taylorsville, Harrisville, Roy, West Valley City, Bountiful, Draper, Ogden and Cottonwood Heights.

The prioritized list does not necessarily mean that a new store should be placed in Riverton, but rather somewhere in southwestern Salt Lake County, said Scott Aylet, a financial analyst with Zions Public Finance, which conducted the study for the DABC. The report was presented to the state liquor board during its monthly meeting.

Similarly, the Layton and Bountiful market areas are both priorities and a “strategically located store in this area, perhaps near Farmington or Kaysville, could serve both markets,” the study notes.

“This clearly demonstrates the need [for more stores],” said commission chairman John T. Nielsen after the presentation. He said the DABC will use the data to convince the state building board and lawmakers that more stores area needed. “The more we make it [liquor] available, the better the revenue stream to the state.”

Analysts from Zions Public Finance, a division of Zions Bank, looked at several factors to develop the priority list, including population projections, population density and liquor sales per capita.

Utah’s population, currently at 3 million, is expected to jump to 3.9 million in 2030 and 4.5 million by 2040, the study shows.

Liquor consumption also is on the rise. Utah’s per capita consumption increased from 2.37 gallons in 2010 to 2.75 gallons in 2015, the study said. Nationally, consumption per capita also is on the rise.

Keeping with booze news, Fort Collins-based craft beer titan New Belgium is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The Denver Post has a feature with CEO Kim Jordan, speaking about the brand’s beginnings and what she’s learned along the way, as one of craft beer’s vanguards:

“Our strategy has always been to go into a marketplace and really try to be a presence there before we go into a new marketplace,” said Kim Jordan, co-founder and executive chair of New Belgium Brewing.

This measured distribution, and New Belgium’s unique management and core values, are what kept it afloat when many other brewers sank in the mid-1990s, Jordan said when she sat down last month to talk about the brewery’s quarter-century milestone (which was formally celebrated in June).

When Jordan and then-husband Jeff Lebesch started New Belgium in their basement in 1991 — nine months into their marriage — they were both still at their full-time jobs. Early articles describe her delivering beer in her station wagon.

As the business grew, they left those other jobs behind, but Jordan said her perspective as a social worker carried over into her job as CEO.

“That’s one of the things about social work; it’s a generalist program so it’s full of people who know a little bit about a lot of things,” she said. “You’re thinking about the ecology of the whole thing. I think to run a business well you need to look at it as a kind of ecology rather than a set of different and separate functions.”

Finally, down in Wyoming, a new report from the Wyoming State Geological Survey has identified a bevy of uranium buried across the Cowboy State. But, according to the Wyoming Business Report, the release also identified why that uranium would likely not see the light of day, given current market conditions:

The report, “Uranium: Geology and Applications” is freely available on the WSGS’ website and contains a wealth of information about what uranium is, where it can be located within the state and the methods through which it is mined. A term of note is “yellowcake” which, according to Gregory, is a form of uranium oxide, a product of uranium processing that is packaged for conversion, then enrichment, and ultimately sale.

According to the report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated in 2008 that Wyoming held about 220 million pounds of recoverable uranium base, if the price were $50 per pound of yellowcake. That estimate would more than double to 446 million pounds recoverable if the price were $100 per pound.

Unfortunately, the price of yellowcake was, as of Nov. 4, slumped down to $18.75 per pound. This figure comes from TradeTech, an online uranium price analysis website, and is corroborated by the Ux Consulting Company’s own figures, both freely available on their respective websites.

That price means that uranium stays buried.

“There’s a lot of supply and not much demand,” Gregory said. “Globally, there’s a lot more nuclear plants being built and a lot more in planning stages. Long-term it looks like there’s lots of nuclear plants being built and supply will start seeing a crunch.”

Wyoming Mining Association Executive Director Travis Deti, per the WBR, deplored the state of the uranium market, adding he believes environmental regulations (such as an Environmental Protection Agency rule that maintains mines must monitor groundwater conditions for 30 years “after demonstrating that its chemistry is restored and stable”) add to the problem.

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