What's next for retail? Insurance needs an update. Hope you're thirsty.

Less is more


Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures is a legend among venture capitalists. He’s also an extremely effective communicator. In three words, he neatly summed up our 99-slide report on 2018 VC trends: “fewer and larger.”

That’s right, fewer and larger deals going to companies including Bird, which raised $400M in 2018 alone after raising its seed round in June 2017.

From our PwC/CB Insights MoneyTree report, here’s a look at one big driver of the fewer and larger trend. The number of $100M+ deals shot up dramatically in 2018:

The fewer and larger trend is particularly pronounced in the US (see This Week in Data below) but applies globally as well. In Asia, dollars stayed even, despite a drop off in deals in Q4'18.

See the rest of the trends in VC, including unicorn births, biggest deals, and IPOs in the PwC and CB Insights Q4'18 MoneyTree report.

Time for an update

The multi-trillion-dollar global insurance market is largely still stuck in the past, with inefficient systems of phones and paper contracts. 

Blockchain could help bring it into the 21st century.

We explore how insurance giants and startups are using the technology to prevent fraud, track medical records, and more. Check it out here.

Check the crystal ball

Imagine a future where autonomous vehicles provide last-mile food and grocery delivery. Retailers can customize apparel on demand. Customers use AR/VR to try out products before taking them home.

These are just a few of the trends we discuss in our What's Next In Retail report. Download it here.

 Making a splash

Water scarcity is a rising issue worldwide. Two-thirds of the global population could experience water shortages by 2025. 

We identify 50+ startups that are emerging to improve how water is sourced, used, and distributed. Expert Intelligence clients can see them all here.

The secret to scaling new businesses

How does a major financial services corporation transition a pilot from the lab to the broader organization?

Download the Fidelity Labs case study to find out.

Watch me

In September, Apple announced that the Apple Watch Series 4 had been cleared by the FDA to provide a single-lead ECG.

With that, the Apple Watch fully transitioned from a general purpose tool to a health and wellness product to a clinically usable device.

But this is only a piece of Apple's healthcare ambitions. See what else the company is working on in the space here.

Have a great rest of the week.


P.S. We ranked #2 on BuiltinNYC's list of Best Places to Work. Want to join our team? We're hiring for many positions, including Senior Healthcare Intelligence Analyst and Healthcare Intelligence Associate.

P.P.S. On January 17, we'll be discussing the future of aging. Register for the briefing here.

This week in data:

  • $99.5B: In 2018, funding to VC-backed US companies hit a new high of $99.5B, despite a slump in deals. Deals last year fell to 5,536, down 5% from 2017, though later-stage mega-deals (worth $100M+) pushed annual funding up 30%, to hit its highest level since 2000. Read more in the CBI-PwC MoneyTree Report.

  • $797B: On Monday, Amazon pulled ahead of Microsoft to become the most valuable company in the world. The e-commerce company ended the trading day at $1,629.51 per share and a market cap of $797B, compared to $783B for Microsoft. (Amazon’s market cap has since crept up to $811B as of yesterday.) Want a look into the playbooks of these two giants? Check out our Amazon Strategy Teardown and Microsoft Strategy Teardown.

  • $2B: Co-working unicorn WeWork had a big week, which included raising another $1B+ investment from SoftBank and rebranding to “The We Company.” The investment was initially planned to be closer to $16B, but was reduced to $2B. This latest round valued the We Company at $47B, making it the 4th most valuable company on our unicorn tracker.
  • -27%: A new report from the American Cancer Society found that deaths from cancer have dropped 27% over the last 25 years, with an estimated 2.6 million fewer people dying of the disease. According to the report, the reduction can largely be attributed to a decline in smoking, better detection methods, and treatments of cancer at earlier stages. One cutting-edge cancer treatment today is neoantigen vaccines, a personalized therapy to help one’s immune system detect and attack cancer cells without harming healthy cells. Read about that here.

  • 1st: Last week, China became the first country to land a probe on the far side of the moon. The Chang’e-4 probe touched down in Von Karman crater, and will collect mineral and geological samples of the moon’s surface in addition to other research. We predicted an increasingly international space race would be a top trend shaping space tech in 2019 — clients can read more about it (and 4 other trends to watch) here.
  • 19 million years: Scientists want to add a little kick to your tomatoes, by taking the fruit back 19 million years to when it split with its cousin, the chili pepper. A team of Brazilian and Irish researchers are experimenting with the gene-editing tool CRISPR to make tomatoes spicier as a way of harvesting capsaicinoids, the molecules that give red peppers their spice. Capsaicinoids have a variety of applications, such as being used in compounds from pepper spray to anesthesia. To learn more about how CRISPR works, check out our explainer, What Is CRISPR?

  • 5.4 million: This week, Japanese billionaire and founder of online clothing retailer Zozotown Yusaku Maezawa broke the record for the most-retweeted tweet of all time. The record-breaking message, written in Japanese, promised 100 million yen (about $920,000 USD) to 100 people who retweeted and followed Maezawa’s account. As of earlier today, the tweet had nearly 5.4M retweets.
One more thing...

Getty Images

America's cheese surplus has reached 1.4B pounds, an all-time high. The overage measures 900,000 cubic yards, meaning there is enough cheese in storage to wrap all the way around the US Capitol.

Milk production has increased by 13% over the last decade, but Americans are drinking much less milk than they used to. Suppliers turn extra milk into cheese because it stays fresh for longer periods of time.

The overage has grown despite Americans eating 37 pounds of cheese per capita in 2017. I guess we have no choice but to try harder.
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