China raises its voice. What do we do with crypto? Corporates talk 5G.

Red pill


Today Amazon announced its acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack for just shy of $1B. This is a clear sign that Amazon is getting into the pharmacy business. 

PillPack and Walmart had reportedly been in acquisition talks for months, but Amazon swooped in with the winning offer.

Amazon's made other moves in healthcare. It invested in genomics-focused startup GRAIL in early 2017.

Then, in January, it teamed up with JPMorgan and Berskshire Hathaway on a healthcare initiative "free from profit-making incentives and constraints," which we discuss in our Amazon Teardown

Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said this morning that he's "not particularly worried" about the PillPack deal. “You see,” he said, “the pharmacy world is much more complex than just delivering certain pills or certain packages.”

Oh? I’m sure Bezos didn’t know that.

Cut to Walgreens and other drug store giants collectively losing over $11B in market cap today.

I’m betting Pessina’s patronizing quote gets him into the historical conga line of CEOs that have dismissed the likes of Amazon, Netflix, the iPhone, and other disruptive threats. 

In an upcoming webinar, we'll be examining the areas of healthcare that we think are particularly vulnerable to Amazon's entrance. Register here to join us for the briefing on July 17.

A little bit louder now

After nearly 4 years of dominating the smart speaker market with Echo, Amazon is losing its market share — not only to Google, but to newer players emerging in China.

We take a look at emerging players, new business models, and partnerships that are blurring competitive lines in part 3 of our China in AI series.

Agree to disagree?

US regulators can't agree on how to regulate ICOs and cryptocurrencies. The SEC wants to treat most tokens — other than ether and bitcoin — like securities. Agencies like CFTC and FinCEN have other ideas.

But even the threat of regulations is changing the crypto space. We take a look at what regulatory bodies are thinking and how crypto companies are responding.

Kind of a big deal

Widespread implementation of 5G wireless technology may take up to a decade, but that hasn't stopped corporates like Nokia, Qualcomm, Ericsson, Broadcom, and Verizon from talking about it.

"5G" was collectively mentioned over 900 times on Q1'18, up 70% from the previous quarter. We dive into what all the fuss is about in our What Is 5G explainer.

ICYMI: built on blockchain

At Future of Fintech, we showed a sneak preview of the first episode of a documentary series called Built on Blockchain, produced by our friends at Udacity.

The episode focuses on the concept of trust, and what that means to the world of blockchain. If you missed Future of Fintech or want to see it again, have a look at the series site.

While you’re there, take a look at Udacity’s new Nanodegree program for blockchain developers. Apparently there are 14 jobs for every trained blockchain developer, so it seems like a pretty good idea.

Have a great rest of the week.


You can also follow our digital health newsletter and our in-depth analysis of the Amazon/PillPack deal there.

P.P.S. Thank you for all the emails from fax machine detractors (and die-hard fax supporters) that we received last week. More on that soon.

This week in data:

  • $11B: Today, Amazon announced its acquisition of online pharmacy PillPack, which allows users to buy medications online in premade doses. In wake of the news, pharmacy providers Walgreens, CVS Health, and Rite Aid have collectively lost $11B in stock today. PillPack is licensed to ship prescriptions in 49 states and reportedly booked over $100M in revenue last year. Also the reported ~$1B valuation for PillPack makes the deal Amazon’s fourth-largest acquisition, following its purchases of grocery chain Whole Foods, Wi-Fi-enabled doorbell Ring, and shoe retailer Zappos. For more on Amazon’s strategy, from investments to purchases to new lines of business, check out our comprehensive Amazon Strategy Teardown.

  • $1.2B: Since late 2013, a band of cybercriminals has infiltrated the digital security of 100+ banks in 40 nations to steal about $1.2B. The string of thefts, known as Carbanak, is said to be the biggest digital bank heist in history. While the suspected ringleader, Ukranian Denis Katana, has been arrested, the money remains missing, and the malware attacks continue. Cybersecurity will become increasingly important in protecting against digital criminal activity. Check out top startups shaping the future of cybersecurity in our 2018 Cyber Defenders Report.

  • 2: Two new companies joined the ranks of our unicorn list this week, both with $1B valuations. Gurgaon, India-based PolicyBazaar offers a platform for comparing financial products like life insurance, loans, and credit cards, and is backed by high-profile investors including SoftBank Capital, IDG Ventures India, Tiger Global Management, Intel Capital, and more. Munich, Germany-based Celonis is an enterprise software company offering an Intelligent Business System based on process mining technology. It has raised $77M to date, including this week’s $50M Series B from 83North and Accel.
  • $90B: As of Sunday, women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to drive, ending the country’s status as the last country on earth to prohibit women from the activity. Lifting the ban will likely increase the size of the workforce and boost overall incomes and output, as more women seek jobs. According to one study, the move could add as much as $90B to economic output by 2030. For more in car news, check out all our auto research — from the future of the parking lot to trends disrupting the carhere

  • -$400/lb: The price of marijuana has dropped more than $400 per pound in Colorado this year. Between February and April, the average price for a pound of marijuana bud averaged around $846. This is the first time the price has fallen below $1,000 since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2014. The cannabis industry is ripe for innovation, with startups working on technologies that could transform the market. Check out the top marijuana tech trends to watch in our 2018 Trailblazers Report.

  • $550,000: A blaster gun used by Han Solo in The Return of the Jedi sold for $550,000 at auction to the museum chain Ripley’s Believe it or Not! over the weekend. The sale continues the trend of Star Wars memorabilia fetching some of the highest prices for collectibles — Luke Skywalker’s original lightsaber prop sold for $450K last year, while an R2-D2 droid sold for $2.7M. Earthlings have not yet perfected widespread blaster technology, but in the meantime, here are some startups working to make firearms smarter and safer.
  • 1.8 milliseconds: According to a report from the University of Wisconsin, days on earth are getting longer, at a rate of about 1.8 milliseconds per century. (At that rate, it will take more than 3.3M years to gain an extra minute.) The changing length is due in part to fluctuating gravitational forces between Earth and the moon, which is moving away from our planet at a rate of about 1.1 inches a year — roughly as fast as our fingernails grow.
  • $6: Yesterday, Creator, a culinary robotics company, opened its first restaurant in San Francisco. The company uses a burger-making robot to prepare food. The machine contains 20 computers, 350 sensors, and 50 actuator mechanisms, and can do everything from toasting a brioche bun to adding custom toppings, all in about 5 minutes. A finished burger will cost you $6. For more on the dining trends of the future, clients can view our restaurant tech market map here.

One more thing...

Students at the University of British Columbia have created a toilet made entirely out of mushrooms to help provide clean, safe sanitation for the 2.5B people living in areas that lack access to modern sanitation services.

The project, known as the MYCOmmunity Toilet, was specifically designed for refugee camps, where water is scarce and portable toilets are expensive to maintain.

Typically, toilets are placed in a single central location in the camp because of the smell, which can lead to safety issues. The MYCOmmunity Toilet is designed to be used for roughly 30 days for a household of 5-6 people.

The tank is 100% biodegradable, so when it's full, it gets buried in the ground. The composting process is aided by the mushroom spores, and is completed in about 30 days. Each toilet comes with seeds for local crops to be planted on top.

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